This week on the show we have Dustyn Coontz. Dustyn is a self-described kickass lawyer in Lansing, MI. He focuses his practice on unwaveringly defending the criminally accused and fighting the government. He is blissfully married to Stephanie and enjoys nothing more than being a dad to Lily (a human) and Archie (a dog). On Sundays in autumn, he enjoys having his heart broken by the Detroit Lions.
7:10 Growing a business
12:43 Hiring processes
Tim Ferris had a meditation expert on his podcast, Jack Kornfield who also has a podcast about mindfulness and a book called “The Lamp in the Darkness” which helps you get to a place where you’re meditating more.
Always have something to write your notes down in, Tyson likes Moleskine books and recommends having multiple notebooks for different topics.
The book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, because it’s always the ONE Thing that delivers extraordinary results.
Dustyn also has a book “Surviving a Criminal Case in Michigan: (And Picking Up the Pieces Afterward)”.
If you enjoyed the show, we’d appreciate a 5-Star review!
The Maximum Lawyer Guild community is live! For membership details and all the member benefits head on over here.
To keep on maximizing your firm, stay connected!
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: Good morning, Tyson. We were all talking, before we got on the call, about how tired we are, so I’m trying to add a little pep, a little vim, and a little vigor [crosstalk].
Tyson: I noticed. I was like, “What happened to his voice. He’s acting all energetic now. What’s going on here?”
Jim: Let’s do this. Let’s rock it.
We’re recording on Thursday, May 7. It’s a great day in St. Louis. It’s beautiful outside. One of my best buddies is turning 50 today. I stopped by Walgreens, on the way in, I got a bunch of Mother’s Day cards, birthday cards, the Nornator will turn 11 tomorrow so I am excited to be here with you.
Tyson: You know what, I need to go out and get a Mother’s Day card. I’m glad you said something, so I am going to have to do that.
Jim: [inaudible 00:01:03] Mother’s Day.
Tyson: Well, this is going to come out after Mother’s Day so, if you listen to this and you didn’t get a card, you’re in deep trouble.
Jim: Yeah, maybe we should tell people to go ahead and get their Father’s Day cards lined up for June.
Tyson: Yeah, go and get [inaudible 00:01:16].
Jim: Well, speaking of fathers, we have our very own Dustyn Coontz. Dustyn’s with us, all the way from Lansing, Michigan. He’s a criminal defense lawyer. He’s a great member of Maximum Lawyer. We loved getting to know him and having him in the group.
So, Dustin, welcome to the show.
Dustyn: Thank you so much, Jim. How you doing?
Jim: I’m doing great.
Tyson: I’m doing great. I’m excited for this episode.
Dustyn: Me, too. I’m really honored to be here.
I’ll get the feely stuff out of the way. This podcast, this group, it’s meant so much to me just in convincing me to start my own practice and then just in building it over the last couple of years. Today is actually my two-year anniversary of hanging my shingle and I wouldn’t have done it without you guys, so thank you and thank you for having me.
Tyson: Wow, congratulations. I had no clue it was your anniversary of your hanging your shingle. That’s fantastic.
Well, let’s talk about that though. Let’s talk about your story. So, get us through today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised here in Lansing, Michigan. When growing up, it was the last place on Earth I wanted to live. And then, I came to find out I actually really love it here. I went to a small college nobody’s ever heard of. Got my bachelor’s. Took a couple years off, between that and law school, to work at a restaurant which I’m kind of glad I did because I think it really helps with my people skills, dealing with clients, etc.
Went to law school at Michigan State University, College of Law. I’m always very clear that does not make me a Michigan State alum. It’s technically a different institution. I grew up a University of Michigan fan and always will be. Then, after that, I was actually supposed to go into the Air Force JAG Corps. That was supposed to be my first job out of law school. And then, in going through the application process, a lot of my past medical issues came up and that kind of kept me from getting in.
