Seth Price is joined by Glen Lerner of the renowned Lerner and Rowe law firm, as well as Gabriel Stiritz, CEO of Lexamica, a lawyer referral management platform that the two have partnered to bring to market. The platform is designed to help law firms both big and small as they send out and receive referrals. Instead of sending a referral to a firm and never hearing whether a case was settled or receiving a referral fee due to a lack of transparency, Lexamica is built so that law firms can track the referrals they send and receive, ensuring that important cases do not slip through the cracks, and that firms get financially compensated in a timely manner for their referrals.
Seth, Glen Lerner & Gabriel Stiritz: Lawyer Referrals Made Easy
What's in this episode?
- Law firm marketing and referrals (0:00)
- Legal tech platform for referrals and transparency (3:18)
- Ethics with legal referral fees (8:32)
- Managing referral fees in the legal industry (12:20)
- Software that streamlines the legal referral process (17:39)
- Improve the legal industry's reputation with transparency and accountability (21:56)
BluShark Digital 0:00
Welcome to the SEO Insider with your host, Seth Price, founder of BluShark, taking you inside the world of legal marketing and all things digital.
Seth Price 0:10
Welcome, everybody. We’re very excited to have not only Glen, who needs no introduction, founding partner of Lerner and Rowe, taking over the world. We have Gabriel here, founder of Lexamica. Welcome, gentlemen.
Gabriel Stiritz 0:26
Thanks Seth, good to be here.
Seth Price 0:27
So what I’m excited to talk about today is the fact that referrals is sort of like the dirty secret of most law firms. You know, you start a law firm, you know, you get the cases in that you monetize. But in theory, there’s a bunch of calls that come in, that you’re not going to take advantage of, but you know, that there’s juice to be squeezed, even if it’s not by your firm. And historically, it has been one of those areas that most law firms if they were honest with themselves, present company included, don’t do a great job of tracking and figuring out are you getting, you know, are you getting what you deserve, based on what you’re sending out to the point where I know that I don’t always invest enough in things that could make money because I just don’t trust my machine to squeeze the juice properly. And tell me a little bit of what you guys have developed? I think it’s it seems like a pretty cool technology that’s going to solve a problem that a lot of law firms face,
Glen Lerner 1:24
When you say what you guys developed don’t include me in that Gabriel developed this, I was just shrewd enough, just after developing a friendship with Gabriel and Josh to say, hey, can I play with you guys?
Gabriel Stiritz 1:40
That’s really kind of you Glen. But you know, it wouldn’t exist, if not for the involvement that you have. Um, but I mean, yeah, I mean, Seth, to your to your point, what we’re seeing is plaintiffs law firms like Glen’s pres- and like yours, like y’all are doing these broad based marketing campaigns. And the reason that we’re you’re getting these overflow leads is because you’re doing these like big brand awareness, top of mind campaigns, right. So you’re like, on the radio, TV, Billboard. And that’s great like that. What’s so interesting to me is like, despite all the social media traction, and YouTube and Hulu, and over the top streaming, at the end of the day, people respond to these billboard ads, the TV ads, and that works, right. And like, that’s where you’re able to get like, really strong business out of that. And at the same time, you’re also generating something like a halo effect of, of people who just know that you’re a lawyer, they know your face, they trust you. They believe, oh, you’re on a billboard, you have to be trustworthy, which is completely insane. But like, that’s how everyone is. And I’ve got an amazing story about this billionaire hotel, hospital owner in for one of our clients, who as soon as he went on billboards this guy, he’s a billionaire, he calls him up and he goes, oh, man, you just made it big, you must be doing so well, I’m taking you out to dinner now, because he just put out some billboard campaigns, right. So it’s this trust building thing, you have this brand equity. And so whether you’re asking for it or not, people are making calls to you. And so you’re getting these calls that you don’t want, work comp, potentially social security, disability, slip and falls. And employment, I mean, literally anything can come through your door. And and whether you are in some law firms trying to vertically integrate that take more practice areas, and others don’t. And so for the ones who aren’t vertically integrated around those other practice areas, there’s still a lot of value in those cases. But it’s not always worth the time to go out and build a network, potentially national network of multiple practice areas, you’re talking about hundreds of law firms to create that coverage, because any call any day might be from, you know, a random practice area, random location, and but there’s value in that. And so that’s what we bring to the table is both making that scalable by bringing network to the table and also creating transparency, because the platform allows you to send a lead out, get data back on what’s going on on that for every major milestone along the case, and then make sure that you’re getting paid, right, so there’s transparency. And also we’ve done the demand side aggregation, so that when you have a lead, we have a partner for that lead right out of the box.
