This week on the show we have Matthew Yospin, a patent and intellectual property attorney. Matthew works with businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits, government agencies and inventors to protect their ideas and inventions with IP and business strategies.
In today’s episode we’ll talk about marketing, how he uses online intake forms to screen clients, and posting a video a day!
Jim recommends listening to the old podcasts, there’s about 190 episodes now which is around 100 hours’ worth of content on running your firm and marketing.
Some of those old episodes are his favorites. Episode 40 with Will Norman about going solo is the most listened to episode. Jim’s favorite episode is #29, which was law firm roulette where they picked a city in California, picked a practice area, and then critiqued people’s websites. If this is your first episode, go back and listen to some old ones and find topics that interest you.
Tyson received Rocket Book for his birthday. It’s a reusable notebook that uploads your notes automatically to whatever cloud you want them to go to.
Play with the tools that you already have, whatever software or hardware you’re already using. Don’t be afraid to play around with it and to find other ways to use it. For two reason, because as lawyers, we tend to be cautious and, as adults, we tend not to value play enough.
Don’t forget to sign up for MaxLawCon20! TODAY 3/2/20 is the last day to save $100 on your ticket!
For more details on MaxLawCon visit: https://maximumlawyer.com/max-law-con-2020/
Thanks so much for listening to the show! To keep on maximizing your firm, please join our Facebook Group – Maximum Lawyer, like us on Facebook – Maximum Lawyer Conference, and subscribe to our YouTube channel – Maximum Lawyer!
You can also go to MaximumLawyer.com or, if you’d prefer, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Oh, Tyson, we’ve been recording a lot of episodes lately. This episode will actually come out in early March. I think that the early bird pricing will have ended for the conference but we’ve been getting lots of signups lately so I’m excited about that.
Tyson: We had our biggest– I think it was our biggest day yesterday and month. Part of it had to do with we released the agenda. If you haven’t seen the agenda yet, go take a look. It’s, in my opinion– obviously, I’m biased, Jimbo, but it’s pretty badass. It’s a pretty awesome agenda.
Jim: I would say, man, even for the full price, so much value. We’re going to have two tracks this year. That’s exciting. I think people were excited, as I predicted, when the agenda itself came out.
Tyson: It’s a pretty ambitious agenda that we that we have. We’ll have to stick to our time slots because it’s going to be, again, more of like that TED-style talks for some of these small sessions and it can be a lot of fun. I think the other stuff that we have planned, it’s going to be a lot of fun, too. Christian the Magician, they’re going to be there. It’s just going to be a fun time.
Jim: All right. Well, speaking of a fun time, I’m excited to have our guest on today. He’s been a member of the group for a while. He was invited back in the day by Maddy Martin. His name’s Matt Yospin. He’s a patent lawyer from Boston, Mass.
Welcome to the show, Matt.
Matthew: Thanks, Jim.
Thanks for having me on, guys.
Tyson: We’re excited to have you on, Matt. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are right now.
Matthew: Yeah, sure. Happy to.
I started out, well, as a nerd and a scientist back before law school. I was going to grad school to be a research scientist. That didn’t work out, kind of a terrible career path in that field, unfortunately. And so, I left, not for lack of love of the material but just because I needed a more reliable career.
I worked in computers for a number of years at a publishing company, in a role that kind of combined computer work and client support. It turns out, I think, to have been great training for solo practice because a lot of the things that I did there in a 30,000-person multinational publishing company, apply to solo practice really well. After that, I lived overseas for a year with my wife which was a great year. Then, went to law school. I worked at a big firm for two years.
You might think, with my tech background, that I would have headed right for patent law but I didn’t at all. I really stumbled into it or it found me. In my solo practice, where I’ve been for about eight years, that’s what I focused on is IP work, patents, trademarks as well and contract-related to those. Not general contracting, but if someone’s trying to transfer their IP, or a business attorney colleague of mine, say, needed someone to look at the IP, either underlying a transaction, or work on the IP clauses for a merger or other transfer, then I’ll step in on those.
It’s been my journey. It’s not what I expected at all when I went to law school but I love it.
Jim: That’s great, Matt. Talk to us a little bit about the patent law community. I know that there are a lot of engineers in there. Specifically, what I’m wondering is, what do they generally think about marketing?
Matthew: That’s a that’s a great question, Jim.
Let’s see. The patent law community is terrific. It’s been such a wonderful and welcoming community to be a part of and really fascinating, hardworking, thoughtful people across a whole range. I mean, pick any tech area and not just the ones that spring to mind, say, like software or medical devices, but also agronomy, and textile science, and material science. All of these things still have tremendous innovation across the board.
The patent lawyers, it’s a great community. I’ve been involved with the local community here in Boston, where I’m based, and with national organizations as well. Marketing is not something that I see a ton of from most patent attorneys. There are a few I know who are active at it in blogs or articles and a couple in making videos. Of course, there’s more traditional attorney marketing although maybe attorneys don’t think of it that way, things like speaking at conferences to present your expertise to other attorneys or to folks in a particular industry. I think, for most attorneys, that sort of marketing is alien. I think for many patent attorneys, it might be more alien because most of us from background, as engineers or as scientists, and putting yourself out there and being out in front of people, as a marketer and as a salesperson is not, I think, something that engineers and scientists tend to do, not that I see a lot of.
Tyson: What’s interesting with what you do is that you know the technical side of it from the legal standpoint but you also– it seems like you know the technical part of it from the business standpoint which is pretty crucial. Would you talk a little bit about how that helps you with your practice?
Matthew: Oh, yeah, sure. Thanks, Tyson.
It’s been a huge help to me. I consider myself really fortunate in a lot of ways. One of the things I did in my background, in between science grad school and working in computers at the publishing company, I ran my own software consulting business for about two years. I had to develop these skills at business development and at marketing my own practice. At the time, it was a software consultancy.
Now, I use those same skills towards running and marketing my own law practice. They’re not technical skills that I learned in grad school or college. They’re certainly nothing that I learned in law school. They are– I don’t know, I don’t want to say soft skills because I hear that phrase used and I feel like it denigrates those skills in some way. They are crucial. I couldn’t run my practice without the software stack that I use, or without the marketing practices that I’ve read about, that I’ve learned from people who’ve been doing it, some in the legal field, some not. There’s a host of business books that I’ve read on marketing and on relationship building, and client management that have been, I think, as important as any legal skills to running my practice. I think most lawyers would say the same.
What do you guys think?
Jim: I think absolutely, too, for sure.
Matt, talk to us a little bit about that tech stack. Talk to us about– I don’t even know how your workflow. How does a new case come in? And then, how do you process it?
Matthew: Yeah, sure.
I get my work, mostly from two avenues at present. One are referrals and one are people finding me online. People find me online from blog posts, from searching on Google and they see my blog posts or my videos now which I need to credit you guys and The Maximum Lawyer group for because it’s you who motivated me to finally make videos, so thank you for that. People find my reviews because I ask clients to review me. I know– I mean, to you guys, it’s not news, right? But when people search for an attorney, and they see a bunch of results on their internet search engine of choice and one of them has a bunch of good reviews and another doesn’t, they’re going to go with the person who has the good reviews. I also get clients from referrals, other attorneys, just anybody I know.
When I get a contact, my workflow now is I push people to an online form, that I’ve built, that walks them through four or five short pages and gathers info on background, who they are, who they work for, if anyone– who would the client be, what kind of work would it be. That’s my conflict check and client intake form. I keep it as short as I can. I wish it were shorter but we need to gather some of this info.
I pull that into my practice management system. I run my search. I’m working on building out a Zap, with Zapier, to automate that. Then, I have them sign an engagement agreement. I’ve been using electronic signature platforms for engagements for, I think, five or six years.
The workflow I have set up now is, when I get a new contact, I send them an email using text expander which I love. I could go on about text expander for twice the length of any podcast, I think. The stock email that I send to them has text, an explanation, and a link to the conflict check form, and a link to the engagement agreement.
When you complete the conflict check form online, you get a confirmation email and a link to the engagement agreement. The engagement agreement is just a template. You hit it. You sign it. I sign it after I run my conflicts check. Then, I’ll take payment. I take credit cards, e-checks, I guess, wire transfers, if anybody really wants to bother with that. I don’t send a payment request out until we’ve got the engagement signed for, I think, obvious reasons. Once we’ve done that, we’re off to the races.
For patent and trademark matters, I’ve got more online forms that I use for gathering the info I need to start writing the patent application or start preparing a trademark application. My goal is to make it as frictionless as possible. I’ll tell you bluntly, as I describe this to you, I am aware that there’s not a ton of interaction between me and the potential client in there. It’s not that there’s zero. I’m happy to have a short phone call and we’ll send emails back and forth. First, I want the process to be as simple possible for people who want to go along with it. Second, this is really something of a screening mechanism for clients also. If clients either refuse to use what I think are pretty straightforward online systems or can’t use them, to me that’s a red flag that it might be a difficult client for me and might not be the right fit for me and my practice.
That’s my workflow to get somebody in the door and up to speed.
Tyson: Matt, in my mind– and this is me, just in my mind, because I don’t know how your business works. It seems like there would be a really big lull between the time that they sign up, you do the initial work, and then the wait to find out if they get the patent, if they get the trademark, whatever it may be. Again, I may be wrong about that but what do you do let the market because it seems like a good opportunity to market between signing them up doing the initial work and waiting. How do you deal with that lull?
Matthew: Oh, sure. Yeah, great question.
The process I just described. That’s just to get started on a project. That doesn’t get an application written and filed. That’s just my intake steps for a new client.
You’re absolutely right. Once someone is in, we take the time to prepare the application. With a trademark, in theory, we could do it same day although it’s often difficult. With a patent, nothing other than an emergency filing is same day. Trademarks, more typically, we’re going to take a couple of weeks. Patents, often, one to two months to get it prepared and filed.
Your question, what happens once it’s filed? Well, yeah, there can be a big lag. With trademarks, the office typically takes about three months to get back to you. With patents, they typically take two to three years, at present, to get back to you from your application. After that, it might easily be years more of back and forth, arguing with the office. They’re not staffed to the point where they have faster turnaround times. I wish they were but they’re not.
During that time, I regularly check in with clients, depending on what we’ve filed, to say, “Hey, this is what’s happening. This is what’s going to happen next or this is how long it’s likely to be before we hear back.”
I want to tell you about one other software product I use to help me manage that. It’s a subscription service called SaneBox, based here in Boston. It’s for email management and email filtering. It does a great job of that. It’s got this reminder feature where, when you send a message, you tell it, “I want this back in my inbox at either on this day, or at this time or after so many days, weeks months have passed,” and it shows back up. It is effective and it’s simple. It’s the lightest weight reminder system that I’ve found because things just reappear in your inbox when you want them to. Huge plug for it.
Jim: Matt, everything you’ve said so far with the automation sounds great. Do you have help with your team?
Matthew: Well, I don’t at present. I’ve tried a VA in the past. I think I should blame myself. I think I didn’t choose wisely enough and it didn’t work out. I would like to. I’ve considered a lot of the remote answering services. You guys plug one. The one that I want to demo and try is Smith.ai. I think you guys know them. I think, for me, that’s the logical next step.
My practice is not like a real estate practice where I’ve got crazy high volume of clients all the time. That’s not the practice that I wanted to build. The phone, for me and I think that’s true for many attorneys, can be a distraction if you’re in the middle of something. I know it’s better if It gets answered. I just can’t do that all the time as a solo. I think that’s the first place that I want to look for outside help.
Tyson: Let’s go down this path a little bit more though. You’re solo now. Let’s say five years from now, where are you in five years? Where do you want to see yourself? Where are you in 10 years? Where are you in 20 years?
I’m curious about where you see this thing going because I think, with IP law, it’s similar to some other practice areas where you can actually drive traffic with it which is what I find interesting. It’s like selling a product where you can push it because I’d say probably everyone listening to this has an idea in their brain about a patent that they want. And so, I think you’d come up with some clever ads to drive traffic but maybe you don’t want to do that. Where are you seeing this thing headed?
Matthew: That’s a great question.
First, I would say, anyone who’s listening to this, if you’ve got an idea in your head and you think you want to explore patent, consider giving me a call, I’d be happy to chat with you about it.
Tyson: Give him a call, absolutely.
Matthew: 617-340-9295. My email is email@example.com.
Tyson: Love it.
Matthew: That aside, I’m not certain. I’ve been solo for about eight years and the practice that I have now is terrific for me and my life. I’m married. I’ve got two young kids. Our lives are busy, and full, and happy. I like the level that my practice is at. It’s something that I can do on the road, if I need to attend to it while we’re on a trip. I can do it from my office, from a coffee shop, from a library in a town. Anywhere I can sit down and have decent internet, I can run it.
If I were to grow, I would definitely maintain that virtual model. I think that’s a challenge because if you hire someone who’s not very experienced, they need and they deserve a lot of training and supervision. It’s a challenging area of the law.
I’ve had student interns, over several semesters, not this semester, I just felt I couldn’t take one on and give them the supervision that the student would need. The previous, I think, five or six semesters, I had a student intern. It’s a great experience for me and for them but it’s also made it clear to me that someone right out of school is going to need a large amount of training. There’s no way around that.
Right now, I am not looking to hire anyone or grow my practice beyond what I can do myself. Five years from now, as my kids are in high school, it might be more attractive. 10 years from now, when my kids are in college or out of college, it could make a lot more sense for me.
20 years from now, I think by then I would probably want to because I know trying to sell a solo practice at when you’re nearing retirement is a really hard thing to do. I’ve spoken with colleagues who are further into practice than I am and with colleagues who work with attorneys and other small businesses, attorneys in solo and small practices and other non-attorney small businesses about having a transition plan and trying to value and sell your business at the end of your practice when you’re ready to retire and it’s a hard thing to do as a solo. Maybe 10 years from now is when I feel like I’m ready to start on hiring and training. Ask me in three years and maybe I change my mind.
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Jim: We’re back with Matt Yospin. He’s a patent lawyer out of the Boston, Mass. area. We’re glad to have him on the show. I think that’s the first time we’ve had a guest actually plug their service on our show. I think that’s great.
Matthew: Wait, should I be embarrassed about this?
Tyson: Absolutely, not.
Jim: Great. I actually think, sort of like with immigration, a lot of lawyers don’t know where to send patent lawyers. And because it’s federal, you can do it in all 50 states which is great.
Tyson: [inaudible 00:20:41]
Jim: One of the things that I’ve noticed and that caught my eye this year is that you have been posting a video every day for all of 2020. Talk to us about that process and how you’ve enjoyed it or what you’ve learned.
Matthew: Well, first, as I said earlier, credit to you guys and the Maximum Lawyer group for getting me to do this. I have a confession to make. I have been meaning to make videos for marketing for about four years and I’ve been procrastinating the entire time on it out of fear of doing it badly, and fear of looking like a buffoon, and not liking the way my voice sounds, and just making up any sort of excuse that I can for myself for not making videos.
When I saw you post the challenge, I thought, “Okay, I’m going to make myself do this and I’m going to figure it out.” I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a tremendous challenge. The Maximum Lawyer group and some other people I know, many people have been, let’s say, not shy about giving me feedback which I really appreciate.
I’m going to give myself another plug. If you’re listening to this, please give me any feedback, you have about my videos, I welcome it because I want to make them as good as I possibly can.
One challenge for me, that I’ll point out in particular, is that I wear glasses and I can’t take them off. I would not be able to see my camera from two feet away. So, having lights reflected in my glasses was a significant challenge One person– I don’t want to call him out but he knows that I appreciate it, called me on this and said, “You’ve got to fix this.” He sent me a video that some videographer had made about the challenge of lighting people wearing glasses, to photograph them or take videos. I now own two nice light boxes, lights with big diffusive screens over them and reflectors. I think it’s improved the quality of my videos. At least, I certainly hope it has. I’ve had to focus on a lot of other aspects of it, framing, and positioning, and what’s in the background, and what’s going on outside.
I would say some of my earlier videos, and maybe some of my more recent ones, are not great, I would say, from a technical standpoint but I’ve decided I’m just going to leave them up anyhow. If I want to re-shoot the topics that I’ve covered, I will.
Part of my marketing strategy for just about the entire time I’ve been in practice has been to write blog posts. I try to write them in a question and answer style so that when I get a question, I will write an answer to it. Often, I’ll email it, and then turn it into a blog post. I’ve kept, for years, a list of topics to try to answer. I have adapted that style to the videos. I hope it works. I think it works. There are more of these questions in my list than I think I will ever get to. I’m pretty confident that I will have an inexhaustible supply of things to talk about.
The bigger challenge is taking the time to make the videos and to not let my inherent perfectionism stop me from doing it. Really, I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that I waited on doing this, procrastinated on doing this. I’ve had to push myself to apply the 80/20 rule and just go forward with it with, “done is better than perfect and get videos out there.”
Tyson: All right. I hate to do this, Matt, but I’ve got to go to court, so I’ve got to wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to go to the Facebook group. Get involved there. More importantly, sign up for the conference because we just posted the agenda. If you don’t go, you’re missing out. Sorry, you’re going to have FOMO. You are definitely going to have FOMO because it is the best agenda we’ve put together. It’s going to be the best conference we’ve put together. I’m confident in telling you that already. It’s pretty awesome. Make sure you go sign up there, MaxLawCon.com. You can sign up or you can find it through the Facebook group. You can also find the hotel rate, the code, through the Facebook group.
