Jonathan Hawkins: [00:00:00] how did you convince your wife, hey, that’s a great idea, or did you just, you felt like you had no other option? I mean, take me through the thought process. I mean, I guess that job was just that bad for you. I guess you’re what some people call unemployable.
Bruce Hagen: Willing to take on certain types of risk and I’ve always been on myself. I mean, it’s the same. I guess the parallel is that, you University of Florida, when I walked on the football team, there were about 100 dudes there who made it clear to me that you’re never going to make it here, but this is not your future. I didn’t have that obstacle as a starting lawyer. It’s like, had there been a row of 100 big lawyers saying, you can’t do this. I don’t know, maybe I would have thought twice about it, but the same sort of, You naive belief that I could do anything that led me to walk on Florida led me to think, yeah, I can do this.
Jonathan Hawkins: All right. I think we’re
Bruce Hagen: Hello, my name is John. I’m
Jonathan Hawkins: we’re on here, Bruce. Glad to have you. You know, when we had breakfast I don’t know, a few weeks ago, I was struck by, you know, sort of your background. And I thought you know, I’d love to have you on the podcast. So, so thanks for joining us. Why don’t you introduce yourself and, and tell us a little bit about you and, and your firm.
Bruce Hagen: glad to be here. And yeah, I was equally struck by you and your origin story. So, glad to have a chance to do this. And of course, you know, having a podcast makes this the perfect forum for it. So, yeah, I’m Bruce Hagen. I’ve been a lawyer here in Atlanta since [00:02:00] 1986. And work for a couple of firms, started my own practice.
In February of 1992, when I left the second firm I’d worked for and launched my own practice, which was essentially whatever you needed. That’s what I did over the years that got kind of fine tuned. And I can go into a lot more detail about that process. But at present here, and the end of 2023, we have 4 lawyers total at our Decatur office.
We’ve got staff of about 12. people all told. And we are a personal injury boutique. So it’s all that we do is personal injury and a variety of it. If there’s a way for you to hurt yourself or be hurt by somebody else, I should say, chances are we’re going to be willing to take that case with some exceptions.
I’ve never been interested in medical malpractice, and I don’t do that. I’m still not interested in it. And there are certain, like, environmental torts that we don’t get involved with. But for people who [00:03:00] have been injured through no fault of their own, if I can’t handle it, I usually know somebody who can.
And I’m happy to put you in the hands of the right person for that. Yeah, it’s a tight knit little group. I’ve got folks who have worked with me for over 20 years. My son is a lawyer in my office. My mom worked in my office for 16 years. I told her we had forced retirement or mandatory retirement at age 75 and she worked right through that.
And then at age 80, I told her we really do have mandatory retirement and it starts today. And you know, I didn’t need her driving on 285 to become a potential plaintiff here in the practice. So, yeah, it’s been just a, you know, kind of a small group family type practice for years. And then, you know, it’s just, it’s just a group of people who’ve been together a long time.
And I think that provides comfort and assurance to clients and repeat clients. You know, they, I think they appreciate that there’s not a tremendous amount of turnover and the same person who helped them 10 years ago is here to help them [00:04:00] again when when it comes up a second time.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, so you do a lot of different personal degree work, but I know you’ve got a brand. Is it Bike Law? Is that what it is?
Bruce Hagen: Yeah. So, so the firm name is Hagen Roscoff, but bike law. Is the brand name that we operate under. I do a lot of work on behalf of injured bicyclists. It’s not all that we do thankfully it’s not even the majority of what we do. But I do a lot of work on behalf of injured bicyclists and gotten into that just by accident, really.
I mean, I’ve been a cyclist my whole life and enjoyed bicycling my whole life, but never really thought of it as a, as a niche practice area. And then when I moved to Decatur in 2002. I got a, I had extra office space and, and was introduced to a guy named Ken Roscoff. Ken is about 20 years older than me, and he had been doing strictly just bicycle litigation, bicycle work.
And, and Ken is a very well regarded cyclist. He’s really well known in the cycling community. He, I mean, [00:05:00] he, at age 83, he just. Finish first again in the Georgia senior games for like three different cycling events. So he’s never stopped. But, but he kind of introduced me to this idea that you know, representing injured cyclists can be a practice area to where you’re actually giving back to a group that you’re part of, but also.
You know, it’s, there’s a real need there. So, we started collaborating on his cases, which eventually led to us just taking over his cases. And he was very happy to just kind of, be, be a rainmaker for some bike cases and let us do the work. So I was tutored and learned really, you know, from somebody who had committed to that
Jonathan Hawkins: I’ll tell you,
Bruce Hagen: later, I was introduced.
Jonathan Hawkins: will say this real quick, you know, driving around Atlanta and the bicyclists that are out there. I mean, it’s usually Sunday morning, so there’s not that much traffic, but you know, especially Decatur too, a lot of bicyclists, I would be scared. to get on the roads in Atlanta. So I’m guessing you’ve got you know, [00:06:00] unfortunately, a pretty big pool of potential clients here in Atlanta at least.
Bruce Hagen: yeah, we do. And you know, it’s, it’s unfortunate because I enjoy riding so much myself and I spend a tremendous amount of time doing advocacy work trying to just you know, help make the world a safer place to ride bikes. But I was getting, I was through through Ken and then some other just coincidences.
And really, there have been so many unexpected Turns and things that have happened over the course of a 37 year legal career, and getting the byclaw getting connected to the byclaw thing is just one of those. I’ll give you an example. having nothing to do with this. I know you will talk about this a little bit, but I got involved with the NFL concussion litigation very early on in that process.
That led me to, for the first time, get involved with the National Trial Lawyers Bar through American Association for Justice, A. J. So I went to an A. J. [00:07:00] Convention. Really to participate in. I was speaking there about the NFL concussion litigation. At that event, there was a meeting of some group for a bicycle litigation group, right?
And, and so I said, well, this sounds like it’s right up my alley. I go, I go to the bicycle litigation meeting and there’s probably 25 or 30 people there. And I meet this lawyer. We just start talking, strike up a friendship. And she was, she was part of the Bike Law National Network. She’s telling me about it.
She says, I think you’d be perfect for it because really it’s, it’s a national group of lawyers. We’re in now about 20 states or so who are committed, not just to like, we’re going to advertise to bicyclists. That’s really not at all what it’s about. It’s being committed to helping the community and whatever it is that’s needed.
And so when I say advocacy work beyond just representing injured cyclists. You know, I’m training police officers on bike law. I train and speak to cycling groups on things they can do to protect themselves. I work with several different advocacy [00:08:00] groups and their legislative outreach committees to work on passing legislation to make the world a safer place for cycling.
I’ve spoken several times down at the state legislature I’ve spoken to city of Dunwoody council people and the mayor, Brookhaven, Chamblee. Decatur all about trying to do things to help make their lives better. And then I’ve gotten involved in a lot of grassroots advocacy efforts through this as well.
So, this chance meeting at an AHA convention that I went to having nothing to do with bicycles kind of led me to join this bike law network. which I’ve been a part of now for over 10 years, and it’s and it’s just been such a great affiliation because we all share information. We’re all going through similar, hardships represented our clients.