Seth Price 4:14
And then so Glen, I assume that you’ve had this frustration that referrals go out and it goes a while. And you know, you don’t hear from somebody you’re at the scale or this is not, can’t happen on a one off basis. I’m still at the point where the big referral goes out and you speak to a buddy, he’s like, oh, yeah, we’ve settled that thing nine months ago. And you’re like, where’s, where’s my check? I assume that that’s part of the impetus behind, you know, investing in this, this technology
Glen Lerner 4:42
Oh, absolutely. Well, I think, you know, transparency is one of the most important parts of any relationship. And I think for so long we’ve had issues as to transparency with referrals of law firms, guys will forget to pay people sometimes you have, hey, it’s happened to us over the years! I mean 33 years! I mean, few and far between are the times, but you know, it’s happened a couple times. And you know, usually it’s something like a $2,000 referral fee or something, nothing big. But at the same time, your friend will call you up. But hey, what happened on this case, oh, my god hit and we just we dropped it, we dropped the ball. Man, I owe you a check, you know when you can do that? Now the problem is, when you have this in volume, that the key to this software is the fact that all of us is spending 10s of millions of dollars advertising, building these brands accumulating these giant guys, this huge volume of cases, whether it’s round up, whether it’s the PI cases, whether it’s hair relaxer cases, whatever you’re going after, at the time, and now whether you’re handling it in house, invariably everybody’s handling stuff, referring stuff out. But when you first start out, what are you doing every month? You’re calling up, say you have 1000 hair relaxer cases, I got my hair relaxers with my buddy, Arthur Luxenberg so you gotta call up, hey, what’s happening on this case? What’s the status on this? And your happens? They go and they check. They call you back two weeks later and tell you the status, you know what happened? The status has changed in the time that they’ve called you.
Seth Price 6:20
If they call if they call you back?
Glen Lerner 6:25
My friends are calling me back or they’re not my friends anymore. But-
Seth Price 6:29
Right but if they call you back on the one that you think to call them on. Like, the whole point is, this only works in scale. Like for me, I gave up SSDI, I went to a conference years ago, it was an early PILMMA, said I’m gonna do SSDI I looked at my cost structure in DC a year in I’m like, I can’t do it. Right, this is before everything was virtual. And I said, okay, I’m sending everything out. The only way that works is the margins, like on an SSDI practice to begin with aren’t good, referring it out only gets you so much. And if you’re not getting 100 cents on the dollar of the referral out, that’s where it almost gets to the point where I’m like, eff it, why am I even bothering to refer out? Because I’m paying for all this intake time, I have to be able to monetize it on the back end? Or why am I going through the headache of basically putting that package together to send to a referral partner?
Glen Lerner 7:17
Oh, I agree with you. 100%. You know, one of the, I think one of the strengths of this software, it allows you to see who is actually prosecuting the cases you refer to them, and who isn’t, you have real time access to data. And you, you know, you call up someone and say what’s happening in the case, I mean, you got to take them at their word. Now you see your case, in their database in real time, anytime you want. So now you can say, hey, none of my plate to fax sheets have been filed, what the heck’s going on here. And so that’s the beauty of this. I think one of my favourite things with this software Seth, is that allows, you know, we’re we’re brand builders, you know, I don’t refer myself as a business. I’m a brand now. But it allows people that haven’t developed a brand, but they get one off. So you are a family lawyer, and you have a friend that got you’re in Arizona, you have a friend that was hurt in Montana, and you needed an attorney, you can come to us, now you have the access to play with the big boys. You know, you just you put your case on our platform, you get to track a case in real time, find an attorney in real time to help you with that case. You know, that’s the exciting part of the software.
