Establishing a Sober Lifestyle w/ David Haskins 312


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David Haskins is the Founder & CEO of Haskins & Company. He got his start in Law Firm Marketing in 2009 helping his longtime friend David Aylor launch his new practice. They grew that practice to 4 locations in 3 years. Since then, he has worked with over 100 law firms creating and implementing smart, aggressive growth strategies. Conferences and CLE’s frequently ask him to share his wealth of knowledge and experience about law firm marketing, SEO, intake & firm management. 

4:00 SEO changes
7:18 Intake
12:20 sobriety
19:45 time, energy and focus
22:08 alcohol and attorney’s

MaxLawCon 2021 at Ameristar Casino, Resort + Spa in St. Charles, MO


Jim’s Hack: Podcast with Guy Kawasaki on how to make your value proposition unique: 

David’s Hack: Amazon Prime Now

Tyson’s Tip: Text Expander 


Watch the recording here.

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Run your law firm the right way.

This is The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.

Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux.

Let's partner up and maximize your firm.

Welcome to the show.


Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.

Tyson: And I'm Tyson Mutrux. What's up, Jimmy?

Jim: Looks like you got some great clouds they're behind you, my brother.

Tyson: Oh, man. I do. I do. But I'm not next to the ocean like you are. Do you have clouds? Are you good? I can't tell. 

Jim: Well, it's weird down here in Florida. Maybe it's the same for David over in the Carolinas. The day start with clouds and then the sun comes out and burns them all off. And then, they come back a little bit around sunset so it's a hard knock life, for sure.

Tyson: That’s very cool.

David: Perfect convertible weather.

Tyson: Absolutely.

So, I'm going to go and introduce David. David has actually been on before. He was on with his brother. As he just put it, he's one of the OG MLs, for sure, but let me do a little brief intro. 

David Haskins is the founder and CEO of Haskins & Company. He got his start in law firm marketing in 2009, helping his long-time friend, David Aylor, launch his new practice. They grew that practice to four locations in three years. Since then, he has worked with over 100 law firms creating and implementing smart, aggressive growth strategies, conferences, and CLEs. And podcasts frequently ask him to share his wealth of knowledge and experience about law firm marketing, SEO, intake, and firm management.

David, welcome to the show.

David: Thank you, guys. Thanks for having me back.

Tyson: It's our pleasure having you back.

But before we jump in, like where do you live in the Carolinas? Because I'm going to be in South Carolina, will be in Myrtle Beach in a couple weeks. So, I'm just curious where you live.

David: Oh, yeah. Love Myrtle Beach.

That's the opposite side. I'm up in the up state--

Tyson: Damn.

David: --northwest part of South Carolina, in Greenville. It’s about halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte.

Tyson: Damn. Well, I was hoping I could maybe just stop in and say hello, but I don't think it’s going to happen.

David: Ah. Have you been to Myrtle Beach before?

Tyson: No. First time. First visit.

David: It is awesome. My wife likes some of the other beach. There’s Hilton Head, in Charleston. They're more like the relaxed, you know, beaches. Myrtle Beach is like Vegas for kids on the beach [laughter]. 

Tyson: Well, I love it. I love it. Perfect.

David: It’s exciting.

Jim: David, why don't you re-introduce yourself to the group? I mean, a lot of people in the group know you and know your brother and your business and everything. But why don't you talk to us a little bit about-- just give us a refresher, maybe since the last time we spoke or the last time we saw you at the conference, what's going on with you and your company? 

David: Sure. We've grown, actually. I mean, you know, I'll talk like, you know, how everybody refers to things now. BC, before COVID and after COVID. We've grown a lot in the last year. We've added eight new team members. So, we're at 13 now, about three dozen clients all over the country. And we're doing web design, web marketing, SEO. And we're starting to help manage intake, something that I see a lot of people doing and a lot of people having trouble with. And there's a lot of aspects of intake that we see people don't realize that they're not implementing correctly or they're not auditing or managing efficiently. So, we're starting to help people with that as well. 

Tyson: All right. And I know we're not going to really talk about SEO today, we're going to be talking about something else. But before we get to the other thing, I want to talk about SEO a little bit more because I know that part it's going to be frustrating, as an SEO company, whenever people aren't doing the intake properly because they blame a lot of the things that they're doing wrong on you all which is kind of interesting, I'm sure. That's not even my question.

My question is, has SEO changed over the last 10 years, or is it mostly the same, just small little things changed? Because it seems like the principles are primarily the same - produce content, you know, make sure you've got like meta tags and all that kind of stuff. I mean, I can't even speak to it because I'm not that knowledgeable about it. But it seems like the basic principles are the same, but--

David: Yeah. 

