S6:E9: Unveiled! The Law Firm Blueprint Summer Series

On this episode of The Law Firm Blueprint, join hosts Jay Ruane and Seth Price as they preview their upcoming Summer Series! Jay also discusses the hurdles of managing a law firm with multiple employees on maternity leave, the impacts such leaves have on team dynamics, and the strategies to maintain operational efficiency as they occur. Seth provides his take on the importance of proactive planning when it comes to these situations. The hosts also delve into the value of coaching for legal professionals. They preview their exciting summer series, featuring some of the industry’s top coaches, including Bill Biggs and Chad Dudley. These experts will join the podcast over the course of the series to share their philosophies on achieving success, so that listeners can determine the right coaches for them and the firm they want to build!

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The Law Firm Blueprint 


Jay Ruane 0:07

Hello, hello, and welcome to this edition of the Law Firm Blueprint I’m one of your hosts Jay Ruane, and with me as always is my man Seth Price down there in the BluShark and Price Benowitz headquarters. Hello, and how are you doing? Seth, how’s your week going this week?

Seth Price 0:20

It is going good. I’m off the road, which I love. And we are, you know, being able to grind. But at the same time, I feel, for a guy who does did that, that balance of being in the office and out of the office, it can be jarring when you’re back. And you see some of the realities. There’s the theory, we talk a lot about best practices. And there’s the rubber meets the road, right? Even Mr. Systems, if I had a google camera in your office, and you could see that, what was going on all the time, you’d be there would be sometimes where you’re like, wow, I can’t believe that. And so there’s lots of good, lots of amazing stuff from, culture going well shooting some videos today. However, there’s the reality versus the, you know, we’re always striving to be that much better. And sometimes that’s a frustrating or humbling experience.

Jay Ruane 1:07

Yeah, that’s one of the biggest challenges, is you want to always get better, right. And one of the things that we run into is, we want to be better, we’re actually doing something with our reception, we’re looking at metrics, and we’re looking at analytics, to make sure our reception is really polished and dialed well and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. We may be losing two members of our team, which seem to be avoiding doing work. So that’s a question for later on today in my leadership meeting, but there comes a point too, where you’re kind of like, hey, should we really be pushing forward anymore, right, maybe we need to sort of stop, stop trying to advance, really sort of work in the moment and get through some things, I’ll give you an example of what I’m dealing with. So this is, you know, we talk about COVID, really up ending our whole practices. We have five pods in my office, and we’ve broken down into five pod models. Four of those pods have a pod leader, which is, the way we do it in our system is the paralegal is the pod leader, the lawyers work for the paralegal. So it’s a little different model than PI, because we do criminal, four of the five pod leaders are going to be out on maternity in the next six months. We’ve got one who had a baby last week, one who’s due on Monday. And it’s her fourth. So you know, we’re expecting that to happen any day, then we’ve got two more happening, one at the end of the July, one in the middle of August. So we are up ended. In addition to that, I have a new lawyer who’s great in my office, really happy with the hire, who is a reservist who has been selected to go to JAG school. So he can be a reserve JAG lawyer. And he’s got to leave middle of August, through December for, for his training. So we’re going to be down. And just getting prepared for this, you know, we unfortunately, I really focused a lot on the support staff to make sure that we brought in extra people, we hired some remote people, and we’re in a good, I think we can cover all of the work. But now I’m left with solving this legal problem. And I don’t want to rush into it and just be like, well, it’s you know, say it’s four and a half months, it’s probably 15 court dates, I’ll just cover them, and I’ll handle it. You know, and I’ll get my ass out of bed and drive the hour and a half commute to this location. And deal with it. Because, you know, I started out like, when I first started my career, I was going to this courthouse every day, so I can handle it, or do I make a business decision and I say, okay, I’m gonna bring in a local lawyer down there to be local counsel, this is going to be a six month run, we’re going to pay X number of dollars per month, you cover basically an all you can eat buffet, of we’ll send you everything. And your job is to just move what you can move. And what you can’t move kick out for the six months until the lawyer gets back or, do I say hey, we’re gonna share a percentage of revenue with you, you get 30 cents on the dollar of every case that comes in, and you work these cases under your own juris number and you’d work them out till the end. And I’m just thinking to myself, boy, you know, I’ve got two months to get this system figured out. And I gotta figure out what to do and-

