This week on the podcast you get to listen in to a casual conversation with Jim and Tyson, as they do every Saturday, live inside the Guild membership on the Morning Meeting Show.
2:39 taking over another firm
8:35 entrepreneurial jump
10:00 getting off the hamster wheel
14:15 ego and shame
18:35 situations you don’t want to be in
19:05 know yourself
Watch the recording to catch some helpful visuals here.
Jim’s Hack: “If I wake up more than 3 days in a row thinking about you, and you’re not my spouse, you have to go” – Dan Kennedy. Jim likes this related to your employees and hiring slow and firing fast.
Tyson’s Tip: An app, LiquidSpace, finding an office space to rent for an hour or two. Tyson recently used this on his vacation to Myrtle Beach.
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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: Tyson, my friend, it’s good to see you. I feel like we’ve not seen each other for quite some time.
Tyson: We haven’t. We talked a little bit last week which was a little weird. We normally talk, I’d say, almost on a daily basis. And then, I was on vacation. Had fun. Myrtle Beach. Nashville, Myrtle Beach. I’ll never take a car ride again. It was a lot of fun.
Jim: Yeah, I decided, after our 14-hour drive to Florida, that I’m flying from now on. I’ve got, jeez, a million Southwest points so there’s really no reason to drive.
Tyson: You know, so, I’ve always had the mindset of we should fly because we always fly to places but then, this time, I was like, “You know what? Let’s have some fun. Let’s drive.” Because like with COVID and everything, you know, when we get the vaccine. So, I wasn’t really worried with the kids and everything, so I go, “Let’s just drive. We’ll have some fun with it.” And it was just like on the way there, just “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? How much longer?” It’s like so many times. But you know what? We still had fun though.
Jim: I just love seeing those pictures of Hudson because I know he’s up to no good.
Tyson: No good. No good is being done by that kid.
Jim: What a character. He’s going to be something else. He reminds me a lot of my third child as well. So, I think he’s going to be a real character.
Tyson: He’s a stud. I love him. He’s so good.
Jim: That’s great.
Tyson: So, we’ve got a podcast. This is, what, the second one that’s just the two of us in the last couple of months. That’s kind of nice.
Jim: Yeah, you know, I got a lot of good feedback from the last one. A lot of people have told me they like it better when we don’t have a guest. So, I’m open to doing these more often.
Tyson: So, I will say this, I do like the nuts and bolts episodes more. And I sort of feel like we’ve veered a little bit away from the nuts and bolts. So, maybe I would like to do some more nuts and bolts stuff sometime. So, maybe the two of us can get on get on here and do a nuts and bolts episode soon.
Jim: Well, I have a few things for us to talk about.
Tyson: Let’s hear it.
Are we playing this like the Saturday morning – the morning meeting show? Is that how we’re playing this today?
Jim: It’s just you and me talking, bro.
Tyson: I love it. I love it. Let’s do it. All right, let’s hear your first topic.
Jim: Well, so we’ve gone through this process, over the last month, of meeting with another immigration law firm sort of taking over that firm. The attorney who was handling the immigration work for this larger firm has decided to go to work for the government. And there were about, oh, I don’t know, 260 cases. The attorney was carrying a huge caseload with two really experienced paralegals. And she did a fair amount of removal work which is very time intensive. And my wife, very wisely, said, “We don’t want to take on 70 new deportation cases.” So, we were able to find an attorney in D.C. to take those. So, we ended up taking 150 USCIS cases.
But it’s just been such an adventure. There’s so many pieces to it. I really need to keep better track of this both for, if I want to do this again at some point and/or just to give people advice on, you know, the kinds of things you need to think about.
You know, I went up there and spent three days with the two paralegals because I wanted them to feel comfortable and I wanted them to meet us. Adela came with me. And we just spent the three days going over cases and talking about like our processes. And then, they had a week off. And then, right now, my wife, Amany and Laura Clark, who’s one of our chief implementers, who we just promoted onto the leadership team, she’s up there too. And they’re sort of doing it all over again.
