Law Firm Excellence Podcast
Law firm leaders share their stories and experts share tips that will empower you to grow your firm.
As a new attorney, Alexis joined a prestigious firm, expecting to stay forever. But three years later she was miserable and felt the “golden handcuffs” growing tighter. She realized she’d have to start her own firm to find the fulfillment she was after. Placing herself in a do-or-die situation, she experimented and tweaked until she perfected a model that yielded greater profits, more balance, and a better relationship with clients. Now she helps other attorneys to do the same.
Jonathan Karp is a California attorney who represents mid-sized, closely held businesses and their owners in a variety of fields, including law firms, CPA firms, and medical practices. We discussed those agreements that form the foundation of a law firm: partnership, shareholder, and compensation agreements. Having assisted many firms over the years, Jonathan shared his perspective on how firms use these agreements to engineer the conditions they wish to create in their firm.
Lisa O’Flyng is the Marketing Director at Ruder Ware, a 40-attorney firm in Wausau and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. When two of the attorneys started doing work for clients in the Agribusiness sector, they perceived a potentially much greater opportunity. The firm made a deliberate effort to pursue it and now, three years later, they’ve grown the practice group about ten times its initial size. Lisa outlines the steps they took to raise their profile and engender trust in the highly-networked Ag community.
Janey Nethery worked in claims for years before joining Michael Sullivan & Associates as Executive Director. Her experience as a client of General Liability and Workers’ Compensation law firms has given her deep insight into what clients want, what it looks like when firms delight, and yet how easy it is to fail. In this conversation she shares quite a few examples that reveal just how hard firms have to work every day at every level to get it right.
Before co-founding Price Benowitz, Seth Price was VP of Business Development for USLaw.com, where he learned digital marketing. His long-time friend, David Benowitz, was a public defender in Washington, D.C. They thought their skills might combine well so they launched a firm. Boy were they right. They outgrew their first office in just two weeks. Today the firm has 20 attorneys and its 10-person digital marketing team provides services to other law firms as BLU Spark Digital.
Gregory Ramos is a Member in Sherman & Howard’s Corporate and Business Department. One of the firm’s clients loved their legal work but wanted them to develop greater industry expertise in their oil & gas business. The solution? Jointly identify a new law school graduate to be hired by the client, receive legal training from the firm, and then after two years, join the firm as an associate. The experiment was a success and the Sherman & Howard Fellowship Program was born.
David Stone and his partners are building a firm that focuses exclusively on complex high-value litigation, whether handling contingent plaintiff or billable defense work. The firm is nimble, typically around 10 lawyers, but also works regularly as co-counsel with much larger firms when cases requires it. They litigate with a “surgical strike” approach, only taking actions with an intent to influence the fact-finder.
Nathan Jordan is an account executive at Rocket Matter. In that capacity, he speaks with hundreds of small and medium-sized law firms each year. In our conversation he shares his perspective of how firms are using technology to achieve greater efficiency, provide better service, and scale their businesses.
Jess Collen took an unconventional path to becoming an attorney and co-founding a firm with his wife. They started their careers by first building a retail business together. They continued to run it during law school and even afterwards, while rising up through the ranks at a law firm in Manhattan. When they launched their firm in 1996, their business experience enabled them to hit the ground running. And they found they could also relate very well to the issues their clients faced. Today they handle IP work for top brands.
What happens when two 3-year attorneys at a white shoe firm decide that their world is ripe for disruptive innovation? Michael Moradzadeh and his partner set-up shop in a house in San Francisco and worked out of the basement, launching just a few months before the great recession hit hardest in 2008. Their firm has grown steadily ever since. Now, eight years later, it has over 50 attorneys and operates under a spherical model, designed to allow for an agile and dynamic team that works closely together to efficiently respond to client needs.
When Sheela Murthy launched her firm in 1994, her husband Vasant Nayak, a digital artist, told her the Internet would change the world. He encouraged her to go online and share her knowledge freely. Despite initial doubts, she spent hours each day answering every immigration question posted on the 10,000-member Indian News Network. It didn’t take long until the phone started ringing and today, the firm has grown to nearly 100 employees. Sharing knowledge is embedded in the culture: Murthy.com is the world’s most visited law firm site.
Gregory Seeley and his co-founding partner have built a 20-attorney firm with a diverse practice centered around the needs of small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. In 2014 it was named one of Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They launched the firm in 1978 with a core concept that was radical at the time: the client is always right and always the priority. Along the way, they compiled other guiding principles that Greg shared in this interview.