Tyson: I don't know. Like [inaudible 00:04:16]. 

David: Yeah. Basic principles are the same, right? Like informative content that answers the query of the user. And authoritative signals like backlinks that Google can use to measure things like trust and authority in a site. Some of the major changes are how they're rolling out algorithm updates. I mean, if you remember like the last decade-- maybe like a decade ago, 2012, ’14, ’16, an algorithm update would come out and it would be like almost like an inauguration, like it was a big event. You know, Panda is out and everybody learns from it. You get the guidance. Google would tell you, “Here's what we're looking for. Here’s what we corrected.”

And, now, people would just sit there and watch the tools like the SEO grump or, you know, the fluctuation -- SERP fluctuation tools to see if there's an update. And then, people will scatter and discuss, “Did that meet the threshold? Do you think that was a major update?” So that's what's happening.

And then, also, I think they're getting farther away from a human written algorithm. And they are using or they are driving towards the use of primarily what would be referred to as a black box AI. And a black box AI, actually, this little description, this little drawing right here, I was using as an example. That is an item and a black box Ai says, “I need to find a thing that matches this the best.” And you don't have specification, as an SEO or as a website owner, of what part of this creation makes it a perfect match. You don't know if it's the shade, or the speed at which it was written, the tools that it was drawn with. You just know that that's the perfect example.

The black box takes the perfect example and analyzes everything else against that. And then, it ranks them in order. And so, it's getting, and it has been over the years, to the point where even the Google, the liaisons and those sorts of people, they don't actually get to know how the algorithm is working and how it will work in the future. So, that's some of the biggest changes, I think.

I like to say that black box AI is sort of like, if somebody told you what kind of cookie-- they told you that they liked this cookie and they want you to make another one just like it. You have no idea what the recipe was and you just try to make it and see if they like it. You make it and you see if they like it. And you try different things. And you see if they like it. Sort of like how black box AI works.

Jim: All right. Well, let's talk about your current segue into intake and the mistakes that you see people making.

You know, I've revamped our intake process, over the last six months, and it's been a real game changer for us. And it all started because Harlan Schillinger had a little debate with me on John Fisher's Facebook page about whether I really knew how my leads were converting. And I think the first thing is, I think, most lawyers think that they're doing a great job of converting their leads but they aren't really. So, can you talk a little bit about that and then the other kinds of mistakes that you've been seeing, David?

David: Sure. Yeah, I have that that conversation with everybody. Really, it's starting to become something that we, not like filter for, but it's something that we want to get addressed upfront that, if a firm is going to work with us, that we want to make sure that, you know, whatever we do to be successful, that they're set up to take advantage of that.

So, for instance, I've talked with firms that are primarily referral based and this is going to be their first. SEO is going to be their first entrance into online marketing or, really, an aggressive paid marketing strategy. And I have to coach them on the difference between what they're used to and what they're about to get. You're used to, you know, eight out of every nine calls being a case because your referral sources know what to refer you. And you're used to those people just come in pre-sold, you know. 

You know, if I called my business lawyer and said, “Man, I just got a DUI. Who would you recommend?” Whoever he says that's my lawyer, you know. Like, if that guy will take me, he's my lawyer.

If I'm online searching and I'm trying to evaluate my options, I'm looking at, you know, people's credibility and their results. What other people are saying about them and, you know, how informative and how, you know, authoritative or smart they look, I might give them a shot. If I don't hear back quickly enough, if I kind of treat it like I'm being blown off or like I'm dealing with a gatekeeper, then that factors into my decision and I might consider one of my other options. And so, the other thing is that you will get, you know, a lot more calls and opportunities in relation to the number of cases that you're going to get, compared to, you know, a referral-based firm.

And so, we've seen intake problems-- I have seen intake problems everywhere from a solo-practice attorney who's answering everything on his cell phone, who has one part-time file clerk, up to a 50-lawyer office with 150 support staff who's got an operation so grand that they can't track all of the pieces and they can't audit for quality and, you know, that firm, half of their calls for an entire week. There was some technical problem and they just divert it off to one voicemail of one paralegal’s desk and they had no idea until we got in there and audited it. So, I've seen issues at every step of the way, from 1, you know, up to 200.

Just last week, we did an audit for a firm. They had a great intake. They had great initial call. The person that was doing it was a paralegal and it was a very good, empathetic call. They also had automated text and email follow up.

