This week on the show we have John Cannon. John is the owner and founder of Cannon & Associates in Oklahoma City. A Firm dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for Families and Freedom. John is a former prosecutor, Public Defender, and Assistant Attorney General. The firm focuses on criminal defense, personal injury, and family law. In addition to his practice, John serves as a Judge Advocate in the Oklahoma National Guard; currently assigned to the 45th Infantry Brigade.
In today’s episode we’ll talk about block scheduling, learning for growth, and developing written policies and procedures.
Brene Brown has a new podcast that launched about a week ago. The first episode was terrific. It’s called Unlocking Us. I highly recommend it.
It’s important to celebrate our wins. As soon as you listen to this, I want you to think about the last 24 hours, list three of your wins and write them down. It’ll really help change your mindset. I think we’re trained, we’re not supposed to celebrate our wins for some reason. Celebrate your wins. It’ll make you feel better. It’ll help improve your day. It really will.
With things slowing down, block in time for your calendar. Block in an hour. Block in four hours. Trust me. I initially had to go a month and a half out to block time. Now, I don’t have anything on Wednesday afternoon, and I don’t have anything all day Friday. That allows me to put in that white space – family, and golf, and business development. I think you’ll all be, as I’ve been amazed, that you can still practice and still serve all your clients while you block out time to handle the business side of your practices.
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Transcript: “The Business Side of Being a Lawyer” with John Cannon
Jim: Welcome back to the The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim hacking
Tyson: I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Oh, Tyson, you know, we’re all on self-quarantine but yesterday was a nice sunny day here in St. Louis, so I have a funny story for you.
Tyson: Let’s hear it.
Jim: I went home early. I had to stop by to get my son’s medicine from the grocery store. I did a little bit of grocery shopping and things seemed somewhat normal. And then, I got home and everyone was in the backyard, sitting around the pool and in the pool. And so, I brought in all the groceries.
And then, I went upstairs and put on my swim trunks. I snuck around the side of the house. I came running around the side of the house. I ran down the diving board and I did a huge cannonball – right into the pool. My body turns, you know how, usually, if you do a cannonball, you want to go feet first, but I went like flat. So, it was like a huge cannonball and like all this water went out of the pool and the kids went crazy.
Tyson: I am not surprised. Did you have like a big like red belly? Was it like [inaudible 00:01:14] cannonball?
Jim: Yeah, and I have a patriotic American flag swim trunks. So, you can get the whole picture. It was quite the scene.
Tyson: That’s pretty awesome.
Jim: It was the highlight of my day.
Tyson: I love it. I love it.
I don’t have a pool yet. I’m working on it. I can’t wait to do that. It’s exciting stuff.
Jim: All right. We’re not going to keep our guest waiting any longer. We’ve been partying around with the technology. So, let’s get to it.
Tyson: Go for it.
Jim: All right. Our guest today is John Cannon. He’s listening to the show. He reached out to us by coming on. He’s the owner and founder of Cannon and Associates. It’s a firm in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They are advocates for families and freedom. He’s a former prosecutor, public defender, and Assistant Attorney-General. His firm focuses on criminal defense, personal injury and family law. He serves as a Judge Advocate in the Oklahoma National Guard. Currently, assigned to the 45th Infantry Brigade. We thank him for his service.
John, welcome to the show.
John: Morning, Jim. Thank you for having me.
Tyson: All right.
Sorry. Everyone wants to listen to the live broadcast and I just can’t get it to work. So, sorry, buddy.
All right. So, John, tell us a little bit about yourself how you got to where you are. Now, Jim just gave us sort of like your basic resume, sort of an overview of your career. Dig a little deeper on that and tell us how you got to where you are right now.
John: Yeah, a quick sidebar before I do that.
Jim, that pun is so appropriate. My nickname growing up was John Paul Cannonball. And then, the day that I come on your show, you tell a story about doing a cannonball.
