🎙️ Exciting news! In the latest episode of the Law Firm Blueprint Podcast, Jay Ruane and Seth Price discuss their newly released book and share valuable insights on law firm growth and success.
📚 Key Takeaways from Episode:
1️⃣ The Power of a Book: Discover the impact of publishing a book on personal branding and visibility within your community.
2️⃣ Building a Strong Team: Gain insights on when and how to make strategic hires to scale your law firm effectively.
3️⃣ Finding the Right Fit: Learn about the challenges of promoting employees who may not excel in their current roles and strategies for finding alternative opportunities within your organization.
Don’t miss out on the valuable wisdom shared in this episode! Listen now and take your law firm to the next level. 🎧✨
#LawFirmBlueprint #BookRelease #ScalingLawFirm #TeamBuilding #CareerDevelopment #LawyerSuccess #LegalIndustryInsights
Hello hello, welcome to another edition of The Law Firm Blueprint. I’m one of your hosts, James Ruane, managing partner of Ruane attorneys up here in New England where it is cold today. And down there, a little further south is my man, Seth J. Price. Seth is the Grand Poobah of all things digital at BlueShark, Digital SEO for lawyers, as well as managing partner of Price Benowitz, DC, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina any other states yet?
No other states, although we’re looking.
Ah, that’s always good. That’s always good. So, Seth, we’ve had a big week. And I think it’s important for us and appropriate for us to jump off and talk about our book, which has now been out in the wild for 14 days. How’s the feedback you’re getting?
It’s really positive. And it’s been fun. A couple of things. One, which was the power of a book, I had sort of dragged my heels on doing one and still have one in my noggin that’s halfway done-
Hey, you passed on Tiger Tactics 1 my friend!
I did, I did. But the, the, the feedback that I got, just for my personal circle was awesome, meaning as a personal love firm branding play, the fact that people in my community saw me as an author, even though it was just one of many, didn’t seem to diminish that at all. And so people were, that was, that was pleasant. The way that we did this as a collaborative I thought was particularly cool, because there’s sort of been this great synergy back and forth. In fact, I was out in Arizona for the business of law happening with one of our co authors, Jen Gore, and we actually jumped on, one of our, one of the three online discussion groups, and got to do that together. And so definitely saw a super positive energy slash visibility, which I was again, I just didn’t expect anything like that to come from it.
Yeah, you know, it’s been really it’s been really interesting for me, you know, seeing this journey. I mean, literally, Tiger Tactics started with Billy Teracio, Ryan, and myself, just in a Slack group, we were all part of Lee Rosen’s divorce discourse, Rosen Institute, I guess it was called. And this was seven, eight years ago. And it was, and it was funny, because, you know, Lee, Lee’s a great guy, and I’m sure he, you know, it was where I first got exposed to Slack. And he called Billy and Ryan and myself group high intensity, because he would step away, and there would be 700 messages between the three of us, you know, between Friday nights at midnight, and, and Monday morning, because we’re going, going, going, and, you know, that’s one of the things that, you know, I kind of think you need to be an unbridled enthusiastic person to, to be an entrepreneur, and, you know, the sort of the lifespan of the first book. And really, sort of the second book, has really sort of been amazing, because, you know, you can read each book totally independently. And I think, you know, for people who are beginning their journey, there’s value in the first book, but there’s a lot more value, I think, in the second book, if you’re just starting out, because, like we all said, we’ve all made mistakes, I don’t think there’s a single chapter where a person didn’t admit to the mistakes that they made. And it’s pretty cool to see everyone just being brutally honest with the world and saying, hey, I screwed this up, don’t you make the same mistake. Here’s an opportunity, you know, get on it. And I think that there’s going to be some acceleration by people in the market, who don’t have to stumble through the steps that you and I stumbled through.
