This week we have Mark Milton as a guest on the podcast! Mark is a St. Louis-based tax attorney, accountant, and entrepreneur. He grew up in Belleville, Illinois, and migrated west to Missouri after marrying a West County native he met in law school at St. Louis University. Before settling down in the Midwest, “Milty” started his legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice-Tax Division in Washington, DC, where he litigated complex tax cases in federal courts throughout the country.
In 2017, Milty launched his private law practice focused on tax resolution and he prides himself in helping others navigate an ever-increasingly complex legal, regulatory, and tax environment, one he admittedly struggles with himself despite his education and experience.
Watch the recording here.
Jim’s Hack: Leading indicators vs lagging indicators – spend more time looking at leading indicators to see if you’re doing all the right things to move your firm forward.
Mark’s Tip: Be selective with clients and don’t be afraid to say no.
Tyson’s Tip: Now’s a really good time to save money on things you need for your office.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an interview, presentation or training!
- Join the Guild Membership
- Subscribe to the Maximum Lawyer YouTube Channel
- Follow us on Instagram
- Join the Facebook Group
- Follow the Facebook Page
- Follow us on LinkedIn
Transcript: “Tax Based Practice” with Mark Milton
Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: This is the first time we’ve ever had to record introducing ourselves a second time because you’re giggling the whole time.
Tyson: No, it’s just we had some funny comments before the show, but we’ll leave it at that.
So, how are you doing, bud?
Jim: I’m great. I’m great. We’ve been screwing around enough already so I want to go ahead and introduce our guest today. I drove by his office today, as I do every day on my way to work, and I saw his big truck with his logo on it. So, his name is Mark Milton. He’s a St. Louis-based tax attorney, accountant, and entrepreneur. He grew up across the river, over in Illinois. And we’re really glad. We’ve been trying for a while to get Mark on the show. His name’s Mark Milton.
Mark, thanks for being with us.
Mark: Thanks for having me, guys. I appreciate all you guys do with Maximum Lawyer.
Tyson: So, Mark, you’re like one of the nicest people I know, so I’m going to try not to gush too much but like tell everybody about yourself, go as far back as you want, but just about your journey and kind of how you got to where you are today.
Mark: Sure. Well, like Jim said, I grew up in Belleville, Illinois, across the river. Really, kind of always wanted to go to law school. Going back as far as I can recall, you know, junior high, in high school. But I really wanted to be a sports agent. That was sort of my calling. As a young person who knew they weren’t, themselves, going to be a professional athlete, I thought the next best thing would be to, you know, be the next Jerry Maguire. And so, that was sort of what I wanted to do.
When I was in high school, I already had my eye on law school. And I talked to a lot of people that suggested that, when you’re looking at college, you know, you might want to get a business degree because the lawyers I talked to all wished they had a business background versus, you know, going into political science or history in undergrad. And so, when I started looking at colleges, that was sort of what I’d looked at, it was going to business school, specifically doing accounting.
My parents– backup. My older brother went to University of Illinois. My parents basically said, “You can go to the University of Illinois or pay the difference of going somewhere else because we have in-State tuition.” So, I sort of begrudgingly went to the University of Illinois, got into the accounting program, got a great experience, did all the–
You know, ironically, the accounting program there is really geared around the audit side. You know, it’s one of the top programs. You know, the Big Four accounting firms all want to hire students out of University of Illinois. And so, I had quite a few opportunities of public accounting. One of which was actually up in Chicago.
My junior year, I actually took off my junior semester of school to go do a busy season internship. And I spent half of that semester doing tax work and the other half doing audit. And I actually really enjoyed the tax work. Kind of ironically looking back, basically, I spent eight weeks just cranking out 1040s for individuals. Typically, you know, the partners might be handling the more complex tax returns for, you know, the businesses, the corporations. And then us, the interns, would sort of handle the 1040s for the individuals and maybe their kids or whoever it might be. So, I did that.
Did an audit internship with a big four firm here in St. Louis. And that was after, actually, I graduated from Illinois with my bachelor’s degree. And, really, I was using that internship to see, you know, if I really wanted to go into public accounting before going to law school, you know, maybe work a few years. A lot of people, you know, encouraged people to maybe work before they go to law school.
