About Our Guest
In this extended episode of our bi-weekly ask the experts GNGF (Get Noticed Get Found) CEO, Mark Homer, sits down with Patrick Palace and talks about Palace Law’s growth strategy and who that strategy can work for.
Patrick Palace is the owner of Palace Law, a firm of workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys. Patrick has also been a partner in a number of joint ventures with tech companies developing new tools for lawyers. He is also a past President of the Washington State Bar Association. Patrick is currently he’s the chair of the 21st Century Lawyer National Conference of Bar Presidents committee which produces monthly national webinars for bar leaders. Patrick has presented at many conferences nationwide from Clio Cloud Con to the ABA TechShow–which his where we initially met —and you can catch him regularly on webinars and seminars at the local, state, and national levels. Since 2016 his firm, Palace Law, has been recognized by the Lawfirm 500 as one of the top 100 firms nationwide for its growth and innovation. Patrick was the first recipient of the “Service to the Legal Profession Award”, and has been chosen by the “National Trial Lawyers” as one of the Nation’s Top 100 trial lawyers. Patrick is more than just a nationally known trial lawyer; he writes about meditation and speaks on the topics of mindfulness and the future of the legal profession.
This year Patrick and Tom Martin of LawDroid have teamed up to create the 1st Annual American Legal Technology Awards. Happening September 7-16th, these awards highlight a variety of different categories across the industry. GNGF is proud to be one of the sponsors. For more information visit https://americanlegaltechnology.com/.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Patrick Palace, managing owner at Palace Law. The first part of this video is from our GNGF live, which happens every other Wednesday over on our Facebook page. The second part here in this bonus extended interview, we dive into law firm company culture, and a strategy that Patrick is utilized to grow his firm and provide an exit strategy for lawyers looking to retire. If you already saw the live I’ll put a timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below. And be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel 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 at gngf.tv Welcome to GNGF live, your bi weekly ask the experts about all things offer marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer, author of “Online Law Practice Strategies” and founder of “Get Noticed, Get Found”. On this show, we focus on the business side of growing and running your law firm. I can’t think of many guests who are better suited to talk about this than today’s guest, Patrick palace, the managing owner at Palace Law. Patrick is the owner of Palace Law, a firm of workers compensation and personal injury attorneys. He has also been a partner in a number of joint ventures with tech companies developing new tools for lawyers. He’s a past president of the Washington State Bar Association. And Patrick is currently the chair of the 21st century lawyer National Conference of Bar President’s Committee. Which produces monthly national webinars for different bar leaders around the country. Patrick has presented at many conferences nationwide from Clio Con, to the ABA Tech Show, which is where we initially met. And you can catch him regularly on webinars and seminars at local state and national levels. Since 2016, his firm Palace Law has been recognized by the law firm 500 is within the top 100 firms nationwide for its growth and innovation. Patrick was a recipient of service to legal professional award has been chosen by the National Trial Lawyers is one the nation’s top 100 lawyers. Patrick is more than just a nationally known trial lawyers. He writes about mediation, and speaks on the topics of mindfulness and the future of the legal profession. Oh, and in his spare time that I mentioned that Patrick open and runs a winery in the state of Washington. So before we get to the interview, though, be sure to like and subscribe to our page, not just the video, so you can get updated when our next episode goes live. Of course, it never hurts me to show a little love and smash that like button on the video too. It really helps us with the Facebook and YouTube algorithms. As always, we’ve got moderators in the chat. So please ask any questions and interactive during the premiere. And if you’re watching this in the future, after the premiere, we do monitor the comments and we’ll reach out to our guests and answer any follow up questions you have. That’s because we love you all and we love getting to meet you online and in person. So you can find a list of our upcoming webinars and events where we’d be speaking on our website @gngf.com/events. And then weeks when we’re not premiering an interview, we drop a video as part of our GNGF tip series and these are in depth videos focusing on like one topic at a time. You can check it out on our YouTube page or by heading to gngf.tv. You can watch our latest video after this interview, of course, at that link in the chat. Check them out, like I said, we drop a new GNGF tips video every other Friday. Okay, let’s get to the interview. Patrick Palace, my friend, thank you for joining me today.
– It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the invitation.