You know, it’s funny, life moment. So a couple of weeks ago, I had dinner with somebody who was part of those early Lee Rosen groups and they’re a family lawyer in Texas, and they never scaled. they’re one person, they do, they have a nice practice. They don’t have huge overhead. They have, they do a nice gross nut. And pretty happy, but there are moments they’re going to or, you know, to groups trying to figure out how to be, how to expand. And I’m like, well, if you have no labor, like that, that’s sort of, you know, part of what we talk about throughout the book is like, one of the questions we get asked, I’d say more than anything is when do you know when to make the next hire, or a key hire, etc. And we get this through the Law Firm Blueprint as well. And it was interesting, because it’s goes so frozen on just what to do, and he had a paralegal at one point, that’s no longer, and like, you know, my advice was, you know, call Get Staffed Up. They’ve been out there forever. You’ve played with them. Get two people. God forbid they both work out. God forbid. The odds of one of them working out, if you get so lucky that one of the to work out, and look, all the stuff we talk about new systems and all these things, but it was just an interesting life moment to see somebody where when I opened my mouth, it was as if it was like this funnel, you know, all these things. And I think that the book itself is a probably a kinder, gentler way to digest from a number of different perspectives, different people’s perspectives on what it takes to get from A to B to C.
Yeah, I mean, you know, hiring has always been a trouble for me, mainly because I always, you know, I suffered from the same sort of outlook that many people in our audience do is that, you know, oh, I need to hire somebody that’s $75,000 a year out of my pocket. Right. And I, you know, I was thinking, that’s a huge nut, I gotta, you know, I gotta come up with, and it really, it took me a while to get to the whole, hey, you just have to really be able to afford them for the next 13 weeks.
That’s my law partners therum. And we talked about it a lot. Yeah. And you know what? Look at it for three, four months, look at it for six months, whatever number makes you makes you, get, gets you through the day. But the like, the only way to get to get bigger is to is to get something until it’s more than just you, or keep it just you if you’re happy with that, you you you want to talk about like people being happy, like managing people, not ideal I, you know, with 100 plus people and two organizations, if 1% of them meltdown. That’s a fair bit of meltdowns. And I’ve seen it.
Yeah, no. And, you know, the interesting thing to me is that, you know, I look back and I say, well, what if I took my 10 most profitable clients, and just work those cases individually, I worked one case a month for 10 months, a year. And just that, would I make the same, would I make-
But it’s a fictional type concept to get the people in to find them-
That’s the problem!
They don’t grow on trees, you know, I get this BluShark all the time, oh, I only want truck accident cases. You know, so do I, you know, you know, it’s like, it’s not like there’s a magic wand. Now, there are things you could do, you could become the b2b expert, speak at seminars. And there are people that have done that are now synonymous, and they get brought to co-counsel on cases. But there’s no like magic that with a, you know, a 6, 7, 8 thousand a month retainer to a digital agency, mine or anybody else’s, that you’re going to magically get pristine, perfect cases, you’re going to get everything. The whole point is, you know, you can’t distinguish about who’s going to click on that page and call you. It may be somebody that has no injuries, and it could be someone with a catastrophic injury. But if you don’t have that team to help you sift it, you’re gonna have a lot less of them, unless you’re a pure referral practice. And people only know to send you those cases.
Yeah, it’s a real challenge. You know, it’s, it’s, you know, yeah, if I took just my top 10 cases, and I work 10 files a year, I would be ridiculously profitable. And I would have, you know, enough free time. But the problem is, is in order to find those 10 cases, I gotta go through 1000. You know, and, and if I’m getting to the 1000s, going through the 1000, why not monetize them? You know? So it’s, it’s, that’s-
That’s a real question. Because I see this, and I talked to people when they want to get into digital who are elite practitioners, and there are certain number, I’m like, don’t even bother, you’re just, you’re gonna be annoyed. Because if you don’t have a system, to answer the phone, and monetize those lower dollar cases, whether you’re sending them out for a fee, or to people that you strategically send them out to to get other cases back to you, if you are just going to tie up your phones and not get them answered. And you may lose the really good cases that are coming in, through other channels, not worth it. And I think it’s a real decision that people have to make. You know, interesting, we were at a family law conference, I was not there, but a bunch of BluShark people were and I sort of prepped them, I’m like, there’s a world of family law that does high end, essentially b2b. They know, the other A players in town, that whether it be through sports teams, or celebrities or what have you, or ultra wealth, you know, high net wealth individuals, there’s just, there’s a closed loop. And you know what, for those people SEO may not be right.
