Business Development

EP 56 – Tim Corcoran – Learning to Adapt and Thrive as a Law Firm in the Ever-Changing Market

Tim Corcoran is a Legal Management Consultant with offices in New York, Charlottesville, and Sydney as a global client base. He is a keynote speaker, author, as well as a legal commentator and has been in the industry for the past 2 decades as a corporate executive. The things that he talks about and where he guides his clients is just practical advice – what he learned in how to run a business and what they may not have been trained to do when in law school. It is really about helping legal leaders use their intellect and their lawyer abilities to be more effective leaders and managers of their business, which is essentially what his consulting practice is based on. Please reach out to Tim by visiting his website at bringintim.com or by following him on Twitter @tcorcoran

Prioritizing Your Next Steps in Navigating the Pandemic and Beyond

Now is a perfect opportunity for law firms, and all businesses, to be taking a look at their operations and determine which of their programs, investments, capital expenditures, tools and technologies, and suppliers may need to be dialed back as well as looking to see what resources and maybe even people may not be as mission-critical in the short-term. Many businesses are being faced with several tough decisions to make right now and they are all happening at once. Tim has helped clients come up with a decision framework to do this triage. He looks at the term triage as how medical professionals do an assignment of urgency when they have someone that is present with symptoms and they cannot treat everyone and do everything all at once, so really they are trying to prioritize what is most important first. A short-term challenge facing many law firm leaders is that there is not a lot of planning done in advance for how to deal with this. Most businesses did not even have a plan that would accommodate the scale of this disruption.

Law firm leaders need to triage and prioritize what their next step is going to be. It is a 3-stage process that several law firms are currently facing. There was a Canadian minister that described their government here as dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic as a plane struggling in an intense storm. The first stage is landing the plane on the ground safely to ensure that everyone is safe and alive. The second stage is securing the plane on the ground and making sure that it will be safe to ride out the storm there. The third and final stage is preparing to take-off again as the climate allows for proceeding. The first thing that law firms need to look at doing is securing their law firms to ensure that they will be in business come the following day. Their first steps in doing so are to make sure that you have enough cash on hadn’t to make payroll, think about if you have enough laptops and desktops available to disperse to people so that they can work from home, if not, then you need to make adjustments to secure device policies, zoom policies, and conference call capabilities so that employees can use firm services to login and access the critical materials that they need.

Embracing Opportunities and Collaborating and Communicating More Effectively

We as a society, but especially as law firms, have been ignoring opportunities to embrace a flexible workforce. There are ignored opportunities when a valuable employee moves across the country for many different reasons and most employers just say goodbye. Why is that the case though if they can work remotely and be just as effective? Now is a great opportunity to say that we do not need a model where everyone is in a shiny building downtown, but rather to embrace a model where you can be everywhere. This gives a greater competitive advantage and a lower cost space which will in turn improve profitability. Take this time to put things into perspective. It is not about adapt or die, although some will not adapt and some will die, it is really about adapting and thriving. The market has changed, and is always changing, so how do you as a law firm or a leader in the legal community take advantage of what the market is telling you very loudly and very clearly?

Law firms structurally are not built very well for collaboration, even when everyone works in the same office or the same set of offices. This market change may provide a recognition to use the tools and processes that allow you to collaborate even when you cannot be right across the desk from one another. The missing link is if people are being effective in using these tools. With time, we can realize that there is a way to collaborate with others when you are not in the same room and if we take that lesson back, we may reform the law firm footprint so that now we may collaborate and communicate far more effectively.

Utilizing Technologies as a Way to Deliver New Solutions

The market has been fairly loud in asking lawyers and law firms to adapt to a changing world- whether a consumer or large corporate clients. The market has also said that there is a learning curve and that legal professionals should be more efficient at delivering service at a higher quality and lower cost than they were 5 years ago. While billable hours still exist, the market is saying that they no longer need lawyers’ permission to access legal services from alternate sources. Big law firms are now realizing that some of their work is being seeded to smaller law firms and all law firms are now seeing some of their work being brought in-house or to alternate suppliers where it is a lower cost of delivery. Some companies are delivering services to organizations that have legal needs and they are delivering them more effectively, at a higher quality and lower price, and with higher throughput. Law firms are now realizing that all of these things they said they cannot change and changing, and they don’t have a voice in it. Courts are accepting e-signatures, people are providing services electronically, taking appearances by video, and they are starting to see the same sort of thing in transactions. The things that used to have to be on paper are now submitted electronically.

