Business Development

EP 76 – Paul Samakow – How Your Firm Can Dominate in the Hispanic Market

Paul Samakow is a Personal Injury Lawyer and Author. He has been working in the Washington DC area for the past 40 years and got into personal injury around the 5-year mark. The local hispanic community in DC did not really have anyone talking to them, so he started running some small ads in newspapers and the phone started ringing. Paul is bilingual, but not completely, so he needed to hire someone in his office that was bilingual and could have those conversations. He is now the #1 guy in the hispanic community in DC. He recognized about 3 years ago that what he is doing can be reproduced – he can teach it. So, he opened a consulting business to help other attorneys around the country to do the same thing he is doing in their markets. 

The best way to reach out to Paul is to give him a call at 301-500-0000. For a copy of Paul’s book, visit https://www.hispanic.thebusinessanswer.com/order-form

Recognizing an Under-Served Community and What Cases Work Better

Paul took basic Spanish in high school and became somewhat familiar with the language. He wanted to do personal injury and he was doing it and it was enjoyable, but he did not have the money to go on television and that was really the best way to get clients as a PI lawyer at the time. He thought about Spanish-speaking people and their accidents and wondered if anyone was reaching them. Paul ran a small ad in a hispanic newspaper that cost him probably less than $100 a month back then and the phone just started ringing. 

If you advertise that you help people who have been injured and then show them a car crash, they will call you if they fall down. One of the things that Paul has fancied himself over the years is that he is not a marketing guru, but he is a marketing junkie. To take it to the next level is what he did about 7 years ago and that was to write the book. It is so heartwarming for him to know that what he is doing is working. His intake has since tripled. 

Paul’s Favorite Business Book Finds to Develop the Business Side of Your Firm

The most prolific writer in the business genre of books now is Dan Kennedy. He has coupled with several other individuals that he has come into contact with and has since written a lot of books. The title of all of his books begin with “No B.S.” and then the title. He has books about hiring and firing employees, marketing, sales, etc. There are a lot of books on marketing and in the psychology world that will teach you how people think and how to address that. One of the most incredible books that Paul has read recently is called Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon. The premise of her book is memory – everything that we do in our life has to do with memory, even if it is an old memory stored way back. When you get ready to take an action or refrain from doing something, you have to have a basis upon which to make that decision – Carmen’s theory is that it is about memory. He likes to read books of people that have different angles. 

Lawyers were not trained as business people – they go into a practice and maybe they get a job and that defines them early on. You have to know how to market no matter how good you are at your trade. Paul developed his firm with an eye towards a niche market and it has done well for him. He can teach and he has taught in doing well in other markets and for other lawyers. Paul’s number one choice for delivery method is television. A lot of lawyers are successful on social media, on radio, but if you want the hispanic market, you have got to be on tv. The classic marketing strategy of tv is that you have to impress somebody 6, 7, 8, 9 times – they need to see the ad that many times before you are even a twinkle in their eye. 

Suggestions for Someone Who is Not a Native Spanish Speaker and Top Book Points

If you are planning to go on television, we are talking about a 30-second ad and we have a teleprompter. Paul does not know too many lawyers that can’t budget for maybe 17 seconds out of the 30 and learn to speak those bits and phrases. The hispanic community does not care that you do not speak the language or that you try and you may butcher some of the phrases or words, they are looking into your heart and into your soul and if they believe that you are being honest with them and that you have integrity, they are the most loyal group of people that he has ever found. It is a delight working with hispanics. 

Paul’s book is comprehensive and talks about all measures of marketing strategies and schemes that he is using. At the end of the day, if you want to talk to hispanics, you need to be an attorney that gets up out of their chair and goes over and shakes hands. You can’t sit in the back office and not answer the phone and not be involved – you have to be an active participant in the process. He treats them like they are people because they are people. He does not shake hands, he gives hugs and jokes with them to make them laugh. You have to connect with hispanics and when you do, after and during, they are sending everybody that they know to you. 

EP 75 – Ben Walker – How to Save Money and Increase Efficiency Through Transcription

Intro[Ben]:  So, it saves the law firm a ton of time and hassle because some of them have their legal assistants or paralegals transcribing when they should be doing other stuff, or it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and they’re like, “oh man, I need this hour-and-a-half hearing transcribed in the next day.” The paralegal can’t get that done.

Announcer:  You’re listening to the Legal Mastermind Podcast with your hosts, Ryan Klein and Chase Williams, the go-to podcast for learning from the experts in the legal community about effective ways to grow and manage your law firm.  

Chase:  Today on the Legal Mastermind Podcast, we have Ben Walker, the founder of Transcription Outsourcing.  He helps law firms, courthouses, universities, medical practices, and a bunch of other businesses help with their transcription services.  And today, we’re going to be talking about how to save money and increase efficiency through transcription, real-time editing of documents, and also outsourcing your legal research.  Welcome to the podcast. 

Ben:  Thanks, Chase and Ryan, for having me.  

Chase:  So, I guess starting out, if you can tell us a little more about your background and how you came to find Transcription Outsourcing. 

Ben:  Yeah.  I actually started with another transcription company specializing in medical transcription 14 years ago based out of Omaha.  And after three to four years, I figured out how to do the marketing myself and that we needed to diversify into other industries because there were major technological things happening in the healthcare industry that was allowing doctors to not have to dictate anymore.  They can point and click, so we were losing medical clients.  I started researching other industries that use transcription.  Found legal and law enforcement, and then ran with it.  Broke off, and started my own company and haven’t looked back. 

Chase:  Awesome.  And I think for those that aren’t familiar with how transcription works, can you give us a little background on that?

Ben:  Yeah.  So, like a typical transcript we’ll do for a law firm would be a court hearing that happened yesterday, maybe even today, sometimes last month or a few months ago, that they didn’t have transcribed by a court reporter because at the time, they didn’t know they were going to need it.  And then as the case has evolved, they say, aw man, now I need this transcript because we have another hearing in two days or next week.  And in order to prepare properly, they’ll have a legal assistant or they’ll go get it themselves, the audio file from the previous court hearing.  They’ll upload it through our web platform.  Our people will get it and assign it out to the right person, who will transcribe it within a day or two.  Then we email it back as a certified legal transcript in a PDF.  And they can run with it and submitted to court, use it for research, do whatever they need to do with it.  

Chase:  And the real benefit of, essentially, outsourcing this is saving time and also efficiency.  I know that you mentioned previously when we were, you know, kind of prepping for this podcast that sometimes you’ll receive a document and then you’ll be done with your job for the day and you’ll have your transcribers work overnight.  And then by the time you come back to your computer in the morning, it’s completed.