Seth Price 8:32
Right now we’re seeing this explosion in the marketplace, with case status and whatever milestones is called now and all these different groups that are out there that are essentially giving clients access. And while that’s great, don’t get me wrong, the idea that the referral partner actually acts. In one sense, this is the greatest irony, Glen, because one- we had a great dinner in DC years ago, we’re talking about ethics issues. To me, this is pushing further towards the idea that you are co counsel with somebody rather than just a business transaction, which is what the ethics rules are pushing people towards that you actually, you know, you have responsibility if something goes wrong, right, you know, they’re Glen’s a deep pocket, they’re gonna go after you, you’d like to make sure that things are being filed in a timely manner. And this is one of those things that’s going to give you greater transparency into that process.
Glen Lerner 9:30
I agree. 100% I think you hit the nail on the head. One of the beauties of this software is you are on the hook when you send somebody a case. It’s not, you just sign them up and you flip it to somebody, your names on that in most states. I mean, think about how, how unethical it really is, for the way we’ve been doing business. Just sign something out, send it off. You have no idea what’s happening with that client that you took responsibility, put your name on that retainer, you’re on the hook. Now, this adds a degree of it certainly insulates you and protects you. So you know what the other party is doing.
Seth Price 10:09
I’ll go a step further is that gives you a fighting chance to actually be co counsel because at least in DC referral fees are illegal co counsel is allowed. So the idea is that you’re actually co counsel with somebody as opposed to closing your eyes and hoping for the best. It’s kind of it’s one of those weird things about the ethics laws. In PI people do this all the time, we see on the mass tort side fees are going back and forth between the lawyers, especially through some of these mass tort aggregators, in crazy fashion, with very little transparency. One of the reasons that I don’t love doing referral fees and things like family and criminal is the moment something goes wrong? If Glen’s getting a couple points on a case? To me, that’s, that’s problematic. One of the nice things, at least in PI is that issues can be solved with money. It’s not like somebody going to jail, and you can’t undo that. You have the ability to do that. Are you rolling this out? Beyond the plaintiff slash, the plaintiff, the plaintiff side, meaning PI, workers comp, SSDI? How is this been doing an other fee for service areas?
Gabriel Stiritz 10:21
Yeah, right now we’re just doing contingency work. And a large part of that is that that’s all one structure. So single event contingency. There’s a lot of similarities between those. And it’s a real, it’s a one time transaction at the end. And so I think when you get into criminal, family law, yes, there are people that are doing flat rate, that’s great. But a lot of times, the fee structures are just more complex. And so we’re starting with and also what we know, right? Like I come from a background of contingency plaintiffs work, obviously, Glen is the OG of auto. And so we’re working on that end. And it’s just it’s a very simple transactional structure. And there’s a lot of when you’re doing these big auto billboard campaigns, a lot of what you’re generating, what we’re seeing is corollary, workers compensation, social security, slip and fall type stuff. And then also employment, which is just I think, just because so many people have bad jobs and bad bosses, everybody’s got employment issues. And so that’s, that’s the kind of like the big add on to those injury types.
Seth Price 12:20
You know, as I see it, like, you know, my markets, ironically, you know, you put a stake down where you are not, not everyone is Glen, where we take over the country. But you know, our laws are not great. And I see people more and more, especially through the digital agency side, you know, it used to be like, hey, you had your DMV, it was yours. Now, now, it’s, you know, people taking you over multi states, multi different areas, and the ability to get things beyond your borders, is greater. So I get the benefits. Glen, have you, you know, when you, when you’re using this, how much are you using this for cases that fall out of side, your jurisdiction, or rather, are in your jurisdiction, but for areas you don’t practice? How have you, how have you been leveraging software?
Glen Lerner 13:01
Well, I think, obviously, that’s just you know, this is still in its nascent stages. So if you need, I think the exciting part about it is the fact that we as referral attorneys, and contingency based attorneys, you know, we’ve always, we’ve kind of always swam in the same ocean. So we have all our relationships. And we do this do that, we send cases back and forth. But now thinking more like businessmen, it allows us to take all these calls, I mean, what percentage of the calls that we actually receive are cases that we want, and fall into our wheelhouse, only a small percentage, the rest are oh, you know, we have a criminal practice here. But if we didn’t have a criminal practice in Arizona, then you know, that’s something we handle, but family law, criminal, property damage only. My landlord tenant, so what we’re trying to build is not just a contingency, firm, based ecosystem, but actually a, a, an ecosystem, with all practices involved, so that when you have a brand like we have, when you are someone that’s just beginning, but you get these types of calls, there’s a place to send them, to monetize what’s coming in, because we’re starting to think more like business people. You know, business people think, hey, I want to monetize whatever comes in. And now we’re going to be able to start monetizing anything that’s coming in because there is somebody that handles those landlord tenants, there’s somebody that handles just property damage alone, so be able to send, right $100 if you send me a property damage case, $100, you start following this stuff, and you know, it goes through, we’re going to be able to have direct payments for these types of cases. So you can monetize your brand.
