Jonathan Hawkins: [00:00:00] So you didn’t know you’re going to start your firm, but at some point you said, Hey, I want to be my own boss. You went out and then was it just you? Did you have any help with you when you did it?
Steven Lefkoff: So it was just me doing it all. And the timing was interesting, because it wasn’t like an overnight decision. I really spent a lot of time thinking about it, wondering and determining what my firm would look like, what kind of work I wanted to do, how I wanted to market it, everything from brand and logo and the logo competition, which was pretty cool. Just colors, fonts. I really over, like a lawyer does, I guess, I overanalyzed everything about the decision, including the timing. And what I wanted to do was we had some debts, personal debts to pay off. And I was like, all right, I don’t want to, I don’t want to go jump off the ledge here and take that plunge and risk.
When I still had those debts, I owed, so that played a big role too in the timing and it’s. I credit the folks that just let all that go and [00:01:00] make whatever decision they want to make, but I really thought, had to think it through.
Jonathan Hawkins: All right. Welcome to the founding partner podcast. I’m Jonathan Hawkins excited about my guest today. We got some really cool stuff. We’re going to dive into we got Steven Lefkoff. Steven, why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us about your firm and what you do.
Steven Lefkoff: Sure, I appreciate being on here John, and this is going to be really fun. It’s always fun for me. It’s fun for anyone when they get to talk about themselves. Right. And so without further ado, I guess now [00:02:00] I’m Steven Lefkoff. I am the founder of Lefkoff Law. It’s a general business law firm with a focus in the car space, which we’ll get into later, I’m sure. Here in Atlanta and we represent car businesses. That’s our specialty dealers, finance, repair, repo auction. But I’m also like a serial legal entrepreneur sort of in that. I’m always kind of thinking of ways to make my firm better. And to use technology to do that, but also to hit on pain points that I don’t think a lot of law firms are often thinking about, and I’d love to chat about, I’m sure we are going to chat about that, but that’s really become a hobby of mine.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, your firm now, we’re going to go back to the early days, but now how many folks are at your firm? Is it just you or who do you got?
Steven Lefkoff: So here in person, there are three of us. It’s me, it’s a firm administrator, and it’s an associate attorney. And virtually we’ve got [00:03:00] bookkeeper and a marketing person, you know, all the ancillary. helpers for the law firm, but here full time, there’s three of us. And actually I just went through an exercise with a coach that I have that I absolutely love, where we built an organizational chart. And in the org chart, we have, I have different roles for each person and I’m in, I don’t know, 10 of them maybe right now, but what that did was it opened it up. So that’s a long answer to your short question right now. It’s three people. But over the next 18 months, we’ve got a hiring plan for about seven to 10 more folks.
Jonathan Hawkins: Wow. That’s a lot of growth. I’ll tell you. So last year I tripled the size of my firm. That sounds crazy, but it went from. One and a half to four and a half so and even with that growth, you know, it was quite a lot It was quite a lot everything changed and you know adding you’re basically going to more than double yours That’s going to be quite the adventure, but that’s awesome.
I like it
Steven Lefkoff: We’re sort of matching each [00:04:00] other because I did the same. It was one, it was just me until about a year and a half ago. We’ll call it a year and a half ago. And that’s when I hired a virtual assistant. And hired our associate attorney and he’s been kicking butt and the virtual assistant, I’m an in person. And so after about a year, I realized I really need people here. And so that virtual assistant role became our firm admin person who is here.
Jonathan Hawkins: So I want to get into the growth, but let’s go back to the beginning But you know, when did you start your firm and what were you doing before that?
Steven Lefkoff: Sure. Great
Jonathan Hawkins: you didn’t come straight out of law school and start your firm, did you? Or
Steven Lefkoff: No, no, I did not. And God bless the people that do. I can’t imagine. Doing it from scratch without knowing what I know or what I knew when I started my first. I graduated for the University of Georgia school of law in 2010 and went to work for a small firm here in the perimeter [00:05:00] area.
And it was. I guess some people call it like a door law firm, right? If it walks in the door, they did it. And that was for me, it was a broad. Opening to a lot of different areas of law, everything from. Criminal defense to family, they’re touched on a little a lot of business. All kinds of things, right? It really ran the gamut. My undergrad degree was in finance. And so my mind and my interest really went towards our business clients. I understood what they were going through the black, the white, the green, the red of everything that goes into making business decisions as much as legal decisions. And so I started gravitating towards that work there at that firm. And they happen to have a small practice in car law in representing car companies. And I just ran with that and started really making that my focus. And then in 2017, I left that firm to start my own where I could be my own boss, make my own decisions and boost my own ego, I guess. But it’s been a [00:06:00] decision I’ve never looked back from, to be quite honest with you. And I was fortunate enough that I’ve been able to grow the firm with the help now of my team. Since that point,
Jonathan Hawkins: did you always know you were going to start your firm?
Steven Lefkoff: I not always know I was going to start my firm. I didn’t even want to be a lawyer for a very long time, even though my father is one, my dad’s a local bankruptcy attorney and I wanted nothing to do with anything legal until I was studying abroad in London and the pound to dollar exchange rate was horrendous. Back then and I basically ran out of money in my budget and went looking for free things to do and back then we didn’t have like internet repositories to look up where what you could do where the best places were whatever I had a book right and in the book there was a section on free stuff and one of them was to go watch a trial at the old Bailey courthouse. Which is the original London, England courthouse. And I walked into that place and [00:07:00] sat there and watched the pageantry of British court and they all had wigs on, everybody had robes. The attorneys had, I’m like watching this thinking, this is the coolest thing. Like not just that what they were doing, but how they were doing it. And I said, then I want to be an attorney and I come back to America. I started going through the process, apply for law schools, go through law school, graduate from law school, walk into my 1st court trial, which was. A magistrate court case in Cobb County Magistrate Court. And it was nothing like what I
Jonathan Hawkins: your wig. Come on.
Steven Lefkoff: I didn’t have a wig. I didn’t bring a wig. I, it was, you know, I mean, those magistrate courtrooms, let’s say they lack the pageantry and the decorum of certainly of what I saw in London. It was a rude awakening to what I had signed myself up
Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. One day I’ll tell you my very first trial as a young associate was in mag court. It was one that, you know, it was a favorite case. I got to do it all by myself. [00:08:00] I treated it like it was, you know, the biggest Supreme Court case you’re ever going to see. I have to tell you about that one day. It was, that was hilarious.
But yeah, I have a similar story. So my dad was a lawyer and I did not want to be a lawyer. Yeah. You know, I want to do my own thing. I was like, I’m not going to be a lawyer, but here I am ended up being a lawyer. Different path, but yeah, exactly. Okay. So you didn’t know you’re going to start your firm, but at some point you said, Hey, I want to be my own boss.
