This week on the show we talk about Jay’s new plan to cultivate more referrals in 2023, and do you need a HR person? An admin tasked with all things HR? Someone in the middle? Seth and Jay talk semantics and optics and whether you need to spend big bucks hiring a dedicated HR person or really just need a focused assistant at smaller firms.
Hello, and welcome to this edition of the Law Firm Blueprint. I’m your host, Jay Ruane. I don’t even know my name, Jr, though, I’m looking at my notes to get us ready, because on my screen, you guys can’t see it. But I have all these posted notes of the things that I want to make sure that we talked about since we are alive without a net. And I saw something that starts with the letter G. And I just started that out. Anyway, I’m Jay Ruane if you haven’t picked up on that already. And that guy over there from BluShark and Price Benowitz as you can see behind him is my man Seth Price said How should we go this week? You know, it’s
going really well. It’s still riding a little high from PubCon and tech show, and, you know, handful of happy clients that are like you changed our firm in our life. So it’s, it’s been it’s been that that part is good. It’s all good. But that
was never all good. It’s never all good. You know, it’s funny, I was just talking about and I actually consciously decided that I’m going to go to two seminars this year outside of Connecticut. I’m gonna I’m trying to get to a third, it’s just a question of timing with some of my kids activities. And you tell me what’s on your list. So I’m going to do a fireproof weekend, I think, because I think although I’m starting to get a feeling that fireproof is awesome for pie, there’s a ceiling for what I can glean from it. And because because my area is so different, but I you know, I’m committed to it for a while to see how that’s going. And I’m excited to spend some time in the room with John and Kate and, and that whole crew of people because I think he could definitely help us. And then I’d like to go to a DUI DLA conference and also to a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers conference. So we’re talking about
getting back into the DUI. Yeah, nationally. Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it’s the history. I mean, there’s a point where like, you would have thought there wasn’t another DUI lawyer in the entire state of Connecticut, when you attend to these groups. So I know, it helped build your firm your national presence, good to see you get back on the road. Yeah, you know, back
on the road, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s been a while, you know, with with COVID. And even before that with kids, you know, it’s it’s tough to get on the road. But it’s good to do some networking. In fact, let’s start with the show and talk a little bit about that. I know, we have a bunch of topics. But one of the things that a lot of our audience does, that doesn’t really get much play is referral marketing. So I want to talk a little bit about what I’m doing in 2023. And if you’re on my list, and you’re listening to this show, there are a few people who I know, listen to the show that are on my list. Be on the lookout for some mail. So what I realized is I took some time, and I did a quick calculation, you know, my cost per lead and cost per acquisition of, of a digital lead, you know, isn’t is in the hundreds of dollars. And that’s okay, because, you know, we’re the fees we’re quoting and getting, you know, we can eat that, but my referral, I mean, I had a small spend on referral marketing last year, just sending out no cards and that type of thing. But my referral marketing cost per acquisition was under $30. You know, I don’t have you know, I’m not NPI, legally, I can’t give referral fees for criminal cases. So
that’s just the include your gifting and everything else that you do,
because my gifting taking people out to dinner taken from Yankee games, you know, good contracts really
low, because you’re pretty generous gift her?
