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Tyson: Hey, this is Tyson Mutrux. Really quick, before the episode, I want to thank you so much for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. You’re going to love this episode.
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All right. Now, onto the show.
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: I’m Tyson matrix.
What’s up, Jimbo?
Jim: Hey, bud. Our podcast is almost three years old now. I think we’re getting close to one of our anniversaries.
Tyson: I think we should probably write the anniversary down to know exactly what it is we can celebrate because I just always tell people, “Oh, it’s about three years old. I don’t know the exact date.” If only we had something that we could look at to find out when we launched our first episode. Hmm, maybe I will do that now with my iPhone. What do you think?
Jim: I think it’s pretty funny and maybe it’s part of our shtick about how– I wouldn’t say disorganized we are but how non-traditional we are when it comes to our podcast. I sort of like that, that we’re not like James Schramko. When James Schramko is interviewing somebody, he must have a spreadsheet of all of his past guests on there or past topics because he just flies through that. We’re lucky that we even get the podcast up every week. Of course, if it weren’t for the help of Pavel and Becca, I don’t know that we necessarily would.
Tyson: Hey, man. Can I give us a little more credit? We’re running two decent-sized law firms. We’re doing this in our free time. I’ve got to say, I think like we’re pretty damn organized. Especially for two guys running two separate law firms, I think we’re doing okay. I think we’re all right.
Jim: That’s all thanks to you. I always say that having a partner in crime is very helpful because it keeps me accountable. I think that if it had been one maximum lawyer back in the day, this thing would have been about three episodes long, so thanks for that.
Tyson: Hey, dude. Check this out. We are almost odd-four years, okay. Four-year anniversary. We didn’t even know this. Our four-year anniversary is July 25, 2020. How about that?
Jim: Nice. That’s pretty good. That’s a presidential term, man. I’m wondering if we’re going to get re-elected.
Tyson: I hope so. I’d imagine we would. I hear pretty good things. People seem to like us. At least, they like you. I don’t know.
I hear good things. Hopefully, we’ll be around for a little bit.
I’m going to jump right in. We had a guest bail on us. I’m not going to call you out. You know who you are. I think she just forgot about the recording this morning, so it’s going to give you and I an opportunity to talk about what’s going on and maybe we can convince Pavel to release this early, sort of, have it come out next week.
We are going to talk a little bit about Corona, kind of what our worries are, our fears. Hopefully, make people feel a little bit better because I’m sure they’re hearing a bunch of this and they don’t want to hear much more about it, but maybe how to cope in this time and how to deal with your firm.
Jimbo, I think this all kind of started, you texted me at 4:44 this morning. Whenever I got up, I texted you. I was like, “What the hell were you doing?” So, what’s up? What’s on your mind?
Jim: Well, you know it’s serious because I just stood up. I’ve been sitting down recording our episodes. I haven’t stood up when we do episodes in a while but I just raised the mic and I’m standing up. I just feel a little stronger that way.
I shot a video on my backyard yesterday. I do those sometimes when I’m barbecuing or when I’m doing stuff. I’ve got to tell you, I feel a little off center. Everything just seems a little strange. I sort of vacillate between staying the course, feeling confident, going day-by-day, and just wanting to keep going. And then, at the other end of the spectrum, I sort of wake up in the middle of the night, worried about my people, about my team, about my clients, and about what’s going to happen.
It’s just interesting. There’s so much that’s out of our control right now. Everything’s coronavirus, social media. It’s everywhere. Everybody’s thinking about it. Everybody’s talking about it.
Our good members are worried about and they’re concerned about what’s going to happen next. I think that it’s an interesting time to be a lawyer and it’s an interesting time to be running a firm. There are so many facets that this is going to touch, that this setback of regular social life is really going to impact us in ways that, even right now, we can’t even imagine, I think.
Tyson: Here’s why it’s so unsettling to me though. It’s not the uncertainty. We all face uncertainty in our lives. It’s that, as of right now, my life has not changed much. You and I are both at the office right now. No one else was at our offices but we’re both at the office. You and I have that luxury. A lot of people listening to this have the luxury where all the employees are at home and we can go to the office. I mean, that’s a luxury. I have two empty offices. I’ve got one in Clayton. I’ve got one in Columbia. They’re completely empty. Everyone else is working like it’s normal, like everything else seems pretty normal. My weekend was pretty normal. It has not really kicked in yet where things are really going to change a lot. I think that that’s what’s so unsettling.
You know me. I’ve got our Thursday night date night. Amy and I, we go and have our date. It will start to become real on Thursday when we don’t go to date night. We’re going to go and make a dinner and go take it down by the river in the truck and we’re going to go and enjoy it.
That’s where like things are going to start to change. I guess, it just hasn’t hit me yet. I think that that’s what’s so unsettling is that everything seems normal, right? Everything still seems normal and it hasn’t hit us. I’m waiting for this big wave to crash down on top of us. It hasn’t happened yet. I think that’s what’s so unnerving.
Jim: I think it’s going to be a slow wave. I don’t know if it’s going to be a big wave. It’s going to be just like a continual change in usual behavior, and usual conduct, and usual occurrences. Part of me really wants to be rah-rah-rah and tell the troops in Maximum Lawyer how great everything’s going to be because, generally, I’m an optimist. I do think that there are some things that we can take away from this.
It wasn’t lost on me, that our good friend, Elise [inaudible 00:07:35], who lived through the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. And then, she’s now in Seattle, which is sort of America’s ground zero for the coronavirus. She said, in a very lovely way, I thought, that she learned a lot about herself from Katrina and she’s looking forward to learning a lot about herself now.
I keep thinking– you know, one of my favorite Disney movies, Pixar movies is Wall-E. There’s that scene at the end where everybody’s been plugged into their big fat lives, and they have their screens and their double [inaudible 00:08:13] delivered to them on a cart. It just seems to me that we’re all going to be waking up and re-evaluating things. I’m always going to try to find the optimism but, at the same time, it’s hard not to be a bit overwhelmed.
Tyson: I’m not there yet. To be honest with you, I’m not there yet. I know it’s going to happen. I am trying to. I mean, I’m planning. It’s not like I’m not planning. I think there’s this sort of– I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. I guarantee I’m not the only one. I feel like I’m planning for something that may never happen but that it most likely will happen. You know what I mean? It’s just weird because there’s just so much going on in other parts of the world that’s not hit us yet. Like, in Missouri, there’s six cases right now. It’s just not around us yet. But I’m planning for all these things and I’m sure it will. I think you’re right.
The movie I think about, when I was a kid– I remember seeing this movie called Night of the Comet. I could never find it. I found it recently, before all the coronavirus. Absolutely. It was like November or December. I saw it on TV, Night of the Comet. I remember, it was either a man or a woman, they walk outside and everyone’s gone, like no one’s out. It’s kind of how it is right now. Like, there’s not a lot of people out in the open. There’s not a lot of that going on right now. I think it is going to be a weird world that we’re living in.
When it comes to planning, you and I have some very tough decisions to make very soon, so we’ve got to figure things like that out. It affects Maximum Lawyer. It affects our firms. It affects our clients.
I met with a client yesterday and gave them a settlement check. In a week or two, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that. Honestly, I don’t know if I should have done that yesterday but I took all the precautions that I could take. All these things that we have to adapt to. I think it’s going to be uncomfortable over the next few weeks.
Jim: Well, I totally get what you said about not being there yet. I get that. But, to me, there’s a couple things that we sort of can’t outrun. Number one is you can’t outrun the virus. The virus is a virus. The virus doesn’t care if we’re ready. The virus doesn’t care if our politicians are ready. The virus is going to do what it does and all we can do to minimize that is to cut off as much human contact as possible. That’s one thing.
The other thing is that, we often talk about– especially when we meet with our financial advisors, with the value of compounded interest and sort of how numbers grow exponentially. This virus, in so many ways, is math. If you’re just watching what’s happening in New York City right now, that’s sort of a place, obviously, where there’s lots of people but the virus has come in and now it’s just growing exponentially every day. The same with Italy, you know. And so, we are so underprepared, as a country, that I totally get when you say that you’re not there yet but I think, at the same time, it doesn’t really matter because it’s coming.
Tyson: I completely agree. It is coming. It’s just it’s that way, whether it’s a big way that just falls on top of us or one that’s slowly – one like you’re talking about, it is going to come.
There is an opportunity here, right? There are a lot of people that are affected where they’re not going to make any money over the next couple of months, right? Your practice as well. My practice as well. It’s going to affect settlements because I’m not going to be able to get a hold of insurance adjusters and they’re not going to mail me checks.
I’ve got wrongful death cases that have recently settled that I can’t get court appearances on. All these things. There’s people that have jury trials. I’ve got one in May. There’s no way in hell we’re having a jury trial in May. It’s one of my biggest cases. That’s going to hit us financially.
All these things that are going to affect all of us. It sucks but I think that there is a silver lining where we can definitely sit down and analyze our businesses. We’re sort of getting this timeout which is it’s going to be sort of nice where we can take a breather and we can analyze our businesses. Now is a prime time to go back and look at your businesses and see where you can cut the fat.
Those of you that don’t listen to me in December, whenever I tell you every year to go look and see where you’re spending money and cancel those subscriptions. Now’s the time to do it again. If you didn’t listen to before, listen to me now. You can really crack down. Some of you are going to have to make really tough decisions at some point I think is, “Do you have too much staff?” That’s a really crappy thing to think about right now but it’s something you might have to look at. And so, we’re going have to look inside, and look internally, and really address some of these really tough questions that we’re all going to have to address at some point. It sucks but we’re going to have to. I think there is an opportunity to make your firms leaner and stronger.
Jim: You and I were texting back and forth this morning when you’re quizzing me. And so, I was awake at 4:44. You said, “Well, this is a good time to work on your systems and improving things.” I absolutely agree with that. I totally think that this is a good chance to relook at everything.
So often, we run around as lawyers running law firms and we say, “Oh, my God, I’m so busy. If only I could slow down.” Well, be careful of what you ask for because we’re all going to be slowing down here pretty soon. I think that it is a good opportunity to look at everything.
One thing I’ve been doing this week is I’ve just been taking a lot harder looking at our leads and being much more diligent following up. As things slow down, workwise, I’m going to have the team working on improving our systems. We just finished our migration into Filevine about a month and a half ago. That’s a really good opportunity for us to build out all our workflows and all that stuff. There’s plenty of time for that and there’s plenty of time to think about what is it that’s really important and what is it that we really want.
Tyson: Here’s the way I look at this. We were at an advantage as a firm because all we had to do was make the decision and we were able to work [inaudible 00:14:08]. That’s all we had to do. We’re already set up for it, so it’s a matter of where you’re going to work. We said, “We’re working from home.” I was talking to an attorney yesterday where he was out buying computers for his staff. Like, we didn’t have any of that. We were already set up for it.
I think there are a lot of opportunities here where now’s the time to dig in. Instead of sitting around the internet all day, watching Netflix, and reading about the coronavirus and watching news, I think you can be doing what you were doing, Jim, as in go back and look at your leads. Dig in and start doing the work that you can do now because you’re planting those seeds for two months. Whenever everyone comes out of the shadows, everyone comes outdoors, they can start working again. If you’re doing that and your competitors are not, either, if they’re ahead of you, you’re going to close the gap or, if you’re ahead of them, you’re going to open that distance even more. Now’s a really, really good time to dig in and work on your businesses.
Let’s say that you’ve been putting off a bunch of stuff on a bunch of files. Well, guess what, now’s the time to work on those files. You can really dig in and make the best of this situation instead of sitting around and thinking about what could have been, how bad it is.
Jay Ruane is one of the smartest people that you and I know. He’s a criminal defense attorney. He just said yesterday that, basically, the police departments that were not arresting anybody, no speeding tickets– people are only getting arrested for like violent felonies, so that really limits how many cases he can get. Do you know what he’s doing? He is ramping up, baby.
He is going back through his systems. He’s beefing up his team in certain areas. He is going back to the drawing board to redo everything. He sees this as an opportunity. He could see it as a really bad situation, which it is. He could just go and sit down and watch CNN, or Fox News, or CNBC all day about the coronavirus. Instead, he’s going back in. He’s digging deep and he’s trying to find another way out of this. I think that’s where there’s an opportunity.
Jim: You and I both got a chance to speak to the Connecticut Bar last week about different things related to running a law firm. I started my presentation with Carol Dweck’s book Mindset and talking about an open mindset and a fixed mindset. I know this is hard. I know that there’s a lot to be said about it but you’ve got to at least turn the volume down on that and try to do what Jay is doing, what an inspiration. That’s something we should all be striving for, as maximum lawyers is, you know.
I did not mean to make any kind of a religious post yesterday, but I put the Serenity Prayer on the Maximum Lawyer page just because, to me, it encapsulates everything that’s going on right now. We need serenity to accept the things we can’t change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I don’t want to get all religious on people but I think that really boils it down to where we are right now is that there’s so much of this that’s out of our control and so many lawyers are control freaks. We like to run our own firm and we like to be lawyers because we like to try to control outcomes. And so, so much of this is out of our control or is soon to be out of our control, that we’re going to get down to brass tacks and we’re going to have to focus on the things that we can change.
