About Our Guest
Jump ahead to the Extended Interview: GNGF Youtube Channel
Your culture speaks volumes to your employees as well as your customers. Choose wisely and craft the culture that represents your company.
In this bonus extended episode of our bi-weekly interview series, Mark talks with Jordan Couch, an attorney and cultural ambassador at Palace Law in Washington state.
Each week we feature a new guest to shine some light on one specific aspect of legal marketing or the business side of running a law firm. While Jordan is an attorney, our conversation can really be a great addition to any field.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Jordan Couch, partner at Palace Law in Tacoma, Washington. He’s also the cultural ambassador there. The first part of the video is from our GNGF Live, which happens every other Wednesday. The second part here is the bonus extended interview where we dive into the how-to on encouraging and reinforcing the culture in your firm. Also, we talk about how law firm culture is not just an internal thing, but extends and benefits your clients. If you already saw the live, I’ll put the timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below. Be sure to hit that Like button to help us in the YouTube algorithm, and subscribe to follow along with all of our great conversations on legal marketing, and the business side of running a law firm. And to watch this video on the platform of your choice, you can find everywhere we stream on GNGF.tv. Welcome to GNGF live, your biweekly ask-the-experts about all things law firm marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer, author of “Online Law Practice Strategies,” and founder of Get Noticed, Get Found. We focus a lot around the business side of growing and running a law firm on GNGF Live. One of the hot topics for business strategy these days is building a great company culture. Therefore, I am excited to have today’s guest, Jordan Couch, an attorney at Palace Law in Washington State. Besides being a great lawyer, and all-around nice guy, he’s the appointed cultural ambassador at Palace Law. What does that mean? Stay tuned to find out. As always, be sure to like and subscribe our page, and not just the video, so you can get updated when our next episode goes live. Of course, it never hurts for you to be a good friend of the show, and high-five, or elbow-bump the like button on the video real quick, to help us with those YouTube and Facebook algorithms. We’ve got moderators in the chat, so please ask questions and interact while the show’s live. If you’re watching this in the future after we’re live, we do monitor comments on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, and we’ll work to reach out to our guests and answer any follow up questions you have. Weeks when we’re not streaming interviews, we drop a video as part of our GNGF Tips series. These are in-depth videos focusing on one topic at a time. Check it out on our YouTube page. And Joe, if you have a link, and you can throw our latest video in there, that’d be great. Check them out. Like I said, we drop a new GNGF Tips video every other Friday. All right, let’s get to the interview. Jordan, thanks for joining me today.
– Thanks for having me.
– Awesome. So I wanted to have you on our Facebook Live, because I saw a presentation you gave at the Clio conference on law firm culture, and I think it’s fascinating, because a lot of law firms, think that, “The culture stuff doesn’t matter for me, “because I’m a law firm, “and it’s a little different,” right? And you had a title as the culture ambassador for Palace Law, so tell me, what does it mean to be your law firm’s cultural ambassador.
– So, it’s a few things. This job came up when our firm was doing a little revamping about four years ago now. Part of that was really putting some effort into defining our culture, and our values as a firm, and our mission, and as part of that, the management team decided we really should have someone in the office who represents our culture, and whose job it is to promote the culture within the firm, and outside of the firm, and to really kind of make sure this is part of our daily lives. And so, that job got assigned to me as someone who they thought represented the culture really well. And so, in the kind of day-to-day, it means a lot of different things. The most commonly thought-about thing, and talked-about thing is that every time we interview someone to come in to the office, they have an entirely separate interview with me, where I do not ask them about their qualifications, I don’t give a shit. I do not ask about their experience, nothing like that, we don’t get into that, I don’t look at resumes, even. What I do is we talk about my firm’s culture, about their values, about their culture, and we kind of give them an opportunity to get to know who we are, and for us to get to know who they are on a cultural basis to see if they are a cultural fit for our office, and to help them decide if they wanna work there, because we don’t want people to come into our office, hate our culture, and then leave six weeks later. And I always tell people in that interview that it’s just as important for them to ask me questions as it is for me to ask them questions. And, so that’s a big job, because a lot of times, honestly, we’ve made hiring decisions not based on qualifications, but based entirely on that cultural interview. Outside of that, a lot of what I do is doing a lot of culture-promoting within the office, trying to keep it something that people are mindful of on a daily basis. So, if people are having ideas that they want to pitch to the management team, I tell them to express it in terms of our values in our office, and to think about that. I teach people how to use our value when it comes to dealing with clients, things like that. So it’s a lot of making sure things are top-of-mind, making sure we’re focused on it, and also preaching about our firm culture out there in the world, like you’ve seen me do.
