Today we’re excited to share a presentation by Marco Brown from MaxLawCon 2021! Tune in to learn more about the number one change you can make to transform your law firm.
He still remembers the day a good friend called and asked him to help her get divorced. Hers was a very difficult situation, and while he had never done a divorce before, he knew that he needed to take her case. The night before he met with her, he stayed up until 3 a.m. reading everything he could about family law. Whatever Marco read that night worked because he got a great result.
Marco has dedicated himself to becoming the best divorce and family law attorney possible and developing the best family law firm in Utah.
1:34 I had nothing
4:55 you’re not alone
8:29 I have to bill once a month
12:42 this has to be the number 1 job
15:57 just fire those people
19:16 they give me money
23:32 don’t chase money
Watch the podcast here.
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Transcript: Your #1 Job: Get Paid with Marco Brown
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2021. Keep listening to hear Marco Brown as we share his talk, your number one job, get paid. You can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Now to the episode,
run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum liar, podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to show.
First things first, thank you for being here. Thank you for taking the time to do this to come here to spend the money to spend the time to invest in yourself and make your law firm better. Almost no attorneys in the United States do anything like this. So you’re literally like the top 1% point 1%. So you know, that is fantastic. So my presentation today is going to be about the number one change that I made, that has transformed my life, my family and my law firm. So I started my law firm in 2010. And I did everything wrong. And the first five years I was isolated, I grind it out every day, I remember I worked 80 plus hours a week, I would work a job on the weekends. And I would work the law firm during the day because I had absolutely no clients that come to a new state, I had abs, I just had nothing. So I just grind it out. And that was that was really painful. But in 2015, I had found some measure of success. I had won some awards for my work as a divorce attorney, but I was deeply, deeply dysfunctional. At that point. My spirit was not good. My my body and my health were not good. My relationships were not good. I knew I needed to change some things when I was given a gift. And the gift. Funny enough, was to see my own death. In my mind’s eye. I saw my death. If I stayed on this path, and I was gonna die. What is it that six year 65 from a heart attack was induced by stress. And I didn’t want to do that I had one little kid. And I didn’t really want to do that to him. And I didn’t want to do that to my wife. So I made a change. And the first thing I changed was I decided to get paid 100% for the work I did because I was already doing the work. So I figured why why not do that. And that one change has been absolutely phenomenal and phenomenal in my life and 2015 I was $500,000 in debt. And now I’ve multiple millions of dollars in net worth. And my law firm was one person me at that point one attorney, now I’ve eight. I’ve reclaimed time with my family have reclaimed my health, my spirit, my body, all of these things. And that is why I’m here to talk to you. So let’s go over the stats a little bit. And then we’re going to talk about the rules for getting paid. So statistics and you actually have a piece of paper with all this stuff on here because I’m a Luddite, essentially. So the Clio Trends report is this amazing trove of information, behavioral data, anonymize the whole bed for American attorneys, 10s of 1000s of them, okay, what they find is telling the average American attorney works eight hours a day, the average American attorney bills, 2.5 hours a day of those eight hours, the amount of time from the build time, the amount of time they actually gets any invoice is 2.1 hours. And then the amount of time finally, that is collected off those eight hours is 1.8 hours. 23%. Okay, there’s actually a typo in there. It’s 23%. And this is fairly stable over time, I’ve looked at this data since 2015, and 2015, was 1.6 hours over 1.7. That goes in 1.8. And maybe maybe in like 100 years, it’ll be like three, right? But this is very consistent data. Then LegalZoom had some data as well on the average American attorney, so average american attorney 56%, or solos, they have revenues of $78,000 per year and profits of $63,000 a year. So you make $63,000 a year, okay, and the bill 392 hours a year, so 1.6 hours, which is a little bit lower than the Clio data that’s in kind of that that same range, then the amount of time to actually get paid for the work and attorney does. So from the time an attorney does work until the attorney bills for that work is 87 days, then the time from when the invoice goes out to the client until it’s paid is an additional 83 days, 170 days from the day the attorney does the work until the attorney gets paid. Okay, so why am I