🎙️ New Podcast Episode Alert! 🎙️
🔥 In this week’s episode of The Law Firm Blueprint Podcast, Jay Ruane and Seth Price dive into some fascinating topics about the legal profession and scaling your law firm. You don’t want to miss this one! 🔥
📌 Key Takeaways:
1️⃣ Importance of Community Support: Seth highlights the value of community support in the legal profession. He recounts a story of how the help and advice of a person named Mario Godoy closed a loop for his firm. Being a part of a supportive community can provide the necessary camaraderie and guidance to overcome challenges.
2️⃣ Focus on End Results, Not Just Time: Seth and Jay discuss the need to shift the focus from just measuring time to prioritizing the end result. They emphasize that if salespeople are trained and trusted, the time spent on a task becomes less important. Instead, attention should be given to achieving the desired outcomes.
3️⃣ Balancing Money and Fulfillment: The conversation touches on the delicate balance between financial success and personal fulfillment. While the legal industry can be lucrative, it is essential to consider what aspects of the work truly bring joy and satisfaction. Jay shares his aspirations for retirement and a relaxed lifestyle, reminding us of the importance of finding happiness beyond financial gain.
Hello Hello and welcome to this edition of The Law Firm Blueprint, I’m one of your hosts Jay Ruan CEO of Ruane Attorneys, a criminal defense firm in Connecticut, as well as the curator of The Criminal Mastermind a private coaching business for criminal defense lawyers. With me as always, my man hanging out poolside because the weather’s beautiful down there in DC is Seth Price of BluShark Digital SEO for law firms as well as managing partner of Price Benowitz. And he’s rocking his baseball cap from when we were out in Vegas, years ago for his 50th birthday. What was it like 1314 years ago for your 50th birthday party? Seth, how’s your week going?
Exactly. It’s going pretty good, good better than that I’m here. And this is a life moment. I’m sitting here. What you know, during COVID we packed a family up, doing the podcast while I was at a tiki hut in in Florida. And now I have my own tiki hut in Maryland. So I can’t wait for you to come visit. Yeah, it’ll be great. It’ll be great. You know, I’m getting ready. I got to talk to you offline. You know, one of the few benefits of running a business is playing the credit card miles game. I know you do it. I don’t see, I don’t, you know, I don’t do arbitrage when it comes to this thing. But in a couple of weeks, I’ll be at the Ritz Carlton in Aruba. 100%, free first class flights free. I still got tons of miles to spend. But I just said, I got to start using some of these things I’ve accumulated. So I’m looking forward to that and being beachside. So as I see you sitting by your pool, I’m thinking it’s only a couple of weeks till I am there. 49 days.
As you know, Aruba is our happy place. And we actually just talked about an effective first world issue. Our kids, you know, with Miles, we started when the Ritz opened, oh, we got the points, let’s go check it out. And it’s beautiful. It’s not it’s not the highest end Ritz, it’s a beautiful, beautiful property. But it’s not fun. You know, when you’re with your spouse, it’s fun, but the kids were like the kids rebelled that we went back to the, the Hyatt Regency which has like a waterslide. And, you know, just right by downtown, so it shows the eye of the beholder what what is exactly fancy?
Well, it’s just me and my wife going. So we’re looking forward to it, that’s for sure. But there’s a couple of things I want to talk to you about this this week. And one of the things that is starting to stick in my craw, as they say, orit caused me to sort of get a little bit of my Irish up, I’m trying to try to find the right turn of phrase to use. And the phrase is scaling your law firm and hear me out. And I want to get your opinion on this. Because a lot of people are out there selling, you can scale your law firm, you can 10x your law firm, I see tons of seminars about it, a lot of people offering a million different ideas on how to do it. And scaling is great when you are able to sell the same thing over and over again, at virtually no cost. For example, other than bandwidth joining Facebook, and another 20 million people joining Facebook, doesn’t really cost Facebook much more other than bandwidth. Microsoft, they want to sell you Word, they could sell that to a billion people, the same product goes out to a billion people. But for me as a law firm, if I want to handle another 100 clients, I got to have more staff, I got to have more space for some, for some things, I got to have more lawyers, I gotta get to 1000 I’m scaling. It’s not an infinite scale. I mean, there’s additional costs. You know, if I continue to scale, I need a layer of middle management that I didn’t have to pay for first. So you know, if Microsoft sells me for $100, another subscription, their their costs of supply that is near zero, if I want to add another client or another 100 clients, my costs increase. And I’m not necessarily scaling, I’m growing. But you know, there’s all this myth about scaling, it’s gonna make your life better. But are you really gotta be I mean, it’s sort of like there’s a dip, right? Before you see the profitability, and I see a lot of lawyers sort of start to hit that dip and lose heart. Or realize maybe I can’t come back out the other end with my business model, the time I want to put in. So let’s talk about scale.