And one of their other competitors-- so, we did a four-competitor intake analysis where we called with leads to their office. And then, we timed them and the other competitors and we sort of, you know, ranked them and tracked how quickly their response is and stuff. And one of their competitors also had the email and text option, but theirs texted and emailed immediately. And the person- the client that we were auditing, for whatever reason, there was some problem in their software. It didn't start the text and email follow up until the next day. And so, you know, you're 18 hours later. In the system, it looks like it's working but, you know, if you don't test things, audit, and, you know, sort of comb through the data and find the opportunities that are missed. And there's a lot out there.


Jim: Running your own practice can be scary. Whether you're worried about where the next case will come from, feeling like you're losing control of your growing firm, or frustrated from being out of touch with everyone working under your license, the stress can be overwhelming. We will show you how to turn that fear into a driving force of clarity, focus, stability, and confidence that eliminates the rollercoaster of guilt-ridden second guessing and mistake making to get you off that hamster wheel for good.

Tyson: Maximum Lawyer in Minimum Time is a step-by-step playbook that shows you how to identify what your firm needs and how to proactively get it at every stage of the game so you're prepped and excited for the inevitable growth that will follow. Name the lifestyle that you want, and we'll show you how to become a maximum lawyer in minimum time. Find out more by going to


Tyson: All right, David. So, let's shift gears here a little bit. And you're going to talk about sobriety here. And you've been sober for about 10 years. And I can say, just from looking at you, you've changed drastically over the last-- I guess, we've known you for about four years, maybe five years, and you've-- I mean, you've lost a lot of weight, you look much healthier. So, we've known you for about half of this time. But I want you to talk about just your journey from going before being sober to now. 

David: Yeah. Thanks, guys.

It's something that I look back and the decision to quit drinking, I want to say, it's the number one decision -- the best decision that I've ever made in my life. But I would probably say that for marrying my wife. But this was a prerequisite, for sure, to marry my wife. So, I quit drinking in 2010 - July 4, 2010.

A little background, growing up, I grew up in like a fundamentalist Baptist environment, church-school-home. My parents never drank. They were teetotalers. So, I kind of grew up, that just wasn't something that we did.

When I got into college, I started hanging out with some friends. Drinking was just like-- it was just a fun thing to do. I mean, like it is for many college students. That, you know, fun, binge-drinking college attitude stayed with me for about another decade, you know, after I left. And it was really stifling my professional and career growth and, you know, my life goals. And I didn't realize it until almost a decade later.

So, I had the type of alcoholism-- I've noticed there's a few types. One is the person who would hide a bottle in their desk drawer and nip on it when people aren't looking. The other is like, you know, like a functioning alcoholic. I could go three or four days, like I wouldn't drink during the week. Thursday night would hit and, if I had one drink, I'd have 11. And then, you know, like I'd ruin the next day. You know, I'd have, you know, binge-drinking weekends, you know, where I just accomplish absolutely nothing except just getting thrashed and having fun. And it seemed like, at the time, like, ah, it’s just like what I do for fun, like just if you like climbing mountains or riding bikes, I just like partying.

And so, in my 20’s, I got arrested a couple of times. One time’s actually here in Greenville. My late father was-- he was a Speaker Pro-Tem of the House of South Carolina. There's a median that's named in his honor, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. And I was passed out in my friend's car and he pulled over in the median - in the median that’s named for my dad. And he passed out in his car, too. And so, we got arrested that night. I got arrested like 10 feet in front of the sign with my dad's name on it. And the officer that arrested me, he knew my dad, too. And so, did so did the bond judge. It was just a brutal awakening. You know, a very humiliating experience. Fortunately, nobody got hurt. That was about 2006. I got arrested, did some community service.

And then, when I had episodes like that, where I thought that, you know, was going over the line or was too far, I would, you know, sort of reel myself in and go,”woop, woop, woop. You know, we're at a point here. Let's take a 30-day break. You know, let's take a 30-day break here and there.”

I was doing that in the summer of 2010 which I was also waitlisted to go to Charleston School of Law that fall, the fall of 2010. I was waitlisted, you know, on my best behavior. And I was on a 30-day break. And, of course, I made an exception because like this band that I loved was in town, so I thought, “I'll just add one day at the end.” You know, it's just another, you know, sort of blackout night. I got separated from my friends. I actually don't remember how the night ended. I woke up in the hospital, on a gurney with an IV in my arm, in the in the hallway. And I was still like, you know, pretty messed up. And I just went into the bathroom, pulled the IV out myself, and left hospital.

It was two weeks later, I was doing some laundry and I found-- we thought it was weird because the hospital told me that the police dropped me off. At the time, I was working for a lawyer and he said the police don't drop you off at the hospital. They don't give you a ride to the hospital. 