I stopped applying for jobs mid spring of my final year in law school. And then mid-summer, I realized, “Oh, well, I need to go find a different job now.” So, I was a law clerk for a probate judge in Flint which I had no interest in probate or anything like that. It was just my first job offer. It turned out to be an incredible blessing just being there. My boss was great. She’s one of the most genuine, funny, awesome people I’ve ever known. She then put me in touch with a criminal defense attorney in the area – this is in Flint, Michigan actually, because she knew that’s what I wanted to do. He was looking for an associate. And so, she got me there.
I worked for this guy for about a year and a half. I mean, he’s an incredible attorney. Tried some of the biggest cases in the state of Michigan. Won some, lost some. Done a lot of really impressive legal work, but they were a little bit old school in the way they did some things there. I think, probably about nine months into my tenure there, I realized– I tried making some changes. There was a whole lot of inertia pushing back against me on that and I realized I needed to do it my own way if I was going to stay sane. And so, after a while, I just–
At first, I pitched the idea of kind of doing part time work for him, part time work on the side, and he said, “No, no, no, just do your own thing.” And so, he kind of gave me a little bit of a push. And it was exactly what I needed. So, that was two years ago. Today, was my first day as a solo practitioner.
Jim: Dustyn, that’s an awesome rendition. Thanks so much for sharing that. Tell us what you’re doing two years ago today.
Dustyn: Freaking out a little bit, playing around with Practice Panther, which is my case management software or practice management software, seeing if anyone had some briefs they needed written. That was about it.
Jim: Tell us about those first couple of weeks, the first couple of months, how you got things moving.
Dustyn: So, the funny thing, when I first went solo, I was still in Flint, and I was in the same exact office I was in before, except I was now going to pay like $250 in rent, something like that. I just took scraps from other defense attorneys on the floor, and then wrote some brief for some people. I have a bit of a, I think, well-earned reputation as being an outstanding brief writer, so I was able to get some hourly billing in that way enough to keep our bills paid at home. I mean, that was about it for the first few months.
Tyson: So, let’s talk a little bit about the decision to do your own thing but a little bit more specifically about talking to your wife about it. What were those conversations like?
Dustyn: Shoutout to my wife. She’s just an incredible person, an incredible partner. She was really supportive, from the get-go, when I kind of told her what I was looking to do. And then, I also framed it– I’ve been fortunate enough, prior to going solo, to have been underpaid my entire life. And so, I was used to kind of scraping by and getting the bills paid however possible.
And so, I just put it to her like, “If I can get one misdemeanor per week, we’ll be better off than we are now.” And so, when I put it that way, she was like, “Well, yeah, that seems pretty doable.” She kind of knew that I needed to do this to get what I wanted out of my career and out of life. Yeah, she was on board.
Jim: Okay. And so, moving beyond one misdemeanor a week, how have you grown? And what’s been your target?
Dustyn: I put a lot of money into digital marketing – digital advertising, I should say. I have a digital agency that I use. One that, if I were to say their name– they’re the subject of a lot of ire and scorn among our community, I think, but they’ve gotten results for me. And so, I’ve had no issues. I’m sure I could do better, but they do a good job with my PPC. I’ve gotten some really, really solid cases out of that.
As far as target, I think I could be doing a lot better in that area. I haven’t really identified an avatar of my ideal client or anything like that. I just kind of, “If you’re charged with a crime and you can pay me, we’re good to go.”
I have had to fire a couple problem clients but, for the most part, whoever’s in my area, who’s charged with a crime, who can pay the fees, I’ll represent them.
I’ve kind of just, I think, by accident more than anything, have developed a pretty strong practice area in sex crimes. It just kind of happened. I don’t really know how it’s happened, but I seem to get a lot of sex crimes, so it’s kind of where I’ve been focusing a lot of my time.
Tyson: So, Dustyn, one of the things that you’ve told us you’ve got some issues with is hiring and you kind of want to focus on that and how to hire well. Let’s talk about the makeup of your firm. Tell us who’s in your firm now. And then, if you if you want to, how you’ve sort of gotten to where you are right now, when it comes to staffing.
Right now, it’s obviously me. I’m the only attorney. I use a digital marketing company like I talked about already. I use a receptionist service to handle most inbound calls. They’ll schedule appointments with potential clients. And then, I have one assistant. It’s actually my sister. It just kind of worked out because she was looking for work at the same time I needed some help. So, I initially brought her on part time. She just did some basic admin work for me. She has some experience working for courts so I thought that would be useful.
We also come from a family of lawyers. My mom and stepdad are both attorneys which, just a little side note, that’s not what made me want to be an attorney. That’s what made me not want to be an attorney. That was kind of a late in college decision to go to law school.
Anyway, I made her full time I think last October. And then we, about mid-March is when we went full remote because of the pandemic. Since then, by her choice, she’s actually gone down to part-time from full time. We always kind of talked about that this was a temporary arrangement. I knew this wasn’t her burning passion to work, as you want to call her a secretary, as a secretary in a law firm. She’s got other dreams and ambitions. I want her to chase those. I want somebody on my team that wants to be there, that can align with my vision for the firm, and our mission – someone I can help build around.
And so, when she went down to part time, I said, “Okay. Well, now, I need to look for your full-time replacement.” And so that’s what I’m after right now. Got a job posting all written. I’ve kind of figured out what my hiring process is going to look like, after reading a Harvard Business Review and Forbes articles and a whole bunch of stuff. And so, I’m ready to post the job probably today, actually.
Jim: Dustyn, what’s your favorite part about running a law firm or being a lawyer? Like, where do you find your energy? Are you more of like the big picture guy? Are you more of the implementer? Do you like doing the technical work of the lawyer? Where do you really find yourself pulled to each day?
Dustyn: I am definitely not the implementer. I’m very much a visionary. I go back and forth when it comes to the legal work. I think what I’m really getting sick of is, I love my clients, but I just– I would love it if my only contact with them is to get them on board, and then when we’re at court – you know, just periodic substantive updates that probably need to come from a lawyer.
I do like trying cases. I like filing motions. But the more I do this, the less I’m enjoying the technical work and the more I’m drawn to the visionary, the big picture – the business stuff.
Tyson: As Jim likes to say – this isn’t my question, but I do want to find out. Have you taken the Kolbe Test?
Dustyn: I have. Something else I should thank you guys for, for turning me on to that.
I’m not a 10 Quick Start, but I am an 8 Quick Start, Jim. I think I’m a 2 follow through. I’m forgetting what my other two ones were. I think what it comes down to is, I get big grand ideas. I get super jazzed about them. Then, they just kind of sit on the shelf for a little while.
Jim: That sounds familiar.
Jim: So, you need an implementer.
Dustyn: I do.
Jim: You need to find one to be your implementer.
Dustyn: I need a COO, for sure.
Tyson: All right. Well, let’s talk about trying to get you to that point. The first question is, and then I’ve got a follow up, do you have a process that you put together for hiring people?
Dustyn: I do. I’ve crafted this just over the past weekend. And then, this week, my first hire was– oh, I forgot to mention. I do actually have a part-time law clerk who works for me, just kind of reviews discovery and stuff. I forgot to mention him but he’s great.
Anyway, so my first two hires, when you throw him and then my sister in the mix, her it was like, “Hey, my sister needs work. I need work done. I’ll take her out to lunch and see if she wants to come work for me for a little bit.” And then the other guy, he just kind of blindly reached out to me. I was like, “Hey, I like that initiative.” I met with him and he seemed cool. So, like, “Yeah, I got work, I can throw your way.”
Not a very good process, at first. So, what I’ve done, probably last week or two, is really thought about how I want to bring someone on. I really want to make sure that this is the exact right person for my firm. And so, I’ve made a commitment to myself that, if that person does not apply, I need to be okay with not making a hire this go around.
My process looks like this, applications. No cover letters. I built this all out in Lawmatics, too, which is my CRM. I built a form for them to just kind of put their name, email, phone number and then like a little text box saying, “Tell me in three sentences why you should get this job” because I just like people to get to the point, not waste my time with superlatives. And then, throw in their resume. I’ll weed out probably the bottom 20%. Unless I get hundreds of applications, then I’ll need to be a little more. I don’t want to accidentally weed out the right person because they don’t have the right resume.
And then, I’ll do a first interview. It’s a phone interview. I created a scripted set of questions that, I think, test the things I’m looking for, including my firm’s core values, which are really, really important for me to build around. And then, the people who do well enough on that are actually going to get a homework assignment. And then, that’ll help me weed out some people.
Then, there’s a second interview which is going to be in-person, social distancing style, not quite sure how we’re going to do that just yet but maybe we’ll go for a walk at a park or something. And then, from there, I plan to make a hire.
Tyson: Okay. And then my follow up to that is, have you created an avatar? We actually don’t call them avatars in our firm, but I think you understand the term avatar. Have you created an avatar for your ideal employee?
Dustyn: I think I have an idea of what this person is probably going to look like, not physically, but just attributes, things like that. People skills are incredibly high on the list because, ultimately, I want this person getting potential clients in the door and set for consultations. If not, even basically getting them on boarded without even my intervention in the first place. And then, keeping people happy or, at least, the least stressed as possible as they go through the criminal process which is no fun for anyone. I need someone who can handle people. That’s the main thing. Obviously, I’m looking for someone who’s organized too, but I do plan to outsource a lot of the basic administrative tasks to just an overseas VA or something like that. I really want this person to be the voice of the firm.
Jim: So, as a 10, Quick Start, talking to an 8 Quick Start, I think, “What would my wife say if she were here?” She’s a 9 follow through. She would say, “Jim/Dustyn, I see how excited you are about bringing someone into your firm. What are you going to have them do? And have you sat down to make a list of all the things that they’re going to do? And have you figured out how you’re going to supervise them once you give them that list?” I’m always like, “It’s going to be so great to have someone. And they’ll be doing so much stuff. And they’ll be the voice of my firm.” And then, I sort of drop the ball and just they show up and I say, ”Okay, do this” and there’s no real rhyme or reason to it.
So, what could we do to sort of nail down or put a fence around what Dustyn’s going to be in charge of and what they’re going to be in charge of? Sort of like that exercise in the E-myth where he’s talking about one partner is going to do these things and another partner’s going to do these things and actually doing a whole little list of all the obligations of the firm and just see where is this person going to be responsible?
Dustyn: I did actually, a couple of weeks ago, make out a list. Not quite like that, but it was kind of what I have my current assistant doing. And then, breaking those jobs down into what I want her replacement doing and what I want someone I don’t have to pay as much money doing, just the basic sending of pleadings and things like that. So, I do have a list, but I also think it’s the supervising part that’s probably going to be my issue. I’m trying to devise some KPIs to supervise with, but it’s going to be an issue for me. I know that. Especially when I can’t even be in the same building as the person for who knows how many months.
Tyson: Okay. Well, what are some things you can do now to prepare yourself to manage that type of employee? Let’s think it through a little bit. What tools, what resources do you need to be able to do that?
Dustyn: I mean, first things first, I’m going to have to just get them on boarded, figure out how to do that. I think, through the onboarding, I mean, I can train them in what I’m looking for. This is actually something, before I found out I was going to need to find a new employee, my focus for this quarter was on building and documenting my systems. I’ve been making a bunch of Loom videos, putting them on [inaudible 00:18:42] pages to just train on some of the things we do.
I do have some of the basics but I need to build out a lot more. I want this person to have an entire library, for when they have questions, to be able to go to but also just to even get up to speed. I think I need to keep building that out while I’m going through the hiring process. And, hopefully, in a few weeks’ time – not hopefully, but in a few weeks’ time, I’ll have enough for them to at least get started with the firm.
Tyson: And I just want to say something really quick, Jim, before you ask your next question. Just make sure, whatever you do, it sounds like you’re moving forward. Just don’t overanalyze this to the point where you don’t get work done and where you don’t hire someone, okay?
Tyson: Okay, so just make sure you don’t do that.
Thanks to our sponsor, Smith AI. Smith AI is a superior receptionist service for law firms, trusted by many Maximum Lawyers, including me.
At my immigration practice, the Hacking Law practice, Smith’s friendly US-based receptionists respond to potential clients in English or Spanish, screen and schedule new leads, and even take payment for our consults. The best part is that they don’t just handle these conversations via phone. They also have live agents and chatbots capturing leads on our website through their chat widget. They serve as our friendly gatekeepers while my team and I work uninterrupted. We get new clients and we get work done. How awesome is that? If you’re in a solo or small firm, I know you’ll appreciate this.
Plans start at just $70 a month for calls and $100 a month for chats. They even offer a totally free chatbot so there’s no excuse. Try Smith AI today and see for yourself why attorneys like me say, “Smith AI receptionists are the secret to business growth.”
Smith AI offers a free trial and Maximum Lawyer listeners get an extra $100-dollar discount with promo code MAXLAW100. That’s M-A-X-L-A-W-1-0-0. Sign up and learn more at www.smith.ai.
Trust me when I say don’t let another day go by, try Smith AI.
Jim: We’re talking today with Dustyn Coontz. He’s a criminal defense lawyer in Lansing, Michigan.
Dustyn, I think we sort of skipped over. You were in Flint. And then, you were in Lansing. How did that transition occur? Why did that occur? And how has that helped your firm?
Dustyn: Excellent question. Like I said, at the beginning, born and raised in Lansing. And then, my wife and I, we had the wise idea to get married the winter break of my first year of law school and her first year of teaching third graders. So, we lived in Lansing together for several years while I was going through law school.
And then, even for the first, over a year, I think, that I was working in Flint, I was just commuting. It’s about an hour drive each way. Then, we decided, well, it looks like we’re probably going to be– or I’m going to be working here long term. Let’s move to Flint. And so, that’s where I was practicing for a while. That’s where I launched my practice. And then, we just–
What really happened is, we were on our way to my in-laws’ house one day and we stopped at Starbucks, and got all hopped up on cold brew, and got really excited talking about the future. We were just kind of like, “Let’s move back to Lansing. Let’s make it happen.” That’s where I want to practice law. That’s where all our best friends are. We miss our community we had there. We missed our church. We missed just the social scene here, the restaurants, the eating and so, in a cold brew-induced frenzy, we just decided we’re going to make it happen. Then, she started putting in job applications to schools in the Lansing area. Fortunately, she got a really good job here. The nice thing about being an entrepreneur is you can up and move whenever you want.
Tyson: I’ve done something very similar to that, so I understand how that is. I’m going to hold back my opinion because I want to ask you like, how do you think that’s been for your career, in general?
Dustyn: Really good. I think it was– at first, anyway, it was a little bit of a hindrance, a little bit of a step back because I had built, I think, a pretty decent network in Flint. Even though I’m from Lansing, like the Lansing legal network, I had a couple of friends from law school who were involved in the Bar here. I knew a couple of other people just through my parents being attorneys in the area. It was a little bit of a hindrance at first, but I think it’s a really good thing now. This is my hometown.
One thing I saw my boss do really well, at my last firm. He was a Flint guy. And so, he used that in initial consultations to sell people. Just the way I heard him talk about his city with people and just like that was something they could connect over. I was like, “I want that, but I don’t have that here.”
Now, that I’m a couple of years into it, I think it’s been a good thing. People are starting to know who I am in the area. I am starting to, as quickly as I’d like, slowly build a bit of a network. In the long run, I think it’s going to be really good thing. And it already is a good thing.
Jim: Dustyn, what would happen if, tomorrow, somebody pulled up to your office and said, “I’m going to take over your marketing and I’m going to deliver you 20 misdemeanor cases a week.” What would you do?
Dustyn: Get an associate.
Well, I’d want to bring that person on, for sure – that marketing person, because misdemeanors are typically easier money.
So, yeah, I mean, I have to get an associate and probably have to–
One thing I’ve actually been working towards, and this pandemic has helped a lot, is minimizing my court appearances by trying to get as many prosecutors and judges on board with me doing a lot of preliminary stuff via email to where the only time I actually have to show up in court is for a plea, or a sentence, or something like that, or something that requires testimony. I’d have to really beef up those systems and get a lot more people on board because I don’t think I can get to court for 20 cases a week.
Tyson: I don’t know. I mean, I see criminal defense attorneys do it all the time. I mean, they’re running around from court, to court, to court.
That’s the problem, in my opinion, with the lifestyle of a criminal defense lawyer that just doesn’t fit me. Like, I get sick of that. You know what I mean? Like you’re always in court and you never get work done. I mean, you can ever get work done because you’ve got your morning docket. You go back for a little bit of work in the office. You have a little bit of lunch. And then, you scurry off to another court in the afternoon. It’s just a time suck – a completely time suck.
So, in my opinion, I think the people that do it well, at least around here, are the ones that have associates to go and they run the dockets for them. So, it sounds like, if you don’t want to be in court that much, which I don’t think you do, your next hire may be an associate – especially with criminal defense.
Give me your input on this. You can hire virtual assistants that to do a lot of the mundane, basic stuff – filing your entry of appearance and even sending your discovery request. All that basic stuff, appointment scheduling, that can be a virtual assistant. Like all the heavy lifting is done by the lawyer, wouldn’t you say?
Dustyn: It absolutely is.
Well, I think my next hire, I do want this voice of the firm person. But the one after that is absolutely an associate because– I mean, you’re right. I want to be in court when I want to be in court and, usually, that’s for trial, or I really geek out about motions to suppress. So, anytime we have one of those, I want to be the guy who’s in there fighting that out. Other than that, like preliminary hearings, where I just show up and say, “Hello, Miss Prosecutor, what’s your plea offer?” And then, they give me the plea offer and I say, “That’s terrible. Let’s set it for another court date a week from now. And let’s take some testimony and see where this thing heads.”
Yeah, I can have somebody else do that, for sure. And I want to have someone else do that, too, because I do have big plans for my firm. I have a pretty grand vision of what I want to accomplish with it and I can’t do it if I’m in court.
Jim: All right, visionary. We’re coming up to the end of the call. Tell us, where do you want to be three years from now? What would success look like for you in May 2023, on your five-year anniversary of hanging out your shingle?
Dustyn: Yeah. Three years from now, I want to have a million-dollar criminal offense and civil rights practice, revenue-wise. Obviously, I’m not making all that money. I do want to have a few attorneys on staff.
And I want to have a second office open, most likely in the Detroit area, for two reasons. One, just that’s where a whole lot of people are. And then, two, for civil rights cases, it’s much better to be on the eastern side of the State than the western side of the State because you get better juries – therefore, better settlement offers. And working towards even more offices than that.
I’m really. at that point doing only high-level work where maybe I’ll try a case here and there but I’m almost never in court and just kind of working on– it seems kind of trite just to – you hear it all the time, but working on the business, not in it. I think I’m a pretty good technician, but if I want this firm to go where I want it to go, I can’t be the technician.
Tyson: Good stuff.
All right. We are at that time. So, we’re going to wrap things up.
Before I do, I want to remind everyone to go to the big Facebook group. Get involved there. There is a lot of great information being shared. Also, if you don’t mind taking just a couple of seconds, while you’re listening to the rest of this episode, you’re getting your tip and hack from us, go and give us a five-star review. We would really, really appreciate it.
Also, check out this little thing called The Guild that we’re doing. Dustyn is in it. We have a lot of great members in The Guild. It’s a nice, tight community that we’re all just sharing and giving a lot of high-level information, so please join us there.
Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?
Jim: Actually, I have two hacks. So, the first hack is to recognize that the coolest Maximum Lawyers are those who root for struggling football teams, like me and Dustyn. So, we now get to kick Tyson out because his Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year, so he is out of the cool maximum lawyers’ crowd. He’s just with the regular maximum lawyers. So that’s number one. You’ve got to root for a team like the Jets or the Lions, some team that struggles because it’s all about the struggle, as Gary Vee would say, who is New York Jets’ biggest fan, you can’t go through life just rooting for the Patriots, like our friend Ryan McKeen.
Now, my real hack of the week is the fact that, when the coronavirus first hit, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts which is Tim Ferriss. Tim was interviewing a meditation expert, a very spiritual person named Jack Kornfield. Jack Kornfield has a podcast all about mindfulness. I got one of his books which is called A Lamp in the Darkness. If you’re looking for any kind of a way to center yourself, to calm your mind, to get to a place where you’re meditating more, it is really an awesome roadmap on how to do that. I know, it’s a little bit woowoo for some people but it’s very, very practical. He talks about each of these concepts like dealing with sadness, or dealing with the loss of something, or how to be centered. And then, at the end of each chapter, there’s a mindfulness meditation section.
The book, I got it on my Kindle. I think it was six bucks. It’s great. It’s real. For anybody who wants to sort of get into that mindfulness space and sort of turn off that monkey brain, it’s the best, most practical book that I’ve come across.
Tyson: Very good stuff. What’s the name of it again?
Jim: A Lamp in the Darkness.
Tyson: Very good stuff.
All right, Dustyn, what is your tip or hack for us?
Dustyn: I don’t know that I’ve heard it mentioned on the podcast but, if I have, forgive me. It’s the book, The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasans. Probably starting last fall, I kind of went on a business book, self-improvement book binge. I’ve read a ton of them in the last several months. And some really great ones. But that one, I think, was the most life changing for me and the most practical. The premise is pretty simple. It’s what’s the one thing I can do that makes everything else either easier or unnecessary?
All of us, especially if we’re running law firms, we’ve got a million things to do but, if we want to move the firm forward, we can only focus on one thing at a time. And just the way it’s framed in the book, kind of their how to’s – the practicality of it, has been really life changing for me to the point where, I seem to always have a lot of irons in the fire.
One of those irons, this past year, was writing a book because, at MaxLawCon 2019, I stupidly told John Fisher I’d write a book. And so, it was just kind of sitting there with a few thousand words in it for a few months at a time. When we entered the new year, I said, “No. That’s my one thing for this first quarter. I’m going to write a book.” And so, I wrote a book pretty much between January and March of this year because that was my one thing. When I didn’t have a morning docket, my morning was dedicated to writing, you know, clients be damned, the prosecutors be damned, employee be damned. Like, that was that was what I focused on because I needed to get it done. So, just that book is, like I said, life changing and practice changing for me, so I couldn’t recommend it any more highly.
Tyson: And the name of that book is Surviving A Criminal Case In Michigan (And Picking Up The Pieces Afterward). You can find it on Amazon. So, if you want, go take a look. You can get it on Amazon [crosstalk].
Dustyn: I’ll send an author copy for free. They’re are a lot cheaper for me to buy than for everyone else.
Tyson: Very cool. Very cool.
Dustyn: So, if people are interested, just let me know.
Tyson: All right, so my tip of the week is– and I actually don’t think I’ve ever given this as a tip, but I do it all the time and I talk about it quite a bit. Jim’s seen me carry these things around. So, for those of you that are watching, These are just some of the books that I’ve filled up with my notes, but always have a book or some something to write your notes down because we’re always taking in information.
If you’re listening to this podcast right now, Dustyn’s given a lot of good nuggets that you can write down in your notes and keep track of. I use these as reference guides for me. Like, these are from books, podcasts, what have you. There’s trial skills in some of these books. All these books are separated by topic. So, carry around a notebook.
I like the moleskin books but then here’s a nice little tip within a tip. If you go on to Amazon, you can get cheap versions of moleskin books for like $4. And so, that’s what I’ve actually gone through now. I used to buy the expensive moleskin books. Now, I buy the really cheap ones because I just fill them up all the time.
So, write your stuff down because, otherwise, you’re going to lose this knowledge. You’re going to need to keep absorbing all this information. And then, you’ll forget it. So, I’ll write down like, step by step things like, “Okay, do– like so how to write a book kind of a thing. Like, step one through 10, I’ll write that stuff down. And then, if I have a question, if I want to remind myself about something, I’ll open up the book and I actually give myself a little glossary so I know where to find everything. It’s really helpful. So, that is my tip of the week.
Dustyn, thanks for sharing today. Thanks for coming on. I really, really appreciate it. It’s been
Dustyn: Thank you so much, guys. Real honor. Thank you.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
To stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content, go to maximumlawyer.com.
Have a great week and catch you next time.