Ben:  Yeah.  So, it saves the law firm a ton of time and hassle because some of them have their legal assistants or paralegals transcribing when they should be doing other stuff, or it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and they’re like, oh man, I need this hour-and-a-half hearing transcribed in the next day.  The paralegal can’t get that done.  It’s gonna take the paralegal at least – a 90-minute file would take six hours probably to transcribe.  They don’t have six hours unless they stay up all night and get overtime.  And a court reporter is already booked out because they’re the people that show up in person with the stenography machine.  They can’t get it done overnight or in the next couple of days because they’re literally already booked out.  They get booked out months in advance.  So, using us is much more efficient.  And when it comes down to it, we’re cheaper per hour on average than any paralegal is.  

Ryan:  I remember when I used to work inhouse for a criminal law firm, I guess about seven or eight years ago, I remember one of the lawyers came to me.  He had this great app on his phone and he’s like, “I can’t believe it.  All I have to do is have to talk into this and transcribes it.  It’s called Dragon Diction.”  And I remember back then reading the transcripts and I’m like, “Have you read this?  This isn’t even, like, remotely close to what you said.”  I’m sure that it’s evolved a lot in the past seven or eight years, but it’s obviously not where it needs to be or else that’s what everyone’s been doing.  So, are people in situations where they’re, like, trying to have auto-transcription, they’re kind of editing it, or is that just really a waste of time and you’d have to figure out another solution?

Ben:  Yeah.  The editing of the artificial intelligence is still not even close to where it needs to be.  In order for it to be more efficient for artificial intelligence, it needs to be at 92 percent or above accuracy.  And right now, voice recognition is maybe – when you’re talking multiple speakers like the three of us on a podcast or a court room or in a conference room doing a deposition – let’s say there’s three people when know there’s usually more.  It might be 50 percent accurate and it can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman.  So, our people can type it faster than fixing 50 percent error rate.  The error rate needs to be 8 percent or accuracy needs to be 92 or above.  

Ryan:  I mean, forget about cross talk.  It’s over if that happens.  And then also a lot of these times when you’re doing these official transcripts, it’s probably very important to establish who’s speaking when.  Like, here’s a person when they’re speaking, this person’s speaking, I mean, how could, you know, those auto-transcription software differentiate properly?  I can’t see it. 

Ben:  And it’s not here yet.  I’m sure one day it might, but it, today, you’re right.  It’s not even close.  

Chase:  Cool.  So, I guess while we’re on the topic of software and, I guess, collaboration, one thing we also talked about before this call was one of clients is a law firm, I believe, and you were telling us they were on a road trip.  And they’re able to, basically, run their firm remotely due to third-party services such as like a V.A. transcription and then also a shared Google doc.  And we thought that was pretty interesting before the call, the idea of a shared Google doc.  We know what it is, most people, but can you give us the use case of how that’s actually being used?  ‘Cause I think something that’s probably overlooked and a lot of people aren’t utilizing it when everybody has access to this. 

Ben:  Yeah.  So, the attorney that I’m talking about is a client of ours and has been for six years probably, and recently he and his wife have been traveling via RV all over the country.  While doing that, he’s literally sitting in the back of the RV working and vice versa, and they trade off driving.  He’s ordering transcripts from us.  He’s emailing back and forth and texting with a virtual assistant on his calendar.  They’re also fixing letters that are going out.  He’s sharing Google docs with paralegals for briefs that need to be filed.  He’s also sharing his calendar with his paralegals, setting up conference calls, and this is all on the Google doc, back and forth, a Google sheet as well to make sure that they’re staying in alignment with each other now that they’re in multiple time zones and still having to do everything as if they were in the office down the hall from each other, and it’s working seamlessly for them right now.  I have haven’t seen any issues at least with our communication with him and his firm. 

Ryan:  And you also mentioned V.A.’s in particular.  We’ve talked about V.A.’s in previous podcasts.  We talk about it amongst ourselves in our agency and a lot of perceive a virtual assistant as being able to really only be capable of some basic level things.  Like, when people think of V.A.’s, they’re thinking about call follow-ups, scheduling appointments, really doing some menial tasks here and there.  In one instance, we did talk about it, you know, a little more involved arrangement with the V.A. to where it’s maybe drafting some sort of legal documents.  But you mentioned something I haven’t heard before and I haven’t really talked to any lawyers that may do this, but you were saying even as going as far as doing some legal research.  And I wasn’t really aware that that could be a thing that virtual assistants do some situations.  So, are you able to give a few examples of how a V.A. has been able to provide that kind of help that law firms may be looking for? 

Ben:  Yeah.   And again, I’m gonna use the same attorney that is travelling via RV.  He happens to specialize in wildlife law.  And when new cases come up – ‘cause wildlife law can be different in every state, there are different animals, there’s different rules, he hooks up with a virtual assistant that does legal research out of the Philippines.  And overnight, they will get him all the research he needs for that specific case that may be in Pennsylvania, it could be Texas, Arizona, even Colorado where he lives normally, but he may not have come across this specific kind of case.  And it’s also on a case-by-case basis.  He doesn’t pay the virtual assistant to sit around and wait around for him.  He uses them when he needs them.  And then they go get the research and email it to him, and then it’s done.  They keep track of their hours.  He pays them based on the work they send, and now he’s ready to go.  And he can continue his day when he wakes up as if he did all the research himself the night before, but he didn’t.  He paid someone – man, it’s way less than what we pay here per hour.  It’s between $4.00 and $8.00 an hour.  That same person in the states is gonna be 20, 25?

Ryan:  And then, as far as their qualifications, the biggest thing that I would think is, you know, where am I going to find this V.A.?  And if I do find them, how am I gonna – do I have to train them?  Do I have to spend time to show them how to do the proper research, or are there other vendors or agencies that are providing this V.A. that already comes trained and is going to know how to work with you in an efficient manner? 

Ben:  Yeah.  If you use the overseas companies, normally, they’ll give you a free trial so that you can give them a go.  And you can also have someone in your office do the same research to compare during the free trial or check their work to make sure.  It’s like anything, you hire anyone, you’re gonna have to check their work ‘til you get used to them.  But a lot of these companies in the U.S. and overseas, they specialize in this stuff.  And they have good reviews.  They’ll have references.  It’s like us, we have reviews online.  People read them all the time or they call us, and they’re in Ohio and they’re like, well, we want to talk other four other law firms you’ve worked with around the country.  So, I give them four other law firms to call and ask them anything they want about us.  Trust, but verify. 