You went out and then was it just you? Did you have any help with you when you did it?
Steven Lefkoff: So it was just me doing it all. And the timing was interesting, because it wasn’t like an overnight decision. I really spent a lot of time thinking about it, wondering and determining what my firm would look like, what kind of work I wanted to do, how I wanted to market it, everything from brand and logo and the logo competition, which was pretty cool. Just colors, fonts. I really over, [00:09:00] like a lawyer does, I guess, I overanalyzed everything about the decision, including the timing. And what I wanted to do was we had some debts, personal debts to pay off. And I was like, all right, I don’t want to, I don’t want to go jump off the ledge here and take that plunge and risk. When I still had those debts, I owed so that played a big role too in the timing and it’s. I credit the folks that just let all that go and make whatever decision they want to make, but I really thought, had to think it through.
Jonathan Hawkins: And when you started, did you have clients came with you? Did you have a base clients?
Steven Lefkoff: I did, but not by design. So I, out of respect for my old firm, I did not tell a soul except my wife and my parents that I was starting my firm. I didn’t tell any clients. I didn’t, you know, this is the date, mark your calendar. I didn’t send out any emails, nothing behind the back. I really trusted the relationships I had, but also didn’t want to burn any bridges. And so I went out on my own. [00:10:00] I started sending out emails after that, just announcing that it was happening and was fortunate that a couple of clients did. Send business my way.
Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. You know, folks that are starting the firm, their firms, that’s. Obviously a huge issue without clients, it’s hard to make money. So tell me a bit, a little bit about, we’ll get into some of the details, but how do you charge your clients? Is it I know there’s some different things you do, we’ll get into all that, but are you sort of a traditional, let’s call it hourly type firm?
Or do you do contingency, flat fee work, combination of all the above?
Steven Lefkoff: Yeah, so because most of our work is with business clients, it’s for the most part out. We do try to work on as many flat fees as we can. It’s easier for the client to budget. They know what they’re paying for. They know what they’re getting. We’re moving. I’ve got, it’s, this is secret sauce that I don’t want to really reveal, but we’re trying to move to a predominantly flat fee model. And I’ve [00:11:00] got this idea on how I want to sell that. Bye. Right now, we’re that’s a 2024 goal. Right now, we’re really for the most part, a traditional hourly firm. We have. I would say just for your audience, I guess we have lower initial retainers. Part of the nice thing about being a small firm is that we can pivot and really help people that we want to help and that we think need help.
And that’s not everyone has, not every business owner has a 20, 000 retainer that they can drop on a piece of litigation, right? That really hurts their cashflow. And so we really reduce those to try and grow the relationship because. Another thing, as you know, in your firm, we’re not, because we’re a business firm, we’re different than like your PI or your divorce.
Like, I really hope I don’t ever see that client again. Right. We want to fix them. We want to get that contingency fee. We want to get them set up. We want to do whatever we need to do for the client, but if you see them again, that’s a problem, right? For [00:12:00] my folks, I really want to have that relationship. I want to see my clients regularly, not because they have problems, but because we’re maybe preventing. Something from happening, we’re reviewing a contract before they execute it where, you know, dealing with a customer complaint, maybe at the very early stages and not later on. You know, those are the kinds of things that I’m hoping for is to have.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, it’s you, an associate, and an assistant how long have they been with you? Was it was you last, was it about a year and a half ago you said you added those folks?
Steven Lefkoff: That’s right. I started with the virtual assistant about two and a half years. That was the first time I had somebody who I really worked with on a regular basis. It wasn’t me doing everything. And then last, we’ll call it last summer, year and a half. 2022 summer is when I hired my associate attorney, the firm’s associate attorney. And then this past summer in 23,[00:13:00] hired our full time admin in the office.
Jonathan Hawkins: So what, you know, here’s a question, it’s interesting you’ve already mapped out your org chart, I think that’s awesome. I think, you know, that, that’s an exercise that a lot of law firm leaders don’t do. I think, you know, thinking ahead, thinking. Where you want to go and then going to do that as opposed to just sort of letting things happen Which seems like a lot of firms do there’s sort of just go where the tide takes them
You know, you know where you want to go and you know what box you want to be in on that org chart Tell me about sort of your typical work week or work day now first You know in the business on the business doing client work versus not now versus where you think it’ll be Or hope it to be in a year or so from now.
Steven Lefkoff: It’s just a great question. Right now it’s just chaos. Like it balance, balancing all of that is it’s very difficult. I mean, there’s just no way around it, right? It’s hard to. It’s hard to be working on the business and in the business at the same time and be able to devote [00:14:00] the energy necessary to both of those things to get where you want to go, right?
That’s the hardest part. And the org chart’s great, but it really puts pressure on me to get to that point, right? Like it’s, everyone can work in the weeds on a day to day basis and work towards their on the business in the business goals. But until you really write them out, you go, Oh man, I really, how am I going to get there? Right? And so like now what I do is I tend, so my, I mean, our week is pretty planned out. Monday mornings, we have a case meeting where we go through everything every morning. And that meeting can take anywhere from 30 minutes if we’re in a time crunch to two and a half hours, just depending on how much we have to go through. And the whole point of that meeting that we talk about on the business, it serves two purposes for me. Number one, I’m still very involved in the cases, of course, right? But number two, it’s training the associate on all the facts of the case, the strategy in the case, what’s [00:15:00] happened in the past, what needs to happen in the future.
And so it is, it’s a training exercise as much as anything else. So that’s our Monday morning meeting. Then I spend Tuesday, Thursdays in the afternoons answering client calls. And the reason for that, and we batch those. is so that I can spend time in other days of the week on work on the business. Instead of in it, right? If we just take call and we can talk about how I handle email too. It’s the same idea Is that we batch everything and I set up specific times when i’m dealing with that Because it’s too often the case that you go through a whole day and feel like you got nothing done Because you spent this hour on an unscheduled call you spent that hour dealing with some other issue You spent this 30 minutes dealing with an hr problem and you haven’t Scheduled the time right to where now you’ve wasted a whole day, right?
So I want to make sure that I have time set out to be able to address in the business and on the business at [00:16:00] different times.
Jonathan Hawkins: You mentioned email. Huge issue for me and every lawyer out there. We’re sitting there trying to get something done and then the bombs just start dropping in the email, you know. It’s not our doing. They’re just coming in and it’s a tendency we have to just. React and deal with them along the way.
I, the way you handle email is very interesting. Why don’t you talk about that? I reached out to you via email and I got this automated response. Talk me through that and taught me how you got there. This, how did you figure this out and how did you plan it? You’re a planner. Where did you figure out how to address your email that way?