And two weeks later, I'm doing laundry. And I found the two tickets in my shorts that I was wearing that night. And so, I had no recollection of what happened. I went to court and I knew that I could just get an extension, but I just kind of wanted to figure out what happened.

And the officer testified that--

I'm working at a criminal defense firm. And I hear people's arrest stories. And, you know, the usual like, “I told that officer I'm going to have his badge” and, you know, “wait till my lawyer hears this” and hear all the dumb stuff that people would say. And the officer said that I called him I an f*ing pig and I spit on his car. And I heard him say that and I was like, “Holy shit! I don't know who that was.” Like, that's not just like blackout. And, I mean, you do some funny stuff and people have fun stories to tell later. Like, if I would do that, knowing what I know and I hear these stories, you know, week after week-- if I would do that, in that situation, like I could do anything. I had no control over myself.

And I was like crying in the back of the court lobby. And I told the officer, “Man, I don't know how I'm going to prove to you that like this isn't me and I can't believe I did that.”

And so, I decided to quit there and then. And I think because of the 30-day pauses that I had done before, it was easy to sort of like just shut it off and have a very addictive personality that, if I was to give in, you know, like just like my drinking was-- if I was to give into something, I could go all the way with it.

I was really blessed in that, when I decided to quit, it wasn't like a temptation thing. It wasn't like, you know, I struggle with food and with eating, and with food addiction. It wasn't like that. I have been around alcohol the last decade.

I make drinks for my wife at the house. She says I make great margaritas. I have no idea. I just take her word for it.

So, I was I was blessed in that, when I sort of mentally shut off from drinking alcohol, that I didn't have like temptations, cravings, or anything like that.

And it was at the point that I was-- it was 2010. I was 28. So, my friends were not in the college like in a peer pressure phase. It was in the like, we're all grownups. We're going to be 30 phase. So, that was July 4, 2010. It was the last time that I drank. And since then--

You know, I've talked with other friends that have either taken a hiatus or that have gone [inaudible 00:19:30] all sorts of things consume your time, and your energy, and your focus, and your passion. And so, one of those things for me was learning. I forgot how much I loved to learn. I learned a lot, you know, really, on the job. I just taught myself how to code. I taught myself how to edit video. I taught myself SEO. All these things. And also, just learning. I've done at least a book a month since then, in the last decade, either physical book or audio book. I have learned so much.

And from the other people that I've talked to, even if it's just the 90-day pause or something like that, you find things that you're really passionate about that will fill your time, that you used to just default to fill it, you know, with alcohol. But I look back and, you know, I tell my wife like, “I'm so glad that you met me 2011 and not in like 2006 or something” because I feel like a totally different person.

And so, I know, that's something that a lot of attorneys, many attorneys in the group or just people in the in the profession struggle with. I know there's a lot of resources available. And it's not the same journey for everybody. I guess, some people reach the point where like an officer is telling you that you did, like short of physically attacking him, like one of the stupidest things you could do, and an arrest that you absolutely know, any sober day of the week, not to do. And for some people, it's, you know, a DUI conviction, or injury, or death that also changed their perception.

And so, I've also known from other friends that I've talked to that even people who have just decided to try sobriety, that it wasn't like a hindrance in their life and it was causing their life to go off the rails, that have just decided to try it. Like I said, they find that new passion and new things to fill their time up with, so.

Jim: I like that advice, David. And thank you for sharing your story. I just want to ask you real quick because we're getting towards the end. And I'm really glad you told that story. You go to a lot of legal conferences. You obviously work with a lot of lawyers. What do you think is the state of lawyerdom as it relates to alcohol? Like, what have you observed as a sober person for 10 years, when you go to these conferences? And what are your thoughts on that? I know you don't want to pass judgment on anybody else. And I get that. But, just generally, what do you observe?

David: Well, I mean, you guys deal with the worst parts of people's lives. And you have to do it in a way that's objective, where you can't, you know, sink your feelings in and do what you feel. You have to look at things objectively and have very difficult conversations with people.

I mean, it's almost like, you know, if you're a divorce attorney, imagine getting divorced every week. I mean, it's kind of like the emotional, you know, journey that you guys are on. And so, it's not surprising at all that that the that the profession or that the industry has, you know, high rates of addiction or alcoholism.

