Today we’re excited to share a presentation by Craig Goldenfarb from MaxLawCon 2021! Tune in to hear from Craig, a recovering trial attorney, to learn not only about how to run a good firm but how to run a great law firm business.
While Craig is primarily occupied with building the teams that directly manage client cases, he is devoted to serving the legal needs of his “Critical Case” clients. He directly handles pre-suit and litigation matters that involve significant loss, such as catastrophic injury cases, nursing home abuse, wrongful death, negligent security, and heart attacks in public places (AED law).
Craig takes pride in being able to fight the insurance companies to obtain fair compensation for his clients.
1:34 first woman professor at Harvard Law
5:19 children were dying on sports fields
9:03 goals in certain systems
14:09 another tip to avoid overwhelm
18:24 six levels of delegation
22:11 tools to grow
Watch the podcast here.
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Transcript: How I Grew to 70 Employees So I Could Spend My Time However I Want with Craig Goldenfarb
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2021. Keep listening to hear Craig Goldfarb as we share his talk how I grew to 70 employees, so I could spend my time however I want, you can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Have you grabbed your ticket to this year’s conference? If not head to max lock con 2020 two.com to get yours today. Now to the episode,
run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics.
Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show. So my wife was at my last speech last week. It was the first time she saw me speak for 10 years. And she said next week at this conference, you got to wear a suit. If you know my wife, please don’t tell her that I didn’t wear suit. So you know, when you asked for closing argument time, and the judge says how much time do you want? You say I’d like two hours for closing argument. And the judge says Well, you got 20 minutes. Well, that’s how I feel right now because I got two hours of crap that I tried to squeeze into 20 minutes. Good luck to me. So 1982 I’m 12 years old. Don’t do the math. Please don’t do the math. 1982. I’m 12 years old. And my mom is was a criminal defense attorney in Florida. My mom was a badass bitch. Criminal Defense Attorney went to law school in the 1960s taught at Harvard Law. First woman professor at Harvard Law, taught legal research and writing with Alan Dershowitz. I grew up with that as a mom. badass bitch. Down. Yeah. But the one thing was interesting is she was so frickin smart. I grew up with her and she had no friends. She didn’t make any money. They wouldn’t put her in front of her criminal defense clients, because she was a New Yorker with a typical New York attitude and thought she was smarter than everybody. That’s the mom. I was raised with 1982. She argued in front of the Florida Supreme Court. She takes little Craig I’m 12. I watch her argue and it’s on some post conviction relief issue. Where as a course confession, and in 1982, the case law had not been decided yet on coerced confessions. In Florida. I’m 12. I had no idea what was going on. But my mom gets up to the podium. 1982 very, very rare to have a woman lawyer arguing an appellate brief in Tallahassee, Florida in 1982, the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court asked her a question. And my mom, God bless her soul. Gives the hand before the hand was the thing. Says judge, that was a dumb question. I was 12. I realized, mom, think you made a mistake. I didn’t tell her that I was 12. But I realized at that point that my brilliant mom who I’d always put on a pedestal. And it was always so smart. That there was a reason that I would say that she kind of failed as an attorney. Because what she didn’t realize was that no matter how smart you are, no matter how educated you are, that you got to figure out how to run a business and how to be a nice person. So after 15 years of therapy, getting over my mommy issues, I realized that I had to start a firm, where I could be a good person and run a good business because my mom did not know how to run a good business. And I think I succeeded. My mom passed away 15 years ago, so I have no idea. So that was part of the therapy. So I started a firm and the goal in the firm was to form a wonderful place to work where people actually liked their boss. I didn’t want to be what my mom was, she was super smart. But if I asked you all here in the room, who here is really smart, everybody would raise their hand. But really smart lawyers don’t necessarily succeed. Look at my mom. She never earned more than 50 grand 50 grand ever. And she was brilliant. She was never allowed to see clients. So I vowed when I was 12. I’m not going to do that. So what I built, my marketing director called these my brag slides, so I’ll try to get through them. I’ve had my own firm for 20 years. So that’s quite a while. I’m only 32 years old. So it’s amazing, right? So I’ve had my own firm for about 20 years. You know, like a lot of you who do Pei car accidents, premises liability, nursing home neglect, negligence, security, and then my niche liability for sudden cardiac arrest in public places. I niched out across the United States, especially in casinos, it’s kind of funny, we got a casino here we’re in. If you have a heart attack here, they got cameras all over the place, and they got AEDs all over the place. I don’t know if you’ve seen the defibrillator is on the walls, like in airports. But there’s a case if you die of a sudden cardiac arrest in a public place. So that’s what I’ve managed across the country. I opened my firm, September 13 2002, with one employee Debbie, who just retired last year was with me my entire career. You’re, and now 20% growth a year in profits, and 11 lawyers and almost 70 staff. So let’s I guess, brag slide number one, please pardon that I didn’t do it. I also started a charity, which is in conjunction with my niche. So as I did my niche, which is heart attacks in public places, for lack of defibrillator, I realized a lot of children were dying on sports fields, children 10,000 a year, die in the United States on sports fields, have an undiagnosed heart condition. And if you get an ad to someone within three to four minutes, they’re gonna live. And that was pretty sad to me, because I started handling those cases over and over again. So I founded a charity where we give away different leaders for free to use sports clubs. So it was that a form of marketing, I guess, so did it really come from my heart? Absolutely. But I’m in every soccer club, every lacrosse club, every baseball club, with a free defibrillator in my entire county, as a coach, other attorneys on how to run their firms from a business perspective, because that kind of is my specialty. I haven’t touched a case in 10 years. As Joey said, I’m a recovering trial attorney. So you’re supposed to say we love you, Craig. I’m in recovery. It’s tough for me. So I also tried to make time for my wife, and my two daughters, I affectionately call my wife, Mama, my two teenage daughters drama, and trauma.
So, for me, growth is about five pillars. And if you take notes, I mean, like, I go to all these conferences, and I’m like, only half the people take notes. And then with the notes, only half the people go back and do anything about it. And then only half of those people do anything about it and follow up like Joey was saying, and then only half of those people follow up and then do something more about it. So if you’re going to do something, maybe write these down, I don’t know, I could probably post this on maximum Moyer Facebook, which I’d be happy to do. But these are the five pillars, at least in my opinion, about law, firm growth, written goals, and I’m gonna go through each of these. So I’m gonna go through one by one, clear written goals systematize everything. Joey was talking great about delegating and trusting. So I’m going to go into delegating and trusting a little bit, creating an accountability, a cadence of accountability within your firm, where you hold people responsible to deadlines, and you create a structure of accountability. If you’ve ever seen a good sports team, like there’s a great documentary about the New England Patriots, where I think it’s called do your job. And their whole structure of the New England Patriots through Bill Belichick, I believe, was that each person has to do their job. And in my office, each person is responsible to do their jobs, so the team will succeed. And then the last is measure data and make changes. I run my entire law firm with KPIs and metrics, I assume you know that KPIs or key performance indicators, metrics are the data you use to measure your law firm. So number one, clear written goals. So what is your WHY for each goal? I’m sure some of the speakers have talked about your why in the seminar already. So what is your why I’m gonna give you a lot of resources here. I’m a big resource guy, I’m a big book guy. I’m a big podcast guy. So I’m gonna give you a lot of things, pick and choose what may speak to you probably, you know, Simon signings book, start with why, if you have no clue what your mission is, what your passion is, this is a great book to start with, to figure out why you are a lawyer, why you do what you do, why you work so hard. So start with finding your why for your clear written goals. They must be reasonable, quantifiable, and have a defined timeframe. Let me give an example. Here is a written goal 10 million in gross fees revenue by December 31 2002. It’s reasonable. For some firms, it’s reasonable, you can change it to 1 million you can change anything you want, in gross fees, revenue and has a date. That is a written attainable quantifiable goal with a timeframe. That is a goal. That’s the definition of a goal. Here’s a home goal. You don’t just have him at work, you have him at home. My wife’s like, can you please get home for dinner at six? And I’m like, Yeah, I’ll give you four to five days, sweetheart. That was good enough. At certain point, it was good enough. So I had to get home at six. That’s a written quantifiable, hopefully attainable goal at home. So you can have goals in certain systems are called rocks, you know, different books, different systems, call them different things, written attainable goals. And at the end of each slide, I’m gonna give you a tip to avoid the seminar overwhelm the seminar, overwhelm, you know, because you’re taking notes now and you got like 1000 things to do. And you’re like, Jesus, how am I gonna do any of these things because you got 1000 things to do. So the way I avoid overwhelm when I go to a seminar is maybe create one goal for the week or one goal for the month, one for the quarter, maybe one large goal for the entire year. A large goal for the entire year could be gross fees of X dollars, by the end of the year. A goal for the week could be home at six o’clock for dinner, four days in the week. Write them down and you’ve heard other speakers talk about the neuroscience of the likelihood of you doing a goal or committing to a goal if you get it out of your head and onto paper. And it’s not typing it by the way. There’s actually neuro Science that shows the physical act of handwriting it leads to more success than typing it, believe it or not. So it’s old school dudes who don’t type everything and actually still have a yellow pad. You know, write it down, just like a handwritten note is more effective than it type thank you card to someone’s brain, write it down, write down pat. So clear written goals. pillar number one. A great book on avoiding overwhelm, is the spirit of kaizen. So Kaizen is a Japanese theory, which is you attain the large successes in little tiny incremental steps. And a good example for that is when you want to lose weight, or when you want to train for a marathon. The first day when you’re trying to lose weight, all you have to do is put your shoes on the floor, you don’t have to run, if you’re trying to change just put the shoes next to the bed, the next day, the shoes are next to the bed, but you actually got to put them on, and you got to run, you know, a third of a mile. And then the next day, you got to put the shoes next to the bed, and you can run a half a mile. So Kaizen is small, incremental steps, it avoids overwhelm, if you find yourself not being able to conquer a large project. Because it’s such a large project like losing 50 pounds, don’t think about losing 50 pounds, think about losing one pound this week. The whole book of Kaizen is a Japanese theory. And that’s why they were kicking our butt on cars back in the 80s. Because they did all of their incremental steps to achieve a larger goal. Wonderful book on incremental change. Number two systematize everything. So you know, it sounds easy, but we all don’t have time to systematize everything right? So if you have retrained an employee on any repeated task, even if it’s how to answer the phone, or how to open the mail, or how to do anything, if you’ve retrained an employee once, and you have to train a second employee, then delegate how the task is done and systematize it right down the system. Just an example for personal injury firms obtain medical bill bounces remediation, right? There is a process for doing that. If you have to train that twice, you’re wasting your time, write it down or have that person write it down, make it the system, put it in your knowledge base, put it in a binder or whatever. And then you know like John Fisher has Fisher pedia really cool for John’s firm that has all of the knowledge base in one place. So they don’t have to go Hey, John, how do we do whatever he just says look it up. It’s in his knowledge base called Fisher pedia. It’s a great example of a knowledge base. And use tools for systematizing processes. There are a lot of software companies train you will Zoho there’s a ton of them. And some of them include the ability to film videos on how to do things because you know younger folks maybe want to watch a video, not just read how to do things. So there’s a lot of tools on how to systematize processes. Those are two of the best I know training on Zoho.
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Again, another tip to avoid overwhelm. Because right now you’re thinking you have 1000 systems or 1000 things you could systematize tip is just do three a week. If that’s too scary, because we’re talking about Kaizen incremental change, do one process this week. Today is Tuesday, I think. So next week, you can wait till next week. One process by Friday. It’s not that hard. That’s like putting your running shoes next to the bed. When you’re training for a marathon. You don’t even have to put them on. Just put the running shoes next to the bed. One process. Can you commit to doing one process by next Friday? And then you’ll find it you kind of get addicted. You’re like cool. That saved me some time. Maybe we’ll do another one by the following Friday. And then once you get rolling and it becomes a habit. You’ve got 100 processes documented. If you don’t systematize your stuff, you are never growing because you got to keep retraining. Every time you have a new employee, you’re not going to grow. Number three delegate Joey was talking about I love Joey’s analysis, which is, you know, this trust seesaw, he called it wonderful. And the trustee saw, it’s all based on fear, Julie touched on it, that our failure to delegate is based purely on your amygdala, the part of your brain that operates on fear, fear, they’re going to screw it up. Fear, you’re the only person who can do it. It’s all based on fear. And Joey touched on that brilliantly last speech, that our failure to delegate is based 100% on fear, but if you move it from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, and you think about, and you move it to the reasoning part of the brain, and you move it to how to delegate and why you should delegate, you can actually delegate. I am a micromanager. I’m type A I’m OCD, I assume some of you share those personality traits. Or maybe all of you share those personality traits, right? So for me to get to 70 employees, where I do things like hey, marketing director, here’s 20, grand redesign our website, show it to me in six months when