Building a brand is hard work. From choosing a market segment and a name to finding marketing opportunities that you can afford, it takes a lot of time, effort, and money. And it can be even more challenging when you’re trying to break into a market as competitive as Las Vegas.

Justin Watkins of Battle Born Injury Lawyers has seen his marketing efforts return remarkable profits. Battle Born Injury Lawyers has recovered over $100 million for their clients, including several individual verdicts well over $1 million. Justin has been named one of southern Nevada’s Top 150 lawyer every year for nine years running, and in 2016, he was elected to the Nevada Assembly.

This week, Justin sits down with us to talk about how he started Battle Born Injury Lawyers and how he uses a variety of marketing channels to maximize his ROI. We also discuss the death of his friend and business partner, Troy Atkinson.

Key takeaways:

  • Diversify your marketing. Billboards, radio ads, TV ads, SEO, and social media can all work together to get you more conversions and a higher ROI. A potential customer may drive by your billboard, see an ad on social media, and then recognize your name when it comes up in their search for a lawyer and decide to give you a call instead of your competitor.
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes in your firm. As your marketing begins to work, you may find that the systems you have in place don’t meet your needs with the larger volume of calls you’re receiving. Be willing to scrap the systems that don’t work for you any more, and set up scalable processes that can sustain this new level of growth.
  • Be grateful for every day. Justin’s business partner, Troy Atkinson, lost his life to colon cancer in 2016, but right to the end, he fought for every day he had. Today, Justin focuses on appreciating every day he has to live, work, and carry on Troy’s legacy.

Justin Watkins (00:00:00):

I’ll speak for myself. Like, in that amount of pain, would’ve wanted it to end. And he was like — He would put up with all of that to have one more day on this earth. Like he would do it. That’s how much he, like, was full of life and enjoyed this world, you know? And I can wake up in the morning and just be like, “Ugh,” you know, and just spit on the morning and spit on the day that’s given to me out of, like, stress or, or what have you. Things aren’t going the way that I think that they should be going. And, you know, having that memory of Troy is, like, something that can bring me back. Like, give me some perspective of appreciation of, you know, “What would’ve Troy given to have this day that I’m having right now and I’m taking for granted?”

Maria Monroy (00:00:50):

Welcome to the Tip the Scales podcast, where we discuss running and growing your law firm. I’m Maria Monroy, president and co-founder of LawRank. Today I am joined by Justin Watkins from Battle Born Injury Lawyers. It’s funny, because when I first started working at LawRank, although I am one of the co-founders, I didn’t — I wasn’t as involved initially. One of the things that I never thought would happen was that I would become friends with our clients, and I would call Justin a friend at this point, and he’s wonderful, and I’m so grateful that he came on the podcast. Now, we talked about so many things. Um, we talked about diversifying your marketing. Billboards, radio ads, TV ads, SEO, and social media can all work together to get you more conversions and a higher return on investment. We talked about not being afraid to make changes in your firm.

Maria Monroy (00:01:45):

As your marketing begins to work, you may find that the systems you have in place don’t meet your needs with a larger volume of calls that you’re receiving, and being willing to scrap the systems that don’t work for you anymore and set up scalable processes that can sustain this new level of growth. I really didn’t want Justin to, to turn this into a, you know, sales pitch for LawRank, but we did focus a lot on the growth that SEO has caused for him and his firm and all of the good problems that kind of came with it. And then we also touched on some personal things, um, and we talked about being grateful for every day. Justin’s business partner, Troy Atkinson, lost his life to colon cancer in 2016. He was also Justin’s best friend. So we talked about all that adversity that came with that. And today, Justin focuses on appreciating every day he has to live, work, and carry on Troy’s legacy. This is a special episode for me, so I hope that you guys enjoy it. All right. So tell us your name, title, law firm.

Justin Watkins (00:02:54):

Okay. My name’s Justin Watkins. Um, I am the owner of Battle Born Injury Lawyers, um, which has been in existence, um, in that name for eleven years. Um, our law firm has been open for thirteen years. Um, our legal name is Atkinson, Watkins, and Hoffman.

Maria Monroy (00:03:13):

Nice. Now tell us a little bit, uh, of history. Like how you got started, all that good stuff.

Justin Watkins (00:03:22):

Yeah. Um, I, uh, came out of — Well, I went to law school, actually. Funny enough, I went to law school to advance in my civil engineering career. My undergraduate degree is from Oregon State in civil engineering. Um, I worked for a construction management company. Uh, big company out west called Kiewit Construction. And all of their higher-ups either had, uh, JDs or MBAs or, or more. And so I was like, “Oh, I’m going to go to law school. I’m going to move up in this company.” So I went to law school, and when I got done, I kind of felt like — They, they were ready to take me back and start the journey, but I kind of felt like if I didn’t practice a little bit, what did I really do it all for? Um, so I was down in law school in San Diego. I didn’t want to leave San Diego, but, um, I had a job opportunity back in Vegas.

Justin Watkins (00:04:09):

We were — This is where I’m from. Um, so I sort of reluctantly came back here, and I worked for an insurance defense firm. Um, my, who would become my best friend, was working at a defense firm that was based out of Fresno, an opening in Vegas. And so our careers — We started — studied for the bar together, both went to University of San Diego, and our careers really paralleled. I went to then work for an international construction law firm doing, you know, big high-end construction claims. And he went and worked for a national law firm doing, like, more corporate litigation stuff. Um, and then ultimately, we left our respective firms and started this firm.

Maria Monroy (00:04:50):

Awesome. Now tell us the history of the name, because I love your name, and I really wish every firm started to get away from, like, the last names and just had just something that wasn’t so — I hate to use the word basic, but basic.

Justin Watkins (00:05:08):


Maria Monroy (00:05:09):


Justin Watkins (00:05:10):

It’s vanilla and I think it’s — I can’t speak for everybody, but I think it’s intentionally vanilla when, when you look at the market research. But, so when we started the firm, um, it was Atkinson and Watkins. I, I founded the firm with Troy Atkinson, um, who has since passed away from colon cancer in 2016. He was 39. Um —

Maria Monroy (00:05:27):

I’m so sorry. And I want to actually come back to that at some point.

Justin Watkins (00:05:31):

Yeah, it’s, um — He started, um, his own office in 2009 doing short sales and loan modifications, and I was getting all my ducks in a row at my current firm to join up. And I did, doing insurance, defense construction litigation, and any corporate work, anything to keep the lights on. Um, so we were doing that work, but we always knew we wanted to do PI work from just a lifestyle standpoint. I wanted to not bill hours. Um, I wanted to be able to pick my own cases. And, you know, for the first seven years of my career before I started this firm, like, I hated being a lawyer. I hated thinking about my day and my time in billable increments. Um, and so when we started the firm, my wife was six months pregnant. She — You know, we weren’t going to pay me really anything and, and she jumped in and said, “Go ahead and do it, and, and we’ll figure it out.

Justin Watkins (00:06:29):

“And if we lose the house, we lose the house. If we lose the cars, we lose the cars. It’s just stuff. But, like, happiness and balance and, and, and wellness is all much more important. And if we’re going to have a family, I want you to be present and happy and with us.” And so —

Maria Monroy (06:43):

Did you lose the house?

Justin Watkins (06:44):

No, we didn’t lose anything. But it’s, but it, it does, uh, stick with us about how we went through that decision-making process of— You know, we sat down and like, “How are we going to make ends meet?” And the answer was, “What’s the risk? So, so what if we lose the house? Like, so what if we lose the cars? Like if it —“ I told her at the time, and, and she agreed, like, if all we do is live in an apartment and I’ve got her and I got, you know — at that time it was going to be one kid; we have two now — and that that’s all we have is the kids and a roof and some food in the fridge, then like, all the rest is just fluff.