So, I basically went into that internship, summer of ’07, both admitted to the master’s program at Illinois to go back for my fifth year or I was also admitted to go to SLU for law school. So, I did the internship. Really, realized public accounting audit, at least, was not for me. Ended up enrolling at SLU that fall off with Tyson as one of my classmates. That’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, for a number of reasons, because I also met my wife at SLU also. She’s also a lawyer.
But, anyway, I went to law school. And at that point, the whole sports agent thing was sort of not really what I had focused on. I really wanted to be a trial lawyer. You know, Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men. That was sort of what I had envisioned for myself. And so, I really focused on, you know, litigation courses, and trial advocacy, and all those things.
And going into my second summer, so summer after my second year, I had a great summer associate gig with a firm in downtown St. Louis, Sandberg Phoenix, actually, and had a great experience. Loved the firm. Loved the people.
But this was also summer of 2009 when, it’s similar to kind of now, where a lot of uncertainty around the economy. And so, they basically said, “Hey, you know, we like you, but we just can’t.” Like they normally would extend, you know, full-time offers for, you know, you’re coasting in your third year law school, with that job lined up. As you know, pretty much, nobody had that, for us, going into our third years.
And so, I went into my third year not really knowing if I would get a job offer from them. So, I started exploring other opportunities, one of which was the Department of Justice Honors Program which I really knew nothing about but Mary Pat [inaudible 00:05:33], the great Mary Pat in career services, said, “Hey, you’ve got this accounting background but you also have all this, you know, trial experience or litigation experience. You should really apply for this.” So, she connected me with a guy named Steve Shaffer, who’s also St. Louis guy, a St. Louis U lawyer who had worked at the DOJ tax division as a trial lawyer. Had gotten his job through the Honors Program.
And so, I talked with him before I applied. And he explained that, you know, this is really, you know, a litigation position, knowledge of, you know, nuts and bolts– because I kind of thought to myself, “Well, I’m not a tax lawyer.” I never really thought of myself as being interested in becoming a tax lawyer, but he sold me on the job itself being, you know, more so like, “Hey, this is a litigation position. You’ve got the IRS, you work with. They kind of help you with the, you know, complicated issues. You get to travel the country. You get your own docket.” I was like, “That sounds– “ You get to live in DC.” DC has always been a place that I thought was very cool. I got to go there in high school, part of the Presidential Classroom Program where you get to, you know, kind of the insider’s view of Washington D.C. And so, I always– if I was ever going to leave St. Louis, DC was certainly a place that would’ve been appealing.
So, I applied. You know, there were thousands of applicants. I threw my application in there. And they had me rank all the different components, you know, civil rights, anti-trust, immigration, or whatever. And I was told that they don’t really look at you, unless you put their division as number one. So, I literally just put tax division number one. I didn’t even rank the other ones and it worked. I got an interview. I think they interviewed like 60 people and hired 20 to start in August of 2010.
So, literally, like a week after I took the bar exam, not knowing if I passed, like I moved to DC, you know, and got an apartment – a shared apartment with a guy I didn’t know and started my job in August of 2010. As they call it, I was a law clerk when I started my job with the DOJ because I didn’t have my bar license yet.
So, I was out. I moved out there in 2010, just an amazing experience to work for the Department of Justice. You know, you get goosebumps just– you know, the main justice building, there on Pennsylvania Avenue. I mean, I didn’t work there but, you know, we would have meetings, and training, and things there. And so, it was pretty surreal.
And what was really cool was I was a trial attorney in one of their civil trial sections, but I got assigned to the central region. So, St. Louis, eastern district of Missouri, western district of Missouri, and Kansas City, Minnesota. Kind of the Eighth Circuit was my territory, so I got to travel back to St. Louis quite a bit which was good because my wife was a year behind me in law school. So, I could often coordinate travel either, you know, back to St. Louis, I’d get to work in the US Attorney’s office when I would be in town, which was pretty neat, and got to know some of those folks over there.
So, that was– like I said, I mean, I got to litigate all kinds of different cases. We handled foreclosure actions, refund suits. We also went after fraudulent– or allegedly fraudulent. Now that I’m on the defense side, I say allegedly fraudulent tax return prepares accused of wrongdoing. We’d go into federal court and ask for an injunction prohibiting them from preparing taxes for people.
So, a lot of people don’t realize is the threshold or the requirements to become a paid return preparer are very minimal. Pretty much, anyone can prepare taxes as long as they’re, you know, not a felon. They can get what’s called a P10 and be able to prepare taxes for other people. And so, there are a lot of charlatans out there and people who abuse, you know, various credits – credits like, for example, the earned income tax credit which is very well intentioned. It provides a refundable tax credit for low-income individuals. But it also is very susceptible to fraud because people– it sounds counterintuitive but, actually in some cases, people would make up income in order to generate the $5000-, $6000-, $7000-refundable tax credit. They’d claim dependents that weren’t really theirs. And these preparers would often, you know, make a lot of money preparing these types of returns. So, we would go after them on a civil basis. But also, we would sometimes work with or alongside. They call them parallel proceedings. We would have criminal either DOJ tax division folks or local US Attorney’s offices who may also be prosecuting these individuals. So, I got to see a lot of the criminal side, kind of the way that worked as well, which suited me nicely when I got into private practice which was what I did in 2014.
So, with the DOJ, you have a four-year commitment through the Honors Program. And so, I knew we’d be out there for four years. I ended up getting married. My wife moved out there a year later, after we got married. And I’m kind of– I mean, always wanted to move back to St. Louis.
It was somewhat appealing to stay out there. I mean, there’s probably more legal opportunities– you know, different types of opportunities in DC, but I also found it appealing to kind of move back to St. Louis and be a little bit of a bigger fish in a smaller pond because there just aren’t a lot of people that have the DOJ tax division experience here in St. Louis. So, that’s what I did. I ended up going to work.
As I was looking at opportunities back here, I met with various firms, but I was very attracted to Husch Blackwell. They had a white-collar group that was made up of Catharine Hanaway who was planning to run for governor. And Tyson knows I’m a political junkie so that was very exciting to me, to be working alongside of her. Matt Schelp, who I sort of knew before, really looking at jobs. So, he was kind of my point of contact there. And then, Jeff Jensen. Those were the three partners that I worked for. They basically hired me.
And so, we were the white-collar group inside of Husch Blackwell. It’s almost like a small firm, you know, within the big firm. We sort of crossed over different practice areas and helped out as needed, when white collar needs arose. And I became sort of the go-to tax guy in that group, so. I feel like I’m rambling, but I’ll keep going with the narrative.
So then, after that, I spent three years at Husch. Great experience. Great people. I was bringing in a lot of tax resolution cases, just sort of word of mouth, representing mostly individuals and small businesses. When I say small business, I mean, you know, self-employed people tend to find themselves in tax troubles.
Lawyers are one of the biggest defenders because, you know, if you’re self-employed as a lawyer, you know, you’ve got to make estimated payments. And sometimes, you know, it’s a roller coaster in terms of revenue, and expenses, cash flow. And so, I’ve handled cases for lawyers who’ve gotten behind on taxes.
And so, I just– over time, it kind of came to the realization that I really wanted to focus exclusively on tax resolution. I was not interested in handling, you know, big time corporate tax disputes. I mean, those tend to be handled by firms on the coast, anyway, just the nature of that kind of work.
So, I decided, in September of ‘17, a little over three years ago, started my own firm, literally, you know, had lunch with Matt Schelp and said, “Hey, I’m going to do this. I’m going to start my own firm. And I appreciate you guys’ support.” They were super supportive of the decision. I’ve stayed in touch with a lot of people there.
I was able to take some of the cases that I brought into the firm with me as tax resolution matters. A couple of others that I’d worked, you know, white-collar cases that also came with me. So, I had a good foundation, when I left, of cases and like cash flow, as we say. So, I wasn’t starting from scratch as some people, but it was still pretty scary to walk away from, you know, a salary.
I mean, nothing certain in life. I mean, I don’t think– you know, even at a big firm like anything could happen. You could lose your job. I was never afraid of that necessarily but, you know, it’s definitely scary to kind of go out on your own and not know if the phone’s going to ring, not know if you’re going to get new cases. And, you know, just learning to build a business and develop systems. And that’s why I feel like you guys have been very helpful to me with the Maximum Lawyer, you know, Facebook page, getting– you know, following all the different comments and suggestions has been really helpful these first three years, for sure.
Jim: Mark, tell us about how you did make the phone ring. So, you’re out on your own now. You’ve been out three years. Where were your best cases coming from and what’s been the most successful for you?
Mark: I would say my best cases tended to come from word of mouth either through other attorneys who have clients that have tax issues, law school classmates, that sort of thing. I’ve actually gotten a few of my bigger cases, ironically, from other tax lawyers in DC, who I used to work with, who, to them, it was too small to handle. For me, it was amazing to get, you know, a five-figure, you know, fee case. Sometimes, almost six figured cases that, you know, for them, it’s– when they’re billing, they’re billing $1200 an hour and I can bill it $350 an hour. It makes it a lot easier to sign up those individual clients.
And there are clients all over the country. I’ve had cases in, you know, Virginia, to Chicago, down to Florida. That’s the one thing about tax resolution. I mean, you can– as a federal tax practitioner, you’re sort of allowed to represent people before the IRS all across the country.
And just marketing. I mean, I feel like I’ve done a lot with– my wife always gives me trouble. You know, she says I should’ve been a marketing executive because I just get ideas and I’m not afraid to fail with them. I just– I go for it.
Like the truck. Jim, you’ve seen the truck. She was mortified when I pulled up, after going to Dale’s signs and having them put the vinyl lettering on it, but it’s a competitive industry, you hear the TV ads and the radio ads for Optima’s and these other non– the non-lawyer groups, frankly, that that do the same kind of work and, I think, charge fees that are, in some cases, more than what I would even charge and, in my experience, get less service and less perspective in terms of all the legal challenges that tax issues present.
I mean, they really– some of them prey on these people. I mean, they troll the federal tax lien filings and they send these very official-looking notices and they say, “You’ve had a lien filed against you. You need to, you know, call us immediately or, you know, your Social Security will be levied, your bank accounts will be garnished.” And they call and then they, you know, get signed up with some shadowy outfit out of Montana that claims to be a tax resolution group.
So, it’s a very competitive industry. We use social media. We’ve done some paid advertising on a local radio station here in town, 590. I’ve done a lot with. It was a show I listened to, The Morning Show. It’s pretty vulgar at times. Sometimes, I worry if I’m going to get a call from the Missouri Bar over sponsoring some of the content. Like they’ve had, you know, adult entertainers on. Lisa Ann, who– you may or may not know who she is and I’m not going to I’m not going to suggest anything. But, I mean, she tweeted out something like, “I send all my tax questions to STLtaxlawyer.” She tweeted at me one time because we had met through the various– yeah, she appears on the radio show and she heard one of my ads so it’s pretty funny.
And Jim Hayes who used to be on the show from– you know, Cardinals broadcaster. He came up with the phrase, “If you’re with Milty, you’re not guilty” and that sort of stuck. Milty’s sort of been the nickname that’s, you know, come about.
And Doug Vaughn, from News Channel 4, he’s on the show. He does all the live reads. Which I find the library reads to be way more effective, in terms of radio, than doing recorded spots. And we do have some record spots, but I really like the live reads.
We ran some TV commercials last year on Charter, just kind of did that. That was okay. We probably didn’t stick with it long enough.
But one of the things I struggled with was, I was so busy with the cases I had I felt like, “Why am I spending all this money if I feel like I’m like underperforming in some respects with what I have?” So, I kind of took a step back and tried to think bigger picture about how to grow the firm. And I hired somebody, my first full-time employee, last year. He’s been really helpful just handling some of the day-to-day operation stuff but also, you know, just helping me gather documents, helping me do intake – all the things that you sort of take for granted when you’re at a big firm. And then, when you’re out on your own, you’ve got to do everything. Now, you’ve got to refill the water. You’ve got to pay the bills. I mean, I probably spend over 50% of my time just, you know, doing administrative stuff, it seems like, so I’m trying to get away from that.
Jim: We’re going to have to do something about that.
But speaking of live reads, let me do my live read.
Thanks to our sponsor, Smith AI. Smith AI is a superior receptionist service for law firms all over the country, trusted by many maximum lawyers, including me. At our immigration law practice, the Hacking Law Practice, Smith AI’s friendly US-based receptionists respond to potential clients in English or Spanish. They screen and schedule our new leads. They even take payment for consults. The best part is they don’t just handle these conversations via phone, they also have live agents and chatbots. They capture leads through their chat widget.
They serve as our friendly gatekeepers while my team and I work uninterrupted. It’s pretty awesome. If you’re in a solo or small firm, I know you’ll appreciate this. Smith AI now offers 24/7 virtual receptionists, answering calls, website chats, text and Facebook messages.
Plans start at just $70 a month for calls and $100 a month for chats. They even offer a totally free chatbot so there’s no excuse. Try Smith AI today and see for yourself why attorneys like me say, “Smith AI receptionists are the secret to business growth.”
They’re offering a free trial. And Maximum Lawyer listeners get an extra $100-dollar discount with promo code M-A-X-L-A-W-1-0-0. Sign up and learn more at www.smith.ai. Trust me when I say don’t let another day go by, try Smith AI.
Tyson: Nice job, Jimbo.
Mark: Well done, Jim.
Tyson: Nice job.
So, Mark, Jim and I were talking about you yesterday because we’re sort of fascinated by what you do. So, like how does this– I’m assuming that, you know, these people are coming to you because they got a letter from the IRS, or a phone call. or something like that. And then, they owe money to the government. Like, so how do you get paid? And how does this process work?
Mark: I’ll kind of go over my typical clients, right? The phone rings. I’m like, “All right. This is a good one.” So, sometimes people would call and they’ll say, “You know, I haven’t filed my taxes in X number of years.” Right? I mean, literally, I’ve had cases where two years, three years, five years, 10 years, more– 20 years. I’ve had clients that haven’t filed their tax return in 20 years, and they’ve been making money, living their life. Some of them have been totally, you know, off the radar of the IRS. Some have been on the radar and have been subjected to, you know, bank levies and garnishments over the years. And they literally just, we use the phrase, you know, bury their head in the sand for as long as possible. And it can be– it’s sort of incredible, in some ways, how long it can go on for.
And sometimes there are other factors, you know, people– you know, whether it be an illness, or a death, or a lost job, you know, can contribute to just kind of giving up and just saying, “You know what? Filing my taxes is sort of the last thing I care about at this point in my life for various reasons, so I just stopped doing it.” And then, you know, kind of year over year, it snowballs. And then, maybe there’s another event in their life that makes them realize, “Hey, I’ve got to get my life back on track.” Maybe they get a new job, maybe they have a new relationship, and they don’t want their new partner or new significant other to, you know, deal with all these tax issues. They want to get them resolved.
And so, we typically start off, most of the clients don’t even know how deep their hole is. So, we typically will start off by doing a compliance review investigation. So, we get power of attorney for them with the IRS. We’re able to pull transcripts. Most of the time we do it sort of covertly. Other times we can contact the IRS on their behalf. And there’s a practitioner line that we use to contact the IRS. And we fax them the power of attorney and say, “Hey, you know, it’s a new client, just calling to do a compliance review.” And they’ll literally pull up their account. They’ll say, “Yeah, this person hasn’t filed since 2014. They’ve got outstanding balances for these years.” And so, it kind of gives us an idea of how bad is this problem. And so, we usually do a flat fee on that first phase, just a sort of the fact gathering investigative phase. So that– you know, because we try to do flat fees when possible and those kinds of things.
And so, phase one is that investigative phase. And then, from there, we usually draft a memo sort of outlining all their issues and saying, “Hey, you need to file, you know, six years of taxes. We’re going to charge you–” because we also do tax preparation in-house. So, we’ll say, “We’re going to charge you X per year to do those tax returns.” Once we complete those, we’ll know what your total debt is. And then, we’ll move on to phase three, which is the resolution phase.
And as far as how do people pay, I mean, it’s like anything. You get into legal trouble, you’re going to have to find a way to pay somebody to fix it, right? And I do have a lot of people that call and I’m sort of amazed at times, they’re like, “Yeah, I’ve got myself in this huge mess” and I’ll quote him a price and they’re like,”Well, I can’t afford that. And I can’t afford to pay anything.” And it’s like, “Well, I’m sorry. I don’t have inventory on my shelves. It’s kind of– all we can do is- you know, as they say, all we have is our time.
And sometimes I, you know, work with people, do payment plans and things like that. But I kind of look at it, like, “Hey, if your furnace goes out, you’ve got a major problem. You’re going to have to find a way to pay for it.” And one of the things I’ve read about, it may have been Tiger Tactics or one of the various books you guys have recommended. You know, you’re not a bank, right? Like, we’re not financial institutions. So, you know, you can’t take your client’s problems on as your own and– because I have been burned. I’ve been burned a few times early on with people that, you know, I took on. And usually, they’re “friends” or friends of friends and you feel compelled to help them because you know you can help them but you start– and then, you start digging a hole yourself, right? I mean, it’s never as easy as what people think it is to try to resolve any kind of legal issue.
And if you have tax problems, I mean, you know, you have legal problems. I mean, there’s no way around that. And so, I’ve tried to be understanding with clients but also firm and, you know, stating my prices. I try to be transparent.
If we do hourly, you know, I usually take a big deposit up front. I use a security deposit model. I don’t do a retainer. That’s something Husch did that I don’t think a lot of people do. But, basically, it’s like, “Hey, I want a security deposit upfront. That sits in my client trust account. And the expectation is, when I bill you for hourly time, those bills get paid. And we only apply the deposit, you know if your bills go unpaid” versus the traditional retainer where you’re sort of drawing from it as you go.
I don’t know if it’s really that big of a difference, but I feel like that gives me protection, at least. All right. If I get 10 hours into this, that’s usually how I price the deposit because I figured, all right, it’s going to protect me for 10 hours of work. And you kind of know right away then, when you send that first invoice, if that first invoice doesn’t get paid, it’s sort of a red flag, right? Like, okay, this, this is a client that’s maybe going to be an issue down the road in paying their bills.
So, I’ve been very conscious of not getting burned, not getting too deep in the cases without having some assurances that I’m going to get paid because like– I mean, it’s– and I tell people, it’s like, you know, if I’m doing work for them for free, then that’s work I can’t be getting paid for– you know, time I can’t get back, right? So, I’m always mindful of that.
And, overall, I feel like I’ve done pretty well with collection. And I haven’t really had any major, major issues of unpaid bills. But I think it’s because I have been very conscious of it and very intentional with the way I screen, the way I– you know, if I’m not comfortable with a client, or I feel like it’s not a good fit, I will tell them that and I will, you know, decline the representation, so.
And then, we also handle– I mean, I’ve handled all types of different payroll tax disputes. You know, companies that get into a cash flow pinch, surprisingly. You know, they’re withholding money from their employees, the federal income tax withholdings, Social Security. And they hold that money in trust and are required to pay it over to the government. Well, sometimes, when a business is struggling, they don’t make those payments. And so, then, they end up going belly up. And the individuals of the companies can be held personally liable for that money which can add up pretty quickly.
So, we handle a lot of payroll tax disputes. It’s known as a trust fund recovery penalty. That can be assessed against individuals at a company who you think otherwise wouldn’t be liable for corporate debts but that’s one thing they could be liable for.
And, actually, the first case like landed on my desk, when I was at DOJ, while I was still a law clerk, was a trust fund recovery penalty refund suit. It was brought in the Western District of Missouri. My boss gave it to me because he knew I was from, you know, the Midwest. And I ended up first chairing that all the way to a jury trial. It was sort of crazy the way that case played out over two and a half years.
The facts were pretty wild. I mean, you had the owner of the company. It was a mobile display company. The owner got in a bar fight and killed a guy. I mean, he punched a guy. He fell over and died. So, the owner of the business goes to prison for nine months on manslaughter charges. The accountant was trying to keep the business afloat while he’s in jail. They’re running up all these payroll tax liabilities, not filing their quarterly payroll tax returns. And, ultimately, the company goes belly up. And the IRS assesses the– and he was a part-time bookkeeper. And they assessed him the trust fund recovery penalty of about $200,000 worth of unpaid payroll taxes. And so, we went all the way to a jury trial and the jury found him liable for the full amount of the payroll taxes.
And the office manager, it was kind of funny, she was unrepresented. And she also– we went to trial against both of them. She won. So, the guy who had the lawyer, the bookkeeper, was found liable but the office manager, who was unrepresented (pro se) in the jury trial, she won at trial. So, I always say, I lost my first trial to a pro se party but, you know, we won the one that, I think, mattered the most. So, that was a pretty amazing experience to do that two and a half years out of law school.