talking about this data? I’m talking about it because you’re not alone. Okay, my entire point here is to talk to those people that were in that situation I was you’re just You’re in the trenches, you’re working in your law firm, you’re, you’re just doing too much you feel burnt. You’re working for people that you don’t really like a lot of times, and they don’t really like you. Right? I was there. That’s what we’re talking about today. So that’s the data. So let’s move on to the rules. And the first rule is change your mind, about money, and about getting paid. So attorneys, when we are young and impressionable, and getting taught about these things, we are taught by two different groups about money. The first group, we’re taught by our law professors, and they tell you things, I remember being told this in law school, your number one job as an attorney is to do good. I don’t even know what that means to be honest with you. But that’s what they told you like, because they didn’t have any idea what being a lawyer was like. So they told you those sorts of things. And then you graduate, and your reward for graduating from law school as you actually get to become an attorney. Right. So at that point, the Bar Association takes over. And the Bar Association tells you just to give away your stuff for free, right, that’s what they do. So the problem with this is kind of twofold. One, these are bureaucrats, for all intents and purposes telling you what to do. Well, bureaucrats don’t have to sell stuff. They don’t have to pay mortgages. I mean, they do have to pay mortgages, but they can do really exceedingly bad work and still pay their mortgage. Right, they barely have to do anything to make, they’re not so but we can’t do that you cannot do that. And the other thing is, the advice is just completely and totally wrong. Okay, your duty as an attorney is not to do good, or whatever that is your duty is to get paid, your duty is to take care of your family, your duty is to take care of your team, okay. And it is actually unethical to get paid less than 100%. For the work you do. Okay. And here’s the logic of this, we have a really simple contract with our clients. Our contract is I’m your attorney, and I’m going to do excellent work for you. And we should do excellent work for our clients, we should be very good at what we do, then on the other side, that our clients duty is to pay us 100% for that work. Now, you as an attorney, allow your clients to pay less than 100%. But you would never think of doing that. If you thought about it this way, getting paid less than 100% is simply your client stealing from you, but not just stealing from you. Your client is then stealing from your child, your client is stealing from your paralegal, your client is stealing from your secretary and their families, you would never allow your client to come in and take money from you or pick your pocket or pick your paralegals pocket, but that is what you do every day, when you don’t get paid 100% it is unethical, it is unthinkable, stop doing it get paid. Change your mind. Okay, then we have Rule number two, which is Bill regularly at least once a month. So we lose, you know, we heard about that data for getting paid. Once you get past about 60 days, like it’s actually really hard to get paid on these invoices. So you have to bill at least once a month, and you can bill more than once a month, if you want to bill twice a month, I have a very good friend that bills literally every Monday morning, she runs cards every Monday morning, I did that for a month and my law firm and people almost quit, like it just did not work at all. So I bill once a month. So the way I do it is I get up at 4am. And I build everything and it’s done by the time I get into the office, and then everything goes out after that. So that’s the commitment I have to make because I have to Bill once a month, okay. And that’s what you have to do. You have to decide when this is going to happen, and then get it done and get it out. If you don’t, you’re just not going to get paid, right? You know, you’re gonna send an invoice that’s two, three months, and your clients are gonna get really mad, they’re not going to pay you. And then oddly enough, they’re also much more likely to give you bad Google reviews. Because if you indicate you fire a client, it indicates and they owe you money and you’re hounding them for cash after that. They’re much more likely to give you a one star Google review. So get paid Bill regularly. Three, do not chase money. Money is a powerful, powerful motivator, perhaps the most effective motivator for humans in a general sense. It’s also a powerful polluter. Okay? deludes us into doing things that we really shouldn’t do. So examples of chasing money, taking cases that aren’t in your wheelhouse, because you think you need money, discounting your hourly rate, discounting your retainer doing, you know, a favor for a friend of a friend. And then the ultimate is not listening to your gut, you know, and when you have your gut tell you that you should not take this case and you think addley Okay, dude, it’s never okay. Like, it’s not going to be different