Today on the podcast Jim and Tyson joined Mike Mandell. Mike, more famously known as LawByMike, is the largest legal influencer on social media with over 6 million followers. Since graduating USC Annenberg School of Communications in 2009 and Duke University School of Law in 2012 (recently lauded as the #1 law school on the planet by The World University/Wall Street Journal Rankings), Michael L. Mandell has concentrated his talents on redefining the justice process, and propelling his profession into the 21st century. Before devoting himself to educating the public about the law through multiple social media platforms, Michael spent almost a decade as a top associate attorney, practicing at the LA law offices of the international law firm, Reed Smith, LLP.
Mike has been featured in national news outlets including NBC, NowThis, Insider, and Buzzfeed. He has also been a Keynote speaker at several universities and will be featured in Best-Selling Author David Meerman Scott’s newest book. His audience sits at the unique precipice of entertainment, education, and law and sends him hundreds of messages daily requesting career path, educational, and legal advice.
Law By Mike seeks to educate you about your most important legal rights. Through plainly presented and entertaining content—available across multiple media platforms—we’re working to create accessible tools designed to dramatically increase your knowledge of the law—for
2:56 traction on TikTok
4:53 taking over the family firm
8:24 ideas for creating content
13:54 educating the public
19:08 BIll Nye of Law
Watch the interview here.
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Transcript: Educating the Public w/ Michael Mandell
Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Oh, Tyson. I know you just got out of trial yesterday so I’m really happy for you and I’m glad that we’re able to record our show today.
Tyson: Yeah. I had a successful trial, beat the offer, got probably more than what we deserved. It was a good week. It was good to kind of knock some of the rust off because it had been– because of COVID, it’s been what, now, what, 19 months or so since COVID began, and I had not tried a case for a few months before that so I was a little rusty, but it was nice to break that rust off. It was a lot of fun. I got to try a lot of new techniques that I was messing around with. So, I had a lot of fun.
Jim: Well, good. Congrats.
So, our guest today is Mike Mandell. He’s a man who has 6 million TikTok followers. He’s one of the biggest legal social media influencers. You know, we had our friend, Ugo Lord, on a couple of months ago and he was kind enough to introduce us to Mike and Mike’s work.
So, Mike, welcome to the show.
Mike: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Tyson: So, Mike, tell us about your story. Tell us about how you got to where you are now.
Mike: So, you know, I guess it kind of started at undergrad. You know, I was a communications major at the University of Southern California. At that point in time, Facebook had just come out so there wasn’t a lot of talk about social media. But I did study Mass Communications, the power of commercials and mass media. And from there, went to Duke University for law school.
And after that, went to Reed Smith which is a big corporate law firm, where I worked for about eight years. During that time, if you’re familiar with working for big law, you can’t really do too much for yourself. And when it comes to social media, there’s too much red tape to go through.
But when I left, which was just October of last year, I left to go work with my family’s law firm which is a PI law firm. My father and uncle work together here in Southern California. And that was the first time I could start, you know, using social media. And I just figured, hey, I had do some posts, and my friends and friends with my friends would see my face, and maybe I’d get a PI case. But, clearly, it blew up into something a lot bigger, unexpectedly, but very grateful for it because, you know, my kind of goals in life have changed from, you know, just trying to get some clients to really educating people about the law and trying to make some social change with it.
Jim: So, Mike, when did you start to feel like you had achieved some momentum on TikTok? Like, what did that process look like?
Mike: Maybe in about two weeks into it, started getting a lot more traction than, you know, what would be expected for a lawyer at all. And, you know, this same traction happened on Instagram as well, you know, but I would say, I think, we had one of our first videos start getting like over a million views. And, you know, kind of remember seeing it rapidly going.
You know, it was a post about a loophole in Wisconsin that if you’re with your parents, you know, normally you can’t drink until you’re 21. But, if you’re with your parents, you can drink at any age in Wisconsin. And, of course, on TikTok, you know, people started going crazy with that, given the younger audience.
Then, we did the ones about the cops and what to say to the cops, they pull you over and whatnot. That one, you know, I think it’s at like 53 million views or something right now. That’s when you kind of notice that we’ve got something to work with, like something’s happening here.