And then, I might have to go to Baltimore in a week. And then, we’re going to have them come down to St. Louis. It’s really interesting because they were one little part of a big firm and they’re going to come into a firm with five immigration lawyers and, you know, a support staff of about 15. So, it’s really going to be a big cultural shift for them.
Tyson: I want to get you. I think I know the answer to this, but I want to ask your opinion on this. Because we just, basically, absorbed a firm too. It was a smaller firm, about 95 cases. We took on the attorney. We would’ve brought over one of their paralegals, but he ended up letting both of them go. So, we basically absorbed the firm. And I’ve got to say, it seems like he’s very relieved to have a lot of this off of his chest. He can just practice law now.
And I bet there’s a few people listening to this. And I bet there’s a lot of attorneys out there that, like the immigration practice, you just absorb, like the injury practice I just absorbed, that they would love to have a situation like that where they could come and work for Jim Hacking and just use Jim Hacking’s systems and just practice law.
I mean, do you think that that is something–
And here’s the question? I mean, do you think that that’s something that you would want to do like repeatedly to grow, like taking on– because it’s a huge risk for you because you’re taking on a bunch of liabilities that you really don’t know a whole lot about and an attorney that you’re going to take the salary, maybe some staff? So, I mean, is that something that you– like, is that on your radar? Is it something that you’re wanting to do or you’re planning to do?
Jim: Well, it’s so great because I have the San Diego office to compare. And that’s one we’re starting from scratch. And this is a logistical headache. It’s a lot of tedious stuff. You know, just getting the addresses, and emails, and cell phone numbers into Filevine, and into our marketing software. It’s one of those deals where we could export about 90% of it but then there’s 10% that you have to do by hand. And so, there’s a lot of tedium to it, but I think this is actually the model because I do think there are a lot of lawyers, particularly in immigration, who just want to practice law and help their clients.
You know, when we were in– so we’re going to have to hire a lawyer in DC, and Amany wisely said to the attorney who was leaving to go to work for the government, “Hey, do you have any friends or anybody who might be interested?” So, she connected us with this attorney. This attorney wanted $150,000 or $175,000, so that wasn’t going to work out. But the interesting thing in that conversation is she’s been practicing for 14 years, I think, and she said to me, I have no interest in bringing clients in, like all I want to do is work on cases. That’s like the opposite of me, like literally the opposite of me. And I think that there’s a lot of people that sort of fall in that spectrum between me and her. But there are definitely lawyers out there who almost view bringing in business as this magical thing that they should not be associated with, it just sort of happen.
So, I think this is the model for us, if we’re going to do this again, which is why I need to keep better track of exactly what we’re doing, mostly because I don’t want to be the one involved in the onboarding next time.
Tyson: So, the reason why I ask and you should totally document it because–
I mean, it seems like you’ve done it really well. It seems like it’s been playing out really well, so I don’t think it’d be too hard for you to do. But the reason why I ask is, it’s something that’s been on my radar for a long time. It’s something that I think, especially– this is especially true, I think, with older attorneys that are wanting to sort of wind things down. And this may just be a theory that has no weight to it, but I was thinking older attorneys, they’re winding down their practices. You basically, just take like sort of their retirement plan away where you take over their personal injury cases and they get paid a significant portion of that. And they don’t have to do anything else on it.
And I also think sometimes younger lawyers, they think that they want to start a law firm. They quickly realize, “Oh, shit. I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Sort of trapped in the cycle though, where I’ve got these cases. I can’t get out because I’ve got to keep working these cases. And I can’t go to a job somewhere because I’m still working these cases.” And so, they get stuck on this wheel, right? And so, I think it’s something that would benefit the firm but it’d also benefit the individual, too. So, I do think it’s a win-win in most cases.
Jim: Let’s talk a little bit about that. Let’s talk about the people who have made that entrepreneurial jump but really regret it. I mean, that’s got to be a subset of the people that we come into contact with. I mean, I know that a lot of our friends in The Guild and in The Big Group are enjoying the practice of law, and enjoying the decision that they made to go out on their own, but there has to be a smaller subset of people who have buyer’s remorse and wished they hadn’t done it.
Tyson: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a large chunk of ‘em. I think Guilders are different. I think that those people are, “Okay. We’re in it. We’re wanting to improve. We’ve got this.” They’ve got a good grasp of it.
I’m more talking about the person that they just jumped out, started their firm. They get a few cases or whatever. And then, they’re just like, “You know, this just isn’t for me.”
I mean, I can think of like five off of the top my head right now that I know that they’re on this hamster wheel and they would love to get out because they’ve told me, but they just can’t. I mean, especially like people that are– like, they’re prosecutorial minded. So, I know a few people like they were former prosecutors, they go out and start the criminal defense firm, and they would love to go back to being a prosecutor. They would absolutely love it, but they get stuck on this hamster wheel, and they just can’t get out.
And I do think a bunch of it is is that they’re afraid of a malpractice claim. You know what I mean? Like, they feel like they’ve got to take these cases through to fruition and they can’t. They don’t want to abandon their client because they’ve already taken the money from the client. They probably don’t have the money to give back to the clients, right. So, that’s what I’m talking about with the hamster wheel. It’s not as easy, as people might think, to get off of the hamster wheel. You’re stuck in it in a lot of aspects. Unless you’re making a bunch of money, it’s easy to get off of it. But if you’re not, you’ve taken money from these clients, so you’ve got to see it through. And then, to see it through, you still got to pay your bills, so you have to get more clients and they can’t off of it so.
But I think, in a situation– no– that might be a different situation where you wouldn’t want to take on those clients because then you don’t get paid from ‘em, but I’m more talking about a situation where you can still get paid on the cases. It’s easier for a PI case because, in some situations, let’s say it’s a young lawyer, they’ve spent the money on the case expenses. Well, they probably would be really happy just to get it off their plate.
But then other situations, it might make sense where the buying firm buys the case expenses. So that’s that younger attorney, or that newer attorney, or the attorney that’s being absorbed gets a big check for all their case expenses. So, it’s just one of those things where–
I’ve thought about it quite a bit. And I’ve seen you do this – it seems like pretty successfully, and I think it’s an interesting way of growing but also helping. Like you have a really defined mission. So, you’re able to help a lot more people by what you’re doing. It also helps fulfill our mission, when it comes to Maximum Lawyer, like when it comes to helping lawyers, right. So, I definitely think it’s a win-win.
Jim: Running your own practice can be scary. Whether you’re worried about where the next case will come from, feeling like you’re losing control over your growing firm or frustrated from being out of touch with everyone working under your license, the stress can be overwhelming. We will show you how to turn that fear into a driving force of clarity, focus, stability, and confidence that eliminates the rollercoaster of guilt-ridden second guessing and mistake making to get you off that hamster wheel for good.
Tyson: Maximum Lawyer in Minimum Time is a step-by-step playbook that shows you how to identify what your firm needs and how to proactively get it at every stage of the game so you’re prepped and excited for the inevitable growth that will follow. Name the lifestyle that you want and we’ll show you how to become a maximum lawyer in minimum time. Find out more by going to maximumlawyer.com/course.
Jim: Well, yeah. And, for me, it’s interesting, because we’ve put San Diego on hold for a while. It’s still there but it’s just, you know, on sort of life support. We’re not really pouring much into it. And the thought is that we spend three or six months, get DC squared away. And then, I had thought we’d have all these different offices. But, to me, that seems like sort of well balanced, you know, East Coast, Midwest. And then, I don’t know. Then, I want to think about growth maybe in a different way, not that I need to have a bunch of more offices but just sort of grow our presence from those base points. So, that was one thing I wanted to say.
The other thing is that, you know, we can’t forget the lawyers who are involuntarily forced to start their own firm. You know, those people probably never really planned or thought– like the ones– you know, like ex-prosecutors or something that thought that they would either go back to prosecuting or do something else. And so, I think that’s right. And hamster wheel’s a good way of describing it.
And, I guess, we should give people a safe space to sort of share that if they feel like that’s something that’s bothering them. I think having a conversation with someone– I mean, we’re both really lucky that these situations basically came to us. Mine did for me. It was based on long conversations I had with the law firm owner. And, for you, these are conversations you had with your friend, Anthony. We’re probably not always going to be that lucky, but it would be good for us to sort of develop an eye for what it is that, you know, are the telltale signs of something that might break in our favor.
Tyson: You know, you just brought up something and I think that that’s a great point. Like there’s a shame factor that people feel. I don’t think people should feel that. But I do think that there’s that, like it’s interesting.
I don’t think that you and I, in five years and however many episodes, we’ve had one a week, at least, for five years, right, we’ve ever really talked about – if we have, I don’t remember like exiting. Ours is more like, “Okay. Head down. Keep moving forward” kind of thing. It’s rare that we’ve talked about, if ever, sort of exiting because I think that there is a shame factor to it.
I just wish people didn’t have that feeling because I have talked to people that was – “Okay, I’m going to go and work for such and such or I’m going to, you know, wind down my practice” or do whatever. And I do. There’s like an ego part of it. And I just wish there wasn’t that part of it. Like, why do you–? I mean, is it– do you think it’s like the thought like “I’m a failure”? Like, is that why you think people have that feeling?
Jim: Well, there is that aspect of just running to standstill and just keeping the lights on by just doing, doing, doing, doing without really the deep thinking, so I think that’s part of it.
But, you know, each of us, in the time that we’ve known each other, have joined a partnership and have left. And, to me, that’s the closest analogy that we can give towards this thing that might be deemed shameful. But I do think that it would be good for us and for everybody if we did make it a little bit less of a– because there is sort of the Gary Vee macho hustle culture that can get brought into all of this discussion, you know.
And I think that there’s certainly great value in knowing yourself and telling yourself, “You know, I might be better off partnering up with someone or I might be better off joining a firm.” I mean, we’ve had offers. I know I have and I think you have – to join bigger firms. And, of course, I’m really glad that I didn’t. But that doesn’t mean that that’s not a good option for some people. And we probably need to empower people to make that decision if that’s what’s best for them.
Tyson: Yeah, I completely agree. I’m curious what your– I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about this. We’re talking about two things I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about.
Tyson: What feeling did you have whenever your firm split up?
Jim: Oh, well, I knew, very quickly, once I got in, that I never should have gotten in. So, it didn’t take me long. It took me a year and a half to get out but that was because I was there with a friend.
That was a real macho culture. The head of the firm had been a NCAA Division One basketball player, and he was very well connected and very smooth, and very forceful person. And, you know, in those situations, I usually defer to the stronger-type person. So, it took me a while to sort of get it going but I didn’t feel guilty about it or shameful. I just wanted to be done. I just wanted to get out. That was sort of my main thing.
And so, you know, that’s the advice I would give to people is that, really, you know, we spend so much time running around like chickens with our heads cut off that, when we do that introspection and really ask ourselves, you know, Is this what I want? Is this what I want? If not, can I change it to make it what I want? And then, finally, is maybe I don’t even want to do that, maybe I want something different.
Tyson: My initial thought was– and it was like, I’m talking like a split-second like, “Shit! What are people going to think about this?”
But then, like, almost instantly after that, it was like, it was such a relief to me. Like, I feel like I had all this weight. And I’m sure he did too. Like you feel like you’re carrying– and it may have been different. You’re a part of a bigger partnership with– I think– was it how many lawyers? Four? Five?
Jim: Five. Five.
Tyson: Five lawyers. I think it’s a little bit– maybe a little bit different. I don’t know. But like it was just the two of us. And I felt like I was carrying him. He felt like he was carrying me. Like the way the firm was split up. So, he was handling more the case side of things. I was handling more of like the actual operations side of things. And I felt like, when we split, like it was such a weight lifted off of me. It was like, “Now, it’s just me again. I can call the shots. I don’t have to worry about running anything through anybody.” It felt so great to me. It felt so–
I remember, we had date night that night. I went home. Didn’t say anything to Amy until we already had dinner. It’s like, “So, just so you now, I want to make sure to let you know, we’re not going to be hurt financially at all, but we’re splitting up.” And she was kind of like– her face like– and I was like– I was so happy whenever I was telling her about it. I was just like– it just felt so good.
And I’m sure that that same feeling is what a lot of people are looking for. You know what I mean? Like they’re looking for that deep breath and just kind of let it all go. You know what I mean?
Jim: Well, we can’t forget how capped we are when we’re not in the situation we want to be in and how that just really tempers down our energy. And once you make that choice to unlock that, there’s a ton of energy. For you, it was, “I’m on my own again. I can do what I want. I know what to do. I have the technology. I can rebuild this. You know, I know exactly what to do.”
And, conversely, if someone’s in a bad law firm situation, like Anthony was, and he didn’t like what he had, he’s probably feeling all that weight taken off his shoulders, too. So, I mean, the biggest thing, of course, is to know yourself and to know your situation and sort of really dig down.
You know, we might want to might want to come up with a little questionnaire or a self-evaluation that would help people with this. And it could work both ways. You know, am I cut out to go out on my own or am I better off working with somebody else?
I mean, when you and I meet with a lawyer in The Guild, on the hotseat or just in general, I mean, the first question we always ask is like, “What do you like doing the most?” because you can’t do everything inside a firm. It’s just impossible. So, you might as well do the things that you’re great at and that you get the most fulfillment out of and then leave the other stuff to other people. That could be in whatever form that takes.
Tyson: I’m bad at names. You’re really good at names. Who do we have speaking on the hiring process? I can’t–
Jim: Jay Henderson.
Tyson: Sorry, Jay.
I wonder if Jay has got some sort of questionnaire built out for that. Maybe we could work with him on that because I think that that would be someone, at least, of the top my head, when I can’t remember his name, the person that might be willing to work on that questionnaire with us because the reality is that, I mean, this is really, really hard what we do. I mean, it’s extremely hard. We take it home with us. We live it all the time and it’s not for everybody. It’s just not. I mean, it doesn’t fit with everybody’s visions.
Jim: Well, you know, when– once or twice a year, you and I– I guess, it’s once a year, you and I are asked to speak at Mary Pat McInnis’s class at St. Louis University for people that are thinking about going out on their own. And there’s usually about 20 students in there. And you can tell, just by the reactions on people’s faces, that there are about three or four people, they get really, really jazzed about what we’re saying. There’s three or four people that are completely repulsed by what we’re saying. And then there’s a bunch of people just sort of staring at us with their mouths open like that for a while. And that’s probably generally true of the population.
And, you know, we can’t forget too that, you know, when people become lawyers, most people that become lawyers are sort of high fact finders, detail-oriented. They want to know, sort of, certain outcomes and they want to know how to control their future. And so, this stuff that we’re talking about, it’s pretty radical, generally, to go out on your own. But then, to ask lawyers to do it, that’s probably really sort of on the far edges of the bell curve.
Tyson: It totally is.
So, let’s wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to go to the Facebook group, get involved there. We are at– I don’t know, right around 4500 members and it’s growing.
I know that you’ve been given this plug, Jim, but I do want to let people know. I think we’re going to sell out MaxLawCon. So, if you want to get your ticket, go to maximumlawyer.com. I think you can also go to maxlawcon.com and get your tickets. You can also find it through Eventbrite. Ticket prices do go up in a month or so. And so, make sure you get those. And then, it’ll be locked in. Get those tickets.
But I’m fairly certain, at this point, Jim, that we’re going to sell out. So, get– which I was a little surprised by it. I don’t know about you, but I was a little surprised that people– and I think maybe moving it from June back to October is kind of what has led to so many people buying tickets, but if you want a ticket, hurry up and get it now because, otherwise, you’re probably going to miss out. So, hurry up and get that.
Also, if you’re interested in the Guild, go to maxlawguild.com. We just have a lot of great people in the Guild. It’s just so awesome, the things that we talk about in there, so. And a lot of great trainings, too. So, get involved there.
And then, as you’re listening to our tip and hack of the week, please give us a five-star review. It’ll help spread the love.
Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: I was talking to my main man, Kelsey, the other day, we just had him on the show [inaudible 00:22:51]–
Tyson: I’m going to steal him from you.
Jim, he’s so amazing. I’m going to steal him from you.
Jim: He’s the best. The best.
Anyway, we were talking about working with particular clients. And he brought up the line that I love that I think about often. And I thought it’s one that I would share here as my hack of the week. So, it comes from Dan Kennedy.
You know, for those of you don’t know Dan Kennedy, you should. He’s an acquired taste and he has strong opinions on things so there’s a caveat there. I had to sort of grit my teeth for a while because he likes Donald Trump a lot. But, in any event, he has a lot of good wisdom for running a business, and for marketing, and all those things.
And one of the things that he always says is that if I wake up in the morning, three days in a row, thinking about you and you are not my spouse, you need to go. And so, I love that because it applies across the board, when we own a firm, because it can apply to an employee, it can apply to a client, or just general people that you come across with in business. And if you’re spending that much mental energy that you wake up three times in a week thinking about this person, if that’s the first thing that pops in your mind, that’s a really good sign that you need to think about separating yourself from that person.
And, you know, we had to let someone go at the office the other day. And this is a weird thing to say we’re getting better at it, if that makes sense. You know, they say hire slowly and fire quickly. We brought the person into the conference room and it was Adela, Amany and I. And I said, “Today’s your last day. We’re going to have to let you go.” And she knew it was coming because she’d been making a bunch of mistakes. But that’s literally all that I said. And I said it nicely, you know, as nicely as you can. But that person had made me upset by sending a packet from one office– instead of sending it to immigration, she sent it to the Immigration Court which is a big problem. If it was reversed, it could’ve gotten someone deported. But if you’re having that much mental energy thinking about someone, you already know the answer. You already know the right thing to do.
Tyson: Jimmy, I want you to reach out to Jay Henderson and get better at hiring – not firing get. Get better with the hiring process.
No, it is important. I think the firing process is probably so overlooked and doing it the wrong way can get you sued. So, I think that’s good.
Here’s the thing, like you’re getting better at that, but it’s improving your firm. So, I think that’s really, really awesome.
All right. So, my tip of the week it’s about an app. So, Jonathan Barber asked me to speak to the Mecklenburg Bar Association last Thursday. And I was in Myrtle Beach. I had a vacation. And I was out there. And my plan was– here’s my plan, Jim. I was going to set up. We were supposed to have wi-fi out at the beach house. We were right on the beach. I was going to sit on the balcony. I was going to have the nice set up where it’s facing the beach, cool beach behind me.
Well, the wi-fi was garbage. It was just garbage. And I was like, “Okay. What do I do here?” And I had downloaded this app before because when we’re looking for new office space. It’s called the LiquidSpace. And LiquidSpace is not good for finding new office space, in general. Okay, I’ll just tell you that. But what it’s great at is finding you an office space to rent for an hour or two. And I get on it. And this was the morning of my presentation. Presentation was at noon. I get on there about 6:30 or so, and find an office about 10 miles away, rented it, boom, done, paid with Apple Pay. It took me about five minutes. It was awesome.
So, if you need an office in a pinch, or let’s say you’ve got an extra office space, you can put– I haven’t done that but if you want to make a little extra money, maybe for your office, if you’ve got an extra office, you can rent out an office space. I mean, you can just set the rates and everything. So, it’s pretty cool.
I mean, I’m not kidding. It took me five minutes. I went through there, paid with Apple Pay. I was actually literally laying in bed when I did it. I just, boom. Done. And so, next thing you know I’m, you know, going over to the office. They had great wi-fi, presented, and boom. Done.
It’s called LiquidSpace. Highly recommend it. Super easy to do.
Jimmy, this has been fun, man. I love hanging out with you. It’s good.
Jim: Good seeing you, brother. I’ll see you later on today.
Tyson: See you, buddy.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
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Have a great week and catch you next time.