Today we’re excited to share a presentation by Ryan Anderson from MaxLawCon 2021! Tune in to learn all about hiring execs, recruiting, and building your firm.
Ryan Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of Filevine. Before starting Filevine, Ryan was a founding partner at a western-states firm focused on personal injury, mass tort, and employment class action. With lived experience litigating hundreds of cases, including successful trials with 7-figure settlements, Ryan faced stress and process issues at his firm. He decided to build a solution to solve his problems.
Today, rated as one of the top automation tools for law firms, legal departments, and businesses, Filevine is on a continual path of growth. Ryan is a proud husband and father of 5 children and resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. His goal is to change the face of legal work and help lawyers be happier, less stressed, and better equipped to achieve their goals.
7:54 conflict based profession
10:27 built a team
12:36 LinkedIn profile
15:15 take them to lunch
18:06 radical honesty
21:37 most football teams can’t have more than one star running back
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Transcript: Creating A Rockstar Executive Team with Ryan Anderson
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2021. Keep listening to hear Ryan Anderson as we share his talk creating a rockstar executive team. You can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Have you grabbed your ticket to this year’s conference? If not, head to max law comm 2020 two.com to get yours today. Now to the episode,
run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
I just want to say a quick story. This is how important this conference is to me. And I didn’t realize it until Gary came up to me and said, Hey, so you guys don’t lead docket now. And I said, Yeah, we do. And then he said, Well, we both were really happy with it. The founder of the docket is a guy named Eric Kaufman. And I met him in 2019 at the theater conference just two years ago, and we went up top to the roof of for the conference was over and negotiated the sale of the docket happen right at max law con. So this place has a very special part of my heart, Jim and Tyson amazing community. It’s just incredible. I want to talk today about recruiting. There’s like a lot of things I’m not very good at. But I’m pretty good at recruiting. So before I get into kind of why you should recruit. It’s the hardest thing for lawyers to do. I think recruiting is so challenging for us, because we think, Well, hey, we went to law school, and we’re successful and we’ve got a good firm, why would we have to spend time convincing people to work for us, we should simply put an ad on Craigslist or wherever you put ads nowadays. And they should come to us. The good ones never will. Let’s talk a little bit about though. First of all, I want to talk about executives. So I’m not talking about lawyers. Today, I want to talk about executives, these are people to help you run your business. So chief financial officer relationship to the average profits per equity partner, so firms with a CFO, the average partner earns 894,000, firms with the CFO, substantially more 1.2 million firms with an HR recruiting officer relationship to average profits per partner, again, firms with somebody in HR make considerably more money per partner than firms without Chief Information Officers Chief Technology Officer. It doesn’t have to be that big of a title. It can just be an IT director, it can be an admin, a paralegal, somebody at your firm who’s actually handling the technology firms with somebody who does this one thing are much better off financially than firms that don’t. And yet 71% of law firm leaders believe that increased reliance on seafood professionals is a permanent change in the legal industry. I believe that too. We all know that there is sort of laws kind of expanding and may be the case. And it already is the case in certain states that you can have equity and not be a lawyer, right. So it can be the case in Arizona, that some of these people can actually come into your firm and actually have equity. So we believe that this is a significant trend and law. And we think that law firms that will thrive are law firms that understand that they need to hire execs, these people don’t look like us. They don’t come in in a suit and tie. They don’t come in with a briefcase. They don’t look like lawyers, they kind of talk differently, they feel different. And they talk about the places they have been, and the work that they do in a much different way. You all and I we all talk about verdicts and settlements and claims and things like that. They don’t talk about that kind of stuff. They talk about the prior company they worked at, they talk about logos. So I’m gonna give you a little acronym, silly. It’s kind of dumb. But I want to talk to you about how to hire a rock star executive team. Now many of you here are just looking to hire the first person. Just a little note, from our research at file vine, what we have found is that a law firm needs somebody administrative after five people. So if you’re a lawyer, you got maybe a partner couple paralegals or receptionist, your next hire needs to be somebody administrative. They don’t necessarily need to be technical, but they need to be somebody administrative. Once you hit that point, we have seen a clean break, and I’m going to tell you something controversial. And I shouldn’t tell you and I’m getting in trouble for telling you, but I don’t care. Cleo is a big competitor of ours. And Cleo is on the record indicating that they have a lot of trouble selling to firms above five users. And there’s a reason for that. Because firms above five users have a management problem. And as soon as You have a management problem, you need big boy software like flatline. All right. So big girl software, big woman’s, non gender neutral, right gender neutral software, but you need good software to actually manage an entire team. So the first thing that you want to think about are the requirements, you need to analyze what you need. So are you just hiring that first person? Or are you hiring your first manager? Who’s a non lawyer? Or are you hiring your first manager of a manager, I can tell you hiring a manager of a manager is an entirely different thing than simply hiring a manager, a manager of a manager, somebody who’s managing multiple people who manage, those are very different kinds of people. And their skill set has to be significantly higher, this person should probably have had experience managing before. So if you’re, if you’re hiring a manager of managers, make sure that they have managed others before it should not be their first management position. But if you’re just hiring somebody to be a manager in your 567 person law firm, no problem. It’s fine. If you just have a first time manager, all right, I can’t talk about this enough, obtain a high EQ. Now you might think to yourself, oh, what Ryan saying is, I need to hire somebody with a high IQ. Now, they’re gonna have higher IQ than you because they’re not lawyers. They’re not the problem. We’re the problem.
What I can tell you, and what I have learned in doing this job is it turns out that being a lawyer and getting mad at people for a living and threatening people for a living, and finding ways to trick somebody, so they do something wrong. So you get that you can then use it in court for living, that actually makes you like kind of a terrible manager. It makes you not a very good person. And what ends up happening is executives, they will see that a mile away. They expect so much more from you than a lawyer who thinks that he is God’s gift to everybody. And when he walks in the room, everyone should scurry about and just do what he says, I promise you, they will expect you to treat them difference. I have to like, and I’m still learning this, I’m still far from perfect at this. I have to like turn down the intensity. Like I can I almost like mentally see myself go Okay, Ryan, there are non lawyers in your presence. You need to turn down the intensity knob and speak and act slower, softer, more methodical, not shoot from the hip, they expect a far higher degree of EQ from you, than you have probably dealt with before. Lawyers are rough and tumble. I’m gonna go back real quick. Lawyers are rough and tumble. We’re okay with conflict. We like conflict. A lot of people in this room that do PII, especially personal injury litigation, it is a conflict based profession, I can promise you, nowhere else in the world. Are there conflict based professions. This isn’t a thing that other people do. If you’re at Adobe, or Microsoft or Google, or we’ve, we’ve hired people from all three of those. They don’t walk into work thinking, how can I screw the person I’m working with? They don’t ever think that they think how can I build? How can I execute? How can I do this thing better? How can I build a team, they’re thinking completely different than we are? Chase. All right, this one’s near and dear to my heart, if you are hiring an executive, and I would especially say once you’re getting to a manager of a manager, these people do not respond to LinkedIn ads, or to zip recruiter ads, not at the level you want. I’m just I get very bad news for you. If you are really good at your job. And other people think you are really good at your job. And you’ve got promotions in your site in your career path. And you could pick up the phone and get a job at another place easily. Because everyone knows you and the reputation that you built. You’re not looking, just think about it for a minute. The subset of people that are looking for a job are the kinds of people that don’t have those things, great people, they’ve got a million options. They are great. And everyone knows they’re great. And they’re sitting in their companies, and they could pick up the phone tomorrow and get a job. They could probably pick up the phone tomorrow and get a promotion. That’s the kind of economy we’re in. They will not come to you. I’m sorry. They’re not going to. You have to go find them. And you have to be humble and to convince them that they should come work for you. This is hard if you don’t have the money to hire a full time recruiter, and I would expect almost nobody here does biobank only recently. I think we have our fifth full time recruiter, but that was only a while ago. Two things. Number one, I would not be afraid if you’re hiring a manager of a manager to use a recruiting service. I know it’s expensive, trust me. I know I have paid these people far too much money 10s of 1000s of dollars. I mean I think paid You’re 50 or 60 grand for some of the people that we’ve hired. But I can tell you, our head of sales who’s now been with us for three years, I looked for everybody within my network. And I could not find anybody even close to as good as the person that this recruiter found. And this individual, Sean, doubt a lot, a lot of you have probably been sold by him. And if you’ve been on a phone call with Sean, look out, he’s really, really good. And he has built a team of something like 50 folks beneath him, because he is that good. And he had a million options, and he was found for us by a recruiter. And as somebody who thinks they’re pretty good at recruiting, and I think I’m pretty good at recruiting. If I’m humble enough to do it, you guys should try it too. It’s worth it to hire recruiter for certain positions, and, you know, contingency based recruiter, but if you can’t, you’re gonna have to find these people yourselves. You’re gonna have to call them up, email them, invite them to lunch, you’re going to have to chase them.
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Now, we talked a little bit about key candidates. These are people who care about different things. They don’t care about the verdicts, we’ve talked about this, they don’t care about settlements. Here’s what they care about. And lawyers, I think often care less about this fact that the people in this room kind of trend more technical, more modern. But how many people in here have a LinkedIn profile? So almost all of you, okay, lots of lawyers don’t I know tons of lawyers that don’t have LinkedIn profiles. But the people you will hire that are non lawyers. That’s all they care about. They care about that LinkedIn profile, and they care about the logos that are sitting on it, what is in their logo history on that LinkedIn profile. And they’re thinking to themselves, if I come work for your firm, will that logo look good or bad? They’re building a career, you guys are building firms. It’s not the same thing. You’re building a firm, they’re building a career. And that career that they’re building is sitting on that LinkedIn page, and every single logo they have they care about. So you’ve got to say to them, why does it matter? That they would take a job from you that accompany sprint, for instance, Sprint’s here in St. Louis Right? Close? Why would they take a logo like that, and then go work for your law firm? There has to be a good reason. Now there might be a good reason, right? Maybe your law firms had amazing settlements, maybe your law firm has had amazing verdicts, maybe you have made new law in your state, maybe you do incredibly generous and charitable things at your law firm. Maybe you’ve made the news for intriguing cases that you’ve handled, but you’re gonna have to find a reason why your logo is better than the one they’re at now. That’s really hard. All right, you’re gonna have to sell yourself. And this is what you’re probably the best at right talking about your achievements, talking about the things you’ve done in a courtroom or with other lawyers or talking about the law firm you built. But it can feel a little bit. It can feel hard, right? We’re talking to somebody who’s a non lawyer, it is a little bizarre that we have a profession where we describe the entire world that isn’t us as non lawyers. Most people don’t think of themselves as a non lawyer. We only think of them as non lawyers. You’re going to have to sell yourself as somebody who can build their career. And the worst news about this, and this is the hardest part for me. They’re gonna be thinking, what will it look like after I leave? What is the next step for me? Now, of course, we want them to stay forever, of course, but they have to consider that because again, they’re not building a law firm. They’re building a career. All right, talent. This is a big one. And I’m glad Craig Goldfarb is up here. He prides himself on having a team that cares about each other loves each other. There’s a lot of love have in that office, I’ve seen it, I’ve been to it, I felt that myself. If you have great people that love you and care about you and love working for you, and you’re trying to recruit somebody, the best thing you can do is bring in that exec from that business from that non law firm, sit them down, take them to lunch, and bring your team. Because if they can tell that your team loves you, that they like you that they care about you that they’re everybody’s kind of committed to going in the same direction. They want to be a part of that. We recently hired Denise, President CFO of foul line. And I can tell you, he told me, it did not matter to him. The numbers, he looked at them all, by the way, I mean, how am I gonna assume he looked at every single number in the business when he came over having worked at Docusign. But what did it for him with competing offers from Silicon Valley companies who have raised gargantuan hundreds of millions of dollars? What did it for him was our team. That’s what he told me and I believed him because he could feel in the room that there was care and attention to one another. And the words he used were I can tell you really like each other. You all have that at your law firms. I know that you do. Show it to the person that you’re recruiting actually have them meet these people. All right. That’s the nice easy thing to say that sounds really lovey dovey and nice. here’s the here’s the hard part. Don’t trust their references. Like done it. I wouldn’t even call honestly, like, if they give you the reference, I would I would not even call. You can call Sure, fine. But that’s a waste of time. What What idiot is going to put a reference that doesn’t like them on the resume? No, no one’s doing that. You need to find backchannels the know these people that can talk to you honestly, and they don’t know you’re talking to them. That’s the only way if I have made any mistake in hiring, and I’ve made several, and I make them all the time. But it is failing to do that. It can be really hard. By the way. I’ve got Maria Qaeda right here. Maria Kato, came out of Silicon Valley. She was a talk desk, which is a very well respected Silicon Valley company done extraordinarily well multibillion dollar business. And she doesn’t know this is the first time I’m telling her this, but she probably knows because everybody does this in tech. I found people who knew Maria. I found them. I emailed them. And I said, I’m talking to Maria, can you give me a little bit of advice about her, and they got on the phone with me. She didn’t know it. But I talked to them, and they gave her a good review. It sucks, right? It’s not like easy, it’s not the number sitting there in front of you. It takes a little bit of extra legwork. But if you do that, boy, if somebody who they didn’t tell you likes them, that’s a much better chance that you found somebody good. And of course, it’s also a much better chance that you’re gonna find somebody who has some problems that you shouldn’t hire. The last thing I want to touch on is radical honesty. And I believe in this I think a lot of people in this room believe in this. But we have our head of recruiting a woman named Aaron Grosso. She came from Goldman Sachs, phenomenal recruiting lead. And I have actually had her videotape how she handles radical honesty, and how she deals with Glassdoor reviews and and difficult things that a candidate might ask her. So I’m actually going to have her talk to you in this video.