– Awesome, so I give a pretty long introduction about all the awards and accomplishments that is Patrick Palace earlier. But for the audience, and more for benefit give me like a little more background about kind of how you came within your legal career to start Palace Law.
– I’m a humble working man’s worker’s comp lawyer in a blue collar town of Tacoma, Washington. It’s really just that simple. If there’s been some thread of my process from there 25 actually getting close to 30 years ago till now, it’s that I really got tired from the very first days of being a solo practitioner of taking one call after the other and answering the same question. I don’t know how many times you can answer the same question. I thought there’s got to be a better way. And so my answer to that was, let’s start writing articles. Let’s start a television show. And so I started one and ended up being several versions of a statewide television program, just to get the information out. So people knew how to get their questions answered, what the rights were, what the remedies were. To get information out that was fair and accurate and trustworthy. And I’ll tell you, my whole career has kind of grown around I guess you’d call it access to justice. But for me, it’s just getting information to people who need it the most, and preferably for free and everything I think I’ve done over these 25 years whether in my office or outside of my office solid band about getting better information to the people who need it most. And I think that’s how my career’s evolved.
– That’s awesome. So I did mention this earlier, but you started something recently the American legal Technology Awards, is that right?
– Yeah, so before I dive in, I wanna make sure we talk about that ’cause that’s so cool. It’s something we’re you’re getting going here in America and give some backstory on that first of all. I think it’s neat how that started.
– I would love to. Tom Martin and I are partners. Tom is law droid for those of you who may not know him, and we’ve done a number of joint projects, technology projects, building tools for lawyers to use. And so one of our tools was nominated for an award in the UK legal technology awards. And so we flew to London for a really glitzy and glamorous evening and tuxedos and fine food and wine. For these words, we didn’t end up winning but the experience was so amazing. I said, and Tom said, “Why don’t we have one of these in the US.” And so when he came back with me and we started planning one with the idea that our focus wasn’t gonna be so much on the glitz and the glamor, but just recognizing people nationally who are doing really good work. And as COVID-19 took over, we continued to grow that and say, all right, let’s really focus on the people that are doing the yeoman’s work. Really the laboring or to help drive the legal profession, to help the people in need the most in legal technology, particularly those who are focusing on COVID-19 and solutions to access to justice. And we set up a website, we’re taking nominations and we have dozens and dozens, dare I say hundreds of nominations now for various kinds of potential award winners. We have categories of access to justice and startup and technology and law firms and individuals. We have really a star studded cast of judges that I think everyone who’s on Twitter or goes to these conferences will recognize the names of the judges. And I’m looking forward to having eight days of virtual unveiling for the awards of the most spectacular companies, lawyers and law firms across the country. It’s me, Tom Martin, Cat Moon, those guys are working so hard and I’m so glad to have them as partners and it’s an exciting project for us.
– Awesome, we’ll get that link in the chat for sure.
– And can I mention sponsors Clio and ORN, amazing.
– Oh, awesome, that’s great. So I like the fact it’s not just like technology, like it seems like technology software, but the people who are using technology or interesting processes. And you said individuals in law firms and counsel and stuff. So it’s more than just you don’t have to be like a technology provider to be recognized as a legal technologist. That’s fascinating, I love that.
– Good, thank you.
– So, on this show, we focus on the business side of running a law firm, right. And I’ve seen you present on countless topics in that area. What are some of the key points as it relates to running a law firm that you would give to another lawyer that may be struggling to grow their firm?