Well, and I have a ton of referrals that came in in the last couple of years. And so it is on the low side. So I thought to myself, you know, shift J, what have you actually put some conscious effort into developing your referrals, and spending some more money spending some time some sweat equity and that type of thing. So this is what I did. I amassed a list of 150 lawyers that in my state that have given me referrals in the last couple of years last 10 years by by scouring our CRM and my list. I yesterday I sent everybody on a note card. And so everyone’s getting no card saying handwritten,
handwritten note card by you or by staff, not by
me and not by staff by a robot, I use a service called handwritten.com AJ and DRWRY t t e n. So I set up so it’s a nice handwritten note card hand addressed. And it just says, you know, part of my goal in 2023 is to be a little more intentional with my relationships. I’ve been meaning to reach out to you. I figured I’d drop your note card, be on the lookout for an email from me, but Let’s reconnect because it is important for us to maintain our relationship. So I sent that out so next week, or two weeks from now I’m going to send out have an email. But I’ve called this list from, I’ve gotten everybody’s email, and I’m just going to try to check in with them once a month. So it’s kind of a newsletter, kind of from the desk of Jay, here’s what I’m working on. Here’s a little bit about the firm, but mostly, you know, hey, you know, you know, do you want to go to Yankee game with me, I’m go to these games, I got an empty seat next to me who’s interested in coming, you know, you know, I have tickets at a box at our local amphitheater, Hey, who wants to go see government mule, or who wants to go see Rod Stewart come along with me, I’m just using that as a way to sort of open up that dialogue and get people into the, into the room with me, so we can talk a little bit more. And then I have an idea about sending him everybody else, some chocolate chip cookies, and just actually consciously focusing on referral marketing, because I don’t think a lot of people spend any time really putting a lot of effort into cultivating and maintaining the referral stuff like they do digital, they’re willing to spend the money, because you can spend money and not have to do the actual heavy lifting of referrals. But, you know, at $42, I got a lot of room there that I can actually invest time and effort and actually tried to generate some referrals. So hopefully, people that are listening are going to stay tuned over the next year, as I report back on how this is going. If I’m getting engagement if people reacted violently to it or loved it. So that’s something that I’m doing. And I thought I’d share with the audience
and look like everything else. I think it’s whether or not you stay focused with it. You know what I mean? Like I to me, like the back in the day, it was called Contactually. There was a software that was great that could automate this. It’s, and that’s for me what, you know, we do what we love. So yeah, you stick with this, I have no doubt. You know, one of the coaches out there was talking about like gas calls, give a shit call staying in touch. And I told you, I’m taking a call with somebody I’ve met at PubCon, who’s using AI to help layer into LinkedIn, just for those touches. Now nothing’s better in the personal touch. Tickets are great, who doesn’t want that? Hopefully, I make the cut for a game. But the idea is, what can you do? Because so much of this is who is in for you. It’s sort of an interesting place. Because I feel like for the DUI cases of Connecticut is stickier. It’s not like people forget about you as much as PII where they have seven different people they can’t go to, there are eight different masterminds being unique. In one sense. It’s almost like, you know, a show like this helps you in that it gets out to masses, you know, the individual touches are good, but it’s not like most people have three people they send their stuff to in the state, you have, you know, and then does that affect how you do this meaning for you, a BNI is less valuable, I would think, Oh, it’s useless to me. Right, versus, you know, one visit every three years to a new ideal era and ncdd. Again, goes may not know J is one of the few people that has bridged the gap between two tumultuous oriented organizations with a tumultuous past. But the fact is, it’s it’s basically how do you make those meaningful touches, ideally, at scale? Not that you don’t want to spend four hours with somebody in the Yankee game, there’s nothing better. But the question for you is, given that everybody doesn’t have a DUI referral on a daily basis, how do you make sure you stay top of mind?
Well, and that’s part of the reason why I’m doing is that we really are trying to expand our criminal footprint even more. I mean, our focus has been DUI for years. But over the last, you know, half a dozen years, we’ve been getting back into general criminal, My people are more interested in general criminal than I am interested in DUI. So I think this is a good entree, I’m going to put out another book that I am going to update a book that I already written earlier this year. So this is a which is a way for me to you know, to touch people that I haven’t really communicated with. I mean, one of the guys on my list is a guy that I went to law school with, who I actually Michael Smith, who you and I know through who’s with point ne we met him through John Fisher’s mastermind, great guy, I actually made a connection for them as they were restructuring their firm and, and that lawyer at Xcel Ventures is trying to you know, we’ve been trying to connect now for like, almost a year to do lunch. So I figured a no card to him. Get, you know, let’s read. Let’s reignite that relationship. And I don’t know we’re gonna see what works, you know, and nothing ventured, nothing gained. But, you know, the takeaway, I guess from this is if you’re looking to send out note cards at scale handwritten.com is a great resource. I was able to upload my mailing list and and create a you know, 150 note cards in about 15 minutes. It was awesome. So, I don’t know if you’re on the list of sets, you may not get what I meant to say.