So and I’m a Director of Talent Acquisition here at file line. I joined file vine a few months ago in April 2021. And since then, it’s truly been a ride on the rocketship. And I’m so excited to be part of this incredible journey. Prior to file vine I was an experienced hire occurred at Goldman Sachs for about three and a half years. And I covered a variety of different divisions such as controllers, tax risk, and the Executive Office for all of our office locations across the US. I heard about file vine through my professional network. One of the best ways in which talent is identified is through these types of networks. Now networks can be anything as large as a LinkedIn or Facebook group, but it can also be as small and personalized. As a previous colleague you knew from another role, or friend of a friend who is looking but no someone in a similar role who might be you follow those crumbs and they can often lead to conversations with candidates you would never have engaged with otherwise. As Ryan highlights above creating an impactful executive team is not focused on one hire alone. It’s a series of the perfect hires for the right roles at the right time and at the right stage in the candidates professional career. Does it sound like a nice way to say that when the stars align, you’ll find the right person? Well, it is. Every step that Ryan has shared is important, but I want to especially stress the final step radical honesty. Radical Honesty is one of my key pillars. When it comes to an all encompassing recruiting strategy. It’s integral to each step of the recruiting cycle from the first intake call to the final hire. To put it bluntly, you will not keep people at your company if they feel they were misled or disillusioned in the recruitment process. So be completely honest with your candidate about the challenges the job, take particular care to explain which kinds of on the ground work they’ll be expected to perform. Executives are accustomed to having full teams they managed to complete the work. Be very clear with them about whether and when they’ll be able to hire Are their own managers or frontline workers for the particular tasks, set out milestones of success that will mark when those hires can happen. Also, throughout the process, be radically honest with yourself and your team set out realistic expectations for the profiles you’re seeking. Recruiters should not be shy in providing the advice on what requirements are attainable, versus what might be challenging or niche to find. We often come to the recruitment process with maybe rigid ideas about our expectations. But the best recruiters do remain flexible. a hiring manager might lay out the candidate they want saying, I’d like a controller with five years experience a CPA, a GPA of 3.50 and a big four background to and a good recruiter should pause and ask. Okay, I heard you mentioned the big four. What about a smaller CPA firm outside of those? Are you open remote candidates? Could the candidate be in process of becoming CPA certified? When we’re honest with ourselves about our needs, we can open up the field of consideration to find the true best fit for the role. In the end, radical honesty aligns expectations with reality. And that allows your new executive and your entire team to hit the ground running and ultimately build toward long term success.
Thanks, everybody. I want to end with one quick story that my co founder, Jim Blake, my technical co founder, the person who actually wrote file vine, much of it that he told me, we were starting to hire more engineers, and the engineers were taking a long time. And you all know if you’re following customers, everything takes far longer than you think it’s going to. And I said to him, I don’t understand how come they can’t, they’ll be like you. And he was kind of joking. And he said, Well, they’re most teams, most football teams can have more than one star running back. Why? Because the other star running back is gonna go to another team. They don’t want to stack up all behind one person. He’s he’s right. I bet if I asked this room, how many people have somebody in their office that can’t live without the number of hands would be probably unanimous. But to really grow, you need a second one and a third and a fourth. You got to have a lot of people that you can’t live without the talent density has to be higher within your firms to grow the way each of you deserve to grow. Thank you so much. This is one of the best conferences. I love you guys.