– It’s simple in the discussion, but the devils in the details, right? The hardest thing I think for every lawyer who’s running a firm and says, I wanna grow, I wanna be more successful or help more people or get better cases. Or whatever it is you describe make a larger margin or a greater income. How are you defining it? The biggest problem is that we all practice law every day. And it doesn’t leave much time to focus on how are we gonna to grow, how are we gonna build our systems? How are we gonna take things away from my job duties and put them into some other buckets so I have more opportunity to do the work that’s more critical to me? So I think the most fundamental part to any law firms growth is put down the pleadings and set up a system where you can manage and be a business person in your firm. And with that, it opens up so many doors for things you can do. And I will tell you after I think I mentioned a few minutes ago practicing law for 25 years, I finally put down all of my cases. I no longer have a caseload. I am a full time manager of this law firm. And while I thought, leaving the place of Rainmaker, nobody knows the connections around my state better than I do in my firm. I’m the senior person in the firm. I’ve developed the firm, how can I step away as a Rainmaker? I thought it was going to be a risk, but it really wasn’t. My firm makes a lot more money now that I’m out of the way and helping them make money instead of me being the guy who’s litigating the cases. Or thinking only I can talk to the juries, or only I can negotiate that with the senior counsel who’s been around as long as I have, right. Putting all those things aside, I ended up realizing that I was far better off to be the support and build a system. And we’ll probably talk about this some but I will tell you at the end of the day, I think one of the most important parts of a law firm is the systems you build that support the success of the firm. And that is a very different contrast to lawyers who say, all I have to do is win a big jury trial and be recognized as an amazing litigator. And that way I’ll have success. But today and in this age, in this market being a great litigator, I don’t think is the qualification for what makes a successful firm. It makes you a successful lawyer and makes you a hero for your client. But if you’re trying to run a business that is only one piece of a multifactorial process.
– Yeah, I love that. I mean, the idea of, like, it’s you need to step out and like, be on that business side. And thinking about that, you can’t do that without shedding off some of the things you thought are critical to you to do. And by bringing the systems and we’ve heard other people talk about specific areas. But looking at all the processes you talked about, what are the things that you can hand off to somebody first and then hand off to next and then build a system around that? I mean, that’s something that I think it is hard for people to give up. I mean, I run a business as well. And it was hard for me to give up things early on too. But it is the big difference maker and I don’t know about you, but it’s also a joy when you start seeing other people being more successful than you were at doing those things.
– It is and that leads me to to maybe short stories. One is at the base of all this is one simple idea. We have our eight core values, one of our core values is do what you love, love what you do. And what that’s mean for me is where as I work 25 hats every day I was pulling them out through do job and that job. I have taken all my hats off except for the ones of the things that I love to do. And every time I take off one of those hats, I hand it to somebody else so they can do the jobs under that hat that they love to do. And when you can put together a team, when everyone is doing just what they love to do, success is hard to deny.
– Love it. I probably will come back to later on the culture side. We had actually a few months ago Jordan, from your firm talk about culture. Is like their cultural ambassador, right? And so we dove into your core values and culture and a lot of the things you guys do proactively to make sure that that’s staying true to the center. So I might come back to that but before, one of the topics kind of around the process and stuff I’ve seen you present on was around the value of the data and kind of keeping track of a lot of those processes. One presentation you kind of use something from the movie “Moneyball”. You’re talking about the movie “Moneyball” to kind of like set up the presentation and talk about that. Tell us more about that, like in the value of data and what you’ve come around with that.
– Lawyers have been historically a little slow to recognize the value of data. I think the Clio legal trends report identified that most lawyers decide to make decisions based on data like, at the end of the year when I get my income tax return. Did I make money, did I do better than last year? That’s my data. And I get it, I get why that is probably the biggest driver and the biggest solid piece of data that most lawyers have. But the reality is that you can drive your firm towards success by doubling down on what you do right. Or you can drive your firm towards failure by ignoring what you’re doing wrong and never even know you’re doing wrong and failing to fix it. It’s that old adage that you have to know the data to be able to manage it. If you don’t collect it, if you don’t know anything about it, you can’t manage it. And so I became a big believer years ago in A, looking for the data you wanna collect. What are your KPIs? Your key performance indicator? What is it you need to know and then how do you get it? And then how do you use it? And so we developed KPIs every week, I swear to God. We just had a quarterly management meeting. And here is my stack of the monthly analytics of this month and some of the quarter. We are probably up to, I’m gonna say 100 different KPIs that we use. But it’s so critical, because if we veer off course if we’re not heading towards the path or the goal or the direction, we know it. We know within a week, we know we’ve done something wrong. Or we need to correct something or the COVID environment has changed, how do we need to respond? I mean, I think all those things are critical. So data, data, data, data, data, data, data, it’s critical.
– You’ve got a big stack there. Lot of times if you’re starting from nothing, two three pages might be where you start. But it’s start tracking something, right? What gets measured gets managed or something like that.
– Exactly, yeah.