Steven Lefkoff: So I caught myself dealing with a fire that was not a fire. We all do it. Everyone in the law, every law firm owner, every attorney gets an email or a phone call or something from a client that the client thinks is an emergency that isn’t right now. There’s a balancing act there of. To convey to the client that it’s not an emergency without [00:17:00] downplaying the relationship, right?
You don’t want them to think you don’t care. But at the same time, we’re busy and I can’t drop everything every time a client thinks there’s an emergency. So what we did was we’ve set up now basically an email triage system and we have multiple different email addresses. There’s clients at Lefkoff Law, there’s attorneys at Lefkoff Law, we each have individual emails that we try not to give out email addresses, we try and funnel, there’s info at Lefkoff Law for like all the other dredge that you may never answer. But there are these email addresses that funnel to our admin who checks the email and then assigns it. We use a program called Spark, but Front is another one. I think even Gmail now is starting to get into the G Suite stuff where you can do this. But in Spark, what we do is she’ll review the emails and then assign them to the people they need to go to. And so I’ll get batched three or four emails assigned to me. Anthony, our [00:18:00] associate, will get three or four emails assigned to him if there’s things that, on cases he’s working on, right? And that way, if you email the right email address, then it gets to the right people. And then we have the catch all SOS at Lefkof Law, which I was worried about doing because I’m like, every client thinks every emergency is an SOS. I think in the year plus that we’ve been doing this, I think we’ve gotten three SOS emails. And those go different because they automatically get assigned to all of us, and they go into a Slack channel. We use Slack as well for communication. So they go into a Slack channel called SOS. So it’s like whoever can handle it first. We get an SOS, acknowledge receipt, we have a whole process, handle that email, stop what you’re doing. And of those three, two were not emergencies, they just clients thought they were, but we handle those differently.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, so I want to follow up, but first, hopefully your personal email is a weird combination and not your name. So someone can’t figure [00:19:00] it out, right?
Steven Lefkoff: It should be.
Jonathan Hawkins: We got to make it your nickname. So how did you figure that out? Did someone teach this to you? Did you read it in book? Did you, is it trial and error? How did you figure this system out? I think it’s pretty unique. I’ve never. I’m sure other, there are folks out there that do it, but I have not encountered it except with you.
Steven Lefkoff: I have a couple attorney mentors. One is a guy named Tyson Mutrix out of St. Louis, Missouri area, I think he’s just outside of St. Louis now, he’s moved a little bit, but Tyson and I talk a lot. He’s I don’t know if you’re familiar with the maximum lawyer group on Facebook for those that aren’t, it’s a tremendous resource for business owners like us who don’t have partners to fall back on, don’t have, you know, the guides. That a lot of other partnerships have, right? We, it’s a lonely place sometimes to be quite honest with you being a sole law firm owner where you’ve got to make all the decisions for your firm. You’ve got to figure out what works, what doesn’t work and what you like and don’t like. And [00:20:00] that’s not the easiest place to be.
So leaning on those folks. Somebody posted, they have a Facebook group called Maximum Order. Someone posted once, how do you handle email? And I saw a comment on someone that used this program called Front, and I started looking into it, and Spark was just more affordable at the time, I think it still is. So that’s the program I went with, but then I started just brainstorming. How can we make this better? And that’s part of our admin meetings. We meet all the time on exactly that kind of stuff. How can we be better at the things that we’re doing? And I took a lot of heat for it, to be honest with you, like a lot of friends. That email me and get that kickback are like, you know, what’s the deal, man? Like, what do I have to do to get in touch with you? Right. But clients get it. They understand because they’re the same way, right? Nobody wants to get a barrage of emails. That either a are emergencies or be it’s not the way we work. So I’ll tell you 1 of the things we do. We just started doing this. Actually, [00:21:00] as the team was growing is once a quarter. Now we have workshop. So we have a workshop day. We just had 1 about a week and a half ago where we close the office. And the entire team puts themselves on do not disturb on their cell phones. We go the 1st, when we did out of office that we borrowed another attorneys. conference room because when you leave your office, I feel like you just be more productive. This last one we did at our office in our conference, but we have an agenda. We have exactly what we’re going to work through. And we spend the whole day, I call it a workshop because you’re actually working to improve whatever it is that we’re working on. So like this, I’ll give you an example. This last one we did we spent the whole day working on our task automations. And we went through, okay, what happens when, and we had all these scenarios, what happens when a client sends us a contract to review by email? If you really get granular, it’s not just, oh, we get the email, we review the contract and we respond. No. We create the [00:22:00] matter. We save the contract in our system. We assign the email or the task. We put the task in our task list. We write in our client management software, the body of the email so that we can capture exactly what it is that they’re asking us to do. We confirm receipt with the client, like we have all of these things.
Then we got to set up the billing. We got to build, like, we wrote through all, it was a big mess, right? But we wrote out every step of the process. And then we assigned to each person, okay, whose role, this goes back to that org chart. Right. Whose role in the firm is it to do each of these things? And so the email is the same way.
Like it gets back to what we’re talking about with email is how do we make that better? And then how do we then get truly granular and determine, okay, who is doing what, when, and how are they doing it? That’s for us, that’s what everything comes. You talk about working on the business and it’s another long answer, but I’m a lawyer, right?
We get paid hourly. So [00:23:00] it’s it goes back to how do we make things better in the firm? And we’ve done it with these workshop days. we had, we’ve done it with email the same way, but it’s really taking a step back. And that’s something we can do a whole podcast on this. I don’t think enough attorneys take a step back. We’re all in the weeds. We’re all dealing with issues. We’re all like, and then we’re exhausted at the end of the day,
right? And you don’t take that moment, right? To go, okay what’s working, what’s not working, what could be made better? What is unnecessary? You know, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
And so we’ve found that we just have to turn off for a while. There’s no other way to do it for us.
Jonathan Hawkins: I think that is a great idea. I’ve not heard of anybody else doing that, but you know, you take the workshop day, you get to work on the business. The other good thing about it is you’re include, you’re including your entire team to get input from everyone. So they all feel like they’re contributing as opposed to you coming in one day and say, this is it.
This is the question I have for you on that. It’ll be interesting to see a year and a half from [00:24:00] now when you have 15 people. You may have to have different groups of workshops. I’m not, it’s going to get a little hairy if you have everybody in the same workshop. We’ll see how that evolves, but I know you’ll figure it out because, you know, the thing you mentioned about the Maximum Lawyer Group, I’m in it I don’t ever go to Facebook anymore, so I don’t really participate in it, but.
But, you know, the fact the mentors, very important for younger lawyers, really any lawyer, particularly an owner it’s one thing to get the advice, but you actually act on it. That’s another very important piece. And then I’m sure you’ve given back and now you are the mentor to a lot of folks because you’ve done a lot of cool stuff.
That after hearing it and learning it and implementing it so that’s really cool. So let’s shift real quick. So you talked about your firm is one niche area, sort of the, I’ll call it the, what do you call it, the car industry, the auto industry, how do you? How do you describe it?