Well, yeah, look, I wanted to disagree with you. But everything you said there is factual, right?
Well it’s because I’m right all the time, right?
All the time. In that I, the premise you can’t scale is where I would sort of disagree. It would make for more entertaining footage here, but in a sense that it’s just a different version of scaling. Like if we had a widget, we talked about this if you were one of our listeners that listened to Michael Gerber interview. It’s the guy it’s like, hey, I need a widget, you need to be able to flip it like, a McDonald’s hamburger, I don’t want any original thought you’re just gonna run this assembly line. And I think that the closer you get, and the reason why private equity loves the SAS model is, is scalable with limited additional infrastructure or oversight, just sales and production of the product. Once you have that product, I think you can in fact scale a law firm. It is just, it is just a lot more moving parts. Everything you said is right, you go from limited, you need to expand capacity, then you need management, as you scale the management and mid level management, you know, there’s all of these different elements, so that it’s not, I think that the difference is that if you are scaling software, for the most part, if it’s a widget that hasn’t changed, there’s less of the delivery issues. But look at what’s going on with File Vine right now. They’re selling a software that theoretically should be able to scale infinitely, and hasen’t. So I think the grass is always greener, depending on where you are, in what you’re doing. But that again, everything you said is true that it is not for the faint of heart. There are dips, there are steps, you need many more pieces. It’s more complicated. Can you deliver the same quality at scale? All of those? Yes, yes. Yes, yes. But it is possible. And there are many people that have done it, and done it in the, you know, in an awesome way.
Yeah. But that leads into the question. And maybe this is something that our listeners need to think for themselves is that scale is fantastic. When it’s the same thing over and over again. And I can see you know, like, if you’re doing a trademark practice, and you go from handling 1000 applications a year to 100,000 trademark applications a year. It’s, it’s primarily the same thing. But there’s a lot of people in our audience who are like, you know, I like doing this type of cases, for me, for example, right? I like handling DUI cases. But Seth, if you told me, I was only going to get to do first offense breath test cases, I’d make it till March till I was like, dude, I need some nuance. I need some juicy issues. I want to keep myself intellectual. I think that our listeners need to start and take a step back before they start to scale and say, what is it that I actually like doing? And am I going to if I tried to scale? Do I have to give up some of that. To be able to do it.