– That’s great, yeah. And it’s fascinating, some of the stuff you did, and I hope we get into it, and if we don’t, I’ll make sure, I wanna bring a few things up. So being the cultural ambassador, it’s interesting to hear you talking about the interview process, and making sure that’s a mesh there, because, just like in marketing, we often talk about, it’s like really talking directly to your target market, you wanna repel the wrong type of clients just as much as you want to attract the right type of clients, it’s very similar, I think, in hiring, right? You wanna make sure somebody leaves, and kinda goes, “Yeah, that’s not the fit for me,” not that they think you’re a bad firm or anything, just, they go, “That doesn’t fit the way “I wanna come to work every day.” That’s as important as as attracting somebody too, right?
– Yeah, you know, there was a great example of that, and I have two questions I ask everyone who comes into our office during part of an interview, and the first one is, I have them look at our core values, because they’re pasted up on our walls, all over the place, and I say, “Which of these “is most important to you, and why?” And everyone loves that question, everyone gives good answers to that. And then I ask, “Which of these “is least important to you, and why?” And I always preface that to not be too mean to say, “I will tell you my own, “so you’re not gonna be alone in this, but I tell you that, “and I will tell you, there are no wrong answers to that question.” But what I do get is a lot of people that say, “Oh, I don’t really know about that, “I don’t think I can pick one.” Which, I have to say, “Come on, really? “One of our values is being trustworthy, “and you’re telling me that?” So, but one thing, you talk about getting the wrong people out, one of the best experiences we had during the process was we had two people who we did more extensive interviews with than we had done with anyone in the past. They came into the office, they tried out the job for awhile, they really got to know our culture, and both.
– We’re getting a little delay. Sorry Jordan, either a little delay in your internet, but right at the end there, what do we did wrong, what did we do right, can you repeat that part for me?
– Yeah, so the question was, the initial question was what did we do wrong since these people didn’t choose to work with us, but eventually I made the pitch that, what did we do right? Because these people knew us well enough to decide this was not the right place for them, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, we wanted them to work for us, they knew that it wasn’t the place for them, and that’s the best decision, rather than them leaving six months later, after we’ve trained them.
– Right, because it’s a big cost of that. So, you guys decided to focus on your law firm culture, you talked about some of the hiring things, you are the culture ambassador, and actually have duties in your office for this, why do you think it’s important, and especially now that you’ve gone through it, and even, like, you can kinda say, why do you think it’s important for other law firms, because I assume you do, because you gave a whole presentation on it, but, why is it important to define your law firm’s culture?
– There are, let’s see if I can remember the numbers on this right now, there are 25,000 active practicing attorneys in the state of Washington alone. And if you look at breakdowns of that, there are over 100 aviation attorneys in Washington, people who specialize in aviation. There are over 100 sports attorneys in Washington. And I give these statistics to tell you that, you know, the thing I think a lot of attorneys don’t realize is that no matter what your practice area is, you know, niches are great, but no matter what your niche is, your firm is not special. Your practice area is not special. The work you do is not special, and you are not a better attorney than every other attorney out there practicing in your area. But you are special, your culture is special, that’s what makes your firm what it is. So, what I’ve told people is, your culture is really the only way you can distinguish yourself as a firm, it’s the only way that you can build a happy work environment for your people, and it’s he only way you can bring in the right clients, is if you’ve identified your firm culture, and know who you are, and you can distinguish yourself in that way, it’s honestly the only way you can really distinguish yourself as a firm. Your skills, your practice area will never distinguish you from other attorneys.
– Right, right. People are, all the time, you talk about your niche and everything, and a practice area is not a niche, right? It’s almost, like, you’re still vanilla ice cream as a D.U.I. attorney, there’s still a lot of them there, right? But you know, how do you become the craft ice cream, in your particular area. So, the culture is fascinating, because I do believe that, and I’ll be totally transparent, here, we’re really big on culture as well, and making sure everybody knows our culture, and I assume we’ll get to it, but you want clients as well, right? So, everybody needs to know, it’s not just employees, but everybody needs to know that they fit, and why you do what you do. So, big fan of that, but I just see a lot of law firms kinda read a lot of these culture-type things in other books, and things, and kinda say, it’s just not for me, so it’s good that you’re approaching from a, look, you’re not special as just a practicing lawyer in this practice area, but you’re special in the way you approach your cases, the way you approach your clients, the way you work with your team. And that team part, in your presentation it was really interesting, the way you approach your team actually impacts all the delivery to your clients.
– Yeah, absolutely. And I’d say, you know, the bottom line is, if you have a team, or even if you’re a sole practitioner, you have a culture. The question is whether you’re being intentional about it, or being passive about it. And I think no attorney, when they put it that way, wants to be passive about it, right? So, one thing I really like is that they talk about, you can train people for any job, but you can’t train someone for culture. And so bottom line is, if you bring the right people in for your culture, that does spread out there in the world. People are excited about where they work, people wanna promote what you do, people then deliver better services to clients because they’re happy about what they do, and they’re proud of where they work. That makes a big difference when you talk about external-facing things, the lawyers who say they don’t need marketing because they do everything referral-based, nothing builds referrals better than having a team that really loves what they do, and are passionate about their work, because that shows, clients feel that kind of thing.
– Yeah, and we do a lot of brand work, right? And so, when you come across a law firm that has thought about these things, like brand and culture are really intertwined. Because brand, at the end of the day, is the perception of your law firm, in the consumer or of course back to the clients’ eyes, right? And the culture is what provides, well I’m assuming it should provide, and I say the same thing about brand, right? Like, you have a brand, whether you’re intentional or not. You have a culture, whether you’re intentional or not. Like, these things are very intertwined. So it’s awesome. If somebody listens to this, and kinda goes, “Yes, I need a law firm culture, “and I wanna be intentional about it,” you guys when through this about four years ago, and what lessons learned, what would you do different next time kinda thing? So what are your best practices, if somebody wants to go figure out what is our law firm culture?
– So, first step is, it’s not easy, I’m gonna tell you that right now. I takes actual time, intentional time. I can give you some tricks to get started, but the bottom line is, you’re gonna have to put effort into it. And in fact, going back, the one thing I think we’d do differently is solicit feedback from more people earlier on in the process, because I really think that the more people you have giving input who know your firm, just like knowing your branding, the better off you’re gonna be. So, when we started it, I told people to start with two questions. Number one is, why does your law firm exist? You answer that question, you start to have an idea of what the mission of your firm is, because your mission is why you exist, right? It’s why you’re doing D.U.I. law instead of doing something else. It’s what made you build this firm. And then, the next question to ask is, “Why should I hire you instead of someone else?” and if the answer is, you know, “I went to Harvard,” you’re wrong. If the answer is, “Because I’m a better attorney “than everyone else, or than most of the people out there,” there’s a 50% chance you’re dead wrong about that, right? Just based on statistics. But really think about, what are you gonna bring to the table that someone else might not bring to the table, or what type of person are you, that a client will get along with and like? Those are the things, so when you start answering those two questions, you’re gonna find that your mission, and your values, which, combined, kind of create your culture, start coming out of those questions. And when you do that, don’t just do it for yourself. Start there, put a bunch of ideas up on a whiteboard, or you know, put them in a notebook, whatever just comes to your mind, let it out there, and then ask other people. Ask everyone on your team, why did you wanna work here instead of somewhere else? What do you think our mission is? Why do you come here? What is your reason for doing the work that you do? And through that, you’re gonna get a lot of ideas, the more ideas in that early stage, the better, because the reality is, a lot of people especially if they do it by themselves, want to be very prescriptive about their culture, and their firm, and that will never work. You cannot prescribe culture. You can identify culture, you can accent things you like, and try to decrease things you don’t like, but you cannot prescribe culture to people, it’s who they are, values are inherent in people. And so, if you do it yourself, there’s a good tendency to say, well, this is what I want my firm to be, therefore my mission is this, and my values are this.
– The aspirational values, yeah.