Steven Lefkoff: I say that we represent car businesses.
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay.[00:25:00]
Steven Lefkoff: That’s how I described that.
Jonathan Hawkins: So I’m a huge believer in niche, niching down. I think it’s probably easier in a city versus a small town practice. I acknowledge that. But I’m a huge believer. I think people are very scared of that oftentimes. What’s been your experience in just going I wouldn’t say all in but you’ve gone pretty deep into the car industry, right?
Steven Lefkoff: Oh yeah. Yeah. And my version of niching is different than a lot of others because I don’t have a practice area niche. I have like an industry niche, right? So where you have the PI lawyer, the divorce lawyer, the business litigator, the estate planner, these are all. Broad industries, right? Broad client base doing a particular thing. And for us, we have a very narrow client base, but we do a broad thing and broad things, I guess, but and so, so that’s been a very interesting path. It’s [00:26:00] been rewarding for the firm. It’s been rewarding for me personally. But it definitely is not normal. It’s not the normal way that a lot of law firms. are creating business, but for us, it really works.
And the reason it really works is because we’re able to market towards those businesses, right? If you think, I mean, your law firm GC, right? It’s the same idea.
Your law firm clients, right? Your law firm clients have all kinds of different practice areas for sure, but you attract all of them as GC. For law firms, right? And so what we do is essentially that we’re GC general counsel for car businesses And so we’re I tell people all the time where the gateway attorneys I like it I’ll tell you this. I hope this doesn’t dumb down what we do because we do handle some sophisticated things But I tell folks that we’re like the meteorologists Of your business where we know the hurricane specialists, we know, you know, the earthquake people [00:27:00] we refer you out to folks if it gets to a level where we need a particular specialty. Now my org chart, that’s going to be us in the future, but for now it’s not right. So what we do is we triage where your first call, where your gateway to law,
right? Where your
Jonathan Hawkins: but if there’s a hurricane you’re gonna go in you and Jim Cantore are gonna go in
Steven Lefkoff: I hold
Jonathan Hawkins: location.
Steven Lefkoff: I’m going to hold the pole. My jacket’s going to get blown in the wind. But I’m going to have the cameraman there to make sure everything goes okay.
Jonathan Hawkins: you know, but you’re right. I like what you’re what you’ve done. It’s similar to what I’ve done You know, it’s You can dive down on an industry, but you get to do a lot of different things in it. So you do some transactional work, you do some litigation, you do some just advisory work, I’m sure. And it keeps it in stream, but you’re also able to really learn the industry and learn what keeps your clients up at night.
And that, that for me, it’s super helpful.
Steven Lefkoff: Yeah, it’s true. And not only that, if I can just piggyback on that real quick, we’re [00:28:00] able to market. Like a week ago, I spoke at the car dealer CE. I call it car dealer, but the GIADA, the Georgia Independent Auto Dealer Association, they have CE events, just like lawyers have to get CLE credits, dealers have to get CE. And because of our presence in that industry, we get invited to go speak at some of these functions. And what I can talk about is extremely broad, right? It’s not just, oh, here’s the one particular thing that I do in my office. We can talk about employment. We can talk about the Fair Business Practices Act.
We can talk about consumer complaints. We talk about rescission and revocation, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Jonathan Hawkins: So, other than the car industry I know at least way back when you used to do a lot of small claims type work and I remember years ago talking to you about this. You know, you sort of developed a niche handling small claims you’re getting lots of calls and because they’re so small, it’s hard to justify them paying you and there’s only so many hours in the day that [00:29:00] you can handle it.
So, you came up with a pretty. innovative approach to I guess try to capture some of that and deliver value and leverage your time. So talk about that.
Steven Lefkoff: So as part of my work for the car dealers, There’s a lot of small claims. There’s a lot of 7, 000 car deals gone bad, right? Because the car’s got 200, 000 miles, et cetera, et cetera. And so we were doing a lot of work in small claims court, which in Georgia is under 15, 000, which is higher than a lot of other states. So it can be some substantive cases. But I’m sitting in court, this is years ago, and I’m watching two litigants without attorneys, what we call pro se in the industry. They don’t have attorneys, they’re handling the case themselves, and the plaintiff should have won, but didn’t have the right documents, was very emotional, had never been to court before, like did, basically if you were to take a checklist of like the 10 don’ts. She hit every single one of them, right? And the defendant, her friend, [00:30:00] she didn’t hit any of them. And so the court ruled in favor of the defendant. And I’m sitting there like, dang, this is not how it should be. But they just didn’t, it didn’t work, right? It didn’t work. And I know why it didn’t work. And it’s because there aren’t a lot of attorneys doing 5, 000 cases.
And I don’t mean 5, 000 attorney fee. I mean, 5, 000 in dispute, right? It doesn’t make sense in the business of law. And so I took a step back and same idea as what we were talking about before. I thought about, okay, how can we make this better? And COVID hit and all the courts shut down. And all of a sudden I had a whole lot of time on my hands. And so between sleeping in and going for walks with my kids. I recorded a ton of videos and created a course on how to handle small claims yourself. And I had this grand idea where we were going to sell this course. I’m going to give you the whole story. We’re going to sell this course to thousands of people all over the state of Georgia and everyone was going to love it.
And I recorded five hours of content. I spent too much money [00:31:00] on the production and all the things like a good lawyer does. Right. And can I find a way to spend money? Yeah, sure. Throw it at this and this. So I did all of that, and then I make this course, and my mistake, I don’t know if people are going to be offended by this, was I started talking to lawyers about how much I should charge for it. And the lawyers are like, oh, five hours a time, I bill 400 plus an hour, that’s like 2, 000, you’re giving probably 2, 500 worth of value. You should easily be able to charge 1, 000 for that. And I’m like, okay, no, first off. No, I know I can’t charge a thousand. I’m like, maybe I can charge 500 a year and a half go by.
I have one sale, one, one that’s, I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone that, but I had one sale in a year and a half. And the reason was because people, A, aren’t paying 500 and B, aren’t spending five hours in front of a computer screen to learn something. They’re just going to roll the dice and go. So what we did was we greatly reduced the price.
I think now it’s a hundred bucks for the whole course, but even more so what we started doing was [00:32:00] we went back to the drawing board of how can we were getting tons of calls from this program, but also just because I had marketed towards some small claims work with the car space. And some of that went, I guess, viral and people were calling whatever. So, we started charging for consults. That’s something a lot of attorneys don’t, and it’s industry dependent in a lot of cases on the con, like a PI attorney charging for consults, it’s going to maybe crush their business. I don’t know because so many don’t, right? But for us, we started saying, okay, how can we monetize these clients or potential clients that are not going to pay for the program? They’re not going to hire us to go to court for them because that expense may exceed the value of their case. But they don’t want to go in completely blind. So now we have these strategy sessions where they pay for an hour or so. It’s sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but it’s a flat fee. And I go through the entire small claims process with them, analyze their documents.