I’ll go one step further. Do you even have the skill set to do that? Right, there are things every in law firm, I think there are plenty of coaching programs out there that talk about treating it as a business, which again, that in of itself is never a bad thing, right? Actually thinking about these things about different goals and set-setting them to best practices. But most of the good ones are talking, like most of the coaching progams are talking about culture, management, recruiting, it’s a lot of stuff, which A) if you want to grow and or scale or whatever term you want to use, you need to be able to do successfully. But you know, not everybody out there. You see a lot of the curmudgeons that went to law school we see them looking at our closed groups that we’re all part of, like a lot of these people are not particularly pleasant, and are they going to be able to do a decent job building that piece, I’ve seen as I’ve gotten more orderly in my in my later days, middle aged days, as you nice to, to point out off the top, you know, I’ve seen that I’m not the best of these things, or other people that are much, much better at that, and letting them, part of its agem where there’s a layer between you and people. But you have to get there, you need to get to critical mass where somebody else can take that over. And so I think that when you see these 10x concepts, I look I was the accidental law firm owner, we saw something, we liked it, we did more. You know, paid search, a $1,000 and made money, we did $2000 and made money, we did $5000, you know, at 10, it was starting to break a little bit. So it’s like many, many been much more step by step, rather than in, you talk about about like restaurants like all the time, its like we had a business plan and said we’re going to do this. At this point, though, post COVID. As we sort of constracted it a little bit figured out which are our skews, which are verticals that are doing best. The thought is, hey, we can add some, if we add labor to these places, we’ll be able to get a return on investment or those things, deliver great legal product to our people. We have intake, we have marketing, we have operations. But your point is well taken, it it’s not like I can just add lawyers and not add additional intake or additional admin. But I think there’s an economies of scale at different points. I think we’ve also picked the wrong industry that if we’ve done something SAS based instead of law, we’d be able to-
We’d be retired sitting in our tiki hut next to our nice bluestone patio pool. I don’t know maybe that’s just my, you know, my desire to to get to retirement age but, you know, these are the types of questions that I have I actually have something that I thought of while you were talking. And I want to pivot us a little, because I think it’s important for the, for us to talk about this, because we haven’t really talked about this in a while. And and it came to me through actually a conversation I had with with part of my leadership team this week. And as we’re ending the year, as we’re getting into our run up to the end of the year, you know, we always want to reevaluate our KPIs when it comes to our different, our different teams, right. And my legal ops team, or my lawyers team will have different KPIs. So I want to talk to you about KPIs for intake in a fee for service, not in a contingency model. But
Which I wish, I wish, so many people ask me, where is the great advantage, with Falkowitz, amazing, amazing PI, I wish there was an evangelist for the fee for service because there is such demand out there.
Well, we’re going to talk about that. And I think and so this is the conversation that we had earlier, and I want to get your feedback on it. So we’re, we’re identifying how we want to tweak our KPIs. And always, you know, number closed was a KPI. But that’s, that is a result of other things that are done. That could be measurable KPIs,
And timeout, when you say things done, what does that mean?
Like percentage of closed files, right? How many people did you close on the phone and get money out of it? Right? How many retained clients, right, whatever you want to call them, right. But that is a byproduct of other things that they do. And so what we’re adding as KPIs for our intake team, is time on call, right? Because I have seen are insane, people are not establishing enough rapport with the leads, and driving home the value of our services, right. So that’s, that’s, that is a factor that we want to look at in 2024. We also want to have a 90% follow up rate, so we can set, you know, if you’re following up for 10 business days. So you know, that’s, you know, you’ve got to make sure that you make nine calls. So you’re at 90%, follow up, that type of thing. And I think that if we have minimum thresholds for follow ups per lead, we have time on call as as a factor, you’re going to wind up seeing your retained clients, your closed clients go up. Because we’re actually measuring this stuff before that as a KPI. And I’m wondering what other KPIs you can do basically up the line to make the down the line KPI pop.
Okay, I get the idea. But at the end of the day, the top line what you care about, and you’re measuring and watching, you can tweak all this other stuff. And I’m not saying no, but I’m saying, Don’t poopoo the idea that that top line, percentage of wants closed as [inaudible] would say, that is huge. And to me that, and knowing the best you can watch, again, it’s much in harder criminal, if you get a lot of wants that you don’t get, you don’t know why, right? You go to a public defender, they bring somebody cheaper, like but if you’re in a perfect closed loop world, you would know at one point when I started the firm and I had more gumption, we’ve actually looked at the work records to see who they ended up with. And we could tell based on that was it a public defender, was it a cheap down hill person? Or do we lose something on a jump ball to another A player, which is pretty rare. And so I think that don’t take your eye off the ball in the top level. But I think what you’re saying is that the top level can be manipulated, and I don’t like I don’t love the idea of measuring the time per call, maybe there’s your way of, you’re thinking of it in a way that I’m not. But to me, it’s what are you trying to accomplish? And does your