– And it would be wrong. But if you ask a lot of people, you’re gonna start to hear things you didn’t expect, maybe didn’t think, maybe that you don’t like. But those are truly what your culture and your values are, right? Because the more opinions you get, the better off it is. And once you’ve done that, put everything up on the board, the good, bad, neutral, whatever, take a look at that, and decide for yourself, okay, what do I think is truest? What do I think I can maybe disregard, but don’t, have a teammate with you on that as well, so it’s not someone, even ask a client, clients are great help with this kinda stuff. And then start thinking about, what are the things that I really want to be our values, that I want to accent? Because you can choose things that are descriptive, and then accent those to bring them out a little bit more. So, start narrowing it down, and thinking, what do I really wanna accent, and try not to go to broad. People can get really, really broad with their values. Everything is not your value. My firm has eight. We had seven initially, but then a lot of our team came up with another one they thought was really important to them, and that we accented well, and so we now are up to eight. That is about as high as
– Which is a lot.
– Yeah, eight is as high as I would suggest anyone get. Really, start simple, what is your mission, what are your values, as limited as you can be, and try to force yourself to be more limited than you’re comfortable with, and then you can expand out a little bit, if you found out that like, “Oh, my team is saying “this is really important to all of them, “even if I didn’t think it was that important, right?” And be willing to adjust, and also, be willing to go back to it. Culture changes as you hire new people, as you grow, as you shrink, as things come up, so go back to it. Our firm, we do it at least once every year, we go back and kind of start over, and say, each one of these things individually, is this is our mission still? Or should we adjust our mission? And we do adjust it a little bit every time. Not every time, some years. We didn’t this year. Look at our values, should these be adjusted, or are these still our values? And it’s important to have that be an ongoing, recurring process, because things change, your team changes, hopefully for the better, but it’s just a neutral thing, it just changes, it’s a fact of life.
– Yeah, I’m glad to hear you say that, because it’s not, we found, we had our values, this is the value, this is what GNGF stand for, and everything, right? And then, over course of meetings, and our yearly strategies meetings, and stuff, it’s like, we’d always do the same thing, we’d go through, like, are these still good? And there was always something missing, and we ended up adding one recently too. It was like, we had five, now we have six. But it’s like, okay, yeah, maybe that wasn’t even a thing we thought about four years ago, or five years ago, when we created these, but now, it’s a really core, important part. We actually did some employee surveys, and if you’re solo, or small, you may not have as much of a team, but we did employee surveys, and the same word kept coming back, and that word wasn’t in our values, right? We’re like, huh, there’s an idea there. But, same things go with reviews, right? You could read a whole bunch of your customer reviews, and exit interviews, and that kind of stuff, and there’s certain words that come out, and there’s another way to kinda see values. Because I always tell law firms that have gone through this process, it’s like, go back now and look at your reviews now from where they were like four years ago, and you’ll start seeing some of those words, because you are being, like you said, more intentional about it.
– Yeah, and not just client reviews, I really encourage people to go to their clients and ask them for their help and their feedback. A lot of people are really afraid to talk to their clients for some reason, about these things, or to let their clients see how the sausage is made at all. We do that a lot in our office. Trustworthy is one of our core values, we believe in being open with our clients. So if we have ideas, we get their feedback on it, and just ask them. And they love it. And if they don’t love it, it’s because they have a problem with our firm, and we identify that by asking them, and address that issue, right? The only way that it’s bad to ask them for feedback is if you have problems already existing in your client base that you need to solve. And for the most part, clients love to be part of it, like to feel like they’re involved in the process, because legal issues. Clients hand off the most important thing in their life to you, and oftentimes, lawyers like to just take that, and then run with it all the time. All kinds of field, even if it’s just in how your firm works. They know that you care about their opinions, they like that a lot, because then they feel more involved.
– So, I’m gonna ask you, because you cut out just a little bit on that last point, and it’s a really important part. So, you talked about how asking clients if they have some issues, and maybe don’t, but clients like to be involved in this process. Can you talk about that again? Because you cut out a little bit, and some of the points were really, really good.
– So, clients want to be involved because they’re giving up the most important thing in their life to you, and if you take that and just kind of do your work.
– We’re cutting out again, Jared.
– Clients feel left out, and oftentimes. All right. If you involve them, even in just kind of simple things, to make sure that they know what’s going on in your firm, regular basis, they like that, they feel involved that way, and they feel more to do to your firm and to your case.