Much of the market has mischaracterized the benefits of the use of technology to legal services. Buyers are more ahead of the game than the sellers. We need to first look at technology not as the solution, but as a way to deliver that solution more effectively and efficiently. Lawyers need better processes. It is not uncommon to look at a law firm and see how different lawyers have fundamentally different approaches to handling the same task, whether that be a legal task or an administrative task. The better course of action is to recognize that you have inefficient processes and that inefficiency sends a message to your clients and the clients are saying that the law firm’s inefficiency costs them more money. It is time to engage in process improvement and no one way has to win, there may need to be some variations. Process mapping, process improvement, and project management are not about commoditizing the law, they are about saying how to unlock the smarts that lawyers have if they have done these things before thousands of times. That approach will pave the way for technology we think will be necessary and helpful to deliver that. Technology comes after the business mapping and then the technology is one of the ways to deliver those services. So, how do we benefit from using technology? The price point can come down, but the profit can go up and both the client and the law firm are happier.

EP 54 – Chase Williams & Ryan Klein – Staying Ahead of the Curve and Implementing the Best SEO Tactics

The Importance of Tracking and Transparency in Reporting

Today, there are over hundreds of marketing channels while a few years ago there were maybe only 6 or 7. So, how do you know which leads are coming from which channels or sources? The fact that you can track everything at this point is such a game-changer, especially when it comes to ROI and those marketing dollars. To make that ask and spend more money on advertising though, you need to know where your leads are coming from. Some tools that we use for tracking and have found helpful are HubSpot, CallRail, and Google Analytics. This allows us to know how to quantify the amount of money that we are spending to bring in new business. It is also a good indicator of knowing when it may be time to cut back or double down in certain areas. You can do tracking through every step of the cycle and that is so important in making some of these decisions.

After tracking, you move on to reporting and the transparency of the reporting. When reporting, people typically look for more sophisticated tools and they want to see more transparency in the results of the campaigns that they are doing. Many lawyers are accustomed to reports being auto-generated, but it is also important to be able to analyze those reports and have experts scan the data manually to have findings and more opportunities based on what they found in the report. In addition to this, it is not necessarily only important to illuminate the positives, but you also need to be able to explain what is going on with the negatives as well and then determine an action plan to improve.

Thinking Outside the Box When It Comes to Content Plans

The average lawyer is writing their content based on regurgitation on the latest news and that is not necessarily the best approach in many situations. A non-generic content plan is coming up with a game plan to cover every possible way that someone would search for your services within your geography. But, how do people search? Most commonly, people search using a keyword or practice area along with a geographic modification or a long-tailed question. A good resource tool for searching for new topics to produce content is AnswerThePublic. It is also wise to be researching how people are conducting their searches and how the search trends may be changing throughout the year and even more year after year. Analyzing the content that your competition has is also a good idea to see if they are writing about good topics, but doing a poor job executing – see if you can do it better! It truly is endless the number of possibilities that are out there for content, but there is also a fine balance between an interesting and unique topic and a topic that generates volume. These are great things to keep in mind when you are working on your content strategy.

The Latest SEO Trends

One of the latest trends that we have seen recently is the use of emojis and how they are drawing user’s attention to meta descriptions or FAQ schemas. This is a way to stand out from everyone else. Structured data is at an all-time high as far as how much real estate it is taking up in results. People are sing FAQ below their search result and answering questions that is FAQ structure data and it has been incredibly successful for click-throughs. Another new thing we have noticed happening is that a lot of schemas have gone pretty far down the Google results page instead of only appearing in the first few rankings – this has been a modification that we have recently seen over the past few weeks. Google has been going into over-drive over the past six months with a lot of new things amongst everything that is going on. Within the past week, checkmarks now appear within the maps for online appointments that are available. You always have to be on these platforms and reading the documentation that is put out by Google. It does not just stop at structure data, optimization for voice search is a thing that people have been preparing for. Google looks up structure data and how you word things on your website, how you present information in a way that people can ask questions, and ultimately what is your website set up for.