In the various states that we’re in, and it’s all very similar, even though different states have different attitudes, one attitude that is the same. Everybody who drives a car hates everybody who rides a bicycle. And we try to sort of help [00:09:00] with that. And, you know, I encourage our cyclists and cycling friends that.
To be ambassadors, you know, every single time they’re on a bike, you got to be an ambassador for the entire bike community. The driver that you piss off today is your future juror on a case. You know, when we finally do take one of these cases to trial, you know, who do you think shows up for jury duty?
It’s not 12 cyclists that sit there and evaluate your case. But everybody’s a driver and every driver has had an experience of being pissed off about something that a cyclist has done. So changing attitudes is a big part of this outreach effort as well.
Jonathan Hawkins: All right. So, you know, I want to, I want to get into a lot of the twists and turns and the fortuitous events. But let’s, let’s go back. Let’s go back a little bit. So, why, why did you become a lawyer? There are similar themes I hear over the years, but you know, everyone’s a little bit different.
How about you? How did you get into the law?
Bruce Hagen: Yeah, I became a lawyer for the simple reason that as a five, nine and three quarter. 168 pound undersized football [00:10:00] player. My, my aspirations of being a pro football player. We’re not going to work out discovered that quite abruptly when I walked on to the football team, University of Florida in 1979, thinking I was just going to make the team there and become a player and you know, realize that, okay, this is probably not a good career path for me.
So I, I stuck with it for that for one entire season and then. Realize that, okay, I’m going to have to do something else. My dad was a criminal lawyer in the Bronx where I grew up. And he had a very non traditional practice in the sense that he didn’t go, he didn’t have much of an office to speak of.
He, he, I don’t think he ever had anybody type out a pleading for him. I think he did everything by hand, but he was a real courtroom lawyer. And so. My, my childhood was a series of cross examinations and logic games and you know, Sherlock Holmes type of deductive reasoning drills. So I, I, you know, at the end of the day, when it, when it came time to, to figure out what I was going to do, I really [00:11:00] think I have been.
programed my entire life to be a lawyer. So, you know, for about sophomore or junior year in college, I figured that’s what I wanted to do. My political science major really didn’t qualify me to do much else but go to law school. So, I did that and know, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I first started.
I, like a lot of folks, you see what your parents do and you try to say, well, I’m going to do something different, right? So, so my dad was a lawyer and he was a real street lawyer and he was in court every day and meet his clients on, you know, and diners and things like this get paid in cash. And I didn’t see, you know, come home with a little cash in his pocket.
It’s like, well, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to, I want to be more like a ivory tower type of lawyer and get a job in a respectable firm and do things the right way. You know? And so I thought this was my path. I tried to interview with. All the top firms all over the country, really. I went to George Washington Law [00:12:00] School, which is a national school and had interviews all over the country.
But after doing that for several years and being part of a firm. I came to realize that what I wanted most was just to help people one on one and individually. And it’s like, I hated the law firm life. I hated the billable hours requirements and the nonsense you went through and the layers of stuff you had to deal with.
I never had a problem making individuals happy and doing good work for them. But I couldn’t fit within the structures of, you know, real law firm life. I don’t know how anybody does it, to tell you the truth, but it works for a lot of people. I know it does. So after trying to, you know, be this square peg in a round hole and it just didn’t work out at the first firm I went to I had been doing just construction litigation at that firm.
Went to another firm, I, I should have got out on my own then, but I just, I had a brand new. Child, I wasn’t quite ready. Went to another firm where [00:13:00] our immediate dislike for each other was reciprocal. I mean, I hated them as much as they hated me. It just never worked a bit. And so in after 18 months of suffering through that opened up my own practice.
I was, I was ready for it in the sense that I had managed to save up 300 to set aside as a safety net. So I had some cushion. I had a computer that I didn’t even know how to use. I mean, this was 92. It was really before desktops had been invented. exploded in every lawyer could do everything. So I had to teach myself how to type.
I had a floppy disk of Mavis Beacon teaches typing. So I taught myself how to type. I had a secretary at that firm who was kind to me on spent a few hours kind of showing me how to generate a document. How to save a document, how to use WordPerfect to do
Jonathan Hawkins: Word.
Bruce Hagen: Um, Yeah, and then I, yeah, yeah, and then I [00:14:00] just kind of launched, you know, with nothing else there other than this outsized. belief in myself that I could do it. And a pretty simple goal, which was I needed to make 300 a day somehow. I need, I needed to, you know, whether it was just on paper or collected, I needed to come up with 300 a day. It’s 300 a day. Was 1, 500 a week, was 72, 000 a year. That was enough for me to cover all my office expenses, all my home, home life expenses, everything that we needed.
If I could make 300 a day, I was set
Jonathan Hawkins: So, so, so, real quick. So you had 300 basically in the bank.
Bruce Hagen: Had enough for one day. I was, I was, I had one day cushion.
Jonathan Hawkins: so, I mean, how did you convince your wife, hey, that’s a great idea, or did you just, you felt like you had no other option? I mean, take me through the thought process. I mean, I guess that job was just that bad for you. I guess you’re what some people call unemployable.[00:15:00]
Bruce Hagen: Willing to take on certain types of risk and I’ve always been on myself. I mean, it’s the same. I guess the parallel is that, you know, at University of Florida, when I walked on the football team, there were about 100 dudes there who made it clear to me that you’re never going to make it here, but this is not your future. I didn’t have that obstacle as a starting lawyer. It’s like, had there been a row of 100 big lawyers saying, you can’t do this. I don’t know, maybe I would have thought twice about it, but the same sort of, You know, naive belief that I could do anything that led me to walk on Florida led me to think, yeah, I can do this.
I, I, I have no problem. I’ll find clients. And I wasn’t afraid to ask. I’m certainly not afraid to talk to people, so I did everything. I, I mean, literally, if it came along fine, I, I would. Did traffic or defense. I served as a Fulton County arbitrator. I think they paid 100 per case that you would arbitrate down the county through an A.
D. R. Program that they had. If you did two cases, you [00:16:00] got lunch and parking. So, you know, I would save 12 there between the two. So, you know, that was it. My, I started, I started taking court appointed criminal cases. I mean, I had never done a criminal case in my life. I took a couple of court appointed cases landlord tenant.
I was doing dispossesses. I, I, I had, I had a chance to do all kinds of different things. The, the personal injury thing, like my first BI came, just really came upon me as an accident because somebody had. Referred a case to me that was a slip and fall from a wedding and I said, Yeah, I can do that.
I mean, I didn’t even have a contract to sign them up on for a contingency contract. I had to ask somebody to send me something so I could copy it by hand on my work. Perfect. Using my Mavis beacon teaches typing skills. To, to write out a, a fee agreement. But I did a, a personal injury case and whatever it was, I remember it settled for $12,000, which looking back it was probably a hundred thousand dollars case settled for $12,000.
[00:17:00] And, and so I had a $4,000 fee. Now, at the time, I figured, all right, I’d probably put in, I don’t know, 10 hours of work. On this case, and I made $400 an hour. I was doing work for some friends, like legal research and things for them for $20 an hour, $25 an hour, and, and so not being a business major, it took a minute for that all to click, but I did, I did eventually figure out, it’s like, hang on.