Seth Price 4:27

Well look, the good, you’re doing this proactively versus much of our career we did it like oh my god, we’re here, we, what do we do, right? That was, somebody disappeared or what have you. The great news is in advance, but I think it goes to the larger topic that we’ve talked about before, which is during growth, and you’re at a decent size, but not such a large size that we have the issue of redundancy, and like you wouldn’t have enough redundancy this, to begin with. And so you have like a couple different options, right? You could use this as the opportunity to hire, and work on these next six months to have enough extra work, so by the time those people come back, you’re in good shape. Right? You could play the of counsel game, which is easier said than done. Right? Appearance is one thing, but actual work is very different. You do a hybrid where you do a couple of court cases, nothing wrong with that. But is that the best use of your time? You know, but probably like where things end up somewhere in the middle, right? You do a few and you get some account, you take whatever, whatever breaks, and nobody else get, can get to. But it’s the scary part of being a legal entrepreneur in that, at the end of the day, it’s you who has to go do that. So that the more resources you have, the better, a lot of people experience this when somebody leaves unexpectedly. And you have the, you know, you have a mess to clean up of cases that are not particularly well papered.

Jay Ruane 5:53

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s sort of like the baseball metaphor, you know, sometimes your second baseman gets injured. And sometimes it’s your left fielder, and you need a utility player. Who can-, yeah, exactly. You need someone who can step in, and do that work and do it reasonably well. And that’s why I started thinking about this, you know, we, because of the maternity leaves that were coming, we addressed that early enough on and those, we are in a great spot with my with my support team, I think I’m not, I’m not worried about us being able to-

Seth Price 6:25

I understand, but is the answer, are we sort of answering it that like you could withstand a new hire, and then build for growth, and you have six months to get to the point where you need them? That’s a good amount of time for you to figure out if, again, we talk about growth, and whether you want it, but it sounds like at this level, when we started, right? Nobody had kids, we didn’t even have kids, right? There was no maternity leaves, meaning that there was, you just didn’t have that. People were younger. So there was less sicknesses and diseases and all sorts of other things. But you now have a fully, plus you inherited a certain number of people from your dad, and his generation practice, which meant that it’s even older than affirm that just started, right. And having that acknowledgement that you can’t run on basics, because between paternity leaves between what will be the unexpected medical conditions that are going to happen, that, you know, and it goes towards profit, yes. But it may be that, you know, if you don’t have an additional person, and look, it’s not going to be 100 cents on the dollar, because hopefully, you’ll have some additional capacity. Right? It’s not like they can, but that if you don’t do that, you’re kidding yourself, and you will be back in the courtroom.

Jay Ruane 7:50

Right. And that’s really the challenge that I’m dealing with, and I’m trying to figure out, you know, is it, you know, is it worth me to give up, you know, perhaps 50 or $75,000 worth of profit, to have this local lawyer covering stuff that otherwise I could I mean, I could show up there and cover those 15 days and pocket that money myself, but will I really actually pocket it? Probably not, I’ll probably wind up spending that more or the firm in another capacity. So

Seth Price 8:21

But you can’t go there. Because then, then you’re, let’s, let’s take it differently. The question is, of counsel coverage comes with its own issues, unless you’re, again, have the guy who’s, you’re saying 30 cents on the dollar, most people are not going to work for 30 cents on the dollar who are the people you want, right? That, I, mean, they may work for you as-

Jay Ruane 8:39

What do you think of counsel should be, should be getting paid?

Seth Price 8:43

There’s no magic answer, as an associate, or as a partner. You know, a third is not crazy. 25 is not crazy. These are all numbers that work depending on volume, depending on how your firm works, what you’re doing for somebody, but somebody who’s not using any of your resources that you’re saying, hey, here are these cases, you need to do everything, you need to support them, you need your paralegals for them, you’re doing everything, which again, it may be a blend, but then it’s even more complicated because now your staff is working with new people. You know, again, very often, the clean of counsel number can be 50/50, just because you want it done. And you want it done by somebody who wouldn’t, who’s not, who’s like more experienced, rather than the guy who was like I have nothing going on. And I’ll do it for 30 cents on the dollar. Now that, the flip side is if you’re billing of $500 an hour, hypothetically, it’s not crazy to say to somebody for 100-150 or even $200 an hour, I want you to do this work. That’s not a crazy concept. If you have the hourly, it gets more complicated in your world because the flat fee criminal, it’s not really built out by the hour. And so all of the sudden, those numbers, we’re never quite honest about what the hours are, but a person billing hourly into a flat fee situation is not a place you really want to be.