Chase:  So, accounting – is that like your bookkeeping you’re outsourcing, or does it go beyond that, like, sending invoices? 

Ben:  It’s a little of both.  I send invoices.  They send invoices.  They do a lot of bookkeeping in and around a government contract we have though.  It takes – I don’t know – eight hours a month that I don’t want to do.  ‘Cause I know what I’m good at.  Well, I’m good at accounting, but I don’t like accounting.  

Ryan:  Well, I have a question because here, we kind of have momentum from, you know, the outsourcing the V.A., do you find people, like maybe yourself ‘cause in you’re in this so much.  And the people that you work with, do they kind of get, like, an outsourcing bug where they’re just like wait a second, I’m doing A, B, and C and just, like, this is going really well.  Do you seem them, like, taking a step back and just looking at the whole picture and saying what else can I do, even if it’s like you said, for, again, maybe only eight hours a month?   Those are eight hours you do not want, and eight hours is an entire working day.  So is it just build momentum and kind of snowballs into looking at everything for how it can be outsourced? 

Ben:  Oh, that’s totally 100 percent true ‘cause I’ve done that.  I used to have an office manager that did a bunch of different things for us and she resigned, and I broke it up and split it out into a whole bunch of pieces.  Now it’s piecemealed together with six people and it’s cheaper.  

 Chase:  Let’s go, let’s keep going on that.  I’m very interested to know how you siloed, I guess, the tasks into six specific people to take over. 

Ben:   Yeah.  So, it was outreach.  We’ve now outsourced our outreach for guest blog posts.  We’ve outsourced our ghost writing for guest blog posts and our own blog posts.  I’ve outsourced the bookkeeping for our NASPO transcription services contract.  It’s a pseudo-government entity that requires a lot of paperwork and it’s time consuming.  It’s eight hours a month for 10 different states and the overall parent that oversees all 50 states.  It’s busy work I can do, I don’t necessarily like doing.  

Ryan:  Yeah.  And I hear you because – people that think, well, it’s only eight hours a month.  I might as well just deal with it.  It’s just that one day of the month that I hate doing it.  And it’s just like you’re saying, like, why even do it at all?  You don’t have to have that one day of the month that you hate.  Just don’t do it, just, like, find the person that will take care of that on a monthly basis ‘cause you’re always going to dread that day.  I know how it is for me, too, when I had to do some monthly SEO tasks I don’t want to do. 

Ben:  Yeah, totally.  It’s the same for anything that will take you a long time that you have to be in the zone for to do properly.  ‘Cause you can’t half ass it.  It has to be perfect or one of the 10 states or the parent organization is going to reach back out to us and say these numbers don’t match.  That this isn’t right, you need to redo it.  And every time you do that with them, it gives them that little seed of doubt.  And then, yeah, are we gonna re-up this contract with them?  Are we not?  They kept turning in the wrong paperwork.   And the quarter ends – let’s see – September 30th, and I know I have until October 31st to turn in the numbers.  So, if I were doing it myself, I’d be waiting ‘till, like, October 25th and then split it into three days, and lose track of what I was doing on day two and day one.  And I’m on the third day trying to finish it.  Yeah, it’s no fun.  

Chase:  That’s fine.  I can totally relate. 

Ryan:  Kind of going back to transcription for a bit, I’m sure that there are situations where law firms, depending on what they practice or if they’re, like, you know, frankly, not sure about every instance of having to transcribe anything or document.  But what are some instances where anyone that’s listening doesn’t currently transcribe, a situation where it would very beneficial for them long-term?  Like, for example, depositions oftentimes, like, transcribed and has the law firm taken care of that among other things?

Ben:  Yeah.  Some of the law firms that we work with that do a ton of depositions will have a court reporter onsite.  They don’t have to order the transcript though.  They can tell the court reporter not to do the transcripts because that’s another additional cost.  So, they can sit there and do their live thing and swear people in and be one of the witnesses.  By not ordering the transcripts then and there, they can wait to see if they even need it.  And then if they do need it down the road, they have the audio and they can send it to us.  And we can get it done really quickly.  The court reporter can also get it done ‘cause they their first copy, but they’re gonna have to go back through it, like they normally do anyway, and finish the transcript up.  Court reporters cost 50 percent more than us, though, so that’s another factor, you know, that goes into this, that law firms are starting to become more aware of is that they have an option.  They don’t have to use a court reporter.  And then, we have some law firms that do bunch of employment law.  So, they’re in and out of these short hearings all day.  They might have 10, 12, 15 hearings in a day.  They go outside the first hearing or fourth hearing and they dictate really quickly what happened.  And they use our iPhone app.  And then our people get it and transcribe what ends up being a letter based on what happened in that hearing and when the next hearing is that they were having their paralegals do.  Paralegals retire.  Paralegal quit.  Your law firm gets bigger.  They don’t want to hire more people ‘cause it’s not necessarily a full-time job.  It’s also a job that if you’re not trained at, it takes you a long time to get good at.  So, we’re doing it for them and it’s all online.  These employment law firms are in the north-east.  We’ve never met them in person.  We’ve talked to them on the phones many times.  We’ve never met them.  They use our iPhone app.  Their paralegals log on to our web platform and they pull everything down on their own. 

Ryan:  That’s a great point.  And you have an app that kind of directly goes into it.  It’s almost as if they’re out of the office.  They’re not in front of a computer or a note pad and they’re doing voice memos, and it’s going to be accurate.  They’re not gonna, like, look back and be like why did I say there’s a banana in my pocket.  They’re going to say like, oh, yeah, now I know what I said.  So, it’s just, like, ensuring that your thoughts and what is top of the mind in that moment is going to be as you said it, nothing better. 

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  You’re 100 percent right.  And the more familiar we become with our clients and individual attorneys, the smoother it goes because we get used to them and we know what they’re saying.  We know what they’re gonna say.  We know who they’re referring to because we have their old transcripts, their old letters, we have all of that.  Our transcriptionists are all college educated.  They’re legitimately intelligent people that know what they’re doing.  So they get back letters that are ready to go out to another attorney, to a court.  Yeah. 

Chase:  So, Ben, I guess if you can leave our listeners with one or two more takeaways, what would you see?