And exactly. I mean, that’s part of the thing I think people have to you have to identify what type of market you want. I mean, I know people who started to scale and then they’re, they’re on this treadmill, and they’re thinking, why did I ever do this? But then, so now they’re miserable, but they have outward signs of success. But they’re thinking, man, I don’t want to do it this way. Why did I, and I think basically, bottom line, I think you really have to really know who you are what you want, if you’re going to start to scale, because you could be successful at scale and wind up making your life miserable.
Couldn’t agree more. And some of the history is written by the victor. You know, I was with people that you know, if you plant your flag in a plaintiff’s practice in a state that has amazing law, and the average fee for case is super high, God bless, and you’re off to the races. You know, I personally put one in a worse place, you know, where we have laws like contrib that don’t help get there. Flipside, I started I’m scaling my firm. Oh ’06, ’07, ’08 when there were no jobs, and we were any, you know, I would see people apply to me three times before we accepted them. And it was just a different moment, if you’re trying to build up during an economic boom, and get people to stick that’s much, much harder.
So let me ask you this. This is, this came up in my leadership question, you know, we are tracking our growth at our firm. Really happy with where we’re growing, how we’re growing, our referral business is really starting to really take off, like more than ever before, because we’ve spent the last year really focusing on cultivating those inbound referrals. My philosophy was, a lot of Boomer lawyers are starting to retire or not want to necessarily take cases, you know, two or three counties away. And if we could be the easy go to resource for them, it would work out and sure enough, it seems to be working, our referral business is up about 25%. I’m predicting we can continue on this path. We’ve got some systems that are working, and we want to expand it, we have new targets that we’re going to try to maintain relationships with, and I’m very happy about that. But we’re at a point now where, you know, do, we don’t necessarily need more staff. But I think six months from now we could. So I’ve already tasked my people, hey, let’s hire now. Yeah, we don’t have the need for them today. But you know, it could take us four months, five months, six months to find the right person, and get them moderately trained, so that they could step in and do some of the work both at the legal level, the lawyer level or at the support staff position, what’s your thought about, you know, building a bench early?
Well look, it, assuming your economics allow for it. And when you very first start out, you may not have as much fat, you have enough fat, you know,
Oh, I have plenty of fat.
Exactly. And you have some business fat. And you can afford to do that. And we all look, I would say one of the places that you will never in my opinion, and I go too crazy on it, maybe. You will always make more money with additional intake if you’re a b2c lawyer, that the idea that you have more time to speak to somebody, more time to follow up, God forbid they have, they don’t have enough to do, they get some reviews. Like building that group. Before it’s needed. I find I’ve never met someone who’s disappointed that they hired additional intake. And I say, the greatest thing that ever happened to me, not going to be, is that if you can scale that pod enough, imagine if you could ever proactively find the person who’s performing least get them out of that division or out of the firm, depending on the situation. That to me, like we talked about it, you’re supposed to, you know, follow in the Jack Welch philosophy,
Cut the bottom 10%.
When you raise your game, and how do you make sure, and the only way, we’ve all been in the position, we’ve talked about this over the years. But like when you have people that are not, it’s not the it’s not like it’s you know, it’s usually a two way street, very rarely, is the person who’s not performing thrilled with their job. Generally, it’s what my partner would say, a round peg, square hole. If you can find them the right place, whether in your firm outside the firm, those people can go on to kick ass. You know, it may be that somebody is really meant for, you know, public service, it may be that they’re really meant for pol-, whatever it is. But if you find that somebody isn’t right for that, the fact that you have the ability to keep going and not have to, with some additional, and I think that that’s where, you know, you can go crazy, you can put yourself in a cash flow crunch. But I really believe that in your history, when you’ve taken that bold step and hired, how many times has it been like, oh, yeah, we have too much bandwidth. Has that really ever happened to you?
I’ve never been in a situation where people are like, I’m sitting at my desk bored, I have nothing to do. There’s always something they can do.