– Right. So, I wanna make sure we talk about this. So, tell me about your actual law firm, Palace Law, tell us about the values of your firm, because you’ve talked about it, but what are your values?
– So, Palace Law does workers compensation and personal injury plaintiff-side work. So our mission is to help the injured in every community. That’s what we’re striving towards, we obviously are in Washington right now, but we’re hoping to really help the injured in every community as much as we can. Our values are to be creative, innovative, and adaptable, to be trustworthy, I’ve mentioned that a couple times, to do the right thing, to be team players, you know, we all work on various teams throughout the office, and work on teams with our clients. To be relentless, persistent, and self-motivated. To do what we love. To be real people, to be diverse, unique, and authentic. And to live well. Those are our eight core values, and those are the things that really are important to us. And living well is actually the one that was added later on, because a lot of our team said, we are big on work-life fit in our office, we’re big on having healthy attitudes, healthy mindsets, so we added that one later on.
– So, I have two more questions, but I think we’re running out of time on our Facebook live here, we probably are gone over a little bit, but if you don’t mind sticking around, we can keep talking, and I could post that on our YouTube channel on Friday.
– Awesome, okay, so stick with me one second, Jordan. Before we wrap up, where can people connect with you, or find you online, or if they questions about this stuff?
– You can find me on pretty much any social media, I am @jordanlcouch, and you can also e-mail me at Jordan@palacelaw.com.
– Including TikTok?
– Including TikTok, actually.
– I saw that, that’s great . I saw that in social medias the other day, I’m like, “Ah, Jordan’s on TikTok!” That’s great. Okay, so, bear with me one second, and we’ll catch up here, and I wanna dive into, I really wanna know, how do you reinforce the culture, and then I wanna understand, kinda your culture and your clients a little more, and I think that stuff would really get into the nitty gritty of the how to, is really important. So, awesome. So thanks for joining us everyone, today’s been great, learning about law firm culture. Be sure to like and subscribe our page, our videos, everything, just to help out that YouTube and Facebook algorithm. We’re gonna keep on going here in the GNGF studios, and so on Friday, we’ll drop the extended interview on our YouTube channel, so look for that. Thanks, and have a great day. All right, thanks for sticking with us, Jordan. So, I wanted to know, because you talked a little bit about some of the things you do in one of your roles is making sure that, as culture ambassador, you’re helping be intentional about the culture at your firm. What are some of the things that you do to encourage your culture in the firm, and I will admit that I got to be a fly on the wall when we came in to meet with your firm, and talk about some of the marketing strategies we were working on, and it happened to be one of your culture days, or something like that, and that was a lot of fun, to be a fly on the wall, and learn a lot. But for the benefit of those who didn’t see that, and then all the other things you do that I haven’t seen, what are you doing to encourage culture within the firm?
– Yeah, so you saw one of the most exciting things we do. I always suggest that for culture to be your real culture, for your values to be your values, they have to be incentivized, right? There are a lot of firms that say, these are our values, and when it comes time for annual reviews or bonuses, all they talk about is billable hours. If that’s the case, then money is your value, and that’s okay, but that’s the way it is, right? If that’s what you incentivize, if that’s what you track, money is the value. So, you were lucky enough to be at one of my favorite things we do, which is, every year, with eight values, we start a cycle, at some point, of eight months, where each month focuses on a core value. And what that means is that at the beginning of the month, we all gather together, and we talk about that core value, and we talk about what it means, talk about why it’s important to us, and why it’s important to our clients, and then we send everyone off with that thought, and tell people to nominate their peers for stories that they see during that month of their peers exhibiting that value well. And so, we collect a bunch of responses of people saying, “Hey, my coworker did this, “it’s amazing,” “This person should get the award because of this,” you know, like, “Christy did the right thing “the other day doing this,” “Julie was a great team player doing this,” right? And then at the end of that month, we gather together, we talk about the value gain, and we read a bunch of those nominations that came out to everyone, and then we award someone with a little prize that they get based on exhibiting that value, which covered the story we thought was best, and most exhibited that value, or sometimes, the person who got the most nominations for that value, and we give them a prize, and we all gather together, just kind of fun, and it’s a big, everyone wants to be part of it, they get their photo taken with the big poster we have on the wall, exhibiting that value, it gets put up behind, so all of our clients see it, all the social media, things like that. And so that’s one of the biggest things we do. But, there are a lot of little things that happen as well, like I talked about incentivizing. During our annual reviews, an entire part of the annual review is going over our eight core values, and giving people scores on how they’re exhibiting those values, and talking to them about ways they can work on building up this other one, or encouraging them on the ones they’re doing really well to keep doing that, right? We make that part of annual reviews in our office. I also, on the smaller side of things, getting really small, we use Slack for internal office communication, I created emojis for every single one of our core values in Slack, so that people can use those, and react to people, if someone says something, we can add a little live well emoji to that, if we see a picture of them running on Slack right? It’s dumb little things like that that make it part of the everyday culture in the office, where people have that opportunity, and it’s kinda fun, and silly, and fun and silliness are a big important thing to get things actually adopted for people, right? If it’s always serious all the time, it’s a little hard to adopt.