Ben:  Give virtual assistants a try.  They can help tremendously.  There are ones out there that are really good at what they do too and they can be highly specific.  So, if you’re a patent attorney you can find a virtual assistant that specializes in patent law research and they really know what they’re doing.  And kind of getting use to the fact that you don’t have to have everything under your roof.  They don’t have to be down the hall from you to turn in good work.  We act as an extension of our client’s offices.  And when it runs well, we never hear from them ‘cause they’re not pissed off.  And we haven’t heard from our law firm clients in ages, but they still pay us on time, all the time because we’re doing a good job for them.  So, yeah, it’s the whole comfort factor with they’re not down the hall from me.  I don’t employ this person.  They are not W2.  Getting over that hurdle, yeah, that will help open a lot more doors to efficiency within a law firm.  

Chase:  And if people want to reach out and possibly work with you or Transcription Outsourcing, what’s the best way to get in contact?

Ben:  They can go to our website and fill out the little Contact Us form at TranscriptionOutsourcing.net.  

Sign-Off:  Thanks for listening to the Legal Mastermind podcast.  If you’re interested in working with Ryan and Chase, please email Mastermind@marketmymarket.com.  Make sure to join the free Mastermind group for growing and managing your firm at LawfirmMastermind.com.  Ryan Klein and Chase Williams are the managing partners at Market My Market, one of the top legal marketing companies in the United States.    

This Episode Transcribed By: Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

EP 73 – Mike Morse – The Roadmap to Taking Your Firm from Unpredictability to Profitability

Mike Morse is the Author of Fireproof and Founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury firm in Michigan. Mike has been practicing law for the past 28 years. In 2011, he lost all of his business and decided to take everything that he had learned to television. With all of the things that he has learned along the way, he wanted to draw out a road map for young lawyers, or lawyers who may be struggling, to go from unpredictability to profitability. 

If you would like to learn more or reach out to Mike personally, email him at mike@855mikewins.com. You can also find him on social media by visiting any of the following links below.

Mike’s New Book – Fireproof : https://geni.us/fireproof
Instagram : www.instagram.com/855mikewins
Facebook : www.facebook.com/mikemorselawfirm
Twitter : https://twitter.com/855mikewins
LinkedIn : www.linkedin.com/company/mikemorselawfirm
YouTube : www.youtube.com/mikemorselawfirm

Perception of the Law Firm Being a Business

Business is business. A good business coach does not need to know your particular business. Mike could take the skills that he has learned and go teach a dental practice or a digital marketing practice or a manufacturing firm because it really is all the same. You may care about your business, want to bring in more business, and have great ideas, but those ideas do not mean anything if they don’t get traction and you don’t have anybody to get them done. Until lawyers figure out that they need an Integrator, or a COO, or an Office Manager, they will just be stuck. 

Finding the Most Success in Finding the Right Hire

Mike has found the most success in finding those hires through word of mouth, networking, social media, and offering incentives to current employees to bring in other great employees. You just have to look around – they still do the traditional sources as well, such as Indeed. They test every employee in the HR department and he lays everything out in his book, Fireproof, of how they test, what tests they give, why they test, the importance of tests, how to ask good questions, why to ask questions, etc. Hiring the best people – surrounding yourself with the best people – is obviously a large part of the process.

Resources, Systems, or References to Consider

EOS will structure your business, but it does not give you any support other than the 5 meetings that you will have per year. Mike encourages people to find a more regular consultant or coach, which can be difficult to find. People do not necessarily need hand-holding, but if you are looking for more assistance, you can email Mike personally. He and his team use CasePacer as their case management system, Lead Docket to manage their intake, and have proprietary accounting software that they use as well. Mike is happy to answer any specific questions that you may have if you would like to reach out to him personally.

Everybody has a different pain-point. If you collect your data, and you organize that data and look at it daily, when a question or a problem comes up, you will be able to answer it and make really good decisions. Mike sees how successful several lawyers are without this stuff, but imagine how successful they could be with all of this stuff as well. A lot of law firms are already successful, so it is hard for them to make adjustments. They are more resistant to change because the perception of success is already there. You cannot do it without a set structure and you cannot do it alone. Even if they are the greatest lawyers in the world, they don’t know how to take it to the next level because they are so busy working in the business.

EP 72 – Tangi Carter – How to Attract the Ideal Client and How to Weed Out the Bad Clients

Tangi Carter is the Owner of Tangi Carter Law Firm and Business Mentor and Coach at The Peaceful Lawyer. Tangi began practicing in Florida right out of law school and she started out as a Public Defender at the age of 25. She started learning how to network, who the judges were and what their quirks were, so by the time that she opened her own practice, she felt as though she had a very good background to be able to do that. The best thing that she has learned throughout the years is to treat your current clients very well – take care of the people that have already paid for your services – the best clients are referrals from other clients. Tangi also coaches female lawyers. 

If you want to reach out to Tangi, you can email her at tangi@thepeacefullawyer.com or find her on social media – Instagram (@the_peaceful_lawyer), Facebook, and LinkedIn. For a copy of the ‘7 Steps to Attracting the Ideal Client’ Guide, visit https://thepeacefullawyer.lpages.co/7-steps-to-attracting-your-ideal-client/

Tips from 7 Steps to Attracting the Ideal Client Guide

A lot of the questions that they have asked are on that initial phone call when the client calls into the office. Tangi and her firm do charge a consultation fee, where many other lawyers do not. When someone comes in and pays for the consultation fee, you know that they are serious. If that client chooses to hire her, she will then put that consultation fee towards whatever the retainer may be. If they can answer those questions from the phone call favorably, then they will come in and meet with Tangi herself. Within the last 5 years, because of doing this streamlined system, they have been able to double their prices on everything and they are still getting it. You can do it if you are worth it – you have to do something for the client – answer their phone calls, etc. At Tangi’s office, they have a policy to call their clients back within 24 hours. 

Correlation in Quality of Clients and Raised Prices

There is no doubt a correlation between the quality of clients and the raised prices. Tangi takes a very wide range of cases and it helps, as long as the client is okay with it, if they can stay up to date on the online portal and stay informed. A lot of people do not devote any of their time during the week to their business. Most attorneys seem to be more reactive and they are not taking the time to talk about growing the business with their staff. Utilizing the consultation fee is one of the best ways to determine those people who are just shopping for free legal advice. You can facilitate and help those to get a public defender appointed on their case. In the criminal defense area, you are not just telling someone to get out of your office, you are trying to help them.