There are some where it’s not quite as you know, potentially productive. But if you’re doing your job, and you’re building, it’s just a minute before it’s there.
Let me ask you a question too. And this is something that I have not prepped you for. But I figured it’s a good time to ask this question. How do you handle a situation where somebody wants an internal promotion? However, they were put in their current position after I don’t want to say bombing out but really couldn’t perform at the speed and accuracy that a level needed, right. So we brought them in, they were doing well. We tried to train them for a position. You know, they have the right attitude, they have the right optimism, but they just can’t execute at that level. You know, for, for a sports reference. You need somebody who can throw 70 yards and they can only throw 40, right? Like it they just never got get there. But they keep saying, hey, I, you know, I’m happy in my role, but I want to try this again, I want to do this. And they want it. They keep asking, and they’re encouraging other people in the, at their level to suggest, hey, why don’t we bring this person onto our team, when you know, they didn’t work out in that role, and they didn’t work out even in the training for that role. So they’re-
So to bring somebody back to the role? Or to-
No, so you, okay, so I’ll make it a little clearer, because I’m probably being too nebulous and who cares who hears this. I have a receptionist, started training the receptionist to move into a junior position in legal operations. Could not get it. Just, just could not pick up on the training, tried to do some of the projects, was missing things, didn’t have the attention to detail that was necessary, very pleasant person, but just excels in the receptionist role, however, has, you know, because of the size of our office, we’re only 40 ish people, has, you know, maintained relationships with people in those pods, in those positions, and is trying to encourage them to get out of reception into a pod, because they’re their friends, they want to work together, and they think it’d be fun. But how do you kindly and gently tell somebody, you’re not meant to do that? Because it is above your, you know, above your skill set? Without without them having hurt feelings? Because then you know, you don’t want them to just be like, well, then fine I’m out.
I mean, look, there’s a lot of sort of the just, you know, I would, there’s a lot there, in a lot of different ways, but let’s put it one question is, are you better off ever just ignoring, meaning you know, what you’re doing. You know, that you don’t want the person in that? And the person who’s going to ask, and you hope that they sort, it of fizzles. I’d say the ideal if I could wave a magic wand for you, would be to say, okay, I know that it’s not going to work here. Right? And that’s what you’re paid to do is to know what’s going to work or not or not work, but is it possible that there are opportunities in a client success coordinator, in running a pod that does review generation? Whatever it is, are there things that you could do, which would give the person upward mobility without putting them in a seat that you know, in your, your expert opinion and as business owner, don’t believe would be successful? And so to me, it’s can you get can you find something because look, being if you’re at a job that doesn’t have any upward mobility, and you want upward mobility, you’re gonna lose them? So the question is, can you find something that doesn’t hurt your, what you know, in your business heart is not going to work. But instead, can, can dress this up. And, look, it’s an interesting sort of dovetail to something that I dealt with years ago, we may have talked about this, like way predates the show. But I used to be very liberal on titles. I used to have somebody come in on the first day, is like a 23 year old marketing person and say, hey, you’re the director of business development, or director of marketing, right? And I was like, I’m not paying anymore. But you know, you go home, you put it on a business card, we were 10 people at the time, what did I care? And my guy Brian, who was the guy who had the issue with the motorcycle, he came to me one day and said, hey, you’re, you’re creating a real problem. Because those people that you gave the director title to just because for shits and giggles, and because you’ve thought that that was going to sort of make them happy. They’re coming back with salary grids, showing where a Director of Marketing is supposed to be. And this was a real thing. This, I’m not kidding. This, this really happened to me.
Wow! I never even thought about that.