– Right. Just to let you know, I saw that Slack thing in the presentation, so we’ve got, again, the big decals on our wall, the values and stuff, but they’re nice and a cool graphic we’ve created, and I’m like, “Well, that’s genius!” So we’ve created our little Slack emojis, and they get thrown around, and stuff like that, and I think I saw our social media person putting them out a little bit on our Twitter channel and stuff, for GNGF. And so that was great, but we see people like, kind of reward people, say, “Hey great job on this, “good job, showing grit,” and I give the grit emoji, and it was great.
– One of my favorite things to see, actually, is that some of our people, when you can have a status on your Slack profile, a lot of people will put the status emoji as one of the core values, which I just love to see, because someone’s saying like, “This is my favorite core value,” or, “I’m feeling this one today,” and that always feels really nice to see people really adopting it and thinking about it. A big part of it, and I’ll tell you, you know, getting the internal, making it part of daily life is one of the hardest things to do, because daily life, you have normal work to do, right? But one thing I do is just constantly reminding people how important it is, so whenever someone does come to you with an idea, or someone’s thinking about a project, or something in the office, or something new for a client, I tell people, “If you’re gonna pitch it, “put it in terms of core values.” Don’t just say, “Hey, I need a new keyboard,” although that’s an easy thing, and we’ll do it, say, “Hey, my keyboard sucks, “and it’s preventing me from loving what I’m doing.” Done, right? These little things that just make it part of people’s everyday lives, to help them internalize it, and think about it on a regular basis is really important. And we also do surveys to ask them how they’re feeling about these things, too. To make sure that all of us are kind of thinking about it and feeling on a regular basis. And so, a lot if it’s just about communicating, and I think there’s a critical mass where if you get everyone communicating about it all the time, and remind people, eventually, they just start doing it. And we’ve talked about the posters before. It helps to have big posters up all over the walls, in every room in the office, where people can see the core values, pretty much wherever they are.
– Yeah, we have stairwells going up on both sides of our office, to every floor, and the whole stairwells now have decals going all the way up, and so you can’t go up, and in and out of the office without walking by. And it’s kinda neat, right? It’s like, as you walk in the office, remember, these are our values, but also, as you leave the office, take this with you, right? And it’s, to me, a cool way to kinda think about it. So, you’ve got incorporating in your reviews, you’ve had special days of the month to reward, and celebrate, and remind. Small things like the emojis, and status updates, getting feedback from people. Those are, that’s a lot of things, but that’s kinda what it takes right? It’s just constant reminders, it’s top-of-mind awareness of the core values. So I wanna spin that now to continue in to, that’s all very internal, but how do you think your core values, your culture, is it just an internal thing, or are your clients becoming a part of this? Are they a part of it? Does it impact your clients?