– Yeah, so like just tracking something suddenly opens people’s eyes to, oh, like you said, we’re really good at that, let’s do more of that. Or that’s wrong, let’s fix that. I mean, I’ve been fortunate, I’ve been in office a few times and seen firsthand some of the tools. And we’ve pulled out reports and looked at the analytics. And found trend in this or like an issue with that. So I’m amazed it like, it’s not just that you’re pulling the stuff out, your whole team knows these numbers. They know how long it’s taking them to call back and what their NPS score is, their net promoter score is per lawyer. I mean, like the amount of data that you track but then that it’s systemized amongst the whole team. You’re able to find, basically you’re able to connect the dots between all this data because you get the whole team around it. And you’ve made changes because of that for the better or adjusting course. Any examples, I have at least one in my head that I’ve heard you talk about, but any stick out?
– Yeah, I think we make either fine tuning or significant changes regularly. And they pop up in a number of outcomes, and I’ll share one. There’s a common knowledge I think for people there’s two ways to make money. Either you make more income, or you cut more costs, or a combination of the two. And I think most lawyers get this right now in this COVID era, there is a decreasing number of new matters coming in. And in the recent Clio legal trends report they showed across the country that dip down to about 40% decrease in new matters. And in some places like New York, it has come back to a little less than 5% deficit. And other states now that there’s a resurgence, they’re dropping back off again. And so watching your data and saying, how do I correct the course, to make a difference? And so one of the things that we’ve taken realizing that we’re gonna have a decrease in matters and therefore a decrease of gross income, what can we do to save costs? And we’re not firing staff, and we’re not laying people off. Where can we be more lean? And the answer to that, for a lot of things was, well, everybody went home, and that saved a ton of office costs. And in fact, we haven’t cut our space down yet but we’re about to. But our costs have dropped something like, $200,000 in this first half of the year just by making the COVID-19 in house adjustment. And getting rid of the things we no longer needed and focused on the tools that our staff did need. And I will tell you that if I told them one of my staff, they heard this, they would be shocked. They go what my managers all know. But my staff didn’t feel any changes. They didn’t feel any pinch. We just got rid of a lot of the stuff working parts back behind that we didn’t need. And I’ll tell you one of them. We ended up not needing an office manager. When nobody’s in the office, and you don’t have HR issue going on, you don’t need your office manager. We’ve had a communications director. We found ways to automate communications and to share it many hands make light work, we got rid of our communications director, right. I mean, these are some of the things that we found out that we outsource some of our work. We’ve taken most of our books and we’ve sent them out. So a lot of our finances, our 401k, our HR and all those things. And the cost of pushing all that out was minimal compared to having this in house staff doing it. So the reason we knew these things was because we watched again, our data, we saw what wasn’t working. And where we can save money, and what wouldn’t affect our core process and procedure. And if we weren’t gonna be driving in more cases over this long haul, then how do you lean up? And how do you make that difference? And so those are some of a laundry list of things that we have done.
– Right and I mean, it’s seriously right because the on that side of you like the fact that you’re able to kind of go and find these areas without impacting really the bottom line kind of makes you kind of look back and kind of go, wow. Like what are those other areas that you could keep doing that, right. And then the outsourcing comes to like a systems thing you mentioned, right? It actually probably takes a little bit more work to outsource something in the beginning. But once it’s outsourced, you have to have a system in place to be able to outsource something successfully. The fact you had a system probably allowed you to outsource much easier and keep you on top of the data.
– Yeah, if you’re paying attention to your data, you know where your cost centers are, what’s costing you the most and where your income centers are. And we found out that a lot of the cost centers literally could be eliminated without any effect. And it’s not intuitive, it really isn’t intuitive. You’d have to watch your numbers and it informs you what isn’t needed. But you’re exactly right in everything you say.
– Awesome. And then you had an example the one I was thinking of was you had a example on how you guys were tracking like your new clients, and what was conversion rates. And you’re getting the calls, but they’re not converting and then you notice a big change in that. And you’re able to like dial it back to like a particular ad or something you’re running. That story kind of really shows just, it was like three or four metrics that were able to kind of quickly make a shift because you’re looking at them weekly.