this time. You’re gonna get screwed on that case, listen to your gut. But you know, this is it. This is all chasing money behavior, and if you chase money, you’re going to lose money on that case, and you’re going to hate that case and hate that client. So don’t chase money for keep money in trust. Okay, this is the way normal attorneys Bill knows what how they how they treat their retainers. So they take a retainer and say it’s $5,000. And then they get down to zero, and then they get in the negative and then it get backed up to zero and then the negative back back of zero on the negative, it’s a terrible way to do it, do not do this, your relationship with your client changes fundamentally, when they get into the negative, because you’re no longer their attorney, you are their banker. Nobody likes their banker. I mean, our clients barely like us, right? They certainly don’t like us when we’re their banker. So what you need to do is you need to keep money in trust at all times. And this is how you figure out how much money you should have in trust. Because that’s always that’s always the question. Most attorneys just kind of make it up, you know, they talk to other attorneys, and they do it. But this is how you’re supposed to, you should really do it. Think about this, your worst month as an attorney and a case costs how much right like, like 100% worst month where everything goes wrong. Ideally, you want that much in your retainer, but sometimes that’s a little high, right? So for us, that’d be like 10, maybe $12,000, and everything goes wrong, that’s just too high. So what you do is you back that off to like your 95th percent worst month, okay, and that number is gonna be much, much lower. So some things go wrong, but not everything, right? And you sit down and figure out what that is, that becomes your retainer. Okay, of course, to do this, you actually need to know your numbers. So you need to sit down, get organized, figure out your numbers, set your retainer, and then it needs to stay at that level not get down below zero, it needs to stay at that level, whatever it is. Okay, So rule number five, if your client doesn’t pay you or doesn’t have money and trust, stop, work, stop, not right now stop. Okay, this is maybe the hardest one, if they’re not paying you, you know, there has to be a clear trigger to figure that out. And in our office to clear trigger is on the 21st, we run all the credit cards. If the credit card is declined, then we stopped work, okay, you have to have a communication system in order to talk to your clients, but tell them that the work has stopped. Okay, so we send out emails, we’re going to stop work pay us, we’ll get back on the case, right? It’s a little nicer than that. But that’s pretty much what is. And then you have to have an internal communication system to talk with your attorneys in your staff and tell them to stop work. But you need to stop. What we found is that when we do this, we usually get paid within about 48 hours, maybe they need to go get a new credit card or you know it expired or whatever it is, but we get paid within about 48 hours. And you need to set a system up to do this. And some there has to be one person to charge to the system. That person cannot be an attorney because attorneys are terrible at this. So hire somebody to do this. And collections is that person’s number one job. So if it’s your paralegal, then your paralegal is number one job becomes collections. And then he or she can be a paralegal caught on this side. But this has to be the number one job.
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And then the question always becomes well, what if I can’t stop on the case because you know, I prejudiced my client? Well, when you organize your case, well, you just don’t run into that nearly as much. Usually attorneys are not organizing their cases terribly well. But when you sit down eat organized and give yourself enough time between hearings, usually don’t run into this. But if you do, then that’s why I have a retainer at a sufficient amount to be able to cover. Okay, so it all kind of all kind of comes in. Okay, So rule number six, specialize. If you can, if you’re not in a rural area where you have to do multiple practice areas, you should do one thing, and that is it one practice area. Okay, if you’re in a rural setting, and you can’t do that, you should do two things. Three things, I just don’t think you’re gonna be good any more than three and you’re gonna be lousy at everything. The reason that you specialize, you just do one thing is because, one, you’re just going to make more money. And we’ll talk about that in a second. But two, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time. You don’t have to think about these things. You become really excellent at this one thing, and that is it. Right? That’s all you do. Like I know divorce like brain surgeons know the brain. Okay. I have absolutely no concept about a DUI. Like I don’t even know how to read a blood report. I’m totally ignorant and I’m okay with that because I make bundles of money doing divorce and that’s all right. But on the money side of it, you