Tyson: So, Mike, I think that all that’s amazing. I guess, my concern is this is that I’d be worried that I’d be filtering out. If I were, you know, marketing and doing all these different legal topics that I’d be getting a bunch of phone calls and messages about things that like I don’t deal with. So, like do you face that in any way? Like do you get a bunch of calls or messages about cases you don’t even handle or in other states?
Mike: I mean, the thing is I’ve taken my firm to a level where we, you know, work with lawyers, you know, virtually across the US, to handle almost every type of legal issue. So, we invite those types of cases. You know, I have tried to place them in different places. And we’re always looking to grow our network of attorneys that we work with. And, you know, for the most part, yeah, sometimes we get cases that aren’t cases, you know, calls that aren’t cases but anyone that has a legal issue, we want to try to help as best we can.
Jim: What has been the reaction of your family members inside the law firm to lawbymike?
Mike: So, initially, they weren’t too happy, especially since I, you know, started in October and left in December. I was supposed to take over the family law firm. Within two months, I’m leaving the family law firm. That was supposed to be my, you know, trajectory of life. You know, take over the family law firm. Continue that PI firm. But the whole social media thing took me on a detour.
And I don’t think my family initially got it at first, when I was like, “Look! I have a million followers.” And then, it’s like, “Look, I have 2 million.” And they’re like, “Cool. What does that mean?” And I tried to explain but kind of had to just take the leap of faith in myself, on my own, for that. But I got them– Now, they love me. I mean, I sent them a case that, you know, got ‘em, I think, over 1.4 million, you know, a settlement in three months. So, I think they understand that social media has some power now but, initially, I don’t think they got it.
Tyson: So, do you have a system for creating your content? And, if so, will you walk us through it?
Mike: Yeah. You know, typically, it starts with thinking of an idea. And nowadays, a lot, we’d go live and we’ll talk to my audience, of followers, and ask them what, you know, they want me to post about and try to get some ideas from the people that are actually viewing the posts.
After coming up with an idea, you know, it’s writing down the law, basically, and then figuring out how to say it in 30 seconds, or less, which is a difficult task in itself, and making sure you still stay accurate when you’re saying that, you know, something that short. Then, it’s the videography part of filming it and the editing part which I don’t do the editing part or the filming part. My cousin does both those parts. Then, after that, you’re hosting it with putting in text bubbles, thinking about captions, music, all of those things.
So, from start to finish, you know, this 30‑second video can take a minimum, probably an hour of time, which most people don’t know that much work goes into it. And I can tell you that there’s been some 30‑second videos that we’ve probably spent four hours of time. But, on average, we try not to do that. But we put a lot of effort into it, for sure.
Jim: Talk to us about the TikTok algorithm. It’s my understanding that it’s like the best of the bunch. And why is that? And how does that affect your reach?
Mike: Yeah, I think the TikTok algorithm is unique. And I think that other social media platforms are starting to mimic it or try to find ways to mimic it. But what it does is it basically focuses on what the end user wants to see, and what they like the most, and putting that material out to them rather than it being you know, kind of, if you’re familiar with Instagram – at least before Instagram had Reels, it was kind of who’s in your network, and friends and people in your network are the people that see your material. Whereas TikTok pushes content that, you know, thinks you’ll like and it doesn’t matter who it’s from. And, as long as it’s good, you’re going to get pushed out and keep getting pushed out. And then, you have the potential, really, to reach more and more people.
The way you can grow on TikTok and the speed that you can grow on Tick Tock to millions of followers is, you know, unheard of on other social media platforms but that’s, you know, quickly changing. I think a lot– you’ve got YouTube shorts, IG Reels. Everyone’s trying to kind of catch up to that thing because people enjoy, you know, seeing that growth. It makes ‘em happy.
Tyson: So, I think the number one pushback Jim and I get from people, when we tell them they’ve got to do something on social media, whether it’s video ideas, or podcast topics, or something on Instagram, or TikTok, or Facebook, like whatever it is, “We want you to own that channel.” But people say– actually, let’s see what Jim thinks.
Jim, what’s the number one pushback we have from people about– other than videos. Videos is like, “I don’t want be on video.” But, other than videos, what’s the number one pushback we get about creating content?
Jim: I don’t have ideas. I don’t have time. I don’t have a thing to put [inaudible 00:08:28].
Tyson: Ideas. It’s the topic. Yeah, exactly that.
So, do you ever face that? Really, like, “I just don’t have any ideas”? Or do you have another system for creating those ideas? How do you get around that?
Mike: I have yet to run out of ideas, to be honest. And we think we’ve had over 250 posts or something, at this time. I use this app Notion where I literally write down all my ideas. And there’s probably like a hundred just waiting there.
But, for listeners out there, you know, I think if you’re a lawyer trying to figure out what ideas to do, you really got to think about everything from the perspective of the general population, like what is interesting to them. So, I’ve had lawyers, you know, come up to me and say, “Well, you know, I do bankruptcy law. No one wants to hear about bankruptcy law.” I’m like, “Sure. Yeah, you’re probably right. No one does” but just figure out how you can make that so people would be interested in your field of law or, at least, want to reach out to you. And that would be like maybe talk about how to not get in debt, you know, or talk about how to get a better credit score. Things like that. You know, find ways to relate your legal career/profession to something that people generally want to know and, you know, that can help them in their lives on a day‑to‑day basis. So, I think, if you take from that perspective, you can find a lot more creativity in what you’re going to post.
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Jim: You’re listening to the maximum lawyer podcast. Our guest today is Mike Mandell. He’s lawbymike.
And, Mike, talk to us a little bit about newsjacking and sort of, you know, coming up with topics that are timely and things that people are actually interested in at that moment.
Mike: Yeah. Those ones are always more difficult in some sense because, you know, time is of the essence. If you wait too many days– especially with some of our posts, you know, they take some time to edit. You wait too long and then it’s no longer current, kind of miss the boat on that.
But, again, you know, social media is an opportunity to express yourself and you need to stay true to yourself. So, if something is current and you want to talk about it, you shouldn’t shy away from it. And I think it’s a great way for anyone, whether they’re a lawyer or whatever profession they may be doing, to comment on current events because people want to hear other people’s perspectives on it. I mean, that’s why people are listening in to this podcast, right, because people want to hear different perspectives on things. And so, it’s a great extra way to add some content ideas to all the other ideas you may have.
Tyson: So, you talk about so many different areas of law. And I would be worried that I would step in it by getting it wrong because I don’t know all those areas of law. So, like, do you have like a team that researches this stuff or do you do it yourself and you figure it all out? Like, some of it’s really basic, right, but like some of it’s not. Like, some of it, you just would not know. So, how do you do that?
Mike: Yeah. I mean, some things, like you said, are pretty basic. You know, it’s like law school 1L year type things. But, no, it’s researching. We fact check everything. You have to make sure, as a lawyer putting out any of these legal tips, that you’ve fact checked your material because the last thing you want is putting out information that’s incorrect. But it’s just a matter of taking your time to check those things.
But I think for people out there, trying to figure out how to use social media, you don’t necessarily have to do it, you know, how I’m doing it because this is my career, you know, posting about legal tips and educating the public. So, I’m going to cover all the topics, in different topics, in different legal fields. But if you’re, like I said, you know, a bankruptcy lawyer or a family law lawyer, like you can stay within that field in that practice area that you’re comfortable in, just make sure you find ways to make it relevant to people listening and watching.
Jim: When I was in law school, which was before TikTok and the internet was barely around, I often wondered what it would be like if I gave tutorials in the city to young people about how to interact with police. And I know that you’ve done a lot of education on TikTok about that. I’m interested in all of that. Like, talk to me about the messaging, about the feedback that you’ve received, and sort of how that helped build your following.
Mike: Yeah. I mean, those videos and posts were widely popular. And I think, you know, what to say to the cops and how to interact with the police came out, obviously, at a climate when, you know, it was pretty much necessary for people to get some of these answers. It was just surprising for me that so much of this was not taught to anyone, you know.
That’s really why I’ve take on a mission, I guess– not to guess. I mean, we’ve taken on the mission to educate the public about their rights, about how to interact with the police, about how to go to court, how to deal with lawyers, all of those things, because they’re not taught in school. And you, normally, don’t learn about the law until it’s too late and you’re already in court. And that’s not how it should be. You know, it should be let’s prevent people from going to court, right? Let’s prevent you from having to learn about the law when it’s too late and, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done this.” And that’s really the mission that we’ve taken on and, you know, why we put out those videos, so people know. You know, you can invoke the fifth and protect yourself. You don’t have to answer questions and things of that nature.
Tyson: I mean, I think it’s amazing because a lot of people– it’s really like– like, we were kind of talking about. It’s really basic for us but it’s not for them. And these are things that can really keep them out of jail. So, I think that’s fascinating. And from the injury standpoint, too, it can really help them protect their case from the insurance company. So, I think that that stuff’s really great as well.
You know, something I’m not sure that we got to this and, if we did, I missed it. But I know that Jim had asked about the algorithm, but are there tricks or tips to maybe game the algorithm a little bit?
Mike: You know, that is always a tough question because the algorithm’s always changing. So, even when you think you figured it out, the next day you didn’t. But, you know, there’s things to learn about when it comes to hash tags, about timing of posts, about captions. I mean, we’ve spent so countless hours learning everything and, like I said, it constantly changes. But staying up to speed with certain things, yeah, those are tricks, you know.
So, hashtags, captions, timing of posts, how you engage with the audience – all those things are factors. Even the music selection can be a factor on TikTok. The text bubbles. I mean, it’s a constant game of learning the algorithm and trying to stay one step ahead. And a lot of people out there think they have the code cracked but they don’t. It’s more of a way for them just to get more followers too saying that they, you know, one hack that will change your TikTok career or something. It’s not true. But it’s something that we’ve studied a lot.
You know, we have a course that we’re planning on in the future for lawyers to take how to use social media and tips about that are going to go into that as well.
Jim: Mike, when was the last time you were surprised by what happened to one of your videos? In other words, where you thought it was going to be a slam dunk and it wasn’t or vice‑versa, where you were like, “Man, I know about this one” and then it just became something really viral?
Mike: I think I have this one post where it was about the cops. The cops were doing something. And we were at my cousin’s house, like his family’s house. So, my aunt and uncle. And there was a neighbor kid around, so we just asked if he could be in the post. And the line in the post is “that ain’t it, chief” when, I think, he’s about to answer some questions for the cop. And, you know, next thing you know that post was used on like NowThis, and NBC, and like just a bunch of huge platforms. So, it was unexpected that that was going to be like the one that everyone seems to like to include in like a montage or a clip of me and the brand of lawbymike. But that kid has probably seen so much exposure and it’s just something that we didn’t expect especially because, you know, we’re just trying to grab a neighborhood kid to help out with a post.
Tyson: I love it.
So, let’s say you’re just starting out with TikTok, right? Like, what are some no-no’s? Like, what are some things you just– don’t do that. Like that’s a faux pas. You shouldn’t do it. Like what are some of those things?
Mike: I would say don’t have bad lighting. You know, stand in front of the camera, with a monotone voice, and never do anything. Well, certainly, don’t curse and talk about topics that should not be on the internet or topics you don’t want people, you know, knowing that you talked about. I mean, once you put something out there, into the internet, you know, it’s gone. You’re not retracting that. So, you know, make sure you don’t do anything like that.
And I would suggest, you know, really creating a good amount of content before you start. You don’t want to be chasing the next video every time you want to post and trying to figure out, “How do I make the time for it?” and all that. You really want to have an inventory of videos that you want to use ready to go so that it takes the stress off from you and you can put more time into creating it instead of worrying about, you know, “What am I going to post next?”
Jim: Speaking of what comes next, my last question for you, Mike, is, you know, what’s the future? Like where do you see things headed? What are you paying attention to right now?
Mike: There’s so much going on. I feel like every day there’s something else going on. We have Bob and Mike on the Mic which is our podcast. We’ve done about five or six episodes now. We’ve just launched it about two weeks ago. New episode coming out this week. And we have our YouTube channel where we do long form content. Obviously, TikTok and Instagram is where I started out and we’re still coming out with content there. We have our law firm as well. You know, expanding our network of attorneys out there who want to work with us and sending them business.
But then, another thing, I really want to be kind of like the Bill Nye of law. You know, just that person that is educating everyone about the law. I’d love to be in classrooms, and TV, and really take this to a larger level. And, also, maybe even going international and, you know, touring around the world and explaining the laws in different countries because I get a lot of people asking that.