We analyze their case, we start preparing or helping them prepare some of [00:33:00] their Direct exam, cross exam. What do you need to bring to court? It’s like a coaching session. And that’s really become not just good business for the firm, but also fun, it’s fun. And it’s, been the source of, I’ll tell you this.
It’s been the source of a lot of our five star Google reviews because so many attorneys don’t do this. And just they hear the value of the case and they say, sorry, we can’t help. And they hang up and it’s a shame, it’s a shame, but we’ve stepped in there.
Jonathan Hawkins: So the Small Claims Academy, is it still, I wanted to go now and buy it, could I do that?
Steven Lefkoff: You could you could, yes. Nobody has for a very long time. I haven’t been promoting
Jonathan Hawkins: So here’s an idea. I don’t know if it’ll work. In order to get the consult, they have to buy the course and watch it first, or at least buy the course. Then
they get, yeah, then they get a little, maybe they get a little discount on the consult. I don’t know.
Steven Lefkoff: You know, I’ll tell you something you would like because it’s right up your alley. So I think actually you and I met for lunch and we talked about this small claims Academy, which is where the course sits. It’s its [00:34:00] own business center. Right, because non lawyers can’t invest in a law firm.
Jonathan Hawkins: That was going to be my next question. Yeah.
Steven Lefkoff: Yep. And so we like that took me, by the way, as interpreting ethics rules generally do way longer than it should have for me to figure out what the moving parts on all of that.
But I ultimately decided, okay, if I don’t give legal advice. And I create a different entity. I don’t know if you’re going to crush me on this. If you’re like, no, Steven, you’re completely wrong. But my, what I had, the research I had done and what I concluded was if I don’t give legal advice and I create a new entity that eventually I can get investments, I can sell, I had this. You know, grand plan, that so far hasn’t happened, but it’s
Jonathan Hawkins: all disclaimers ding,
but yes, generally speaking, you know, if it’s educational and it’s not specific advice to a, you know, potential client based on their facts then yes, I think you’re okay because you’re not giving legal advice. You’re providing [00:35:00] education and yes, you got your own entity.
It does a couple of things. Number one. You protect that asset, you can, you know, pass that on to your family, you can go get investors, you can do a lot of things with that so yeah, I think that was a really smart move, that was cool and I would not give up on it, I think there’s something there I would not give up on that, you just hadn’t quite cracked it yet, sounds like, but, you know, this is something I talk to a lot of law firm owners now, you know, we talk about selling their firm, and they ask, you Well, my firm’s not worth anything.
Well, it might not be, but maybe it is. And one of the things I encourage folks to do is to build assets within the firm or ancillary to the firm. And this is one example of that. You’re, you’ve built an asset that has value. And you know, you’ve still got 20 plus years to see how much value that thing’s going to generate.
okay, so that let’s talk about that. So that’s, I talk about this. I think about this too. [00:36:00] You know, you’ve got entrepreneurs. We get, we have ideas and we think, Oh, this is great. This is our deal. We’re going to go build it. then we’re going to go try to sell it. You know, it’s sort of a, I call it a top down approach.
And then there’s the other approach that I call the bottom up approach. That’s when customers or clients come to you and they say, Hey, I want this. I want this. I want this. And then when you get enough of those and you say, Hey, there’s demand out there. I’m going to build something to meet the demand.
The next thing I suspect might be more of that, or you tell me, but you’ve got this other cool thing that most law firms don’t do. And it’s called the driveway. Is it? How would you describe it? I call it maybe a membership platform. How would you describe it? Tell us
Steven Lefkoff: exactly what it is. It’s exactly what it is, and it is. Bottom up or ground up or however you want to call it. It’s the opposite and it’s been more successful. Who knew? So far we’ll call it so far, but the driveway is our monthly membership program for car dealers and finance companies [00:37:00] in the state of Georgia. And what it does is it provides for a monthly fee that’s billed to their credit card, a number of different benefits. Including open office, we can get into all this, but open office hours, webinars, forms, there’s legal updates, there’s discounts on legal work, there’s flat fees for certain things that we would otherwise charge hourly for, there’s a whole host of different benefits, there’s document review, there’s contract drafting, there’s demand letters, it depends on, we have three different tiers on the program. And that was in and of itself an experiment to try and figure out but what it’s done is it’s helped. We had lots of clients make two particular complaints about legal business. One was that they couldn’t budget for that. They didn’t know, you know, 1 month may be a crazy month. another month, they may never talk to us. And budgeting for legal and business is not an easy thing to do. [00:38:00] And the other one was they were concerned when we’re billing hourly about how much the bill is going to be for conversations we have with their staff, right? So you have a business owner who’s like, well, I don’t want to be on every single legal call, right?
That’s not a good use of my time. So I’m going to put my general manager on it. Well, as most hourly billing attorneys know, If the general manager, whoever you’re talking to is talking for a long time, you’re running the clock for a long time. And so it was causing conflict between us and the client and the general, I’m using general manager as an example, but whoever was tasked with managing legal because the owner’s getting the bill, but isn’t participating in the business. In the work and so we went again back to the drawing board and thought about how we can make this better. And I know membership is becoming a bigger thing in legal. We were introduced to a company called do it’s like. And do is actually run [00:39:00] by. A local attorney here in Atlanta. And she has her, development partner is in Canada, but they have, they’re the backend for our membership program. And I think, I mean, I know we’re the only ones doing it for car businesses. But there are very few just business attorneys in general doing any kind of legal membership.
Jonathan Hawkins: All right, we’re gonna, we’re gonna dive deep here.
You’re gonna coach me here. So I’ve got, lot of questions. So, I have toyed with something like this for my lawyer, law firm clients. And I, go out, I sort of market test it. I ask, you know, most people I meet with is, would you be interested in this?
And the response I’ve gotten overwhelmingly has been. We’re not interested. They just say, we’ll just hire you when we need you. We think we’re skeptical of subscriptions, et cetera, et cetera. So right now I have not been able to figure out, I think there is something there, but I hadn’t been able to figure it out from my practice area.
How did you figure out the value proposition, what to [00:40:00] include, what it was people wanted? Did you, have you added to it over the years? You know, how did you come up with what is included in this membership
Steven Lefkoff: Lots of trial, lots of error. Like everything else. We started with two tiers. What was the base and the premium? And the base was 6. 49 a month. Premium was 16. 49 a month. We created as part of premium. No joke, thank God it saves with each answer, but a 500 question, like questionnaire. And the whole idea
behind premium was, I want to take care of you as the business owner.