Like, you know, it’s $3 a pop it’s like am I in my sponge worthy? Yeah. And like that, that becomes an issue. You know, even when you gift, you know, the question is at each price point, it goes out to less my gut for you, you know, if I’m if I’m sort of quarterbacking us, you almost as much as you love the very, very nice gifts for the successful cases, you know, something that just puts your mug out there, at the least amount per touch is likely to pay higher dividends than in a crowded space. You know, somebody’s a car wreck lawyer where you need to be able to cut through the noise where somebody might remember the cutting board that has their name on it, you know, versus, you know, for you, it’s really, you know, can you get to all those people that could filter in, you said somebody also interesting in there, and I’m seeing the same thing, which may be dovetails to one of our topics today about hiring, that one of the things that I’m seeing in the in the metro markets is policing has changed dramatically, dramatically. And that we are seeing less arrests. You know, in certain sectors, particularly sectors with money, something that was pretty upsetting in DCR, for private attorneys good for the public at large. During COVID, they dropped their requirement for public defenders monetarily. So anybody could have a public defender, forget about somebody who had need, those are things that you know, can markedly change your practice. And that while criminal events probably less profitable than a DUI case, given that you know, that there’s money attached are much more highly likely. That that is a whole nother set of business practices, margins and scale that need to be taken into account. So talk to me, we’ve talked about hiring on the show a bunch. I gotta say, right now, what kept me up last night was the angst of a couple open slots. And ones that I know I need to upgrade, where there’s a problem. And this is not a light problem. This is one that like, if I were to bring this to a hot seat, you’d be you know, we’d be like, Hey, dude, what are you doing, you need to upgrade. And, you know, what I find is part of the you know, there’s a kick the can mentality in life and business, right? When it’s in place, it’s making money. But it’s worse when you know, that the knock kicking the can means you actually have to play full contact sport. And that things that we’re seeing, I know, you’ve seen this, we’re dealing with young lawyers who have a choice with massive undergrad law school loans of law school loans being paid off, if they stay in government service for a decade, I happen to me last week. And it is I literally turned somebody down the other day, because I’m like, she had six years left. And I didn’t believe that she was going to make enough more than her government job to justify it, meaning I know enough about what her ceiling was. And I said, No, stay where you are. And they’re ones that you want, where they need to bet on themselves, meaning the delta of the government job with that benefit. And government benefits, we’ve always been there that that delta has made it that much harder. And that unless somebody’s a true Rockstar that’s going to take off and frankly, the delta between the true rock star who’s going to take off and leave you within a year because they’re just they’re destined for greatness, right? They’re not going to stay within they’re not going to be within somebody else’s organization, which happens, right? And the other end of this, where there if somebody is not that, and they’re going to have to stay tethered, because of student debt forgiveness, you’re that delta, as I’m saying, of the population, it’s you’re looking for a finer and finer opportunity there.
Yeah, you know, I had, I had a great young lawyer, been with me for seven months, making good money. You know, and we were very aggressive with our offer to her. Because we wanted her for a number of reasons. You gave her notice on Friday, because she got US government job where she’s going to be able to wipe out $230,000 worth of law school loans in 10 years. And, you know, she said to me, you know, I think I could generate some business, I don’t know if I can generate $750,000 worth of business in the next 10 years to pay off these loans. And even if you were to wave a magic wand and wipe him out for me in a decade, then it’s a taxable event to me, and I know $100,000 on taxes.