Tyson: I love that. The Bill Nye of law. You heard it here first. I love it. lawbymike and in 10 years, we’re going to look back. “Man, he’s the Bill Nye of law.” I absolutely love it. That’s really cool.
All right, Mike. We do need to wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to join us in the big Facebook group. You can find us there. If you want more‑high level conversation, you can join us in the Guild.Go to maxlawguild.com.
For those of you listening, if you’re not going to the conference, we’ll miss you. The conference is in a few weeks, we’ll see you in a few weeks.
So, Mike, before we get to the tip and the hack, can you give us, the listeners, an idea how they can get in touch with you?
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. If there’s any lawyers out there, you know, they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’re always looking to expand our network of lawyers because we get so much business and people reaching out from across the country. Virtually, on every type of legal issue. And, you know, we’d love for any lawyers out there that want to be part of that network for us to send business, to reach out on that email. You know, we’re selective about who we work with, but we’d love to know that people are eager to work with us and go from there to form a business relationship with them.
Jimmy, what’s your hack the week?
Jim: Before I get to my hack of the week, let me just say that I told a few people that we were having Mike on the show. One of my paralegals Haley, she’s 22, she said, “His TikTok’s are so cool.” And my 12 year old said, “Dad, I follow him. Please tell him that I like his videos. Dad, I love him.” There you go.
And so, my hack of the week. I started a book. I think we’ve talked about it. Some people have talked about it in the group before and on the show. And it’s Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. It’s great. It’s a really great book. You know, these are Navy SEAL guys. And I just finished the first chapter which is, If anything’s wrong, it’s my fault. And sort of taking responsibility for everything that happens in your firm, everything that happens with your team. And I’m really enjoying it, not just the accountability part, but also the thoughts on leadership because, you know, we have so many lawyers who keep wanting to do the legal work and not be a leader. That I think leadership is something that’s really missing in most law firms.
Tyson: 100% agree. That’s great advice. I’ll have to check out that book. Yet another one, I’ve got to put on my list. I just keep adding to the list. Can’t keep up.
But, Mike, we always ask our guests to give a tip or a hack of the week. Do you have a tip or a hack for us?
Mike: Oh, other than not talking to cops without your lawyer, I would say, you know, I think since this is kind of a geared podcast towards social media and that’s what we’ve talked about a lot today, the number one question I get from lawyers is, “How do I make time to do this?” And I think, you know, scheduling time and making a schedule where you can fit things into place has changed my life dramatically. I used to kind of just do these posts whenever I thought I could make time for it. Now, it’s scheduled on a certain day, certain days for writing scripts, certain days for posting. And you find yourself to be a lot more efficient when you do that.
I know that that book you just mentioned, Jim, I actually have that on my desk to read. So, I appreciate the preview. But a lot of that is, you know, you need to create some structure to life, whether that’s owning to that structure but also, you know, keeping to it so that you can make time for everything you want to do.
Tyson: I love it. That’s fantastic. That’s the number one question I ask people in the Guild. I say, “Is it on your calendar?” because if it’s not on your calendar, you just won’t do it. It’s got to be on the calendar. Otherwise, you’ll just ignore it, or you’ll get around to it whenever you have time. And you never have time. So, that’s great advice.
So, my tip of the week is – for a lot of injury lawyers, some of you may know about it, some may not know about it, but since I trialed this week, I’m going to bring it up. triallawyersuniversity.com. It’s either to tlu.com or triallawyersuniversity.com. It’s a great just database of videos and content for people that are trying cases. It gives a lot of great ideas. And a lot of the ideas that I used for the trial, this week, came from that. And I was using it as an experiment. A firm had brought me on to help try their case. And it was fantastic because I was able to experiment a little bit and I used a lot of the things I got from that. It was a lot of help.
So, if you try cases, I highly recommend Trial Lawyers University. Whether it’s injury or otherwise, I highly recommend it because they do have some stuff for criminal defense attorneys, too, so.
But, Mike, thank you so much for coming on. I think it’s fantastic what you do. And thanks for sharing a lot of it with us.
Mike: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Jim: That was great, Mike. Thanks so much, man.
Mike: Yeah, awesome.
Jim: See you, bud.
Tyson: See you, guys. Bye.
Mike: All right. Take care, everyone.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
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