Asking the Right Questions to Weed Out the Bad Clients

Tangi sees it all the time where people will come in and attorneys do not take any information from that person and then they have no recollection of who they were. She will tell people that come into her office for a consultation to go talk to other attorneys to find out who they are comfortable with and to see who they mesh well with. They need to make sure that that person primarily focuses on the area that they are seeking help in and that they know the judges as well. If you ask the right questions, you can weed out the bad clients. Tangi asks questions such as if the client is currently represented by anyone, do they have any pending lawsuits, have they ever been represented by an attorney – who was it, and what was that experience like with that person, etc. You want to do your homework because one person can take up the majority of your time. When you begin using the intake sheet, you need to keep that person’s name to be able to search for potential conflicts. Come up with a way to do a conflict check so that something does not come up and surprise you.

EP 71 – Brett Trembly – Utilizing Virtual Staffing Within Your Law Firm

Brett Trembly is the Founder of Get Staffed Up as well as Founder at Trembly Law Firm. Brett started his law firm in 2011 in Miami, Florida. In 2018, Brett and his partner started Get Staffed Up as ‘the ultimate side hustle’. Their strategy was to get a few clients and then build out their system and nail it down. They spent the first 6 months of 2018 developing their pipeline, relationships, countries that they wanted to be in, and all of the back-end stuff and then began trying to make sales in July of 2018.

If you are interested in learning more, visit getstaffedup.com and fill out the contact page or you can email them directly at freedom@getstaffedup.com

What Work Can You Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) To Do?

Brett has learned to get rid of the things that he is either not good at or that he does not want to do. It is easier read than done – not said than done. It is a hard thing for people when they know that they need to hire someone, but it is so daunting and expensive. He wanted to help lawyers and entrepreneurs really learn how to delegate their way to freedom. It turned from saying that there are cheaper options and better talent, energy, and attitude to just talking to people about hiring better and smarter. Outsourcing the hiring and having someone given to you that is really good and friendly, that you are involved in the interview process with, that is now a part of your team is what has been so cool about this. 

At Get Staffed Up, there are three categories for the virtual assistants – the marketing virtual assistant, administrative virtual assistant, and lastly, the clerical virtual assistant. If you are the lead singer of a band and hiring a guitarist, you do not bring them in and read their resume, you hand them a guitar and make them play. It is the same thing when you are hiring someone for any business – you give them the task that you want them to do and you test them and that’s how you find good people. You can hire for attitude and train for skill. You can call it outsourcing, but you are paying Get Staffed Up and it is a full-time employee for you, so it is more like insourcing.

Benefits of Having Full-Time VA’s

Sometimes it takes convincing for companies to hire full time because they will say that they are only looking for part-time. When you put it like this, “Do you really not think enough of your own business and enough of yourself as a business person …”, it makes that decision a bit easier. When you don’t have an assistant to delegate to, things just begin to pile up on the shelf. Sometimes what is really valuable is having an employee with a little bit of excess capacity that you can say “That is who I need to jump on that project”. To Brett’s team, the part-time to full-time is a no-brainer, but the price point allows them to hammer that home. They find someone, they go through the process, they match them with a client, and then they have a client happiness liaison. 99 times out of 100, the client says that the person is phenomenal and they love them. 

The other thing that hiring full-time allows the team to do is focus on growing the business and adding more value because they would spend so much time trying to play those Tetris hours if clients were just hiring part-time. They have put so much thought into everything that they have done and it comes back to, “How do we build the company that we want, not the company that other people think that we should have?”

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them 

It takes 7 or 8 tries before you get someone that you like and that works with you the way that you want them to. A lot of people that do it themselves, if they ever figure out how to, will try it once and it will not work and then they will basically write it off. There is a huge mindset component behind that, but quitting is the number one thing. One of the other mistakes that people make is not having a plan for what you are going to delegate and how you are going to check in on the process. You have to have a very thought-out plan for how you are going to give your employees feedback. One of the things that Brett and his team have learned is to have a very strategic meeting rhythm. You want to have check-in points throughout the week, but one meeting per week – block out 90 minutes per week to work with your virtual assistant. 

For expectations in project turn-around-time, It depends on the position that the VA is in. There are daily tasks, but when Brett is talking about a weekly check-in, he is referencing the bigger type project that takes a while. It is also very crucial to focus on the relationship that you are creating with all of your employees, even virtual. Bonuses are fine and good and they are going to make people happy, but make your virtual team members a part of your team. When you make people feel a part of something bigger and a part of the team and appreciated and you give feedback and praise their work when it is appropriate, that is how you build loyalty and you build great teams. Brett encourages his clients to treat them as they are a part of the team like they would any other team member. You don’t have to over-do it – these are all things that we used to have to go more in-depth about, but people just get it more now.

EP 70 – Nat Slavin – How to Gather Feedback and Create Loyalty Within Your Clients for a Better Experience

Nat Slavin is the Partner and Co-Founder of Wicker Park Group. He has been talking to lawyers for over 25 years about how to bring a clear voice to their clients. Nat and his partner started Wicker Park Group in 2007 and for the last 13 years, they have been primarily doing direct client feedback. They have developed training programs and other workshops for lawyers to help them act on the information they receive. The single most important thing in client feedback is if you are going to take the time to ask someone what they want and value, you have to be prepared to act on that.

Reach out to Nat by visiting his website at www.wickerparkgroup.com and if you are interested in learning more, email him at nat@wickerparkgroup.com

Connecting with Your Clients In Order to Receive Feedback

For law firms that are trying to make the best possible business decisions, if you don’t know what your customer is going to be doing next, what is top of mind, and what their internal pressures are, then how can you actually deliver service? Law firms still struggle to figure out the right way to do this.

There are many different approaches to connect with your clients to get feedback. One of the biggest challenges if you asked leaders in firms is that there is a difference between asking the client how they are doing on a matter and truly getting into the relationship at multiple levels and understanding what those clients’ needs are. Some people play very important roles in the firm-client relationship, so getting down to that next level is a hard and important piece of feedback. One of the stumbling blocks that firms face is anxiety. Partners that have successful relationships don’t want to hear anything that they are not doing as well as they could be, and while feedback is not about criticism, 95% of the feedback that they usually get is positive. Law firms connect with their clients and do relationship visits, leadership visits, but those are very surface.

Adding Value to Your Client Relationships and What Questions to Ask

There is a great book, called The Ultimate Question, that was written by Fred Reichheld which focuses on the Net Promoter Score. In every interview that Nat and his team have done since 2007, they have asked the question, “How likely are you to recommend your lawyer to a colleague or peer?” Only 9’s and 10’s are promoters; 7’s and 8’s are neutral; 1-6 are detractors. They have a database of thousands of NPS scores and also some measurement scores around themes that they think drive client loyalty – responsiveness, communication, value for the fees, etc. The vast majority of the interviews are around the subjective drivers of the relationship. There are only a few things that matter in most client relationships which is if you understand their problem, if you understand their business and if you will make their life easier along the way. That is what every client truly wants. The more pleasant the relationship and the ability to make their life easier are drivers of the relationships. 

