Having just come off of the high of our 100th episode, I thought it would be fun to share a quick throwback to our very first episode.
I want you to recognize that we have always been committed to bringing you top quality information and strategies that you can use in your law firm right now to grow from a solopreneur to a company that ultimately can run without you.
My very first episode was really a raw, uncut version of me, unfiltered with one of my favorite people in the world who owns Blue Shark Digital, which is a marketing company specific to lawyers created by a very successful lawyer – Mr. Seth Price.
I hope you enjoy taking this trip down memory lane with me!
In this episode we discuss:
- What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
- How the novice marketing lawyer can vet an SEO company
- SEO as the backbone of business branding
- What is content marketing
- Google’s shifting algorithm as relates to blogging basics for law firms
- Intake processes that increase conversions in law firms
- Differentiating intake talent attributes for contingency-based practices verses revenue-based practices
- Sustaining energy and enthusiasm in intake personnel
- The “right” customer service mindset and experience for powerful intake conversations
Allison Williams: [00:00:01] Hi, everyone, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor, and welcome to another episode of the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, and this week, having just come off of the high of our one hundredth episode, I wanted to share with you a quick throwback to our very first episode. So as you guys know, we are always in the stage of getting better. We are never going to stop growing and in the mindset of never stop growing, we, of course, recognize that what we did a year ago, two years ago, five years ago is never going to be the same as what we’re doing right now, because we’re always learning how to change, how to improve, how to evolve. And one of the things that I wanted to bring you guys was our very first episode for a lot of reasons. You know, first, we have a lot of followers that have picked up the podcast over the recent months, the recent weeks. And so a lot of you may not have had an opportunity yet to go back to some of the older episodes, but I want you to recognize that we have always been committed to bringing you top quality content that you can use. Information strategies that you can use in your law firm right now to grow from a solopreneur who’s just starting out and or has been alone for some period of time into a company that ultimately can run without you. And so to that end, one of my very favorite episodes is our very first episode, and I was so nervous about launching the podcast that I just dive right in.
Allison Williams: [00:01:26] I didn’t even do the introductory episode that says who I am and why you should listen to me. So I’m sure that you guys have picked that up by now. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, you’ve probably been to our website. You probably have downloaded some of our resources. You probably follow me on social media and those other places where you can get a lot of that information that I share. But my very first episode was really a raw, uncut version of me, unfiltered with one of my favorite people in the world who owns Blue Shark Digital, which is a marketing company specific to lawyers created by a very successful lawyer. So Seth Price and I actually share a lot in common in that we are both lawyers that mastered lawyering, started a law firm, and then ultimately, we’re able to scale our law firms in such a way that we were able to step away from the day to day of running a law firm to create a business that is also our passion. And so he created a digital marketing company for lawyers. As you guys know, I created Law Firm Mentor, which coaches lawyers, solo and small law firm owners in particular, on how to create sustainable, growing, highly profitable businesses that run without them. And so we share the love of serving the legal community in a space outside of just our law firms. And so with that, I invited Seth on to be my very first guest, in part because it would take a little bit of the anxiety out of it to have a friend and a friendly face to look at as I was recording.
Allison Williams: [00:02:56] And I also knew that he would give top quality information, not only because his marketing company services my law firm, but in particular because the information that I find he shares is easily digestible. It’s something that you can use even before you hire your own digital marketing company if your budget is not yet at that place where you’re ready to hire one. And I also feel that he’s very relatable because like me, he has also gone through the process of using the strategies that he teaches in his own business. So there’s a little bit more authenticity tried and tested truth to what he’s sharing because he’s done it before. So with that, I want to share with you guys our very first episode, and I want you to note there’s a big difference in sound quality and there’s a difference in my style of interviewing. And at some point in time, my bird, Versace decides to make an appearance and start talking during our podcast, and I had not yet developed the intelligence to say, OK, Versace and my other bird, Maximillian, you guys have to sit somewhere else when mom is recording. So with that, I bring you our very first episode with Seth Price, of Blue Shark Digital. It is referred to as CEO branding and Law Firm Mentor Intake Toolkit. All right. Enjoy.
[00:04:29] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Today, we welcome to the podcast, Seth Price, an accomplished attorney and transformational thought leader. Seth Price is the founding partner and business backbone of Price Benowitz LLP in Washington, DC, as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital. Seth took a two person law firm and scaled it to 38 lawyers in less than a decade. Now, Seth has taken that same digital power that built his firm to create the best in class digital agency focused on the legal sector in BluShark Digital. Seth has been a frequent lecturer and moderator of some of the largest and most influential law conferences in the United States. Speaking on tools and strategies law firms can use to align their business development with changing consumer habits. He has spoken on topics including, but not limited to, how to build a firm, ethics, best practices for firm operations, search engine optimization and digital marketing as a whole.