If I can get more of that work and less of this work, I could probably do better for my family and do this and and not have to go through the fight of, you know, people sitting there in your office who need help but don’t have money. and and getting paid right up front. My dad, I remember when I, when I launched my firm, my dad was very supportive in every way imaginable, except financially.
I, I told him that, you know, listen, I’m going to do this and I think it’ll work, but, know, I don’t know if I’m going to have enough to make my next mortgage payment. You know, can you give me any help? And so the help he gave me was, he said, go out and buy a lottery [00:18:00] ticket, hope for the best. So, so, you know, I, I, every, in every imaginable way he was supportive except financially, but he did give me good advice.
He said, you know, when people are sitting in your office with tears in their eyes telling you why they need help and they can’t afford to pay you, he says, that’s when you got to get your money. He’s like, you can’t work for free. You’ve got to get your money. So I was bad at that. I was not as, I think I’d be better at it now.
Maybe, you know, the. The humanity has been beaten out of me like it is with a lot of lawyers. But at the time it was really hard for me to hear somebody’s story about how things were going so bad for them and then say, yeah, I’m happy to help you. Just give me this money. So I get started and I’m ready to go.
But my wife was great because we had a 18 month old baby at the time that she put a picture of the child. With her framed and for me to keep on my desk. So when I was having these conversations with folks, I can remember why I was doing this. You know, I [00:19:00] remember that I have a family to feed.
Jonathan Hawkins: That’s a good idea. You’re not, you’re doing
Bruce Hagen: it certainly helps with perspective. It
Jonathan Hawkins: I’ve had that conversation with other lawyers and you know, I’m not sure I’ve ever had it with a client, but you know, you know, they’re taking from your family basically is the mindset you got to have in that situation because otherwise you get, you know, I tell people this too.
I’ve done a lot of pro bono work in my career, and it wasn’t on purpose, you know.
Bruce Hagen: doesn’t always start out that way. It’s good to do it when that’s your intention, but it doesn’t always start out that way. And then when I started doing contingency work you know, it was, it was perfect for me because I’m fine betting on myself. And if I’m dumb enough to take a case where we can’t make money on it, then that’s, that’s on me, that’s not the client’s fault, that’s, that’s my fault.
For, for taking it. So, you know, I encourage everybody, Hey, look, I’m in the refuse business. If there’s something you don’t want to do, send it to me and I’ll do it. And for years, that was the case. I knew I was. [00:20:00] to make it a little bit i when I had to tell client but your case is just too I’d be happy to refer you who would take this.
I’m took all these cases from I don’t know anybody who You know, so I’m not s other lawyers out there w I just don’t know any tha In their right mind would do it. And I’ve had a lot of conversations with young lawyers over the years, you know, younger lawyers and they’re a lot smarter than I was at the time because it’s like, no, I have standards.
I go, we can’t. I can’t take a case like that. My attitude was, you know, you need to help. I was willing to help you. And if I did a decent job and you remembered me hopefully you would tell your friends, you’d tell your family, you’d have another case and things worked out. I mean, just totally by accident, one of the my, my first six figure case, right, which, which may not sound like a big deal to a lot of folks, but you know, a hundred thousand dollar case on a [00:21:00] one third contingent fee basis.
When you were doing you know, slip and falls and settling them at the time, I mean, you know, even low impact car crashes, which at the time were probably worth in the range of three to $4,000. Here’s a hundred thousand dollars case. We had a case for this guy who had minor injuries in a car wreck.
There was a 20 $2,500 offer. Which we rejected a week and we filed suit on it because that was my other strategy. Sue on every single case. I can see why figuring, let me learn how to be a trial lawyer by trying cases as opposed to reading about it or go to seminars. I’ll just try every case I get.
And for about 10 years, I was trying, you know, between 10 and 15 cases a year. So filed suit for this guy. And then I get a call out of the blue from someone who tells me that, Hey, you represent my husband. I didn’t even know the guy was married. You represent my husband. He just died in a car wreck.
And I found the papers in his desk saying that you represent him for this other case. I want you to handle [00:22:00] his death case. I said, all right, happy to do that. Let’s settle the other case first before this goes much further. And so, you know, I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on cases for dead people, but we still got the 2, 500 on his deceased case. I then handled the wrongful death case and got the policy limits for her on that case of 100, 000. And it was through nothing other than a willingness to stand by this guy that I know everybody else. Would have walked away from that case and either told him to take the 2500 or just said, I’m sorry, your case is too small.
It’s not worth filing a lawsuit.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, so, I want to go back just a little bit. So you had your first PI case, the slip and fall, that sort of opened your eyes to it. And then you said, alright, I want to do more of this. So how did you make that transition, and how long did that take, and how did you get more cases? And then what did you do with the other cases?
Did you just start saying no?
Bruce Hagen: Yeah, great, great question. And again, you know, I mentioned that my, my career [00:23:00] has been a series of happy accidents and, and good luck and changes of direction that I never would have anticipated, you know, even a year ahead of time, let alone five years ahead of time. But I had a case. I was representing a chiropractor who had worked in another chiropractor’s office.
And the issue was that the chiropractor that owned the business was not withholding taxes. from the contract chiropractor that was working for him. So this guy had a tax liability and, and he thought, Hey, look, I was an employee in every respect. This guy should have been withholding, but he wasn’t so contacted that owner of the business.
I think it was I think we filed a lawsuit on it that, you know, you should have been treating this person as an employee. And I learned about the many different factors that go into. Independent contractor versus employee, the things the IRS looks at. So we got that case resolved through a negotiation.
And the owner of the clinic said to me, Hey, I really like the way [00:24:00] you handled your business on behalf of that chiropractor. Would you be interested in representing folks who were injured in car wrecks who don’t have lawyers? And this was right on the heels of that slip and fall at the wedding.
It’s like, yes, I’d be very interested in that. Let’s
Jonathan Hawkins: So the owner was adverse to you and then he started referring stuff to you?
Bruce Hagen: his former contract worker . So, so that owner then said, well, there’s gonna be there’s somebody here in my office. Come on by. And, and I went by his office and met this person there.
I brought all my paperwork, I interviewed them, I signed them up you know, in a treatment room at his office. This then led to multiple other business like this. And, you know, look, it’s tacky as can be to, to be a lawyer, signing folks up in a chiropractor’s office. I didn’t care. I mean, honestly, I, I just, I wanted to work, I wanted to get work.
What’s the difference to me if, if I’m doing it there [00:25:00] and they’re coming to my office and doing it. People need lawyers and they need they need what I learned is they need to be locked down right away because it’s it’s such a dirty business in a lot of ways that you don’t know if someone is there that one day and some runner might get to them the next day and pull them out of there and bring them to another lawyer.
And so, you know, trying to get in there quickly and get it done. Great. It worked fine. That led to me meeting other doctors and other clinics and then. We’re getting out that out that I was doing personal injury cases started to get some that were unattached. And then I, like, I was never willing to take on the business model of being a big spender on advertising.