Jimbo, what is your hack of the week?
Jim: All right. My hack the week’s a little bit different this week. I was contacted by one of our Facebook group members yesterday. He’s been a long-time member of the group. I’m not going to say his name but he also even came to the conference last year. He told me something that really surprised me. He has never listened to an episode of the podcast. In fact, he wasn’t sure–
Tyson: Mind boggling. That’s crazy.
Jim: –he wasn’t sure how to access podcasts on his iPhone. I walked him through there and I was really happy to do that with him and to talk to him about that. So, my tip is– and I know this sounds strange, if you haven’t listened to the old podcasts, we have about 190 episodes now which is something like 95 hours or so, or more, or probably 100 hours’ worth of content on running your firm and marketing.
Some of those old episodes are my favorites. We have the one with Will Norman that we did which, I think, has historically been the most listened to one about going solo. Then, we have my favorite one of all time which was law firm roulette where we picked a city in California, picked a practice area, and then critiqued people’s websites. I think that there’s a lot of gold in the old episodes. I would encourage people, if this is your first episode, to go back and listen to some old ones and just find topics that interest you.
Tyson: I love it. Definitely, gold.
It boggles my mind whenever people say that they– like, someone even posted on a common Facebook group like, “What podcast are y’all talking about?” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” This all started with a podcast. It’s kind of crazy.
All right, Matt, what is your tip or hack of the week?
Matthew: My tip for the week is to play with the tools that you already have, whatever software, whatever hardware you’re already using. Don’t be afraid to play around with it and to find other ways to use it. I say this for two reasons. One, because, as lawyers, we tend to be cautious and, as adults, we tend not to value play enough. Whenever I think about how I learned something new, I always just think, “Well, I’m going to play around with it and see what I can find and see what I can do.” That’s the same reason kids play, right? They play to learn. If you take what you’re already using and you tinker with it, you’ll find out ways that you can make your practice more efficient, make your work easier. My tip is don’t be afraid to play around with what you’re already using.
Tyson: That’s great advice. I love that advice.
All right. For my tip, it’s actually a gift that was given to me on my birthday. It is awesome. It is Rocket Book. I received a notepad, which is one part of it, where basically you can take pictures of your notes. Basically, it’s a reusable notebook that will automatically go to whatever cloud you want it to go to. It’s got a lot of different options. The cooler part of it though are these beacons that you can buy. There are these Rocket Book beacons. There’s four of them. You put them on your whiteboard, in the shape of a square or a rectangle, and it will take a snapshot of whatever you’ve written on the whiteboard. If you ever found yourself taking pictures of the whiteboard to save what you had just drawn on the whiteboard, you don’t have to do that anymore. You put the beacons on the wall. You do snap it with your phone but then it automatically will save to whatever cloud service you want it to. You can have it set up. You have multiple sources you can send it up to. You can have it texted to you. You can have slacked to you. You can have it go to Dropbox, Google Drive – a lot of other different ones. It’s freakin’ awesome. It’s really cool. It’s really easy to use. I set it up yesterday, used it right away, super easy.
All right, Matt. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s been a lot of fun. We really appreciate it.
Matthew: Tyson, Jim, thank you both so much for having me. This has been a real pleasure. I’m looking forward to meeting you guys at the Maximum Lawyer Conference this June.
Jim: Thanks, buddy.
Tyson: Likewise. Likewise.
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.
Tyson: Hey, this is Tyson Mutrux again. Really quick, I want to thank you so much for listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, can you imagine what it would be like to experience this for two days with 300 other insane Maximum Lawyers who are just like you, think like you, believe like you, and have a vision like you? If you’d like to do that, then you need to be at this year’s Maximum Lawyer Conference coming up very, very soon. If you don’t Have your tickets yet, go to MaxLawCon.com. It’ll give you the ability to come to a place with a whole bunch of people who think like you, believe like you, who see visions like you of what they can create and what they can become.
Maximum Lawyer Conference is not just a marketing event. It’s not just a personal development event. It’s both of those things wrapped into one. As an experience, it will change your life forever, so make sure you get your tickets. If you haven’t yet, go to MaxLawCon.com and get your tickets.
After you get your tickets, you’ll be there with 300 other insane, crazy, fun Maximum Lawyers talking about how to grow their businesses, sharing all of the best marketing secrets, the things that are working today. You’ve got to get your tickets now by going to MaxLawCon.com.
Thanks so much. I’ll see you in St. Louis.