John: I graduated law school. And so, I don’t want to try cases. I was a District Attorney and didn’t like that side of the [inaudible 00:02:56], so I became a public defender and tried defending cases. Had an opportunity to do civil litigation for the Attorney General, did that. And then, the National Guard offered me a full-time job that allowed me to do work outside that didn’t conflict. So, I was a full-time litigator for the National Guard, as a Judge Advocate, and started taking private cases.
Really enjoyed the thought of someone choosing me over someone else to represent them and relying on me. I had a friend that does web design. He helped me get that ball started and enjoy writing. Website grew, and grew, and grew. And as it did, started getting more and more leads reaching out. And decided I wanted to do that full time. It’s been riding the lightning ever since.
Jim: Riding the lightning. I like it.
John, tell us about the legal community in Oklahoma City. Was it hard to sort of gain traction as a new lawyer?
John: Oh, well, I started out seven or eight years of being a government attorney or government hack, depending on your perspective, and tried a bunch of cases. Got very comfortable with the courtroom. As a Judge Advocate, got to represent a number of soldiers in a variety of context and really grew from there.
So, when I decided to pull the trigger and go out on my own, I had a lot of experience in court and had developed pretty good relationships with the Bench and the Bar, but I hadn’t yet had any of the business experience or somebody handing me a file and say, “Here. Go handle this case.” It was brand new to me to someone reaching out, doing intake, having clients retain me, handle the business side.
Tyson: What’s your staff set up again?
John: Currently, we have a legal administrator. It’s a non-lawyer. I’ve got a full-time associate and then some part-time attorney work. And then, I’ve got two or three different projects outsourced internationally and a couple of law students that work for me on a part-time basis. And then, a variety of contractors that do things for my firm.
So, really, three people in the office. I was about to hire a full-time paralegal. And then, that got paused for the moment, but we’ll be adding on a fourth full-time person, hopefully, next month, maybe after. We’ll see what the forecast of the pandemic is.
Jim: What is your favorite part of working in the firm? What do you like to focus on yourself, John?
John: Really, a number of things. One, I love working on complex criminal cases and plaintiff cases. So, really getting into the nut and bolts of litigation, not just bringing a client, do a little packet and do a plea or a simple divorce. I really enjoy the cases that dive deep. And so, pre-trial litigation, and trial, and even appeals.
And then, also, on the business side, I’ve never done that aspect before but, since I’ve been running my firm, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve identified as seven parts of the business that have to be maintained. And then also helping to grow the people in the bubble and helping them.
Tyson: What’s interesting to me is like I always struggle with that part of it, with balancing. I love trying cases. I love the litigation part of it. I love dealing with the people. I love bringing in the cases. I mean, how do you balance all that, because I find it to be a real struggle?
John: I found it to be a struggle, too. I did a cop out of saying, “Oh, because I’m small, it’s more difficult.” I think, at the point that we’ve got five, six lawyers, we’re larger that it’ll be just, if not more, difficult then to compartmentalize.
What I do is I’ve got block calendar that I try and abide by and I make the people I work with and clients respect. And then, I’ve got just a paper planner that I bought off Amazon. It’s weekly and monthly planner. Every week, on Sunday, I write out the things that have to get done. It’s like the weekly to-do list, business and client-wise. And then, I try and abide by that. Each morning, I give myself about 20 minutes with before anybody wants to talk to me, before I’m even really awake, and I try and complete that for what needs to be done for the day. I put in there, “draft a blog post, draft a webpage.”
Tyson’s, it’s something I’ve spoken to you offline about previously is how great you do at doing videos through your phone. That’s something that I want to add to my weekly or monthly calendar. I just have been delinquent on getting it added in but I know it’s that simple.
So, for one, Wednesday’s afternoon and Friday all-day, I don’t allow any appointments unless there was an emergency, which our firm has a definition of. I don’t set any court. However, the family judges love to set Friday morning motion in the dockets and different dockets. I think it’s because they have to be there, so the attorneys should have to be there.