Allison Williams: [00:05:45] All right. So as I said earlier in our introduction today, we have the Seth Price of BluShark Digital. I’m really excited to have Seth on the show because Seth is one of my favorite marketers, because he’s one of those unusual types that also happens to be a lawyer. So he understands not only how to build a law firm because he built his law firm from 2 to 38 lawyers in a relatively short period of time. But he also did that with the strategy that I think we all have kind of come to see as vogue nowadays in the legal industry, which is search engine optimization. So Seth. Welcome to the show.
Seth Price: [00:06:19] Awesome to be here again.
Allison Williams: [00:06:21] Yeah. So let’s dive right into this. So search engine optimization, I think people have a conception of what that is. But I’d really like you to define that for maybe the novice or someone that might have been misled as to what that actually is in the marketplace.
Seth Price: [00:06:35] Sure. Really great question because like at, search engine optimization is what it says. It’s optimizing your website for a search engine. People often use that term for like everything in digital marketing. And so they say I need SEO. Well, some people do. Some people don’t. What I think of SEO as, how I define it is the organic side as opposed to the paid side of search. So page search or Google AdWords PPC that go at the top of the page. There’s a map which may have a paid listing as well. And then local search results as well as organic below those. So search engine optimization or SEO is the art of putting yourself either on the map in that three pack or the organic listings below.
Allison Williams: [00:07:25] Ok. So that is a very clear definition of what that is. And we know, of course, that the value of that getting yourself into that three pack or as high up on the search engine listing as possible is that people will see you more frequently because people stop searching after the first date. Right?
Seth Price: [00:07:42] But right, if you’re not on the first page, you’re nowhere, and the frustrating part about SEO, I’ll start with the frustrating is that Google really likes money, right? Their stock price keeps going up and up. They’re competing with Amazon and Apple. And they want more, more money, which means there’s more and more real estate at the top of the page dedicated for paid search. So that it’s more and more important to not just be on the first page, but be further up the first page, because there’s so much paid real estate that gets between you and the audience so that if you’re not in that upper third or at least half of the organic, even then you’re really not in great shape.
Allison Williams: [00:08:23] Well, see, that’s the real problem, because as I see it, you know, the fact that people are able to buy their way higher up the page, a lot of marketers, a lot of lawyers, when they’re starting to work with marketers, they get this idea that unless I’m spending ten, fifteen, twenty thousand dollars a month, it really isn’t worth my while to even bother because I can’t buy my way onto the first page. So what do you say to someone who has that…
Seth Price: [00:08:47] Well, there are a couple of different reactions. Let’s take it from a paid point of view. The good thing about paid is that you can turn it on almost like a spigot. There’s quality score, which means it takes a little bit of time before your ad is liked and trusted by Google to get a fair price. But within reason, you can set whatever budget you want, and assuming that the clicks are within reason, you can get X number of clicks that will get you X number of calls, that will get you X number of clients. And if you know, if you’re in a market where you’re, it’s almost like a stock price, if you’re trying to buy a stock that’s at two thousand five hundred dollars, you can’t buy very many shares. So you have to be cognizant of what the media costs in your market. But assume for a second. And a lot of the people listening today who are either outside of the medical malpractise personal injury space, who might be in family law in a smaller town, the clicks may not be that expensive. And so that with a reasonable budget, you know, a thousand, two thousand dollars, you may be able to get a substantial number of clicks and get those to convert into monetizable clients.
Seth Price: [00:009:55] From the organic side, we have a whole different issue that we’re battling, which is it’s not an on/off switch like paid. And so this is where it’s really frustrating. And I don’t have all that. There aren’t magical answers because if you’re a small person with a modest budget until you are seen by Google on that first page, you’re, organically, you know, you being on the second, third or fourth page. You keep investing money in it. And until it pops, until you’re in play, you may really not get much return on investment at all. And so the question I always talk to people about is, do you have the economic wherewithal to get yourself, to have the patience, to take the time, assuming that you’re with a legitimate vendor that knows what they’re doing, that has a process to follow, that you need to have the budget to get there. Just like if you’re in a contingency practice, you don’t get money day one. You have to get a case in, you have to work it up. You have to negotiate a settlement. It doesn’t settle. You’ve got to go to trial. So there are all different things. It could be anywhere from six months to two years before you get paid on a contingency matter.