Jay Ruane 10:02

Yeah, you definitely don’t want to be there. And the question is, do you just split the flat fee? On a percentage? Do you say, hey, let me buy two days a week of your time. And I’ll fill as many of the, you know, six hours on each day, like, what do you charge? You know, what can I buy your, six hours worth of your time for, and then say, okay, you’re, you’re, I’m buying your Mondays, and Wednesday mornings, and you’re gonna work on my cases, and you’ll get my support staff right to help you.

Seth Price 10:29

Right, but I’ll give you a blunt thing that we dealt with, we have an amazing lawyer in one of the further away jurisdictions, and they had a medical issue, and a family issue, they went dark for quite a few weeks no, no clients were harmed or anything like that. But when we look back, we’re going to have three to four weeks of significantly [inaudible], they’re doing great, they’re killing it. But I think that like if you look at it here, and you’re able to get even hypothetically, what, however it’s done, you you cover three of them, what, your office stretches for three more, and you split, you know, have some sort of split for a handful of stuff, and or the best stuff, obviously, appearance coverage, because that’s relatively reasonable. By comparison, right? That’s not where the money is. But I think it’s sort of like the cost of doing business. And then just as this person when, when, when was, you know, if that means that we’re going to have one month, let’s say using it roughly, where we have a 60% drop over the course of the year, that’s a 5% drop on the year, I don’t like it, but it’s not the end of the world. And so if you’re able to somehow look at it more holistically, rather than, oh my God, this month is going to be terrible. It is. But if this if these are long term people, and the paternity leave is what allows them to be an active member of the team for an extended period of time. That’s awesome. That is awesome. I mean, the pain as a, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, is when an extended break comes, and then the person disappears, in which case you’ve taken the hit. And you have to, which is one of the reasons that I sort of would advocate given your scale for the extra hire, knowing it, less likely on paternity than maternity, I’m talking generally, statistically, in my experience, that, you know, if you make that hire, and somebody breaks, they don’t come back from paternity leave, or you know, that person your, new, the new hire breaks at some point, like the odds of everybody being there, in place, you’re telling me, how many lawyers do you have right now?

Jay Ruane 12:38


Seth Price 12:38

And how many of those are not like a one off like, some sort of like appeals that nobody else does. How many are doing general criminal defense, for example?

Jay Ruane 12:46


Seth Price 12:45

10. So of those, if you were to hire a quote, unquote, an 11th of that 10, right. And you’re, to be able to say, hey, I don’t love cash flowing it, but for six months, what Dave always says, what does a lawyer cost you for a year?

Jay Ruane 12:47


Seth Price 12:52

100. So for $50,000, A) you cover everything, right? And it gives you a free look at that person, hopefully, so that by the time that six months is over, you have the potential for an 11th, God forbid, you stay at 11, God forbid somebody to go back to the PD, or go to insurance defense, or do whatever they’re doing. Like, to me, I look at it as the opportunity, you have two months, you know, you’re there to bail, you could be there to bail them out if it doesn’t work, but I love the idea of spending the $50,000 not on coverage, but investing in somebody who could be the next rock star on your team.

Jay Ruane 13:36

Yeah, so I’ve got an interview tomorrow with somebody who, you know, is a solo, who’s, who’s struggling, but seems to know what they are doing. But I think given our structure and our training and all that stuff, they can really get to the next level. So we’ll see if that’s the way it goes. But see, this is you know, it’s funny that we’re talking about this stuff, because, you know, this is in some ways, it’s unchartered territory. And it’s good to have somebody to help you flesh out the idea, like we just did right, it’s good to have somebody who can say, hey, I see your point. Here’s the counter point. Because sometimes you do get blinded. And that’s really why, you know, in some respects, people should be as they are going on their growth journey, be looking to coaches, which leads me to our next topic, which is what we have lined up for the summer. So Seth, why don’t you tell everybody about that?