I blocked out those times for business side of the firm. That’s when I generate content. That’s when I do my meetings with people that assist me, kind of, like my mindset group. That’s when I do the business side.
I’ve really found difficulty plugging in the business side of my practice anywhere else in the calendar.
Jim: John, you talked about the seven parts of your practice you need to focus on. Do you want to talk about a couple of those?
When I decided to go out into private practice, I knew nothing about the business of law. I’ve heard, on your podcast and a number of other great resources, how frustrating it is that law schools don’t teach us that, at CLE. Your guest, I think, two episodes ago, spoke on how frustrating it is the Bar Associations don’t want to teach lawyers who they don’t know about the business of law.
And so, I consider myself a student and always trying to learn. I’ve reached out to a number of different resources. It’s helped me identify seven parts of the business in my firm. I try and do work on each of those every week.
And so, the first is goals. So, one of my personal and business goals. The second key aspect is marketing. So, as I know you all have spoken to, before, bringing in the right potential new clients that are ready to move forward with being represented. And then, the sales portal or your sales. So, how do I identify the right people and how do I get them to move forward. And then, production. So, how do I create cases? And how do we streamline and make that process easier?
And then, people. So, the people that work for the firm. The people that helped assist the firm. I work with an organization called How to Manage. They help me a lot in the management aspect. So, how do I plan for the future and not just for the emergency today? And then, my office space. So, what tools do we use? You know, I use Clio Manage. I use Clio Grow for intake. I’ve heard a number of people that like other programs more. I think there may be better programs out there but, for the most part, those work for us. And then, we use LawPay so people can do electronic transactions.
And then, we’ve got a number of SKUs and KPIs, and policies and procedures and trying to continue to grow those. So, I don’t have to explain how we do ABCD the way I want it done. It’s, “Did you read the procedure on that? Okay, is there something wrong with the procedure? Let’s talk about it, fix it, so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel” because I found that even the thing that I think I’m most special at, that I’m a bright shining star in, I can write it out why I’m good at that thing.
And so, trying to develop that towards written out how all these things are done in the way we think is the best way. My associate has 20 years experience in family law. He’s a retired Brigadier General in the National Guard. He’s got a ton of Family Law experience and personal injury experience, so I’m asking him to help me develop all the procedures for how we handle those cases the right way.
And then, last but not least, is financial controls. When I was a government attorney, the financial control was make sure that the government paid my check each month. And then, I make sure I pay my mortgage and feed the family along with my wife’s income. But now, there’s so much more to that because I run a business. And so, I try and stay on top of our budget. I do a monthly budget where I actually plug in my expenses for the month and make sure that where I want the money to be going is where it is going. Budget variance report, I do that each month to see what actually was spent versus what I wanted to be spent or planned on being spent. Cash flow projections. A WIP report, a work-in-progress report. And that is then incredibly important, so far, during this time. And I think it will continue to be so because we’ve got a lot of cases that have trust account balances and there’s room to do more work for clients there and generate funds, out of trust accounts, into the operating account as opposed to having to bring in new clients. And then, making sure that cash on hand and trust account balances are accurate.
And then, our front desk, our legal administrator also wears the hat of a billing specialist because we are small right now. And so, she’s responsible for staying on top of A/R, A/R aging reports. Clio Management has a number of helpful tools to look at the optics of current cases and finances. Clio Grow has a lot of great optics to look at the marketing side. So, where are these cases coming from? And the number of cases that come from a specific area. The value of those cases, the close rate on those cases, is that matching up with our marketing spend?
Every marketing company that I talked to, that reaches out without me wanting them to reach out, they always say, “Oh, we’ll get you the first page of Google or Oh, we’ll get you this many leads, or Oh, ABCD” sale, sale, sale. Well, that’s not accurate. So, I found if I don’t monitor what’s happening on return on investment (ROI), return on investment, that if it’s not working, I cut it off. And so, that’s a constant process of trying to evaluate what’s working to bring in leads.