Seth Price: [00:11:05] It’s kind of similar with SEO in that you make these investments, you put the money in, but you have to wait until that hard work pays off. Now Google sees it as authoritative to be seen and clicked upon enough in order to justify that expense. And there’s risk because if you’re with somebody who knows what they’re doing and you trust the process, it should work. The problem is not everybody out there, as you know, you probably get dozens of e-mails a day from some pretty nefarious people about what to do. And if you bet on the wrong person, you can keep investing all that month after month and nothing will happen. But assuming that you’re doing the basic fundamentals, which you and I have talked about in the past, content and links that you’re doing the things that Google wants you to do over time, assuming that you’re in a reasonably competitive market and not one that’s like so competitive, it’s going to take years to to crack that. You should be able to see a return on investment over time. The question is, have you bankrolled yourself well enough to get to that point?
Allison Williams: [00:12:06] Wow. So there’s a lot there. And you mentioned two of my favorite components of SEO, of course, content and links. But content is probably one of the most frustrating aspects for non marketers. Understand. Because when I hear content, I think, okay, I’ve got to throw out a couple of blog posts. And as long as I’m constantly updating my website with block posting, I should be good to go. But now I’ve started to hear that Google is much more in favor of the longer form, more scholarly type of content as opposed to just your your basic daily data dump. Is that accurate? And if so, how does one respond to that when they’re trying to create a content strategy?
Seth Price: [00:12:45] Well, that, great question. A lot packed in there. So Google is looking for authority and there are a lot of ways to create authority. What is what you’re talking about, which is a longer form piece of content that makes you if you are the New Jersey family law lawyer and you want to be what you want to be thought of as the expert in this county. Yeah. There should be a landing page that is, you know, 1000, 2000, 3000 words that shows you are authoritative in that spot. Obviously, you can’t do that long of a page for every single topic. But for the ones that matter to you where you want to say, hey, I’m different than everybody else. You know, you want to set yourself apart. You went down a road, which is something that I’ve lived with and I’ve been through. There’ve been a lot of different iterations of search engine optimization. And one of the things that people love to sell and talk about a lot is blogging. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. For those in the New York metro area, there’s a in employment defense lawyer named Dan Schwartz, and he’s a guy who’s a couple of years behind me in college. Now, this is a B2B practice. So these are businesses who needed employment lawyer almost impossible to do digital marketing for. And he wrote a blog, the Connecticut Employment Lawyer Blog, and he writes beautifully. He combines sports, pop culture, family and law and has created a juggernaut of a blog.
Seth Price: [00:14:10] And you know what? He built a career with that. And it is awesome. That said, if you are sitting there in your office and you write a blog. But next week, your assistants, writing a blog about a dangerous intersection or you’re you know, the next week after that, somebody has outsourced a blog on some random topic, that’s not going to build any authority. It’s a hodgepodge of content. And so what we have done with sort of my philosophy from both Price Benowitz and now BluShark is I want to demonstrate authority. And the way that we demonstrate authority is through content so that rather than random blog posts and not that blogs can’t if done thoughtfully and right, have an incredibly powerful effect, but to scale it. What I have seen is what I would call evergreen content for things that people are searching are generally the best scalable method for somebody. So if you start writing about the topic you want to be found for and in the geographies you want to be found for that information. Every time somebody lands on that page and clicks on it, that’s in lieu of a paid link, a paid click. So for me, I want to put my first efforts, my first dollars of resources towards building out the content that is most monetizable so that when a user gets there, it’s somebody who’s looking for you. Now, you can’t just do that. You then want to say, hey, everybody has a New Jersey family law page. But how many sub pages do you have supporting that? So Google says, oh, there’s a person. They have one page, on New Jersey family law.
Seth Price: [00:15:48] But look, this person has an entire library of information under that. And here they are for X County. And under that county, they have a ton of information that is county specific. And within the county, they’re X number of sub jurisdictions. And you have information about those. And as you build that out, you’re doing two things. One, you’re defining yourself as the authority in New Jersey, as at the top of that entire pyramid or the top of whatever county you decided to focus on. And then secondarily, you have all that internal content, which it may be. There’s a municipality. I’ll just use this because my law partners from there. Leonia, you know, people may not be searching for a family law lawyer for Leonia very much. And there may not be anybody in that little town that actually practices may or may not. But if you have a page on it, it does two things. What if somebody is searching for that? You’ll be there. But secondarily, it will then support the fact that you have more rich information supporting the more general topic of, for example, New Jersey family law than anybody else. And so what I like to do is build out in that scalable fashion. That is not to say that blogging shouldn’t be done, but this is what I tell people.
Seth Price: [00:17:03] First, make sure you like to write, because if you don’t like to write, it’s not going to happen. You know, one blog in a year from now, it’s going to be an empty blog. And that’s not that’s not a good user experience. And secondarily, you want to make sure that the quality is good and that it’s thoughtful rather than just an obligation. And I think what happened and this is true for much in SEO. There are a lot of things that SEOs do and when done in moderation, they’re really powerful. I’ll give you an example. If somebody said to you, hey, you’re an authority on certain aspects of family law, we want you to write a blog post on our on our website and we’ll link back to you. That is something that, if done, let’s say on a on a various team colleague’s website or a university website, that’s really valuable. What happened was that SEOs of dubious distinction would go and spam that and guest blogs became so bad that Google was like, hey, you can’t you can’t do that. Now, what if you listened to this is way back in a prior iteration of their Web spam to you. But what they say is it’s not that guest blogs or bad, it’s that spammy guest blogs are bad. So that what I would say is if you do things real, they are great. But if you do it solely to manipulate the search engines, that’s the problem.
Seth Price: [00:18:22] So what I’d say is, you know, great high quality content scaled for the area and type of law that you want to practice. Great. A blog. Only if it’s adding value. If it is doing something that is answering a specific burning question, great. Or something of interest. But what generally happens is one of two things. One is not very good and just sits there filling up space on your site, which is not a good thing or two that it gets you traffic and traffic is good for a website, but it’s not monetizable traffic. And so I have seen that some people that have used a blog strategy, get disappointed because they get traffic, which again has positive effects, but not monetizable traffic. Nobody wants to hire you and that as the Google algorithm, and there’s been a bunch of core updates, get more specific. What’s happened is that they’re not showing those less important results. The blogs. Oh my god, I’ve got all this traffic. Who cares that people aren’t from New Jersey? They can’t hire you. And if Google is trying more and more to figure out what is the actual question that somebody is asking and get that answered, and it’s getting more specific of how it does that. And blogs to me have been less good at doing that than answering, you know, in a finite way what’s needed in a logical way so that everything you want to be found for can be covered conclusively.
Allison Williams: [00:19:46] Wow. So there’s a lot to this and a lot more than I think most people probably realize, because I think a lot of people would just think, hey, I’ll hire a summer intern and just have them crank out the articles on family law, chop up a brief I wrote and poof, I’ve got data. But it seems like it’s a lot more strategic than that. And you can really get yourself into a world of wasted energy and space if you just start throwing things online and saying, well, there I’ve got my blog post, so therefore I should have some content to work with. Right.
Seth Price: [00:20:15] Right. And look, something is better than nothing. But what what kills me is and you look at the big players, you know, from phyla on down where they have blog packages, we’re going to give you our SEO is for blog posts a month. And the thing that kills me is that I get why they do it. It’s easy to sell. It’s finite. It sounds good. I just know that it’s not going to move the needle. And there’s an entire world. This is the frustrating part to do this right. Takes money. And Google has restricted most of the shortcuts that make it cheap and easy to do this so that what what you’re left with are things that sound good. But if not, you know, from my experience, it’s not going to get people what they want, which is the desirous traffic for cases that they’re looking for, that, you know, we go through for my own sites and for sites of clients that come to BluShark. We very often have to purge years of what I call regurgitated news blogs because who, what were those blogs you were buying or, you know, I did this for for years. You would get yourself content whether or not done in-house or out of house. That was essentially somebody regurgitating a new story, almost like an AP writer at a local paper and not necessarily particularly well. But that’s easy to do when you say to somebody, hey, I need to create content. You have the intern you talked about, you know. Yes, they can crib off a brief, but that’s not particularly interesting. It’s a lot more sexy to talk about the high profile divorce case from the neighboring county. And all that’s interesting. And if you time it right, you may get traffic. It really isn’t going to be the long term success for most people?
Allison Williams: [00:21:54] Yeah. So you mentioned earlier, you mentioned FindLaw and I won’t go into FindLaw in particular, but there are a lot of companies out there. We all have heard of them where you start getting tins of cookies in the mail or you start getting 5000 emails a week. Oh, we can get you to the first page of Google. And that’s kind of the pitch. And the next thing you know, somebody without much knowledge of SEO or how to hire a marketing company will listen to a pitch, get a really snazzy, great salesperson on the phone and buy in. And like you said, the pouring and pouring and pouring money with no results for an extended period of time. So if somebody were to ask you, how do I choose? Of of the gluttonous number of SEO companies out there, how do I choose one and have faith in what they’re telling me other than just keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping for the best. If I’ve never done it before.
Seth Price: [00:22:48] Well, great, great question. I think it’s like anything else. Buyer beware. You check references. You look at what you know, what people have done for other people. That’s the number one. And there’s no guarantee then. You know. You have to, I think two things. 1, make sure that you at least have people that have been able to succeed. Not anecdotally once, but multiple times. A, but B, I genuinely believe that what we do at SEO is complicated enough that it is not set it and forget it. It’s not to write a check and I’m to be good. It is putting your authority online and the only way to do that is collaboratively because somebody can simulate your authenticity. But there is nothing better than you. Look, I’m a huge fan of yours. You’ve done stuff differently than most people. You’ve put stuff out there. It makes sense. It’s fundamentals. And one of the things I’ve noticed by having a great team around you, by having a rockstar marketing person, it allows you not to have to do all of that. And frankly, if somebody doesn’t have that person and they haven’t gotten to that point in their career where they have that, it’s like many things in life. You may not want to talk to your accountant, but you better have a conversation with them for tax planning purposes.
Seth Price: [00:24:03] Or you’re gonna be doing a lot more work and paying Uncle Sam a lot more money. So I think just like everything that you do in life, you have to become a media expert. You don’t have to be a real expert, but a mini expert to the point where, hey, Allison knows that content and links are key. If you get an article in the paper somewhere, you know that you and or your SEO team is going to have to go and pound on the door and get a link from that to make sure you get full value. And if you have an area of law that you want to expand into, that you’re going to need to make sure that you are prepared to get the right content there. Sometimes it can be done by outside writers and sometimes is going to have to be done by the lawyer you hired who’s been doing that for 10 years and making sure that you can extract what it’s inside their head so that you’re able to show Google in text that you are in fact, that authority leader. And the only way that happens is to be part of that process and not just outsource it.
Allison Williams: [00:24:56] Yeah, good stuff. Good stuff. So we’ve gotten to the idea of getting people attracted to your message, right. You’re going to put some quality content online. If you’re smart, you’re gonna hire a company that’s going to be able to proliferate that quality content. You’re going to have more of it in lots of different areas so that Google picks you up as an authority and then you’re going to get people in the door. Now, once you get the people in the door, we have to do more than just get them here. They have to go. They have to get over our threshold as paying clients. And that, of course, is where we, where we shift focus into intake. So I want to talk about intake, because, you know, again, you know, one of my admirations for you is not just that you’re a marketer, but you’re a lawyer. So you as an owner of a law firm, you know what it is to have to constantly tweak and tool your communications department, if you will, to get people scheduled for consults and get them into paying clients. So intake one o one. Talk to me about what it takes to have a successful intake process in a law firm.
Seth Price: [00:25:58] Well, I got to say, outside of making the phone ring, the second most essential piece is this. And it is something I focused on from day one when I divided and conquered with Dave back in his basement. He would be in charge of running the cases. I make the phone ring. But the second thing that I was in charge of and still am overseeing to this day is intake. We call it our client management team, but it’s essentially for us a 12 person team. But it started with me at a cell phone. That’s all it was. And whenever that phone rang, didn’t matter what I was doing. That was the bat phone. It wasn’t our office line. It was just coming from the website. And every client got a different number as soon as they became a client. But that for you know, for the for until we got to the next level. We were continuing to basically, you know, start with a cell phone that I passed the cell phone to somebody else, then we had two people. But the goal is instant gratification, because for those of us in the B-to-C space, family criminal injury, you know, immigration, all that world, you know, if you take the words like a John Morgan who wrote You Can’t Teach Hungry, a great P.I. marketer out of Orlando, that you we are almost like plumbers and there’s a plumbing emergency. The hot water heater in the house explodes. People need help. And the first person they find who can sort of talk them off the ledge and give them the advice that they need and show that their problem will be solved.
