This week on the show, Seth and Jay dive into details on how to collect the money you are owed and what benefits you must offer to retain talent. Join the pair to stay up to date on the latest for your law firm!
Hello, and welcome to this edition of the Law Firm Blueprint. I’m one of your hosts, Jay Ruane. That man over there, Seth Price. Oh, Price Benowitz and BluShark Digital. Seth, as always, it’s another week where we’re at this grind. How’s your week going?
It’s tough. It’s a tough, it’s a grind. It’s two steps forward, one step back.
You know, it’s funny, I was talking to a friend of mine, someone in the criminal mastermind this week, and we were talking about the headaches of being at a million dollars in revenue. And I said, I’ll just wait till you get to the revenue that the headaches of 3 million and $4 million in revenue. And, and, and he lamented saying, oh, you know, I thought it’s supposed to get easier, and it does in some respects. And then some things get harder, because you’re dealing with issues that you never ever addressed before. Right?
Well, I mean, look, it’s funny with kid raising, you know, bigger kids’ bigger problems, because I always thought when my kids were little, and one kid was punching another, and you know, people said their kids’ bigger problems, and now you’re dealing with stuff where they got opinions and know that they were with all in there a couple years from, you know, emancipation, and, you know, it’s a different world, different issue. So, and it by analogy, you know, we’re into a figure organization, you know, it’s there, there are issues and one of the things that sort of striking me, you know, we talked a ton during COVID by ripping the band aid off and going hybrid or going fully virtual. And now it’s versions of hybrid. And, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about the fact that corporate America is forcing people back, yes, they big laws doing three days a week in DC. You know, all different formulas summer, everybody’s Tuesday, Thursday, pick a day, some are Tuesday, Wednesday, they’re all different versions of it. But I am, I’m, I’m, you know, blue shark, for example, it has a clubhouse situation where people come in from us. In one sense, it’s awesome. In one sense, productivity is through the roof, compared to water cooler, bullshit, interpersonal conflict, all of that’s gone. But when you want to create something, it’s great for running but saying, hey, I really want to be able to have a video strategy. Right? This isn’t SEO, this is not even social. This is like, what do I want my video, and the idea that you’re sitting down and build a few, you can organize a zoom for it. But what I have found harder to do is to build and create when you don’t have that walk by spark. And I’m old, they’re not they do it themselves, but I wanted to implement it, I’m struggling with the idea of how do I bring constituents together in a meaningful way for IDEA building?
You know, that’s a really interesting thing that you say, and, you know, it actually brings up another topic that I wanted to talk about. So, piece them together, if you don’t mind. And that is the culture aspect of it. You know, if you have a culture and have, you know, if you’re a relatively new firm, you know, in the last four or five years, and you developed during most of COVID, and you grew and you scale and everyone was apart, you might have a culture that lends itself to the, you know, the remote first approach. And you can overcome some of those ideas with, with, you know, Slack channels, and zooms, and whiteboards and that type of thing. But if you have any legacy employees that are, you know, 10 years with you, there is nuance that comes from being able to see somebody’s facial reaction, there is just synergy of talking and, and being able to turn to the person next to you while somebody else is talking, and throw an idea what you can’t do there in a zoom, I guess you could chat it among people. But that doesn’t necessarily work and you don’t get the same sarcasm.
And that’s why the law firm is so much harder because you have the legacy employees and you’re right, you know, something I’m looking at within the law firm is making sure I look at each business unit and making sure that we upgrade as much as possible. Our personal injury department, unbelievable what they’ve done as far as bringing on insane talents, but not taking the idea that we that somebody’s been there for a long time and they’re there for you. it dovetails into what you’re talking about, which is if we’re in a new world, do we need like are the same people great in it and I could say that the BluShark world has built with people much younger than us and doing the work in team environments, not that there haven’t been issues and not that we haven’t had to put band aids on things and then build out areas that we saw problems, but that it’s the younger generation is more adept at this, whereas the older generation, it’s we’re not, you know, I’m picking up the phone, you know, me versus these guys, you pick up the phone, you’re insulting them.