And then, the sales is a constant process of “How can we make the firm more appealing from the first touch point to the signed contract and the retainer?” And those are things that we’re constantly trying to spend time to develop.
But like, Tyson, you said, it’s really hard to find the hours in a week to plug those things in. But just being conscious of those aspects, it’s helped me to at least weekly, if not monthly, monitor them.
Tyson: It’s funny because my next question, I was going to ask you about like what your strong suit was when it comes to managing your firm. I think it was pretty clear that you’re a numbers kind of a guy. And so, I’m not even going to ask you. I’m going to skip right over.
I might get to a different question because you will do criminal defense, and personal injury, and family law. To me that seems very, very difficult to market. I mean, whenever I did criminal defense, it was hard to market both because one hour I’d be talking to a criminal defense client, and then the next day, I’d be talking to a personal injury client, and I’d be telling them both how great I was as a personal injury lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer. I wasn’t really doing that but, whenever you’re talking to your client, you’re trying to make yourself up to be the best so they hire you. I found it difficult and it’s hard. Your website, it’s hard to say that you do personal injury and you do a great job in personal injure but you also do a great job with criminal defense. Like, how do you manage that? Especially, when you have three different practice areas, it’s got to be difficult.
John: Yeah. It’s a struggle. I’ll say that when I went out into private practice, I knew a lot more about criminal law than anything else and I was passionate about that but I decided, a lot of research that I found that you can niche, you have to pick a niche or niche but you need a second one or a backup.
And so like, “You know what, I’ve done a lot of work for soldiers and family law, advising them about the SCRA, USERRA, and their rights in court, and divorce, and division of military retirement, and child visitation and relocation issues, so I’m going to try family law.” It was scary as hell but I read a lot. I studied a lot. I spoke to and went to lunch with a lot of great family law attorneys.
I went down, when I finished court– on some case, I’d go down to the family floor and watch who I’ve been told or identified as good family law attorneys and I started to pick it up. And now, we’ve got a pretty much thriving family law practice. I don’t enjoy that work as much. Sorry, any family law clients of my firm to hear that. So, my associate handles the majority of family law.
I’ve stopped spending any money marketing-wise on but I’ve got a website with 300-plus pages on it. We get a lot of family law business just because of the presence of our website and what the crawlers have identified in the Google Search return. We’ve stopped marketing to family law. But again, our magic statement, “We’re fierce advocates for families and freedom.” With that experience, we’ve got the experience, when people come to us about family cases, we can speak to their pain points and we can address their issues.
On the personal injury side. That’s something that I had picked up cases occasionally. A number of my friends know that I did litigation for the Attorney General for a little over a year, argued cases with the 10th Circuit – depositions, interrogatories, trial – everything in between.
If somebody would come in with an interesting case, I’d say, “Sure. I’ll take that on.” And so, I’ve handled four or five cases with friends or referrals that are in the personal injury, excessive force, car accident realm, really interested in that. Candidly, a big part of why I’ve added that practice area is, one, my associate enjoys it. Two, the hope of hitting some home runs because there aren’t home runs in criminal defense. I’ve gotten some fees that are close to $40,000 to $50,000 but you’re never going to represent somebody and make six figures on their case.
And so, trying to merge these different areas and not seem like we’re a general practice firm is something I’m struggling with right now. I’ve stopped to spend on family law marketing. I’m not doing new blog posts or new content on family law. And trying to turn the focus, in our marketing, in our social media presence, and the networking I’m doing, and the research that I’m doing towards personal injury and criminal defense.
I’m 100% behind you, Tyson. I think that you lose something when you spread yourself out too thin. And so, there’s a real possibility that, come a year from now, we won’t have family law as an area that we take new clients in. It’s kind of been pushed down under the rug as far as what we’re putting out to the world with networking, with marketing partners, with social media, when I talk to people in the community what do I do.