– Yeah, we had two weeks of precipitous drops in new cases coming in right around Thanksgiving. And the old firm would have said, oh, it’s Thanksgiving people are on holiday there’s not many cases coming in. The new firm said nope, that’s not right not two weeks in a row where are we having the problem? And we had a couple meetings to drill down on where the problem might be. We found it, it was because I made a terrible, terrible ad that didn’t have any impetus for people to call with actual cases. It was just a nice community service message which I’m proud of but it wasn’t driving cases. So I cut that commercial, I put a new commercial in the next day. And that day commercial came out, we had more cases in the door than we had had in two weeks prior. So problem solved because of metrics it wasn’t Thanksgiving. Short story.
– Yeah, I love that. The calls were up actually but the conversions were down. And so you’re like, well, that was the difference, right? Instead if it is just been calls down. It’s like, well, I guess you could have written up. But you’re like this doesn’t play up to my entire history. And the fact that it changed so fast, and you had that data to be able to look at and measure it so quickly. It gives you a lot of power when you’re thinking about inbound and marketing and stuff. Now, go ahead.
– I was gonna say there’s an underlying thing here that we’re talking about it. So many people talk about innovation, innovation, technology, technology. And I am a believer in tech. And we definitely use it to collect our metrics. But I think the biggest innovation we have in our office and the thing that maybe excites me the most is the innovation of systems. Maybe it’s super nerdy, but I really love trying to create new systems and be innovative with systems and workflows and work processes, and mechanisms in which things happen. And then to try to do them without adding any additional work on anybody. And in fact, trying to take work away from everybody so you have more space. I love the innovation of systems.
– The reason word systems and I don’t wanna scare people away, it’s not some kind of crazy thing. It’s simple as you kind of documented what you do every day and then you just look into there and say, is there something I shouldn’t be doing and then somebody else could do? Is there something I could do differently? Is it something I can stop doing because it doesn’t really matter? It’s just constantly looking at those tweaks. It’s not like, I need to buy some actual technology thing and drop it in. I think I’ve still seen a number of your metrics are tracked in Excel here and there, right? It’s like you guys start tracking new metrics. It’s like you don’t need to buy a system to do it. You start an Excel and then you figure out what works and then maybe go build something.
– That’s right.
– Yeah, people not to like overthink it and get scared. I think sometimes people hear systems thinking and design thinking and stuff. And really it’s not overly complex. It just takes stepping away from your business and looking at it like from the outside a little bit.
– One brick at a time, one brick at a time.
– So we’re kind of running out of time on our Facebook live today. But if you could stick around, I have more questions. And we can post it up on our YouTube channel on Friday. And I specifically wanted to talk about kind of some of the growth strategies that you’re working on now at Palace Law. And I think I heard you talk about this a little bit. But you’ve kind of found a growth strategy that provides also an exit strategy for lawyers looking to maybe retire or move on from law. So I wanted to really talk about that. Awesome, so but before we wrap up, where can people contact you, Patrick?
– Let’s see. I have most of my discussions on Twitter. So we have at Palace Law. And my firm has one two at Palace Law offices. But if you reach out to them, you’re not going to get me mine is just at Palace Law. Or email me, [email protected]
– Awesome, we’ll make sure that’s in the notes as well. So stick with me for a second Patrick and I’ll be right back. All right, thanks for joining us today everyone. Be sure to like and subscribe to our Facebook page so you get notified when our next episode goes live. We have new interviews about law firm marketing and the business side of running your firm here every other Wednesday. We’re going to keep gonna here in the GNGF Studios and you can watch the full extended interview with Patrick Palace this Friday over on our YouTube channel. We’ll be diving into more detail about law firm company culture and a strategy Patrick has utilized to grow his firm and provide an exit strategy for lawyers looking to retire. We’ll see you then. Thanks for sticking with me, Patrick.
– No, glad to come back. Happy to be here.
– Awesome, so I did wanna dive, I said I wanted to circle back to this. And I guess our people who watch this on the extended interview, only get it, not people on the Facebook. So but we had Jordan like I mentioned a few months back talking about value company culture at Palace Law. That’s a great episode, I think listeners should definitely go check it out. He does a great job. I’ve actually seen him present that at Clio as well similar kind of topic we talked about.
– He’s a great company Ambassador, cultural ambassador for our firm.
– Yeah, he does a great job. And we actually, I’ll be honest, I saw him at Clio. We’re big as you know, we’re big on our company culture and the core values and stuff. But he had talked about how you guys use slack and he created like icons for all the things. And I was like, that’s genius. Came back, did it right away and people send us all over now on slack, so it’s great. But curious as a managing owner, how do you feel like the deliberate focus on proactive culture has impacted your firm?
– It’s a critical part of successful firm. In my perfect world, I would have hands off of everyone and everything in the office. And it would run beautifully because everyone would be so motivated to do the right thing, to work hard because they love their job. And they’re getting all the satisfaction they need by working. The question is, how do you get to that place? And I think you get there with culture. By setting up the parameters of your tribe and looking for tribe members that meet at the same place naturally not because you forced them to or trained them to. I think most of the people that are my office that we’ve collected now would work here whether I paid them or not, this is what they want to do. Truly, when you run a personal injury and workers compensation firm, and you’re dealing with eight hours a day, everyone’s problems and woes and issues you have to solve. And losing their homes and being seriously injured and being in pain and mental health issues and their spouse leaving them and whatever. I mean, it’s a big deal, it’s hard. And I don’t think people would do this unless they loved what they were doing. And so our culture is to help give people the tools and the opportunities to live their most productive, best self doing their job. And we do that in a number of ways. But I guess that’s to me in a nutshell what’s critical about culture. I will say this, Eric Farber, who’s a good friend of mine, he used to work as compensation attorney in California has written a book about culture, it’s a great book. He and I talked further regularly about stuff and exchange ideas. But it’s another great book about culture for those people who are interested in deeper dive in culture.
– Awesome, yeah, we can look that up and make sure that’s in the notes as well, that book. I think that one thing about culture being the business owner is that it also has to come from the top. You can’t kind of say, I wish my culture was this and then you go off and act a different way. And then expect people to act. So the fact that you’ve got such a strong culture I think, says a lot about actually truly finding people like you said, your tribe, the people that are like you because it can’t be different. You can’t create a culture that’s different than you as the owner.
– Yeah, there’s a certain amount of authenticity that comes to doing this for real I think. I don’t know about you, but I found myself for years coming to work, being the guy who I thought had to do the job. Like, if I’m gonna be a litigation attorney, I’m gonna be tough, I’m gonna be ruthless. I’m gonna negotiate hard, I’m going to whatever. And I just felt like I was two different people. The guy who came to work and the guy came home to his family and loved his dog. I thought I feel like a fraud sometimes going to work. I don’t know who that guy is. And I certainly don’t want that guy coming home with me. And so part of that reconciliation was bringing the guy who has a family and a home and a dog and bringing him to work. And I think for me, that was the biggest cultural shift. And now we really work on being who we are at the office ’cause it’s really hard to bring somebody else and make them pretend to be that person on the job.
– And by bringing that person you literally bring your dog to the office actually.
– I do, he’s actually here. He’s my great Dane. Yes serious George is with me regularly helping with cases and interviewing, greeting clients, those kind of things.
– Yeah, he’s definitely a great greeter, I love it. So, having led your practice for a number of years, for somebody who’s just getting started or just getting going, what are some of the opportunities and tools that maybe didn’t exist 20 something years ago that you’re like, you really wish man if I had this 20 years ago, things would have been easier. I would have figured things out faster or something.
– What’s funny, I’ll say 20 years ago, but how about if I just say like 90 days ago. We had zoom, I really encourage staff to use zoom but shifting the culture to use an online video conference tool was like pulling teeth ’cause everyone wants to shake hands and meet their lawyer and be there in person. And COVID has given us such an opportunity to pivot. And now clients are like I like this much better. I don’t have to make an appointment, I don’t have to come drive to your office, I don’t have to sit in your lobby, I don’t have to wait for you. I’ll have that call like that and see you face to face and resolve stuff. And cases move faster, we get people out of the system faster and successes come faster. I think COVID has just been a huge opportunity. And I know that it has enormous downside with death and all the things that it’s doing. But looking at the positive side, it’s given us a chance to retool everyone’s office, I think to be more client centric, to be more efficient. To find a leaner strategy to be better lawyers. We’re not going to court litigating cases anymore because there’s no court to go litigate cases. So what’s better ways to find solutions? Well, we have and in fact, we have increased dramatically the number of cases we’re settling at rates that we’re as good or better than we had before. There’s just new tools that we’ve had all the way along but either didn’t use because we weren’t used to it or didn’t think they’d be effective. And you don’t have to go back 20 years. I think we can go back to January and say, how many new tools that we got since January? And there’s a lot of them and for lawyers who I think are paying attention to ways to take better care of their clients and to improve their bottom line at the same time. Working from home using zoom, finding a cloud based solutions and platforms to communicate and to share. And it just makes a world of difference. And it’s a big shift and one that we’ve needed for a long time.
