You can build a successful practice without paid marketing – IF you are willing to hustle. Muhammad hits the ground HARD with gorilla marketing on a daily basis. And he reaps the rewards of community engagement and the trust that comes from sowing face. A man of the people, he understands the needs of his clients. The Owner and Founder of Attorneys of Chicago serves hundreds of personal injury claimants and is rapidly growing.
Today, we discuss reaching your goals by any means necessary and the unstoppable power of gorilla marketing. Why money matters to your firm – especially if you think it doesn’t. And why you should own who you are – proudly – at all times. Muhammad gets personal about intake and moving beyond survival mode.
- Fake it till you make it. New clients are won in five seconds or less. Stay polished and win the client.
- People hire real people. The old archetype of a demure lawyer standing in front of a bookcase is outdated and unlikely to win your firm clients.
- Hustle hard. Paid advertising is not necessary to build a successful firm. Pair on-the-ground networking with social media to grow your network.
Maria Monroy, LawRank, Muhammad Ramadan, Attorneys of Chicago
Mohammad Ramadan (00:05):
I hustled my way here, I’ll figure out my way when I get out. You can’t make a difference if you’re broke.
Maria Monroy (00:10):
Now we’re going to talk about something that I would consider a little bit controversial, just a tiny bit.
Mohammad Ramadan (00:17):
Here you go. I think lawyers have forgotten that we represent people.
Maria Monroy (00:23):
Mohammad Ramadan (00:24):
We have to do what people want. It’s not about you, bro. Okay? Lawyers need to get over this. It’s not about you. If you’re not ready to eat shit and keep moving, you’re not ready.
Maria Monroy (00:36):
If you want to be successful, you’re starting a law firm, you have to network and you have to do social.
Mohammad Ramadan (00:44):
The networking works with the social media and the social media allows you to network. We’re all going to be someone’s ancestor one day, make them proud now.
Maria Monroy (00:51):
In law school, attorneys are taught to challenge everything, tear things apart, break them down. But the qualities that make lawyers great can be some of the worst for running a business. At every stage of growth, running a business and practicing law can feel overwhelming. And what happens when you try to add life and family to the mix? It can feel nearly impossible. You do not have to do this alone. I’m
Maria Monroy, co-founder and president of LawRank, a leading SEO agency for ambitious law firms. Each week we hear from the industry leaders on what it really takes to run a law firm, from marketing to manifestation, because success lies in the balance of life and law. We’re here to help you tip the scales.
Mohammad Ramadan, founder of Attorneys of Chicago, is an immigrant and a fighter. Unwilling to accept no for an answer, he has grown his firm from the ground up. His firm represents hundreds of personal injury clients. Today, Mo and I dig into reaching your goals by any means necessary and the power of gorilla marketing coupled with, you guessed it, social media, why money matters to your firm, especially if you think it doesn’t, and why you should own who you are proudly at all times. Mo gets personal about intake and moving beyond survival mode. Mo did something a little controversial. He started his law practice right out of law school. But to understand his decision, you have to understand his history.
Mohammad Ramadan (02:30):
First male to go to college in my family. I start off community college, I had a 1.8 GPA and didn’t really know what I was going to do. By just sheer luck, I got into DePaul. That’s kind of where things changed. I met my mentors there. At that time, law school was still kind of like a pipe dream. It wasn’t something that I really thought I was going to do seriously. Started doing really well at DePaul and then it kind of became serious. So I worked my GPA up, I took the LSAT. I did just enough to get denied by all eight law schools. All eight denied me. Michigan State came, gave me a conditional acceptance and said, “Hey, if you come in early, you do well enough, we’ll let you in.” I said, “It’s my one shot.” Took it, got in. I was bottom 20 in my class.
I was never really great in school. But I looked at it, I said, “I hustled my way to this point. I’m playing with house money. I don’t belong here. I shouldn’t really be here. I kind of beat the odds to get here.” So I was coming out, the legal market was crap. I was bottom 20 of my class. I didn’t come out of a top hundred law school. My name is
Mohammad Ramadan. I didn’t have a family with connections. I really had nothing. And I looked at it and I applied for jobs. I wasn’t even getting interviews so the writing was on the wall. And I just kind of knew, “Okay, when I come out, what am I going to do?” So about probably my third year of law school, I just kind of knew, “You know what? I’m just going to go on my own.”
And it was controversial when I met with whatever they call them, the people that you meet with at law school before you go. So the first thing, she says, “Well, where are you going?” I said, “Well, I’m going to Chicago.” She’s like, “Well, everybody wants to go to Chicago.” I’m like, “Lady, I live there. My family’s there. I’m not going there because of I want to. I have to.” She’s like, “Okay, well what are you doing for jobs?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m just going to go on my own.” She’s like, “What?” She’s like, “Excuse me?” I said, “Yeah.” And we had a very, very back and forth, I’ll just say that. And I kind of just told her, “Look, I’m not asking you guys for anything. Just stay out of my way. I’m not really asking for anything.” They actually sent the dean to have dinner with me.
Maria Monroy (04:31):
Mohammad Ramadan (04:33):
Dinner. And we sat down and she brought it up and I said, “Look, it’s a crappy legal market. All due respect, you guys are not doing much to get us jobs, which is fine, okay? I get it. It’s tough for everybody, but what do you want me to do? Go sit and do doc review for $30 an hour and not learn anything.” And I said, “I hustled my way here. I’ll figure out my way when I get out.” And that’s kind of what I told her. They still didn’t like it, but whatever. I came out, I passed the bar the first time. November 14th, I’ll never forget the date, I raised my hand, I got sworn in. December 1st, I signed my first lease.
Maria Monroy (05:08):
Mohammad Ramadan (05:09):
Maria Monroy (05:09):
Mohammad Ramadan (05:10):
I just dived right into it.
Maria Monroy (05:12):
And who was your first client?
Mohammad Ramadan (05:14):
$50 traffic ticket. So how I started, actually when I passed the bar, we had a little party. It was just close family and friends. I told all of them, “Do not give me a little BS, monogrammed, little folder. Whatever you were going to spend on a gift, please give me the cash so I can open up the office.” So I made I think a little less than three grand. It was my security deposit, it was my rent. I bought a desk, a computer, some pens and notepads. And I had a few hundred dollars left. And I went and bought a suit from one of those sales stores. And I would literally just get dressed in the morning, go to the courthouse and walk around.
Maria Monroy (05:55):
But you had no experience. Weren’t you worried that that was a liability?
Mohammad Ramadan (05:59):
Yeah, so what I did was the office I took was a joint office. There was four other lawyers there, relatively younger, but they had some experience.
Maria Monroy (06:10):
Did they think you were nuts?
Mohammad Ramadan (06:11):
No, because they kind of did the similar thing. I didn’t just dive into it. I kind of, not so much did my homework, but I tried to build as much of a safety net as possible. And these guys were kind of my safety net. Now some of them were on the out for three years at the time so it’s not like they were experts, but it was enough to know how to file an appearance, how to research or basic stuff. And it was kind of a co-op almost. It was really cool. It was like, all right, if I learned something, “Hey man, I went from the judge So-and-so, I went on this motion.” “Oh, let me get that case,” or, “Let me get the motion that you used.” And it was really like a co-op for a couple years. We just kind of helped each other out.
Maria Monroy (06:48):
How did you find them?
Mohammad Ramadan (06:49):
One of them was a good friend of mine, so he helped me out. He was about two, three years ahead of me. So he was kind of advising me how to get into law school. I didn’t come from an area that had doctors and lawyers. I mean, I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I never knew a lawyer personally. I had no concept of the LSAT. I had no concept of college. I’ll give you a funny example. When I got to DePaul, I didn’t know 100 level, 200, 300 level. When you apply for classes, that 300 level is the hardest. So I’m looking at the list and I’m like, “I don’t know any of these classes.”
And I saw Mid East Politics at 300 level. I’m like, “Oh, that’s my people. I should know this stuff.” I didn’t know 300 level was the highest level class and I just totally bombed that class. Just to show you, I didn’t even know how to apply for college. So he kind of helped me with that. And I explained to him what I was doing. He’s like, “Hey, we’re getting this office space and there’s extra space.” And I knew the guy that kind of rented the place out. So I said, “You know what? It’s better than nothing at this point.”
Maria Monroy (07:48):
And then what would happen next?
Mohammad Ramadan (07:50):
So first six months to a year, I would do traffic tickets, 50 bucks. I would try to get a hundred, someone still negotiating at 50. I’ll never forget that. And then what I would do and how I really kind of grew was I would do covers. So criminal defense attorneys will tell you sometimes you have to be in three different courthouses, four different courthouses all at the same time in the morning. So they would say, “Hey mom, we’ll pay you a hundred bucks. Go to this courthouse, get us a court date,” or, “Go to this courthouse, pick up discovery and get a court date.” So I would do that for multiple attorneys. And at the time, I was doing it to make that extra a hundred bucks, 200 bucks. And it was literally like, “Okay, today I made 200 bucks. Cool. Gas is covered for the week. I can get some food. All right, next one I got to pay my rent.”
It was literally day by day I would try to do it. And the covers really helped me. One, I started to network with other attorneys. Two, you start to learn on someone else’s, not dime, but I can’t really screw it up and if I screwed it up, the lawyer I’m covering for will fix it and they can always just blame the new attorney. So the pressure wasn’t as much. I got to know judges through that. They started to recognize me and see me there. I started to get to know and have a relationship with prosecutors. And also I would go cover and then I would just pick up other clients when I’m there covering for another attorney. And I learned very fast the five second rule, you have five seconds to impress a client before they decide they want you or not.
Your handshake, your business card, and how you’re dressed and how you looked. You knocked those three out in five seconds, you’ll get someone to hire you. And that’s what I did. I would just put on a really nice suit. I spent a lot of money on nice business cards because I had to, I hate saying fake the funk, but I had to have a nice business card to make it look like I’m experienced and I have this firm. So I spent on business cards, I bought a couple suits, and I would just make sure I’m shaved and cleaned and whether people like to admit it or not, that stuff does matter.
Maria Monroy (09:50):
Oh, absolutely. I love fashion. So I’m going to agree with you.
Mohammad Ramadan (09:57):
Me too. And case in point, I had a guy, my first felony, it was a low level felony. I signed him up and I asked him, I said, “Hey man, why did you hire me?” He said, “Man, I’m going to be honest with you, you were the best dressed dude in that courthouse and it looked like you know what you were talking about.” I said, “Deal, I’ll take it.” And that’s when I learned that stuff does matter. I would call my sister in court and act like she’s a client. And I was just walk around, acting like I’m talking to clients on the phone. I would just go into different courtrooms, act like I’m looking for clients. And sure enough people, “Hey, hey, hey, I got a question for you,” “Hey, can you help me out real quick?” And then I learned how to take people’s bond money. So if they didn’t have cash, I’d say, “Okay, cool, you got $300 in bond, slide that bond over to me and I’ll take care of it for you.” And just little by little, just kind of built it up from there.
Maria Monroy (10:41):
Are you still doing criminal defense?
Mohammad Ramadan (10:43):
No. I stopped criminal defense five, six years ago maybe.
Maria Monroy (10:47):
How many active cases do you have now?
Mohammad Ramadan (10:51):
A couple hundred I want to say.
Maria Monroy (10:52):
So from no one will hire you to couple hundred active PI cases.
Mohammad Ramadan (11:00):
PI cases. So I did criminal defense hardcore for about five years. And when I say hardcore, I mean guns, drugs, attempted murder, murder. So my trial experience came from the criminal side.
Maria Monroy (11:10):
Did you handle sex crimes or no?
Mohammad Ramadan (11:12):
Maria Monroy (11:13):
I knew you were going to say no.
Mohammad Ramadan (11:14):
So look, when you do criminal defense, you cannot get on a moral high horse. I would listen to someone on a sex case, a child case, I would not even give a consult to.
Maria Monroy (11:25):
See, I knew it. I feel like I already know you.