I will say, I've seen so many people, even people that I haven't met on Facebook, or had read my stories before, there's a lot of sober people that I'd met in the conference circuit and you'll just kind of notice somebody’s always drinking Diet Coke or something like that, or you'll notice you'll get to talking. We went out to dinner one time and everybody at the table ordered wine and I ordered a Diet Coke. And the guy next to me goes, ”Oh, rough night last night?” I said, “Rough about a decade.” 

But there's a lot of other-- [inaudible 00:23:34] out there. You wouldn't know it if you didn't know them. There are so many people in the industry that I have met that have reached out to me or that I have met, you know, in person at conferences and stuff that are-- so, there's a lot of support out there for you.

Tyson: All right, David, we're going to end it there. I'm going to wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to join us in the Facebook group. There are great people like David in the Facebook group. So, join us there.

If you're interested in the Guild, go to, where we have a lot of high-level conversations. And you can also get access to Maximum Lawyer in Minimum time for free, whenever you get a guild membership.

And if you don't mind just taking a couple of seconds, as you're listening to the rest of this episode, giving us a five-star review. We would greatly appreciate it.

Jimmy, what's your hack of the week?

Jim: All right. Well, before I get to our hack of the week, I did want to mention MaxLawCon 2021. It'll be October 12th and 13th with a bonus day for The Guild members on October 11. That will be at the Ameristar Casino in St. Louis. Tickets are on sale.

And through the beneficence of one of our members who's also a recovering alcoholic, we will have an AA meeting at the conference on, I think, Wednesday morning. So, that'll be good. We want to support people’s sobriety and people doing their best. So, I'm really glad that we're going to do that. And I'm really excited about the conference.

For my hack of the week, I was listening to a great interview with Guy Kawasaki, former Macintosh evangelist. He was on with our friends Joe Fier and Matt Wolf on their podcast, and he was talking about the Guy Kawasaki quadrants. And if you think about a quadrant with the vertical being unique, and the horizontal being value, that your firm is going to fall in one of those four quadrants.

So, if you chart it that way, with unique going up and down and value creation going left and right, you really want to be, you know, up into the right. You want to be in that quadrant where you're both unique and creating value because, otherwise, you're just either a clown or you're competing with everybody else on price. So, you really have to figure out and spend some time thinking about, “How do I make my firm and my value proposition unique?” and also creating as much value as possible. I really liked it. It's something simple for me to be able to envision and focus on. 

Tyson: I love it, Jimmy. That's a good one. Pretty good.

All right, David. You know, the routine, man. What's your tip or hack of the week?

David: I think Amazon Prime Now. I don't think enough people use it or know about it, or maybe it has become more popular over the pandemic. But we don't have it in Greenville. But whenever I travel, I'm always aware of Prime Now.

We were at a conference in Vegas and my buddy didn't have a black belt to go with his suit. And he said, “Oh, I'll just grab one downstairs in the in the boutique.” And when we walked down there, the cheapest belt was $600. I said, “Man, I got you. I got you. A Carharrt, $28, for an extra $6, they'll be here within an hour.” So, Amazon Prime Now. Anytime that I'm traveling, it's like having your own like concierge or butler. 

Tyson: So, I didn't realize this was a completely separate app. I thought it was a part of the regular prime app. I did not realize it until you just said that. And so--

David: There we go, man.

Tyson: A great PSA because I'm thinking like, “I hear these people talking about getting their stuff within an hour or two and it's not showing up on my app.” I go, “Maybe it's just not in my area.” Let’s get [inaudible 00:27:17] damn app. Okay?

David: Yeah. Oy, yeah.

You've got to have it. I mean, it happens all the time. Like, when I'm traveling, and I need like extra chargers, and cases and, you know, that kind of stuff. 

Tyson: That's awesome. Very cool. Thanks for sharing that. That makes my day.

All right. Well, my tip of the week is TextExpander. I know that Ryan McKeen had mentioned this a long time ago to me. I didn't look into it. And then, he mentioned it in The Guild the other day.

And it's just a really easy way of typing in short amounts of text and then it giving you whatever information you need. For example, let's say you need to write your address because like if David’s like, “Hey, man. Come on over.” And I'm like, “Hey, David, what's your address?” He can type in like a few letters and it freakin’ just puts his entire address in there. It's fantastic. So, TextExpander. It's an app. There's also, I think, an online version, too. But I highly, highly recommend it.

David, thanks so much for coming on, man. I really appreciate you sharing your story. I don't know. I mean, it's not always easy for people to share their stories like you did. It seems like you're pretty comfortable with it. But thank you so much for coming on and sharing.

David: Thank you. Thank you, guys, for having me.

Tyson: Thanks, gents. See you, buddy.

Jim: Bye, guys. Thanks, David.


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