You know, well, and we’ll think about that from an execution of legal product perspective, that, you know, now we have to deal with consumers of our services, not wanting to be in the room with their Lord, like, I couldn’t imagine my parents sitting down to do a closing or write their will, and not have had multiple in office meetings with the lawyer that was going to do the work for them. And for me, I had a friend of the show, John dropped, drop some trust documents for me. And it was text message, text message, signature here signature there. I haven’t even been to his new office.
I, look, you know, I just sold a last piece of a decrepit property portfolio. The other day, and I have taken this, I’ll be pre COVID. My personal belief is why would I ever as a seller want to be at a closing table? Right? To me, it’s all going to cost me money.
Right? Somebody’s going to get a few dollars out of me. And the idea that I could pay 150 hours a notary comes to my house, and I just sign away the documents, no brainer, right? So, part of it is, is this is this mindset, but I’ll tell you something. So, one of the things, and I remember when I first saw the Ben Glass world after being away from it for many years, and they were really good, and VIP clubs and dinners, and, and they really did a very, very nice job of cultivating a referral world. So, it’s on our plate. We have a narc marketing director, we’re like, okay, let’s do this. It’s been like pulling teeth. And part of the issue, I believe, is that when you don’t have and we look, we went to remote signups well before COVID, but that that interpersonal piece, and you get it in criminal because you’re there, you’re there with them and flesh and blood. But on the civil side, a lot of people sign up online, never make it to the office and close digitally or by FedEx. And the idea that we’re trying to build this referral world. It is something I am now struggling with. But I am taking a conscious building approach to say, hey, I don’t have a perfect situation and that people are going through, how can I compensate for that to keep raving fans, because the substance is good. Our lawyers are good. But how do I keep that relationship going?
Well, you know, it’s interesting. And as, as you’re saying this, I’m thinking to myself, you know, we’ve niche down really well. We have a lot of technology that we use. Hell, I have a whole approach, I could say that we do criminal defense for introverts. And you know, some people are going to respond to that and say, I want to interact with a firm that I don’t have to get on the phone for.
But pick it out, respectfully, isn’t that going to be… As great as it is and they may love it, will it resonate when they need it again or tell somebody else?
That’s the rub because…
The person who’s the economic, isn’t the person telling their friends you by definition, not the criminal lawyers get but by definition your niche into a group that doesn’t, like, it’s already in a group of people that want to talk about their criminal lawyer. Now it is great as you are because you’re one of those personal people in the space. People love you around the country, Connecticut, Jay, Jay Ruane. It’s like, literally like, say New York med mount John Fisher’s name comes up 20 times, right? So, the thought is, how do we take that because… So, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking, you tell me what you’re talking about.
I’ll say. So, I want to layer on top of that. There’s a demographic shift, because the Zoomers, the people who were born post 2000 are now coming into adulthood. They’re in their 20s. They’re, you know, the next 20 years are going to be the majority of their need for legal services. And this is a generation that was raised with iPads and iPhones and Face Timing and instant messaging, DMs and that type of thing. And it sounds to me like what I’m hearing from the social scientists out there for from the demographic people is that that generation of the Zoomer so there are post millennials. They have they are more socially awkward. They prefer to interact via screen. You know, and I’m thinking this is going to have a major impact not only on the PI space, right? It’s going to have an impact on the trust and estates and probate space, you know, their parents pass away. It’s already a stressful time. You want to make your life easier to get those clients in the door, that type of thing. From the criminal’s perspective, you’ve got the issue of standing in front of a jury, and having to argue a case. You know, I’ve been interviewing lawyers, and it’s a quick aside, I’ve been interviewing lawyers for 20 years to join my firm. It’s amazing. You know, 20 years ago, I wanted to be a trial lawyer. Now it’s, I want to be an appellate lawyer, because an appellate lawyer gets to sit in their office most of the day, and then make some…
You’re already showing your age, sitting on the beach in Maui. Like you would, there be, what do you care where they are.