team either having your script or your talking points, whichever you’re using? Are they getting into it? And are they able to build rapport, because the right person if they’re being judged based on a percentage of wants closed? ill hopefully, I mean again, this is, we have 30 people on intake now. So like Lord knows what level of quality control there is, meaning there’s very good quality control but what whether or not the where this, if somebody knows when to flex and give time to be more empathetic and work on on the bonding versus when you need to be more matter of fact, I’m a big believer in before you get to the empathy and everything else. Do a bunch of rope. What do you, what’s the charge? What do you do for a living get the basic step because if it turns out that there’s no money I want to, I don’t want the time No, no no or limited money, let’s say, then the conversation goes towards money, not towards substance. Okay. Once you know its a job with a security privelage, you’re in play, okay, now you can pivot it to all the interesting stuff: Jets or Giants fan, Pat’s or Geno’s, whatever it is, however you want to sort of, you know, somebody in the military, I’d, my cousin is in the military, whatever that is, that’s all fine. But I feel like there’s so many variables. I am, I’m reticent to go straight to time. Because I know that this is true with salespeople, we’ve talked about this in the past, anything you decide to measure slash incentivize, will move the needle, whether you want it to or not. And so to me, it’s not about more time, if your people, you train them and trust them, and they’re doing their thing. And they’re able to get the close rate to the point you wanted, and or above, you really care about how much time it is, you know, that the sausage making, what you’re doing is there, but I think a lot of that comes down to the recorded calls, and listening and training. And that, you know, again, I’ll, Falkowitz, was the guy who got me to do it. I didn’t listen to recorded calls, I was like I’m listening, in the days that we were in the office, I can hear one side of the conversation. It’s not the same, but it’s all about pyramiding. And even if you don’t have a head of intake, even if you’re small, it has to be you, it could be a spouse because you’re too busy. Somebody has to listen to a sampling of recorded calls. With digital, it’s so easy, You only listen to listen to five minutes of a call, literally David Brenton at BluShark is amazing at this, they’ll take a Callrail, and in about 10 seconds get the essence of a call jumping throughout it to the different points, what are we dealing with? But I think that it’s much more about listening to it, then figuring out what are you missing? And adding that to that, that the time itself? Again, it’s crazy time. Or it’s no time? Yes. But that the time is the least important. In fact, if I thought that more time would sign more people, I would just hire more intake people. That’s, that’s why I have 30. Because I’m like, look, if we breathe, you know, could I do it with 10%, less or 20%? Less, I’m sure we could. But if you if the cost of that labor is at a point that is less than what you would get by order of magnitude and getting those extra cases, because you’ve let it bleed, gets you more calls. To me, that’s part of the reason I, one of the few things I like spending money on is intake. In all forms and fashions There’s very little in intake that I don’t like, whether it’s people, supervision, training, all of those things I am a big fan of.
Yeah, I mean, I agree with you, on a lot of your points. So I guess we’re not going to fight over this stuff today. But I mean, I think the reality is, is that when it comes to intake, you know, the, the reality is, is that if you’re not paying attention to this stuff, you are going to be spending money and just flushing it down the toilet. And unfortunately, for a lot of people that are in our audience, you know, the fact that lawyers charge an excessive premium, that make a lot of money, that things that we do, they can, they can make some very simple mistakes, cost themselves money, but they can live with it because they have the revenue to sort of brush it under the rug. And and we don’t want those people in our audience to be doing that. Because, you know, that’s the that’s the difference between having a good life and having a lot of extra funds to scale or take more time because I’m at a point, in fact, I had this conversation this week, with my leadership about, you know, what do you want to take out of the law firm next year, Jay? And I said more time. It wasn’t, it’s not a money thing anymore. It’s, I want
To me, I would raise my hand on the leadership team and say, okay, put your money where your mouth is, that’s gonna cost you money.
We had and you talked about in the prior episode, you’re gonna have an additional firefighter, whether it’s a firefighter or COO, a head of intake, that’s great. That’s not sort of, like whatever it is, those things reduce your time, you get to the point where these people are reporting to you, and they’re actually doing it, you know, but I’m going to come back to you on something which I just for the audience sake, we have a lot of people watching or listening depending on the mode that are smaller firms, some some larger firms, but I will be very humble here. I feel like right now I’m in a moment with a legendary intake professional, who’s running our intake team as well as it’s been in, since I’ve had a small team of law school, you know, wannabes where it was really, really high level. And even with that, it is such a difficult game that a consultant friend of mine did some cold calling to our firm. There were some not great stuff in there, you know? And I’m like my first round I am like oh my god, and like, it just shows you how this is an art not a science. You’re human beings until we get AI doing the full intake it is fraught with peril on a good day, we’re mediocre. And that again, anytime you, present company included with you Jay, anytime you’re like well yeah, I think, I think everything is fine. What do you call this and say hey I got a hole on intake, I got, I got miserable stuff going on. So that I would say that we can we can gloss over it. But on a good day work’s mediocre, which means what’s every other day?