And so, I think that it’s a real problem to have three main practice areas unless you have a firm of four or five attorneys. There’s a long-winded response but it’s a real pain point is, one, I’m the criminal defense guy in this firm. Two, Doug, my associate, is the family law guy in this firm. And, three, the personal injury cases, we handle those as a team on every single one of them.
So, you come to us and you’ve been injured unlawfully by law enforcement, or you’ve been hit in a car accident and you’re not at fault, or we’ve got a brand new nursing home negligence case where a client has 15 x 12 x 4 cm decubitus ulcers on their sacrum or tailbone – terrible negligence, and the person may pass from that.
And so, we use our combined experience in that area. When I bring another attorney and my hope is that they will be maybe the head on criminal offense or personal injury and have really one person that is the marketed attorney for that area. But we handle everything as a team.
And so far, that’s been working. I don’t know if it’s the right answer but I definitely see the concern, in myself and in others, in having multiple practice areas. And so, we’re kind of in just the experimental testing phase right now to see if it’ll work because I’ve only added a personal injury prong as a marketed practice area about 30 – 45 days ago and been handling those cases for quite some time. My associate, for years. Have got a fair amount of experience but haven’t been putting that out to the world. So far, it’s been working out but we’ll see in six months where we’re at.
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Jim: We’re back with John Cannon. He’s a Maximum Lawyer group member. He is a lawyer from Oklahoma City.
John, how did you find out about the podcast and the group in the first place?
John: Just continual search, trying to learn and grow. I scour podcasts. I’ve got about a 20-minute drive to and from work and an even longer drive to the courthouse and back, regardless of what courthouse I’m going to, unless it’s the Municipal Courthouse in Edmond, Oklahoma where our office is. I fill that time, those days, with listening to podcasts, trying to learn new information, if I’m not on phone with someone, and perpetually do searches for podcasts on law firms, and on attorney marketing, and lawyer growth and found your podcast.
I listened to one of them and I was hooked. And so, I’ve been listening ever since and reached out to Tyson directly just because he’s a St. Louis guy and love Budweiser. Went to the Arch with my wife a couple years ago, for the Cardinals game. He was nice enough to let me come and join you guys for a podcast.
Tyson: We’ve found the part of the practice that you’re really, really good at because you talked about it. What is it that you struggle with the most? What’s the most difficult thing for you?
John: I think one of the most difficult things for me would be, I think, penciling in time and sticking to that. I have a block calendar that I really struggle to maintain because of just the volume of court appearances, criminal defense, personal injury, family law are all pretty court appearance heavy, litigation heavy. And so, finding time outside of that to do the business of my practice is a real struggle.
I think the number one thing I’m failing on, at this point, is adding substantial and consistent video content. I’ve just completely sucked at that. So, one of the areas that I know my business needs to grow in, I haven’t gotten done. And so, that’s a real struggle point for me.
Also, I really, really want to have a written-out procedure for everything that we do in the practice and as an organism so it can change. People that work in the practice can help improve that. I’ve probably got 10 or 15 procedures for internal and external policies, but there’s so much more to be done. And so, I’ve got the framework in my head for how all these things should happen, but memorializing them, and then putting them in a time and space that everyone that works in the practice will internalize as well and follow them is probably another big struggle area for me.
Jim: All right, John. Well, we’ve been in this new reality for a little while now with the coronavirus and everything. I’m glad that we were able to talk about your firm, sort of pre-virus. I’m wondering what kind of effect is this having on you? What approach are you taking with your team? And how are you handling things?
John: It’s definitely had an effect. The day that the Governor of Oklahoma put out that all non-essential businesses are closing and every courthouse in the State would be closed – from the Supreme Court, to the Federal District Courts, to State District Court, and down to Municipal Courts, was a real wakeup call. And so, I wrote a two-page letter about what that process looks like and what we think it’ll be going forward. I attached the Governor’s order and had my legal administrator send it to every existing and former client, and then created a newsletter. We do a monthly newsletter electronically. Thinking about going into the paper version of that. That’s another topic.