Seth Price 15:02
Well, the thing that I like, the two things that I like about it that probably haven’t been sort of touched on here yet. One is that your intake, Glen, is pretty sophisticated, your intake centres, you’ve worked on it for years, you know, it’s two steps forward one step back, but that when referring to people, that, that itself is problematic, you know, you don’t trust that you’re going to give somebody a phone number, you don’t want to go through the process of signing somebody up, unless it’s something that you do, and you know, it’s going to, so that, in essence, you’re getting rid of the people portion of their intake, which may be defective, and it just goes straight to that firm. And God bless, it’s theirs. And you basically are wrapping up with a bow and saying, it’s off my plate, you’re not talking to anybody or dealing with it, you go deal with it, or don’t deal with it. And we’ll see how many of these you actually monetize. But you’re not having to like, talk to their defective intake, and get apologies, because oh, that person is brand new, or that person is having a bad day and screwed it up. So I like that. And the other, you know, you’re we were sort of talking before, and you sort of were talking from your perspective, I would say that when a fee is not paid, it is not because some again, there are nefarious players out there, mostly, mostly based in California, but there are people out there that will take youm they will take your case and say thank you very much, and never pay a referral fee. Right? We know that. But most of the ones you’re dealing with you deal with people you’ve known for years, nobody’s looking to screw Glen intentionally, you know, for the most part, it’s, you’re too busy for your own good. And that as an end user, or somebody who gets referrals from you. The fact there’s checks and balances to make sure that I don’t have egg on my face is not the worst thing in the world. Because there are times it’s a lot better than people calling where it is actually automatic. I mean, to me, that’s a huge advantage, that there’s internal checks and balance as the refer- as a place that’s getting the referral. Because it’s not like we want to keep that third for ourselves. It’s that it gets lost in the shuffle a year and a half, two years after the initial referral.
Glen Lerner 17:10
I agree with you, I think, you know, certainly a lot of people, I had a friend of mine, he said to me, how come if this guy is going to pay you 60% for every referral on this particular type of case? Why are you sending it to your friends that only send you 40%? I said, because they’re my friends, I’d rather make money with my friends. And I know they’re never going to burn me.
Seth Price 17:31
Well, I mean, I’ll tell you, I’ll refine your comment, which is what you’re saying is I know I’m gonna get paid, or at least I have a much, much better chance of being paid.
Glen Lerner 17:39
Well also, I know what I’m dealing with, who would you rather deal with Weitz and Luxenberg that has this incredible track record or Jerry Parker, that has this incredible track record, or just some guy that just borrowed $100 million from some hedge fund and got a bunch of cases. And now he says, he’s the new, the new deal. And no one’s ever heard of the guy. You know, he might not be able to finance his debt, he could be shut down in six months. And it happens all the time. All these guys borrowing $100 million, from hedge funds, no one even heard who this guy was before. I want the guys with the track records that I know socially, and I trust, you know, that’s kind of how I am.
Gabriel Stiritz 18:16
Glen, what’s going what’s so cool about what we’re doing, though, is like that we’re taking that trust that is already built in from you with Seth, right? Like, you refer cases to Seth. That is incredibly validating and it’s a social validation is trusted exists. But then we capture that on the platform so that the next person who plugs in to refer cases out they also refer to Seth, right, because Glen has said, oh Seth’s a guy that you should refer cases to, we’re capturing that we’re not trying to like rebuild this. We’re just trying to find who are the people that are trusted in the industry, pull them in, make more business for Seth, for Glen, for the people that are doing good work, and then bring new people in so that anyone who signs on has Glen Lerner’s referral network has Seth Price’s referral network already built in that’s massive value. And frankly, y’all have done the hard work of going to the conferences being in the game for 30 years. And you know, who’s good and who’s not. And we’re just capturing that and then we’re able to turn around and give that to anyone who signs up.