– Yeah, and let’s be honest, I mean, you couldn’t really do that 10 years ago.
– No, no.
– It’s certainly 12 or 13. The amount of cloud based. Case management systems were not on servers 12 years ago. Maybe I think it just came out, maybe make it. So most of you talk about you couldn’t even do 10 years ago. The other thing I think is fascinating just the amount of people out there talking about the systems thinking and looking at your law firm and making sure you’re like outsourcing things. And what you can outsource now like the administrative side, the paralegal side, the Amicus law clerk. You can actually outsource some lawyer work and bill for it. It’s fascinating what’s available now to law firms.
– Well, and I’ll mention is not just law firms. I’m on the board for the ABA Center for Innovation and on the Executive Council for the National Conference of Bar Presidents as a former bar president for Washington. Those groups have tightened up. Our zoom meetings are tight and getting things done and our abilities, creating these virtual conferences. Who’s the ever had a virtual conference so successful? Florida has had an amazing statewide conference. I mean, I think the whole practice of law is shifting the national organizations and state organizations right down to our law firm. We’re all learning from the same handbook and making big changes that I think are more efficient. When we’re the consumer as members of our organizations or when we’re trying to help our own clients being client centric.
– Yeah, Florida’s, you’re right, their State Bar event was online. I mean they had like the whole week and they had different days designated for things. Come in when you need to, some stuff on demand afterwards. Yeah, I mean, it was great. We did the law field day and it was I think there’s demand of people just on there and then the replays. People like still emailing us questions. They’re consuming this content. So yeah, you’re right. I mean, used to be you would go kind of like network, kind of pay attention, go out back to the happy hour. And you would leave and not think about anymore. But I think the fact that it’s online people are actually spending more time with the content. It’s available, they’re coming back to it.
– An example of KPIs. This quarter, I’m down $35,000 in travel. I’ve been to every meeting without having to get an airplane and lose three or four days of work. So I get the information, I get the work done. I save the travel, I’m staying in my office being more productive with the time I saved. Thank God it’s working.
– Yeah, that’s funny. I didn’t think by the way, but I mean, I think when all this stuff started happening and closing down we had like 10 speaking events and I was freaking out. How am I gonna lose these speaking events? It’s great access to talk to law firms about marketing and get my name in front of them. And then we just did the numbers. I think we were in front of it was like 38 or 39 webinars, podcasts, whatever we’re doing this time. So way more than we would have if we were just doing the one the way we were planning on doing it so. So I wanna make sure we get to this question ’cause you and I have talked about it a number of times but I think I’ve heard you on another podcast talk about this as well. But so you have kind of like a growth strategy for Palace Law that also provides for this kind of exit strategy or for a success strategy or whatever you look at it for lawyers looking to kind of maybe retire or move on from the practice. Would you talk, first of all in broad strokes about it and I have a couple follow up questions.