But, took that letter and notice from the Governor and sent it to every person on our contact stream. So, what it said basically was, “For your safety, our safety, and moving forward, everything is going to be business as normal. We’ve got everything backed up in an encrypted drive. We’ve got everything in your file backed up on an online portal, a second online portal. And we’ve got everything in your case backed up in a paper file and also on multiple computers. So, rest assured, no matter what, your information, your files are safe.
Two, we’re not going to be doing any in-office meetings for the foreseeable future, but you still have full and complete access to us. So, you can schedule conferences. You can schedule video conferencing.” I know that it’s been a hot topic recently. Zoom is something that we’re using. And just trying to make all of our existing clients rest assure that their case is taken care of, that despite the courthouse being closed, we’re continuing to work on your case or with opposing counsel, and everything’s going to be fine.
And then, on the new business side, I’ve implemented a policy the door is closed. So, unless you work for the firm, excluding our law students, excluding people that do contract work, you’re not coming in the door. So, we’ve got a completely closed-door policy but open electronic door policy. So, if somebody reaches out to the firm by email or by phone, then we’ll respond to them. We’ll walk them through our intake procedure. However, as opposed to scheduling an in-office meeting, they can schedule a telephone conference or a video conference. My preference is video conferencing. I think that it’s a closer connection than just speaking to someone on the phone.
But, as Lee Rosen, the brilliant mind, he is, said in your conference video call the other day, that a lot of potential clients don’t need that. I think that a lot of people have made the decision that they want to hire me or I’m one of the two or three attorneys they’re considering hiring. And when they call us and a person answers the phone politely. Says, “Good morning or good afternoon. Thank you for calling Cannon Associates. This is Regina. How may I help you?” and actually follows through with caring about that person, building on that know-like-and-trust, I think that speaking to one of the attorneys here on the phone is enough.
We’ve seen a drop off on business. But we only need about three new cases a week in order to hit our KPI. We’ve gotten two or three cases this week already. So, I think things are going to be fine.
But what we’ve done is we’ve isolated ourselves from coming into physical contact with anyone but tried everything we can to maintain the connection electronically. The Zoom calls haven’t been working great so far. I think I have to disconnect with my staff. And so, just trying to send my staff multiple videos on YouTube, the encyclopedia of our generation, of how you do a Zoom call, how easy it is. The Family Law Section of my Bar Association put out a how-to on Zoom calls and a how-to on Zoom calls on your cell phone yesterday. And so, I blasted that out to my staff and said, “Hey, we’re going to continue to work on doing this.”
We’ve definitely seen a decline in the number of contacts this week, but it hasn’t been zero. In fact, people reach out. We’ve done consults. We’ve had people sign the line electronically. And we’ve had people retain our firm.
Lastly, we’ve always had in place the ability to do all contracting, and agreements, and medical authorization releases – all the things that need to be signed electronic, but I hadn’t taken the time to really implement that. And so, since we’ve had a little downtime this week, went into Clio Grow, that’s our intake software, and created more improved fillable forms for our retainer-based cases, flat fee cases, and contingent cases, medical authorizations, questionnaires, intake forms, contracts and payment plans. And now, those are getting blasted out to new clients. So, instead of them, at some point, having to come into the physical office and sign something, or being emailed something that they have to print off, sign, and email or mail back.
Right now, we’re only doing electronic contracting, electronic forms. So, it gets emailed to this person through our intake software. They can click on a button and put a digital signature on there and it comes back. Our State’s held that to be binding. And so, that’s just one more way that we distance ourselves from people.
It’s definitely a struggle. It’s definitely concerning but I’m a man of faith and so very confident that we’re all going to get through this fine as long as we make wise decisions on how we interact with people and abide by social distancing. And so, we’re trying to do our best to protect the business and protect others that come in contact with us.