I, I don’t understand it to this day. I couldn’t do it. But, you know, the guys who were all over billboards and TV. They spend a fortune and they make a fortune. So, it’s, it’s great for them, but I was never willing to do that. So it was always very much grassroots boots on the ground kind of marketing.[00:26:00]
But you know, somehow, like I met these folks who were Somalian living in Clarkston. And next thing you know, I’ve got an ad written in Somali in the local Clarkston newspaper. I’m getting Somalian clients. I had my first ad in the phone book and then there was a black business pages. And I put my ad in the black business pages.
And I remember talking to the publisher. I was like, you understand that I’m not a black man, right? He goes, that’s okay. As long as your money’s green. And, and, and so I had an ad in the black business pages and I did get one client added it, it was the publisher of the black business pages who got in a bad car wreck and he hired me.
I told him I’ve never seen anybody work quite so hard to keep a customer satisfied. I advertised in the gay yellow pages and, and you know, again, having this conversation, I am not a gay man and, and so it’s like, that’s okay because as long as you are willing to help our community, then you’re, you’re an ally, you’re part of it.
Unfortunately that publisher would not let me run the ad that I really wanted to run because she thought it might be a [00:27:00] little distasteful, but the ad I wanted to run was to go on there. back cover of the gay yellow pages that say, you know, Bruce Hagan, personal injury law because being rear ended is not always a good thing. And, and she thought, you know, that’s funny. And some people might get it, but there’s going to be about 10 percent of our community who’s really going to be angry about that. And they’re going to make your life miserable. I just thought, all right, well, that’s fine. I, at the time, I know um, it was Jay Leno was on the tonight show and he used to like, hold up funny ads and visit.
I was like, this will get me on the tonight show, but alas, it
Jonathan Hawkins: Well, you were willing to take the risk. You just needed somebody to let you do it.
Bruce Hagen: to put myself in a spaghetti strap tank top and you know, being the ad myself. Just like I did ask the, I didn’t do this either. This is going to sound horrible to anybody who listens to this podcast, but I remember talking to the publisher of the black yellow pages and, and, you know, he knew I was Jewish and he says, you know, look, are the people who, who [00:28:00] are our customers use our directory.
They love Jewish lawyers. They just, they love it. I said, well, you think it’d be okay if I put on like a tallis and a yarmulke for the ad? I mean, that. And I could dress up like a bar mitzvah boy, like a reading from the Talmud or something, and he loved it. I said, no, I can’t do that. I gave even I had boundaries, but so, so I didn’t do that either. But I felt terrible for even having the thought.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, so you’ve been in you know, P. I. Ever since. I know you mentioned earlier you got involved with NFL concussion cases. Tell me how you got involved with those.
Bruce Hagen: Yeah. So, so the P. I. Stuff. I mean, gradually. I did just say no to the work that I didn’t want to do. I had a few kind of albatross hourly cases hanging around my neck that were not going to go away and had to get tried. And so got those tried and then, and then kind of stayed away from everything else.
And so as I was doing more personal injury and, and, you know, my, my, Attitude again was I’m not going to be spending money on [00:29:00] advertising. So I need to be my own marketing team and everybody that I know, everybody who meets me really needs to know this is what I do for a living. And so, one of my buddies who I knew from playing basketball.
He was an emerging on emerging radio station that was a sports talk radio station. And so I started going on sports talk radio station and became sort of a small partner with their radio station running, running a few ads there. But also appearing on the radio to talk about legal issues in sports and that sort of thing and, and pop culture, whatever, whatever came up through that I was introduced to a guy who was a former NFL football player that was one of the radio hosts on on their station.
And so he became kind of my my sponsor on the station. He became the voice of my ads and was a big promoter. for me and I was on his show and his show exploded. Well, a few years later, 2011, let’s say he gets [00:30:00] contacted by some lawyer out in California. Lawyers aren’t supposed to solicit for business like that, right?
But he gets contacted by some lawyer in California. about a potential claim against the NFL. And so he asked me about it. Hey, what do you think? Is this real or not? And again, having this outsized belief in myself, that’s, that was not based on any real technical ability, but, you know, sometimes you can do more with balls than brains.
I look at it, I research who this lawyer is, he’s legitimate, he’s a big time, mass tort class action type of lawyer out in California and I said, look, I think this is, this is real, it seems to be, but there’s no reason for you to hire this guy that you don’t know, who contacted you, Adam Blue. We can do this right here, we don’t, we don’t need him. Let’s see if we can d way with your platform, h NFL player and all the re that live here in Atlanta I’m sure there’s a ton of folks that we can [00:31:00] reach here. So, I remembered a friend of mine who I knew through the Atlanta Bar Association flag football league that I played in for years. And then years later again, another happy accident.
He was sort of trolling, looking for potential claimants to bring a case against auto insurance companies. And I spent two straight days scrolling by hand through every single case I’d ever handled to find him a couple of plaintiffs for those cases. Well, he was also a quarterback at Wake Forest and had played college football and knew a lot of guys in the NFL.
And so I went to him and said, Hey, what do you think about this as a potential case we can collaborate on? I can get us clients. He was excited. We, we put on an event and had no idea if anybody was going to show up. About 50 players turned out showing up at this event. On the spot, we signed up about 30 of them.
And next thing you know, we’re knee deep in the NFL concussion litigation. And so we were the [00:32:00] first to file in a state court action, which we filed. Well, let me think because now I’m sorry, state courts filed in California. We were the first to file in a federal court. There was another one in Philadelphia.
The cases ended up getting consolidated. But because we were involved so early, we got on the leadership team. We were involved in all the initial meetings where the leadership committees were being formed. I got to do some committee work for that, which was so fun because it felt like you were just kind of on the inside of this.
That that led to us eventually representing about 500 former players in the litigation. And it was a thrill for me. I mean, I, you know, I’ve mentioned, I thought I’d be a pro football player. Well, here I am like on the phone and meeting guys that, that I idolized growing up people, players that I had watched play.
I was fan of, I just run emulated, you know, as I wore their numbers, you know, and then guys, I knew from that, my brief experience in college, I knew who they were because they were these studs that went out to play in [00:33:00] the NFL. They didn’t know who I was. I was a tackling dummy. But, you know, we had this bond that we could talk about, and so it was a real thrill to be involved with it.
That case is still going on, by the
Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, I was going to ask, is, has it, has it resolved in any sort of way or, or partially resolved or, and when, when will it end? When
Bruce Hagen: it was, it was really a lesson, and again, another practice area that I don’t want to get into, which is the mass tort world, but the, the lead counsel sort of took control. Of everything to the exclusion of everybody else around him and worked out a backdoor settlement with the league, you know, kind of over the course of mediation that took place for several weeks.
And it was like a middle of the night thing and nobody knew what was going on. But the settlement of the case took about 2. 5 years to get approved and it set out a payment structure that essentially said, hey, look, it. If you have any of these specified conditions about six different [00:34:00] conditions then you can be entitled to payment.
You don’t have to prove causation of injury, meaning you don’t have to show that, let’s say, Parkinson’s disease was caused by playing football. You just have to show that you have a correct diagnosis with a qualified diagnosis. And then we’re going to look at that and say that I for each. disease. Each each thing we’re going to set a maximum amount of money you can get if you have played five years or more.