Justin Watkins (00:07:23):

Like that’s, that’ll work itself out. I’m not worried about any of that stuff. And we’ve, I think we’ve kept that. I mean, of course we have nice things. I mean, like, say, we don’t — We’re going to build a nice house and all of those things. But, um, but that, I think the foundation for the starting of our family, I think has really shaped how we’ve developed over the last, you know, thirteen years. But, so we were doing all that defense work, corporate work, and individual, like, debt work for trying to short sale and, and, um, modified loans on houses. Um, and we didn’t want to lose that work while we tried to go to plaintiff’s PI. We didn’t have any seed money. We didn’t have anything to really invest, so we needed to build it, uh, at the same time that we were maintaining the work we had.

Justin Watkins (00:08:10):

And so we thought, “Well, we’re going to need a name that — a, a brand. We want a brand that differentiates our practice group from our corporate work. And I remember distinctly, I was driving my grandma, who — she must have been 90 at the time — uh, to my dad’s house. And it’s a six-hour drive away, and it was late at night. And, um, The Killers came on and, uh, I have a soft spot for The Killers, because Troy grew up with the drummer from The Killers, Ronnie Vannucci. And their new album had just come out. And the name of the album album was “Battle Born.” And it’s a throwback to Nevada. It’s, it’s a little — They’re paying homage to Nevada, the Battle Born state. Um, and I was like, “Oh, that sounds good.” And I, and I texted, while driving, Troy, and said, uh, “Hey, what about Battle Born injury lawyers?”

Justin Watkins (00:09:04):

And he was like, right back, “That’s stupid.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” And then, like, maybe five or ten minutes later he responded back, “Wait, I think I like it.”

Maria Monroy (09:15):

I love it.

Justin Watkins (09:16):

Me too. And, and over the years, I mean, I’ve only, I, I only like it more. And it’s so funny, my kids have just grown up, like, surrounded by Battle Born and you know, for them it’s, it’s just so funny that just Battle Born is synonymous with our family and growing up.

Maria Monroy (00:09:32):


Justin Watkins (00:09:33):

You know, I, I, I love every aspect of it.

Maria Monroy (00:09:35):

Yeah. That’s amazing. Now you’re in one of the most competitive cities, in my opinion. It’s just, it’s so competitive here. There are so many billboards. I mean, I remember the first time I came here after owning LawRank and being like, “Wow, that’s —” I’d never noticed how many billboards there were here. What was the first marketing that you did?

Justin Watkins (00:09:58):

So the very first thing I ever did to try to get a PI case, in addition — I mean, obviously, Troy and I had been lawyers for seven years before we started the firm. So we had some contacts out there. And it’s a funny thing, once you’ve shown the world you have the courage to do something like this on your own, the energy of the world sort of warms to you.

Maria Monroy (00:10:17):

Oh, absolutely. Oh, I’m a huge — you know this — I’m a huge believer in this.

Justin Watkins (00:10:21):

Yeah. So the people who wouldn’t have given me that case if I was working for a big co— corporate firm, now we’re like, “Oh, Justin started his own firm. Let me see if I can give him this case.” You know, so we’d get some cases here or there, but very spotty. So the first marketing effort I ever made was a, a networking lunch group called BNI, where — Mine was actually a breakfast group. So every, gosh, I think it was every Tuesday at 6:30 in the morning, we meet for breakfast, and they have one person designated for every sort of — not every, but for different trades, uh, and industries. And there can be no overlap. So there’s a realtor, there’s a plumber, there’s an electrician, um, and there’s a lawyer. And I was — And there could be multiple lawyers, as long as they don’t step on each other’s toes.

Maria Monroy (11:08):


Justin Watkins (11:09):

And so I was the PI lawyer there, and I was just trying to make it work. You know, we get a couple cases here, we get a couple cases there. And your job in these things is to — You’re supposed to provide referrals, too. You’re supposed to open up your network of people, you know, your Rolodex, to the people in that group, so that when somebody says, “Hey, I need a plumber,” you say, “Hey, I got a guy.” You, you, you become that guy. “I got a guy.”

Maria Monroy (00:11:31):

I bet you were good at it, ’cause you send me your competitors. So I can’t imagine that you weren’t good at connecting people. I feel like you were really good at that.

Justin Watkins (00:11:40):

Uh, I think that, like, we, we — We talk, you know. You, you live here now, so we, we talk often, and I don’t think that, um, me going into, like, a room and grabbing two people I don’t know and being able to make an introduction and get them taking off together is a strength of mine. That’s not where I excel. But if I know two people, and I think that they can help each other, then I, I like doing that. Um, and it’s obviously is a skill that has developed a lot over time. I mean, there — I’ve done a lot of things in the last ten or twelve years that have changed my personality at a, as a core. I mean, I ran for political office and served in the legislature. You know, I ran a business, and I had to market, and I went to conferences, and I did a bunch of things that were outside my comfort zone to make something happen that I wanted to happen. And I, I just don’t think you can go through those experiences and not be changed a little bit.

Maria Monroy (00:12:42):

Absolutely. And it doesn’t feel good, too?

Justin Watkins (00:12:44):

As long as I’m changing towards the, the direction that I want. So, to, to answer your question, like, as long as I’m making changes, I think deliberately and with some, you know, insight into who I am, then, then I’m, then I’m — I’ve been super happy with my progress over the course of, like I said, about ten years. And, um, you know, I, I think you just get different challenges as you get older, and, and hopefully I can have some level of humility that I’m willing to recognize that I need to constantly change and improve and better myself. And now a big part of what I do, um, it is surrounding the policy making. Um, decisions on what happens in the state of Nevada. Which, if we really want to go off on a tangent, is something that, like, I think lawyers, um — I don’t even say shy away from — ignore and can have the single biggest impact on what you do on a daily basis, is what laws are being made in the legislature that you probably don’t even know exists.

Maria Monroy (00:13:51):

Is there a particular law or laws that you’re worried about?

Justin Watkins (00:13:56):

There are, every single legislative session, a ton of bills that affect what we do as lawyers and what and affect our clients and prospective clients or people who are trying to access the court system. And there’s nobody who can speak with expertise other than the lawyers as to what a draft bill would look like if it were be to be implemented in court. Because judges can’t lobby for bills. You know, they can testify, but they’re not — They can’t persuade. They’re, they — They work for the government.

Maria Monroy (00:14:28):

Now tell me about your first commercial.

Justin Watkins (00:14:32):

Have you seen it?

Maria Monroy (00:14:33):


Justin Watkins (00:14:34):

Oh, okay. Well, okay, so you asked me, uh, what was the first marketing? The first marketing was, like, literally me.

Maria Monroy (00:14:42):

I don’t call that marketing, though. I would, I would argue that’s more, like, grassroots.

Justin Watkins (00:14:46):

It’s definitely marketing though. Like you —

Maria Monroy (00:14:48):

But when I say marketing, I mean, like, billboards. ‘Cause, just for everyone listening —

Justin Watkins (00:14:51):


Maria Monroy (00:14:52):

You guys do billboards. You do trucks with InMotion, which are basically billboards. You do SEO with us.

Justin Watkins (00:15:01):


Maria Monroy (00:15:02):

You have radio, you guys —

Justin Watkins (00:15:03):

TV, a little bit of TV.

Maria Monroy (00:15:04):


Justin Watkins (00:15:05):

Not TV commercials, but TV segments that we do on the news.

Maria Monroy (00:15:08):

And then you have a radio show.

Justin Watkins (00:15:09):


Maria Monroy (00:15:10):

That you talk about, what, sports and law?

Justin Watkins (00:15:12):

Yeah, like, legal issues in sports. I mean, I have a, I have a, a reoccurring appearance on a show — the show’s not mine — um, that I do one hour a week where we talk legal issues in sports. I’ve been doing that for a very long time, actually. It’s one of my oldest marketing things that we’ve done. Um, yeah. So, but, but I consider, like, getting out of this office and getting into the community the most effective, cheapest, best ROI marketing that you can do. And if you’re not doing that and you’re just trying to throw everything else out, out there, I mean, will it work? I mean, I guess will it work for a positive ROI in a competitive market like this? I, I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ve never not done it.

Maria Monroy (00:15:55):


Justin Watkins (00:15:56):

You know, um, but I would think it would create a very difficult, much more difficult way about trying to, to market your brand. You know? I think they all sort of work together. Um —

Maria Monroy (00:16:08):

Oh no, absolutely. They all work together.

Justin Watkins (00:16:11):

For sure.

Maria Monroy (00:16:12):

I a thousand percent agree.

Justin Watkins (00:16:13):

So our first one is — So again, me and Troy both being natives of Las Vegas. And when you’re — I’m 43. When you’re 43 years old and you’re a native of Las Vegas, if there’s anybody that’s 35 years or older, I either know them or I know one person away from them. Like the degrees of separation of Vegas natives is tiny, tiny. All I’ve got to do is say, “Where’d you go to high school? What year did you graduate?” And I know — I either know you, or I know one person who knows you. We had these local connections; we had these people we grew up and went to school with in high school, and one of the— one of them worked at a TV station, and he was basically like, “Hey, man, if you guys just throw us, like, a couple hundred bucks, I can throw you on basically a whole bunch of freebie commercials all through, like, the middle of the night,” right?

Justin Watkins (00:16:58):

Like from, like, 11:00 PM to, like, 4:00 AM on, like, the CW and the, like, MYLV TV, right? Like, we’re — I don’t even know that there’s an audience. And we’re like, “Cool.” And they’re like, “We’ll shoot the commercials for free.” And we’re like, “Dude, rad. Okay, let’s do this.” So we came up with these ideas that, obviously we can’t compete on the frequency, the budget, the channels of twelve different firms that are advertising constantly on TV in this city. Um, and so we were thought, “Well, we’ve’ve got to be clever with it and funny with it.” And so we came up with the idea, it’s like, “Hey, we’re going to try to say, like, getting a little boutique firm like ours matters to you because we’re going to — We’re much more likely to fight for every little dollar on every little case than the big, volume-based firms.”

Justin Watkins (00:17:51):

And so we came up with this, you know, “Atkinson and Watkins, every single dollar.” That was the — that was the pitch. And it, it started by us using these rakes in a briefcase with suits on to rake cash into suitcases. And then like, either in some, in a — I was in a little breeze or windstorm, a dollar flew by, and I grabbed it, and Troy picked a dollar out of a, out of a tree. And it was like, “Every single dollar,” you know, “matters,” and, and showing it to the camera. And, like, they worked. Like, the ROI was actually positive on those TV commercials. Funny enough, it took a —

Maria Monroy (00:18:27):

I mean, you really only needed, like, one case to be ROI positive though.

Justin Watkins (00:18:30):

That’s true. Yeah. We didn’t, we didn’t need too many. But, like, what I found out was — and, and I, I suspect that this is common — is that when you become a new advertiser in the TV world, the first thing that happens is all the people who got rejected from the other places call you.

Maria Monroy (00:18:46):


Justin Watkins (00:18:47):

So those are the first calls is everybody who got their case dropped or rejected or whatever. And we were like, “Okay,” on some of them. We’re like, “We’ll take them.”

Maria Monroy (00:18:54):

This is why I hate the second page of Google, ’cause it’s the same thing.

Justin Watkins (00:18:58):

Yeah, it makes sense. It makes sense. You were — You worked your way through the first —

Maria Monroy (00:19:02):


Justin Watkins (00:19:03):

So we did that, and it was fun, and it was funny. And then, um — But based out of that, uh, we were contacted by, um, a lot of different people who saw, again, a new marketing firm. They’re like — They want to have lunches and all this stuff, but one of them came in, and they were with ESPN Radio, and Troy and I are huge sports fans, and we listened to ESPN Radio. Um, and so we were like, “Oh, we’ll take this meeting, you know, even though we don’t have a budget. We can’t spend any money.” And so it was a, a young new AE for ESPN and we’re like, “Oh, dude, we don’t have any money.”

Maria Monroy (00:19:36):

What’s an AE?

Justin Watkins (00:19:37):

Account executive.

Maria Monroy (00:19:39):

Okay. Oh, okay, okay. I knew that.

Justin Watkins (00:19:41):

And, uh, so, you know, we got to be, like, friendly with her, because she was, like, our age, you know. We’re — I think I was 31 at the time, and she must’ve been, like, 25, and Troy was, like, 33, 34. And so, you know, I think we, we bonded a little bit, and she’s like, “Hey, let me get the host in of one of the radio shows, ’cause he’s been talking about trying to get a lawyer in on the show. And I think he’d really like you guys, and you clearly know sports. You’re big sports fans. That’ll go a long way with him. So let me have him in.” We said, “Okay.” And so it turned into basically the same sort of deal, which is like “Okay, listen, I can’t do it for free. You’ve got to throw me a couple hundred bucks, but I’ll frame a segment of the show around you guys, and I think you’ll help my show be better, because I’ll have some context.

Justin Watkins (00:20:26):

“Um, and it’ll help you guys and what have you.” So we started doing that show, and that was twelve years ago. I’ve been doing that show for twelve years, and we got nothing on that show. Nothing. Not a call for, like, I’m going to say eighteen months. And in the, in the middle of that eighteen months, one little advertising thing we’d done is get on this rotary call list. So every eight calls that this TV marketing company was doing, we would get, and they were all garbage. Every one of them except for one that we thought, “This might be something.” And it happened to be up in Sparks, Nevada, which is up near Reno. Uh, we flew up there, we signed the client up, and it turned out to be our biggest case over the course of the next ten years.

Maria Monroy (00:21:07):

Wow. That’s crazy.

Justin Watkins (00:21:08):

And so that’s — when we got that, we decided, “Okay, we need to change the name. We’ve got to have — We’re going to advertise more. We’re going to reinvest all these dollars,” except we paid off our school loans, “Reinvest all these dollars right back into the, the PI practice.” So we developed the name. That’s where we came up with Battle Born. Um, we developed the logo, um, which we still use today. I mean, 90 percent of it is almost exactly the same. Um, and we branched out. We were doing radio, we were doing, um, still a little bit of the TV stuff that we were doing, and um, you know, we, becam— And then we got our first round of billboards.

Maria Monroy (00:21:48):

So yeah, that was my next question. When was the first time that you did billboards?

Justin Watkins (00:21:52):

Let’s see. So our first billboard — I still have the little — You know, they give you the little plastic, uh —

Maria Monroy (00:21:56):

I didn’t know that.

Justin Watkins (00:21:57):

Miniature version of your board.

Maria Monroy (00:21:58):

Oh really?

Justin Watkins (00:21:59):

Yeah, I’ve got it down in my office. I still have the original. Um, so that must have been 2013.

Maria Monroy (00:22:06):

Got it.

Justin Watkins (00:22:07):

So ten years ago.

Maria Monroy (00:22:08):

And now there’s something that you guys have changed about your billboards this year?

Justin Watkins (00:22:12):

Well, we changed, I think, about everything we did. Um, you know, and it goes back to your first initial point, which is how you said you liked our name, Battle Born. I liked our name, Battle Born, too. It was intentional. It was going to be a brand, and it was not going to be people. When you talk about this market is flooded with lawyers, it absolutely is. And in my opinion, my assessment at that moment in time was, “It is flooded with ‘So-and-So and So-and-So, two white dudes staring at you on a billboard or on a TV commercial.”

Maria Monroy (00:22:42):


Justin Watkins (00:22:43):

“Uh, in their blue suits.’” Like that was every single one of them. And I didn’t know why that was. And so I tried to do some market research, and I don’t even know if I did it right. I don’t even know how I found this.

Justin Watkins (00:22:54):

Maybe I just Googled, but I, I feel like I dug in some deep, and what I found was is that the theory was that retaining a personal injury attorney was a healthcare decision and was typically made by the matriarch of the family. That’s what the data said. And it was something along the lines of 60 or 70 percent of those decisions are made by the mom in the family, and, you know, the dads or the kids reluctantly go because Mom has told them that they must go. And so we thought, “Yeah, and that’s probably why everybody’s marketing in this vanilla form, to become like non-confrontational, and they pound away on daytime tv. That’s what’s happening here.” And it sort of made sense to us. And we said, “But if that’s 70 percent, then that means there’s 30 percent that’s not like that,

Maria Monroy (00:23:44):


Justin Watkins (00:23:45):

And if we could just get a sliver of that 30 percent at a fraction of the cost, maybe we can compete.” So we intentionally created a brand — We intentionally did not use our faces, and we intentionally made it masculine. And you know, I mean — And we were on ESPN radio, right? We were on media that was masculine.

Maria Monroy (00:24:05):

Well it’s kind of like when divorce lawyers will do, like, divorce for men.

Justin Watkins (00:24:07):


Maria Monroy (00:24:08):

And it’s like they’re only targeting men. They will only represent men.

Justin Watkins (00:24:13):

And those, those commercials did exist at the time.

Maria Monroy (00:24:15):


Justin Watkins (00:24:16):

And that was, like, part of the analysis, too. It was like, “Oh, you know, these guys, they only market towards men and divorce. This may be different, and it may be a smaller segment of the population, but again, we don’t need that whole segment —

Maria Monroy (00:24:30):


Justin Watkins (00:24:31):

“We just need a lane and we need all of it.”

Maria Monroy (00:24:32):

And did it work?

Justin Watkins (00:24:33):

It took some time, but yes. Like, it’s so funny. Every time, every once in a while, every couple months somebody will come new on, like, ESPN Radio or Fox Sports Radio here locally, and I’ll hear a new lawyer radio ad.

Maria Monroy (00:24:46):


Justin Watkins (24:47):

And I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t going to last long, because we just — We own, we own it. Like, the people who listen to ESPN radio have been listening to me and the show for twelve years, and they know it’s not fake. They know that, like, that’s who I am.

Maria Monroy (00:25:03):


Justin Watkins (00:25:04):

They know when they call that they actually meet with me, and that when I meet them in the conference room, I’m talking exactly like we’re talking right now. Which is exactly how I talk on the radio. And I don’t know, have — I, I really can’t fake it. I don’t have any other way to be. This is who I am and —

Maria Monroy (00:25:18):

Yeah, you very much are who you are. I think so.

Justin Watkins (00:25:21):

I, I wish I could — You know what’s funny about that, what sucks about that is when I have to read radio commercials, I can’t read them. I just have to pull it off the top of my head. I mean, I’ve got to have some bullet points, but if I have to read it, I can’t do it.

Maria Monroy (00:25:32):

Let’s go back to this year. You guys finally decide to put your faces —

Justin Watkins (00:25:34):


Maria Monroy (00:25:35):

On the billboards.

Justin Watkins (00:25:36):


Maria Monroy (00:25:37):

And for most of the billboards you, it’s either you or Matt.

Justin Watkins (00:25:44):

For all the billboards, it’s either me or Matt.

Maria Monroy (00:25:46):

I thought there was one where it was — You guys weren’t.

Justin Watkins (00:25:48):

There’s a truck.

Maria Monroy (00:25:49):

Oh, it’s a truck.

Justin Watkins (00:25:50):

In which I’m on one side and Matt’s on the other.

Maria Monroy (00:25:51):

Okay. But I count that as a billboard, as a mobile billboard.

Justin Watkins (00:25:55):

Yeah. But there’s, there’s no — There’s not a single image that exists with Matt and I both on it.

Maria Monroy (00:26:00):

Oh, you mean it’s — Oh I get it.

Justin Watkins (00:26:02):


Maria Monroy (00:26:03):

One side of the truck and the other.

Justin Watkins (00:26:04):


Maria Monroy (00:26:05):

Not on the same side.

Justin Watkins (00:26:06):


Maria Monroy (00:27:07):

Oh, got it. Got it. I didn’t know that. I didn’t get that. Okay.

Justin Watkins (00:26:08):

Although I did just — Funny enough, I did just get sent a picture from, uh, a colleague who took a picture at this intersection and one corner’s Matt. And then I’m literally on the other corner —

Maria Monroy (00:26:19):


Justin Watkins (00:26:20):

Of the same intersection. Yeah.

Maria Monroy (00:26:21):

Do you think it confuses people?

Justin Watkins (00:26:22):

No. Part of it, part of why, what finally sent me over the edge — I mean, number one I — Like, we hired you guys. I believe in what you guys say, and I, and I have to be willing to trust you or your guys’ opinion on what we should do. And it was your strong opinion that we needed to put our faces on there. I talked to some other people, and there was, um, uh, a group or a guy that I know does a lot of focus grouping, and he said he focus grouped the, the same sort of idea.

Maria Monroy (00:26:57):


Justin Watkins (00:26:58):

No face, face. And the data said 20 to 30 percent increase by using a face. That it’s a trust factor. That a brand without a face, they don’t trust for professional services.

Maria Monroy (00:27:11):

Well, but wait, how about — Are your cases up? Do you think it’s worked?

Justin Watkins (00:27:15):

I think it has worked. Yes. I think it has changed things a little bit.

Maria Monroy (00:27:17):

You’re welcome.

Justin Watkins (00:27:18):

But, uh, but my point was, is, like, you had a strong opinion on it. I have to trust you. I’m hiring, I’m hiring you, and I’ve got to let you do your job. You know? Um, and so —

Maria Monroy (00:27:33):

To all other of my clients that are listening, you heard Justin. Tell me — So now we’re thir— You’re thirteen years in.

Justin Watkins (00:27:42):


Maria Monroy (00:27:43):

What are some of the challenges that you’re facing now? ‘Cause you guys have grown a lot, and I see your billboards all the time.

Justin Watkins (00:27:51):

Yeah. So up until COVID, I think we had a pretty linear growth. We grew every single year in revenue. We grew every single year in profit. We grew every single year in people, and we grew every single year in cases. And that changed in 2020. It was the first time that there was sort of a leveling off and then a decline, um, in all of those things except for people. We didn’t get rid of any people. And um, so we, we made the decision to try to market through that, which was, I think, the wrong decision in retrospect. But, but we did. So, you know, you talk about, like, what the challenges are. There was a, there was a whole bunch of challenges that were created by the growth that resulted from SEO, I mean from hiring you guys.

Maria Monroy (00:28:40):

That’s amazing.

Justin Watkins (00:28:41):

So I’m just going to say that —

Maria Monroy (00:28:42):

It makes me so happy.

Justin Watkins (00:28:43):

Right? Um, that some of which were probably foreseeable, and some of which I think were unanticipated. Some of which I’ve never even talked to you about. And you’ll be, I think, surprised by, and I think will be helpful towards helping future prospective clients. Number one, we didn’t have an intake department to handle phone calls and, like, we had to hire people. So, like, immediately, like, our call volume — We have this call log. This is how archaic we still are. Like, every call that comes in, it gets written down on this sheet of paper.

Maria Monroy (00:29:10):

Oh really?

Justin Watkins (00:29:11):


Maria Monroy (00:29:12):


Justin Watkins (00:29:12):


Maria Monroy (00:29:13):

By hand?

Justin Watkins (00:29:13):

By hand.

Maria Monroy (00:29:14):

We’ve got to change that.

Justin Watkins (00:29:15):

No, we’re, we’re working on it. We’re — We’ve got to change a lot. We’re, we’re literally changing a ton of things, right? At the same time. But we used to get, like, down to the bottom of, like, one page on a daily basis.

Justin Watkins (00:29:24):

And this is all calls, you know, this is opposing counsel, this is everybody. But, so it’d be, like, somewhere between twenty-five and, I don’t know, I don’t know, forty calls a day, something like that. And now we go — You know, just the other day my receptionist is like, “We go three and a half pages deep every day now.”

Maria Monroy (00:29:40):

That’s amazing.

Justin Watkins (00:29:41):

You know, so, like —

Maria Monroy (00:29:42):

I love that.

Justin Watkins (00:29:43):

So we have three people now who are there to just answer calls and handle intakes and get the prospective clients set up and scheduled in meetings and talking and access to lawyers. So that’s, that’s number one. Um, people. We needed more people. We had to hire more of our pre-lit claims people, ‘cause we didn’t have enough to handle the influx, and that wave, right? That’s, that’s where all the cases start. And that wave is going to work through lit.

Maria Monroy (00:30:07):


Justin Watkins (00:30:08):

It’s going to work through accounting, right? And so we’re going to have to have more people, but we already know that, and we’ve already started preparing on hiring more people, um, down the line. Um, so that was one challenge. Totally foreseeable. You hope that that’s the case, ‘cause that means everything’s working. Um, you know, the — In line with that, one of the unanticipated challenges with that was call etiquette, because up until this point, when somebody called Battle Born Injury Lawyers, they were looking to call Battle Born Injury Lawyers.

Maria Monroy (00:30:42):


Justin Watkins (00:30:43):

They knew who we were. They were calling with a purpose, and there was no sale to be made. It was already a done deal. They — and nobody called, like, for random shit, right? Now —

Maria Monroy (00:30:54):

It’s cold. It’s a cold lead.

Justin Watkins (00:30:55):

It’s, well, it’s cold, but on top of it, it might be — There, there might be eight calls that have nothing to do with anything.

Maria Monroy (00:31:03):


Justin Watkins (00:31:04):

Like, I got a call today. “This, this case comes out of Seminole County, Florida,” where, you know, I had this, I, I don’t even remember what it was. Something about, like, being in the detention center and, like, something got taken, and he didn’t get the property back when he got released from detention. And I’m like, you know, like —

Maria Monroy (00:31:20):

Yeah. I mean, people think we’re a law firm.

Justin Watkins (00:31:22):


Maria Monroy (00:31:23):

Like, we get a bunch of random calls.

Justin Watkins (00:31:24):

I can’t imagine.

Maria Monroy (00:31:25):

Yeah. And it’s funny, ’cause a lot of clients complain.

Justin Watkins (00:31:27):


Maria Monroy (00:31:28):

When this starts to happen, they’re like, “Hey, we’re getting a lot of, you know, low quality leads.” I’m like, “Okay, but are you getting quality leads? Are you signing cases?” “Yes. But can we get rid of the low?” And I’m like, “That’s not how it works.”

Justin Watkins (00:31:37):

Well — and we talked about this — like, I want the — I’ll take the low quality leads. Like, I’ll take all the calls.

Maria Monroy (00:31:43):

Tell us why.

Justin Watkins (00:31:44):

Because, uh, still to this day, the number-one referral source that exists in this firm, by a large margin, is past client referrals.

Maria Monroy (00:31:53):

I want to change that.

Justin Watkins (00:31:54):

So 40 to 50 percent of calls that come in —

Maria Monroy (00:31:55):

I want to make it SEO.

Justin Watkins (00:31:56):

Well, I, I hope you, that you’re right. I mean, I hope that that happens. But 40 to 50 percent of the calls that come in, uh — cases that we sign up, I shouldn’t say calls that come in. Cases that we sign up are past client referrals. And if I can get somebody who’s getting the runaround at every single firm that they call or they don’t know what to do, and I could just simply treat them with respect or have my team treat them with respect and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not something that we do.” And give them two or three names. We have a referral source that we can email right out to them. So they have a couple names that they can try that may be more in line what they’re trying to do. Or sometimes it’s, “That’s not a case.”

Maria Monroy (00:32:35):

And explain why it’s not a case so they don’t keep calling every single firm on the first page.

Justin Watkins (00:32:40):

Right. Or, and I think this is one that, like — One of the things I love about your company is they’ve been, um — I like to think I’m an outside the box thinker. Um, and your company is so willing to jump outside the box with me. They’re like, “Okay Justin, let’s go.” Like, one of the things that I want to do in, in response to these calls is there’s two or three reoccurring themes that happened on some of these calls that we can’t help with, because there’s no financial feasibility for us. So like, “Hey, I was in a wreck. They’re not giving me a rental car. My car is not being fixed, but I’m not hurt.” Right? That one happens with regularity. I’m not going to say, like, often; it’s just regular. And I’m like, “Hey guys,” — you know, your team — “Like I, I want to create, uh, a self-help sheet with, like, instructions of, like, what you can do to help your yourself.” And they’re like, “Oh, if you do, we’ll create, like, an infographic for that.”

Maria Monroy (00:33:34):

An infographic, yeah.

Justin Watkins (00:33:35):

“And, and so just give us the information. We’ll throw it together so that you guys can send that out.” Which is totally not what you guys needed to be doing. You don’t need to send that to me. Like, but I don’t know how to do an infographic, and it’s super helpful for me for you guys to do.

Maria Monroy (00:33:46):

And we’re not charging you anything else, right?

Justin Watkins (00:33:47):

Exactly. Yeah. So it’s awesome. And, like, to hear how enthusiastic your team was to hear that, they’re like, “We love that, and we think that’s going to help you guys, like, continue to get more calls,” and they’re just as, as invested in my success as I am. You know? Um, and so, like, I want those calls. I want to be able to show them this professional foot of like, “We are handling your call professionally. We are respecting your time by not —“ You know, lawyers love to say the to tell people. Um, “You, you may have a case, you know, they — you may not blah, blah, blah.” They don’t like to commit. I — “So I don’t think you have a case, or at least it’s not a case I would be interested in, in taking.” Right? Um, sometimes I say, “You absolutely have a case, but it’s not a sure winner. And I’m lucky enough to be in a position right now where I’m, you know, I can take pretty much sure things. If I was earlier on in my career, I probably would’ve taken a flyer on a case like this that hasn’t —“

Maria Monroy (00:34:44):

Do you send them somewhere?

Justin Watkins (00:34:44):

Yeah. And I send them to somebody who I think is in that position that I was ten years ago. Um, and maybe they get helped, and maybe they don’t, but at least I’ve — Most of the time I think they think, “Oh, like, mm, okay, maybe I’ll do it. Maybe I won’t.” But now I can send — Now we can give this professional response to the world and specifically to Las Vegas and Reno and in the state of Nevada that says, like, “Hey, man, if if you want to know if somebody can help you, you call these guys, and they’ll shoot it to you straight, and they’ll give you the information they need. If they can’t help you, they’ll tell you if somebody else can help you. They’ll, they’ll lead you the right way. It should be your first call.” And it happened literally the, uh, last week where a guy called in. He had an existing case.