Everything about, do you have a financial advisor? Oh, you don’t? You don’t know where you’re putting your money? Well, I’m not a financial advisor, but I’m going to refer you out to somebody who is. Right. What’s your, I don’t know your mortgage interest rate at the time when mortgage interest rates were very low.
If you had an interest rate of six, I’m going to refer you out to a mortgage broker to [00:41:00] get you that mortgage rate down to two or three. Do you have a state planning documents? Like do all of these things? to make sure that you’re, you are holistically taken care of as the business owner. I thought this was a huge proposal, a huge sell. I’m like, I’m going to get all these people who have none of this stuff and are like, I need that. Instead, what I got was, I’ve never used a lawyer before. Why would I pay 1, 600 a month? So I’m like, all right, well, great. I have this 650 base plan. It doesn’t include any of that stuff, but still includes the contract, still includes a handful of hours every month, it includes a whole bunch of other things. And I got the same pushback. I’ve never used a lawyer before. You’re asking me to put 650 on my credit card every month. And I actually had a, I went to a car dealer conference and was talking to somebody about the plan. And he’s like, if you had a 200 plan, I’d sign up in a heartbeat. And I said, well, why? The distinction, right? And how would I even build that and make any money off of it? But why the [00:42:00] distinction? He goes, Steven, you understand, I don’t really have very much at all in my life. That is a guaranteed 650 payment. I have a mortgage, I have a car payment. That’s like it. that gets to that level. So when you’re asking for that amount of money from people every single month who have never really paid for legal before they really scoff at it. 200 bucks. That’s my cell phone bill. That’s my cable TV. That’s my internet. That’s like, you start to add up and you get into this world where, okay, that’s a number I can put on my credit card every month because I’m already putting that number on my card for so many other things. And oh, by the way, I get a lawyer for that. So we had to go back to the drawing board again and figure out. Okay, what is included now? If we want to sell this for 200 bucks What’s included in that? And we came up with this whole plan. It’s basically like auto legal. And I don’t mean auto like car. I mean like automatically, like we’re very much not involved in the 200 plan. What it does is it gets you in the door. It’s, I [00:43:00] wouldn’t call it a loss leader because we’re still making money on it, but it’s essentially that in that these clients of ours that started as members of our program. Either A, never used an attorney before. And so this was their introduction to what we can do, how we can help.
And now they send us a ton of business. Or B, used an attorney that wasn’t innovative. And in an industry where if you don’t innovate, you die, right? The car industry. And so they wanted somebody who was flexible, who knew the business, who cared, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And have actually, we have a number of clients that have since left their old firms to come to us all because of this program.
It kind of puts you on the map as hey we’re doing something different.
Jonathan Hawkins: it’s really, really cool. So Fidu is that the software, the backend that sort of hosts this platform for you?
Steven Lefkoff: is and it’s shockingly affordable. I hope they’re not listening. Don’t raise your prices.[00:44:00]
Jonathan Hawkins: All right. So take me through. Okay. So I’m a member. Okay. So I’ve signed up for your whatever package. I don’t know what level it is but I have a question and I need something from you guys. So I send in an email or a call in, how do you handle the inbound inquiries? When you have this membership and where do they go internally on your end?
So let’s say you had a hundred people in this and you’ve got calls coming in all the time. How do you handle the inbound traffic and put it in the right place to get their questions answered? How do you go about that?
Steven Lefkoff: is my favorite part of the whole program because everything is scheduled. So if you want, so first off it all goes through Fidu. Okay, so there’s a there is a portal in Fidu. So everyone has access to the portal. And if you want to send in a question that is an unbilled answer, then you send it through your portal, send it by email.
You run the risk every client. Well, I’ll get to this in a second. So if you send it by email, you run the risk that we’re going to [00:45:00] bill you for it under your general retainer, if you have one. If you send it through Fidu, it’s included. Same with calls. There’s a link on our Fidu page to book a phone call. We use book like a boss, but Cal and Lee, all of these other ones, they’re all very similar. So you can go onto your Fidu portal. You click on the link to book a call and you can book a call. And if you’re in the base plan, it’s 15 minutes. If you’re in the mid plan, it’s 30. And if you’re in the premium, it’s 45 minutes that you get included in your membership. I get this question all the time. Aren’t you worried that you’re not going to have the bandwidth handle this? It all goes back to the SOS email that I was talking about earlier. We’ve gotten like seven booked calls. Almost everything is an email through the portal. People don’t like talking to people. I don’t know what the deal is.
I don’t, I order pizza online. Right? It’s the same idea. So we get all these, things through email. Now, when you sign up for any one of the membership tiers, we have an automation that sends you a general advice retainer agreement, and that outlines What’s included in your membership, but it also says what isn’t [00:46:00] included and that you’ll be billed outside of your membership for X, Y, and Z if you do it. And that’s to cover our butts, frankly. Or as you well know, to cover our butts for things that are not in the scope. You know, if somebody sends us a lawsuit and wants to retain us to represent them in that lawsuit, that’s not going to be part of your membership. And so we have to outline that so that they know what they’re getting themselves into or not into.
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. So it sounds like part of the way you control the flow of inbound inquiries and control. Really, the cost on your end is if they go through the portal, submit the question through the portal, or schedule a call through the portal, for all intents and purposes, it’s covered under the plan. But if they just send you an email or call in independently outside the portal, the risk is they’re probably going to get billed hourly.
Is that loosely?
Steven Lefkoff: exactly
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. That’s cool. Cause you know, when you have these memberships or subscriptions or [00:47:00] retainers, the question always is, well, the big issue, like you just said, scope, you got to maintain the scope. And then the issue on scope is scope creep, you know, cause clients, they don’t, I don’t think they necessarily mean to do it.
But they’re always asking that one more question that’s outside the scope you told them and if you don’t
Steven Lefkoff: Every time,
Jonathan Hawkins: you don’t stick to it If you don’t stick to it, you’re screwed. I mean, you know, you’ve got you as the lawyer Is that this is the scope we if it goes past this, you know, we’re changing the relationship I know a lot of lawyers have trouble with that.
I’ve had trouble with it I think it’s just human nature probably but that’s really cool. I like how you’re doing this Let me ask this. The driveway, there is a legal advice component to it, but is it owned within the law firm or is it also sort of broken off or elements of it broken off into a different entity or something?
Steven Lefkoff: No, so that one’s owned by the law
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. So, anything else about the driveway you want to tell [00:48:00] us about?
Steven Lefkoff: Well, I can tell you how we attract people to it
Jonathan Hawkins: do you market it? How do you get people there?
Steven Lefkoff: So, we have, I told you about the videos for Small Claims Academy, but I have another video program, and it’s called the Georgia Car Law Authority. And if you go to, I’ll plug it real quick. If you go to georgiacarlaw. com, you put in your name and your email address, and with that, you get free access to 90 videos on car law in Georgia, educational. And You also get into our drip campaign where we every it starts every couple of days, but then it spreads out to every two weeks. We drip you each video as well. And so, because there are more than 90 videos, it’s almost a 2 year drip and every couple of emails. We send an email about the driveway as part of that drip campaign because you’ve put your name and your email address in. To get the car law videos. And so that’s really the combination of those two. I’ve really put us on the map as the law firm for that [00:49:00] industry.
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. Now that’s pretty cool. So let’s unpack that a little bit. So where do you host the 90 videos? Do you have a special platform for that
or is it
Steven Lefkoff: I do.
Jonathan Hawkins: okay. Tell me about
Steven Lefkoff: I do. So we host those on a program called dub, D U B dub is a, I don’t know if you’d call it a client relations or customer relations platform. I don’t know exactly what. What you would call this, but basically we record all these videos, [00:50:00] put them up on a playlist on dub, and then you get access to that playlist.
It’s really cool. I can’t, I wish I had an investment in this company. So it’s really cool about dub. And I think there’s some competitors out there that I’m sure some of your listeners probably know about, but you can create your own. video page. And so what I mean by that is we use it for way more than just Georgia Car Law.
Like, let’s say you referred me a client or you and I had a strategy session. I could record a video on Dubb that recaps our strategy session and send it to you. And when you click on it, there are all these action buttons underneath the video. Sign up here, pay your retainer here, check out the Georgia Car Law here, whatever it is. And if you referred me a client, or a potential client, I might record a video, right, and say, John, it was so great to talk to you about Sarah Smith. as I understand it, this is the issue. Feel free to forward this to her. She can click on the new client button and book a strategy session whenever she wants.
The close rate on [00:51:00] those I’m not kidding is absurd. It is outrageously good because it’s different. You see me. You hear me. I have heard you and I’m recognizing what your issues are and it’s that personal touch that is remarkable. So, yeah, I mean, huge fan. I also. I have a referral code if anyone wants it now, but it’s a great
Jonathan Hawkins: I’ll be following up with that for sure.
Steven Lefkoff: Absolutely.
Jonathan Hawkins: okay. So you’ve got 90 videos, you know, I assume it’s you know, FAQs that you hear from clients probably. Is that. And do you add to it or are you constantly adding to this thing, the 90 videos or is it sort of
Steven Lefkoff: we we are adding, and there’s a table of contents and it’s divvied up into, I think, nine or 10 different sections. There’s like a litigation section. There’s a finance section, a repossession section, et cetera, et cetera.
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. So someone goes on your website, they give you your email, they have access to the entire library and they can just go through whichever videos are of interest [00:52:00] to them or do you take them through sort of a progression?
Steven Lefkoff: They can go, they can skip ahead as much as they want. They get access to the whole thing.
Jonathan Hawkins: Okay, so they have access to it, but then on top of that, you send them the drip campaign and you send them a video from the library every week anyway, or whatever, however frequently you do it. Is it a link or is it, do you embed the video in the email?
Steven Lefkoff: So it’s a link, but it’s like a GIF or something from the actual video.
Jonathan Hawkins: Hopefully we’re not, boring the audience, but this is some really innovative stuff that, you know, lawyers don’t do. They just, I mean, most lawyers don’t do this kind of thing. Now, a lot of lawyers are at bigger firms and it’s a nightmare to get. The committee or whatever to approve these sorts of things you do have the benefit of You own the thing and you can just sort of do what you want to do here But still this is really cool stuff The drip campaign is I mean, that’s incredible.
I’m taking notes here and on all of [00:53:00] this so you’ll see Some copycat stuff on my website at some point, although I think this will take quite a while. This is not something you created overnight, obviously. How long did it take from the idea for the driveway to sort of getting to where you are today?
Steven Lefkoff: Oh, it’s been,
Jonathan Hawkins: let me say, at least releasing version 1.
0. Let’s say that.
Steven Lefkoff: it took, I would say probably seven or eight months to record the videos, create the table of contents, create the website, the drip site. And go through that whole process. It really did. It took a long time and I screwed up if I can give the listeners any advice. I messed up on this one by thinking that it had to be too professional.
Like I kind of forgot who my target audience was. And I did again, the lawyer thing where we spend money on silly things. I bought a green screen, bought a nice camera. I started scripting out all these videos. I did all this stuff and I recorded one or two videos and my wife watched it and went. That is [00:54:00] off.
Nobody’s going to watch that. Nobody’s going to be interested in that. I mean, I was a robot, right? I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t myself. And that’s what you really have to, if you want to create a relationship with your clients, you got to be yourself. And so I went back to the drawing board, made the table of contents, trusted that I knew the laws I was talking about because I’d been doing it for a good bit of time.
And then just started going on a webcam. Like you’re watching me right now. I just recorded it at my desk. That’s all I did. It turned out much better.
Jonathan Hawkins: You know, that’s another obstacle, I’ll say, to a lot of lawyers, myself included. It’s just, you just got to start. You just got to do it. Quit making excuses. Just do it. You know, the lighting may not be the best you’re gonna be at your desk or whatever, just do it. So you’ve got these 90 videos hosted on dub behind sort of an email wall.
I’ll call it. Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you have any videos there? How do you drive people to the sign in page? How do you get people, you know, how do you let them know that’s there that they [00:55:00] can sign up and then get access to the videos?
Steven Lefkoff: So we do, yes, we have a YouTube page where we’ve been dripping out the videos there as well. It’s one of these, like, I’ve recognized that hiding them behind a name and email, people get skeptical. So I want you, when you search the law firm’s name, you’re going to see this stuff everywhere. And then you’re convinced, okay, these folks are trustworthy.
They know what they’re talking about. I’m going to give them my name and my email address because. I trust them to give me information. So yes, we have it on YouTube. A lot of our marketing is through the car dealer association. So we actively market. I write an article for their magazine every month and we put a little blurb about the car law there.
We put it all over our website. I put it on social media when I can. But it’s, you know, it’s funny. Cause at our last workshop, we talked about marketing for the driveway for our membership program. How are we going to do that? Because like anything, if you stop doing it, you get no growth. So you kind of always have to be thinking, how can I put this in front of [00:56:00] people?
And for us, because we’re again, a, an industry specific practice, I think about, okay, how can I get in front of that on for a PI lawyer, it might be a billboard because anyone driving is a potential client for me, anyone driving is definitely not, I’ve got to get in front of the people I want to get in front of, and for us, they happen to have a trade organization.
And so we’re very active in their association because that’s a captive audience for us.
Jonathan Hawkins: So you’re here in Atlanta. Is this a Georgia based practice or do you cover other states?