It is such a transactional business that every hour spent yields an hour of revenue and the clients are very conscious of that and they want efficiency. Adding value around very specific training, not just legal training but business training, and making it accessible is important. In every communication to your client, address the issue, the communication, and the next step. One of the greatest criticisms that they ever hear of lawyers is not wanting a ‘two-handed lawyer’. That does not help the client to decide how to move forward. Understanding the business, the workshops, and the training score very high on the unprompted asks when they ask the clients what they value. Socialization is what scores low every time. 

How to Immediately Increase Client Loyalty

Don’t make assumptions on what your clients need without asking them and confirming and knowing that every individual at the organization is going to have a different set of needs. If you uncover or learn in a conversation with your client their priorities and you have other lawyers working on their matters, make sure that is communicated to the team. Do the small things that drive loyalty. Being honest about the firm’s capabilities and your practice’s capabilities is a hard conversation to have with the client. What drives loyalty is saying “we could do this and figure this out, we’re not the best firm, but there’s a competitor at a different firm that I know can give you that answer and I want to introduce you” even though, theoretically, you are jeopardizing that relationship. Ultimately, those lawyers that are extremely candid are showing tremendous loyalty. 

Bad news never gets better with time. Never surprise your client and never anticipate or expect that they understand something until they have told you that they understand it. Make sure that you understand that the relationship is centered around a lot of vulnerability for the client. They have a problem, they have been hurt or harmed, and they need somebody to help them. The absence of information – clear, direct, and succinct information – makes a huge difference. A lot of times, the person generating the business is not the person doing the work, so the sooner that you can define the roles of your team and who to go to, the better. Create points of contact and let your clients know who your number 2 is and give them the information needed to reach that person. You can lower anxiety by over-communicating and setting and managing the expectations and it can be really powerful. The most important thing about getting the strong client feedback process started is sharing the outcomes in the organization. Lawyers want to see something that has worked in the past and then they will buy onto it. 

EP 69 – David Miller – Expanding Your Practice to Incorporate Niches Your Competition is Overlooking

David Miller started his career in finance and investment banking and he worked very heavily on collateralized debt obligations. When the financial collapse occurred in 2008, David was just finishing up law school and with his previous background and experiences, he transitioned into a securities litigation practice that he has been in now since 2010. He teamed up with his current partner, Tom McCulloch, who has been doing estate planning for the past 30 years. They are trying to focus now on Complex Estate and Elder Law – what that means is having a plan not only for divesting your assets after you pass, but having a continuing care plan during your retirement and making sure that the right people are empowered to help you. If you would like to learn more or get in contact with David, email him at david@mcmfirm.com or reach out to Crystal Collins at crystal@mcmfirm.com

Using Your Background and Experiences to Help Your Clients

In David’s litigation practice, having a financial background helped him with his clients from a legal standpoint. He was a registered representative and very familiar with the sales practices and rules and regulations going into it. David developed a knack for how securities work, how they don’t work, who is making money, how that money is being made, and the real risks that were out there. Translating all of that into his litigation practice put himself and his firm at a higher competitive edge because they could act as their own experts. Being able to do this is helpful for the clients because you understand the concepts from the beginning and it also reduces the cost of litigation and expert fees if you can keep a lot of the work in-house. 

One of the main things that David and his team talked about is that a majority of the attorneys had a financial background and had been in the industry previously and knew the ins and outs and the pitfalls and that resonates with clients. Clients respond to attorneys who specialize in one, two, or three things rather than whoever comes in the door. They were able to establish themselves because of their specialty, which is good and bad. On one hand, you are out there in a very niche market and you can put yourself at the top of that market, but on the other hand, you are also very dependent on that small niche market. That is why they began to diversify into the estate planning field and determine how to distinguish themselves. 

How to Expand Into Other Niches and Why It Is Beneficial

The background facts need to be out there to understand the Medicaid practice. The number one fact is that the world and the United States are getting older and there are advances in medicine and medical technology, medical practices have expanded, and the life expectancy has increased exponentially and that number is supposed to double in the next 40 years. With that, there are ever-increasing costs. The reality is that costs are going up during retirement instead of down and that is due to the medical advances. Medicine is expensive and aging is expensive. Declined health comes with increasing costs in care. David’s firm is looking at and focusing on less how you pass things on after you die and more about having a plan in place while you are still alive and dealing with capacity issues and end-of-life costs. They are focused on ensuring that the right people are empowered to help someone as their mental and physical capacity declines and they have the mechanisms to pass control and they have instructions for agents and caregivers as to how they want to age and how they want to be cared for and making sure that there is a plan in place to fund it. 

David and his team were introduced to this practice and it is not a very common practice out there. They are dealing with Medicaid and two sets of rules, both the federal and state government rules. A lot of attorneys do not want to mess with it because it is complex, it is labor-intensive, and it does take a lot of investment. It is an under-served market. The system of retirement that we have set up in the US does not support the costs of long-term care. You have 4 different options for payment – you private pay because you are wealthy, insurance will pay, a family member of yours pays, or the government pays. What they are trying to do is find the best combination of private pay and the government pays so that you can protect assets and still have a cushion to supplement care and cost of living.

Fostering Relationships and Tactics to Bring in New Business

Once a client understands the cost, understands the numbers, and understands the investment, the plans almost sell themselves and it becomes a no-brainer. Selling that value proposition to a client is not that difficult because the ROI’s are pretty apparent. The problem that they have is getting clients past mental roadblocks. To get past the mental roadblocks, you need education – educating clients and educating their financial advisors as well. A couple of ways to do this is through workshops, web-based Zoom meetings or webinars, and through financial advisors. They want to get clients thinking about these things before they even come in and meet with them so that when they do meet, they are already primed for these types of topics. 