Seth Price: [00:27:25] That’s that’s what gets it done. And to this day, that’s how I look at it. So I would be lying if I said, this is it. This is easy. It is extremely difficult to do. It’s even harder to scale. There are no easy solutions or silver bullets. But it is so essential because, you know, if you want to grow beyond yourself. The only way to do that is to make sure that the people answering the phones are able to do so in a way that presents an articulate, you know, message that resonates with the caller, that demonstrates why you are the best read, the best resource for them. And they know there are different schools of thought. I know that there is a world out there that that you you had worked with where some people say, hey, everything should be side without an attorney before it gets to the attorney. I’ve taken the philosophy that I have a team that goes through and vets and pre sells. But let the attorney do the actual close. I don’t see it as a magic or silver bullet of which way it is. It’s have a methodology and continue to work on it because the ultimate issue is it is it’s not an academic exercise, but that it’s relying upon human beings to do this as human beings have good days, bad days. They’re focused. They’re not focused. And very often these are not the highest paid people in your firm. And making sure just like the marketing team is not ignored. You don’t pay an SEO fee for twelve months, say, hey, what did I get? It’s no different here.
Seth Price: [00:29:05] If you turn around for three months and look at your intake team without any supervision of meaningfulness, that you’re going to have an ugly surprise. And I can speak from experience. I’ve been at points in my growth where I had maybe like I think eight people and I thought we were rocking and I was listening to the phone calls from one end. And they all sounded awesome. And we start as a lot of the best practice people. Gary Falcowitz and others got to listen to the recordings, got to listen to the recordings. Make sure your a state that allows it. If not, put the whisper on letting people know it’s being recorded. So we finally started doing that. And it turned out a woman who started great was having personal issues. And she was really it sounded good on our end, but she was basically a hubbing people with really serious cases. And it’s heartbreaking. We had to make a move. So what I would say is it’s continuing to monitor. It’s putting a system in place, monitoring it and continuing to evolve it. And that every time you think you’ve turned a corner, you’ll find new challenges. But if it was it was easy. Everybody be doing it. And that’s the differentiator. Can you scale? The only way to scale is to is to continuously work on an intake nexus between the needs of the client and the legal representation.
Allison Williams: [00:30:18] So I think you put a lot there, a lot of great nuggets there. So the one thing I definitely I definitely echo your sentiments on is the idea that it’s definitely not a set it and forget it. And my office, we do spot coaching on intake every single week, every single week. We don’t ever we don’t ever lay off the intake because there are trends in what people will hear on the phones. And if you don’t talk to your intake people about what they’re hearing on the phones and how they’re responding to it, it’s a very, very small, subtle nuance that can shift their conversation into something that goes from somebody who wants to sell, somebody wants to wants to pay to come in versus somebody who’s just not interested. And so there is a process for getting them in the door. But when you are talking about, you know, getting those people trained up, getting them on the phones, getting them, talking to people, what are some of the things that you think a lawyer should be listening out for. Whether they’re onsite listening because they’re hearing the one end of the conversation or it’s a recording. It’s a two party state where they can record and they have the recordings. What should they be listening out for with their intake person to make sure that that conversation is going the way that the law firm needs it to in order to get people in?
Seth Price: [00:31:30] Well, let me take one step back from that, because that that question presupposes you have the right team on the bus. And who who are you bring into that team. So, yes. You know, we could talk about quality in one second, but I’d like to take a second to say, hey, I think the people you hire, you have you have a threshold decision like there’s there’s a threshold and difference in practice. Those practices that are contingency based where the money is being paid by somebody else, that the person that you need may have a slightly different skill set than the person in a revenue based practice like family or criminal, where you need to see whether or not somebody can afford your services. So my my two cents is that in a contingency practice, you know, an empathetic ear that’s good at listening and letting something breathe can be very valuable because you’re trying to get as much information and bond with the person because it doesn’t matter what the person’s socioeconomic or education status is. You could want that client just as much as somebody who’s, you know, a high powered executive. The issue that you find on the other side of the aisle is that if it is something where somebody has to be able to afford you and there’s a decision between a free public defender or a legal aid and you, is that to me, you want somebody who’s able to advocate and push your practice. But I really want somebody who is agile enough, A, to pick up on those subtle clues. As far as is this somebody who is right for your services as a private practitioner and B, is able to somehow, I almost it’s almost like dating analogies a lot. How can you form a mini relationship in a small amount of time so that that person goes from calling one name, a number on a list to oh, that’s the person whose brother was in the Marines, just like my dad or the person is calling from 2 1 5.
Seth Price: [00:33:28] They they they want to know if I like Pat’s or Gino’s better, something that localizes and takes the conversation away from, hey, I have a legal issue that I really don’t want to think about to a humanistic situation. And so the first thing I want to do is make sure that I have the right people to do it. Very, very complicated. A lot of screening, a lot of, you know, fits and starts. We have a whole conversation about hiring alone. But then to answer your question more specifically to more to that, you’re basically making sure that people are continuing to bring energy and enthusiasm to each and every call, which is really tough. The phone keeps ringing. It’s like the ocean. And so that person has to continue time after time to bring their A-game to every call, even though they may have just gotten a call from their kid at home who’s giving them a runaround, or they may have gotten like, you know, something that didn’t feel so great at lunch and their stomachs not great. You want to make sure that each time somebody calls, they’re getting the best possible up message that represents your fervor the best way. And so I want somebody who’s both listening on the outside. Again, that’s the easy part. But the harder part is to take time to listen to those recordings, because what you’re hearing on one side, you just need to make sure it comports with what the person is asking for on the other.
Allison Williams: [00:34:52] Oh God. So there’s there’s a lot of value in paying attention. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said getting the right person on the bus is really the important thing, because not everybody is built for staying on the phones and just answering calls all day. And I tell people all the time. This is one of those roles in a law firm that is probably going to turn more than some of the others. Right.
Seth Price: [00:35:12] Because, look, our model has been we went with a recent college grad model, not that we wouldn’t hire anybody who came, but we we paid at a level that we got people who are looking at this as an experience between college and law school. And as we’ve scaled, we’ve seen not only just law school, but other sort of as a first or second job in the market. It is one that is grinding, but the people that have done it successfully have gone on to some amazing things. We’ve had people go to like top five law schools. We’ve had people go on to run like call centers for Dish Network. State Department people have done really great stuff and they come back afterwards. And it’s like most things in life you get out of what you put into it. But, you know, there’s the the OP’s desk at the State Department is sort of the CMT, the… You know, it’s the intake center where if the Secretary of State needs to speak to a world leader, they call through that desk to be connected. It’s also the place where if somebody was robbed at gunpoint and lost their passport and the embassy’s closed, all those crisis calls come to one place. And, you know, the people that have done this job and gone off to those places, they’ve ended up being, wow, like that’s that we’re giving great real life training.
Seth Price: [00:36:28] So what I try to do is find people, which is not easy, who are looking for those life experiences and building blocks because the way we’ve built it. It is less. It is so intense and particularly having a criminal practice. Some of these calls are so emotive, not that they would be with family or with with with injury that the burnout factor is rather high and I’d rather have people do it successfully for X period of time than drag it for too long. And so we’ve sort of built it understanding and with recruiting and training as part of that process because that the A players are not going to stay for life, they’re going on to do other things with life. That said, there are people who say, you know what? I’ll have people go at 80 percent speed and I’ll keep them for longer. And I’m sure that works. We just we’ve grown in our growing pains have been high enough that we haven’t had that luxury and that we’ve sort of had people work at full capacity until they’re like it’s time for the next stage of their life. And that that’s just the model we’ve chosen.
Allison Williams: [00:37:36] Yeah, well, I think there’s a lot of wisdom to accepting in our profession that people do turn and, you know, while no one wants to create a revolving door in their law firm. The reality is, if your law firm is not shifting in energy with new people and new blood and new ideas, you’re going to stagnate in the market. Ultimately, you’re going to stand still.
Seth Price: [00:37:56] Right. And you know, in this particular job, this is this is it’s it’s sort of it’s not turnover so much as it’s the duty of the job, like meeting turnover has a negative connotation like, oh, the person does want to work here anymore versus it’s a program like almost a fellowship program for two years that gives you an experience with the expectation so that, you know, we’ve also with the firm experiment that had some really good success, particularly out of the administrative department, less out of the intake department. But for those people that want a specific area of law or paralegal experience, the the amount of time that somebody spends touching clients allows them to pivot into many different areas. And so that is always that is always an option. But, you know, the way we’ve screened and interviewed for the client management team, there, it has been the people that have raised their head have generally bid with some sort of customer service experience in their prior life. You know, usually relatively young people, but that those customer service, the customer service experience has been one of those areas. Those traits that we’ve seen really do well with it when it comes to how do they they respond on the phone. And that we are really just looking at keeping people as engaged and motivated.
Seth Price: [00:39:22] It’s not easy. You know, we’re we’re experimenting with programs all the time. Trying to get more contact with the lawyers as you grow the the intake people very often get separated from the legal team and that if you want people to have not just a J-O-B, but some sort of connection to what is bigger, you’re going out there and putting people’s lives back together at the worst times Allison. And if you’re able to work with the people that are there and give them a taste of the professional work that you do as a possibility. So they know you know what, I want to be a family law lawyer and I’m going to go to law school or you know what? God bless her. I could never do that. I don’t want to do that with my life. And they figure out what they don’t want to do. That’s really valuable as well. And I’ve seen both and the longer I’ve done it, I think that very often figuring out what you don’t want to do could be almost more valuable than figuring out what you want to do.