And then, we get criminal law. I mean, I’ve handled a number of criminal tax cases. One of the quotes on my website is, you know, something about– you know, “My best cases are the ones you don’t read about in the paper,” because often people don’t know if someone’s, you know, under criminal investigation. We’ve had several where, you know, CI, Criminal Investigation Division is involved. And we’ve gotten them to agree not to pursue criminal charges against the individuals. Now, they still have the civil aspect of it to deal with but, at least, you know, in those gray area cases, I always tell people, like, “My number one job here is to keep you out of prison. The second piece is, you know, how do we resolve this?” because, you know, not filing your tax returns is a crime. I mean, it’s generally misdemeanor but if it’s willful, it’s a felony. And now there are relatively few prosecutions. But, you know, those are things where– you know, when I talk about these resolution groups, you know, those are things that I don’t think– number one, they can’t represent people in criminal proceedings, but I don’t know, in some cases, they get the best advice on, you know, kind of the bigger picture of what else is really at stake.
Tyson: This is fascinating stuff.
All right. So, we are actually out of time, so I am going to wrap things up.
Tyson: You get the [inaudible 00:29:08] for the longest talker but it’s all good stuff, so I love it. This is great stuff.
Mark: Well, sorry for my screen. I had my computer queued up and– I don’t know what’s going on. My thing’s not responding so I had to go with the iPhone with the cracked screen. So, I think that’s why it looks like I’m in a fog over here.
Tyson: I love it. It’s just perfect.
No, it’s like– so, Jim and I always talked, we always kind of joke like the hardest interviews are the ones where the guest does not talk a lot. And you’re easy. You make this easy. This is great but [inaudible 00:29:34]–
Tyson: You’re good. It’s perfect.
So, before I do, I want to remind everyone to go and join us with The Guild, maxlawguild.com. We’ve got the link up. So, maxlawguild.com And then, also, if you don’t mind giving us a five-star review on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts, we’ll greatly appreciate it.
Jimbo, what is your hack of the week?
Jim: Today, we’re going to talk about, for my hack of the week, the difference between leading indicators and lagging indicators. I think too many people see what money rolls in at the end of the month and they say, “Oh, I had a good month.” And I think that, if they spent a little bit more time looking at leading indicators which are the things that you can do, the things that you can control, the things that you can measure, to see if you’re doing all the right things to move your firm forward as opposed to the lagging indicators, which are, “Oh, how many cases did we sign up this month? Or, Oh, how much money did we bring in?” I think, really drilling down and identifying what are the most important leading indicators for our firm, it’s going to really help people move their firms forward.
Tyson: Absolutely. You’re so right about that, Jimbo.
All right, Mark. So, you know the routine. Do you have a tip or a hack for us?
Mark: A hack. Well, like I talked about earlier, I think, just being selective with clients, I think, is something that lawyers, especially when you get out on your own, or you get a smaller firm, you know, you’re always wanting to bring in new clients but take the time to screen. You know, every time I’ve had a gut feeling about a client, it’s usually proven to be true. You know, even if I reluctantly took on a new case, every time, it seems like it becomes, you know, that my premonitions sort of come true. So, be selective, protect yourself, get a deposit. If they can’t afford it, you know, don’t be afraid to say no.
Tyson: You’re so right. It’s so true. I think it’s because we put it on the back burner, too. It’s one of those things where we put those cases on the back burner a little bit and they don’t care as much because they’re not paying you anything. There’s a lot of problems with it. Or, paying less what you normally would, so.
All right. So, my tip is, it’s too late for Prime Day, because we already had Prime Day on Amazon. We need some stuff for some new employees and I saved hundreds of dollars on getting those things. I had a list of things that we needed for the office – both offices, and I saved a bunch of money. But, I did see on my app, my Amazon app, that they’re having some sort of holiday days coming up or something like that in Amazon.
So, if you need things for your office, like now’s a really good time to save a lot of money, if you need some office supplies. We bought computers, and printers, and scanners, and all that. We saved a lot of money. So, I highly recommend doing that now because you’re can save a lot of money.
Mark: You know, I’ll add to that, Tyson. Also a good time, before the year end, load up with what you’re going to need for 2021 because if you’re a cash-basis taxpayer, you can write that all off to defer some tax by loading up on the front end, so.
Tyson: Also, a fantastic point. You’re the tax man. I think it’s perfect. That’s absolutely perfect.
Mark: Totally legitimate. Totally legitimate.
Tyson: Love it. All right. Mark, thanks so much for coming on, man. This has been great.
Mark: Thanks, guys. Thanks for all you do. I really appreciate it.
Tyson: Absolutely. Thanks, Mark.
Mark: Take care.
Tyson: See you.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
To stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content, go to maximumlawyer.com.
Have a great week and catch you next time.