– Yeah, so we have a management team. And there’s four of us on the management team and every quarter, we set up what we call rocks, and there are 90 day goals from us to achieve. A lot of strategies come around the unification of all of those five to seven rocks we’re gonna accomplish in those 90 days. And so we pick out the priorities for each quarter. And it’s now been, I guess, a couple of years. One of the strategies that we decided to invest in was to acquire or merge with other firms. And I’m no expert in that and hadn’t been an expert in that and never merge with a firm. And I’m just a small town practitioner and workers comp, how do I go and buy another firm? And so we started leaning into it and see what happens and reached out to people that wanted to sell firms. And it’s been quite a journey. The first round we purchased three firms inside of 90 days. And we had to transfer systems and unify clients and take care of everybody and take care of the staff from that firm and this firm and this firm and that location, this location, it seemed like mayhem. But at the end of the day, we’ve done a couple of things that I think really they worked out well. One is we offered every one of those smaller and successful firms, more opportunities and their clients greater access, greater technology, greater care and greater power to get their cases resolved. We offered lawyers that were going to simply end their practice or give away their practice or didn’t know how to get out of their practice, didn’t have a golden parachute in place. And give them a way to get the money out of their firm. And then I talked about do what you love. It gives the lawyers the chance to come into our firm and I tell them, you get to get rid of everything you don’t wanna do and you get to do just what you wanna do. So like one of the lawyers in the firm says, all I wanna do is litigate cases. Great, here’s five cases go litigate. Another one said, all I wanna do is interview new clients. I really liked the intake process. Great, you get to interview clients. Another ones said, don’t make me pay any more bills or manage any more people or do any marketing. I said, great, you’re done with that. And so everyone gets to pick what they wanna do. And they know they still get to see their clients. And so they know their clients are in good hands. They’re part of a good culture. Their cases are gonna be completed by competent people. They get to see that their staff gets a new home and they don’t have to fire everybody in their staff because they’re retiring. The staff get put in a new place. It’s turned out to be really a good process all the way around for staff for clients, for lawyers looking for a succession plan and didn’t have one in place. And for us now that we have all the tools. And we’ve had to implement a lot of platforms systems to integrate in a law firm. But I think I could integrate in just about any law firm. The first one we did was all paper, by the way and two hours away. And it was a very dramatic system from ours but it all worked. So this idea of acquiring firms for a growth strategy, because it’s the right thing to do, ’cause it helps other people. It gives clients a better home and better outcomes has worked out very well. And what ended up being a strategic business plan really has settled into feeling like a really a good place and a good thing to do. And maybe even once gain an access to justice, I’m able to do better things for more people in a larger model than I was able to do before.
– Interesting. Do you think, is this like a viable option for other law firms and other practice areas or geographies? Or this is something that people you think maybe should even consider?
– It really a question of what is right for you. For a lot of people are gonna say, I wouldn’t know how to buy a firm or merge or takeover systems, and I don’t have the background to do that. And for those folks, maybe it’s not right for you. For others who are system oriented, and have cash on hand and are able to do acquisitions in a way that’s friendly. There’s no hostile takeovers that are able to do it in a way that is good for everybody, then yeah, it seems like a very viable option. Particularly good for those senior lawyers who are looking to move on. And this gives them an open door to do that. I think it’s a good system. And so we’ve adopted it, and we’re open to buy firms across Washington State. And we just keep doing it. And we’re getting better at every step of the way.
– Yeah, so I think that kind of answered my next question was gonna be around, like I look at house laws kind of like, mature in terms of the business side and the systems and stuff of running a law firm. It sounds like you would think of a firm kind of needs that in place if they would think of this as a possible growth strategy, right. It’s like you really need to have your systems in place and be able to plug somebody in to better everything not confuse it.
– Yeah, before we started it, we doubled our footprint. So even though we didn’t have the capacity to fill a footprint, we had a footprint that had twice the capacity. And so when you bring in a couple hundred cases overnight, boy, you better be able to manage that case load from day one. You wanna build your plane and fly it, you don’t wanna fly a plane while you’re building it. So that’s really important to I think that you have a large footprint and the capacity and the ability to do that first before you head in to do it.
– Awesome, well, I wanna wrap up there ’cause I’ve taken more than enough of your time. Thanks for sticking around with me, I really appreciate it. Always a pleasure talking with you, Patrick. As much as I miss kinda sharing a glass of wine with you. Because we didn’t mention the winery. But I think I mentioned that in the beginning that you’re also own a winery. At least I got to see you on video and spend some time with you this way.
– Mark, it’s been a pleasure. And I look forward to turning the tables and having you sitting down the other side of the microphone so I can interview you, and share with the audience all the amazing things that you’re doing and your systems and your genius in an action. Thank you for letting me talk about stuff that we do. I appreciate the opportunity. I love this show that you do.
– Awesome, thanks, Patrick. Have a great day and we’ll see you later.
– All right, thank you, you too.
– Hey, what’s up, I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learn 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.