Tyson: This is really kind of interesting. You mentioned early on about sending an email out. I think it was Tyler Moffitt who posted something in mastermind experience, how he sent it out to all of his clients and got a 100% open rate. And so, if you want to reach out to your clients right now, this may be a really good time to send them one of those emails. I know that I don’t like receiving them right now but clients might want to receive them from us with that kind of an open rate. So, that’s kind of interesting.
I also find it interesting how this is really transforming a lot of firms. It’s forcing people to redo their systems, move their forms from paper to digital. And it really is interesting to me how these firms are having to change. They’re being forced to change and they’re doing it. I think it’s a good thing.
We’ve been doing all this for years, so there was no changes for us. For us, we always signed up clients over the phone. We don’t do the Zoom meetings. Clients just don’t care about it as much as they used to. They just don’t. We always offer them the ability to meet us in person and, 9 times out of 10, they don’t choose the meeting in person. They choose to do everything over the phone and sign the forms via email.
So, my question to you is, do you think this is going to transform your firm to the point where you’re going to keep doing these things that you’re doing while the pandemic’s going on, or do you think that you’re going to revert back to your old ways once this is over with?
John: I think we’re going to change. I think it’s a way that I can get an attorney that’s been on the block for 20 years that may be a little bit more old school than me. And then, staff that’s never done this before, to recognize that, in the 21st century, we can be an electronic practice. So, their minds are blown when I showed them the capability of doing all these things just electronically. So, I think this will help us enforce that this is how we’re going to do it, going forward. If somebody wants to meet with us in person, then they can.
I think for your firm, Tyson, your web presence is and– I’m not trying to kiss ass. I’m being honest, the number of videos that you’ve done in the web presence, people have watched those videos before they come and talk to you. They generally know, like, or trust you if they’re picking up the phone.
We’ve got a couple of videos online, but I want to get to the point that all the aspects of our practice areas are laid out as a resource for people, not just in written form, but in videos. I think that when you build that presence, people have already made a decision a lot of the time and they pick up the phone and call. It’s not 1950s where there’s a town lawyer or yellow pages. And so, you call and don’t know this person from Adam. When somebody calls any of our firms, people listening, they have the opportunity to see our Google reviews where, hopefully, hundreds of people have commented about their experience. They have the opportunity to see testimonials, case studies, content banks, questions and answer in blog post, videos. The content that we can put out to potential clients to have them know, like, and trust us is exponential. There’s no end to the growth trajectory there.
And so, I think that with the 21st century of how people are finding our firms, deciding if they want to work with us or not, is the catalyst for us not having to meet with people in person anymore.
Jim: John, for my last question, what was the biggest surprise for you, shifting from government attorney job to owning your own firm? And which job would you rather have, given the current situation?
John: No question. I’d rather be running a practice. You know, it’s allowed my family – my wife is at home with our three children. Close to home, the daycare that our two youngest would have been at has had a positive COVID infection. And so, all those children were exposed. I don’t know what the outcome of that will be for those kiddos. But my wife, being at home, has protect this from that. And so, that’s a huge blessing that the practice has done enough that she can be at home with the little’s for the past year and a half. And so, as to that part of your question, I would definitely choose to continue to do this.
The biggest surprise for me is that I am the master of my destiny. When I worked for the government, if I kicked ass on a case, if I won something, if I saved the State money, if I got an acquittal on a murder trial for a public defender client, if I got a conviction in a murder trial for the State, it was a pat on the back and move forward.
But, in my firm, when you have those successes, or when you see the system working, the benefits are perpetual and get to bring people in and help them learn this – young attorneys, law students. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to my alma mater law school on multiple occasions. And just the ability to continue that growth is amazing.
I wrote it down here. I wanted to mention, before we got off. I recently read James Clear’s Atomic Habits book and it’s just brilliant beyond measure. And, you know, he speaks in that book to habits. And then, when we decide the type of person we’re going to be, I think he called that– I’m missing it here, identity-based outcomes. So, I decide I’m going to be the owner of a successful law firm. I decide I’m going to do this. Then, we backtrack and build towards that. And so, I decided that I’m going to have a firm that has a policy and procedure for everything that we do and it’s always open for people in my firm to make better.
I decided that I was going to be the author of a book. I don’t know how I did it. But I wrote 150-pages or so book on criminal defense and it’s done amazing things for my practice.
And just, I think that all of us, if we decide on the outcome, that we’re going to do fine through this COVID experience, that we’re going to be adaptable like humans have always been, that we’re all going to be just fine.
And so, I’ve, I’ve taken a lot of [inaudible 00:34:35] in that. And I’ve tried to focus on, “I’m the master of my destiny”, and trying to work every day to serve our clients but also build a bigger and better ship.
Tyson: I love it.
All right. We do need to wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to go to the Facebook group. Get involved there. Join us. There’s a lot of great activity. As many of you know, we have canceled the conference and we’re doing it in 2021. So, if you’ve not heard, now you know.
Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?
Jim: We talk a lot on here about Brene Brown, the social worker from Houston, who has one of the biggest TED talks of all time and is an author of many books, including one of our favorites, Daring Greatly. I found out yesterday that she has a new podcast that launched about a week ago. I listened to the first episode. It was terrific. It’s called Unlocking Us. And so, I highly recommend it.
Tyson: All right. Jimmy, that’s a good one.
John, what is your tip or hack of the week?
John: My tip or hack of the week is, if you can’t do it this month, which we should be able to, with things slowing down, block in time for your calendar. Block in an hour. Block in four hours. Trust me. You or your staff will be able to work outside of it, to do these things that have to be done for the business side.
I found that I had to, initially, go a month and a half out to put a new calendar. Now, I don’t have anything on Wednesday afternoon, and I don’t have anything all day Friday. That allows me to put in that white space family, and golf, and business development. I think you’ll all be, as I’ve been amazed, that you can still practice and still serve all your clients while you block out time to handle the business side of our practices.
Tyson: You’re so right. Time blocking is crucial.
Another part of it is, once your team knows, like you blocked it out, but sometimes– I think we’ve all been there, where your team sort of sometimes ignores that part of it. But if you say and you stress to them, “Hey, this is important. Don’t put anything in that time block.” They won’t. And so, it really is helpful. It’s–
John: Can I–
Tyson: Yeah, go ahead.
John: Can I just add one thing to that, Tyson.
John: When I first put that out to my staff, they’re like, “What? What do you mean, you are– like no. No court. No appointments. Nothing. Act like I’m not here.”
I think it’s so important to let people behind the veil and explain to them why those things happen so that they have ownership of it themselves. And so, my associate, all the people that I work with, know that that’s the only way that we continue to grow is if I have time to do the business side. And so, help them understand why you do the things that you do because there are things they’ll never be able to do. It’s not like you have to hide your precious – like it’s the ring in Lord of the Rings. I’m going to geek out for a second. You can let them understand why you’re doing X, Y or Z. They’ll take ownership of it, and they will help you protect your time.
Tyson: I love it. Good stuff.
All right. So, my tip of the week is I’m going to take it back. I don’t know if I’ve ever given this tip before. I know I’ve spoken about it. Especially in these times right now, with what’s going on, it’s important to celebrate our wins. As soon as you listen to this, I want you to think about, over the last 24 hours, just list three of your wins and write them down. It really will help change your mindset.
If you start your day every morning by just writing down your wins from the last 24 hours, I promise it’s going to help change your mood in the morning. It’s going to give you that positivity to start your day. Especially if you start with gratitude as well, things you’re thankful for, but also writing down your wins. Celebrating your wins.
I think we’re trained. It’s beaten out of us. We’re not supposed to celebrate our wins for some reason.
Celebrate your wins. It’ll make you feel better. It’ll help improve your day. It’ll help you and help you help other people, really. It really will.
All right. John, thank you so much for coming on. You definitely know a lot. It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing everything.
John: Thanks for having me on, guys.
Jim: Thanks, guys.
Tyson: See ya. Bye, John.
Thanks for listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
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