We have also recently seen a dramatic change in the site speed test. Google has a page speed test that allows you to type in your URL and essentially see on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being the best) how your website ranks in Google’s eyes. This number is calculated by load speed, certain scrips that are fired off your website, and there are always new things they are adding to the list as well. The implications here are higher than they have ever been because there is so much more impact. At the end of the day, Google is all about user experience and whether or not you are following the guidelines that have been set out. There is a whole new set of guidelines for how to rank your website for user experience and website speed. Change is coming slowly, but quickly at the same time.

EP 52 – William Umansky – Growing Your Practice Through Being a Leader in Your Community

William Umansky is the Managing Partner of Umansky Law Firm. William became a lawyer over 28 years ago and started as a prosecutor – he then did some defense work at a personal injury firm and has since started his own firm. He handles personal injury cases including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall and premise liability cases, negligent security and sex abuse. William is also an author to the Amazon Best-Selling book “Power Principles of Success”.

Finding Your Driver for Success

William used to be very intent on not giving anything back. He was always thinking about getting the next case and driving to build his business, in which he did become successful very quickly. However, at the end of the day, he still felt empty inside and wondered what he was doing all of this work for. William did not understand his ‘why’ until he realized that everything he was doing was not only to support his family but also to help his clients empower themselves. When he figured this out, it became more clear what the purpose behind his practice was.

It is a privilege to practice law and you have to earn that privilege, but it is also a privilege to make money by helping others. William realized that there was so much more that he could do for other people when he joined some local committees. The Orange County Bar Association was where he helped other lawyers build their businesses, helped them get education for their practices, and helped them to understand that there is a community of lawyers that can help each other. The Rotary Club is another organization that William became heavily involved with which is where they believe in service over self.

Giving Back to Your Community

To empower other people is not to think about yourself, but to give. William feels that giving is way better than receiving and especially so during this time where there is so much crisis and negativity – you just have to keep giving. He found that it is a lot more fun to give – whether that be by doing charity work, building others up rather than tearing them down, and he even found that it is more fun when dealing with your competitors to simply not hate them. There are three important factors or areas in which you can give – time, money, and leadership.

One of the things that William realized after being on the board of several associations was that a lot goes into running a board and a lot of time goes into doing the activities that are required to serve your members. He found that giving money was not as fulfilling for him, but it is still very important. You can find ways to give money in your community like giving money towards scholarships, raising money for other people, or giving money to charitable causes. Leadership is an area that not many people associate when they think of giving. Leadership can be given in inspiring others to do good work, spreading messages of value, and inspiring people that may be more equipped than you to give to others.

Prioritizing Your Passions … Including Your Business

One of the most important lessons that William learned growing up that he still carries with him to this day is to follow your passion and then the money will follow. If you follow your passion, everything else kind of works itself out around that. The things that you find yourself to be passionate about, you will make time for. People will see that you are passionate about what you are doing and they will see that you love what you do and you are authentic. Others will see that what you are doing is out of love and not any other reason. Eventually, those people will cling to you and join you and they will want to give you business and help you.

It is hard to balance everything and that is why it is so important to be passionate about what you do decide to join and be a part of and then get rid of all of the things that you are not passionate about. It is so easy for us to say yes to a lot of things and then our balance gets thrown off. Priority depends upon passion, so prioritize your passions. Find the things that you like to do and then find a way to involve yourself in activities that connect you with those things and with yourself. There is never an excuse to get into one thing that doesn’t have a connection to something else – there are always things that tie to each other that you can find. No one person can do it all on their own either, you do need a team. Leveraging everything is to find people that love what they are doing and they will shine because of their motivation.