But see, the thing is, is what that is, and then they go in, they have one day, 120 minute or 30 minute or whatever, appearance in front of a judge, and so they can psych themselves up for it, but otherwise, they’re incredibly introverted. I just think that there’s going to be a tremendous change in the consumers, to the lawyers that are serving those consumers, to everything. And if we’re not thinking about it, building a practice that can support that and actually attract those customers. You’re gonna run into a problem down the line.
Well, look, I, look at you like I’m sitting here on the Zoom. I see Jays big noggin there.
My eight head.
But in a good way, meaning you’re there in your presence, right? And part of it is like to me what I’m what I’m thinking that I need to do is we talk about people who have scaled with multiple lawyers, particularly as you talked about these introverts or whatever on the continuum. Very few people are at the level that we do. I know you call yourself an introvert, but it’s like you’re an extrovert introvert, you know.
I’m an introvert in the sense that I am exhausted talking to people.
Understood, but you still do a great job when you’re doing it. So, my thought is you take what I’m working towards. I’ll tell you what work in progress on but I’m breaking the J. Ruane rule or I have to, have done it successfully, which is to create a presence, regardless of lawyer. Hi, this is Seth, welcome to our firm. I hope you have a great experience. If you don’t, I’m here, let them do their work. Check in once through, hope it’s going well, if it’s not let me know. I hope that everybody’s kicking butt. Great experience. Awesome. I hope it was, it was great for you. Now, if we can ever help you with anything, here’s my text, double number, send it to me, if we don’t do it, we’ll find somebody, think of us as your lawyers for life, stay with us. But the idea that I can’t scale that just with the lawyers, just like we’ve talked on prior shows about whether or not you want people going to bar events, right? So, the idea here is, you know, if I could take Jay Ruane and have them remember Jay even though you weren’t the person doing their dui and kept that Jay Brand, and energy and enthusiasm, even if it tires you out, you could take a nap afterwards. But do that digitally and be able to message it. Then when Jay Ruane is in a TikTok or whatever it is any sort of media, it resonates, hey, this is the brand because, A, our associates move on and, B, they’re not even the partners you have may not get to the level of connectivity. And it looks like it’d be better if it was them who carried the mantra. But I’m sitting here trying to put butts in seats to a dinner. And I’m not finding that same religion when they get there. They’re thrilled. But how do we create it because to take your point that we have a new generation that socializes differently, unless we meet them where they’re at, they’re not coming to our office, they’re not binding and getting a hug and remembering that hug there. Instead, using different touch points, we have to figure out how to use those touch points to be able to keep that relationship go.
Yeah, I mean, this, this is what, you know, this is what I’m working on thinking about every day of 2023 is, is there are at least half of my population of potential referral sources, potential clients, at least half of them communicate differently than I do. And that is a challenge for me because like, you know, like Harland says, you don’t know what you don’t know. And I’m not part of that cohort. I’m not part of that demographic. My tendency is not to default to those channels that they use. And I’m a prime example. You know, it’ll take me a week to look at my LinkedIn messages, or my DMs on certain social channels, because I’ve just not thinking about those. But that’s how some people default to trying to get in touch with you.
Oh, but some of these things. Look, I agree, but some of that can be outsourced, right? That’s where the…
You can do that consciously and say, hey, I want to do this. But the real question is, if that’s where they’re at, and like it’s different for everybody, like it’s so funny that I see, like some people I send a Facebook message to I get through noise I can’t even dream about. And there are people that I send a LinkedIn message to where it might, I literally got a message back from somebody, I sent them a message two and a half years ago, hey, well, I see it something, and they just pay me back. So, it’s just it the idea is not, like, be in a perfect world. If we were being more systematic about it, you basically put people in different tranches, and you can indicate where they are.
Well, it’s interesting, you know, we, Seth and I are in the process of being co-authors on Tiger tactics too, which I suspect is going to be out, you know, by the end of this year, we’ve got seven or eight different authors that’re chapters in. But interestingly enough, you know, we started the conversation on a Facebook Messenger thread, because when we first started the book, Billy Taurasi, Orion, McCain and myself, we were on a slack channel.
And that’s why I didn’t get into the last book.
And you weren’t in the book because you weren’t in the channel.
Well, meaning but it was, I wasn’t, what it was there…
It wasn’t part of it, right? It was it…
You invited me, but I was not part of it and it was 100% that. Now I’m on Slack, I use Slack.
Yeah, but the thing is, all of our enthusiasm was back and forth in this like, and you didn’t get to feel that enthusiasm, correct? Correct, weren’t part of it. And even in this one with our, you know, with our 13 or so authors, we have authors that have committed to getting their chapters in, but they haven’t responded to a single DM in this group. And then we have others who the minute there’s a post, you see their face up. So, it’s, it’s, I think there’s something to be said, for taking a moment in March of 2022. And looking at all of your communication channels, and making sure that you are where your potential clients aren’t. And another thing, how many of us as lawyers developed a referral practice, from lawyers that were older than us? I mean, I know I did. You know, when I was a young lawyer, when I was 25 years old, and I was broke, I was taking anything that anybody could get, that would give me and I was getting stuff from the, you know, 45, 55-year-old, 65-year-old lawyers that were saying, I don’t want to deal with this headache kid, right? So I’m, but what I’m saying is, is that number one, I need to be concentrating on. You know, there’s young lawyers out there now, who are better tuned into the way people communicate now. And I could be cultivating them for referrals up the line for what we do that they don’t do, number one, and number two, I got to find out the way to communicate with them better than before, because I don’t want to be lost. And this person saying, where did all my referral sources go?
Yes. Funny. though, let me ask you something. Exceptions, every rule because I saw this on the white-collar side I used, I live in a much different world, right on the federal side, to the PI side, the nice part is a lot of stuff goes down from larger older people down to newer guys, because to get a third, it makes money for the big firm, not doing those smaller cases, yada, yada. Outside of that space, it becomes very different. And my question to you is something that I saw, and again, this is a little bit different, because in that world, it’s bringing in co-counsel. But what I saw in that world was that people generally were networking successfully with their peers, every once in a while, you had paid one person, but there’s a lot of effort to get to those senior people. And that if you built a group and grew it together, that that was where we saw a lot more opportunity, and a lot more velocity of referrals versus the one off. And that you’re that when we when we tried to shoot for the moon, we were not nearly as successful as when we built deep roots with other people rising with us. Your thoughts on that?
So it’s, it’s interesting, because when I first started out every Thursday, we would have a lawyer’s lunch, and it was all the young lawyers. You know, at the time, guys and women, you know, within three to five years of a practice, you know, all getting out of law school all started around the same time. So, I’d say late, you know, mid to late 20s, the 30. And we had at any point, I don’t know, like 10 to 15 people that would be part of this lunch that would meet Adelies. I mean, we weren’t we weren’t I gotcha. But the cool thing about that is that, you know, each lawyer in that group, while we focused on the criminal area, everybody had outside interests, and now people have developed into other things. My buddy Augie who I was a public defender with, you know, he eventually got in, he’s a PI guy here in state and he’s, in fact, he just launched a shop, he’s doing great, and I’m happy for him that type of thing so I can send him stuff. When that comes in. He sends me stuff that he knows that I do because I narrow down into the niche of DUI like we’ve talked about, you know, but what I’m, I’m wondering if, if, if there’s opportunity here now for me to actually get into those groups, using digital tools to be where the people are? Like a 20-year-old lawyer, a 25-year-old lawyer is probably not gonna go to lunch with me every week and sit at a deli. They don’t do that now.
You’re not going to do that either because that’s not the best use of your time. The question now is, are you the elder states person that could have lunch at your office? I’ve done stuff like this pre COVID, we had my shingle guru, she’s, she’s a neighbor of mine, Carolyn elfin that we had 25 lawyers come for pizza after work, and just talk about different ideas. It lasted for a while, it was, you know, I enjoyed it. But the point is, it’s like, you, as you grow, we stuff we talk about, you want to be home with the kids, they don’t have kids to go home to, so that their day shifts and the needs and thoughts and how you value things. But to me part of why we do this, this is one of those things, the number of people I hear that have, you know, taken something from this in our listening, like one sense, you’re doing your lunches now at scale by even doing the show.
Yeah, I mean, I could see that. I mean, in my head, obviously, the show sort of gets, you know, my name out there, and that type of thing. I just, I’m just wondering their needs, I guess it’s a question of manifesting it, you know, that buzzword or consciously taking actions to develop those things that whereas in years past, it was, its kind of just happened.
But you think, how many people do you manage now versus then? If you have so many different things, like if you took each of your people out to coffee or lunch on a rotating basis…
It would take me; it would take me six weeks.
Right. And I’m you know, I’m well beyond that, right? But my point is, like, it’s so there’s, we play this Whack a Mole game of what we should be doing. Some of the stuff done at scale, like our whole PI department went to the Cavs game last night, I actually had a benefit I was going to do but you know, went for the wings and beer beforehand. And, you know, it’s a way of getting that camaraderie. But, you know, it’s you don’t want to ignore your own people. At the same time. You know, it’s great to help people out there. What’s interesting is that I have now had multiple touchpoints, where I’ve taken coffees lunches, three years ago, with no agenda to help somebody out at the very beginning, were three years later, they have come back for jobs in one shape or form. Another one of whom is now a rockstar federal litigator, we have another one god willing, may end up with, with another role within our firm. So, part of it is, I think what you’re getting at is like, good happens from being out there and doing these things. You don’t want to get to the point where you’re fat and happy and you have other responsibilities, because you know those things pay dividends, if you’re willing to do them.
In a way, it’s like anything, you know, you want to, you want to get faster, or you want to work out, you know, you want to build muscle, you go to the gym, and then you want to go to the gym for nine months. And then one day, you know, it’s raining and you don’t feel like getting out of bed. And next thing, you know, you don’t go for a year, you know, and then you say, I wonder why I haven’t had that progress. I mean, really, life is about a business, growth is about applying a system to grow your business and doing it every day. It’s so that, so that when the, you know, the drive to do it, isn’t there, the commitment to the system is there. And I think that’s really, you know, obviously, in the law firm blueprint, we talk a lot about systems, you know, and here’s, okay, here’s a perfect example, right? So, we’ve got a new collection system in our office, where we want to make it much more visual, so that we can track when we’re making our collections calls. We don’t run a lot of accounting for accounts receivable. Our AR for last year was you know, 75,000 ballots.
Amazing. It is a criminal firm, that is…
Yeah. I mean, we are, we are at like, I think we were at like 98.7% collected.
Do you not do significant payment plans?
They go out as far as nine months.
And you stay, and that’s, that is remarkable.
Yeah, so I’m…
Are you able to get out of cases in Connecticut?
So, what is your, how do you get that number so high? Sure. So that’s that, that is a Ramar, I know your numbers top line. That’s insane. It’s less than your credit card fees.