it’s done. That’s scary. But for me to get to a level of trust, that’s called a level six delegation. And I’ll tell you what that is in a second. For me to get to a level of trust, like Joey was talking about, for me to do a level six delegation of here’s some money, finish the project, and I’ll see you in six months. The amount of amygdala that is engaged during that process for me is petrifying. petrifying because I’m just giving someone a check. And saying, come back, when it’s done, I don’t want to see the homepage. I don’t want to alter the content. I don’t want to have to write anything. But I know that you’re good enough, Mr. Employee, because I pay you a frickin fortune, that you can do this yourself, you can find the right company to help you design it. And you can do it because I trust you. That’s the amount of fear involved in delegation. A definition of delegation is giving all tasks to the person with the lowest level of competence. And I’ve rarely heard this definition because it’s a really good definition. If you’re doing it right now, whatever it is, or you the lowest level of competent person that can do it at your office, I guarantee you, you’re not except the top level stuff. The stuff that I do in my office is purely visionary is forming relationships, it’s going and speaking, it’s the stuff that I should be doing. I don’t touch any cases. I just deal with an executive team of three people. I have three direct reports. And I’m not saying that to brag, I’m saying that I’ve gotten past my amygdala 1000 times in the last 20 years of being afraid to trust like God was talking about, give all tasks, let task flow downhill until it gets the staff member can still do it competently. Why delegate to kill the hero, we all have a cape on our back. Because we all know that we’re the smartest damn person in the office. We’re the only one who can do it. And we all have that wonderful, beautiful Superman cape. And as soon as you take that cape off, and realize that other people can do it, you’ve done what I call killing the hero, you are no longer the hero of your law firm. My law firm kicks me out of the office all the time, and loves when I’m away. Because it makes me more money. I stopped micromanaging, they can do their jobs. And I come back and the bank account is filled. And I’m like, Why did you guys do better when I was gone? And they just laugh. They’re like, because you didn’t screw everything up. You didn’t stick your fingers in everything and mess it all we know we’re doing. You’re paying us a lot of money to know what we’re doing. Kill the hero. So another tool. There’s six levels of delegation, ranging from easiest to hardest. There’s a great podcast called The less doing podcast by Ari Mizel. He talks about the six types of delegation ranging from a really easy one to really hard one. It’s like a 15 minute podcast, and I have talked about this so much. It’s episode 473. If you want to write down episode forced, he’s got like 500 podcasts on this thing. Episode 473 Is the six levels of delegation. If you are really struggling with killing the hero really struggling with delegating. Please listen to episode 473 of the less doing podcast. I will try to hurry up and land this plane on time. My personal mantra for delegation, the temporary pain of documenting and delegating one task is worth a lifetime of freedom from that task. I call it ripping off the band aid ripping off the band aid because once you do it, you will not regret it. They will not screw it up. Joey said it during his speech, they’re not going to screw it up. What if you stand on the seesaw of confidence, which is they’re not going to screw it up. They’re gonna get it done under gonna get right at least 80% as well as you’ve done it or you could have done it. Rip off the band aid to avoid overwhelm, document or delegate one thing next week. One thing that you’re doing that you should not be doing, again a Kaizen step, a small step. Next is create accountability. So you need accountability. We call it a cadence of accountability. Within your firm I have a rope team when you’re climbing Mount Everest, you have a rope team. It’s called because everybody’s tied to each other and you support each other for account ability. And I have people who actually have the license to tell me Craig get out of this system. Craig, get out of this, because you don’t belong doing it. So I have a roped him that has permission to tell me to get the hell out of a certain system or a certain thing I’m doing. I call that my rope team. It’s my executive team of three people. And they know they’re not going to get fired. If they tell me I’m an idiot. And I shouldn’t be doing something. have scheduled meetings to do these things to report in progress on each goal. If you’re in an EOS system, the book Gino by Gina Whitman called traction as an EOS system Entrepreneurial Operating System that talks a lot about having regular meetings, setting goals having cadence of accountability. Again, another great book, use incentives carrots and sticks for helping to reach goals. I talked about that at my seminar, we’ll talk about a minute, and then get one person to be on your rope team for a month. If you can to be your accountability partner, not your spouse, your spouse is going to trigger you. So don’t use your spouse or your accountability partner in your business. So measure data, make changes, define your KPIs. I give an entire hour long talk