Allison Williams: [00:40:17] Yeah, well, it’s interesting. You actually have a conceptual mindframe around what type of person you think is ideal for this role and who you want to bring in. And I’ll tell you, even though I certainly never set out for this, the last three intake people I’ve had have been family law wannabes, family law attorney wannabes.
Seth Price: [00:40:32] What’s been what’s better? That to me is like because you know, except, you know, sadly, we don’t have noncompetes in our industry. But like, you know, you may have your competition being H…B… But I say that flippantly. But look, there’s nothing better if they’re into it. And that’s there. There’s a love of substance. That’s the home run. So when we get people that want to be criminal attorneys and they’re doing this, it is just awesome. And those are the people that stay in touch afterwards and our great alumni. And there’s nothing better than that. That said, you know you know, there are times when you need somebody and you just don’t have that in you or you want to scale beyond a point where you could find qualified people that want to be those family law people. And that’s that’s the challenges for me has been how do I scale beyond. There was a big difference from, you know, the 1 to 3 world and when we started scaling from 4 up. And that’s where you don’t always get everybody who’s as committed or drinking the Kool-Aid and then, it’s how do your managers continue to motivate and keep people excited about what they’re doing day to day? Because they can’t all be the people who are saying, hey, I want to be Allison, when I grow up. Some of these people may be I need a J-O-B. And that that is the harder thing to manage than somebody who’s trying to follow your footsteps where they’re just soaking everything in, rather than I want to do by the best of my job. But I don’t have that burning desire to do family law, for example.
Allison Williams: [00:42:04] Yeah, well, like you said, hiring is its own special. It’s its own special world of analytical tools and mindset hacks and emotional intelligence that comes into getting the right people on the bus, doing the right things in the right way. But I do want to thank you, Seth, for coming and being a part of Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor the Podcast. We had a great talk today about SEO and intake, as always. You’re always such a wealth of information, so please let everybody know how they can get a hold of you if they are interested in SEO and BluShark Digital is something is a company that we highly…
Seth Price: [00:42:39] Or just in general like you and I just get on the phone and talk from time to time about like, hey, what do you think about this or that? Email is Seth S-E-T-H at either Blu Shark Digital B-L-U-no E shark digital Seth at PriceBenowitz dot com also gets me as well. And I’ll leave my my personal cell phone out to your peeps. A lot of them are longtime friends from different parts of worlds, a lot of worlds colliding. But 3 4 7 6 6 1 9 9 9 9. Don’t feel you need to be in need of services. It was just like, hey, how did you get over this obstacle or that obstacle? Either email, call or text. I you know, I love talking about this stuff and happy to do so.
Allison Williams: [00:43:17] Yeah, I know you do. And everybody, if you happen to miss any of that that week, they will be in the show notes. So you will be able to Seth’s personal cell, his email and his internet address. So again, thank you so much for being on the show today, Seth. Have a wonderful day.
Seth Price: [00:43:32 Thanks so much.
Allison Williams: [00:43:44] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guest and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook Group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours and join the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firms and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day.
An accomplished attorney and transformational thought leader, Seth Price is a founding partner and the business backbone of Price Benowitz LLP as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital. Seth took a two-person law firm and scaled to 36 lawyers in less than a decade. Now Seth has taken the same digital power that built the firm to create a best in class digital agency focused on the legal sector in BluShark Digital.
Seth has been a frequent lecturer and moderator at some of the largest and most influential law
conferences in the United States, speaking on the tools and strategies law firms can use to align their
business development with changing consumer habits. He has spoken on topics including but not limited
to, how to build a firm, ethics, best practices for firm operations, search engine optimization (SEO), and
digital marketing as a whole.
Email – Seth@BluSharkDigital.com
Website – https://blusharkdigital.com/
To learn more about Blu Shark Digital, like/follow/share at https://www.facebook.com/blusharkdigital/
For a Free Consultation with Seth’s Team, call (202) 871-1554
To speak directly with Seth, call his cell phone at (347) 661-9999
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms.
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[00:02:56] And I also knew that he would give top quality information, not only because his marketing company services my law firm, but in particular because the information that I find he shares is easily digestible. It’s something that you can use even before you hire your own digital marketing company if your budget is not yet at that place where you’re ready to hire one. And I also feel that he’s very relatable because like me, he has also gone through the process of using the strategies that he teaches in his own business. So there’s a little bit more authenticity tried and tested truth to what he’s sharing because he’s done it before.