– Yeah, clients have to be a part of it, and that’s one of the most useful things about culture, I think, that often gets overlooked. People talk about culture internally a lot, but culture is external as well, right? You talk about branding, those two things are wrapped up really we’ll together, and so, I’d honestly say, one of the best ways to get culture internalized is have people on the team externalizing it on a regular basis. So, all of our marketing, a lot of it comes down to culture stuff. We do a lot of culture-based marketing, and one of my favorite stories ever comes from this, is every time we nominate someone and reward someone for the core value of the month, we put that up all over all of our social media, to promote that person, right? Which the team loves, but also, the clients love. And my favorite story of this comes from Steve Pyles, one of the attorneys in our office, and he won the trustworthy award one month, and we put that up on social media. And one of his clients was so happy about that, and thought Steve was so deserving of that award, that this client wrote this long post on our Facebook page about how much Steve deserved this award. And one of Steve’s other clients, and this is all public, right, so other people can see it. One of Steve’s other clients saw that and thought, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool, “I agree too, but I have to one-up this, “so I’m gonna write a poem about how amazing Steve is “on Palace Law’s Facebook page.” And I know, I tell that story, and it’s like, it doesn’t get better than that. Except that it does, because Steve’s other clients saw this poem, and the next thing we knew, we had a poem competition of Steve’s clients writing poems about how amazing Steve Pyle is. And to be clear, this is worker’s compensation clients. These are like grizzled old truck drivers in their 50s writing poems about how amazing Steve Pyle is.
– That’s great.
– And all for a five-minute post we put on social media. So there’s a lot of that, like, externalizing in your marketing helps people think about it, because now, people think of Steve as trustworthy all the time, and clients know Steve as that trustworthy guy, right? But it’s also really important for establishing relationships, and making sure that you’re getting the clients that you want, because what you offer in your values is gonna determine whether, just like it determines whether a person’s a good fit to work with you, it determines whether a client is a good fit to work with you. And so I have it up in our lobby, all of our core values are up in our lobby, and all of our core values are up in our main conference room, where we meet with clients most often. And so every client that comes into our office knows what our core values are. And every potential client that comes into our office, hopefully they’ve seen our core values in our marketing, but they’re gonna see it on the walls, and in our intake meeting, in our initial intake meeting, when we decide if they wanna work with us or not, and if we wanna work with them or not, I set aside time to just go over our core values. And I emphasize to them, you know, I emphasize to them what they are, talk about that, I also talk to them about what’s not on there, right? I mention one of our core values is to be relentless, persistent, and self-motivated, and if I have a client who’s talking about being angry, wanting to fight, all these things, wanting to attack these people, I will stop them, and I will say, “Look, you see my core values. “Fighting, aggressive, attacking, these are not on there. “I am relentless, I am persistent, I am self-motivated, “I will promise you to be relentless and persistent, “but I absolutely will not be aggressive. “That is not who I am, I don’t think that’s productive. “And if you want that, I can refer you “to people who will do that. “But I’m not gonna do that.” And I have had clients who want that, and who say, “I don’t wanna work with this anymore.” More often, what I have is clients say, “Okay, relentless and persistent, that works for me.” And we get along. And I had a client who really was doing that, and I told him that, and then about two months later, he came back to me, and he said he wanted to talk to me about a few things, so I set up a meeting with him. And he talked about that, and he said, “Well, I feel like you’re not being aggressive enough,” and I said, “Well I’m not aggressive, and I told you that. “We talked about this.” And he says, “Yeah, you’re right.” And we talked about that a little bit. And he also said, he had looked at my social media, my personal social media, which is all public, and said he didn’t totally approve of things that was on there. Not things that I was doing, but that I was putting on social media, he didn’t feel it was professional. And I, of course, said, the first and most important thing to say in these situations is, “Tell me more about that.” And he told me more about that, and I let him talk until he had nothing else to say, and I said, “So, thank you for sharing, “but I also told you one of my core values “is to be one of my unique, authentic, real self. “And this is who I am. “I do not put up a professional face for you, “because you’re trusting me “with the most important things in your life. “I want you to know who I really am, “not who I put on a professional face for, “because this is me, “and if you have a problem with the things that I’m doing, “really, that’s okay, “but if you have a problem “just that they’re being shown out there, “well, that’s who I am.” And he and I got along great after that, because we talked about it, and we were open about it, and because I said it in the beginning. So, what I tell people-
– Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about, Jordan, like at the seminar, because these things I think are so cool, and people don’t think about it, but having those conversations about your values, it’s not this, it’s here how I approach the case, right? And one of the things I remember is the conversation we had, or maybe it was in your presentation, but it was something about, people who have expectation of, “Oh, I want communication, super-fast, “and get back to me right away,” and like, that’s not in your core values, it’s not like we’re gonna get back to you within 15 minutes, it’s here’s, you know, talk about that, because that was a neat example you gave once.
– Yeah, so, it all comes back to that conversation and really empowering your clients during that conversation, and you know, being up front about this. And, I think the most important part about it is like you said, empower them to kind of talk to you about this stuff, because what I do is, as I go over this, I tell people, please hold me accountable to these things. I expect you, if you feel like I’m not doing any of these things, to come to me and tell me. And, I will be okay with that. The question I will ask, is, “Please tell me more about that.” Such a great question. And so, I had a client who came to me, and he had fired his previous attorney, red flag number one. He had fired his previous attorney twice. Red flag number two. And so, I was a little on edge, on this, but I sat down to him, and with no judgment, I said, “So, I don’t want you to have to fire me again too, “because that’s not good for you. “So, knowing that it doesn’t matter what you say, “please tell me, why did you fire your previous attorney?” And he said, “Well, he didn’t communicate with me enough.” Red flag number three, if you have had clients who say you never communicate with me, and it’s like, “Well, I emailed you this morning.” But, in a non-judgmental way, I said, “Please tell me more about that.” And he did, and he talked about it. And I let him talk, and I let him explain, and I said, “So, here’s what I will tell you “that I’m going to do, “I am not going to call you proactively “to tell you that nothing has happened on your case. “I’m not gonna call you for updates “when I don’t have anything that I need your input on. “But, two things, if you leave me a message, “contact me, if you call me I probably “won’t answer the phone, ever. “It’s just not what I do, I’m usually busy, and doing things, “but if you leave me a message, “I will get back to you as soon as I can, “and usually within 24 hours. “If you e-mail me, same thing. “However, you’re hiring Palace Law, not just Jordan Couch, “so if there’s ever an emergency, “call the front desk, say, ‘This is an emergency,’ “and they will find me, or someone who can help you. “Does that work for you?” And he said yes. And, despite this person firing his previous attorney twice for lack of communication, and me not really changing my communication habits at all, he became one of my best clients, wrote great reviews about us, and had a great outcome for his case, and still reaches out to me sometimes just to say hey, and see how I’m doing, and refer some of his friends to us. So, empowering people with that culture to talk to you makes them feel heard, and makes them know that they’re okay. A lot of people are afraid to talk to their lawyer, their lawyer’s the expert, and lawyers don’t know if there’s a problem in a case until a client is extremely unhappy and has already asked to fire them, because they weren’t listening. That doesn’t happen with me, because if my clients have an issue, they call me and tell me right away, because I have told them to. And I tell them, “I will never be mad “if you call me and say you have a problem. “I will be upset if you don’t tell me, “and then you’re just mad, “because that just isn’t good for you, “it’s not nice for you.”
– That’s great. So it’s not just within the firm, but the way you approached it with your clients actually alleviates a lot of the client issues that a lot of people have, so it’s not just, this is a warm and fuzzy law firm thing, this is a better way to run your firm. I mean, you guys, just inside and out, things just, you’re hiring better people, the people who come there love what they’re doing, they’re treating your clients better, your clients have the right expectations, and a lot of this comes from your culture and your values.
– Yeah, it doesn’t matter what your culture and your values are, it’s just about identifying it, so that you can be transparent at every step of the way, because what loses people in a firm, what makes people unhappy, is not knowing what their getting into, having a lack of transparency. What makes clients unhappy is not knowing what to expect from their lawyer, or not having the right expectations, and then, not knowing what’s going on, and not feeling heard, not feeling like their connected to the case. Whatever your values are, if you can define them, and articulate them, so that you can be transparent, and have that be out there, just makes a world of difference in your relationships with people.
– Love it, I think that’s a great place to end, that is a good, good, solid statement there to close this out on. So again, thank you so much for joining me today, this has been awesome. And we’ll post this extended part, which probably, the juiciest stuff, here, has been in this part, so we gotta really encourage people to get to YouTube and watch this, this was really good stuff. So, thanks again, Jordan. People can find you at @jordanlcouch, and we’ll make sure that’s posted in the comments, and in the chat, and everywhere else it needs to be. And, we’ll catch up next time, hopefully at a Clio conference or something.
– Yeah, thanks for having me, it’s always nice to see you.
– All right, take care Jordan.
– Hey, what’s up, I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself, or another one of our marketing consultants one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation, it only takes a minute