on KPIs. But basically, you know, some KPIs for personal injury firm. How many cases did you sign up? What percentage case in each practice area? What percentage of cases from each referral source average fee per case average fee per case per practice area? These are basic KPIs for a personal injury attorney total fees, how much have you earned this year, these are five I call them core metrics for personal injury firm. Again, a little tip, I look at my metrics once a month, every month big screen TV, create a team to respond to your KPIs so you can actually respond. And then have a visual method of seeing your KPIs. I have a 65 inch screen with 80 different KPIs on it that I look at every day. And then adapt to your data. In other words, don’t just look at the KPIs do something about it? This is you know, how many how many percent cases in my office that have car accidents 59.5% premises is 19.9%. So if you ask me how much your practices car accidents, I know, I know it’s 60% I know they do 20% slip and falls. And then you see the rest of the the breakdowns. This is one of my cards. One of my KPIs in my office, you should know this stuff. You should know this stuff. Again, I’m gonna end with tools to grow because a lot of tools I’ve given you but these are just like the five tools that I love best traction by Gino Wickman sets out a structure of accountability. It’s great book on how to structure your company with goals and rocks and accountability. It’s the best structure I know for a corporation. And it was written for any type of corporation. But the book fireproof was written by a guy in Michigan, who applied traction to a law firm personal injury law firm. His name is Mike Morse, his book applies everything in traction to a personal injury firm. If you’re going to read two books, if you have a personal injury firm, these two books I suggest to read first, if you’re going to try to grow four disciplines of execution, amazing book talks about scoreboard and accountability. This is how I have big whiteboards, I guess you call them, you know from Office Depot all over my office where we keep all the metrics with marker. And we show all the teams how they’re doing. And it leads to the gamification of all your metrics, which makes it fun, for trust, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, talking about how to grow leaders how to build leaders, how to take your paralegal and make her or him into a leader. So then then you can have a leadership team as you grow. Four best books I’ve ever read that have helped me with my law firm, awesome books. Next one, if you don’t know what your employees love languages, I don’t know how many of you have read The Five Love Languages of people. But then there’s a sequel, the five languages of appreciation in the workplace, we ask all of our employees to identify what their love language is, whether it’s money, vacation, time, praise, etc. And once we know, then we can please them accordingly. Because some people don’t care about money, they care about time off, some people care about time off, but they really want praise. So if you know your love language of your employees, you can really help build your firm and then gift ology I give a lot of gifts to referral sources. This is like a 40 page book. It’s literally a 30 minute read, talking about the best ways to give gifts to your referral sources. Seriously, it takes 30 minutes to read but gives you brilliant ideas. And then I also work with and I coach at a company called Atticus, which is in Orlando, you may have heard of it, largest coaching company in the United States for lawyers. And those are a lot of the books from Atticus, if you want any other information about Atticus just type in Atticus coaching, you’ll get a ton of information I teach for them. I’ve been a student of them for 20 years. So my last thing is I just squeezed into 25 minutes. Sorry, I went over, you know, a whole day seminar. So I have a whole day seminar, April 7 in New York. And this seminar is a full day of looking under the hood of my law firm. I’m very transparent as you can see why cuz it’s fun. I like giving I like sharing. I had a great mentor. I want to pay it forward. So I am totally transparent about all metrics of my firm how I do everything for an entire day in New York on April 7 2022. There’s the website for any of you who know John Fisher is sitting here in the front And he does his seminar the mastermind experience the next day at the same hotel. So if you want to get a two for one, you Thursday with me Friday with John, stay the weekend, see a couple of Broadway shows with your spouse or significant other, it’s going to be a great weekend, it’s going to be fun. So you got to two seminars, you get to write it off, and you get to see a couple shows. So the way John and I back to back it, we always make it in a fun city to cool seminars at different structures. And then you can have fun with your spouse or significant other. So I hope you are the website. I hope you’ll attend my seminar. You get to hear me blather on for a whole day. But you also get to hear my office administrator who manages 70 employees, and she used to work for Disney World. So she makes my office the happiest place on earth to work. She’s great. And then you hear my marketing director, who has been with me for years and years. Also talk for a few hours. So great seminar. I’d love to see it, both of them. And thanks for letting me go.