In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with, James Hux! They dive into the journey of conveying the message through employment discrimination law. If you’re interested in learning more about growth, social media, and running a tech-driven firm, check out this week’s episode.
James Hux didn’t decide to go to law school until he was a junior at The Ohio State University. He had, in fact, never considered being a lawyer while growing up. His father was a pastor, his mother worked with nonprofits, and the only thing young James was sure of was that he wanted to help people. He wanted to make sure that everyone had their chance to be heard.
Immediately following law school, James was fortunate enough to represent injured workers and victims of police misconduct at a personal injury firm in Dayton, Ohio. It wasn’t long before James was exposed to an employment law case and found his calling.
Employment law was a perfect combination of the technical skills he had learned since law school and his innate ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He embraced the opportunity to educate employees across a wide array of industries and companies, big and small. Educate while helping them to get through a devastating time in their lives and, of course, see them prevail.
1:41 weird trifecta
4:30 what their rights are
8:38 I’m the Jedi too
12:19 structured plan
16:09 when you’re a PK (preacher’s kid)
20:25 educating your tribe
Jim’s Hack: When you deal with angry people, convey to them that you hear them and understand their frustration. Tell them something like, “I will personally take this on and help you get a resolution.” It’s a very powerful statement and great customer service.
James’s Tip: For those that work from home, find places outside of your home to work. It’s easy to get stuck working in the same space. A change of scenery can help a lot with productivity.
Tyson’s Tip: Unsubscribe from at least one thing in your life each week for the next month.
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Jim Hacking: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson Mutrux: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Tyson. How are you, my friend?
Tyson: I am doing well. I’m excited about this day of podcasting. It’s pretty exciting stuff. How about you?
Jim: Yeah. I’m good.
Today’s Thursday so that means there are a very few people in the office so I like it. It’s nice and quiet. And I did enjoy having my Tuesday morning free so I’m excited about sort of recording the whole month’s worth of episodes on one given day. And today’s that day.
And today, our guest is James Hux. You heard him introduce himself at the top of the show.
James: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Tyson: So, James, tell everybody about your journey and really what brought you to this point in your career.
James: Yeah. I’d like to say my journey is a little bit different than maybe a lot of attorneys because I know a lot of attorneys say they want to be an attorney when they’re young. And when I was younger, I wanted to play in the NFL. And, you know, I figured out that at some point that that probably wasn’t going to happen, you know, so I focused on academics.
When I was in undergraduate school, that was the first time I actually met an attorney. And the first attorney I met happened to be a black attorney. And he wasn’t doing criminal defense. He was doing like real estate, so it was like a weird trifecta there where it’s like you’re meeting a black attorney, you’re meeting somebody who’s not doing criminal defense, and you’re meeting someone who’s teaching college students, right. So, in his class, he suggested that I should go to law school and start looking at law school. And that was probably my junior year of college, took the LSAT, and did all the things that you had to do to go to law school. And then I decided to go to University of Cincinnati.
When I was in law school, I never really had like an ideal practice area. Initially, I thought I wanted to be like a sports agent, went to sports agent seminar and they said you won’t make any money at all doing that, usually, and you’ve got to do like a side gig with it. And then I ended up falling into personal injury, out of law school, because I just knew somebody from church who was a paralegal at a personal injury firm. And I ended up falling into a employment law firm from somebody I knew from law school.
So, I fell in love with employment law once I started doing it. And really, in hindsight, it’s probably what I should have been doing the whole time because one of my first jobs that I ever worked was at a Cold Stone Creamery. And I actually quit the job because I looked up that they were making us work too many hours because we were all minors. And I tried to tell everybody that, “Hey, they’re working us too hard. They should take– we should have this break or we shouldn’t be working past this time based on this law.” So, I tried to get people to come and like quit with me. Unfortunately, nobody really came. But that company ended up getting in trouble later on for that issue. So, I like to think I kind of helped with that. I didn’t report it, but it was kind of the start of my employment law journey with that.
Jim: And James, so tell us about working in employment law, why do you love employment law, and then how did that lead to you actually starting your own firm.
James: Yeah. I love employment law because it’s something that really a lot of people are confused about. So, there’s a lot of information out there where people think they have to, you know, give notice to an employer before they leave, or they’ll think that an employer needs to do X, Y and Z to be able to terminate you. So, there’s so much confusion with at‑will employment or some of the other terms with harassment, you know, harassment that we call harassment isn’t really harassment for what’s illegal harassment. So, I got drawn to employment law, partially because of that, partially because like I mentioned, with the black attorneys, there’s more of a push towards criminal defense. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to find a way to help people that wasn’t in criminal defense because I didn’t think that most black people need not a criminal defense attorney but everyone’s going to have employment issues that they want to talk about. So, being able to educate people about what their rights are was something that really drew me to employment law.
Tyson: How do you convey that in your messaging? I mean, how do you– because that can be sometimes hard to do. So, how do you do that when it comes to your marketing and your messaging, things like that?
James: Convey the– which part–?
Tyson: Really, like how you– like how much you love what you do, how much you want to help other people because I think sometimes people think, “Oh, that’s just BS.” Right? “They just say that because that’s the marketing.” So, how do you make sure that that comes through in your marketing?
James: Yeah. I guess, there’s not really a way for me to say it like for certain that people believe me or not. I feel like I’m pretty authentic with everything I talk about. I’m pretty consistent with everything. And they’ll see that maybe sometimes I’ll say something that’s not a popular opinion but I’m still going to stick by it. And I think people respect that. And people can see from my content, that I’ve built up from my practice, that this is really who I am. And I’ve had people comment that before from particular clients and potential clients. So, I think it’s working that I can’t say specifically that I’m saying I want to make sure this is more authentic. That’s just how I’m being. I’m just authentic, in general.
Jim: James, one of the things I enjoy about your social media posts is that you’re not afraid to sort of take a position and that you’re sort of direct. And I know that a lot of lawyers sort of dabble in employment law. I’m wondering if you could be as direct as you usually are when sharing any thoughts you might have on attorneys dabbling in employment law.
James: Yeah. I personally think it’s too complicated for something to just dabble in. At least in Ohio, I can think of so many different exceptions to the rule, different statute of limitations. There’s not really a straight statute of limitations based on a different case. And if you’re not actually practicing employment law, it’s easy to miss some of that.
For example, there’s a Worker’s Comp retaliation claim. It’s got a 90‑day statute of limitation where you’ve got to send a letter to an employer, first. And then, you have to file a lawsuit within 180 days of the retaliation happening, so that’s quick. And if you’re not practicing employment law, there’s probably no way you would really know that because the statute it’s actually in doesn’t even really make sense for like what it’s titled. So, I try to steer people away from dabbling in employment law and just refer me the case so that I can talk to ‘em. And I think usually people end up doing that.
Tyson: That was a great segue because I was going to ask you about getting cases, because it seems like I just don’t know a lot of employment law attorneys. There just are not that many of ‘em. So, it seems like it could almost be like shooting fish in a barrel. But, I guess, two questions. Why are there not that many employment law attorneys? And how do you generate most of your business?
James: Yeah. That’s something I noticed initially, too. It’s just, for some reason, employment law attorneys don’t really put themselves out there that much. Man, I think it’s less than other practice areas. And I’m not really sure why that is. And I know, with employment law, we do have a lot higher rejection rate for taking on clients. So, maybe they think, if they put themselves out there, it’s more work that they’ve got to go and reject people on. That could be an issue.
Yeah, I get most of my clients actually from Google and not really from Google Ad spend or anything like that. I’m not really spending that much money on Google Ads but just utilizing Google My Business, utilizing my different social media platforms. And then I actually end up getting a lot of referrals from attorneys that have seen my social media platforms. So, it’s not like a marketing, specifically to the referrals. They just see that I do this employment law. And they end up finding me that way. So, I would definitely say most of them are from Google and social media though, lesser from referrals.
Jim: Let’s talk about your firm. Talk to us about Hux Law Firm, LLC. I think you recently celebrated an anniversary. And do you want to talk a little bit about how your firm has developed?
James: Yeah. I just had my fifth anniversary on May 4th. And May 4th was– thank you. And May 4th was also the day that I was sworn in to practice law in 2015, so I wanted to have that coincide with each other. And then, you know, if you know Star Wars at all, May 4 is like “May the Fourth be with you” like a Jedi thing. So, I like to tell people I’m a Jedi, too.
In terms of the practice and the growth, it’s gone pretty well. The first year was pretty tough, initially, honestly, because I work on a strictly contingency fee basis. And because of that, it can take a long time for build up for cases. It’s not as fast as maybe it would be for like personal injury or something like that. It can take 12 months or longer for a case to really get to the point where it’s resolving. So, first year was tough.
Second year was a little bit better, still kind of tough in terms of revenue. The third and fourth year is when I really started to see the fruits of my labor from being on social media and everything. And then, this year, still picking up with that but I’m also trying to expand a little bit with what I’m doing. So, revenues are down a little bit but kind of expected because I know that I’m expanding this year.
Tyson: Well, let’s talk about that expansion that you’re talking about. What are your plans?
James: Yeah. I want to bring on somebody, hopefully, as an associate. And then like an intake coordinator is what I want to try to do for this year because I know with– like I said, there’s a high rejection rate. And it can take a lot of time to filter out particular cases for employment law. So, if I had someone in there to at least help triage some of those, you know, consultations and things like that, if I can train somebody to help do that, as an associate or just as an intake person, that would free up a lot more time for me to be able to do things with social media that I actually like doing more. I like working on the business more than I like working in it, so.
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Jim: You’re listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. Our guest today, James Hux, employment lawyer from Cleveland, Ohio.
James, really enjoying the conversation. One of the things that I wanted to ask you about was sort of misconceptions that people have about social media and just sort of messing around with it. Your approach seems to be pretty systematized, I would think. Talk to us a little bit about your approach when it comes to social.
James: Yeah. Well, I tried to– initially, I would say, probably, I built up more of my stuff on like Facebook, initially, and then branched out a little bit more after that. So, I think I set up most of my social media accounts probably about when I started. I was doing ‘em kind of sparingly. But now I’ve got more of a structured plan.
So, I actually had to go ahead and get somebody this year to help with that structure. And she helps with pulling together information from posts I’ve already done and then building it out into something, putting it into Loomly. And then, from Loomly, it’s like a social media thing, kind of like Hootsuite. Then, I can go in and edit the different posts that will go to the different platforms. And that’s made it a lot easier to go through and be more consistent with posting on the different platforms because there are so many different ones. It’s hard to do it but I would say, like starting out, if you can try to focus on one platform a little bit more, and then the other ones, you just kind of sparingly doing it so you can show up and be there. That’s probably the best way to do it.
Tyson: So, James, you have, I would say, more of a tech‑driven firm. And that can be hard to do. Well, especially whenever you’re first starting out because it can get expensive. So, can you give people that are just starting out their firms and they want to have that more of a tech‑driven firm, can you give them some advice on how you can do that but also do it on a budget?
James: Yeah. I think it’s a common misconception that it’s going to cost a lot more than it actually is. And with my first year I did a presentation on this before, I think my first‑year expenses for tech was around like $700 for the entire year. There’s a lot of tech where we’ll see like Clio and like the other practice management softwares and, when you’re starting out, you might not really need that initially but you’re going to need something though be able to hold folders in. You can do that in Google Drive or the Google Workspace pretty easily. And with Google Workspace, you can have a basic, you know, business there that you can run.
You know, you’re obviously not going to be able to have a virtual assistant and everything, while you’re kind of starting out, because you might be kind of low on money. So, it’s hard to do that. You might be manning the phones.
But, you know, Google Workspace, Toggle, you can use, it’s like a free tracking app for time. There’s a lot of like free tier business class things that you can use that will enable you to still run your practice pretty well. And I think a lot of the hold up for attorneys is too we want to look and see like this is the attorney software but most times you’ll get like pretty much the same or sometimes even better technology from just using business software because, at the end of the day, a law firm is a business. It’s not really that much different. And you might get more functionality from using that business software anyway.
Tyson: Yeah. Kelsey Bratcher calls that the attorney text because we get the attorney text on a lot of those softwares.
Jim: James, your dad was a pastor and your mom worked in nonprofit’s. And I suppose there might have been a pull there to like go to a big firm and do employment defense work. Talk to us a little bit about what your parents infused in you to make you sort of want to fight for the little person.
James: Yeah. I mean, I’ll be honest, I never had that pull to go do employment defense. I know that sometimes that’s like a temptation for people, but I’ve never really had that. For me. growing up, I’ve always been someone who spoke up for other people and would check people if they’re doing something wrong. So, in my friend group, I’m not going to be friends with people who are going to treat people differently or what I believe to be, you know, worse just because of who they are, or how they dress, or anything like that. So, I’ve always been someone who just kind of like speak up and fight for people’s rights like that. And that’s definitely something that was instilled in me from my parents, especially for my dad, with going to church, growing up in the church. For my whole life, I was basically born in the church. It makes a little bit different when you’re a PK, a preacher’s kid.
Tyson: PK. Is that a term?
James: Oh, yeah. Yeah, PK is definitely a term. If there’s some other PK’s out there, I’m sure they will know exactly what I’m talking about. It usually was– it was like PK’s don’t end up too well and they act a little crazy so [laughter].
Tyson: Oh, that’s funny. I had no idea.
James: Yeah, preacher kid.
Tyson: I’m going to start using that. That’s really good.
All right. So, tell us a little bit– we talked a little bit about your expansion but what’s your vision for your firm? Like, where are you– how do you– because you’re such a great person so like how are you going to help spread that and help so many people? So, do you have a plan? Like, do you have a big expansion plan where you’re going to have a bunch of offices? Do you want to stay kind of the way you are? What’s your vision for your firm?
James: Yeah, I want to have more offices. It would be great if we could be nationwide. Honestly, probably, it’s just something I need to actually put down on paper because now I’m to the point where I need to have it a little bit better on paper for the actual plan. But I want to expand. I want to have a lot of associates that are at least a similar mindset to me. I’ve got some law clerks coming in in the summer who, I think, fit that bill.
So, I know there’s plenty of people out there who are also just desiring to help people. And I just want to get as many of us together to help people with this big issue with employment law. Like it’s something that’s a hot topic right now and you see all the unionization and everything. And I think people are going to need that guidance, going forward.
Jim: James, one thing I always think about with plaintiff’s work, especially, but really with employment, and specifically, and that is that there are a lot of people who think they have a case who don’t have a case. And I’m wondering what your process is for sifting and sorting, and how you offload people that you’re not going to be able to help, and sort of how you zero in on the people that you do think you can help?
James: Yeah. For a lot of people, it ends up being more of like a short little education than it is a– as much as a rejection. So, sometimes people are just like, “Oh, I didn’t know that your employer could terminate you without notice, or I didn’t know that your employer could terminate you via text message.” So, you’re just educating people on like, “Hey, this is how this works. And this is the rights that you have in this circumstance. And this is how you may be able to change it.”
And then there’s sometimes where it’s something where it’s like a case where there might not be enough value there. So, with a lot of wage cases, there’ll be people who didn’t get paid like their last paycheck. So, I’ll try to point people in the right direction for those type of cases, too. So, if you’re not paid $500, it’s hard for an attorney to justify taking on the case. But you can still tell them that you can contact the municipal court or small claims court. And you can tell them, “This is how you file a claim in municipal court. This is how you file in small claims court.” And it’s not taking really any much more of my time to just direct somebody to that website and say, “This is how you start that process.” So then, that they can still fight for their rights. It’s not really me rejecting them. It’s just it’s not going to fit within the business practice to do it.
Tyson: So, I remember having a conversation with William Eadie years ago about like, you know– because I’d recorded a couple of videos and his question to me was something along the lines of like, “How’s that going to help you get more personal injury cases?” because they were unrelated. So, I wonder if like, you get so many of these leads and you have to turn down so many. I mean, the way you do that marketing, does that help push people away for the things that they need instead of calling you or does that tend to attract more people that you’d have to reject more cases? Hopefully, that question makes sense.
James: Yeah, just the way that I’m rejecting it doesn’t mean I’m getting more like bad cases, basically.
Tyson: Right. Exactly. Yeah.
James: Yeah. I think that, in general, the way I do it, they kind of– I turn them into kind of like mini paralegals, I guess, almost so like they know like just a little bit enough. They know just enough to say like, “Hey, man. That’s probably not the case,” if they’re like talking to their friend, right? And then, if they’ve got somebody who has a case, then they’ll refer ‘em to me. So, I think I’ve probably usually gotten more cases that are a little bit higher quality from doing that than just like an influx of bad cases.
Tyson: I think that’s great. I think it sounds like you’re like you’re educating your tribe so that they know what to look for.
James: Yeah, yeah. I’m trying to. I think that’s probably really one of my main like overarching goals is to just educate people on what their rights are because so many people just have no idea for employment law.
Jim: And I love that, too, because you’re not afraid to sort of stick it in the eye of the other side, too. James had a post, I think about a month ago, that said, basically, HR is not your friend.
Jim: HR is not your friend. And– so, there is definitely an educational aspect to your marketing that I really like, James.
James: Yeah. My sister wasn’t too happy about that post because she’s in HR, but I was like, “Well– [laughs]
Jim: James, talk to us, if you would, I know we hear a lot about access to justice. And I have a sense, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth, do you believe that the African‑American community, when it comes to employment discrimination, is underserved?
James: Yeah, definitely. Definitely [inaudible 00:21:12].
Jim: Can you talk about that?
James: Yeah. So, obviously, law firms are businesses. So, there’s a lot of things that we do or that other people do to screen clients that can disproportionately affect African‑Americans. So, we’ll have things that will say, I’m not going to take a case for somebody who’s making under $70,000 a year because there are studies that show the average African‑American family makes $70,000. So, you’re almost like cutting out that entire demographic just from that salary. So, you’re not trying to do that. Obviously, it’s just like a disparate impact type thing. And I understand why you’re doing it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find value in a case for somebody who makes less than that amount of money. That’s one of the big examples that really like gets on my nerves, when people have that type of– it’s really arbitrary, a salary cut off.
Tyson: I mean, I think it’d be really beneficial if you could find a way to develop for all types of practice areas like, “Hey– like, find ways of shining a light on those issues. I think that that would be really, really important because I think every single one of our practice areas that we see in The Guild and elsewhere, like we all probably have those similar issues. I think it’d be great if there’s a way you could find a way to shine a light on it. That would be great.
James: Yeah. I’ll try to figure out a way to do it. But–
Tyson: Yeah. To be honest, I don’t know. And I don’t know how like maybe CLEs or whatever it might be, but it is one of the things. You said that and I’m thinking, “Oh, my gosh,” like it’s something I had never even thought about. So, I think that it’s important that we do think about those things.
James: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t think people do think about it at all.
And there is value in those cases where people are like– less, like I said, some of my highest valued cases have been people who made less than that amount and they would have just been outright rejected, or some of the worse discrimination that you see, it’s from people who are making less that amount because then the employer knows that they’re more vulnerable and that they have to work in that job. And that’s something that happens a lot with employment law is that people will feel stuck in a job because they won’t be able to find anything making that salary, even if it’s probably a lower salary. They won’t be able to find anything making that salary within one hour or two hours where they are, you know. So it’s not always just about the demographics on the race issue. And there’s class issues going on as well. And even like the world versus like city issues where somebody is out remote. It’s going to be harder to find a job to replace their income.
Jim: Have you made content specifically about this because I think this is very sincere and very heartfelt, and very strong stuff, and I think it would set you apart from other people? And if you have any examples, where somebody turned down a case and you turned it into something, I think that would really be powerful.
James: Yeah. I’ve done CLEs with it. I’m not sure if I have any specific content out with it. I don’t think I probably do.
Jim: I don’t think it’s too subtle. I think it’s something you could explain. And I think your sincerity would really come through on YouTube, especially, like maybe a little longer form video. And you can just– you know, it doesn’t need high production value but just you explaining what you just said. I think that that’s really going to resonate with a lot of people and make them love you.
Tyson: Yeah, I think it’s a great idea, Jim. Maybe a presentation in The Guild is in your future. We shall see. You practice on us so be good.
All right, we are at time, so we need to wrap things up. I’d love to actually continue talking with you all day, James, because this is a lot of fun.
I do want to remind everyone join us in the big Facebook group. We have a lot of great activity going on. If you want to talk to people like James, in The Guild, go to maxlawguild.com. Make sure you get your tickets to the conference, maxlawcon2022.com. And while you’re listening to the rest of this episode, if you don’t mind leaving us a five‑star review, it helps spread the love, we greatly appreciate it.
Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: We’re once again expanding our intake team and our client communication team. And we had an interview recently with a young man from Mexico who’s going to be probably helping us out with that. And he’s been in the customer service job for quite a while. And we asked him sort of what’s your approach, if someone calls, and they’re all pissed, and they’re yelling? You know, he said, first, he tries to calm them down a little bit. And then, he said, “What I like to tell people is this, that I will personally take this on and help you get a resolution. I will personally take this on and help you get a resolution.” I just thought it was a really powerful statement because, that person on the phone, they don’t care who it’s going to be. They don’t care even if it’s that immediate. They just want to know that someone has shifted this stress from the caller to the company. And I just thought that was a really tidy way to encapsulate, you know, what we want to convey to people which is, “I hear you. I understand you’re frustrated. I will take this on and I won’t give up until it’s resolved.” I mean, that’s the Ritz Carlton way. I know that’s the Ritz Carlton way. That’s the way that a customer service should be. And I just love the sentiment.
Tyson: That’s great. I’m stealing that. It’s good stuff. Thanks, Jimbo.
All right, James, you know the deal. So, do you have a tip or a hack for us?
James: Yeah. For people who work at home. So, I know a lot of us are working at home during the pandemic and might still be working at home now. So, I’ve been working at home since 2017.
And one of the tips I have is you have to be able to find places outside of your house to work to. And I feel like it’s really easy to get stuck when you’re doing work, when you’re working like at in the same little space in your house all the time. So, you can Airbnb for a night, work out of there. Go to the library, work out of there. Sometimes, on vacation, I end up doing like a little bit of work because it’s just freeing to be somewhere else. So, just change the scenery when you work from home or probably really when you work anywhere.
Tyson: I liked that idea a lot. Very good.
My tip is unsubscribe, okay, not just from emails. But I’d say, over the next month, pick one thing to unsubscribe from in your life whether that is an email, whether that’s the subscription that you pay for every single month, whether that’s a friendship that’s not been going so great for you, whatever it might be. Take one thing a week, for the next month, just to unsubscribe from because I think what we don’t have in our lives is more time and there’s so many of these little things, you know, that just pick at you, you know, just little things that take a little bit of time from you every single day, and just start to declutter those from your life. So that is my tip of the week is to unsubscribe.
James, thank you so much for joining us today. Lot of fun. Really, really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story.
James: Yeah, thank you all for having me.
Jim: Thanks, James.
Tyson: See you, James.
See you, bud.