just command more money and we know this because we can look at doctors. So general practice doctor, a family doctor in the United States is going to make about a whole $150,000 a year, a general surgeon, just kind of middle level specialist is going to make about 500,000. And then a neurosurgeon is going to make like a million bucks a year. So do less get paid more. Number seven, fire your worst client today is where the rubber meets the road people. Now when I said fire your worst client today, there was an image of a face in your head. Right? It there always is, that is your worst client, that is who your brain hates. And it’s telling you to fire that person. Okay, you should definitely do that. Now there’s been a lot of talk about the Pareto principle is the 8020 principle. So the idea that 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our inputs. What that means when we talk about clients is that 80% of our problems come from about 20% of our clients. Or maybe it’s like 9010 really doesn’t matter. But, you know, a vast minority of clients are going to create the vast majority of problems in our law firms. So just fire those people get rid of them. Okay, this is a self perpetuating rule. So you’re going to fire your worst person, and then you’re going to fire your next worst person. And it’s gonna go on like this until you eventually fire all of your apps, all of your DS and all of your C’s, you’re going to be left with A and B clients, that is going to that one thing is going to increase your quality of life exponentially, okay, you’re gonna be able to focus on the clients who pay you who you enjoy working with, you’re going to make your paralegal happy, your team happy because if you think you hate that person that came up in your head, your paralegal hates that person. 10x, right, because he or she is on the frontlines with that jerk every day. Okay? This is just absolutely transformational, you’re going to make way more money, you’re going to enjoy it, you’re gonna have fewer clients when you do it. So fire your worst client today. And then rule number eight, make yourself your family and your team, your first priority. Clients are second, when you put clients first, oh, let’s do this. We always have heard the mantra that the client is always right, no wrong, the client is not always right. And the client is not first, okay. So when you put the client first, that means that you do not sleep like you should, you don’t eat like you should your you don’t exercise like you should you don’t take vacations like you should, you don’t make investments in your team and yourself in the time with your family like you should, because you’re always putting clients first and you’re not firing the bad ones. So they’re sucking the life out of you and not paying you. Okay, that’s what actually happens when you put your clients first. Now when you put your self, your family and your team first, all that reverses, you’re taking vacations, right, you’re eating correctly, you’re sleeping, you’re investing the time and the money into your paralegal into yourself, you can actually become a sustainable attorney at that point, you can become an excellent attorney, okay, and that’s going to benefit you. And it’s going to benefit your clients. Because again, if you put the clients first, you’re not going to be excellent, you’re going to be burned. I know a lot of attorneys that just get out of the profession, because they’re burned. Okay, so they’re not sustainable. They’re not helping people in the long term, but you put them second, you take care of yourself, you take care of your team, you’re actually going to do much better for your clients over the long term, because you’re going to be much, much more, you’re much better, more excellent attorney as time goes on. So those are my rules. Any questions? I’m happy to happy to answer anything. Yeah.
Do you require all your clients are on file?
Yeah, so this is great. So when I say always have money in trust, what you should have is an is an evergreen retainer. So say that your retainer is $5,000. What ideally you need to do, and I think you can do this almost every state of the exception maybe Ohio or something, he is keep a credit card on file. And then you take out the money in the beginning of the month. And later on in the month, you you build a credit card, you get back up to $5,000. Right. So that is absolutely how you should do it. Yes,
you get pushback from clients that keep the card on file, or
they give me money. Like they like I tell them to give me money. No, that’s a sales. That’s a good question. It’s a sales problem. Like if you get pushback on that they don’t understand the value of what you’re doing for them. And that’s a sales problem. You need to fix it. But no, I don’t get pushback on file. We just haven’t physically fill out a form. And then we run everything through law pay. Yeah, so a lot of pay will actually they will actually keep the information so and if anybody wants, like my retainer and that form. Just email me I’m happy to email it to everybody here. Yeah, gotta
watch out I just picked up a car It’s time. Tom is this
crazy law firm?