And if you’re diagnosed prior to age 45, you get the full payment for whatever that condition might be. The biggest one was Lou Gehrig’s disease. That was the 5 million. if you if you had a L s and you played at least five years and you were diagnosed prior to age 45 There was a 5 million payout for you, but then for all these things, for every year that you are above age 45, when you get your first diagnosis, they’re going to reduce the payout slightly.
And for every year, less than five full years that you played, they’re going to reduce the [00:35:00] payout slowly. So they created this grid. So somebody who. has played five years and is diagnosed at age 45 and develops Alzheimer’s, they’re going to get a large payout. Somebody who’s 75 years old and played one year in the league, they’ll get something, but it’s not going to be much.
And it’s in lieu of having established causation, they set this up. And here’s the real kicker. This settlement is to remain in place for 65 years from the date that the settlement was reached. So guys who were 25 years old. When the settlement was reached and retired after a three year NFL career, they may have no symptoms at all.
But when they turn 50, if they, if something happens to them and they develop Parkinson’s, they could be eligible for payment at that time. So now we have to like keep up with clients for 65 years to say, Hey guys, remember who we are when, when your time comes so that we’ll be here when you need us to tell process that claim.
So it’s, it’s, it’s. It’s an ongoing thing, but, but realistically, [00:36:00] the players who had it worst, they got paid pretty quickly. The players who have lingering issues, you know, it just kind of goes on and on. And unfortunately, the way the settlement was reached, a lot of the problems that players deal with on a daily basis.
Or just not getting compensated in this cell. The cell is very specific what it covers.
Jonathan Hawkins: so it’s, it’s not going to cover, let’s say there’s a current player that’s,
Bruce Hagen: well, so everybody, you know, in the aftermath of this case heard about C. T. E. Which is the problem that is a disease in your brain that comes from repeated blows to the head. And and it was exposed initially. If you saw the Will Smith movie by the efforts of this Dr Benedict Malu, who was a doctor of Pittsburgh and he was doing autopsies and seeing these anomalies in the brains of two former football players and, you know, recognizing that, okay, there’s this unique disease that is here.
Well, that can only be diagnosed on an autopsy, cannot be diagnosed [00:37:00] in life at this point. And the way this settlement was reached. When they finalized, they said, Hey, you had to have been diagnosed with CTE by today. Like the day that the settlement became final. And so there are players now who might die who have CTE, found out CTE, that they didn’t have dementia, they didn’t have Alzheimer’s, they didn’t have Parkinson’s, they didn’t have ALS.
They’re not eligible to be paid, even though they had the disease that was the underpinning of the entire litigation against the league. That’s one of the reasons I think the league was so quick to settle is because they realized that, hey, you know what? Everybody’s gonna have this. Every one of these players is gonna have CTE, and it’s only a matter of time before there becomes a test to determine the presence of CTE while somebody’s still alive.
So the NFL reached kind of a quick settlement. I mean, look, it’s a win for the players in some respects, certainly the guys who have been paid. I mean, the NFL has paid out more than a billion dollars on this. That case alone certainly has changed sports at every level. I [00:38:00] mean, youth sports. You know, seven year olds are taking baseline tests to, you know, observe their brain function and capabilities so that if they get a head injury, we have a baseline to compare it to their trainers.
Their parents are more aware of the situation. Coaches are more aware. It may weaken the product on Sundays when you watch an NFL game and nobody can tackle anymore. And Somebody gets hit in the head and suddenly there’s a penalty and an ejection and, you know, I apologize that that’s the net result of this, but it’s making the world a safer place for the athletes that compete in sports.
And ultimately we should be concerned with
Jonathan Hawkins: yeah.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, you know, you talked a lot about sort of the fortuitous events that have sort of led to opportunities in your career. So, you know, this NFL concussion. I guess you would trace it back, at least part of it, back to your participation in that radio show among other things. Anything else? You know that, do you still do the radio show?
Is that something you still do, or?
Bruce Hagen: That station disbanded, but I’m now on 680 The Fan and I go on with Chuck and Chernoff probably every other week. We have like a running, running gag where I come on wanting to do my sports opinions and they always. Seem to lose the connection on our call right before they get to ask me my opinions on, you know, what do I think about the upcoming college football playoff or whatever it might be.
But yeah, I still do it. I still enjoy it. And through that station I’ve been doing my own podcast called Your Day in Court with [00:40:00] my buddy Ray Juche, who’s a criminal lawyer. And also has been advertising on the stage for a long time. And we probably produced about 150 episodes of that show.
I’m just covering general legal topics. It’s usually one of two things. Either there’s a story that was in the news that week that that caught everybody’s attention. So we’ll talk about that or the kind of evergreen legal issues. Like what do I do if I get pulled over? What do I do in a roadblock? What kind of liability do I have if I host a party in my house over the holidays?
You know, just what sort of insurance do I need on my car? The kind of things that people always need to hear. So it’s kind of a combination of the two.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, you know, I’m sure you get this question a lot, I do, from younger lawyers. They ask, you know, how do I develop business? You know, some of the tried and true is just Meet a lot of people. Some people advertise. You’ve done a lot of things including this radio show, which not everybody gets the opportunity to do that.
Have you seen any, you know, actual, other than NFL stuff, you know, clients [00:41:00] you could sort of trace to your exposure or your relationships you developed from doing the show? Or is it really just sort of a fun, fun thing for you?
Bruce Hagen: It’s a fun thing. It’s more of a fun thing than it is a profit deal. Again, not having gone to business school. I think if I had and we’re better at looking at things like return on investment, I would look at this and realize that. Okay. The direct pipeline of cases that come through the efforts that I do in the money I spend with radio doesn’t match up, but it is a matter of branding.
It is a matter of familiarity. People may not call me, but they know who I am sometimes, you know, if they listen to sports talk radio. And so it gives me a little bit of credibility. And I certainly have gotten enough calls over the years to justify continuing it. What I’ve seen, though, is a lot of firms that will come on the radio And they’ll come on for a short campaign of three months or six months, and then they give it up.
And I understand why, [00:42:00] because it’s not this direct. Pipeline like, you know, if I, if I wanted to really turn my efforts to internet market, you know, you can, you can quite easily figure out what the acquisition cost is for every single case you have, you know, I, I spend this much money. I get this much. I get this many contacts, we retain this many clients from that, and I can figure it out that, you know, it cost me this much for every contact that comes through and this much for every retained case we get.
And I have a pretty good idea. And, and say, all right, if it’s, if I’m, if it’s costing me 2, 500 to retain a case and I make 7, 500 on that case, maybe it’s worthwhile, right? That doesn’t work with at least my type of radio advertising and it’s really not what I’m trying to do either. So, you know, with young lawyers, it’s.
It’s a difficult situation. I will say that you know, social media has made it really easy to create an impression about your abilities without actually having the abilities there in the first place. I mean, there, there are some lawyers, [00:43:00] including one in particular. Who, you know, you would think this guy is the greatest lawyer in the world.