EP 50 – Brian Basinger – Understanding the PPP Loan and What It Can Do For Your Firm

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Brian Basinger is the Founder and Principal of Basinger CPA. Brian is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Tax Coach and helps small business owners navigate accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. Basinger CPA is a strategic advisory firm that tries to go in-depth and be proactive in helping their clients on tax planning, accounting, and cash flow forecasting.

What is the PPP Loan vs Other Options

The PPP Loan (Paycheck Protection Program) came about earlier this year amid the COVID-19 Pandemic to give relief to businesses, specifically small businesses and is designed to cover at least 2 months worth of payroll, as well as rent, utility, and other expenses you may need assistance in covering. The PPP Loan is still in the 2nd round, although most people who have applied for it have received it at this point.

There are 3 other options you may want to consider instead of, or in addition to, a PPP Loan. The first of these options is a Payroll Tax Deferral. This allows employers to take the tax from 2020 and defer the employer portion of taxes, which is about 6.2%. In this situation, businesses would be required to pay half in 2021 and the remaining half in 2022 with a 0% interest rate. The next option was an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and provides financial assistance to small businesses that may have suffered economic injury as a result of a disaster. These applications have now closed, but applications that were previously submitted are now being processed and approvals will span over the next few weeks. Although this option is not free money, it is money on really good terms. The final option is for a payroll tax credit which applies to people, or family members, that may have been affected by COVID-19 and needed to miss time from their jobs.

Recent Changes and Updates Made to the PPP Loan

When the PPP Loan first came about in early 2020, it was intended to be used over 8 weeks to cover those 2 months of expenses. Most people who have already applied for the loan have received it at this point, but if you have not, then you may not be going through the right bank. The loan has since been extended from the previous 8 weeks and can now be used over 24 weeks. Now that it is 24 weeks, there is more than enough cost to cover the loans – the loan is calculated based on a 2 and a half multiplier of the previous year’s payroll.

Brian also presented two different scenarios in the case of having to lay-off an employee or employees. Previously, employers had until June 30th to hire everyone back or to make an equivalent job offer to somebody else. This date has since been changed to December 31st that you can hire back employees who may have been furloughed or laid-off. Businesses also have until December 31st to restore wage rates that may have been reduced due to COVID-19. If you are needing to lay an employee off and concerned about the forgiveness of the loan, an option is to apply for the 8 weeks of forgiveness (which is still available) and wrap of the forgiveness of that loan and then you can proceed with the lay-off. If you are letting an employee go with cause, you can do that if they have been deemed an appropriate exclusion to the head-count rule.

An additional factor to consider in the PPP Loan is that this loan is intended for employees who receive a W2, it is not for contractors or 1099 employees. Contractors are eligible to apply to receive their own PPP Loan, so they are not allowing businesses to stack them. It is one of those scenarios now where people who are hiring traditional employees (W2) and paying payroll taxes are being rewarded by being able to take advantage of the PPP Loan.

Guidelines to Forgiveness of PPP Loan

Although definitive guidelines for the PPP Loan have not been released, the ESBA, or Employer-Sponsored Brokerage Account, has continuously released a series of FAQ documents and this is currently the most authoritative interpretation of the bill and the legalities. There are still many unanswered questions, but it is expected that they will release an additional FAQ document to answer some of those. Banks have also received an additional forgiveness application so if businesses are looking to apply for loan forgiveness already, they will apply through the bank that issued their PPP Loan and the bank should have a modified forgiveness template based on the SBA or Small Business Administration. The template requires businesses to put together the application with all supporting documentation.

The main cause of lack of forgiveness has been not enough payroll, and some businesses do not have enough payroll to justify forgiveness. The new 24-week period is crucial because it allows extra time and also has moved from previously being 75% made up of payroll cost to now only requiring 60% of payroll costs. This has opened up more of a possibility to get forgiveness for other expenses such as rent, utilities, or mortgage interest if that is making up a substantial part of expenditures.

Most payroll providers have paycheck protection reports that employers can run and get their numbers back – employers must enter appropriate dates and it should give you payroll costs, state and local taxes, retirement contribution costs, and group health insurance costs. Once employers run and receive that report, they can plug those numbers into the application form and turn into their bank. It is encouraged to have your application ready to return to the bank along with any supporting documents you may have included so that everything is ready to go when you are ready to apply for PPP Loan forgiveness.