Oh, it’s like a third of my credit card fees. I mean, it’s negligible. But okay, so I said to myself, I don’t want to I don’t want another you know, 80,000-$75,000 of unclear on achieved money this year. So, I’ve been working now to institute a better more visual scoreboard at sort of like the knock Hazel jumbotron type of, you know, look at these numbers and look at them every day type of thing. So, you know where you’re at. And we’ve been able to cut that down even more of our uncollected money since January one, we’ve recovered 35% of that. And we’re on pace to be under $50,000. And in lost money over the course of the year, but the way we do it is we follow a system, and we do it every day. And so, one of the, one of the workers came to me today and said, you know, we have this group of 15 people that are dealing with, and it’s been 15 days that we’ve been messaging them, but, you know, we should just stop because they’re not going to, you know, we can’t get in touch with them. I said, the system says you run it for 45 days. And, and they’re like, but I said, no, we do it every day. That’s what we do. That’s the we text you and calls, what do you do your texts, we do calls, we have scripts that they follow.
Who’s doing that overseas?
Right now, it’s done in house, we’re recruiting somebody overseas to assist with it. But here’s the thing. We are, we instituted this at the beginning of January, but then I had them go back in and actually look at last year’s number and create a scrape of the tracking spreadsheet. We’re starting to we’re starting to collect money from, we collected money, we collected $1,000. Now, okay, it’s not nothing.
No, no, I got you. Our next show…
We are from 2020, January 20.
I don’t get it, I’m getting upset, not upset. I’m getting anxious, can we make an entire show about collections, and then we’ll lose our PI people. But I feel like left if you were let’s kick off next show on collections. Because to me, that and the other thing. I just want to tip everybody off to, is that we have a new concept that we are looking to bring out as we both travel and get some vacation in. You want to tell everybody what are about our guest hosts?
We’re gonna bring in some guest hosts to do the show sort of like with PTI, that’s sort of what we model ourselves on here. But when Seth and I are going to be out of the out of, out of the loop, instead of taking the week off, which is what we’ve had to do in the past, we’ll bring on some guests, we’ll bring on some of our co-authors from Tiger tactics, some other people in the industry, just to sort of get their sense of what’s going on in their world. We’ll flip around between personal injury, criminal trusts and estates family law, you know, will business organizational law, we’ll talk about a little bit of everything. And I think it’s a great way for us to continue to grow this brand. Because there’s a lot of systems that may exist in RPI firm that I wouldn’t know much about. Or somebody who does residential real estate closings at scale. And some of those ideas are things that we can use to help everybody. So, I’m really excited about doing that.
All right. So, I guess we have coming up next week then, we’re going to talk all about collections. For all of those be the b2b law firms that have to charge people like trust in the states and family law, you know, criminal law for especially you and I have a lot of experience doing that. The PI people might want to actually listen in and hear what it’s like that we have to do to actually get money out of people. Because depending on the type of law that you practice, people might be dying to throw money at you. I can see it like in immigration practice, because it’s something they really want.
No, but they’ve collections issues as a family is probably the one that it’s, you know, that’s the one that I see the people getting upside down the most.
Doing great money, and they’re not making it. Management. And, you know, I have an internal debate. And I don’t want to, we’ll talk about this in depth. But I have two lawyers, one of whom has massive collections, more than your entire firm, but they also single-handedly built into the seven figures. So, if you’re doing 1.3 and collecting 1.1. That’s a large number. But is that okay? I have another woman who may be at 700 and change, but has negligible $10,000 in collections. What do I root for?
Oh, that’s a good question.
Let’s that, so what I’m saying is, I’m gonna challenge you next week. You know, are there times where you want your collections higher? Because if they’re not you haven’t pushed hard enough? I don’t know.
Yeah. All right. Well, let’s talk about it. I love that, it’d be a great topic. Alright, folks, that’s gonna do it for us. As always, you can catch us every weekday. Here live at law firm blueprint, 3pm Eastern, 12pm Pacific. But more importantly, take us on the go. When you do take us on the go with anywhere podcasts are available. Be sure to give us a five-star review. When you do that, have yourself a nice little search for the law firm blueprint podcast available on Apple, Google, Spotify, etc, ect. Seth, any parting words?
No. Have a great week, and weekend, and we will see you next week talking all about collections.
Awesome. Well, look forward to it, folks. Bye for now.