Seth Price 13:40

You know, we are really, really excited. We’ve done a lot of creative things. We’ve had a bunch of different iterations. Anybody who’s followed us for a long time knows that this has been like a passion, a passion play for both of us some of its business, you know, psychology,

Jay Ruane 14:48

Business therapy,

Seth Price 14:49

Yeah business therapy. We’re too cheap to pay the copay. So he stuck with me. And in other instances, we brought on sort of world class guests, and we have a very exciting summer series. We talked to John Fisher, about what was the right person coaching wise for you, or what do you want from a firm. And we have an amazing summer lineup of some of the best and brightest in the coaching arena, where the first, just a little bit of a teaser, we got Bill Biggs, who’s going to be kicking it off. And, you know, anybody who has heard him speak, he’s one of one of the best in the business. And he is amazing, and one of the things that he always says, goes into a firm, what do you want, what is success, right? Rather than, like, I’m here to coach, like, it’s like, you know, it’s not like, it’s like baseball, you’re like, hey, I want to get my batting average up, it’s, you know, hey, I want a lifestyle practice, or I want to scale and each of them have a playbook. And the second person goes with that same exact philosophy, which is Chad Dudley, again, another one of those elite, you know, let, 1% not even doing it justice, 1/10 of 1% of the brain power, I put those two guys up with just about anybody. So we’re kicking off an entire summer series with, with amazing talent, and we are going to go through it. If you have a favorite coach in the space, we would love to include them, we’re going to have, you know, a whole variety of different perspectives from different coaching programs in the legal space, but really want to give people a flavor for what is possible and what’s out there. And, you know, until five years ago, this was sort of like, there were just a couple small programs out there. And to see the proliferation of it is just amazing. And I think, you know, in a lot of ways, it’s awesome, because it’s done a lot for me, my firm, for BluShark, I’m sure for yourself, at the same time, it is something that there are a lot of different choices and figuring out what is right for you, as far as their philosophy, and I hope that we can get people to be able to see that during this process.

Jay Ruane 16:45

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, when it comes to coaching, you know, there’s really, there’s really no off the rack, sort of, you know, jacket you can put on when you’re hiring a coach, because everyone brings such different perspectives and backgrounds and what, what might work for your friend down the hall or your friend across the, now across the world, given the internet, may not work for you. And so that, I think that’s one of the interesting things that we’re going to be able to do is that, by by having these conversations with these coaches, you can really get a sense of who they are and how they operate. And, and get a sense of what it would be like to work with them before you have to open up that checkbook and and start to pay them for their time. Because, you know, too many people I have found in the legal entrepreneurial space, tend to be very easy to open up the wallet and love to bounce. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in masterminds, and people will be like, we’re on our 15th CRM, because we found one last week that had, you know, one extra bell and two extra whistles that we wanted to really have. And so they keep bouncing. And I think, you know, bouncing back and forth can really hurt your ability to grow. But when you find the right systems and the right sort of sherpa to get you there, you can really accelerate so much faster. So that’s what I’m excited about this. And I have some questions from my own situation, you know, I’m always looking to get free advice from these people. And I’m happy to take it by having them on the show.

Seth Price 18:19

Right. And I would say one of the things, and bouncing is certainly a piece. But I think what I’ve sort of noticed, as I’ve, you know, is that there are different types, where there’s mindset, best practices, but just like, you know, look, we see this all the time, how many of the, you see tons of people, some in the legal space, a lot not in the legal space, they have courses, they teach some widget. And the truth is, if you googled it, and found the book on Amazon, you probably could educate yourself, but we there’s something about a person spoon feeding it to you. But that’s the negative side, let’s take the positive side of a great coach, which is its more like a personal trainer, you may know academically what, what to do at the gym. But whenever I’ve had a personal trainer, you get a significantly better workout, unless, you really have worked for a while and know how to get it out of, the, the average person, cannot do that, some people are so good. They can go to the gym, and it’s, you know, close to the same, or they find a buddy and they don’t need to pay somebody. But very often for us people that don’t love the gym, the personal trainer really gets to a different place. And it’s what, a lot of times the word accountability, you know, can you get those extra reps? Can you make sure you’re doing it in the way, in, with the proper form? And I feel that that’s what a lot of these guys have been able to sort of, you know, figure out, which is it’s one thing to lay information at your at your feet, but the other is, how will that convert? And I know that no matter what it helps, and I think, feel that ther are certain things that I’d love to hear from these coaches, you know, what, where are they most successful? And where are some of the times where they see it le- working less well.