Right? I know, but that’s but that’s just not 100 It’s actually more than that if you have not
so so like she’s looking at $320,000 worth of of taxes and loans forgiven. There’s no way I can compete with that. And I’ll never be able to compete. So actually, we’re, I’m really focusing now on trying to find somebody who’s been out for you know, 2530 years that you know, Ken isn’t ever going to take one of those state government jobs.
But that J. This is,
then they’re, then they’re tied into their own bad habits. Oh my god,
it’s so crazy you have died, we’ve done the show long enough that it’s come full circle, right. And the fact that you turn those people down one after another because you can’t deal with it to the fact that they’re now in play. That’s how crazy this world has gotten. That’s it.
That’s exactly it. And the reality is, is that we’re talking about a drained talent pool. And so now I have to figure out how to make it work. And I don’t know, I mean, we’ve got the job postings out there, we haven’t got it. But speaking of hiring, I’m in I’m at a sort of a crossroads. And I’m curious as to get your, your input on this, I am at a point now I’m about 30. People, I definitely need to have somebody in the HRC just, you know, running meetings, doing one on ones, you know, and just keeping us on point for that type of thing, filling jobs, doing interviews, you know, basically, you know, the HR role in any company, and I think I need to have that, it’s probably a 20 hour week job, I’m sure it can be expanded to be 40. But hiring an HR professional isn’t cheap. So I’m wondering, instead of that, do I then find like a COO integrator role, which will be double the cost of HR? And have them also do the HR stuff in there as part of the CIO?
Okay. Okay. So this is crazy, because I have been this is all I’ve been thinking about for the last 10 days. We did not we did not plan this. So. So yes. So I
guess that’s what you should hire? Yes.
The answer is, I have a new theory that I am going with, and that I have a theory that in our world, solo small, even medium law firms, the role of HR is fraught with peril. The person who’s brought in is has a no win situation, they’re either too much with employees, in which case, you’re going to be upset, they’re too much with you. And they’re going to anger employee who has a too much with you, they’re too employer centric, that we don’t pay enough. And we don’t get the tutor and $50,000 HR Rockstar that said Hilton Capital One, etc. And that nobody, the person who takes the job, which is quote unquote HR, where they get to sort of talk to people with their complaints about their issues are taking a job for less than I don’t say market, but less than their potential because they like it. And that to me becomes a danger. So this is my theory, I’m working on rolling out here live for the first time, which is we need these things done, right, we need benefits, we need payroll, you need recruiting something, I always kept separate. But that’s just me. But I needed recruiting, you need onboarding, you need all of these different elements task wise, but that if those are under operations, they take on a matter of fact position versus under quote unquote, HR, human resources, whatever that means. It takes on a drama quotient. And then if we’re able to eliminate the HR component of literally no more HR, it’s just operations where this is what needs to be done. Right? Then we will be able to get what we need done theoretically, without that. Not that if you’re big enough, you wouldn’t have a chief people officer or a manager of people or 30. And
I don’t think I’m going larger than that. Like I’m happy, I’m happy where I’m at
no don’t understand. What I’m saying is there may be a person that has a role that helps out But anybody that has and the way this came up was one of my partners was like, Hey, we’re doing this, we need to see what their HR training and experiences. And I guess I have come to the short term conclusion I’m going with until I get convinced otherwise convince me otherwise, that the HR piece itself is part of the problem. We want all the tasks done. But let’s get those done. But without bringing in somebody who has made a career out of being a professional intermediary, without the higher level training, that it would be needed to really do that job at a level that doesn’t make it worse than better. That’s sort of where my head is at right now. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. So I
mean, that makes a lot of sense to me. You know, just make sure that you have somebody who’s a essentially type A who can get all that shit done. You know, make sure that your job postings are up, make sure that your interviews are scheduled that the right people are getting their their quarterly and annual reviews. Have somebody there who can you know, make sure that you’re moving towards your rocks if you follow you know That integrator ish type role if you’re not going to spend the money on an integrator and no at that point hire a therapist to come in to negotiate the interpersonal stuff.