Mohammad Ramadan (11:28):
And the reason is I don’t think, A, I would’ve been able to give them my 100% defense. And if I can’t give you my 100%, I’m very passionate on my clients. So I told myself, it’s not fair if you’re not going to give them your 100% because they might be innocent. So if they are innocent, they deserve a hundred percent from an attorney, they’re not going to get a hundred percent from me so therefore don’t even come to my office. I mean, I would say it nicer. With children, even if you were innocent, I just couldn’t do it that. But that was the only thing I wouldn’t take. I mean, you name it, we did it.
Maria Monroy (12:07):
And when did you switch? What happened? Did you get one PI case and you’re like, “Holy shit, there’s money here?”
Mohammad Ramadan (12:13):
No. So it’s a good question. It was pretty organic, over a span of time. So I was doing criminal defense hardcore. And I wanted to be the next Arab Johnny Cochran. He was my idol growing up. I really thought that was what I was going to be. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. I think it was when I had my first daughter. I had my office in the city and I was getting to a point, and anybody that litigates knows this feeling, you’re so tired all day from prepping for court or being in court. By the time I came home, I didn’t have much for her. And I said before I even got married, before I even became a lawyer, “I never wanted to be that dad.” That was a big thing for me personally. No matter what work I did, I did not want to be that dad.
And when I mean that dad is that dad that’s working six days a week, 12 hours a day, only sees their kids few hours out the week. I said, “I don’t care how much money you can promise me, I’m not giving this up for that.” And I said, “Cool, right now it’s okay. But when I’m 55 and I’m 60, do I want to be dragging myself in a court for misdemeanors and felonies?” And the answer was no. And the system sucks. It wore me out. I got tired of fighting the system. It’s very racist, it’s very biased. Prosecutors are very self-righteous people. They live on a high horse. And it just really got on my nerves and then it’s draining. I would spend a year and a half defending a guy. I’ll never forget it, I defended a guy in attempted murder. We got him off, great. It was one of the big wins of my career. Not even a month later, he calls me, caught on another murder.
Maria Monroy (13:54):
Oh my god.
Mohammad Ramadan (13:54):
And I’m in my head, I’m like, “Dude, what did I do all this for? I lost sleep over your case. I blood, sweat, and tears into this.” And it was just like, “Do I really want to do this?” And then I did a double homicide. I really liked a kid. It was a 17 year old kid and it just started to pile up and I said, “Hold up.” And then I started really doing well on the business side. Chicago is a very regulated city. So I ended up just somehow, some way I started representing businesses that were getting attacked by the city of Chicago.
Maria Monroy (14:24):
Mohammad Ramadan (14:25):
Right. And I said, Wait, “I get the chance to fight Chicago and give them the finger? Sign me up, let’s go.” So they tried to railroad one of my friends. At first, I’m like, “No, no, no, I’m this big badass criminal defense attorney. We don’t do admin law.” And he just kept calling. He’s like, “Mo, please, please, please.” I said, “Okay.” And I looked at him and it was like they’re really crushing this guy for no reason. So I ended up fighting it and I won. And I’m like, “Oh, okay.” It was pretty cool. And then my phone just started ringing for that from all these businesses getting ambushed by Chicago. So that started to do well. And I said, “Okay, I want to get rid of criminal, but I need to supplement it with something.” That’s where PI really kind of came in. I started noticing how many cases I was referring to other attorneys and I started to think, “Hold up. I’m pretty good at this marketing thing. I bring in cases.”
Maria Monroy (15:12):
How do you bring in cases?
Mohammad Ramadan (15:15):
Old school gorilla marketing. And when I say that, I’m in the streets, I network, I’ve done a great job of what I call planting seeds, doing stuff for people without asking for anything in return. If I’ve seen people that I know opening up their own business, I would go to their grand opening. Sometimes I would be one of three or four people and guess who they’re going to remember?
Maria Monroy (15:36):
Mohammad Ramadan (15:37):
One of the three or four people at their grand opening. And I realized, just making human connections-
Maria Monroy (15:42):
Do you think that’ll ever go away?
Mohammad Ramadan (15:44):
No, never. That’s just a human nature. Technology these days have just giving you different vehicles to do that. So when people say, “Well, you do well on social media. How do you…?” I’m like, “It’s hand in hand.” The networking works with the social media and the social media allows you to network. So you kind of have to use both of them. And I used both. So I got into social media because I was broke, literally. I had no money to market. It was like through year three, I said, “Man, I need to do something.” At that time, referrals were on and off. Right now referrals are flowing. But at the time, three years in, referrals were up and down and I said, “Man, I have to do something.” But I’m like, “I’m broke.” I don’t have any money, I can’t do a billboard, I can’t do any ads. So I literally just went on my personal Facebook page and I would just tell stories about my defense clients and my friends laughed at me because I would make them totally dramatic, right?”Oh, this poor woman came to my office and she was going through all this and we went into court and we smashed the prosecutor over her head and we got this verdict.” And I kind of did it facetiously at first, just kind joking. And people loved it. I said, “Hold on, I’m onto something here.” And I just kept posting. I got a lot of crap for it. Lawyers still give me crap for it, the older attorneys. But back then a lot-
Maria Monroy (17:00):
What did they say?
Mohammad Ramadan (17:02):
Oh, I was a detriment to the legal world. I was unprofessional, I was ghetto. I’ve been told, “Stop making rap videos and get back to work.” I mean I could go on and on, but the worst one was when they said I was a detriment to the legal world.
Maria Monroy (17:15):
Mohammad Ramadan (17:16):
Yeah, I thought that was great. I thought that was pretty funny. And I did a video once. I’m from Chicago, Kanye West is very big. I did this video, it was like a hype video. It was just me. I rented a Uber Black and I put on a nice suit and I did the Kanye West Power beat. And three days in, I had 60,000 views. And I said, “Holy shit, I’m onto something here.” So I started doing these videos with music in the background and people liked it. And I started noticing, “Well, this is brand building.” And it really hit me when I would be somewhere and people would be like, “Hey man, I saw your video. When are you going to do the next one?” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.”
Maria Monroy (17:52):
Like random people on the street?