EP 49 – Catherine MacDonagh – Using Lean and Six Sigma to Improve Project Efficiency Within Your Firm

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Catherine MacDonagh is the founder of Legal Lean Sigma Institute and the developer of Legal Lean Sigma and the award-winning Legal Workout. She teaches and provides training and consulting services with a focus in project improvement, project management, operational and process excellence, organizational development, and strategy. Visit http://legalleansigma.com to learn more about the services Catherine and her team provide.

On This Episode, We Discuss…

• Understanding Lean and Six Sigma in Addition to Project Management
• What the Process Improvement Framework Is & How to Apply It
• Reducing or Eliminating Wasteful Tasks in Projects

EP 47 – Kwasi Bowman – Forming Litigation Strategies and Utilizing AI to Make Data Driven Decisions and Win Cases

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Kwasi Bowman is the Director of Account Management at Gavelytics. Gavelytics is a company that goes through records within state courts and extracts information on judge behavior to give litigators. Kwasi’s role within the company is to take care of current clients and make sure that they are aware of how to use the technology. He ensures everyone is maximizing use of the product as well.

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• Structuring Your Strategy as a Result of Analytic Predictions
 Value AI Brings in Ability to Adjust Predictions and Anticipations
• Future of AI and How That Affects Lawyers

EP 45 – Ted DeBettencourt – Increasing Your Law Firm’s Total Leads by Introducing Chat on Your Website

Ted DeBettencourt is the Co-Founder of Juvo Leads. Ted has been working in the legal marketing industry for over 11 years now and began Juvo Leads with his partner about 3 years ago after running a small legal marketing agency himself. Juvo Leads is a complete lead capture and tracking company for law firms and other legal marketing agencies; they help law firms get more leads through website chat, as well as track leads that come through via phone call and form submission. If you are interested in speaking with Ted or learning more about his company, visit their website here – https://juvoleads.com

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• Tracking the Source of Leads vs Tracking the Source of New Clients and Signed Cases
• What is Speed to Lead and Why Is It So Crucial?
• Website Mobile Experience and Tracking Leads via SMS

EP 44 – James Moorhouse – Looking Beyond Your Backyard for Law Firm Growth Opportunities

James Moorhouse has been in the legal marketing industry for over 20 years now, after beginning in 1999. James learned many tricks of the trade from his mentor in his time at Wallin and Klarich. He has since ventured into different roles and is currently consulting with attorneys at JPM 4 Marketing.

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• What You Should Be Considering for a Marketing Budget
• How to Market in High Yield but Less Competitive Markets
• Different Ways to Utilize Google My Business for Marketing Your Firm

EP 43 – Paul Faust – One Tool You May Be Overlooking in Your Current Marketing Plan That Could Help Grow Your Business

Paul Faust is the President and Co-Founder of Ringboost. Ringboost has a passion for helping business owners grow any way they can and they are all about providing companies and firms with numbers that they can use in their marketing to drive more voice interaction. Paul oversees the sales and marketing functions of Ringboost, working with clients of all sizes to find memorable numbers that will be game changing for their businesses.

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• The Importance and Benefits of Voice Communication
• What is Number Sharing and How Does it Work?
• Toll-Free Number vs. Local Number

EP 42 – Grace Montealegre – Discovering Marketing Automation and Its Significance Throughout Your Client’s Life Cycle

Grace Montealegre is the Vice President of Marketing for Persist Communications as well as the Vice President of Marketing for Gacovino & Lake Law Firm. Grace has over 15 years of experience in legal marketing with over 20 years of experience in marketing as a whole. She started with import and export law and has primarily focused in personal injury and mass tort law for the last 5 years. Grace has worked with all aspects including SEO, PR, Brand Management, but is extremely passionate about automation in marketing. 

On This Episode, We Discuss …

• Assessing Your Current Processes and Identifying Tools to Streamline In Phases
• What is Marketing Automation?
• Importance of Capturing Your Contact in the First 5 Minutes