Oh, that, yeah, they never, they never get declined, like ours never get declined. So I just I just don’t have that problem very often usually what happens is the card will be expired and we’ll have to get a new card or something. But again, like you have a sufficient amount of trust. So if something like that does happen and it doesn’t doesn’t re up, then you just get out of the case. Yeah.
receivable about $4,000 to burn through a retainer. And he’s about to hit some high intense discoveries and cost potential. How do I switch his mindset? It’s not okay. To get your shit under control.
You tell him that, I mean, seriously, don’t just sit down with him and say, hey, look, this is what this this is what’s going to be required. And I want to help you with that. Because I’m totally on your team. But if you don’t want to do this my way, then go find somebody else. And here’s some names. Yeah, so more
people, you know, I have a decent size from different areas of practice for someone, your competitors. And Lando, I agree with some of the things you’re saying. First of all, we have to add it to our firm represents a criminal client income. If you don’t pay us, there’s a constitution when it stops. So I get it was you know, like, my wife who’s a lawyer, you know, who contract conceptual Hausman pay job? Yeah, just so you guys know, like, think about all the service plugs, they will not come in for 200 bucks, you don’t pay it up. When you sit there apply, like, oh, you can’t make it in the firewall. But and I do what you said about, you know, being the best place to disagree with you used to scale up roadmap disease. There’s more people getting divorced and money, and people are going to charge and money. But yeah, I do think you’re gonna make those investments in your team, and investments and collecting money. And you actually have lawyers that are establishing stay with you. I think you’re right, I got over that middle class mindset last year. And now we’re like, increase my prices across the board. We’re still scared though. He’s my competitor right down the block. He may be as expensive pile war that used to be more like, why is he targeting more. And so but it’s still difficult. In our practice, we struggle with it, I have a 96% collection rate for canola. That’s pretty good. But it’s still really, really hard. And I don’t go for the secret sauce of intelligent like, because I’m also down in I went through what you did years ago, the same kind of story. But we still struggle with that, because there’s not enough estate planning lawyers, Family Lawyers, you know, this fight with your husband guys got into the eye because of that. It’s a small subset of people that have that tremendous amount of money. And even if you say well be the top two guys in Orlando. We have friends that do that. There’s still not that many people that have that. Will people get divorced and get arrested, unfortunately. So I’m just trying to like, listening to you, that’s why we came here. Yeah, there’s stuff is good at being forced that we’re doing the right thing. We’d say Don’t chase money. Also, we’re thinking about Florida. We stopped working. But client can fall more than take, even if we’ve organized systems of setup stuff, worry about that all the time to have an office conference with us for five motion withdraw, we still represent them. So is there a way you look eyes us on that? Emotional withdraw right away, you have an office suite?
Yeah, the way I tend to think through this in every state is going to be different, you have to sit down and figure out how to do this. But the way we do it in Utah is we just kind of space these things out. So we give ourselves enough time that if they don’t pay, we can actually get out. So we can always get out with 30 to 45 days notice to the court, okay, but we can automatically get out in Utah, unless there’s a hearing coming up. But we always we always have that amount of time waves give ourselves that amount of time. So you just have to like figure out your cases, and then space them out sufficiently, you’re not going to run into this problem nearly as much. But it can be different literally every state and even within states, right. Some judges will let you out in criminal cases, some judges won’t let you out and you have to adjust based on that. I just want to like
I have a suggestion because I got out of my seat that I got out of criminal defense, because still one of my things, but one thing that we did a lot is we have to provide a withdrawal withdraw, withdraw abroad. And then if their credit card was declined, it was filed, and then a judge is more likely to sign it especially after having a kid I’m pretty sad about it they’d be like Oh, I got like this system my kid I’d be like
you guys are paying exactly there’s so I just withdraw. Yeah, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You’re gonna figure it out your state. Really sorry.
I do you want to comment on your credit card. We also store credit card information in the last four cabinets for storing credit card information, especially if we need to be sure that you’re complying with the standards law as a full course on that. Fine lots of great article on it just literally Google PC theaters, because keeping credit card information especially.
Good thanks, everyone. Really appreciate it.