Justin Watkins (00:35:28):

There wasn’t anything financially in it for me if I were to take over the case, and, in fact, it would probably delay things. All the offers had been made; all the settlements had been made. It would probably just delay the whole process. He hated his lawyer. And I was like, “Man,” — I, I literally used this analogy: “You’re rounding third and heading home. Like, just tough it out for the next couple weeks, and you’ll probably be good.” Um, and at the end of it, you know, he was like, “Well what can I do?” I said, “Oh, you can leave them a review if you don’t like their services and you don’t want people to, to use them.” He said, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to give you a five-star review right now for just taking the time to explain all this stuff to me and tell me what’s going on and to not, like, try to steal a case from somebody else.” And there you go. I got a five-star review.

Maria Monroy (00:36:13):

Thank you for that.

Justin Watkins (00:36:14):

And never took a case. Right?

Maria Monroy (00:36:15):

I mean that’s, like, the number-one thing that I tell everybody. “Get us reviews.” Like, all of our clients. I’m like, “Just get us reviews. Like, it’s, like, the one thing that I need you guys to do.” So I was actually going to ask you, are you asking these people that you’re helping to leave you a five-star review?

Justin Watkins (00:36:31):

We do. Um, like, uh, like, that’s an extension of that challenge of phone etiquette and phone processing is, like, we, we’ve now had to hire a 24-hour answering service. We didn’t have to do that before. Um, if somebody called at 9:00 PM and we called them back, they were going to stick with us, ’cause they were, they were looking for us in the first place, right?

Maria Monroy (00:36:51):


Justin Watkins (00:36:52):

Like I said, it was — They weren’t shopping around. It wasn’t a cold lead. So we have a 24-hour answering service now. And, and so when we call back, like, you know, I’m finding I have to give specific instructions. “Okay, what’s our process for calling people back? What’s our process for asking for reviews?” The other challenge is, is our practice management software was not up to cost. You know, like, we can’t, we couldn’t use it effectively in the exponential growth. So we’re changing that. We’re changing banks, and we have QuickBooks desktops, so we’re going online. Um, we’re making all those changes as well. But you also’ve got to remember that, like, today, as compared to nine months ago when we started this, my active case, cases open at any given time right now is up 55 percent.

Maria Monroy (00:37:42):

And you guys close out cases super quick.

Justin Watkins (00:37:44):

Very quickly.

Maria Monroy (00:37:45):

Can we talk about that for a second?

Justin Watkins (00:37:46):


Maria Monroy (00:37:47):

‘Cause you guys are, like, super efficient.

Justin Watkins (00:37:49):

So, um, you know, let, let’s talk to the audience of, like, the smaller firms who are wondering, like, how to build cases up and whether or not they’re, like, on the right track. And if you go to any sort of lawyer conference or seminar, like “How many cases do you have?” And they’re like, “Oh, I’ve got 300 cases,” or “I’ve got 700 cases,” or “I’ve got a thousand cases.” To me now, knowing what I know, not that important. It is a metric, but it is not the metric to me.

Maria Monroy (00:38:19):

You’ve changed my mind on this metric.

Justin Watkins (00:38:20):

Yes. So to me, I want to know two things. “How many cases did you open last year, and how many cases did you close?” Right? So if I open 500 cases in a year, and I close 300 cases, right? Then I’m tr— I’m trending the right direction. Right? I might have only had 300 cases to close because I’m opening so many new ones. But if I — and, and my active caseload is 700 cases, okay. But if I have every — It seems like everybody’s answer — Doesn’t matter how, who you ask, like, around town of, like, this small to medium-sized plaintiff’s injury firms, “How many cases do you have?” “I have 300 cases.” Everybody says they’ve got 300 cases. Before, when I was doing all this advertising when I first started, and I’d hear somebody say 300 cases. I’m like, “What? You, you don’t advertise, you’re not — You know, like how does — How, how in the hell do you have 300 cases? Is something, you know, nefarious going on?” Uh —

Maria Monroy (00:39:18):

Which, sometimes.

Justin Watkins (00:39:18):

Which in this town is not uncommon. Um, but the reality is, is, like, I — What happens is, in a lot of these firms, is if they can’t settle the case right away, uh — Well let’s not — Let’s say they’re not even trying to settle the case right away, right? They’re, like, waiting until their client’s all done with treatment, then they start their negotiation, and then the negotiation doesn’t go well, then they pin on their calendar two-year statute of limitations, and they’ll worry about it then. Right? And so yeah, maybe they have 300 cases, but they’re opening, like, 50 to a hundred a year. So they’re at one-third or one-sixth of their total caseload on a yearly basis. So they don’t have, like, a great amount of revenue-generating cases on the year. And are closing out, like, you know, less than half of that.

Maria Monroy (00:40:13):

But wouldn’t a good question be — This is what I’m asking now. “How many active cases do you have, and what is the average amount of time that it takes you to close the case?”

Justin Watkins (00:40:22):

Mm-hmm. Sure. But that question isn’t always indicative of just how efficient you can be either.

Maria Monroy (00:40:29):


Justin Watkins (00:40:30):

I do like that question, but here’s what I really want to know. I, I keep track of two timelines. One case open, to case close.

Maria Monroy (00:40:37):


Justin Watkins (00:40:38):

Okay? That’s a great one.

Maria Monroy (00:40:40:)
Mm-hmm. .

Justin Watkins (00:40:41):

But what’s more important is from the date medical treatment is completed or we’ve reached a maximum medical improvement, right? Like, until, like, where I know it’s time for me to make the demand, either because treatment’s going to go on forever, and I’ve got to future recommend, or treatment has stopped. From that time until I have a check in my client’s hand. How long does it take? That, to me, is the effectiveness of the lawyer, right? Because sometimes, sometimes we get that number to be a negative.

Maria Monroy (00:41:12):


Justin Watkins (00:41:13):

Right? If I know what the policy limits are — Let’s say I have a hundred thousand-dollar policy, and I know they went to the hospital, and the hospital bill is a $48,000 bill, right?

Maria Monroy (00:41:23):


Justin Watkins (00:41:24):

And they’re still treating — They’re going to a chiropractor or what have you. Grab the hospital bill, I send it up to the insurance company; I have nothing else. All I have is the hospital bill. It says $48,000 and lists whate— whatever kind of injury they had. Fractures, whatever it is, okay? And now I get the hundred thousand dollars. They’re still treating, I’ve already got the settlement done, and now I’m in a position where I can really maximize how much money I put in their pocket, because if they used health insurance, health insurance is being billed, but health insurance hasn’t asserted a lien yet. So they’re not going to get paid back. So I can pay my client and not have to pay the lien, and they owe no, no, no money on the bill, and under that metric I just described to you, it’s a negative date. They’re not even done in treatment.

Maria Monroy (00:42:12):

Got it. Interesting.

Justin Watkins (00:42:14):

The one challenge that I want to add onto that we never talked about was completely un— unanticipated and has really led to kickstarting getting the new practice management software in, was the calls I’m getting from out-of-state lawyers who want to refer somebody to us. Right? And if I don’t have that intake that I can send, like, from my practice management software to incorporate them in, they think, like, I’m in the dark ages.

Maria Monroy (00:42:47):


Justin Watkins (00:42:48):

Right? I’ve got to put the best foot forward. And so it has really — We didn’t foresee that. And it’s a more difficult case. It’s a more inefficient case for us to have an out-of-towner who has got hurt here, got significantly hurt, went back home, is treating, and now has been referred by an attorney, because I don’t know any of the doctors there. I don’t know any of the medical treatment there. I don’t know — Like, I’ve got to figure out what their insurance rules are there. Does their UIM cover them here? Like, what are the UIM rules in Arkansas?

Maria Monroy (00:43:20):

And you’re in Vegas so it’s going to happen a lot.

Justin Watkins (00:43:22):

And so — Yes. And it has been happening a lot, and Matt and I are like, “Oh, our practice management software can’t handle this. We look like dunces. So the practice management software needs to come online for that. But then also, you know, I had to be more involved in, like, the national organizations like AAJ to get on their listserve boards so that I had resources to ask people in these other states, like “Who — How do I find an ortho expert there to testify on this stuff?” Like I need, I need expert reports and reviews of these things, and I don’t know anybody in these jurisdictions.

Maria Monroy (00:43:55):

Now I have a question. Why did you and Matt ultimately do decide to go with us?

Justin Watkins (00:44:02):

Well, the biggest, the single biggest factor was that you had lawyers write content. So that was number one. Um, the little bit of, I’ll say testing, we had done with prior SEO and the little bit of work we had done with prior SEO — Number one, they did all SEO for all types of companies. You guys were focused on lawyers. That was a big point. Number two, whenever they would try to write up some content, like, I don’t know where they were getting it from, but it was not, I didn’t think, presentable on a website for a law firm. It was inaccurate information or half-assed at best. You know, it, it looked unprofessional from a lawyer’s website to be saying these things in this fashion. And so, like, I could just — I, I spent so much time redlining their work that I could have just wrote it myself, and it just — It, it was not a helpful service to me. So if that was going to be the case again, then I was going to, you know, tell Matt like, “Hey, if you really want this, then you’ve’ve got to be the person that reviews all this stuff. ‘Cause I’ve already done it, and it sucks, and it takes up a ton of time.” And so having you guys come in and say, “Our clients don’t have to review this stuff. We’ll show you some samples. You could see what we write, and it’s written by lawyers, and you’re going to be fine with it.”

Maria Monroy (00:45:28):

And edited by lawyers. So you get that twice.

Justin Watkins (00:45:29):

“Like, you’re going to be fine.”

Maria Monroy (00:45:31):


Justin Watkins (00:45:32):

“And you’re not going to ever have to read this stuff if you don’t want to.” Now it turns out, funny enough, I do, like, get into what your guys’ content is, because one of the other outside-the-box things that your —

Maria Monroy (00:45:44):

I know where you’re going with this.

Justin Watkins (00:45:45):

Firm’s all been happy about is I’m like, “Hey, I’ve got this studio,” so I record videos based on the content that you guys write.

Maria Monroy (00:45:52):


Justin Watkins (00:45:53):

And so you guys send me a monthly spreadsheet that says, “Here’s the topics that we think are the most important.” And some of it doesn’t really work out, right? Like some — Because of the way Google asks questions, sometimes you guys are writing, like, three or four questions that, to me, is really one question.

Maria Monroy (00:46:08):


Justin Watkins (00:46:09):

And it’s hard to do video content, like, differently or the same for four things. So we’re still figuring that out. But I’m able to kick out, like, ten videos, I think we do, a month with you guys, where I, I give you ten videos that are in line with the content that you guys have created. So now we have YouTube embedded in there.

Justin Watkins (00:46:29):

And, and another consequence or another challenge that we faced is we didn’t have a content creator. We didn’t have a video editor. We didn’t have somebody to do the graphics and all that stuff. So now we have somebody. Uh, we didn’t hire in house. We hired, you know, a, a consultant to do it. Um, and so now we send the raw videos to a place in Denver. She edits them, sends them to your team, your team posts them, and then she re-edits them again for social media posts that are a little bit more. I set aside one hour. It’s, what do we do, it — One hour of it a month?

Maria Monroy (00:47:05):

All right. So now I want to go back to Troy.

Justin Watkins (00:47:07):

Maria Monroy (00:47:08):
I’ve never — I mean I know he died.

Justin Watkins (00:47:09):


Maria Monroy (00:47:10):

I know he had co— colon cancer.

Justin Watkins (00:47:11):


Maria Monroy (00:47:12):

But how did that impact you both as a business owner personally, ’cause he was your best friend. I mean, that must have been — Like, you lost two super important, you know, figures, I guess, in your life: your business partner and your best friend.

Justin Watkins (00:47:30):

Yeah. So Troy, uh, and I — Like I said, our, our legal careers sort of paralleled, and we started the firm together, and, you know, it’s, we literally, um — You know, I get really sentimental about this. We, we grew our lives together, you know? Um, my, my daughters called him Uncle Troy. Um, I had lunch with Troy every single day of our entire career together.

Maria Monroy (00:47:57):

Did he have children?

Justin Watkins (00:47:58):

He did not.

Maria Monroy (00:47:59):


Justin Watkins (00:48:00):

Um, you know, he was there when I met my wife. Like, literally there, you know, um, he was there the, you know, first couple times we went out and did all these group things, he was at — You know, we were at each other’s house every weekend. And, um, you know, he and I, um, built the firm together because we wanted to work together, not because we thought it was a good business transaction, right?

Justin Watkins (00:48:23):

I think we thought that, too. We really respected each other as lawyers, but we wanted to — Being a lawyer can suck enough. It can really suck if you don’t like the people you work with. And, you know, I loved working with Troy, you know, and I loved the way we built our practice with me, Matt, and Troy. Like, we three would go into a room, uh, and, and spitball the strategy of a case. And I’d come out of there being like, “Man, I am a better lawyer for just having been part of that conversation.” You know, they were — I just really respect both of them as lawyers. And, um, so it was in, um, 2014. May, uh, May 1st, May 1st. Today’s May 1st.

Maria Monroy (00:49:11):

Really? That’s crazy.

Justin Watkins (00:49:12):

Yeah. May 1st, 2014. So, uh, today’s nine years. Uh, I remember I just landed in Denver. I was meeting my brother, and, um, Troy had had a colonoscopy. He had some symptoms, and he said, “Hey, I’ve, I’ve got cancer.” And his brother was a, um, emergency physician in Vegas, um, or was — had been for a long time. And so they were, they were on it right away. Um, and he was going for chemo. Um, it had metastasized in his liver. They were going to have to take a part of his liver. And so it started a process of, uh, what ended up being about two and a half years, two years and nine months, or two, two years, and six, seven, eight mo— eight months of a fight with colon cancer, which included three different rounds of chemotherapy, two surgeries, um, all while he was working. And, um, one of the first pieces of advice I got when I started my own firm that I did not heed was when I left my firm, the, the guy who started this big international firm, you know, he flew out here. He talked to me, tried to convince me and Troy to stay, and he said, “All right, you guys are going to do great.

Justin Watkins (00:50:35):

“One piece of advice. Get key man insurance. Get, um, you know, get insurance on each other, um, disability insurance.” And we didn’t. We didn’t have any money for that, but we — Thankfully, we had great health insurance. He got all the care he could get. Um, and, you know, the, on the life aspect of things, it just became very, um — sad’s not the right word — um, discouraging to see the backslide of what became a good day for Troy, right? Like even when he was in chemo, he was doing court appearances. He was here and, and then as he moved on to the chemo, then after the surgery, then he could come for a couple hours. Um, and then, then he couldn’t come at all. Um, but he would try to, like, work from home a little bit. Um, and then, like, the — It, it just — His world shrunk, right?

Justin Watkins (00:51:35):

Like, then the good day became when he could come downstairs in his house. Um, and then a good day became when he could get up by himself out of bed. Um, and then a good day became, you know, when the pain meds weren’t making him so delirious that you could have a good conversation, you know, a, a real conversation with him, um, and his world just shrunk to that singularity of pain meds to maintain, um, and, and him in his bed. And, um, you know, I think up until that point in my life, I had lived a very, very selfish life. Um, you know, shortly before he was diagnosed, two months before he, he was diagnosed, um, uh, I stopped drinking and doing any sort of mind altering substances of any kind, and I never have since. And, um —

Maria Monroy (00:52:32):

Before he was diagnosed?

Justin Watkins (00:52:34):

Two months before he was diagnosed.

Maria Monroy (00:52:35):

So there was no correlation.

Justin Watkins (00:52:36):

No correlation. Um, but except for God’s plan, um, for me to be there for him and to bear witness to his life and the, and the end of his life, and to be able to be a part of his family and to express to them and to eulogize him, um, for them so that they know a whole different aspect of their life, his life, that they would not, not have otherwise known. To know that he was a brilliant attorney, to know that he created a whole practice area that had never previ— previously existed in Las Vegas or Nevada or anywhere else, as far as I knew, uh, as far as being a short sale and loan modification attorney. And, um, you know, to, to be able to, like, sit next to him as he passed and bear witness to somebody’s life.

Justin Watkins (00:53:34):

You know, it just, it gave me a different appreciation for what we’re supposed to do for each other in these moments. And, um, you know, I just — Funny enough, I just, uh, lost my dad two months ago, and it was very similar in, you know, um, what I saw my role as. To bear witness to the end of my dad’s life. To be present next to him in the hospital bed, um, as he passed. And, um, you know, hopefully my kids see that. And we’ve said that, like, in the Watkins family, when a loved one is sick, you go and you be with them, um, no matter what it costs. And, um, so from a business standpoint, I mean, that’s sort of secondary, but, um —

Maria Monroy (00:54:26):

But —

Justin Watkins (00:54:27):

There was challenges.

Maria Monroy (00:54:27):

One question I have.

Justin Watkins (00:54:28):


Maria Monroy (00:54:29):

And I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. I didn’t know that.

Justin Watkins (00:54:31):

Thank you.

Maria Monroy (00:54:33):

Um, how did you not, like, fall back into addiction during that time? I feel like that would’ve been such a —

Justin Watkins (00:54:40):

You know what?

Maria Monroy (00:54:42):

Like, did it weirdly help you?

Justin Watkins (00:54:42):

One of the things I’ll say about, um, being a recovered alcoholic is that, like, I think alcoholics are great in crisis, you know?

Maria Monroy (00:54:55):


Justin Watkins (00:54:56):

They, they have — Like, that can take all their focus and attention. And when they’re needed, they’re good because they have something to do. They’re worse when things are going better. But we were talking about Troy, and that just happens to be, uh, a — I don’t think it was just happens to be coincidence. I really do think that, you know, God got me sober, uh, in time to be there for, for my friend, um, for the next two and a half years of the fight of his life. And then there was this — What was odd about it is there was this time period in which he was done with surgeries. He was done with chemo, and there was no indication that he had any cancer. And at that point, we thought we were in the clear, and that’s when I decided to run for office.

Maria Monroy (00:55:40):


Justin Watkins (00:55:41):

And then it was about two months later that he went in for his — You go get these PET scans, that scan your whole body, and it, and it lights up if there’s any cancerous, um, cells in your body. And, you know, after you’ve been cleared, you go through three of those that are staged out every couple months. And if you clear three, then they say, like, “No evidence of disease.” And, you know, things are looking good. And on that last one, the third one, a little speck, little speck lit up. And, like, now I know that the doctors knew then that it was it. Just that little speck. That they’d already thrown everything at it. And if any of it had survived, they had nothing else to throw at it. Um —

Maria Monroy (00:56:27):

So what happened next? Like, did they try again?

Justin Watkins (00:56:30):

Yes. He went through chemo again, and he went through all kinds of different — Tried to do different therapies. You know, we did, um — You know, I did a vegan diet with him, um, because the, the theory of, like, sugar feeds cancer, and you get off all these, you know, carcinogen-based foods, so it’s a super raw vegan diet. And I did it with him. And, you know, it was — When you, when you talk to his brother now, like he describes it as, like, you know, cancer had the football on the one-yard line, and there was — You know, the odds of us being able to stop that and go ninety-nine yards the other way was — It was going to take a miracle. But he never, like — I didn’t appreciate that the whole time, you know? I didn’t, I didn’t understand that the whole time. I mean, I —

Maria Monroy (00:57:22):

Well, you probably also had hope, right? So much hope.

Justin Watkins (00:57:25):

Well, and he did, you know? Oh my gosh. You know, Troy fought, like, tooth and nail for every day he had on this earth, man. Like, even at the end, he — Like, one of the last conversations I had with him was like, “Okay, what do I — what else do I need to do?” Like, he was in incredible amounts of pain. I think like anybody, like anybody that I can think of that — I know that I — Myself, I, I’ll speak for myself — like, in that amount of pain, would’ve wanted it to end. And he was like — He would put up with all of that to have one more day on this earth. Like, he would do it. That’s how much he, like, was full of life and enjoyed this world, you know? And I can wake up in the morning and just be like, “Ugh,” you know, and just spit on the morning and spit on the day that’s given to me out of, like, stress or, or what have you.

Justin Watkins (00:58:24):

Things aren’t going the way that I think that they should be going. And you know, having that memory of Troy is, like, something that can bring me back. Like, give me some perspective of — appreciation of, you know, “What would’ve Troy given to have this day that I’m having right now and I’m taking for granted?” You know, I’ve got to get my perspective shifted. And so from a business perspective, ultimately at the end of the day, you know, everybody stood up. Um, and just double timed it. Everybody loved Troy. He was a beloved figure at our firm, and everybody was willing to do whatever they could for him and for the family and for us and for me and Matt. And you know, Matt took on a big part of it because at the — You know, six weeks before he passed away, seven weeks before he passed away, I won my election.

Justin Watkins (00:59:14):

I was in the — On the election night, I was in the hospital room sitting next to him, and he watched the results come in. He saw me win. And then, um, two weeks after he passed — he passed on December 28th — uh, two weeks after he passed, I moved me and my family up to Carson City to get ready to serve 120 days in the legislature. So Matt was just here doing it all.

Maria Monroy (00:59:38):


Justin Watkins (00:59:39):

So I mean, we’ve learned some lessons from all that stuff, but I mean, you, the, the firm will never, you know, can never quite be the same without him. Um, we still have, um, three people that work with us who worked with him.

Maria Monroy (00:59:57):

Not including — Including you and Matt, or not including?

Justin Watkins (01:00:00):

No, not including me and Matt. Three staffers.

Maria Monroy (01:00:01):

Well, I think you mentioned Troy, like, the first time we spoke. Like, you definitely keep him very alive.

Justin Watkins (01:00:07):

Yeah. And you know, we have, like, he — There’s a picture of him still in my office. We, he’s still on our letterhead. We do not take him off our letterhead. We didn’t change our firm name from Atkinson, Watkins, and Hoffman to Watkins and Hoffman. He’s, he’s on the firm name, always will be. Um, and, uh, you know, I still am in very close contact with his family. You know, his mom says that I’m her son and, um, you know, I feel that way about her and his dad and his brother. And I do a yearly trip with his brother and his nephew. And, and so, um, you know, there’s so many positive ways in which he impacted my life and all those around. Everybody. He’s one of those people that just — Like, when I eulogized about at his funeral, I said, you know — I started off by saying, you know, “Troy was my best friend, and there’s probably a dozen people in this room right now saying, ‘No, he wasn’t. He was my best friend ’ And they’re all true. It’s all true. He was that kind of guy.” And, um, so, you know, he’s missed. And I, I wish I talked about him more often than — I should. Um —

Maria Monroy (01:01:20):

I’m bummed I didn’t get to meet him. I’m —

Justin Watkins (01:01:22):

Yeah. Oh yeah, you’d like — It’s, everybody liked him. There’s nothing not to like about Troy.

Maria Monroy (01:01:27):

Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that with me.

Justin Watkins (01:01:29):

You’re welcome.

Maria Monroy (01:01:30):

Thank you so much to Justin Watkins for everything he shared with us today. If you found this story valuable, please share it with someone you want to see succeed, and subscribe so you never miss an episode, and leave a five-star review. It goes a long way to help others discover the show. See you guys next week.

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