To get clients, David’s firm relies heavily on other professionals and other personnel. They work with the care providers and care managers directly at skilled nursing facilities. Care providers and care managers are in the industry and dealing with those particular clients on a day in and day out basis. Once they have developed a good relationship with the firm, they are comfortable referring clients to them. They are comfortable with the referral because it is helpful for the client and they are getting paid by the government, so the faster that they can get an application through or someone approved for Medicaid is the faster that they are going to get paid. David and his team foster those relationships, they meet on a regular basis, figure out what is going on in their business, talk to them about their challenges and try to help them out regularly without charge so that they are comfortable referring clients over to them. The other main referral source is financial advisors and they are a little trickier to deal with because they are more transactional. They have to sell them on a different type of value other than just referring new clients. What they try to do for them and sell them on is how they are going to help them maximize their assets under management. They do a lot of trust planning which is complicated – trusts have to be funded and they have to be administered correctly. That helps an advisor pick up orphan IRAs or other brokerage accounts and get all of the clients’ assets in one place which makes their job easier and they are getting more revenue off of that. Once the referral relationship has been developed, down the road it makes it a lot easier for them and their clients when they have to start funding trusts or administering trust because they include those other professionals in those conversations.

EP 68 – Elise Holtzman – Developing Your Law Firm from a Business Development Standpoint

Elise Holtzman is the President and Founder of The Lawyer’s Edge. Elise is an experienced attorney, certified professional coach and consultant. She is a former lawyer, no longer practicing law, and practiced in the area of commercial real estate transactions for two New York City law firms. When she was practicing law, she found that there were no coaches or very few female mentors in a similar situation. She got involved with professional coaching because it would combine everything that she loved that utilized many of her strongest disciplines she had developed during her professional career. Now, she helps lawyers and law firms become more successful in terms of bringing more revenue into the firms and running their firms like a true business. Elise does this by helping law firms develop their people into great business developers as well as great leaders. 

You can reach out to Elise by visiting her website at www.thelawyersedge.com or send her an email at elise@thelawyersedge.com

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Business Development

The way that Elise and many others in the industry look at it is that marketing and business development go hand-in-hand with each other. So, what is the difference? Marketing is one to many. You are one person or one law firm and you are marketing to many people. It could be your website, you could be giving webinars, you could be writing articles, you could be posting on social media so that a lot of people are seeing you – they understand what it is that you do and who it is that you serve and they see that you are visible in the legal space and the business space. Business development is really more one-on-one. This is where you are developing relationships, preferably mutually beneficial relationships, with people so that they get to know you, you get to know them and understand what their needs are, and you can deliver value to them. Ultimately, when people have a sense of what you do and whom you serve and you have been delivering value to them and they know, like, and trust you, they are much more likely to hire you or to make a referral for you. People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. It does not necessarily come as easily through digital marketing – it certainly helps, and there are people who feel like they know you, but developing one-on-one relationships is critical. It will not change how you do things to understand the difference, but it is important to know that they do work hand-in-hand. The combination of the one-to-many and the one-to-one are critical to a law firm.

Investing in Yourself and the People on Your Team

One of the things that organizations like to say, and law firms are no different, is that “our people are our greatest asset”. If you are looking at your people and saying that they are your greatest asset, would you let your asset go to waste? If you had a physical asset such as a computer system in your office, would you not repair it, or update it and upgrade it, would you not keep it clean and tuned up? What happens is lawyers are expected to emerge from law school ‘fully formed’. It is true that your people are your biggest asset and there is a huge cost to having a revolving door. Where is the law firm investing in them? It is a two-way street and you are asking people to invest their time and energy and sweat equity in you (and yes you are paying them), but if you want to retain your talent, you have to invest in your people. If you want your law firm to be a growing, breathing entity that can keep doing better over time, you cannot let it stagnate. It is critical to educate your people on things other than technical legal skills, which also includes not only educating them, but also following up with support, whether it is individual coaching, group coaching, or getting them involved in certain initiatives and giving them the opportunity to get in front of clients and get in front of prospects so that they learn how to do this over time. You are investing in them over time and that sort of investment pays off. If you view it as a cost then you shouldn’t do it. It is a tremendous investment. 

Fixed Mindset Approach vs Growth Mindset Approach

As a law firm, let people know that it is a growth environment. There are two different approaches – a fixed mindset approach and a growth mindset approach. Some people take a fixed mindset approach to business development and you are either born with the ability to do it or you are not. What that means for everybody else is don’t bother trying because you will never be able to figure it out. However, if you have a growth mindset, there are many people who are going to get on board. It is really important for a firm to be able to set up that environment for people and understand that you may want to hire, or even promote, people who lock onto that culture and are willing to go with it. It does not mean that every person who is not willing to sign on has to be kicked out the door, it just means that some people are much better suited to be doing that work, cranking out the hours, and serving those that are out there doing the business. You will find that some people are going to be a good fit for you and that some are not. If you want a business development culture, or a diverse and inclusive culture, or a culture where leaders are made and not born, you are going to attract people over time that want the same thing. Over time, you fulfill your own desire to have a thriving, living, growing, breathing law firm.

EP 67 – Kirk Smith – How Lawyers Can Add Value and Enhance Experiences for Clients That Have Been Taken Advantage Of

Kirk Smith is a Managing Partner at Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas, LLP. He has been practicing law for over 21 years and was also a former stock broker. Kirk’s firm largely represents consumers against brokerage firms or investment advisors and they look to help consumers that may have been taken advantage of either in their portfolio or retirement savings. Often what went wrong inside a person’s portfolio could be due to the broker or brokerage firm’s negligence and Kirk looks to help those consumers and file cases on their behalf in what is called finra arbitration. If you are interested in getting in contact with Kirk, visit his website at https://www.investorlawyers.com or you can call his office at 800-259-9010. 

Red Flags That You Can Look For When Speaking to Your Clients

The first thing a lawyer could look for or field a question on is if there is a huge loss (mostly for those in retirement or nearing retirement). It will often be brought up to the lawyer because they are seen as such confidants and in a few other situations, you may just have access to that information. In many instances, the client trusting the attorney will broach the subject and that is how a lot of their business comes in. If you are not as common with their finances, you can simply ask them how things are going. Something as simple as that and you would be surprised about what it would yield – you will be surprised at what people open up and tell you. 

If that lawyer has a personal financial advisor that they trust, they can always bounce some ideas off of them or seek out an attorney. If you don’t know yourself, speaking with someone who does is very helpful. Other easy things to uncover aside from concentration are the use of margin or a credit line attached to the portfolio which can really decimate the account. Margin is the means by which you can borrow money from the firm to go and buy more bonds or stocks or other products. It certainly should not be used by anyone that is close to retiring or in retirement, only by those that know what they are doing. There are also lines of credit that are collateralized against the account. So other obvious ones are the use of margin and the use of credit lines collateralized to securities – just unusual products, if it is not a stock, bond, or mutual fund then people should not be in it. People do not understand what is going on because they were not given the full disclosure but they may have signed off on something. 