Correct. We’re dealing with billions there where you have the lady so but it’s not that you don’t want an integrator and not that you don’t want those jobs posted. But what are the things and while you fake it till you make it, if you don’t have the resources, get an overseas person who’s posting your jobs for you, maybe even giving you the screening of the resumes that and then you’re going to have to or somebody in your team will have to make that first line, but figure out very much what needs to be done. Not that some magical HR person is good, because look, most people start with an office manager that includes that, right, I don’t think you generally run into that same issue as much. Because that job is everything or not, it’s all these different things. But as you get beyond just an office manager, or firm administrator, and you need that next one, to me, I’m a big believer in with scale, I wanted the recruiter. And if you’re not going scale, having a person that can at least have that skill set, whether in house or out of house, great. But it’s that next piece. Now we also see and many of our good friends who we know their shortcomings shouldn’t be talking to the average person at the firm, we have plenty of our listeners and friends of ours present company included over time, anger management issues, personality issues, where you do need buffers, but the question is, if it’s the traditional HR piece, is that doing what you need? Or is it really hey, I need an org chart where I’m either the visionary or the CEO, and then having stuff come down the pyramids out, but buying somebody, when it’s a hiring person that can do what you need, specifically, and not some touchy feely a amorphous piece.
So let me ask you this, then, how do you? Or how do I? Or how do all of us find that person and not have our staff and attorneys think that that person is the touchy feely come complaint to me person, because that could overwhelm them? It doesn’t fit into their strength? Like, if you have somebody who’s typing who’s gonna be like, I’m going to make sure all my nines are right, I’m going to make sure that the posts are coming in, that we’re getting resumes that we’re scheduling interviews, that we’re doing our quarterlies we’re doing our annuals, and they’re on top of all that shit, but they’re called HR. They’re gonna get the I don’t like my coat, whatever.
They’re not called out but they’re not what do we call them? They’re they’re the of the the director of operations and marketing operations manager. Again, Jake, I hear you, it’s not like this is a work in progress. No, I’m
trying to figure this out. Because I’d rather I’d rather hire your role, you know, and get it functional than trying to find somebody who has the HR.
The question is, it has to be somebody where when there’s a sexual harassment complaint, it can get to somebody of authority, right? You need an outlet. But let’s get to the serious stuff and deal with that. And that you teamed in a perfect world is funny, because we have to build bigs come back on because I brought this to Bill, he’s like, we’ve never discussed this before knows, like, this is exactly how I believe like, it’s not a, it’s not a traditional way of running things. But each manager at the top of the pyramid is the person that will take that now you need an outlet in case that manager is the issue. But if you have a bunch of paralegals, there’s a head of those people, if you have people doing intake, and each of those pyramid up and that that person will deal with most of those issues. You always need an escape hatch, I get that, but a full time person doing that. And it’s fascinating because we had it and the person had a bunch of issues. For sure, there were people that liked it in puppet, I just feel like it’s an area to fester issues. We don’t want a central bitch place that people come to, we want to be constructive. So if there’s a real issue, bring it to a manager, let’s get it resolved. If your paychecks not, right, we have a person for that if you’re if your benefits didn’t you know you, you got divorced, you have to, we need to be able to solve all those issues. But let’s do that with zeros and ones not with how do you feel today? And again, it’s not that you don’t want to be caring, but I want to be able to be supportive. I don’t want to create I don’t want to on payroll have somebody who’s responsible for building a toxic world.
Yeah, I mean, I’m really I’m really sort of intrigued by this because I definitely know I need somebody who can execute on the objective tasks in the HR world. Payroll, quarterly annuals, you know, paperwork, benefits, all of that stuff. And I don’t think I mean, I think any owner, any business owner, would love to think that there are not such great inter personality conflict issues in their office that you need to have like a therapist, or somebody who can go and say, So and so didn’t didn’t look at me. But in reality that that happens. You know, the question really is, how do you recruit for this role? What type of personality are you looking for? Are you looking for that type A? That is everything is lined up, and there’s no emotion? Are you looking for somebody who has is well organized, but can’t let somebody bitch to them? So that reminds me, I love the office, right? That Dwight used to have a standing five 4pm appointment with Toby every Friday, to complain about the week and Toby would just sit there and take it. I need a Toby right. You need somebody who’s nobody.
