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“Finding an Opening in Your Market” w/ Patrick Cawley 209
Categories: Podcast

This week on the show we have Patrick Cawley, an attorney at Keystone Elder Law PC, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania where he prepares estate plans and helps navigate government programs to pay for long-term care, Medicaid, Medicare, and Veterans Administration benefits. He also works with care facilities, funeral directors, the government, and others to ensure that people get the best care without losing their hard-earned savings.In today’s episode we’ll discuss working with clientele that aren’t comfortable with technology, educating first and how videos establish trust.

Jim’s Hack:
If you can get your hands on the old Magnetic Marketing, by Dan Kennedy, do it. It’s some old school audio and sort of cheesy, but there’s so many great marketing nuggets in there.

Tyson’s Tip:
Keep marketing, now, more than ever. You have an opportunity where everyone is in front of their screens all day, every single day. I don’t care if you’re doing paid advertising like pay‑per‑click, or Facebook ads, or if you’re just doing free social media, freakin’ do it every single day. It’s a very, very, very rare opportunity right now so take advantage of it. I can tell you, from experience, pay‑per‑click – the cost is way down and our numbers are way up. What would normally cost us thousands of dollars, we’re paying for hundreds of dollars.

Patrick’s Pointer:
Stay grounded in this time of uncertainty by one simple daily discipline. That’s just taking an inventory of your day before you go to sleep. So, simple questions like, “Did I feel any selfishness? Was I dishonest? Was I afraid? Do I need to take responsibility for something or make an apology?” I just think that asking these simple questions about your interactions or how you functioned during the day, when it becomes ingrained in you, you start catching yourself and you catch bad thoughts or bad habits before they take root and become a pattern.

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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:                 Boy, Tyson, we’ve been talking a lot lately during this coronavirus. We’ve been spending a lot of time together. We’ve been talking almost every morning, mostly in The Guild–

Tyson:             I know you love it. You are loving it. It’s the best time of your life.

Jim:                 Well, I don’t know about that. You know, yesterday, I had my first freakout moment where there’s just sort of this dread that sort of crept in. I’ve been really trying hard to sort of not watch the news and keep things away, but sort of a combination of things just sort of got me into this place. When I got home, my wife looked at my face and she said, “What’s wrong?” This is an emotion rollercoaster. It’s not all peaches and cream. That’s for sure.

Tyson:             I had this really weird moment where I actually was going to go and shoot some videos. I was leaving the office at 4:30, so a little early yesterday. I was going to give this caveat, I’m the only one at the office. No one else was here. I was going down to shoot the videos because I’m– I was hit. I was in a little fender bender about a month and a half ago and I’m just not just now able to– I feel comfortable enough going to get an estimate, but I had to get a rental car.

And so, I was going to do some videos on the process. I get into the vehicle. I’m driving and like my vision is going bananas. Like, I couldn’t see out of my peripherals and there were these spots. The only thing that was going through my mind was, “I’m getting coronavirus.” It had nothing to do with coronavirus. Like, every small little thing, I felt like it’s coronavirus. If I got a sniffle, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, do I have coronavirus?” I don’t but– and it’d be nothing. I think I just needed some rest yesterday, but it’s just weird. You’re right. I have these freakout moments that I don’t normally have and it usually has to do with my health.

Jim:                 Well, let’s get to our guest. His name is Patrick Cawley. He’s been a listener to the podcast for a while. He recently joined us in The Guild so we’re excited about that. He’s an elder law attorney in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Patrick, welcome to the show.

Patrick:           Thanks for having me.

Tyson:             All right. Patrick, you’ve been practicing for about 20 years. Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are now.

Patrick:           Sure.

I’ve taken sort of a circuitous route. I went to law school in the late ‘90s when the economy was booming. I can tell you that the culture at the time, when I went to school, was sort of like you were a failure if you didn’t go off to a really, really large law firm. Everybody knew what the going salary was and everything. I had enough of a window into what that would look like that I just never wanted to be a part of that. I just wanted to pursue work that I found interesting and impactful upon people’s lives.

I went, right out of law school, to the State Attorney General’s office, back in Pennsylvania. I grew up just outside of Harrisburg. I went to college and law school in the Midwest. I came back and I was in the Civil Division where, 26 years old, and I’m defending, section 1983 actions in Federal Court. I’m representing corrections officers and state troopers, and I’m just thrown right into it. Boy, there was a huge difference in salary between my law school classmates and me, but I was in court and I was loving it.

The longer you stay there, you start defending constitutional challenges to statutes. Well before my time, my colleagues had defended Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Probably the best‑known case that I handled, while I was there, was the defense of the Voter ID Law that our state legislature passed. It was contentious, but it was really interesting constitutional work.

I really got to know State Government and how it worked. Especially, the longer I stayed there and defended statutes, the people over in the legislature said, “Hey, why don’t you just come over here and work for us. Help us get it right on the front end.” A nice idea in theory. I went over there and eventually worked for a number of years as Counsel to the State Senate Judiciary Committee, where all the legislation dealing with the courts, the criminal justice system, and more to the point – wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, advanced directives, all of that goes through that committee.

You know, when you’re when you work on such a busy committee, dealing with impactful issues like that, it’s sort of a constant parade of lobbyists coming in to educate you on how the wording of a bill is going to affect people in real life. And so, I started to learn an awful lot from the lobbyists for the Bar Association, the elder law attorneys, the bankers, etc. It really got me thinking that this is really– I had no idea how people are being impacted by some of this. I started learning more and more about it and my mind turned to going and serving individual clients affected by these issues.

So, that brought me to where I am today. I looked at the market. There aren’t that many elder law attorneys out there, at least where I am. And so, I ended up joining a practice that was started by a guy and his wife. They lost all four of their parents to Alzheimer’s disease. You can imagine what going through that is is like. They were relatively intelligent people. He had a long career in commercial real estate, but he said, “Look, if it’s hard for me to figure out the right care facility and to figure out Medicaid benefits for long‑term care and estate planning issues, how can most middle class Americans do it?” He got his law degrees with a specific purpose of starting an elder law firm. It’s been going for about 10 years. I just joined much more recently. That’s where I am now.

I joined the guy specifically because he had that focus of he educates his community. He’s really there to help people go through an incredibly stressful experience of having a loved one go into long‑term care. His motivations are right on. It’s impactful work. So, that’s where I am today and that’s how I got there.

I should tell you that, it seems like about a year ago, I started looking for resources on, “How can I take all the know‑how and the substantive information I gathered over such a long career in government and turn it into a private practice?” That’s how I found The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I found it and I thought, “Oh my gosh, what a gem?”

And then, I realized you’ve been doing it for a few years and you had this huge following. So, I just, every morning, getting ready to go to my government law job, I’m getting dressed, putting on my tie and you two are talking in the background, so I just, one after another, you know, all your early episodes, y’all. I’m hearing all this about Infusionsoft, whatever that is. And then, I’m hearing about Dan Kennedy. And I’m hearing about Ben Glass, and all these people, and concepts I’d never thought about before. It just started building up everything. It was inspiring. It was educational. That’s where I am today.

I stay– sort of, remain committed to doing work that I find interesting and impactful. It’s been what I’ve done all along. Now, I understand that mastering the business side of practicing law is as much my moral obligation as thorough legal research and being prepared for court. The only downside of that is that, since it’s such a strong obligation, it’s easy to sort of get scatterbrained and to not know how to separate the wheat from the chaff or at least figure out what’s most important for my business and what I can sort of deprioritize. That’s where you and the following you have amassed has been so incredibly helpful.

Jim:                 That’s awesome, Patrick. Thanks for that. I’m glad that you found it all helpful. We’ve certainly enjoyed doing it.

One of our friends on the show, here in St. Louis, asked me to speak to the local– I guess, it was the state Elder Law Association. I was asked to come speak about marketing mistakes that lawyers make. I spoke from the stage. When I asked sort of what I would call basic questions about online marketing – really, about tracking where leads come from and just keeping track of your leads, it was a deer‑in‑the‑headlights look. There weren’t a lot of people who were actively marketing or really doing it as– obviously, everybody always wants more cases, but no one really seemed to have much of a structure to their marketing.

Do you find that sort of in viewing the other elder lawyers that you come into contact with?

Patrick:           I do. I think that’s pretty common although, maybe, people are starting to come around now. But, there are some elder law attorneys who do it exceptionally well and they become known as the people who just are good business people. I don’t know. Maybe, the assumption is that they just have something that other people don’t. I think it’s just a matter of learning the resources available and applying them. I think you’re right that most do not.

When I started with the practice that I’m with now, they were doing certain things really, really well. Again, I think it’s because the guy who started it had a background in business, so the Google AdWords were keyed in so that our firm comes up at the top, every time, in our geographic area when you have any number of search terms related to our field, and great relationships for dealing with the care facilities. We have wonderful relationships with people who work in the facilities, the in‑home care providers, the hospice providers, funeral directors. There’s a regular sort of coffee and breakfast meetings that they would all come to in our office. There were certain things in place that were just outstanding

Through listening to this podcast and then others that I found because of it, they weren’t doing videos. None of the competitors in my area are doing videos. One of the first things I started doing was recording helpful videos and putting them on the YouTube page. And then, promoting them on social media. I would say that that’s just easy. It’s cheap. It’s just something that doesn’t occur to a lot of elder law attorneys. I don’t know. It could be [inaudible 00:10:27] too because, look, there are people who are going to need long‑term care. They know that it’s way over their heads, and they’re just going to find an elder law attorney, so [inaudible 00:10:37] the work just comes. I think that as this area of practice grows, because of the aging population, generally, I think competition could drive more people to figure out that there are things that they can do online that just make a lot of sense.

Tyson:             Patrick, I’m just curious, with COVID-19 going on, how are you treating things? Specifically, how are you treating things from a marketing standpoint, because I’ve seen a lot of different industries and practice areas treat it completely different? So how are you handling it?

Patrick:           We’re staying true to the mission of educating the public first. I’m continuing to make videos. We’re going to resume our regular meetings with the care providers and that whole team of professionals that are out there at the various facilities through a webinar software. We’re going to resume the regular sort of question and answer sessions we would do with the public on whatever they want to come in and ask questions about. We’ll overcome that hurdle that way.

I don’t know. I don’t know that the remote working really hampers our marketing, in any way. We continue to remain focused on getting the word out about resources that are available for people. Maybe there’s a little bit less of a personal touch, but I don’t think so.

My only concern is that there are folks who just aren’t comfortable with technology on the other end. I think some lawyers listening to this podcast have clients who are at least as savvy with technology as the lawyer is. That’s not always the case with an elder law clientele. Some of the people who actually initiate the representation are the children of the people going into a long‑term care setting, so it’s not always the case that you’re dealing with somebody in their 80’s or 90’s who doesn’t have a Facebook page and doesn’t have email or whatever. For the most part, I think it’s business as usual.

The bigger problems for us are actually completing work because you need to have certain documents notarized. In Pennsylvania, at least for the time being, that means having someone physically in the presence of a notary. It means having witnesses physically present. That’s something we’re obviously trying to avoid and even with pending legislation to change that. Then, there’s the debate about whether we even should do that and put people at risk. We don’t want to be the cross pollinators of the virus since we deal with professionals who go into the facilities and then we deal with the clients coming in. We don’t want to be responsible for spreading this. We want to do the right thing.

I’d say the marketing continues. We’re doing all the things we would normally do, but I think that then, at some point, we need to meet with people in person. I don’t know. Time will tell how that goes.

Jim:                 That raises a good point. Have you have you sat down to try to figure out who the people are that know people going into this scenario? I do think a lot of that comes from the children of the older people. Have you sort of categorized the types of people that interact with seniors or the people that might need elder law assistance?

Patrick:           Not in any systematic way. This is where I start to look at all of the competing theories out there. God knows there’s 47 vendors for every aspect of what we do. I hear ideas about, on the one hand, there’s the traffic and funnels guys who say, “Go out and look at the Facebook pages of your avatar client. Look at the kind of movies they like to watch. Look at the sports teams they like.” And then, that drives your ad copy. And then, set up a landing page. Really, just target those people in a sort of hyper focused way. I’ve done nothing even close to that. I don’t know whether I should or not.

I’m sure, if we looked at the data that we keep from our intake, I could probably figure out the age range of the child who contacts us. Sometimes, it’s a spouse. So, right there. It could be anybody from their early 40’s to their early 80’s who’s calling us because either a parent or a spouse just got a dementia diagnosis and they’re going to need do some planning. I could get that much data about them, I think, at geographic locations, but it’s really going to run the gamut.

Really, the only people who don’t come and see us are the super wealthy who can afford to private pay to the tune of $10,000 to $12,000 every month for skilled nursing care. We’re not targeting those people. Geographically, that doesn’t really help us a whole lot. I don’t think.

There are ways. There are certain data that I think we have, that I haven’t looked at, and that I know my firm is not looking at. I don’t even know where to go from there. I guess, it’s an option, but I don’t know how far to go with that information.

Tyson:             All right. So, Patrick, I’m going to ask you, I think, a difficult question just because I know that you don’t do quarterly and yearly goals. I’m going to force you to think about this. If you’re looking a few months into the future, what is it that you want to focus on to move the ball forward, to improve your practice?

Patrick:           That’s a question I spend actually a lot of time thinking about. I sort of divide it up. I’m always going to be reading more on substantive law to make sure that I understand everything so I’m prepared. I know that am the succession plan for this firm. I am going to be taking over at some point, so I need to learn a lot more about basic accounting. I want to continue to sort of figure out best practices and marketing.

I think that the question from Jim, earlier, highlights getting to know my clients on a granular level so that I can make sure I understand the population that needs our services.

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Jim:                 Patrick, so my mother‑in‑law went into kidney failure last fall and my wife and I were left in the very common experience of trying to find a lawyer. It was so interesting for me to go through the process, in another practice area, in another area of law that I know nothing about. It was just like you said, there are people in town who are known as the go‑to person for elder lawyers. And then, there’s sort of a second‑tier of people.

I have to tell you. We had a really hard time trying to figure out who to work with. It was interesting because my mother‑in‑law was sort of in an extreme situation because she had to move from Chicago to St. Louis which meant she changed from one State Medicare or Medicaid to another. She had a piece of property that we needed to get rid of. There were all kinds of these moving parts. And so, it was so interesting to be viewing it from the perspective of a client as opposed to from a lawyer.

I think that there were sort of lessons along the way about follow up and about how hard it was to get a hold of the attorney. And then, once we hired them, how hard it was to get them to get the work completed. It was just a total mindset shift for me. That was one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is because I just wanted to sort of say that and just sort of offer that to you as a lesson or a message for you.

Patrick:           Think about that, if you had a hard time sort of separating out who the really good elder law attorneys are from the ones who are sort of dabbling and practicing in other areas, imagine the general public. I think that’s a problem for the consumer clientele, generally, is that they know there are lawyers – they might even know there are lawyers who specialize in particular areas, but they don’t know anybody who is a lawyer or who has dealt with a lawyer. So, it’s them with Google these days.

I don’t know. I think that’s exactly where I’ve gotten value from the podcast and from the ideas I get from other people about doing the videos just because it starts to establish that trust and it’s a way to demonstrate that there are ideas that I’m willing to just give to you because you need to know them. It’s a way to show sincere care for the people and understanding of the stress that they’re going through.

You raise a good point too about the follow up. I know that there are best practices that I’m probably not following right now. The two of you talked about the before unit, the during unit, the after unit. My follow up, with clients I’ve finished work for, probably could use some work, even just sending– I don’t know, just checking on their well‑being, asking for a Google review, asking for constructive feedback, “What did we do well?” that sort of thing. I’m not really doing much that, the way that I probably should, because it’s so easy to get busy.

I think all of us get busy in our respective practice areas but that sort of staying grounded in why you’re doing what you’re doing reminds you these are real people in real lives. It’s not just a file. You do need to stop and take stock of that from time to time.

Tyson:             Patrick, you actually mentioned the videos. I want to ask you about this because there’s a lot of people that are so hesitant to get into video. Did you have that feeling? Do you still have that feeling now that you shot some videos?

Patrick:           I never did have any reluctance to do it. I just thought it was such a great idea. I hate the sound of my voice. I don’t know. I didn’t think I had the right setup. I’ve heard about people who do the green screens. I’ve seen other lawyers, in the Maximum Lawyer Community, do their videos and they look so much better. Some of them even have some insert images and all this stuff. I’ve seen you comment to people, “Yeah, that’s nice down the road but just hit record, and just keep doing it, and keep doing it.” I don’t know. I’ve always felt comfortable in a public speaking role.

Some of the best advice I ever got, early in my career, when the butterflies would get going, get a little self‑conscious in front of a jury and I’d be stumbling over my words. Somebody said to me, “Look, this is more important than you so stop thinking about how you look, and how you sound, and just do the work that’s more important than you. It’s bigger than you.” That’s a good way to realign the priorities and to just get down to the work. Maybe that’s why I just never had any hesitation.

I do think that my videos could use some improvement but since none of my competition is doing anything in that way then, I guess, it’s better than nothing. So, I’ll keep doing that. Hopefully, it will improve over time.

Jim:                 That’s awesome. That’s exactly the right mindset. I love that you started it and that you’re doing it. That’s great, Patrick.

How are you using this downtime – the downtime of the coronavirus and having the team split up and not being able to go into the office every day? How are you handling things now? What are you focused on?

Patrick:           I try to split the time between actual client work that we had in the pipeline before and just keeping in touch with those clients, letting them know that there are obstacles to completing the work that we have. We’re doing the best we can. Of course, everybody’s understanding of that so far because they’re adapting to things in their own lives because of this. I do the client work and set aside time to just read things on the substantive law, just to keep up with things, to fine tune my skills. I work on ideas for marketing.

I think it’s the last category where I start to get a little crazy. When you started The Guild, the first thing I posted was uncharacteristic for me and I apologize, but I just sort of came out of the gate with everything that was exploding in my head. At the time, you were encouraging people to come into this specialized group and I thought “Well, what an opportunity?” so I just sort of let everything come out. “Should I be doing this? Should I be doing that? Should I be doing this?” It was reflective of just, I think, what a lot of people might be feeling right now that it’s downtime. We’re all thinking, “Is there something more I should be doing just to make sure that I get through this, at least, as strong as I went into it? Everybody wants to survive what’s going on. It’s normally my style to come into a group like that and listen, and get a feel for the conversation, and provide responses rather than telling people what I need. I don’t know. It was just what was on my mind.

I guess, the third category of how I spend my time, in addition to making the videos, I’ve been thinking about all these things I could be doing that I’ve heard people talking about. I’m just trying to figure out, “What are the priorities? What do I really need to do? Am I just freaking myself out?”

Along the way, I have gotten some ideas that I think are viable and easy enough, low cost enough, thanks to the two of you and the community you’ve built. I just had a great conversation with Mo Lilienthal. He brought up Bernard Nomberg. That had to do with the interviews they’re doing because I had thought a while back about, “Maybe a podcast is another way to sort of educate the community. They’re doing it”. Essentially that, but they’re doing it through Facebook Live. That’s a good way to engage the community and just, I think, provide that sense of connection that people are longing for when they’re all cooped up in their houses. So, that’s probably something I’ll start pursuing a little bit more.

I focus on the substance. I focus on the clients. And then, I go crazy trying to figure out what more I should be doing.

Tyson:             All right. That’s really good stuff.

I do need to wrap things up. Before we do, I want to remind everyone. Go to the Facebook group. Check us out there. Also, if you’re interested in The Guild, The Guild is still open for now. And so, reach out to us. Go to maximumlaywer.com to join The Guild. A lot of great activity going on there as well. We’re doing more specialized trainings in The Guild. I think people are getting a lot out of it. Hopefully, people are getting a lot out of it. Patrick and people like Patrick can tell you more about that.

Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?

Jim:                 Patrick mentioned one of my favorite marketing sources. That’s Dan Kennedy. Ben Glass mentioned him too, when he was on the show. Dan Kennedy is an acquired taste, so not everyone’s going to like Dan Kennedy. He’s strongly opinionated. He loves Donald Trump, so you’ve got to be ready for all that stuff. If you can get your hands on Magnetic Marketing, I think they’re making it more accessible now. Dan was sick last year and he’s sort of on the mend. He’s allegedly going to be coming back in some form at GKIC or the successor company.

If you can get your hands on the old Magnetic Marketing, it’s some old school audio. It sounds real rinky dink and it’s sort of cheesy, but there’s so many great marketing nuggets in there. I have a copy of it. It’s great. I’ve read it. I’ve listened to it. It’s good, good stuff. Don’t forget that there’s still a lot of good lessons to be learned in these old school marketing folks.

Tyson:             All right. So, he came out with a book last year called Magnetic Marketing. Was that just a revamp of his original book?

Jim:                 Yep.

Tyson:             Ah, I wasn’t aware of that. So, one of these days, I’ll have to come and take a look at your book. That’s pretty cool.

All right. Patrick, so what is your tip or hack of the week for us?

Patrick:           I thought about this. If Hacking has a hack and Tyson has a tip, then Patrick has a pointer. Patrick’s pointer of the week is just stay grounded–

Jim:                 Hold it.

Patrick:           –stay grounded in this time of uncertainty by one simple daily discipline. That’s just taking an inventory of your day before you go to sleep. So, simple questions like, “Did I feel any selfishness? Was I dishonest? Was I afraid? Was I thinking about myself most of the time? Was I focused on what other people need and taking action on what other people need? Do I need to take responsibility for something or make an apology?” I just think that asking these simple questions about your interactions or how you functioned during the day, when it becomes ingrained in you, you start catching yourself and you catch bad thoughts or bad habits before they take root and become a pattern.

Tyson:             I love it. That’s really good stuff.

All right. My tip is to– you’ve probably heard me say this before, “step on the gas.” The point is though– the tip is keep marketing, now, more than ever. You have an opportunity where everyone is in front of their screens all day, every single day. I don’t care if you’re doing paid advertising like pay‑per‑click, or Facebook ads, or if you’re just doing free social media, freakin’ do it every single day – regularly because you have an opportunity now where you’re in front of people all the time now. It’s a very, very, very rare opportunity right now so take advantage of it. I can tell you, from experience, pay‑per‑click – the cost is way down and our numbers are way up. What would normally cost us thousands of dollars, we’re paying for hundreds of dollars. It is bananas, okay.

Step up your marketing. A lot of you may be afraid right now. It’s completely normal to be afraid. It’s fine. That doesn’t mean you should stop marketing because, if you stop marketing, you will be in trouble in a few months, no matter what. So, if you’re in good shape now and you stop marketing, you’re going to be in trouble. If you’re in bad shape now and you stop marketing, you’re going to be in trouble. Keep marketing.

All right. That is my tip of the week.

Patrick, thanks so much for coming on. We really, really appreciate it. I learned a lot, actually, from having you on. I’m glad you came on. I really appreciate it.

Patrick:           Well, this was great and a real honor. Thanks, guys.

Jim:                 Great call. Thanks, guys.

Tyson:             Start joining The Guild.

See ya.

 

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