And I’m telling you, he’s, he’s not, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I hear, I hear the advice that he gives out. That’s like, this is so wrong. This is just bad, but his presentation is great. His marketing of himself is shameless and great. And he’s got an enormous following, you know, and so what is a 25 year old who’s in a car wreck going to do?
Are they going to go to the person they see on TikTok all the time? That does, you know, silly things. They don’t know the quality of that lawyer. They just know who it is or they’re going to go to somebody who has tried 200 plus cases who has the respect of every single judge and adjuster in town and any mediator who sees everybody would tell you, yeah, that’s a great lawyer.
But doesn’t have the slick tiktok ads and isn’t on instagram and whatever is next, you know, so it’s, it’s a weird time where you can create this perception [00:44:00] about yourself based on fumes and no one’s gonna know and, and, and that will bring you money, right? And eventually you get, you know, that it becomes a reality.
Oh, you must be a good lawyer. Look what he’s doing. The other way to do it is to spend a fortune on tv and, you know, look, there are all these banks out there willing to loan money to support ad campaigns. Like I said, I, I’m willing to take a chance on myself. I’ve never been willing to go into massive debt to pursue work.
I have done everything I’ve done without borrowing a dime to, to finance my practice. The exception being, I did get a line of credit. Once I, I probably should have had an associate attorney about three years before I did. Same thing with paralegal legal assistant. I should have had staff, right?
And I was always afraid of parlors because I just didn’t want to have to take on the responsibility. of, you know, somebody else getting paid every two weeks and knowing that I had to keep them fed, too, in addition to myself. So I delayed it [00:45:00] longer than I should have but, you know, even there, so I eventually got a line of credit for the sole reason of, if we’re in a lull and hit a low spot, I’m fine if I don’t eat, but I gotta make sure that the people who work for me are eating, and so I had a line of credit set up for that reason, and I think I’ve used it twice.
Jonathan Hawkins: You know, the hiring question, that, that is something that a lot of, you know, lawyers who start firms, it’s a huge decision, sounds like it was for you too, and it took you three, four years to do it. You know, once you did it, did it open up a whole new world or, you know, you said you wish you had done it earlier.
Any advice to others out there that may be on the fence
Bruce Hagen: Well, absolutely. It was the right thing for me to do. And it did open things up because I could, I could a, you know, focus on the work more. I could focus on developing relationships, contacts. I didn’t have to be there to answer the phone and return every call and do everything myself. And you know, automation has, has made it a lot easier for people to be in Multiple [00:46:00] places at once.
Right? It wasn’t that way in 1992. If I wasn’t in the office. I wasn’t in the office, you know, that’s all it came to. And, and there was no cell phone to reach me at. So, you know, if, if I left on a Friday and came in on a Monday, there were voicemails. for me. It’s like someone had to take down that message.
Someone had to return that call. That someone was always me. And if I was going to court, because, like I said, trying a lot of cases days would go by when I wouldn’t even get the messages that people had called, you know, so it was not a good way to practice. But, you know, yeah, I think it’s important. I know we live in an ego driven world and perceptions.
You know, we create a reality for you, but the car you drive is not that big a deal when you’re starting out the quality of your office furniture. And the, the, you know, everybody wants to be Harvey on suits and look so slick. You need to really focus on where you’re spending your money. And if you have expensive habits, it’s going to catch up with you.
It’s just not enough [00:47:00] work to get started. So, you know, keep it modest, keep the overhead down. Don’t try to live the life that you think somebody else is living because you see them on Instagram looking so beautiful and killing it, right? You’ve got to focus on yourself and your priorities first. And so keep your costs down.
You’ll get to a point where people know that you are and you’re able to do things. But I mean, I did it the old fashioned way. I honestly don’t know that it works today, but still to this day, our number one source of business is not any of the advertising we do. It’s not any of the referrals from doctors.
And I think that our number one source of business are happy clients who come back to us again or refer people to us without question. I mean, we look at the numbers. Every month and every year. And we see where our business comes from, and it’s because we take care of people and we do it one at a time.
And we, and we value them and let them know that they’re valuable and they matter. [00:48:00] And I think that it’s a slow burn to try to build a practice up that way. And not everybody has the patience or consistency to do it. But it pays off eventually, you know, I mean, I think everybody in their practice, you know, if you’re doing it right.
You get to a point where suddenly it’s, I don’t know if it’s critical mass or what, but like the cases find you and, and, and, you know, you, you actually don’t have to beat the bushes in the same way you started out doing it because it just kind of happens. You know, the reality is people don’t want to take a chance on that.
And be, I think, sit back and and wait for it to happen because they want, they want it today, you
Jonathan Hawkins: know, in a conversation I have with a lot of lawyers too, is, you know, I tell people if you want to increase the value of your firm, build assets. People go, what are you talking about, what assets, what do you mean, it’s just me. And I say, well, one asset is your former client list. And just because you have a long list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a valuable asset.
You’ve got to figure out a [00:49:00] way to work the list, stay in touch with your client, former clients, let them know you’re still there, you know, send them birthday cards, whatever you do. But the folks at, you know, you, you are another person that has told me that they’ve had success that way. I’ve heard of others too where, you know, they’re basically the, the large percentage of their firm revenue comes from the list, their former client list.
And I assume you have a way to stay in touch with them. I’ve had this conversation with some folks and it’s happened to me personally, where a client called me, this is more of a business matter, but they called me. about some flare up of some dispute and they said, yeah, you know, a few years ago we used some other lawyer and I said, well, why didn’t you go back to that lawyer?
And they said, well, I don’t remember who it is.
Bruce Hagen: yeah, that’s a real problem. And, and we don’t do as good a job of it as some folks do. You know, I’ll, I’ll see people that do these periodic bursts of activity through social media [00:50:00] or email newsletter or something like that. It’s like, wait a second. I got three things. In the last two weeks from you and I haven’t heard anything for a year.
You know, it’s all of a sudden somebody reminds me, you know, I have to, you have to do this. Oh yeah. Yeah. Okay. Let’s send out the email. Let’s do this. And it needs to be, I think, consistent to stay on top of people’s minds so that when they have something come up again, they know who you are. I will tell you that since COVID, it really has changed things in our practice.
Some of them are better and a lot are worse. always believed clients wanted to meet me and I wanted to meet every client we had. And so if somebody called with a new car wreck case, or if we got a call from a doctor’s office, Hey, we’ve got a potential referral for you. It’s like, that’s great. Let’s set up a time to meet with them.
I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t chasing people down to the chiropractor’s office quite so often. I’ll still go to Grady, but I wasn’t going to You know, the chiropractor’s office so often. So, you know, we tell our staff, Hey, set up an appointment with so and so to come on in here and meet me.
[00:51:00] It might be a week. It might be two weeks sometimes where they come in. But I always like that. Okay. We sat down. We spent 30 minutes together. I know you, I evaluate you, you evaluate me, we can establish a little bit of a bond. The main reason I did this is twofold. Number one, I told you I was trying every case for a period of time.
Well, in that first meeting, I can tell like, is this somebody who I cannot take to court? Like this is not somebody that we’re going to be able to try their case because put them in court and the case goes down the crapper immediately. So I wanted to make that assessment. But the second part of it is.
What am I going to do to stand out from these other guys? How are you going to remember me? What can I do to help you remember me? Because you’re going to have another rec six months from now, a year from now, five years from now. I need you to know who I am and remember me. Right? So then COVID changed the world and suddenly.
Remote signups became the [00:52:00] norm. Nobody wanted to come to the office. And I thought, you know, clients want to meet their lawyers. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. They don’t care. They don’t distinguish me from you, from anybody they saw on TV, from any billboard they saw, or anything they see on the Internet.
They just, they know they need a lawyer. And now they have one. Right? And if it was somebody who was recommended to them by a friend or a doctor, or, you know, I’m part of various different business networks and things like this, if they refer to me through these sources, fine, but I have no more credibility than the next guy.
And the only thing they know about us is, is that, you know, what happens after and then when they get their check. And, and so what have I done to try to make them really remember us? I, I think that we’re going to be feeling the effect of this in the years to come is like, hang on, we’ve always relied on referrals from clients.
Why are these numbers shrinking? Well, we don’t have the same bond we once did with our clients. So you know, we try to make it, we try to[00:53:00] be aware of this. We try to make them feel special. and we ask them to come and we always want people to come in to pick up their checks if nothing else and we make a big deal out of it so that they meet everybody here, you know, like these, this is the receptionist you’ve been speaking with all this time.
This is the case manager has been helping you all the way. This is the demand person who did those. Negotiations with your health insurance and doctors over reducing your bills. This is, these are the lawyers who worked on your case. You know, this is, this, all of us are here for you. And, and, and hopefully they remember it.
But, you know, we’ll see. I just think the constant barrage of TV and billboard and internet based ads. overwhelming. And it for every every lawy that to try to find a way you know, I, I know the b used to say, oh, be sure it is something, but I just think it’s going to take a lot more than that in this market.
Jonathan Hawkins: That’s, that’s an interesting insight will be interesting [00:54:00] to see how that plays out. So another thing we have not talked about yet is there’s a book that you’ve, that you write or have written. Tell me
Bruce Hagen: Oh, yeah. Forgot about that. I forgot about that completely. I’m the the author of uh, a great treatise on CAR X. I guess it’s hard to see, but it’s, yeah, Litigating Minor Impact Soft Tissue Cases, published by AAJ Press. Once again, another happy accident, but I was at a different National Convention for Trial Lawyers, and somehow it came up that I might be interested in this, and the people who handle the publishing side of things said, hey, we’re looking for an update author to kind of take over this project because The people who had done it before we’re moving on to other things.
Would I be interested? I said, yeah, that sounds fine. They, they I, I just thought, okay, this has gotta be a good selling point if I can tell people that I literally wrote the book on handling these sort of cases. And so, I now do an annual update. Either writing a new [00:55:00] chapter or updating old chapters of this three volume set.
And then out of the blue one day, I got a royalty check. I mean, they never mentioned that there would be payment for this, but you know, every so often a royalty check shows up. It’s not life changing, but it is always exciting when it comes. so, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s just another thing. You know, I mean, I, I think the weight of all these things, you know, Georgia super lawyers, right?
I mean, we, we. Have this peer based award for lack of a better word. That means nothing in and of itself, but it’s just another thing to sort of have there. That’s a recognition and. Yeah, one lawyer might look at that and say, Oh, that’s just silly. You know, million dollar advocates forum. That’s just silly.
But I don’t know that the clients feel that way. And you know, they may notice more like the absence of accolades, like where’s his, where are the badges? This other law firm, I looked at their website, had this, you know, all these awards they done or mentioned all these big verdicts and settlements. How come this guy doesn’t have it?[00:56:00]
So you know, you just never know. And to me, it’s all part of like the collective. Things that you do to try to lift yourself up. And, and so it’s, I would have to say from my experience, it’s never been just one thing. That has led to building out a fully formed law firm and a practice that I don’t have to look day to day of where’s the money coming from.
I feel like I can look a few months ahead now and even beyond that. But it was never just one thing. It was always the collective effect of all the various. efforts on it. And I’ll give you one more happy accident. I had been in several different referral services. You know, this is another thing I tell young voters.
There are a lot of people out there who are happy to take your money. And and that would promise you various things. We’ll get you, you know, first page of every Google search in your zip code. We’ll do this. We’ll do that. And they’re happy to put these programs together and take your money. And I’ve never found one that truly delivered. [00:57:00] And I just gotten through being part of one of these lawyer referral services back 15 years ago. Um, and, and I don’t think I got a single case out of it. So my phone rings and it’s like, Hey, this is so and so I’m out here in California and we’ve got some cases to refer you. I was giving your name and you know, it.
Here, here, you might be interested. I’m like, you know what? I’m done. I’m, and I was so angry. I was, I was really nasty to this guy. I say, yeah, right. How much do I have to pay you for this? He goes, no, no, I’m serious. I’m a lawyer in California. I have a case to refer to you. And so I said, yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.
And I all but hung up on him. Well, this then led to first, first of all, I got a few cases. Okay. Sounds good. Maybe a little money. And, and was, you know, had a referral to send back to this guy, but it had been a couple of years since I had heard from him. Well, it turns out that he was sitting on this massive referral network of cases that have, they come from employee assistance plans primarily [00:58:00] being used by fortune 500 companies and companies of that caliber.
So big companies that have these employee assistance plans that include some legal services benefit. Well, yeah. He was in litigation for those two years. Over whether he could, could assert his right to have the exclusive referral for every single civil case that came out of these networks nationwide.
And the litigation turned out in his favor and it was done so like right when I was to the point of, you know, I’m never going to hear from this guy again. He calls me up and says, Hey, I’ve got great news. The TAP is going to open up. Let’s meet and talk about it. I flew to Sacramento the next day. We cemented a partnership.
I actually had a partnership agreement with them and I’ve been the exclusive Georgia lawyer in this program now for about 12 years, 13 years or so. And again, it’s not, none of it is life changing, but you just don’t know. And if we get one case a month or five cases a month, something comes out of it.
And it just kind of builds the lift [00:59:00] and then, you know, the geometric effect you hope to have is okay. If you had five cases there and now you have empowered five more people to be your advocate out in the community and from those five, you get one case each, you know, and you have five happy clients. Now you have one, you have five more and they can do the same thing too.
And that’s how, you know, over time it grows by taking care of people one at a time. Making them feel like they, they are important and they’re valued and being honest with them, ideally doing a great job and giving them a great result. But, you know, I tell people all the time, I can’t promise you a great result.
I can just promise you this. We’re going to be very responsive to you. We’re going to give you honest advice the whole way through, even if you don’t like it. And if everything lines up the way it should, yeah, we’ll get you a great result. But I can’t tell you if and when that’s going to happen. I just know that it happens more than it doesn’t because that’s how I’m still in business 37 years later.
Jonathan Hawkins: You know, some of the [01:00:00] themes as we’ve talked here the last hour or so, you know, I guess some of the keys to your success, I’d say, you know, be open to the universe for whatever it sort of throws your way, be willing to experiment you know, do things that you like. You know, the, the, the sports, the bike lawyer, the, the the radio show you know, have fun with it and things will sort of.
Take care of themselves. But I think key is you got to do a lot of different things. You got to be consistent I think that’s the
Bruce Hagen: think so too. That’s that. That is the key word. And the other thing I would say too, is if you can really find community that you’re, that you can be part of. I mean, for you, Jonathan, I think the community that you have found is great because, you know, the legal community needs people who understand the legal needs of lawyers and law firms.
And it’s a defined community. You’re part of the community yourself. It’s, it’s. easy to target the people who are your potential customers and get a message to [01:01:00] them that they can hear and to stay on top of it. That’s not to say what you do is easy. I just mean that gets a defined subset of the larger, greater metropolitan land area.
If you just say, you know, I want to sell my services to drivers, right? People who drive cars. That’s such a massive thing. How do you do that? Right? That’s like, let’s just throw a net out there and hope we get something in there. But if you’re, but if you’re saying, you know what, I like playing Mahjong and I’m going to promote Mahjong tournaments and I’m going to do it where I play Mahjong.
We create a Mahjong league and I’m going to be the lawyer for the Mahjong community and make sure that The 50 people who show up on a weekly basis for these mahjong leagues know that this league is supported by law office of whoever, you know, your mahjong lawyer whatever it might be, there are communities out there that have needs and I learned that through the NFL case and, and, and, and here’s the thing about it, that, that it sounds silly, right?
The mahjong league, and I’m just, there’s just [01:02:00] something off the top of my head, but, but those 50 people who show up for mahjong They talk, right? And they talk amongst themselves. And so one of them says, you know, my niece had a car wreck and I sent them to that lawyer and he, she said he never returned any calls and he didn’t answer her emails and, and things just happened for a year and a half and she never knew what was going on.
And then she fired him. Well, guess what? You’ve just squandered a great opportunity compared to, you know, my niece hired that, that lawyer that sponsors our Mahjong League and he did the greatest job for her and was so, communicative and answered all, all her calls. And yeah. Responsive email quickly and now suddenly people’s ears perk up saying, Oh, well, I know someone who just had a crash, right?
And so within all these little subsets of the community, there’s a kind of fraternity or sorority and a network right there that when you can tap into that for better or worse, it [01:03:00] can help you and it can break you like in the football thing. initially, it was an enormous help. What happened was that leader of the case I was telling you about essentially screwed things up in a big, big way.
And the same people who were talking you up are now like, Oh, well, now they’re not doing it. And so it just, it can talk you down as well. So when I tell people in the bike world that, you know, yes, they matter to me, like all my cases matter to me, all my clients matter to me. Yeah. But that they matter to me more.
I don’t really mean in the sense like we’re going to do anything else, but I do mean in the sense that I want to make sure that people within this community who do talk and ride together, they talk to each other, they’re on social media groups together, that they’re as happy as they can be with what we do, because I know that they’re talking.
And again, I want to empower them. to be my advocates out there to help bring cases into us that way. So, find your community, that, you know, ultimately, whatever it might be, you may, [01:04:00] maybe you are, I don’t know, you do show dogs or, or you know, you’re active in youth sports or whatever it is, your church or synagogue, there are ways to reach the people who are around you and for them to rely on you as an authority.
for the things that they might need. That’s, you know, you could be a divorce lawyer, trust in the States doesn’t really matter what your area is. As long as people look to you as the thought leader in their community for that thing, you know, everything to me will work out from there.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, you know I’ve enjoyed hearing about how your firm has you know Originated come about and grown as you look to the future You know, what’s next? What do you what do you what do you see? You just whatever happens happens or do you?
Bruce Hagen: I honestly don’t know. I look at what’s going on with self driving cars as a game changer for a lot of industries, but this one in particular because driving [01:05:00] cars, they don’t drive, they don’t fall as They’re not distracted by that at this point here i they’re not fully fleshed standpoint. But that Some horrible cases, I’m sure that that will happen.
But every time there’s, you know, a disaster from that, they learn how to try to resolve that sort of thing. So, you know, I could really see that 10 years down the road, the number of car wrecks would be drastically reduced. Maybe even eliminated by self driving cars. So what are we going to do? Got to be nimble, right?
Got to think of something else. Got to have some other skill set. I mean, suing the manufacturers of self driving vehicles for the design flaws, right? Might as well start learning how that works. There’s going to be other things out there. And I’ve always put my faith in stupid people to overcome smart cars, but [01:06:00] I’m surprised by the commitment among corporate America to this to this idea.
I mean, we see how much money Google and Tesla and General Motors are putting into these fully automated vehicles. And, you know, I’m talking about like fully automated tractor trailers. They’re already out there, right? So it’s that will change my practice. I don’t know. I think that despite any technological advances divorce will never.
Be automated out of existence. People are always gonna need help there. So, maybe that’s that’s the transition we make at some point. We become you know, bike law. We become, you know, ruined marriage law or whatever. And you know, make that transition there. But we’ll see. I, you know, my son is a lawyer works in my practice.
He’s 33 years old. We’ve been lawyer for about eight years. I’m more concerned for what this will look like for him. in 10 years and an old war horse like me who will, you know, hopefully be sipping pina coladas and playing golf and just enjoying my [01:07:00] quiet time while he solves the problems of the world.
Jonathan Hawkins: Well, Bruce, thank you for, for coming on today. We’ve been going for a while. I wanna be respectful of your time, but for those listening, how, how can people find you? And I know you’re doing a lot of different things, so plug whatever you wanna plug.
Bruce Hagen: Yeah, yeah, no, I appreciate it. It’s easy to find me. The firm website is hagen law. com. That’s H A G E N L A W. com. So check out our webpage. We’ve got a ton of great information useful information. One of the most useful things on there is the teenage driver contract that we have parents to go through with their kids and you can customize it to your needs.
It’s nerve wracking having a 16 year old that’s starting to drive. And so this sets out a lot of responsibilities for them as well as for the parents. So Bruce at Hagen Law. com is my email. I don’t typically give this number out, but for listeners of your podcast, I trust their discretion. My cell phone number, you can call me 404 202 2233, 404 202 [01:08:00] 2233.
At Peeps Lawyer on Instagram we’ve got a Bike Law Georgia page on Facebook. You can also email me, email@example.com. That’s an easy one to remember. So if you can’t find me, it’s only because you’re just not trying. I mean, there’s, there’s a million ways to get ahold it.
Jonathan Hawkins: And, and for those in Atlanta when, when does, when do you, when are you on the radio? When can they find
Bruce Hagen: It, it varies week to week, but it’s afternoons on six 80, the fan with Chuck and Chernoff. And then we have a the podcast is aired. on the sister station, which is Atlanta’s only conservative talk radio station. I don’t know how I got on that station, but they run our shows Saturday afternoons at noon.
It’s like 106. 7 The Extra. So they’ll be, you know, all week long it’s Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and Ben Shapiro and then On weekends, it’s me trying to explain to some of the listeners that there’s more to the Constitution than just the Second Amendment.
Jonathan Hawkins: Alright, well thanks Bruce, and hopefully [01:09:00] folks can reach out and find you.
Bruce Hagen: But thank you, man. I really do appreciate it, and enjoy your show, and thanks for having me on.