And so, you’re absolutely right. I had a couple of days last week where I was watching the news a lot. Generally, that’s sort of something I try to avoid but I wanted to stay informed. Now, it’s past that now. We’ve got to just work on the things that we can do and work on the things we can control and just give up or turn over the things that are out of our control.
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Tyson: You and I did not prepare to talk about anything in particular, but I want to ask you about– who knows, we may cut this out of the episode. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on the conference?
Jim: Well, here’s what I’ve been thinking. We had some travel plans. This is ironic. This week, for spring break, we were originally planning on being in China of all places. And then, we cancelled that and we had a backup trip plan to California to see my wife’s brother and [inaudible 00:19:35] visit San Diego State where it looks like he’s going to be attending next year.
And then, Yousuf and I, in the house, we were the ones sort of on the front end of paying attention to this stuff. Yousuf and I were like, we were talking to Amani about having to cancel this trip. This was a week and a half ago. I turned to Yousuf and I said, “Yousuf, we don’t have to convince [inaudible 00:19:55] because things are going to become obvious and decisions are going to be made for us, right?”
And even with you, I think I might have mentioned that to you, off and on, over the last couple of days while we were kicking around different ideas. That’s sort of where I get to when I talk about the virus doesn’t care, you know, it’s just going to be what it is. I think that the chances of us having the conference in June are very, very slim.
I think that you and I have a call with Becca and Anika after this call. I think that, again, it’s going to become pretty obvious that the conference is not going to be happening in June. Like you said, we might cut this out if you’re strongly disagreeing with me. I think that if we just sit tight, and keeping in mind our deadlines of things, that it’s going to be pretty obvious that people aren’t going to be traveling much in June and they’re not going to be going to casinos.
Tyson: Yeah. I don’t disagree with you. It’s one of those things where this conversation didn’t just start. We’ve been having this conversation. We’ve been monitoring this. We luckily have friends that care about us and that are part of Maximum Lawyer that had been reaching out to us and making suggestions.
[inaudible 00:21:07] three weeks ago, some of the maximum lawyers reached out to us and were telling us, “Hey, it’s coming. We need to be ready.” We’ve been monitoring this for a while. This isn’t something that just kind of surprised us. I think you’re probably right, I’m still sort of holding out a little bit. I’ve got a little bit of hope. Sometimes I’m a little over overly optimistic. The situation is no different, so I am a little optimistic. I think we should wait a little bit to pull the trigger.
Now, what people don’t know is you and I have contractual obligations that we’ve got to make decisions by certain days, and write checks and things like that, and we’ve got to decide whether or not we’re going to invoke certain clauses. There’s a lot of things that you and I, internally, have to decide. Whether we move it or cancel it, I think you and I are both strongly leaning towards moving it instead of canceling it, so moving to a later date.
The venue, we’ve talked to them and it sounds like they’re flexible. Now, if they’re not flexible, you and I are going to have to flex the muscle with some certain clauses that we can invoke but that’s going to depend on other things.
I think I think you’re right. As of right now, it doesn’t seem like it will happen in June but I wouldn’t say that that’s a final decision yet. It’s something we’ll want to talk about. If you’re listening to this, the decision is not made that we’re moving, that we’re just strongly considering. That’s kind of my thoughts on it.
And then, I want to be vague in what I’m about to say, Jim. This could be another one where we may want to cut it out. You and I were thinking about launching something and it’s pretty cool, right? I think you and I were both pretty excited about it but we’re hesitant about doing it.
I think that’s what’s great about Maximum Lawyer is we can be open and honest about things like this but you’ve got some concerns. I’ve got some concerns as well, but you’ve got some concerns. And so, do you want to talk about– let’s not say what it is that we’re thinking about launching but it’s something that’s cool. What are your concerns?
Jim: Well, this is super cryptic. You’re being super cryptic.
Tyson: [inaudible 00:23:10]. I guess, I am.
Jim: First, I want to piggyback on what you said before that, you brought that up. And that is, one of the things I like about you so much is your optimism. I appreciate that about you not wanting to shut it down. With both things, both the conference and the cool thing, I think that, number one, you and Becca have done a great job on pushing the cool thing, but I think that it’s just going to become obvious pretty soon that entering a new kind of reality. I’m still open to it. You’ve made some persuasive arguments. I’m still open to it but maybe we should have had our meeting with Becca first and then recorded the episode [inaudible 00:23:45].
It’s so weird, but I do think that with so much of this stuff, it’s just going to become obvious. I was playing wiffle ball with the kids yesterday. We were very excited because Amazon was able to deliver our new wiffle balls because we cracked the old one. We’ve been playing a lot of wiffle ball in the front yard. It’s funny, we play wiffle ball and we talk. We play wiffle ball and we talk.
One of the things is I was like, “It’s almost like we’re going to need a big timeout”, like everything just is going to come to a standstill. And it’s almost like, people shouldn’t have to pay their mortgages for a couple of months, and people aren’t going to go to work for a couple months, and we’ve just got to focus on keeping the food supply, electricity, internet and all those things running.” I think that there’s a lot of expressions about the futility of man’s plans. I think that we’re in a situation where we could plan all we want but [inaudible 00:24:39] support our plan.
Tyson: Well said.
All right, we’re ready to wrap. I think we’ve talked about this enough. We will talk to Becca about our cool idea, our cool thing. [inaudible 00:24:54] maybe make an announcement.
Jim: We always have calls to action at the end of the podcast. That’s another thing I like about you is that you’re always able to pull that off [inaudible 00:25:05] and smoothly, unlike I am right now.
I would just encourage everybody to reach out to one of their fellow lawyers. I’m sure everyone’s going to feel really isolated with the social distancing and people staying away from each other. I think that we’re all going to need to connect. We’re going to have to figure out different ways to connect. Our buddy, Nick [inaudible 00:25:24] has been having these online meetings where everybody’s just hopped on video and you can talk about anything but the coronavirus. I think we might want to do some things like that. I think that it’s easy to get dragged down by this certain set of circumstances. I’m just encouraging all our members to reach out to each other, reach out to you and me. If there’s stuff that we can do to help, we’ll be happy to but even just to talk. I think staying connected is going to be really important during this time.
Tyson: Well, you just stole my tip of the week but I’ve got a backup though, so a part of that connection, I will segue into. The part of that connection is making sure you get involved with the Facebook group. Those of you that are not on the Facebook group, what the hell’s wrong with you? It’s been almost four years, okay? Get in the Facebook group. There’s a lot of great information. We are doing our best to limit the corona virus freakout posts. The corona virus relevant-to-business posts are being kept. The corona virus freakout posts are being deleted. We’re trying to make it as hospitable of a place as possible for you to be.
All right, Jimbo, what is your hack of the week?
Jim: Oh, boy. Hack of the week.
Tyson: This is a weird episode, isn’t it? It feels weird. There’s something weird about it.
Jim: It’s a weird episode. Part of me is like, “Do we even put this thing out there?” but I think that–
I woke up this morning and I said to myself, “You know, we just have to be as real as possible and check into where we’re really at and everything else will sort itself out.”
Well, my hack of the week is, since you can’t go to the bookstore, go to your bookshelf for all those books that you’ve bought and haven’t read yet because that’s me – I have a big stack of those books, and set aside time. You can even pretend. Like, for me, I can even pretend in my own library of books that I’m shopping because there’s so many books that I’ve bought and haven’t read. I’ve got plenty of books to read and use this time, find some quiet time to be by yourself. Even in your house, you’re going to need mental space. So, get to it. Keep trucking. Find those books and get ready to, as you said, come out on the other side stronger.
Tyson: We’ve got a bonus hack. If you’re not reading the books or if you haven’t read the books and you need to cash, sell them. That is another way of you making a little bit of money while you’re while you’re not practicing, so a little bonus hack.
My tip of the week is a fun little app that I found over the weekend. Actually, I think I was scrolling through Instagram or something and that’s how I stumbled upon it. It’s called Cartoona. I think there’s some creative little fun ways you can use the Cartoona app. What you’re allowed to do, through the app, is turn on the base model. You can upgrade base. With like any other app, you can upgrade and get more options. There’s a lot of other templates you can use where you can take your photographs and turn them into cartoon. Really, really, really cool. I’m going to do some fun little Facebook posts with them over the next couple of weeks because we’re going to have a lot of time. And so, I’m going to do that. Probably, I was going to up our social media game even more just because everyone’s going to be on social media over the next month and a half, at least. So, my tip of the week is Cartoona.
Jimbo, it’s been fun.
Jim: I don’t like to call it fun but it’s in the can and we’re going to keep on going.
Tyson: It’s been interesting. See you, man.
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.