Why Are the Elderly Targeted and More Susceptible?

Kirk tries not to advise clients too much on who to use. As a rule, the larger firms have smart people that work there and trustworthy people, but there are always going to be bad apples wherever you go. He tries not to give too much direction to any one brokerage firm after they are done with his firm. Older people tend to be the ones that are targeted or more susceptible because they are more trustworthy of a person in an apparent power of authority or knowledge, but they also have larger amounts of money after working a lifetime. As far as making the claim goes, they should be treated differently in a more conservative fashion. Obviously fraud is looked upon a little more aggressively and they will view the brokerage firm in a different light. Either way, it is recoverable but you might get a larger reward or potentially get some costs / interests. It is still actionable – malpractice is malpractice and negligence is negligence. People who have suffered shouldnt bear the financial loss for the mistake, the mistake should be borne by the professional. A lot of times, older adults do not want to discuss their finances with their children, especially if they have several and there may be some issues there. You would be surprised.

Misrepresented Products and Topics to Stay Away From

He has spoken at a few different associations and some younger attorneys will attend classes for CLE and he will speak there about different topics and products to keep an eye out for and the process for how to present a case as well. People were investing or recommended to invest in Master Limited Partnerships or MLP which is tied to oil and gas and always recommended as a safe and secure product (as an alternative to a fixed income like a bond fund), but in reality it can fluctuate greatly. The price of oil does have a negative effect on it and many people were invested in these and suffered huge losses. Another thing are REIT’s which are real estate investment trusts. These are almost a mutual fund composed of real estate and people get stuck in them, especially these days. A lot of things are misrepresented to people or they are sold risky products. Each person is different and each situation is different. You can certainly expect to get more money back than if you did nothing. But there are so many different variables – what was said, if there are any emails, whether you are or were a blue collar worker, a professional, or a widow, and what type of concentration it was. They would not be doing it if they were not getting good returns for the clients, but it is hard to quantify. 

Your clients look up to you regardless of what service you are performing and when they need help, they want to turn to someone that they can trust even if it is a little outside of what that person does.

EP 66 – Peter Walts – Building Business Development Through IP and Value Proposition

Peter Walts is the Founder and CEO of Centropy Group as well as the COO of Employment Law Alliance, otherwise known as ELA. Peter is focused on creating new value and client momentum through business strategy, alliances, licensings and transactions. He has been in this business for about 20 years now and has enjoyed helping companies look at building alliances and building business development within their firms. Has been helping law firms specifically for about 7 years primarily through ELA. Peter also hosts a few different podcasts but mainly focuses on Employment Matters. 

You can learn more about Peter at centropygroup.com and you can learn more about Employment Law Alliance at ela.law. You can find his podcast ‘Employment Matters’ at https://employment_matters.buzzsprout.com and connect with him via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/peterwalts/

Leveraging Intellectual Property Internally

They call it one of the business development assets,  not only the logo, the trademark and those things, but it’s the way the firm is perceived in the market and the individual expertise of the subject matter experts within the firm. When you break it out and look at how firm’s can leverage their intellectual property it is really the things that they are doing one-to-one with a client and how they can package that in a way that it is now creating best practices or experiences that other firms can benefit from. The way that you help someone may be different than the way that someone else helps them. Look at your firm and really take inventory of what the practice areas are that you have strength in, what relationships that you have strength in – not only existing customers, but market segments, industry segments – and how you can take your message with that subject matter expertise out into the marketplace and use it to help others, even other law firms. Your clients are looking for the best advice that they can get and the best relationships that they can get so wherever you can help them by leveraging not only what you know but who you know is going to help them immeasurably and they will stick with you forever. 

Look at intellectual property as an intangible – as the expertise of the firm, as the reputation of the firm, as the good works of the firm – and then move through the organization. You should be mining talent right from the beginning as a law firm and look at the intellectual property that the younger lawyers can bring to the table when looking at social media or reaching out or building a parallel network within the firm or with another group of young lawyers across the country or across the globe. Do this in a way that is inclusive and that clients see them as a generous provider of content and not as a competitor to all of the other law firms in that space. Look for opportunities to team with other colleagues in your practice area from other firms or to find other firms outside of your geographic area that you can partner with that will really make your message stronger to the clients that you have and make you more attractive to clients that you want to bring in.

Assessing Your Unique Value Proposition

It is important to identify what your unique proposition is. We all have at the baseline that we are lawyers and we can all assume that we are good lawyers and that we have existing clients. We all accomplish those things in different ways and may be handling the same type of legal issues in a unique manner. Ask yourself what industries do you have particular expertise in and how can you help guide that industry? If you have one client in an area, you have expertise in that area. There are opportunities for you to look as a firm for marketing. Don’t think of the other law firms in your market as competitors, think of them as service providers who are all providing unique value propositions or unique intellectual property to help clients and clients will choose where they want to work. Let’s all grow up and work together because we need each other. That is the strength of networks and alliances and the formulas of those is how you put together what is usually an unlikely combination.

Benefits of Strategic Alliances for Law Firms

There is uniqueness in being an independent firm and building an alliance if you get that opportunity to continue in your own practice and fill in those areas where someone else may have strength. All parties in an alliance see value in a similar way – start small and one of the best things is that you just have to work on something together. The advantages in alliances over acquisitions is that they are quick to form. You don’t have to have a lot of equity in it, they’re flexible, you can decide as a group what works,and  they don’t take much cash or drain a lot of resources. Try something that allows you to align around a certain practice area. Today, some of our vendor sources may be in a lot of trouble so now is a good time to start thinking how do we as an industry go out and start building alliances so that if someone is struggling and they are critical to the supply chain we have a way to help them. You can create vertical alliances or you can create alliances around technology and those are things that make alliances beneficial and there really isn’t a restriction on where you can have them. 

Think about some of the other firms that you have strong relationships with that are not in your market and some other firms that have expertise like you do in another industry segment and what other people in your industry you know that you can partner with where you don’t compete directly. That is the making of the beginning of an alliance. Firms that have developed and documented their intellectual property may be better suited to be a part of these strategic alliances. Think about what you have to offer and what they have to offer and what you can bring together. Marketers need to be looking to other marketers for best practice. They need to be listening to podcasts to learn how they can build on the knowledge of others. The first thing to do is take an inventory of what the firm has to offer and go down to the individual person. Find out where all of the intellectual property or firm assets are across the skillsets, the interest, the industry expertise, the relationships and the charitable contributions and start to knit those together with who you can partner with.