Mohammad Ramadan (17:56):
Random people from the community and they would say, “Man, I love that video. When’s the next one coming out?” And in my head, I’m like, “I didn’t have one planned, but oh yeah, it’s coming next month. Man, don’t worry about it. Just be on a lookout for it.” And I’m like, “Oh shit, I got to do another one.” So it was just little things like that. But when I say gorilla marketing, anywhere I go, you’re going to know I’m an attorney whether you like it or not. Now you can’t be overt about it. I slip it in within conversation or I’ll try to tell a good client’s story of a result that we got. You kind of have to be subtle slick about it. But for lack of better words, I kind of grew up on the streets so I knew how to hustle and I knew how to get what I wanted. I always knew what I was good at and what I was bad at.
Maria Monroy (18:36):
What are you bought at?
Mohammad Ramadan (18:37):
I’m not a great writer. Speaking, I think I speak well, but I still have a little bit of the immigrant south side kind of talk so I was always self-conscious about kind of my speech. I’m not going to write a 30 page brief, I’m just not. That’s just not who I am. What I am good at though is I moved around a lot as a kid. I’ve lived in every kind of neighborhood, every kind of community. So I feel one thing I was always good at is I can relate to pretty much anybody’s situation due to the fact that I’ve literally lived poor, rich, black, white. You name it, I’ve lived around it. So I used that skill and luckily for me, because we moved around a lot, I knew a lot of different people from different neighborhoods.
So I knew Chicago politics, meaning in Chicago neighborhoods have certain people and those people are the credible people. So if So-and-so says, “Mo is legit,” the whole community’s going to believe Mo is legit. So I would find those people in those communities and if they’re doing events, I would go to them or I would sponsor them and I would do stuff with them and just build from that. And honestly just doing good work. People will talk about you if you do good work. So it was just kind of a combination of things, but it was really just hardcore getting out in the streets and letting people know what you do.
Maria Monroy (20:01):
How many employees do you have now?
Mohammad Ramadan (20:03):
Five and then myself. So six of us total, five staff.
Maria Monroy (20:06):
What are your goals?
Mohammad Ramadan (20:08):
My goals, sorry, Larry, but I want to be the guy in Chicago. I say that jokingly, but what I really want to do, honestly, I want to show the new model of a law firm. And I think the legal world is really changing and I think the old guard is having a hard time with it. The old guard, when I say that, is people do not care for the old white guy in front of a bookcase anymore. That was the prototypical lawyer for the past hundred years.
I think women are kicking ass right now in the legal world and they’re doing it differently. I think women are resetting the standard. And the reason I use women is because I think they’ve broken, not the glass, but they don’t give a fuck no more. In the sense, if I want to wear a bikini on my Instagram, I’m going to wear one. If I want to be fashionable on my Instagram, that does not make me less of an attorney. If I want to be cool or if I want to do certain events, I’m going to do that. And I think lawyers have forgotten that we represent people.
Maria Monroy (21:08):
Mohammad Ramadan (21:09):
You have to do what people want. It’s not about you, bro, okay? Lawyers need to get over this. It’s not about you. You represent somebody. So people want to know who you are now. People do not go to your website first right away. What they do is they’re going to see, “Who am I meeting? What kind of person are they? Do they go to concerts? What do they like to eat? What are their interests?”
Maria Monroy (21:34):
Well, people like to work with people.
Mohammad Ramadan (21:35):
That they can relate to. And I think the legal world for a long time has been this kind of picture perfect image of a suit and tie and you’re perfect. Basically, you’re a machine. I’ve shown my vulnerabilities to people and they love it.
Maria Monroy (21:51):
And women are good at that. I do think women are more vulnerable and they have a lot of empathy.
Mohammad Ramadan (21:56):
Maria Monroy (21:57):
And I agree with you, I think that’s changing the space. And I think we have television to thank for this idea of a lawyer. Everybody has an idea of what a lawyer-
Mohammad Ramadan (22:07):
Maria Monroy (22:08):
Mohammad Ramadan (22:08):
You always think of Perry Mason.
Maria Monroy (22:08):
Yeah. Because of TV and now because of social media, we’ve had so many lawyers come out and do all these videos and put themselves out there and people are like, “Wait a minute, I thought that lawyers looked a certain way and acted a certain way.”
Mohammad Ramadan (22:27):
And I think social media and opening up your own law practice has allowed women to flourish in our industry where otherwise they would have to “wait their turn” that never came, right? I mean, go look at the number of women partners in big firms. They’re crap. And you cannot tell me women lawyers aren’t that good. I mean, go look at the law school numbers. Women outnumber men in law school numbers now.
Maria Monroy (22:49):
I think women are better employees too. I’m sorry, I just do.
Mohammad Ramadan (22:54):
1000%. My entire staff is almost all women. Let me go on a tirade. I do think women, they’re loyal, they’re organized, they’re just hard workers. And I don’t know if it’s this whole chip on their shoulders shit that people say, I don’t know, but-
Maria Monroy (23:12):
Who cares? Who cares? The point is, women are amazing employees.
Mohammad Ramadan (23:17):
Maria Monroy (23:18):
And they’re smart. And dude, of course.
Mohammad Ramadan (23:22):
More than half my referral base are women owned law firms.
Maria Monroy (23:25):
And I love that that’s growing.
Mohammad Ramadan (23:27):
Maria Monroy (23:28):
Women should go start your law firm.
Mohammad Ramadan (23:30):
And I’ve asked women attorney friends that I know, they’ve all told me they’ve noticed between the generations. So the older generation still talks down to them, still says certain words to them. The younger generation are more prone to being totally fine with working with a woman attorney. So I think it is shifting. But social media and programs to show you how to open up your own law practice, I think most lawyers should open up their own law practice, that’s my belief. It’s so liberating.
Maria Monroy (23:58):
But I think some lawyers just don’t want to handle the business side.
Mohammad Ramadan (24:01):
Because they suck at business.
Maria Monroy (24:02):
Well, that’s why.
Mohammad Ramadan (24:03):
Most lawyers suck at business.