Yeah. And I didn’t either. But it was a thing. And so I think there’s something to, you know, finding other opportunities where it could be instead of receptionist, you know, manager of clients success and giving other pieces to it, and trying to build it. I think Mike Morris did a nice job with this with some of his early people that had been with him for 20 plus years, where he’s found homes for them, for people that came in on straight administrative tracks. And so I think there are ways to build and grow people. But I think you don’t want to be too broad, where you’re, you’re sort of giving somebody like, hey, they’re Queen of the castle or King of the castle, when they’re really not. At the same time. I’d like to be able to know that I’m giving somebody additional opportunity, because God forbid you do. And they really excel, and something we’ve all danced around, that his could be the person that checks in on your clients, when you know, for two hours a day, they’re not receptionist, somebody else covers them, and if they’re able to get something else, and you could actually see wow, there’s another, that would be the ideal, particularly if you know, I thought where you were going, which I’ve seen is when somebody’s not working in one place. And you try to put them in another, its a very sensitive thing because we all love people and we want them to stay with us. How often can you find a home for somebody after they really crash and burn in a specific location?
Yeah, it’s funny, I was talking to Kate Knockhazel about that, and she goes, you don’t just want to move the turd.
You don’t want to move the turd like, like, there comes a point where somebody just isn’t cut out for you. And moving, moving them from one department to another, it’s just taking problems from one department and putting it in another, you know-
Unless it really is a genuine fix, which is probably one out of three, one out of four times where it really is the wrong seat in the wrong place. But if you put them in the right place, so like meaning attention to detail, you’re like, okay, well, that’s not going to that’s not going to change for a lot of jobs. You may you know, is it really attention to detail? Or is it there’s a processing issue, I’ve had a lot of people over the years, where they literally, you know, can’t retain information that’s given to them, I don’t care what Jay Ruane systems are there, it’s just not going to happen. And so those are the ones where is that? But at the same time for purpose of culture, people that you like, we continue to try those things. And I’m not saying you’re moving somebody multiple times, but are there opportunities where the person is not great outward facing towards clients, but could be a great internal person? You know, that’s one of those things that I think that you know, the tilting of windmills, that we don’t want to, we don’t want somebody to, we want people to be able to find a home with us. And if we could, and I use the dating analogy a lot, right? Something’s not right for you could definitely be right for somebody else. And there are times when you’re like, hey, this person isn’t meant to pair up there. They need, they need a decade before they’re gonna find their soulmate that they’re not they’re not in that mindset. So it’s Is this something where it’s just they’re not they’re not digging Jay Ruane? Or is it something where they’re just not ready for a relationship at all.
That was me from basically 22 to 35. I was not ready for a relationship. I guess I should apologize now to the women that I dated. I was the wrong guy at the wrong time, even though I had the best of intentions because I was, I was just not-
There was the Sex in the City where Carrie was like men are like taxi cabs going around dropping them off, picking up people. The moment the light goes on the next person who gets in the car. That’s gonna be it. And that was her, that was her take.
I like it. I like it. Well, that’s gonna do it for us this week here on The Law Firm Blueprint. Thank you so much for turning, uh, tuning in and staying with us. Of course, you can always take us on the go, by connecting with us in The Law Firm Blueprint podcast, which you can get wherever you get your podcasts, be sure to subscribe to it, give us five stars. That way you get every new episode as soon as it hits the air. If you want to catch up with us, you can catch us every week live in our Facebook group, the law firm blueprint where we discuss systems and what you need to do to run a better law firm. Seth, any final words today?
No, I you know, it was great to see everybody on the zoom for, for Tiger Tactics, CEO edition. And looking forward to the third one.
Yeah, I am too, it was interesting. I found out yesterday that somebody called me the Nick Fury of Tiger Tactics, and I had no understanding of what that meant. And they were like, come on, Jay. You don’t know Nick Fury? I’m like, no, apparently, it’s like a Marvel movie character. I have never watched any Marvel movies. I tried like the first 15 minutes of the original Iron Man. I’m just not into them. I am, I’m more of a Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, dialogue driven person. Those you know, transformer Marvel movie type things are just they just don’t do it for me. So now I’m supposed to go out and report back to all the Tigers Tactic authors about watching all of the Marvel movies, which just seems intimidating to me. But who knows?
Start with one.
I’m gonna start with one. Maybe this winter, I’ll get through it. Although somebody did tell me that Samuel Jackson is Nick Fury. I think that’s right. So that might get me to actually watch one of those shows. But that’s it for me. I got nothing else. You got nothing else. Let’s call it a show. Thanks for being with us, folks. Bye for now.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai