If you want to run a successful firm, one of the most important skills you can have is being able to adapt. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many law firms to rapidly adjust to new work procedures, including everything from remote workers to digital case management. And even now, in the aftermath of the pandemic, Chad Dudley is focused on staying on the cutting edge of firm management.

Chad Dudley’s law firm, Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, employs more than 50 attorneys and 170 employees across the state of Louisiana. He also spent nearly ten years helping other plaintiff personal injury law firms run more efficiently through his company Vista Consulting. In 2017, Chad joined CJ Advertising’s team, where he now serves as their CEO, helping personal injury firms optimize their marketing efforts.

This week, we sit down with Chad to discuss how his firm is adapting to a post-COVID world. Chad emphasizes the importance of building effective attorney teams and having a dedicated HR manager. He also highlights the need for law firms to adapt to changes in lead generation and focus on acquiring qualified leads at a reasonable cost.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on your foundation. Building a successful firm requires consistently practicing simple disciplines at an extreme level. From effective team-building to efficient lead generation, good habits need to be baked into the DNA of your firm.
  • Gather qualified leads. Chad stresses the significance of lead generation strategies that focus on acquiring qualified leads. He recommends maintaining a healthy ratio of qualified leads to signed cases, illustrating how this approach enhances a law firm’s success.
  • Invest in HR management. One of the keys to staying on the leading edge of your market is assembling a strong team. Having a dedicated HR person for hiring can ensure that you’ve got the right talent contributing to your firm’s growth.


Chad Dudley (00:00):

How do you build a great firm? I’ve said it’s not sexy. It’s kind of boring. It’s doing simple disciplines to an extreme level day in, day out.

Maria Monroy (00:10):

Welcome to the Tip the Scales podcast, where we discuss running and growing your law firm. I’m your host, Maria Monroy, president and co-founder of LawRank. This week, I am joined by Chad Dudley.

Yes, it’s his third time on the show. I just I literally could talk to Chad all day. Today, we talked about how the cost-per-case has gone up, how having an HR person is so incredibly important. We talked about profitability. We talked about his upcoming conference in Vegas, September 13 through the 15. It’s just going to be him and Micki Love. Super excited for that event, and he was kind enough to give us a discount code. It is LawRank. We will put that in the show notes for you guys. I hope you enjoy this episode.

We want to offer our listeners an exclusive deal. Right now, you can visit lawrank.com/report to get a free competitor performance report. The report will include your top five digital competitors and how they’re performing in your market, how you measure up to your competitors in the top three metrics, and that is referring domains, content and monthly traffic and a local SEO report. And this is a visual; it’s a map, and this is tracking your Google business profile, and it’s going to show you how you rank within a one-mile radius. Again, all you have to do is go to lawrank.com/report. We will also be putting this in the show notes.

Maria (01:32):

You should feel special. Third time.

Chad (01:35):

Is that a first?

Maria (01:37):

That’s a first. No one’s been on — I mean, the podcast hasn’t even been around a year. Or it has been around a year, but we don’t have fifty-two episodes yet.

Chad (01:46):

Well, thank you. I’m honored to be back. Always have a good time.

Maria (01:48):

All right. So tell us what’s new, what’s going on? What do you see in the space?

Chad (01:52):

It’s been a crazy year. I mean I think you look at all the different things that are happening and things that people think are going to start happening, and I think the industry is changing. There’s a lot of — You know, people are still adapting from COVID, which sounds strange, but COVID hit a bunch of firms in different ways, and there’s firms —

Maria (02:09):

The economy is adapting from COVID.

Chad (02:11):

There’s things like people made changes to their firms during COVID that they’re sticking with.

Maria (02:18):

Like what?

Chad (02:19):

I think that they use more client meetings by Zoom or by video conference. Using electronic signatures. Maybe not being as hardcore about having a physical location, more remote workers, more overseas workers. Increasing the demand for using software to automate certain tasks. It seems like yesterday, but if you remember pre-COVID, a lot of people were nervous about using a case management system that was not on a server.

Maria (02:51):


Chad (02:51):

Being in the cloud was like, “No, that’s kind of freaky. It’s all of our clients’ medicals and information.” COVID kind of put that to bed, because now we have to in order to work efficiently across a bunch of different time zones and locations, and so you see things like that.

Maria (03:05):

I think that the whole COVID — and not just for law firms, but in general — this whole COVID thing, everybody going remote, I think a lot of that money that was spent on offices shifted to tech —

Chad (03:18):


Maria (03:19):

To have the right processes and procedures to run remote.

Chad (03:23):

Yeah. One of the trends — There’s a couple of things where the divide between the haves and the have-nots is really changing law firms. For example, I think Facebook, and I forgot what other — There’s a few tech companies that came out and said, “Hey, remote work doesn’t work.”

Maria (03:44):

Zoom. Doesn’t Zoom have offices?

Chad (03:47):

They kind of took this position like, “It’s 20 percent less efficient. It doesn’t really work. Everyone needs to get back in the office.” I think Amazon, a bunch of different big companies said this. What I see is it’s a little bit different. I see firms that have figured it out and have figured out how to get great people being productive outside the office remotely are building a competitive advantage, versus the ones that are like, “You have to be in the office five days a week, and you have to be here,” because there’s some really great candidates that they’re not going to live that way anymore.

Maria (04:22):

I agree. But I do think that there is — For law firms, there has to be some in-person.

Chad (04:31):

Correct. And you might laugh, but it’s almost like way back in the day, like, the first sort of groups that were working remotely to some degree was probably, like, homeschool. Remember, like, way back in the ‘90s, like, homeschool — And the materials weren’t that good. They didn’t really have it down.

Maria (04:47):

It’s funny, we started homeschooling, like, three weeks ago.

Chad (04:50):

But today, homeschool is crazy. Like, you can have your kids taught math by someone that works at, like, Stanford or Harvard, or you could — The materials are great. And they figured out, like, there’s meetups, right?

Maria (05:03):

Yeah. My kids have all sorts of things.

Chad (05:06):

And that didn’t exist years ago, right? Because they’re trying to figure out how to make this thing work. So if you look at that and go, “Okay, ’90s homeschool is kind of weird, maybe not super effective, kind of clunky.” What it looks like today — They figured out that you do need that interaction. They figured out that you do need to be, like, engaged.

Maria (5:23):

Well, there’s so many cool things. My kids do coding. They have Zoom book clubs. There’s so much. It’s the coolest thing.

Chad (05:31):

They can travel; they can do stuff. I think that that’s what’s going to happen with this remote workspace is that people are going to kind of figure out the mix. It’s not going to go back to 100 percent in-office, and it’s not going to stay at 100 percent out-of-office, but there’s going to be like this mingle where, “Hey, we, you know — This is what we do in person, or this how many times a week we get together in person. These are events that we’re going to host. These are ways that we can, you know, fulfill that need to connect, but also allow you to avoid an hour-and-a-half commute to and from work,” right? So I think that’s where it’s going.

Maria (06:05):

That’s how ours is.

Chad (06:06):

Yeah. And so, like, if you get, if you’re in the — But there’s a lot of firms and a lot of businesses that are really getting it wrong, but if you’re in that top 10 percent that figures it out, you can build a really, really great workforce and do some really — And I’m seeing firms do that. I’m seeing other firms that don’t even want to mess with it going, “Ah, you got to — You know, I’m not hiring a remote person.” They’re going to — They’re getting left behind. They can’t find people. They’re struggling to hire.

Maria (06:31):

Yep. What’s the favorite thing you’ve implemented in the past year?

Chad (06:24):

You know, we’ve always said, “Look, everything breaks — Lots of things break every time you double,” right? When a firm is five people and goes to ten, things that used to work when you’re five stop working at ten. Ten to twenty, twenty to forty, forty to eighty, eighty to 160. 160 and on is a little bit of a different animal. But the idea of building teams — like, attorney teams — at our office was really helped a lot because we got to a spot — Right now we have about sixty attorneys. That’s a lot of attorneys. And when you get to a certain size, you’re going, “How do I maintain quality control throughout the organization?” It becomes tricky. And how do you execute things across the organization? You know, I always talk about, well, a simple thing like Chick-fil-A saying, “My pleasure,” instead of, well, “You’re welcome.” They pull that off nationwide. Think how many thousands of people had to, like, get on board with that. And a simple thing like that becomes incredibly complex, versus when you have one store. So we were running into the issues of going, “Okay, we want to maintain a high level of client service, of legal representation. How do we do that with sixty attorneys?” And we try to put, you know, a supervisor over everybody, and that was overwhelming. And we finally broke them up into teams of four to six attorneys. And each team has a litigation coach and then, like, a team captain. And those two team captain is really helping with the systems processes and helping them move their cases along. Litigation coach is really working on the top 20 percent of their cases and coaching them on maybe the art of practicing law. And that has allowed us to scale some of the things that we’ve been doing. I mean, without that, it would just be overwhelming. And so when I talk with firms, I’m like, once you get north of six attorneys, even ten, just start thinking in terms of teams. We waited till, you know, a long time down the road, but we just didn’t know.

Maria (08:27):

We have forty employees. Imagine with thousands of fucking employees.

Chad (08:30):

Yeah, around forty employees is where you just get maxed out, and you can no longer keep track of everything. If you have maybe more than one partner, that number could be a little bit higher, but there’s a real breaking point somewhere in that zone, and then you have to really let go to grow at that point. For example, people try to skimp on human resources all the time, right? They’re like, “We don’t need an HR person dedicated —“

Maria (08:54):

Oh my God, you absolutely need — We have an HR person. It’s the best thing in the world, too.

Chad (09:00):

Yes. And they try to get away with it forever. And then finally they break and then —

Maria (09:03):

What do you think is like the point where they need one? Ten? Twenty?

Chad (09:07)

Yeah, I mean, I’d say right in that zone, like twenty to thirty. So what they have is typically, like, an office manager that handles some of the HR stuff. And then when you get to, like, a dedicated HR is probably somewhere around, I think, thirty or forty.

Maria (09:19):

We were like probably twenty-five, and we regret not doing it sooner.

Chad (09:23):

Other interesting things is when the trends you see, the cost of acquisition, the cost of getting cases in the door is going up.

Maria (09:32):

Yes it is.

Chad (09:33):

And you see that plain as day across the space. But then firms are adapting, and you’re seeing firms that rely heavily on just straight-up leads. And there’s an argument that people say, “Well, lead generation cases don’t provide good cases.” And it’s — There’s 10 percent of the firms out there that are figuring out how to handle those calls and handle those leads. And they’re building some really great firms by doing that. And the firms that just go “Across the board, lead generation sucks. I’m not going to mess with it.”

Maria (10:09):

That’s most firms.

Chad (10:10):

That’s most firms. Because you get on these — You see these list serves and these chats and, “What do you guys think about lead generation? They suck; they’re terrible.” And you kind of dig in. They’re different. They’re totally different. They’re outbound calls. They’re a totally different script, totally different person to hook those cases. The response times are more aggressive. The want ratios — If you get 100 leads through a lead generation company, your want ratio — how many are qualified leads — is probably going to be a half or a third of what your normal qualified lead ratio is going to be. So, like, but make peace with it/ Run your numbers.

Maria (10:46):

Well, it’s a numbers game.

Chad (10:47):

Yeah, run the numbers, and see if it works. But you see that more and more where firms are like, “You know what, I’m going to buy as many of those as I can.” And it’s interesting that they’re successful with it.

Maria (10:55):

Now you talked about how the cost per case is going up. Are you seeing this across all channels? And what is a good cost per case nowadays?

Chad (11:04):

They’re all over, right? It’s the cost per case is going up just as a general rule across the board. And you see it, regardless of market, living in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. Somewhere in that spot. But then you’re like — When I look at a firm, I’m like, “Okay, well, let’s look at these numbers,” and go — Say they sign up 100 auto cases, right? Well, we know that the next thing I ask is what is their close with fee ratio, right? Because I’ve seen as low as 30 percent. Like, can you imagine that we’re only 30 percent of the cases they open get to the finish line with the fee?

Maria (11:36):

I mean, something is really wrong.

Chad (11:38):

And then some it’s 70 percent. And for auto, you typically live in the 70 percent range. You know, you see firms that are like, “Look, we only want to take cases where we believe the recovery is going to be over a hundred grand,” right? So they’re hunting elephants.

Maria (11:50):

Yeah, these people annoy me, by the way. We have like one client that is complaining about cases. They’ve signed, like, eight cases, but they’re all really high six-figure, seven-figure cases. And then they’ve referred, like, 200 cases. I can’t control what you refer.

Chad (12:04):

Correct. And that situation or want ratio low because we’re super picky. Or if they sign them up, then vet them, want ratio will look normal. Their close with fee ratio is going to look low, because they’re opening up a bunch. If it doesn’t meet their criteria, they’re closing it out. But the good thing is that for those firms, their average closed fee is typically much, much higher. And again, it comes down to math, right? And you’re like, “Okay, if my true cost per case — “ that’s the terminology I use, which is take your cost per case and divide it by your closed with fee ratio. What are we trying to do? Not how much did you pay for a case, but how much did you pay for a good case? So, for example, this simple math would be if your cost per case is $2,000, but your close with fee ratio’s 50 percent. You didn’t sign up 100 cases. You signed up fifty good cases, and what did you pay for those fifty? Well, you actually paid $4,000. And what does that relate to your average closed fee? If your average closed fee is $6,000, that math doesn’t work. And so if your average closed fee is $20,000, $25,000, it would need to be kind of in that range for that to make sense. And so that formula takes into account what kind of cases they’re going after. Because if all that funky stuff that they do — “We refer out this many. We close it if it’s not the size of a case,” gets accounted for in that formula. And you’re like, “All right, you can go after those cases.” It’s working.

Maria (13:30):

Oh, absolutely. I mean, my problem with it is if you’re looking for these huge fish, it, two cases throws off everything. So it’s, it’s so hard to replicate. “Oh, I want to generate, you know, fifteen of these cases every year from digital.” They’re such small numbers that they’re really hard to control.

Chad (13:50):

Correct. And you know, one of the analogies I use when talking with different firms is, okay, if you’re playing blackjack, be the house, not the player. And what I mean by that — The house just plays the percentages all the time, and the player gets caught up in, “I feel lucky,” and “I’m going to double down here,” and they ignore the math sometimes. And the equivalent of that in our space is the person goes, “I, this one time I got this monster case from a name-the-source-here, right? And now I’m going to spend all this money,” even though mathematically over a bigger data set, it doesn’t pan out, right?

Maria (14:28):

Well, that, and then combine that with the fact that, like you said, cost per case is going up, and I’m not even just seeing this in PI. I see it in criminal defense. My brother-in-law is a criminal defense lawyer. This is — It’s how we got started. And the difference between eleven years ago to now is — There’s no comparison, and it’s demoralizing, but it’s like, you have to be able to change with the market. Like, things are changing. You have to adapt. Like you said, okay, maybe lead gen: you didn’t want to do it before, but there’s a way to do it. Like, adapt and do that, or do local service ads, right? We have some clients that refuse to do local service ads, and I’m like, “You’re missing out on repetition on the first page.”

Chad (15:10):

I agree.

Maria (15:11):

“I don’t know what to tell you,” right? Pay-per-click — Right now that cost per case is absurd. It’s well over two grand.

Chad (15:17):

Yeah. 100 percent. And if you’re not, you know, back to like — You think about, if you’re going to build a great firm and you’re like, “Okay, there’s, there’s five things that we need to get right. We need to get case acquisition right. We need to get legal ops right. We need to get ops right. We need to get our money right. How we handle the money, and HR, our team. So we got to get those five things right.” And when you, if you’re in this space, you’re going to gravitate towards one of those five things. You’re like, “Man, I like handling cases. Let me do legal ops.” Or, “I like running.” If you are not crazy obsessed with marketing and have a gift for it and just get it, like, you have got to have a partner to be watching this at all times, because there’s so many permutations of what can work for your firm, and it’s impossible unless you just don’t sleep and obsess over it to even stay remotely close to all that’s going on in the industry. And I don’t know how there’s so many firms are trying to do that, and it’s crazy. I was talking with some law firm owners yesterday and we’re just, “How do you build a great firm?” I said , “It’s not sexy. It’s kind of boring. It’s doing simple disciplines to an extreme level day in, day out, right? And there’s no magic bullet, it’s just being consistently disciplined over time.”

Maria (16:38):

I’m curious. I think I asked you this last podcast actually. I’d have to go and listen. Did I ask you, like, what is a good profitability for a firm?

Chad (16:47):

Yeah, and I think when I answer this — It’s so funny when I share these numbers in groups and people are like, “Ah my firm’s way better than that, or we’re doing that.” You take it with a grain of salt, but usually what you’re doing is you’re breaking up your expenses into what we call case acquisition, attorney compensation, non-attorney compensation, and then everything else, right? You’re looking at those numbers, and I think when we talk about firms, what kind of profitability should they hit? If you’re below $10 million a year, you can hit some crazy profit numbers. You can just get some efficiencies. You’re working in the business, and what a partner can do in a firm that is less than $10 million can have a bigger impact on the firm. As the firm gets bigger, $20-plus million, $30-, $40-plus million, the impact one partner can have on profitability is different. So you see firms under $10 million, they’re doing some crazy profit numbers. Maybe 40 percent, 50 percent. North of $10 million you’re talking about — They’re living in the 25, 30, sometimes 35 [percent].

Maria (17:44):

That’s funny, I always thought it was the inverse.

Chad (17:47):

Well, no, no, I see it. And again, you know, when you talk about profitability, there’s a book called Simple Numbers, Simple Profits. Great read, but it talks simple numbers, simple profits by grade. Anybody, really anybody, it’s a good read. One of the concepts in that book says, well, talk about — Compare apples to apples. If you have a — Like sometimes I’ll work with firms, and the partner is working in the business 100 hours a week, and he’s handling cases; he’s helping out with marketing; he’s helping out with operations, and he’s grinding. And they kind of count their, their profit levels appear to be artificially high, because they’re paying themselves minimum wage to cover all these bases. That’s different than a partner that is living on an island, not in the business at all, and collects a check, right? They’re two — So Simple Numbers, Simple Profits says you should normalize those two situations by saying, “If you were to replace yourself in the business, what would the market rate for the services you provide go for?” So if you’re providing, you know, $500 grand a year of, you know, handling case services, marketing services, operational services, include that as an expense so that, you know, you can kind of compare apples to apples. The person that lives on an island, almost little to no replacement cost. Someone that is in the business, what is their total replacement cost? And in that situation, if you count the free labor, or whatever you want to call it, that you’re providing to the firm, even using that as an expense, your profitability should be in the 25 percent, the 30 percent, 35 percent range.

Maria (19:23):

What do you think are like the three most important things a law firm has to focus on? Like, if somebody said to you, “Hey, we’re going to start a law firm; three partners,” what would, what should each of the partners focus on? What would you put those three? I wonder if it’s the same thing I would.

Chad (19:40):

So this — And this happens quite a bit. We’ll get a call from somebody and then I, “Hey, I’m going to start a law firm, and tell us how to structure it, and tell us how to, you know, kind of get going, and what would we expect, and what do we focus on in the early stages?” And that’s the first time — You know, the first question is, “What are you trying to build? Are you trying to — You know, is it a referred out practice? Is it a referred in practice? Is it a, you know, mass advertising firm? Is it — Are you trying to do high-volume, low-value? Are you trying to do low-volume, high-value? So like, just give me a ballpark structure of what you’re trying to do.”

Maria (20:09):

Say it’s a firm that, uh, it’s a trial firm, and they’ll do everything from pre-lit to obviously trial. They’ll do marketing, but they’re not going to be, like, the biggest advertiser.

Chad (20:20):

Yeah, so the good things of what I’ll do in that situation is I’ll get with each of the equity partners and be like, “All right, so, those five things. Rate them in order of things, like, you wake up, love, enjoy. What makes money? What do you enjoy doing? What can you be the best at?” Right? And then based on that, I’m like, “Okay, you should probably focus on ops. You don’t want to try cases, or you should spend your time here.” Now, when you’re smaller and getting rolling, you’re just going to wear a bunch of hats. Like, you have to, but, like, let’s wear those hats with the idea in mind that you’re going to take off the marketing hat as soon as we possibly can. Where you’re going to take off the — And we’re trying to build the firm on their strengths, not try and overcome their weaknesses. Like focus on your strengths. That’s what’s going to make your firm great. It’s not by fixing the things you’re not good at. So that’s the first conversation. The second conversation is, “Let’s do an honest assessment of the skills of the attorneys that are at the firm.” And what I mean by that is that — Say you’re in the situation, you’re trying — You know, we’ll rate attorneys from tier one to tier five. Tier one is you’re fresh out law school. You’re new to the practice, the personal injury practice. You’re just getting going. You need a ton of supervision. There’s not much you can do on your own. Tier five is someone that is a experienced trial attorney that’s first chair, a number of jury trials, gotten verdicts in excess of $7 million. And look, it’s very loose, but ballpark, you trust this attorney to handle just about any case, anywhere, anytime. And you can say two, three, four. If a firm is trying to get off the ground and they only have tier two and tier three attorneys, that’s a, something you got to take into consideration. What are you going to do when you get that big case? What are you going to do when you have a potentially monster file? Well, okay. It also determines what kind of cases you take. If you have a firm that is only tier four and tier five attorneys, your criteria for what you accept may be different. You may be more picky, and you’re trying to have a smaller case counts, but they’re going to be bigger cases. And where you get your cases from a firm that has tier two, tier three, you shouldn’t be marketing to other law firms to get referrals, because why would they send you a referral if all you got is tier two and tier three? So that strategy doesn’t work for that group. You might want to build a referred out practice. Tier four, tier five attorneys maybe can get a referral network going in. So there’s, so there’s some of those things that you take into consideration. Once you get past that, you know, you’re just focusing on the core operational stuff. If you’re going to go make a bunch of noise to get people to your restaurant, the food and the service has to be good. And thinking into, what are our standards when, you know — And we start usually from the beginning of case representation going, “Here’s how we’re going to line out intake.” We have to be super meticulous about how we set that up so that we can get all the metrics we need to understand what’s coming in from what channel.

Maria (23:04):

This is still the biggest miss though. Like, you know that this is, like — we’ve talked about this a million times — like, my biggest annoyance, you know?

Chad (23:11):

And it’s so vital. You know, what was a common thing of firms are really doing some good stuff is they have a partner —

Maria (23:21):

I knew you were going to say this.

Chad (23:22):

That’s involved with intake. I’ve seen it several times now. Like, a partner that is looking at every single call.

Maria (23:30):

You and I know of a firm that does this.

Chad (23:32):

I know several. I know. Yeah. And there’s several where, like, that’s, and it — Some people might say, “Well, that’s overkill. Like we’re going to spend a partner —“ But it’s — The point of that is you can’t underestimate how much attention it needs. And it’s a big, big deal to get it right. And a lot of firms just — But starting off, you’ve got to get fanatical about intake. And talk about things that have gotten more complicated over the years. Intake has gotten crazy complicated. How do you — Tracking, you know, what software you’re using to figure out where they came from. Then you talk about attribution. And then you’re talking about, “Okay, are we going to route overflow to some, you know, overseas location? How do we get it back to here? And are they tied into our CRM?” It’s gotten infinitely complex, and once you get past that, then I’ll work with the firms and go, “Let’s talk about just the first ninety days, right? When you get a new contract, what is your standard? I’m not asking what’s possible. I’m not asking you even to say how we’re going to do it. But if a friend or family member was a client, how would you want that experience to happen? When they sign a contract, would you want them to hear from your firm within the first, what, twelve hours, twenty-four hours? What’s your standard?” And they’ve got to come up with it. And then —

Maria (24:50):

Wait, I have a question. Have you ever tracked, like, if a firm can get those first ninety days right, how that impacts referrals?

Chad (25:00):

100 percent.

Maria (25:01):

I mean, I know that it must, but have you ever tracked it and said, “Hey, let’s fix this,”? And then I feel like it’s something that’d be really hard to track.

Chad (25:08):

Yes and no. It’s — So intentional communication with the client throughout the life of the case is the secret sauce.

Maria (25:18):

Did you guys hear that? The secret sauce. After intake. Please don’t forget about intake.

Chad (25:20):

Intake and then client communication. It covers a lot of — It does so much good stuff. Like, it increases client referrals. It reduces time on desk. It increases your average close fee. It, you know, just — There’s so many good things. Reduces bar complaints. Reduces complaints in general. Increases Google reviews. Like, like, get fanatical.

Maria (25:43):

Google reviews.

Chad (25:44)

And we talk about — You know, it’s crazy. We put on a conference, and we said all the time, “Client communications is the secret sauce,” and we had people raising their hands like, “You mean, like, the attorneys call on the clients?” Like, yes, absolutely. Attorneys, legal assistants, like, stay in communication with your clients, because when you don’t talk to them — I mean, that’s the biggest mistake I’ve seen firms make is they have these systems and processes where the client may not hear from their attorney for six months or until a suit’s filed or until a demand package goes out, and so much gets missed. And so having intentionality about what client communication looks like in the first, you know, first ninety days — Talk to them every fifteen days at least, at a minimum. After that, you can maybe go every thirty days. There’s certain junctures in the case where you want to make sure they receive intentional communication. Like, okay, you know, setting up with a doctor, and you’re talking about getting their property damage resolved. And then is your team trained so that when the client says “Thank you,” that’s a signal, like, okay, to ask for a referral. Does that trigger that conversation, and have you trained your team in how to ask for referrals and what they say and what that looks like? And there’s different junctures in the case where you add value. The client says, “Thank you,” and it’s a great time to have that conversation. Remind them, like, “Yes, the highest compliment we can receive is a referral.”

Maria (27:06):

And then do you suggest a newsletter to clients?

Chad (27:09):

Yeah, you know, I think that’s — So you had the old-school hard copy newsletters that I’ve seen firms — I’ve seen numbers where it works great for some firms. I’ve seen other locations where it’s not moving the dial as much as you did.

Maria (27:22):

And what do you think is the — Like, why? Because I’ve seen the same thing and I —

Chad (27:28):

There’s a lot of variables, because you know, you see — Are you writing the content for the newsletter for you to feel good about what you put out, or are you writing it for something that someone might want to read, right? Or pick up.

Maria (27:39):

And it’s tough, because who wants to read about PI? Like, I’m sorry, no one.

Chad (27:43):

And so, you know, you see things, “Well, let’s make it about the recipient and be like, all right, how can we provide a service or provide information or provide help? Summer. Top ten most dangerous things for kids during the summer break.”

Maria (27:56):

That’s — I’d read that. I would literally read that.

Chad (27:59)

You’re like, “Okay, it’s ATVs, trampoline parks, and pools. And, you know, and here’s why.”

Maria (28:04)

Riding a bike outside.

Chad (28:05): Yeah, all these things. And it just, “Okay, that’s kind of interesting. I have kids, or I’m curious.” Or what the most dangerous intersection in your city is. Because that’s about me, and that’s about my safety.

Maria (28:14):

I love that. Yeah.

Chad (28:15):

And there’s things like that, right?

Maria (28:17):

Or if you have a — If you’re doing any community involvement, any events, like, promoting that, all that stuff.

Chad (28:23):

Correct. So to answer your question, I think, you know, you’re seeing an — Email newsletters are just so cheap, and they’re so trackable and they’re so — You know your open rate. And, and who’s clicking on what, and what topics are they interested in? And it’s so much easier to get that information. So I see firms gravitating away from the hard newsletter more to an electronic version, but you still have — You know, I’m run across firms all the time that swear by that newsletter. “I’ve been doing it since, you know, 2000, and I’m not going to stop,” because they love it.

Maria (28:55):

Right. Wait, so you mentioned a conference. Let’s talk a little bit about that. When is it? And what are you guys teaching?

Chad (29:03):

It’s September 13 through 15 this year. In a few weeks in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan hotel. It’s “Increase Your Profits”, and it’s going to be put on by Micki Love and myself. Micki Love has been in this industry for a bunch of years, and between the two of us, gosh, I imagine we have worked with, consulted with, done planning sessions for probably over 400 law firms in our space over the years. Every different size, and — Some things that we’re going to be talking about. It’s just going to be — It’s Micki and I. We’re going to be sharing everything that we know. She’s the president of CJ Advertising and has worked with personal injury firms since forever, and she knows her stuff. And so we’re going to just really just take two and a half days and share what we’ve seen in our industry. Things that have been true for decades and are still true. Things that have been true for decades that are changing.

Maria (30:03):

Oh, I love that.

Chad (30:03):

Things that are, you know, that we’re seeing. The tools that help you run a law firm. How they all tie into — You know, how does your close with fee ratio impact your labor ratio, for example, right? Well, it’s straightforward. If you’re working on a bunch of bad cases that don’t produce fees, your labor ratio starts to go up. And there’s so many things like that make sense.

Maria (30:26):

See, now I kind of want to go and, like, sit through it.

Chad (30:29):

Yeah. And there’s so many things like that. Like, how does this thing connect to this thing and impact this thing? And while many people have heard bits and pieces of how we look at law firms, this is an opportunity for us to just tie it all together and go, “Here’s from start to finish.”

Maria (30:45):

And it’s actionable.

Chad (30:47):

Actionable. Pure content. We’re not hiding the ball. And, um, yeah, we’re going to spend, you know, two and a half days doing it.

Maria (30:55):

But you had told me that it was, like, limited. Some people — It depends on the market. So let’s, let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t want to get anyone too excited, then they can’t go.

Chad (31:04):

No, it is by, um, it’s by application. You send an application to be part of and visit the conference. We had to do that way. Um, just because of — There, there was such high demand. Unfortunately had to turn people away that — where there is market conflicts with —

Maria (31:17):

Yeah, some people are mad at you.

Chad (31:19)

Yes. We’ve done that. So who knows if we go down this path again, but we’re definitely doing it this year. And, uh, we had to do application process.

Maria (31:25):

So this might be the only time you do it?

Chad (31:27):

No, I imagine we’ll, we’ll do it again. But, um, we’re — I’m just, I’m joking, sort of, because there was a lot of — We had to turn a lot of people away because of market conflicts, um, and so forth.

Maria (31:37):

So some egos were, got hurt, and I know how that goes.

Chad (31:39):

A little bit, a little bit. But, uh, that’s not our intent. We’re, we’re, we’re an open book, and, um, but that’s — So apply, get it in, see if there’s a spot available. We’d love it. It’s going to be really, really good stuff. It’s, it’s great for anyone that is in any type of leadership position or going to be in a leadership position, possibly in the future at a law firm. Because even if you’re in intake, it’ll say, “Here’s how intake impacts the rest of the firm.” Even if you’re in legal ops, how what you’re doing is impacted by these other things. If you’re in management, financial, whatever, you’ll get something out of it, and it will compliment your knowledge about the rest of the firm and how it works. And so it’s going to be good.

Maria (32:16):

So it’s from start to finish. Like, intake and then —

Chad (32:19):

When we go into a firm — Yeah, when we go into a firm, how do we look at a firm and evaluate where they have holes or where, where are the easy fixes? And by easy fixes, the low-hanging fruit, if there’s any. How do we go about that process? “Boom. We start here.” Then once we get past here, uh, and we’re working with the firm, how do we determine where they should go next? How do we do, you know, planning and longterm planning? Then based on that, what are the levers or things that we implement that will move the dial for the different things that we identified as weak spots? Okay. And talk about, “That might involve intake. It might involve case management, and might involve operational tools, uh, marketing case acquisition tools,” and we’ll kind of go through all the different areas, the five areas I mentioned. Um, legal ops, ops, case acquisition, financials and HR. How each of those play a role specifically to personal injury firms and what you do to get each of those areas right so that you can build the firm that you want.

Maria (33:16):

That’s amazing. How many attendees?

Chad (33:17):

Um, gosh, I don’t know. We, I think we got room for, um, 200, 300, uh, attendees. Um, I know that it’s been going up every day. You know how these conferences go last-minute. So we’re seeing a last minute surge and, uh, like I said, it’s, it’s — We had to do an application so that, um, you know, just — We want everyone in there to be comfortable and feeling like they’re in a spot where they can, uh, not only learn, but share and participate and, um, just, just enjoy.

Maria (33:47):

And is it just you and Micki that are speaking?

Chad (33:49):

That’s right. That’s right. Just the two of us. And we did that just because we just — We wanted to have the time. We wanted to control the content and make it just super beneficial to whoever attends. Super applicable, action-oriented, and give everyone the time to ask questions. And we can go through these things at a relatively healthy pace and so it’s, it’s where it we’ll be alternating. We’ll be doing joint presentations, and just Micki and I.

Maria (34:16):

No, I love it because that’s also super different than every other conference right now, where you see a lot of the — I love all the speakers, but it’s a lot of the same speakers. You know, I mean, you’re one of them, like, at half of these things. But this is where it’s like, “Okay, we have a game plan, and we’re going to go from this to this, and let’s just get to it.”

Chad (34:33):

Correct. And there’s some really great conferences out there, but they might be a hodgepodge of, like — You might have someone talk about marketing, and then it’s someone’s totally different take on this, and someone’s totally different take on this. Quick plug, one of the best conferences, I think that’s out there right now. Mark Lanier does a great job, and Mark does a lot of the content. He’s out there, and you’re like — But he’s doing some crazy awesome stuff. And, and so, you know, it’s — You get a dose of how they look at stuff. We wanted to sort of replicate that in a way. We’ve been out there doing stuff in the operational space and managing firm space for a long time. And we wanted to just like, “Here’s, here’s, you know, two days of how we look at all the stuff,” so that we can do a deep dive and get really in detail.

Maria (35:15):

I kind of want to go now. And I feel like I know — I just feel if there’s so many — But I, I actually want to go and actually sit in, which I don’t ever do.

Chad (35:23):

Come on. Next one. Next one.

Maria (35:25):

I’m going to think about it. So if somebody wants to attend, where do they sign up?

Chad (35:30):

We’ve got a link into the podcast, and there’s a link that we’re, um, giving you, and they can go there and apply to attend the conference. And in the “How’d you hear about us?” put LawRank, and they’ll get a $1,500 discount off the executive-level ticket. And so come on.

Maria (35:45):

And how much is that? How much is the executive?

Chad (35:47):

Uh, I want to say the executive level ticket. I want to say it’s $3,500. And so $1,500 off that.

Maria (35:52):

That’s amazing. Cool. LawRank. One word.

Chad (35:54):

We’ve got to take care of your listeners.

Maria (35:59):

We’ll put that in the show notes, and thank you so much.

Chad (36:03):

Thank you for having me.

Maria (36:04):

Thank you so much for everything Chad shared with us 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.

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