Maria Monroy (24:04):
And especially, I would argue, and I don’t want to say that everyone is like this, but I think that there are lawyers that are so passionate about being lawyers that running a business almost feels like it’s, A, what they’re not interested in or B, it’s almost beneath them. It’s like, “No, I want to make a difference.” And that’s when I say, “Well, partner up with someone that’s great on the business side.”
Mohammad Ramadan (24:28):
I’ve heard that before and here’s my response to them, “You can’t make a difference if you’re broke.”
Maria Monroy (24:33):
No. Or if you have no clients.
Mohammad Ramadan (24:33):
If you have no clients, you’re not making a difference, right?
Maria Monroy (24:36):
Mohammad Ramadan (24:36):
So like you said, outsource it then. It’s a cheap cop out when lawyers say that because I respect the fact as a lawyer that you want to do good work and you want to fight the powers that be. I’m with you 100%. But there is a business to law whether you like it or not. And client acquisition is a very difficult thing. As you know this very well, client acquisition in 2022 is extremely difficult. And getting the clients is one thing, then your operation side is completely different now. And in today’s world, if you’re not responding to clients right away, if you’re not giving them different options to communicate with you, firms like myself and the newer firms are going to blow you out of the water because we’re responding to our calls. You can DM me on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, you can text my office, you can email me, WhatsApp if you want. Whatever you want, I think-
Maria Monroy (25:27):
It’s the number one complaint.
Mohammad Ramadan (25:28):
Maria Monroy (25:29):
The number one complaint.
Mohammad Ramadan (25:30):
But it’s an easy fix.
Maria Monroy (25:31):
It’s so easy.
Mohammad Ramadan (25:33):
But I think lawyers’ egos get in the way. That’s my opinion.
Maria Monroy (25:36):
You and I have talked a lot about lawyer egos.
Mohammad Ramadan (25:39):
Yes. Because it’s a detriment to our industry. I really do think it’s a detriment to our industry. Those comments, that’s about the lawyer. “I want to feel-self righteous.” No, dude, go, bring in clients. That’s how you make a difference. But this whole, “Oh, it’s not about the money,” it is about the money because you need that money to funnel the work that you want to do. So what I do is, yes, we’re a money making firm, but I do a lot of pro bono work. Making money has allowed me to free up time to go do the pro bono work that I really like and that I enjoy. So it’s like build that firm up. So now for me, it’s like I get to double dip.
I get a firm that I’ve built how I want it and I get to bring in people that I want to hire and I get to use that brand and that money to funnel into projects that are pro bono for me. So that’s the win-win. I live by the Jay-Z quote, “You can’t help the poor if you’re one of them,” so I decided to get rich and give back. That’s the win-win, right? I really believe that.
Maria Monroy (26:43):
You’re the American dream.
Mohammad Ramadan (26:45):
I am. And I take pride in that. And I don’t say that in an ego way. I say that to say the American dream is still alive. I just think people are lazy as fuck.
Maria Monroy (26:51):
They are. That’s the thing that I think immigrants, we feel like we have something to prove.
Mohammad Ramadan (26:58):
Maria Monroy (27:00):
And I worry about my kids. I’m like, “You guys have no adversity.” And I’ve said this in other episodes, I’m like, “Should I create some adversity for them?”
Mohammad Ramadan (27:09):
It’s tough. I battle that all the time, right? Because I grew up poor, it was eight of us in a three bedroom apartment, first generation immigrants. My kids will never see any of that. They have a nice house, they go to good schools, get every toy they want. Part of me is like, “I don’t know. I mean I want to give them everything I didn’t have, but how do I instill values in them?” But then I’m like, “I don’t have to make them broke to instill values, do I?” I don’t know. It’s a tough balance because children of immigrants, we’re raised differently. My parents didn’t come to no basketball games and football games that I went to and they didn’t know anybody.
Maria Monroy (27:48):
We had no extra crew.
Mohammad Ramadan (27:49):
I don’t blame that. Immigrants are in survival mode 24/7. And this is what I tell people, “We are different in a sense because the moment we get here to the moment we die, we are in survival mode. That’s all we know. Survive, survive, survive.” So while we’re in survival mode, we forget about building generational wealth and all of this. But a guy recently said something that really hit me and he said, “Hey, we’re all going to be someone’s ancestor one day. Make them proud now.” And it really hit me that we are going to be someone’s ancestors. Someone’s going to say, “My great grandfather created this wealth for us,” I want to be that great grandfather. So we are going to be someone’s ancestors one day, what are they going to say about you?
Maria Monroy (28:27):
I mean, I keep telling my kids I’m not leaving you anything. I mean it’s a lie but I hope that that panics them a little bit. But my husband rolls his eyes and I think they’re onto my lie.
Mohammad Ramadan (28:38):
Yeah, it’s tough. So what I do is I try to get them involved in things, but it is a tough balance, especially when you grow up with nothing and you start to have something. You don’t want to give your kids the experience that you had but at same time, those experiences have made me the hustler that I am today-
Maria Monroy (28:56):
Mohammad Ramadan (28:56):
That built what I built today. My kids, can they go through that?
Maria Monroy (29:00):
Isn’t it weird though? It’s like the things that were so difficult are now such a blessing.
Mohammad Ramadan (29:05):
I didn’t go to a school more than three years of my life.
Maria Monroy (29:07):
Why did you guys move so much?
Mohammad Ramadan (29:09):
We’re broke, apartment to apartment. We left the city to try to get away from a lot of the shit that was going on there but couldn’t really afford to live in a good neighborhood, so you would just try to find your way. That’s how immigrants do it. I mean we kept moving to try to find a better place. And again, when I was a kid, I hated it because as soon as you get acclimated, boom, you get up and move. But I’ve literally lived in all middle Eastern neighborhoods, I’ve lived in an all black neighborhood, I’ve lived in a Hispanic neighborhood, I lived with poor white. I’m talking poor white. I’ve lived around rich whites. I’ve lived around almost every social economic status.
Maria Monroy (29:48):
Where do you live now?
Mohammad Ramadan (29:50):
I am a full suburban, I golf now. My wife, last year, she’s like, “You’re like a middle aged white guy, Mo.” I’m like-
Maria Monroy (30:01):
You’re a lawyer.