I don’t think you do that’s unchallenging people that I’m not sure that we do that. I think that the fact that Toby did totally do more harm than good. Did Okay. Should you have a Dwight? They’re like white, the answer may be white shouldn’t be there as much we love having to I, you know, but like, the answer is, if something is that broken, you don’t want to be there. You need the escape hatch, I get it. And like right now, I’m figuring this out. So that I have my own role. DJ, I got, you know, I need to know that this works before we started telling him to run, run and do it. But I believe that I’m onto something that if those things are there, now, of course, Jay hit the insightful piece, which is the person you have doing, it can’t be against it or so type. And I sort of have that right now I have a person who is so strong at that, if there’s a real serious issue, they’re going to take it in, but they’re not the touch shield, do you need to have a touchy feely piece? It’s almost like you, I always joke that I wanted to have like, one of these an AI person to deal with not employee stuff. But it was there were so many things where I just wished that there was a place to go and get feedback. I don’t think it’s long before AI therapy at some level, because half of what somebody wants, if there was a if I could have, you know, a person there looking at me asking me questions based on what I said, 90% of what you’re doing, when we do this stuff, half the room do the show is we’re talking these issues out, you know what inside yourself, you’re trying to bring it out,
it’s like going into a hot seat in a mastermind you know the answer when you sit down in the hot seat, you just need to be you know, to understand it for the most part when other people are like, Don’t you already know what you want to do? And they’re like, Yeah, I know what I need to do.
To get out of you, as you said, right. That’s one of the interesting things I’ll sort of maybe we could come back to this to me is a I am very fascinated by this. Because I just feel that the you know, if I would I would this is something I’d love the audience to chime in on. If we could find, have you seen an example of a standalone HR person that has been highly beneficial, rather than detrimental? And I had, like, I looked back at myself, and I had that ops people that are amazing. But I have not found the person that can thread the needle between beloved by company, and what we’re doing with with management, etc. And that I you know, to me, it may not be perfect, I may not have the person that the person needs on the day that they need to have shoulder to cry on with with what I’m laying out. But I know that if I have payroll, right, and I have benefits, right? And there’s a manager to go to when you have stuff that can we get most of what we need, with limited resources, meaning that was what came up. So I’d say you got all that stuff, do you still need a quote unquote, HR person on top of your ops division? And if you could have anybody outside of corporate America where there’s real money, has anybody seen in our world, a pure HR person that really benefited? And the ones that I hear? And when I see them? It’s the chief happiness officer that works on positive that doing those things? It’s somebody who’s, who’s raising the esprit de corps, it’s still not the person who’s shoulder to cry on.
Right? That’s the point. I mean, you could take what you would spend on I mean, what’s it what’s an HR generalist gonna cost you a year, you know, 65 to one, say, I was gonna say 65 to 100, you know, you know, and, you know, you can get a, you know, a good admin, to make sure all of your shit is buttoned up, you know, for, you know, in a virtual, you know, remote person, you know, for 30 Who’s making sure that all that stuff is lined up and, and well documented, and then you can take that other 30 to 70 and spend it on happiness projects. I mean, maybe that’s the best of all worlds. But as I mean, you You know, you’re spending the same hour and over, you’re getting to different people with talent and skills in the right area. And I like I like your idea. I mean, I was I was set on, do I go COO and integrator or do I go HR, but now I’m thinking, what I really should do is just get, you know, another remote staffer to make sure all of my HR shit is lined up and see if that just solves 90% of my problem. Transcribed by https://otter.ai