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it hurts to think about, you know, it’s funny. And I don’t want to I don’t want to go too deep into this. But it’s, I am reminded of our co author of Tigerr Tactics 2 which is coming out next week, and everybody who’s in this audience should be we should be looking for it’s going to be available on Amazon. And I think it’s scheduled to be released on Monday, October 30th, by my calculations, and it’s my calculations, because I set the release date in the Amazon store. So I do know that for a fact. And it’s interesting, because the beginning of chapter one in the book is Ryan McKeen. And he starts with, this is hard, running a law firm is hard. Running, you know, scaling a law firm is hard, growing a law firm is hard. Everything that we do, it really is hard work. And I think that’s something that gets lost. Because everyone is looking around and seeing other people growing, and other people doing well, and saying, man, this sucks, man, I’m busting my ass to get to where I want to be. And I think everybody here needs to take a deep breath. And recognize, dude, this is hard work what we are doing every day, and give yourself credit. Because we need to do that and take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. If I look in my rearview mirror, or better yet, if I turn around, and I look at where I’m coming from, dude, I started my practice on a borrowed broken desk. But the week after phone books closed, right back in the day, phone books, I remember I had a cell phone a yellow legal pad. And and, and that was it. I called the Yellow Pages and they’re like like phone books or closed, man, you’re out for the next year. We’ll see. We’ll call you next next June when they when we’re taking contracts. And I scrapped man, this shit is hard.
So I think pivots back to our middle age. We were trying to think of the other topic for today, which is, you know, you want something that scales perfectly go to all these internet, you know, get rich quick syndicates, this is definitely not the game. And it’s,
Buy a franchise, right? Like, I mean,
But you know what, there’s no, there, you’re working for the franchise, you got a J-O-B, you know, buy 10 franchises, maybe, maybe you’ll, you got a living in after paying a manager. But none of this stuff was easy, somebody else would come into the market. That’s the great thing about the market, it sort of takes those pieces. The reason that criminal allows, you know, I think the entree that it does is that it is harder to scale. And therefore, they’re more, you know, it’s easier to scale there for us compared to others, because there are very few people that want to be in that space.
Yeah, I mean, this this, this is not easy. And there are nights where I go to bed, and I get fits of sleep, because I’m constantly thinking about a cross examination, I got to prepare that’s coming up a, you know, how am I going to make my payroll next week? What are we doing with our LSAS? Or is my intake team doing what they want to do? How’s our finance looking? Are we getting all the credit card payments, there’s a lot of things I gotta worry about.
There is, and I got something to sort of maybe conclude with, a much bigger topic and maybe a topic for an entire show at some point. But you know, it’s funny, because I start I used to sort of snicker, hopefully that’s not too harsh of a term, at the gazillion of millennials and Gen Z with anxiety issues. And I feel that with time a little bit while you’re talking about running the business, I am wondering if the, that even that we may have been insulated for a bit, but that the whole speed of the world. Social, video, social and particularly in the palm of our hands, has created a level of anxiety in some way to the fact that we’re watching media and videos flip, with an attention span of milliseconds down from like watching a half hour show. Kids don’t watch movies anymore. I’m barely watching movies anymore. The question is, is there something bigger going on that we sort of were saying yeah, these these, these students or these young employees are not the issue but like this is different, or are we just late to catch up and that there is something going on bigger and that we’re feeling it as business owners, parents watching The Sopranos sort of reminded me of like, watched Sopranos at one point. Now, I got a couple businesses and a family, and short of breaking kneecaps and taking people out. I feel like it’s my life. And so the question is, do some of the stuff that we’ve been observing through COVID with younger people seeping up to the businessowners and attorney’s.