Mohammad Ramadan (30:03):
I’ve always wanted to golf. I never golfed so I started golfing recently. I never fished in my life until a year ago.
Maria Monroy (30:08):
I’ve never fished, I’ve never golfed.
Mohammad Ramadan (30:10):
I was dying-
Maria Monroy (30:11):
And I don’t want to do either.
Mohammad Ramadan (30:14):
I grew up in a city, we didn’t have nature and all that. And it was something I’ve… I just always wanted to fish. As weird as this sounds, I never went fishing. So my friend’s a big fishing guy. We went on a charter and I absolutely loved it. I really loved it. But would I have loved it at 21? Probably not. Do I love it at 38? Oh, I loved it. And it’s progress.
Maria Monroy (30:39):
Mohammad Ramadan (30:41):
Thank you. It’s all about progress. And that’s what I try to tell younger attorneys. They are such in a rush to just become the next Ben Crump or whoever it is. And I’m like, “Bro, Ben Crump’s in practice for 30 years now.” You don’t become… And I’m just using Ben Crump as an example because he’s a recognized name. But people always ask me, especially younger lawyers going, “What do I got to do to start my own law firm?” And I said-
Maria Monroy (31:05):
Mohammad Ramadan (31:06):
“If you’re not ready to eat shit and know how to eat shit and keep moving, you’re not ready.”
Maria Monroy (31:12):
But see, that’s what your childhood taught you.
Mohammad Ramadan (31:15):
Maria Monroy (31:17):
And Ali and I have talked about this, the lack of grit that people have and the laziness that does exist in our country, it’s a shame I think. And I hope my children aren’t lazy.
Mohammad Ramadan (31:33):
There is some of that. But I also think they’re just trying to do things smarter. You got to understand we didn’t have this technology growing up, right?
Maria Monroy (31:41):
Mohammad Ramadan (31:41):
We had MySpace. We were how old with MySpace.I can say this publicly, I never had a MySpace account.
Maria Monroy (31:47):
I had MySpace.
Mohammad Ramadan (31:48):
Don’t ask me why. I was probably the only one in America that didn’t have a MySpace account. I was never into tech like that. I didn’t use Facebook till I got to college. But when I was on Facebook, it was literally just for college students. But that’s what I saw.
Maria Monroy (31:59):
Yeah, I didn’t go to college though. I had to wait till they opened it up to everybody.
Mohammad Ramadan (32:05):
Oh, that’s when I really saw the power of social media. 10 years ago, 2008 I was in college. I was trying to get some notes because I missed class and I couldn’t figure out how. My cousin’s a big tech geek. He’s like, “Man, go on this Facebook thing.” I’m like, “The hell’s Facebook?” He said, “Just sign up.” He helped me sign up. I put a message out, I forgot how they did it back then. Within an hour, I had five people respond to me with notes. I said, “Holy shit, dude, this is out of this world. This is unreal. This really happened.” And he is like, “Yeah, man, I’m telling you this is really cool, right?” I’m like, “Yeah, what’s this email thing about?” I was still new to it. And I laugh and I tell that story because now my entire practice was built on social media. I’ve done no traditional paid marketing, zero, zip, zilch.
Maria Monroy (32:50):
Which is crazy because this seems to be a theme, networking and social media. And I keep hearing these two things. If you want to be successful, you’re starting a law firm, you have to network and you have to do social.
Mohammad Ramadan (33:06):
A lot of the legal world still does not believe in social media, believe it or not.
Maria Monroy (33:10):
Mohammad Ramadan (33:11):
And it boggles my mind. I don’t know if people know this. TikTok has now overtaken Google as the largest search engine in the world officially.
Maria Monroy (33:20):
I think I heard this recently. That’s crazy though.
Mohammad Ramadan (33:22):
Maria Monroy (33:22):
I don’t TikTok.
Mohammad Ramadan (33:25):
So I don’t personally TikTok, I’ve gotten better with it. But it’s one of those things, it’s a must. Whether you like it or not, it’s the largest search engine in the world and you have to get over certain things.
Maria Monroy (33:39):
But what do people search for?
Mohammad Ramadan (33:40):
You’re the guru on that. You tell me.
Maria Monroy (33:44):
No, it’s really funny because the first time… There are two times that I’ve felt old with technology. One was when my little cousin told me Facebook was for old people. The other-
Mohammad Ramadan (33:56):
It’s kind of true.
Maria Monroy (33:56):
Was when I tried to do a TikTok and I ended up messaging Talayeh Goody. And I was like, “I don’t know how to use TikTok. Can you please walk me through it?”
Mohammad Ramadan (34:05):
You’ll get used to it. But TikTok is its own animal, man. I’m still learning it. I’m more of an Instagram guy.
Maria Monroy (34:12):
I am too.
Mohammad Ramadan (34:12):
I like Instagram.
Maria Monroy (34:13):
Instagram is my jam.
Mohammad Ramadan (34:14):
Me too. I think it’s a great medium. Not a lot of haters. TikTok commenters are the worst. Oh my god, the comments.
Maria Monroy (34:23):
I don’t have any haters. I’m not big enough for haters.
Mohammad Ramadan (34:25):
Trust me to-
Maria Monroy (34:26):
I’m sure I have real life haters. I know who you are.
Mohammad Ramadan (34:30):
Do a lot of TikToks, Maria, you’ll see the com… So now I play with them. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve heard enough crap in my career where these things don’t bother me. So I like to just kind of mess with them. But just to give you an example, I did a video on I think three steps to do after an accident, something like that. And one of them was call the police. And these guys from India and Australia are going off on me. “Well, police don’t come to an accident.” I’m like, “Bro, I’m talking about Chicago. I don’t know what happens in India or Australia or the UK.” They were so offended by it. And I just responded, I’m like, “Dude, I’m talking about the United States. Not even the United States, I’m talking about Chicago. I don’t know what you want me to tell you. I don’t know what happens in India.”
But you got to learn to just roll with those punches, just don’t even respond to it. I do sometimes just to be an asshole and just kind of have fun with people. And I start to realize people like the smartass response comments because they would go like it. But you got to have thick skin, man. If you don’t have thick skin-
Maria Monroy (35:27):
Oh, I have thick skin.
Mohammad Ramadan (35:27):
I know you do. I’m talking about other attorneys. I think attorneys care about their image a little too much.
Maria Monroy (35:33):
I think that’s just human nature. You have to, right? If you’re human, you’re going to care to some extent, but to the extent that it inhibits you or I guess prohibits you from doing something like putting yourself out there, I don’t get that.
Mohammad Ramadan (35:47):
I think too many lawyers are scared of not looking lawyerly, whatever the hell that is. I hear that all the time.
Maria Monroy (35:53):
Which we just agreed that that’s changing.
Mohammad Ramadan (35:55):
It’s completely changing. But law schools taught you this and then when you come out, the law firms taught… Here’s my controversial statement and you can play this, law schools are built for large firms only. They do not train attorneys to be attorneys and they do not train attorneys to be small and medium sized firms. They do not. They literally teach you to be a robot for the major firms. That’s the first problems, law school. Law school has not changed since Abraham freaking Lincoln, okay? It’s the same test, the same method, the same… Literally since Abraham freaking Lincoln was taught as a lawyer.
Maria Monroy (36:34):
Well, I’ve never had a lawyer ever say, “Oh, I learned so much in law school.” Every single lawyer says that they didn’t learn really anything in law school.
Mohammad Ramadan (36:41):
I learned how to think. I had great mentors. So I was lucky in a sense. But my mentors taught me how to think like a lawyer, how to view things. But I mean, Maria, like you said, I came out, I didn’t even know how to file an appearance in court. Come on, you taught me for three years of law school, I didn’t even know how to file an appearance. Now when I look back, it’s the most simple test you can do as a lawyer in court. In Cook County is you go up there, you grab the half sheet of paper, you write your name, your information, you give it to the clerk and hope she doesn’t chew you out for walking up to her. That’s it. I didn’t know that.
Maria Monroy (37:14):
You know what’ll be super cool? If somebody, like a group of lawyers said, “You know what, we’re going to start a law school and it’s going to be different.” Obviously they have to-
Mohammad Ramadan (37:23):
The cartel won’t let you. I’m sorry, the ABA. I meant the ABA. I call them the cartel. I’m sorry. ABA is a cartel. Here’s what pisses me off about the ABA. You have a bunch of lawyers who never ran a law firm trying to tell us how to run our law firms. It blows my mind. And I don’t really care for the ABA, the ARDC, all of them, lawyers are so scared of them. I tell them, “I don’t really give a damn,” because I don’t need some uppity tight guy who’s never ran a law firm in some office in New York telling me what I can and can’t do. You’ve never been in the field with us. And things change and evolve so fast now that your rule making is so behind. So if you got a problem with it, well, deal with it if you have a problem.
That’s how I deal with the ABA and the ARDC. It’s probably not the best advice for young attorneys, but there’s so many issues with the legal world that they just do not want to address and it’s a detriment to younger attorneys. Maria, you know how many young law students or attorneys, young attorneys I speak to? And every single one of them at the end of it says, “Man, thank you for being honest with us. Nobody’s honest with us.” It blows my mind. It’s like, “Why? Why are the lawyers sugarcoating this stuff for them? Let them know the hard stuff too.”
Maria Monroy (38:39):
And then they go out to the real world and they’re like, “Oh, shit-”
Mohammad Ramadan (38:42):
They get crushed.
Maria Monroy (38:43):
“This is not what I expected.” No one’s setting the right expectations. Now tell me, what is the biggest issue that you’re working through at your firm right now?
Mohammad Ramadan (38:53):
Scaling. So we’re growing very rapidly, which I’m really happy about. So I’m in the scale stage. I don’t practice anymore. I’m full blown, just kind of building mode. And I’m trying to be cognizant of not scaling too fast. My intake’s not where it needs to be so subcategory would be intake.
Maria Monroy (39:13):
Intake, let’s talk about intake.
Mohammad Ramadan (39:16):
Let’s talk about intake.
Maria Monroy (39:17):
I could do a podcast just on intake.
Mohammad Ramadan (39:20):
You could do an encyclopedia intakes. All right. I learned through people like you and others in the industry. About a year and a half, two years ago, I had some extra cash, I did well and I said, “You know what? I want to dump this into some marketing dollars.” So I thought, “Okay, I have all this money.” It’s not a ton of money compared to others, but for me it was a good chunk of money. So I hired the company to do like PPC and I was doing these paid ads and I was getting nothing. I lost at least 50, 60 grand within a span of couple months. And it was the greatest thing that ever happened to my law firm because it made me stop and say, “Hold on, dude, you don’t know as much as you think. Go back to ground zero.” And God bless YouTube and Google. And I realized my number one issue was intake. I don’t care how much you can bring in on lead gen. If your intake is not converting it, what do you have? You have nothing.
Maria Monroy (40:18):
It’s funny because everyone tells me their intake is great. You’re probably one of the only people that ride over like, “Yeah, no, my intake’s not great.” Everyone’s always like, “Oh, I have the best intake.” Every single for… “Oh, that’s not an issue. No, no, no. Well, our intake’s great.” “Okay, well when was the last time you listened to a call?” “What do you mean listen to a call?” “Well, don’t you record your calls?” “No, why would I do that?” “To listen to your great intake?” “Oh no. But Billy or Annie, they’ve been working forever. They know how to do this.” And it’s just like, “All right, okay. Conversation for another day,” because it’s crazy to me. That’s the first impression and if you’re leaving anything on the table… I mean you could have left $40 million a case on the table.
Mohammad Ramadan (41:04):
Yep. I still do the intakes till today. I’m in Vegas now, I did an intake this morning.
Maria Monroy (41:08):
Okay, you can’t scale that way.
Mohammad Ramadan (41:09):
It’s not permanent though.
Maria Monroy (41:11):
No, I know.
Mohammad Ramadan (41:12):
So I’m the type, and I learned this, before I take that responsibility to give it to someone else, I need to know it through and through.
Maria Monroy (41:20):
Mohammad Ramadan (41:21):
So I’m working through my kinks and issues now so that’s why I’m doing it so I can figure out, “Where are we weak or how many areas are we weak in? Why are we weak in there? What do we need to do to change it? Okay, let me implement this. All right, is it flowing right?” Once I feel that it’s completely flowing and that they can do it, I have no problem relinquishing that duty.
Maria Monroy (41:44):
So what are you doing right now to make sure your intake is solid?
Mohammad Ramadan (41:49):
Me being knee deep and doing intakes, that’s one. Just researching honestly. This is why I’m not in a rush to do a lot of other things because I’m still learning intake. Intake is very intricate. There’s a lot of moving parts to it. And I really want to… I hate to use the word perfect it because intake’s always going to change. As society changes, your intakes should change, that’s how I view it. While things change, your intake will always have to change. So I don’t think you’re ever going to have a one-stop, one way of doing intakes. I’ve built my operations side, my team is amazing, I cannot speak highly enough of them. They’re just amazing, super loyal, hard workers. They believe in the team, which I’ve done a good job of building the team concept in a sense. You don’t work for me, we all work for the office and the office works for clients. And if you keep your focus on the clients and their satisfaction, everything else falls into place because then they’re referring, you’re making money, your office staff gets raises, they get bonuses, it trickles down.
Maria Monroy (42:54):
You’re getting reviews.
Mohammad Ramadan (42:55):
Yes. We’ve been stressing that now, more getting the review. I don’t know if it was you or someone else, I heard, it was a really good tip. They said, “Ask for the review as they’re picking up their settlement check.”
Maria Monroy (43:09):
That was probably me.
Mohammad Ramadan (43:09):
Maria Monroy (43:09):
But I’m not the only one that says that.
Mohammad Ramadan (43:11):
And I stressed that to my team. “Now, hey, So-and-so’s picking up their checks-”
Maria Monroy (43:15):
Just make sure they do it from their phone.
Mohammad Ramadan (43:16):
From their phone, yes.
Maria Monroy (43:17):
Mohammad Ramadan (43:17):
Maria Monroy (43:19):
We definitely do that. We have them pull up their phone. So I’m learning those little things. Intake is about minor things. There’s no big thing to do on intake.
Empathy, I’d argue.
Mohammad Ramadan (43:30):
Correct. I’ve seen it somewhere and I forgot what it was. Language matters. In my office, I don’t use the word employees. The only time the word employee is used in my office is for payroll tax. We’re staff, we’re team. And believe it or not, as corny as this sounds, that’s helped because we’ve bought into the team and they understand I don’t look at them as inferior to me. The other day, for example, I have a friend of mine, she has a case. So she just texted me for an update, I gave her the wrong update because I just looked at the screen wrong or something and she’s like, “Mo, stick to negotiating. Let your staff handle this.” And I’m like, “You’re right. I know my lane, call So-and-so and she’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
Maria Monroy (44:11):
I feel you.
Mohammad Ramadan (44:12):
It was a great moment for me because I’m like, “I finally delegated. I’m comfortable delegating.”
Maria Monroy (44:16):
And they’re doing a better job than you.
Mohammad Ramadan (44:18):
Great job. I mean, it was an amazing feeling. From where I started to now, to be able to have my team do better than me, that was a proud moment for me. That was a very proud moment.
Maria Monroy (44:29):
And what’s next for you guys?
Mohammad Ramadan (44:32):
It’s a good question. I’m beefing up our social media. That’s our biggest thing.
Maria Monroy (44:36):
You’ve been doing great.
Mohammad Ramadan (44:37):
You can always do better. But I’m going back old school, I’m going to do a lot of street networking and doing events and doing popups. I think that stuff really works. I don’t care for traditional marketing right now. Maybe down the road, we’ll pop up some billboards, but I think billboards are more of a brand building thing. But again, why spend all that on billboards? You know what I can get with this same amount of money on Facebook ads? It’s the same concept to me. So building up my social is kind of the biggest one. And I want to kind of build up our previous clients and do more for them. I think getting them in, doing nice dinners, those things really go a long way because if someone refers you to my office, they’re locked and loaded. I don’t really have to sell myself anymore.
Maria Monroy (45:23):
When you mentioned there are different types of intake, well, if it’s a referral, that’s a very different intake than someone just found me-
Mohammad Ramadan (45:31):
Correct. Co-calling you. Correct.
Maria Monroy (45:31):
Mohammad Ramadan (45:31):
I mean do a lot of community work, so I’m big on that. So I kind of want to do a lot more with that. So now that I’ve kind of freed myself a little bit, I do want to do a little more on the Philip… I can never say the word.
Maria Monroy (45:46):
Phil… I can’t say it either. This is the immigrants, this is the second language.
Mohammad Ramadan (45:48):
Maria Monroy (45:48):
Can you say it? Yeah, three immigrants in a room, nobody can say philanthropy.
Mohammad Ramadan (45:54):
You guys know what I’m talking about. But I really love that stuff, I really do. And I think every lawyer should give back on a certain level. And I think, we don’t, as a legal industry, do enough to give to those that really need. And I’m not talking about the guy that calls you and wants a discount. I’m talking about the disenfranchised, the voiceless, the ones that really need it. I think lawyers should be the ones fighting a lot of these things that are going on and I think we should be that and I think we should give back more.
Maria Monroy (46:24):
Start where you are. You don’t need to be the best in the beginning. Find your mentors and hustle until you reach your goals. Let your personality shine. People buy from people and the stereotype of a serious lawyer in front of a bookshelf is not doing anyone any favors. As your firm begins to grow, understand your strengths and your weaknesses. Hire people to fill in the gaps. Thank you so much to
Mohammad Ramadan from Attorneys of Chicago for everything he shared today. If you found the story valuable, please share it with someone you want to see succeed. Subscribe so you never miss an episode and leave a five star review. It goes a long way to help others discover the show. Catch us next week on Tip The Scales with me,
Maria Monroy, President of LawRank, hear how the best in the business broke out of limiting beliefs, overcame adversity, and built a thriving purpose-driven business in the process.