Jay Ruane 20:11

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, you know, I can give you a dozen ideas tonight, on what you can do to improve your firm and to help you grow, if that’s what you’re looking to do. But really, it’s, it’s I need to see inside your processes to be able to tell you, of these 12, these 2 first, you know, and that’s the value of having a coach because they get to know a little bit more about you and your practice than, than, because you can, hell, you don’t even need a coach, man go into some of these Facebook groups, read, you know, 100, 100 posts, and you can say, I need to do these, this, this and this. And but the question is, in what order, which has priority, what to spend on those things. And that’s where the, you know, the coach comes in, even, I , so I think, I think we’re going to be in a great spot this summer, I’m really looking forward to the talent that you have lined up, to come in and speak to us,

Seth Price 21:05

You know, and look, as I look at this, you know, I can almost see our nex- you know, future series after coaching, we haven’t even started the coaching, but some of it is the execution, you know, are you answering the phones, who is doing your hiring, like all of those things, we say, oh, you just have to hire another law-, I’m saying, hey, Jay, go get another lawyer. Okay, what’s going to happen when you get off this? And you’re like, pkay, I’ve decided I want another lawyer. What do you have in place? Or is it just like, if I have one recruiter, if they get me somebody, great? Have you diversified the path to getting to you? What are you doing to sort of show the world that is a good place to work? All of those things? So-

Jay Ruane 21:46

Yeah, it’s tough. It’s I mean, you know, this is, this is our, this is the roller coaster, this is, you know, this is not, you know, set it and forget it, you know, I think all of the successful firm owners I have met, in the last decade of focusing in this area, have been actively working on the development of their firm at all times, there’s, it’s, you know, all gas, no break, we’re you know, we’re gonna break things and we’re gonna figure it out. It’s not something that it is as simple as okay, now that I got it, I can take my hands off the wheel, put it into self drive mode and cruise. I don’t know anybody who’s doing that. And if you aren’t doing that, maybe it’s time to exit, you know, because maybe you’re not getting the pleasure from it, although maybe you are. I mean, there’s, there’s a part of me that says 10 years from now, when my kids are all grown and out of the house or into college and that type of thing. Maybe I do want to go to court every day. I don’t know. I know right now I don’t. And so I’m building a business that allows me to be home. And after we get off this taping, I’m leaving, because I got to drop one kid at soccer and take another one to a baseball game. And I’m, I’m focusing on baseball right now, because we just had our little league graduation, I’ve only got a couple of more games in, in Little League before my son is out. And and then those days will be over for me. So you know, I’m trying to spend as much time on the field as possible with him because that’s what I have built my practice around is being home to be with my kids as much as possible. So that’s, you know, that’s that’s the other thing that coaching, coaching can help pull out of you what it is that you truly want in and be self actualized and I think that’s something that’s going to help us really the whole summer so I’m excited.

Awesome. I can’t wait for to kick off the summer coaching series and who better to start with than Bill Biggs.

Yeah, it’s gonna be great. So folks, that’s gonna do it for us this week on a The Law Firm Blueprint. Of course, you can take us on the go anywhere you go. Whether it’s on a plane this summer, ot at the beach, maybe you’re in the mountains or on a cruise, but you can catch us everywhere. On The Law Firm Blueprint, be sure to subscribe, wherever you get it. Of course, you can watch us every week live on LinkedIn, live in our Facebook group at 12pm Pacific, 3pm Eastern on Thursdays, and we look forward to spending our time with you every week. That’s gonna do it for me. I’m Jay Wayne, he is Seth price. Bye for now.

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