Yeah, I mean, I- it’s, it’s crazy to me how impatient everybody is anymore. There’s no waiting for anything. I mean, it’s one of the things like a product like Case Status is really, you know, a lot of people are using it successfully, because they want the Domino’s Pizza tracker. I mean, I’m going to challenge you Seth, I guarantee you, I guarantee you 80% of our audience or more, when you get that, notice that you bought something online, and they send you the shipping information with the tracking number. Even though it hasn’t, it’s the tracking number has been assigned, you click on that tracking number, even though you know, it’s it says right underneath it, it may not even be in the system yet. It just was assigned, we’ve received your notice. But you’re like click, is it shipped yet, is it shipped yet?
That is the one thing that I’ve gotten myself weened off of. I know it because I used to live it, I was that guy. And I finally said, You know what, I got to just trust in the Amazon, I’ll get there eventually. I mean I get it if there’s something vital, but very little is that way, but I used follow a book, or this or that. And now it’s just like, it’ll get there when it gets there.
But that’s the thing. I think, you know, we are not much different from our consumer clients. And they want instant answers. What do you mean, I have to come back to court in three weeks? For people in my business? What do you what do you mean, the lawyer is not available to take my call right now. This is what I want to call. And there’s some nuance to the conversation. I mean,
Well let’s pivot to the digital space for a second, this suddenly, I feel it at BluShark, which was we started off, we talked about this before, but started off building a website had to be optimized. Now is it integrating with call rail, is it integrating with the CRM, is is your Zap working? Is this form coming in? Is there a form that was from a legacy product that’s coming in, it has gotten to the point where, and I then use it as a microcosm of everything else, that’s just like one piece of technology. But it just shows you that each thing, which may have started up a lot more basic and simple, has so many different tentacles coming in.
It can overwhelm anybody. And when you’re also trying to provide legal services, and let’s face it, for the most part, I mean, other than forward facing business and adoption cases, you know, if you’re, if you’re dealing with a PI lawyer, somebody’s been hurt. If you’re dealing with a family lawyer, a family has broken up, if you’re dealing with a criminal defense lawyer, someone has, somebody has died. A lot of times, if you’re dealing with a trust lawyer, you’re constantly either contemplating your death, or somebody sick and need some paperwork done, or somebody has died. There’s not a lot of situations where people are happy to interact with lawyers. And if they are not happy, and also frantic or frustrated about the speed of service, that type of thing, it’s going to reflect on their relationship with you, it’s going to reflect on your own personal job satisfaction, because you’re going to internalize a lot of that stress and angst. And that’s gonna be you’re going to be carrying that. So you know, it’s, it’s a lot to do this thing. And I think if you’re out there, if you’re listening to this, recognize that and know that you’re not alone. I think that’s one of the key takeaways from this.
I think that’s it. That’s why I hope our show is of value to people. Because it does take a village, I’ll send, a, conclude with a shout out to Mario Godoy, he saw something online that was uh, that really was beneficial to my firm, reached out, helped me close the loop. And I feel like if you sit there isolated, and just say you got to carry it all yourself, it is a very, very heavy burden. I think part of the success of many of the coaching programs, forget about the substance that’s good, bad or indifferent, is that people are looking for that community. And that ability to sort of see that other people just, the conversation at meals or within closed groups, gives them some camaraderie to understand, yes, there are other people carrying that same water.
Awesome. All right, well, that’s gonna do it for us Seth, this week. Great show, talked a lot of stuff here across a wide spectrum. But obviously, all this stuff matters. Of course, if you’re listening to this show, please be sure to head on over to Amazon and make sure that you buy a copy of Tiger Tactics 2. And we’re going to be doing something along with our co authors coming up in the next couple of weeks. So if you’re in The Law Firm Blueprint group, make sure that you pay attention to some of the stuff that we’re posting, we’re going to be having some roundtables with all the authors. We’ve got some great MCs that are going to run the show for us and really get a lot of good information out there. So please be aware that that stuff is coming but that’s gonna do it for me. I’m Jay Ruane. He is Seth Price. We are The Law Firm Blueprint. Thank you so much for being with us, and bye for now!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai