This week on the podcast Jim and Tyson ask the question: who would you call first?
3:47 current clients vs future clients
6:09 clients not hearing from their attorney
10:38 new problems to solve
13:12 design a firm to do what you like to do
15:32 moving to the cloud
19:07 quick signups
Jim’s Hack: Jim has meditated at least 10 minutes almost every day this year, and has been focusing on the exhale. Jim recommends studying the value of managing your breath.
Tyson’s Tip: Uberconference has a built in transcription feature.
Watch the interview here.
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Run your law firm the right way.
This is The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux.
Let’s partner up and maximize your firm.
Welcome to the show.
Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Well, Tyson, we haven’t recorded an episode just with you and I for a while. I’m glad to do it. We’re trying to get some in the can so we’re ready for the summer. We know we’ll both be traveling at various time. So, I’m excited to be here to talk with you today.
Tyson: Well, that makes one of us, man. I’m just kidding.
I’m excited to talk to you, too. It’s a fun topic. Yesterday, we talked for a minute about this topic. Not even a minute. We agreed not to even speak about it. You told me what it was and we said, “Okay. We’re not going to say anything else.” So, that’s just a tease for the topic.
What are your plans for the weekend though?
Jim: This is the first of three weekends in a row where Noor has a softball tournament, but we’re going to miss one of the games because her older brother, Yousef, is graduating from high school today.
Tyson: Oh, is that a big deal? That’s–
Tyson: No. I’m kidding.
Tyson: Graduating high school.
Jim: Yeah, we’re excited.
Tyson: [inaudible 00:01:15] Congrats.
Tyson: Very cool.
Jim: He’ll be attending the University of Virginia in the fall which is nice because it’s going to be close to our new office in DC.
Tyson: Nice. That’s awesome. Very cool.
Tyson: Well, we’ve got a birthday party this afternoon. But, otherwise, we’re going to have a lot of pool time. Lots and lots of pool time. So that’s what our weekend entails.
Talk about our topic. Go ahead and introduce it because it’s going to be a fun one.
Jim: The other day, I had two messages. One was to call a potential client. One was to call a current client. So, today’s topic is who do you call back first, the current client or the future client?
nd before we get to that, I want to point out our overall theme which is that you should have lots of people in your firm calling everybody back, right? So, we’re operating from the assumption that you have those systems in place. And if you don’t have those systems in place– I mean, if you’re the one answering your phone, that’s a problem. If you’re the one returning every call, that’s a problem. But just, conceptually, wherever you are on that spectrum of having help with your phone calls, however you do that, I think it’s an interesting thought exercise. And, of course, it’s only a thought exercise. I wasn’t really being seriously like, “Who am I going to call back?” And with this one, it’s so much better. But I thought it’d be a fun topic because I figured you and I would probably have differing views on this.
Tyson: Yeah. I don’t know. Something tells me we’re going to come down to the same side of this but it’s a fun one.
So, like there are a lot of factors. But, I guess, before I say what my thought is and before you say what your thought is, I mean, you’ve got to take into consideration, okay. Like, there is the whole thing where like people– like consider phone companies, right? There are people that complain all the time because like people that get new phones with a new service with a new company. Like they go over to Verizon, they usually get a better deal than if like they’re a current customer, right? So, you have to think of that from that perspective. Like, “Okay. What would you want if you were the client?” Right? You’d probably want to take precedent over the new person, right? That’s a fact that you want to take into consideration. You want to make sure that your current clients are happy and don’t go somewhere else. You’re also going to take into consideration that they are a current client so they’re probably not going to go somewhere else. They’re probably a little bit more patient than a potential new client. And then, you’ve got– I mean, those are just a few factors.
Then, on the other side, you know, like, if you’re a potential client, especially in the injury side, you don’t call them right away, they’re gone. I mean, they’re going to go. Someone else is going to scoop them up right away. It’s a little different whenever you’re having to accept money.
There are also– if you’re not calling the new client – potential new client, back right away, they’re going to be like, “Okay. Well, what’s it going to be like during representation?” So, that might be some red flags for them. So, those are some factors to consider, just a few.
Whenever you’re thinking about it, what were some things that you’re considering?
Jim: Well, so, I just have it built in with me that I’m always going to call the future client first. I have a lot of people that that follow up with the current clients. But I do think that most lawyers don’t spend enough time focused on future clients. I know that everyone comes to us and says, “I want more cases. Or, I want more leads.” But I think, when push comes to shove, they are not having that mindset that you just mentioned when it comes to future clients which is you need to jump on top of that, you know.
And I say this all the time, like if Amany and I are trying to buy an appliance or go on a trip or something and– you know, I call it the sales prevention department when there are these people who seem to actively be trying to thwart your efforts to do business with them. And if they’re so dumb not to maximize and to optimize their intake of potential new calls, then they’re probably not going to be very smart or systematic in handling my case.
Tyson: Yeah. And I want to reiterate what you said before like we do have people that call the leads back and we have people that call the current clients back. This is our current situation, right? You and I have people that do that stuff. And it is a fun thought exercise.
You kind of jump in and revealed your answer. Like, what are your factors? Like, why is it that you think you should call the future client back before the current client?
Jim: Well, I mean, I think that you’re right with what you said earlier and that is that the future client is much more likely to go elsewhere than the current client. The current client, I’d say 95% of the reasons they’re calling are not urgent, right? They’re not something that needs to happen right away.
You know, I get a lot of– I actually spend a lot of time talking to people who are frustrated with their lawyers. You know, I have that live immigration show on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I do hear from a lot of people that they’re frustrated. They don’t get to hear from their own attorney.
Tyson: You know, it’s interesting that you say that. We’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from people that have attorneys right now. It is a weird thing. We’re getting a lot of those phone calls. We don’t normally take them, but we do. Like, we did take one recently where it was an estate planning attorney that clearly should not have. He was way in over his head and it was not– he even had the client get their own medical records which is just mind boggling to me. It was a car crash case. It wasn’t like a med mal case but.
So, we’ve gotten a lot of those calls and it was, “My attorney’s, you know, not communicating with me” is the main thing. The other part is like, “Oh, they’re not– I don’t think that they’re doing any work.” I was like, “Well, have you talked to him about it?” because, as usual, we tell them to do is “Go talk to your lawyer about it, maybe they’re doing a lot of work you just don’t know about.”
Yeah. I mean, that’s a good point. It’s weird that you say that about the clients that already have lawyers because we had so many those calls lately.
Jim: Let me read an email I received yesterday. And this is the person who’s telling me a little bit about their immigration case. And then, they say, “My problem is my lawyer because she is rude to me every time I ask her a question. If I want to fire her and ask you to take over my case, how much will it cost me?”
So, you know, I learned early on that you have to take client complaints about context from their attorney with a huge grain of salt. And I do sometimes try to help people. You know, there’s ways that you can tell someone to get their lawyer’s attention, right? Right. There’s ways to get a lawyer’s attention. And, usually, an email with a deadline and a “Hey, I’d hate to have to bring this up to the bar.” Or, “Hey, I’d have to switch attorneys.” Now, we’ve had people pull that and still don’t get any replies, so.
Jim: Yeah. So, that’s on the far extreme.
And, obviously, this whole thought exercise that we’re doing is sort of a loaded question because, obviously, we want to have the best customer service during the representation and before. But I just brought it up more because I think most lawyers don’t spend enough time thinking about optimizing every call that comes in. That’s why I wanted to bring it up.
I wanted to really say, you know, I think this is sort of an easy call but that our listeners are probably not spending enough time thinking about how to get back to potential new clients quickly, to answer their questions, to put them at ease and maybe put them on a path to hiring us.
Tyson: Yeah. To me, it’s an easy answer that it’s you. You call the future client back, the potential client. That’s who you call first and you try to get them signed up. And then, you call the other one. To me, I think you’re right. And. I think it’s an easy one.
But there are going to be people out there that they pride themselves on client satisfaction. Like that is like their hallmark. And so, they’re going to focus just on current clients. And those might be people that have less clients. You know, those might be the people that have– maybe, this would be very unlikely, I’ll use this as an example though. Let’s say that your only client’s like an insurance company, right? Well, you’re going to call them right back. You know, if another insurance company calls you, you’re going to probably wait to call. You’re going to call your current client back. So, I think that’s a factor, too. If you’re more towards the volume side of things, you’re definitely going to be focusing on future clients. If you’ve got a lower volume practice, like not volume at all, then you’re going to focus on your current clients.
Like, what are your thoughts on that part of it?
Jim: I think you’re probably right. I mean, I’m just thinking about people in The Guild and some that have sort of the larger institutional clients, they like to certainly hand hold. And, certainly, those clients expect more hand holding.
To my detriment, you’re right, Tyson. So, I was representing a local university with some of their H1B stuff. And I got an email one day from my contact and said, “Jim, you know, you do a really awesome job. You’re a great lawyer, but I think that your focus is sort of more on the consumer family stuff and we need an attorney who can handle us, all of our stuff, every single day.”
I think there’s one other thing too about me that’s a little bit strange. And that is that I like distractions, right? So, my wife hates being on lead call duty. Like, she wants to be able to put her head down, figure something out, work on one thing, finish that, work on the next thing.
I think I sort of like that dopamine hit of the new client. I like hearing about new problems to solve. Like, to me, once I’ve cracked how to fix a client’s case like I’m not too excited about actually doing that work. Like, I’d rather be on to the next one, thinking about “How am I going to help this person? How am I going to solve this particular problem? Ooh, here’s a cool issue that we haven’t seen before.” And my wife thinks that’s just insane.
Tyson: Yeah. Like, for me, I’m very similar to you on that because I like the certain touch points of a case. I don’t like the whole case as a– like, I don’t like all of it. I just want like little touch points. Like, I like the very beginning of it. And I like the doing parts of the injury impact call. But it’s such a long call that it’s kind of exhausting. It’s 90 minutes long but you learn so much about the person. It’s really kind of a cool thing that we do. And then, I like doing the demand. That’s all pre suit. And then, I like doing the trials. I don’t necessarily like doing the depositions that much anymore. I just like doing the trials. So, it’s like there’s very little things I like to do about it.
I’m not as distractible as you are though. You are the shiny ball man. That’s for sure.
I like my focus. I’m a good mix between you and the money. I like my focus time so I can focus on those things I like to do.
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Jim: So, I had a nice chat with Dean Jackson this week. We talked for a while. And I sent you the recording because I want you to listen to it. And the thing that we talked about is, you know, he’s real big on cloudlandia. So, he views what we’ve just gone through as a migration from what he calls the mainland to cloudlandia, right? And he and I were talking about how that applies to the law and, you know, sort of like removing the strictures of the traditional law practice and even the way that lawyers practice, right?
And so, I was talking to one of the lawyers that I coach this week. And we were talking about what he wants in his firm. And he wants something very different than what I have. You know, we have like a very traditional law firm with offices and everything. And he’s like, “I don’t need all that stuff. I just want to make X amount of dollars and however it gets to that is fine with me. And I don’t need all that overhead. I don’t need all this other stuff.”
And so, it was an interesting conversation with that coaching member and with Dean because I think that, right now, we live in this world where we can design the firm to let you, Tyson, do those things that you like to do and not have to do all the other things. And I think that’s really where we’re headed is that a lot of the routine and mundane aspects of the law are going to be more and more automated, more and more systematized. And the art of practicing law, the part that only we can do is going to increase our capacity, right? Like, we’re going to have more time to do those things because we’re not having to do all this stuff.
Like, I was talking to Haley the other day. She was sending out a new lawsuit. And I said, “Let’s just be clear for a minute. When I had your job, and I needed to file a lawsuit, I had to print ‘em all out – print out all the summonses. Walk ‘em over to the courthouse. Get ‘em all stamped. And then, mail them out.” And so, you know, that’s just going to keep happening until lawyers are left to do the stuff that, really, only we can do. And if you’re not moving in that direction, you’re in trouble.
Tyson: Yeah. What happened whenever you forgot your cover sheet, whenever you went to go file those? That was a pain in the ass.
Jim: Yeah. You had to go back the office.
Tyson: It was a total– I remember, it was maybe in the middle of summer and I had to walk. It was about a quarter mile which is not that far but, in the middle of the summer, it’s a long way. You’re wearing a suit. You’re walking to the courthouse to go file stamps on petitions and get ‘em filed. You’re sweaty.
But let’s go back though. Cloudlandia. What does that term mean though?
Jim: Oh, cloudlandia is that we’re all moving into the cloud that we’re– you know, like, for instance, for our office, I don’t think we’re ever going to have in-office consults again. And I remember, specifically, talking to Shawn Hamp after his presentation or around his presentation at Max Law 19. And I think Jay might have said this, too, is that, “Jim, we sign up all our clients on the phone.” And I was like, “Oh, that would never work for me. I have to have them in the office. I’ve got to–” that was still when I was on that delusional thing of, “I had this magic touch and I could convince any immigrant to hire me,” right, as opposed to trying to find the ones that were ready to do business. And I thought that this was impossible, that we could never do consults or sign up cases on Zoom, or BlueJeans, or the phone. And, of course, COVID put that theory to bed forever.
And so, that’s the move into cloudlandia. It’s just like this show that we’re doing. It’s whatever. It’s all the ways that we’re sort of getting out of the physical world and getting into the digital world.
Tyson: So, it’s funny. The attorney that we hired, Anthony. He has really been– not struggling. He’s been adjusting to the whole getting-things-signed-up-over-the-phone and him not having to do it. It’s really interesting because he’s got all these habits of the law firm owner that thinks he’s got this like magical touch. And so, he’s having to really get comfortable with it. And it’s really interesting to watch him transition and realize, “Oh, I don’t have to drive all the way up to their house to get them to sign a paper copy and then bring it back to the office, have someone scan it in, put it in the file. And then, do another intake and type all that information in. That can just be typed straight into the system. They can sign the contract over the phone and it’s, boom, it’s done.” He is really just– he’s adjusting to it.
He had an in-person sign up on Thursday, so. But that one was an exception because this does happen sometimes. The guy insisted and he was actually still in the hospital. So, he had to go to the hospital and–
Jim: I’ll probably just tell people that “We have this one employee who is immunocompromised and we can’t have people in the office for the rest of our lives.” I’ll probably just say that. But, you know, you might have Anthony listen to those first couple of episodes of me and Gary Falkowitz because those first two or three episodes are literally me writhing around like a fish on the dock, trying to do everything I can to not let go of that mindset.
Tyson: It’s interesting that, in your mind, you think that– I know that you think that that’s true. I didn’t receive it that way whenever I was listening to it. You seemed very receptive to doing whatever he said. You were–
Jim: Yeah, that’s because I was completely frustrated. And in those weeks leading up to Gary and I recording, I remember specifically that I had two Saturdays in a row with paid consults. I had eight consults in a row, two Saturdays in a row. So, like from 10:00 until 2:00, I did 25-minute consults and I got zero cases. And that was it. That was it. “I’m never doing this again,” is what I said. And then, that’s why I was more malleable for Gary.
Tyson: I want to shift. Since we’re sort of in this vein–
Tyson: I want to talk a little bit because this is related to what we were talking about. I don’t know if there’s any excuse for you to have to call back a lead. I think that they should be– unless it was like it comes through email or something like that, or a text message, or some other means that they’re not on the phone with you. Like, I cannot stress the importance for any of us to try to get them signed up on that first call right away as quickly as possible. And Gary talks a lot about that, both of you do in that podcast series.
Like, I’ve been watching it like a hawk. And we’ve been really working on, whenever the call is transferred from one person to next, making sure that they’re not on that on hold for very long. I even have in our call script. “Hi, Jim– or, Jim, it looks like you qualify for a case or an investigation with our firm.” I can’t remember the exact wording. It’s the wording that Gary recommended. And then, “Can I put you on hold for less than a minute?” Like that’s what we put, just so they know they’re not going to be waiting for more than a minute. That’s in our actual script. And, honestly, I’d prefer it to be like 30 seconds. You know, “Can I put you on hold for less than 30 seconds?” And then, you get someone else. And then, they get signed up right away. Boom.
We’re actually transitioning to– because we have it set up. It’s actually already set up. It’s just the fields are hidden for our CCC’s so they’re not able to do– because they don’t feel comfortable yet. But we’re working on training them.
If they meet certain criteria, which most of these people do, whenever they’re calling about a car crash, if they meet certain criteria, they can send the contract right away. Boom. And then, they make sure that the contract’s signed. And then, they transfer to a case manager for a full intake. That’s where you get ‘em on the phone for a lot longer. But I just can’t stress enough the importance of just keeping them on that phone but getting it done as quickly as possible.
I’m just curious. Like, so, you all use attorneys though in your intake though, right?
Tyson: Yeah. So, yours is a little bit different. Is it hard to get an attorney on the phone?
Jim: Well, let’s put it this way. Even with five attorneys and different people on duty for taking calls, we do have to call some people back, so my year’s picked up a lot. I mean, I would love to spend some time thinking about, you know, “Is it feasible for an immigration lawyer to get hired and have someone pay you $5000 or $10,000 without talking to a lawyer?” If I could pull that off, that would be magic. As of now, I haven’t been able to pull that off. And so, you’re right.
Laura Clark and I, my leads manager, we can tell when new cases are going to dry up three weeks out when the lawyers have been dodging the leads team to take those calls. The single biggest factor is whether the attorney hops on the phone or not. And if those numbers go down, then our new case signups go down. There’s no doubt about it.
Tyson: I’m going to put a call to action for you, Jimmy. If there’s anyone listening to this that has perfected or close to perfected the intake process, where you’re actually taking money over the phone without the necessity of a lawyer, reach out to Jim. I’m really curious to see.
Jim, I really like for you to be able to get away from that. I mean, think about how much that would free up your firm to do other things. And think about–
Jim: Well, [inaudible 00:22:02].
Tyson: [inaudible 00:22:02].
Jim: Yeah, I’ll tell you what we’re thinking about now instead of that. And this might be a bridge. You might be right. I mean, maybe I should hop on a call with Gary and do one more call with him. That would be fun.
What I’m doing now is I’ve put out the word to some immigration lawyers that I know. And I said, “Hey, if you guys aren’t too busy, any interest in handling our attorney leads calls?” And just like actually having a lawyer whose job it is to do leads. And I think it would be attractive to some people. You don’t have to do the work. You can do it from anywhere. And, you know, we would do probably a combo salary-plus. You know, if a case signs up, you get, boom, right? So, I think that’s the thing.
And then, you know, of course, I’d love to be that lawyer. Like if I was 10 years ago or 15 years ago, I would love that job. But, you know, I was thinking like a parent who stays home with kids or, you know, someone who’s winding down their practice.
So, interestingly, I put out the word just on social and we’ve had seven people who are interested in that already. So, I’m thinking two people work three hours a day. And that’s going to free up the lawyers to do legal work, so that’s going to increase our capacity.
Tyson: That’s interesting.
Jim: And can I say one other thing about it?
Jim: Just real quick.
You know, we talk all the time, and Michael Gerber cemented it that, you know, if you’re the one signing up the cases, if you’re the one signing up the work, and you’re the one who has to do the work, then you’re always going to have this internal conflict. As I said to my wife, “I have three of these waiver cases on my desk and now you’re calling to give me one more, why in the hell would I want to take this?” I think I’m going to turn this case down, right? But if I have lawyers whose only job it is, is to, you know, in the before unit and is to deliver new cases to the during unit, you know, that’s the final straw, Tyson. That’s the final– if I can break that, then clock out. Our cases are going to go through the roof, I know it. And we’ll go from getting 75 cases a month to a hundred like that.
Tyson: Man, whenever you say that, it makes me think back like 10 or 11 years ago, whenever I was doing criminal defense. Like, I was on my way to court, right? And, you know, we just signed up a case and like someone else calls. And I’m like, “Gosh, damn it.” Like it’s like another intake. You know, like why in the world would you have that thought when they’re trying to give you more money, right? You’re so right about that.
Hey, we need to wrap it up, though. Before I do, I want to remind everyone, go to the Facebook group. If you’re listening to this and you’ve not been to the Facebook group, you are missing out. So, join us there.
If you’re interested in the Guild, maxlawguild.com. Just a lot of just great people in the Guild. High-level information being shared there.
And then, remember the conference MaxLawCon2021. Go to maxlawcon.com. Get your tickets because we will sell out. It’s kind of crazy. People are ready to get out, Jimmy, so.
And then, also, if you don’t mind just taking a couple of seconds, while you’re listening to the rest of this podcast, to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts, we would greatly appreciate it.
Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: Boy, that reminds me. You know, Apple’s search qualities in the podcasts suck. I’ve been trying to find some stuff. So, if anybody has– if you have a better podcast player than the Apple one. I know, some people like that one. I think it’s called Pocket Cast or something. I need to find something else because I don’t like what I have.
But my hack of the week is I’ve been spending a lot of time– so I’m right at about a year of meditating at least 10 minutes almost every day. I think I’ve missed like three days this year. And a big part of that is breathing. And I use that Headspace app. And, in my mind, I’ve always focused more on the intake, on the incoming breath. But these last two weeks, I’ve been focusing– because based on some stuff that I read about the exhaling and about how, you know, you’re sort of just pushing things out and letting things go as you exhale and just letting that exhale go longer. So, I think studying the value of managing your breath would be time that’s well spent for people.
Tyson: I like it. That’s a deep hack, man. I like that. That’s a good one.
All right. So, my tip of the week actually has to do– it’s kind of a tip within a tip. Before, I’ve recommended UberConference and it really is good. And I did not realize something about UberConference that I recently realized, you know. I don’t know if it’s a new feature or what, but we used to download our recorded calls, upload them to Otter, and then download that, and then add that to the file because we like the transcript of our calls. I’m talking about our fact-finding calls, and our injury impact calls, and any other calls we do because Otter is great. But UberConference has a feature where it has transcription built in now. So, now, you just go in and download it. And so, if you use UberConference, which I really recommend–
I don’t know. Jim, do you use UberConference?
Jim: We use JustCall.
I’m assuming it’s the same thing, but it’s a recorded conference line. It’s all it is. And so, we do these calls. And it’s really, really helpful. We used to do this thing where we fill out a questionnaire. We’d actually type it in as we’re going. Now, we just do the transcript. It’s just way easier to do. We still go through the questionnaire. We just do the transcript. So, that is my tip of the week.
Jimmy, good talking to you, buddy.
Jim: Have a great week, buddy.
Tyson: See you, man. See you, buddy.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
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