Glen Lerner 17:18
It’s kind of like you’ve taken communist China’s social credit program and applied it to the referral process.
Gabriel Stiritz 17:24
There’s other metaphprs that I would like better!
Seth Price 17:29
No but that, thats what it does. So talk to me, Gabriel, as we try to land this plane here. How like, so how do law firms work with this network? Let’s talk brass tax. What are the what are the options? If you’re a big player and you want to be able to send stuff out, you’re a small player, you want to be able to get great cases from Glen, how does that work?
Gabriel Stiritz 17:44
Yeah, two super simple ways and they both involve you just go to our website, click on the join button. It will walk you through what you’re interested in, whether it’s getting cases or getting clarity around the cases you’ve referred out right? Go to our website, we can do either of those for you. We’re signing up anyone who wants to join in the litigation network, we have about 140 law firms right now that are on the litigation network. We can also help you make money from those overflow leads on your marketing campaign, if you’re a larger marketer, or if you’re, and actually we have a subset of we’re of lawyers who are big on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, who have big audiences and no way to turn those into cases, we also help those people.
Seth Price 20:24
Right, because I would assume that there’s a market, you know, that, you know, Glen advertisers generally, Glen you’re doing national TV? Or just local TV?
Glen Lerner 20:33
Majority, just local TV.
Seth Price 20:34
Local, right. But the people who are doing TikTok, can’t control their boundaries, so that the social media lawyers are getting stuff nationally and trying to figure out how to monetize that because, you know, it’s much harder to create, create those barriers? Well, that is great, we will make sure that we put all of your information in the comments and share that. Glen, you got any final words before we wrap up here?
Glen Lerner 21:00
No, just appreciate the friendship obviously, over the years, Seth. I think this is exciting. I think the software, I certainly urge people to go play with it, look at it, I think it’s, I wouldn’tve invested in this thing. If I really didn’t believe in it. I love Josh and Gabriel, I’ve got two friends for life that I truly believe in. Gabriel is a savant. And I think we’re gonna do some really cool things. And I just see this being the beginning of what this software is going to do. I truly believe it can be the brain, so of an ever expanding ability for law firms to grow in ways they never expected. You know, we just see what’s in front of us as lawyers. And I think this is going to give us ways to monetize things we never even thought of, and more than anything capture, capture the value in our relationships, and build new relationships, I think that’s gonna be a fun thing for people.
Seth Price 21:56
Well, and to me, as somebody downstream from your firm, you know, the idea that when you send stuff out, that you have a better likelihood of monetizing it, we go in with good faith, right? Day one, you refer everyone is very excited, you know, but that over time, that, that, you know, people move on to the next shiny object, and that is forgotten about and sitting in, in somebody’s system. And the idea that you could have greater confidence that you will get paid. And that, frankly, that that when people want to know that you’re doing a good job, there’s a checks and balance on you, to me is a win win. So.
Glen Lerner 22:32
I agree with you 100%. And I think it’s building nicer relationships, I think we’re really going to try to focus on people that keep their word on this site. You know, I mean, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you don’t pay out your fee, you’re gonna be gone.
Seth Price 22:45
Well, I was gonna say the next thing is gonna be like, Google rating for the consumers. And there’s going to be a, a GS rating for for all of our law firms, you know.
Glen Lerner 22:55
Oh absolutely. That’s going to happen that you will get rated based upon you’re paying and based upon whether or not you’re living up to what’s expected of you.
Seth Price 23:06
The next thing you know, there’s going to be Glen, your next area of law is going to be mediation, you’ll have a whole mediation center, just like you know, pay, PayPal does when a deal goes wrong. So I’m, gentlemen, I really appreciate your time and I look forward to seeing you hopefully at NTL in January.
Glen Lerner 23:22
Yeah, I’ll see you in Miami. It’ll be nice to see you.
BluShark Digital 23:24
Thank you for tuning in to The SEO Insider with Seth Price. Be sure to check back next week for fresh insights into building your brand’s online presence. Episodes are available to stream directly on BluShark Digital’s website