Steven Lefkoff: It’s Georgia. can I go real quick on that? Cause I have a funny story. So, I got, this was like two or three years ago. I got an email from a dealer in Utah out of the blue. Hey, Steven, I’m so and so, I’ve got a lease here that I need reviewing and I can’t find anyone in my area who knows anything about cars.
Is this something you can do? And entrepreneurial [00:57:00] Steven starts like neurons are firing. Oh my gosh. Do I have a national, is there some national recognition from all the stuff I’ve been doing here? How can I monetize that? what, you know, ethics rules. Can I practice law there? Can I review a contract there?
I know I can’t sit in front of a judge there, but can I, you know, what can I do? I’m doing all this stuff. And I’m talking to a buddy of mine, Ryan McKean, who if you don’t know Ryan, he’s somebody that everyone should Google. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. He’s an injury attorney in Connecticut. One of my favorite people.
I’m telling him this story and he says to me, Stephen, have you maximized your client base in Georgia? And I said, what do you mean? He goes, I don’t know. Do you have every car dealer in Georgia as a client? Are there any car dealers going to another attorney? Like, well, yeah, of course there are. He goes, then why would you start expanding your bandwidth?
into other areas of the country when you don’t even have your market. And that really, I know there are people that will disagree with that, right? That see low hanging fruit. Oh, I can get a [00:58:00] contract lawyer out there to do that and we can grow whatever. But then you really do spread your bandwidth. And because I don’t have partners, because there are only three of us, I don’t have the time to go start making some kind of national practice out of left cop law.
And what he did was really grounded me. Back into the Georgia world. So, yes, that’s our focus now is we’re a Georgia law firm handling clients with Georgia
Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, that reminds me. So I know you’re a big Waffle House fan like I am. So I went to Georgia Tech undergrad and Waffle House is sort of a Georgia Tech, you know, at least the early days, a bunch of Georgia Tech guys really helped grow that thing. And I remember years ago, I want to hear some executive give a little presentation at Tech.
Any. Threw up this map of the United States and their little red pin, little red dots where every Waffle House was. And if you looked at the southeast, it was just completely red. And then out west, there was like nothing. Nothing. It was just [00:59:00] nothing. And he and he says, we get the question all the time.
Why aren’t you in California? Why aren’t you in Washington? And he said, you know, same thing. He’s like, we want to dominate our backyard. He’s like, we have, you know, when I moved here to Atlanta, I remember being blown away when there was a waffle house on both sides of the exit of an interstate. They had it on both sides.
It’s like, Oh my God. And he said, look, how many Denny’s do you see around here? He’s like, they’re scared. I mean, basically they know not to really come here and put much effort here. And so that was one thing that stuck with me. And the other piece is, you know, as you start to get very far afield, it becomes harder to manage for sure.
So I think that was good advice. Although long term, I think you do have. A lot of open ocean to go, you know, you can go to South Carolina, Tennessee, pretty easy
Steven Lefkoff: Yeah, we’re trying to we’re setting foundation for that. It’s not, you know, the walls. Of Georgia are not permanent for us, but I do want to make sure that. We’re doing it at the [01:00:00] right we’re setting the right time for it. The right dedication, the energy. Yeah, for, and that we have the bandwidth to be able to do that.
Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, I think what you’re doing is really cool. I’m glad that you took the time to talk through that. I’m going to have a ton more questions that I’ll, we’ll cover offline. I’ll take you to lunch. Maybe we’ll do some Bart, some bartering here. So, so yeah, so, you have a podcast too, right?
Steven Lefkoff: do.
Jonathan Hawkins: it’s for lawyers, right?
It’s let me back up. So our audience is primarily lawyers. So tell us about your podcast. Well,
Steven Lefkoff: so my podcast is called lawyers with lives and it’s because I’m curious about people. It’s the same thing about my law firm. I love the relationships we create, and I know lawyers tend to be type a folks. And I had this idea, like, what do people do when they’re not sitting at their desk in their law firm?
And so I interview folks on Lawyers With Lives where I’m essentially asking you, what are your hobbies? Do you have any side jobs? Do you have any interests? Do you have anything that’s not being a [01:01:00] lawyer? And what is it? And it’s crazy because they, every, not only do a lot of people have very curious and very unique interests, we’ll call it unique, but they’re diving into them like lawyers do.
It’s not, they’re not dabbling, right? I interviewed a guy about treasure hunting. And he’s been on multiple trips looking for treasure. We did beer brewing and it was like all this equipment. And I did all these things and I make all kinds of different beer and one was snorkeling. And it wasn’t just like, yeah, I just, you know, we went to Tampa.
I took a boat out into the Gulf and snorkel. No, no trips dedicated to snorkeling. And it’s fascinating to me. Not many things that I’m particularly personally interested in or going to do. But it’s cool to hear what people do and how they do it.
Jonathan Hawkins: that’s cool. So yeah, I encourage folks to check it out and if they’ve got some cool stuff to talk about, maybe they’ll reach out and.
Steven Lefkoff: Oh, I’d love that.
Jonathan Hawkins: [01:02:00] Audition as a guest. So we’ve been going for a while here, but I do have some more questions here. So, for those out there that are thinking about starting a firm or maybe have just started a firm any pieces of advice, at least in the early days of the firm to help the right foundation to get going you do a lot of innovative stuff now.
I would not probably encourage people to start with that, but what would you say to a new law firm owner?
Steven Lefkoff: I can tell you one thing I think a lot of new law firm owners mess up on if I’m in a position to give advice and it’s this. When you start your firm, spend money getting the foundation right. Get your books in order, your processes for how you do, how you run your accounting. Find a good bookkeeper, find a good CPA.
These people are expensive, but what you don’t want and what really I feared was that my law firm was going to be like the tax code. I tell people this all the time. Like, the tax code, I don’t know, a hundred plus years ago was this simple little thing, easy to follow, whatever. And then [01:03:00] politicians got involved and they just stacked crap on top of crap and now it’s multiple volumes, nobody can understand what they’re doing, it’s all screwed up.
You put one line here and one thing here and you add it up and then you gotta subtract something. It’s a mess. And that was my biggest fear starting my law firm, was that, yeah, it’s easy now, it’s just me and a handful of clients, it’s not that much work, the administration of the firm was very simple back in the day.
But if you don’t get your processes right at the beginning, then it’s going to get a lot harder as you grow. And if you don’t want to grow, more power to you. Do it how you want. I do. And I want my firm to grow. And in order for that to happen, We really have to have the right things in place so that as we add on another person, as we add on another source of revenue, as we innovate and change and redesign, the base is in place to be able to, from there and not have to rewrite our tax code.
Jonathan Hawkins: Well, I’ll tell you I’m really impressed with what you’ve done with your firm. I think [01:04:00] extremely innovate innovative compared to most law firms The thing I like about you too is you’re a doer. You’re not just a Dreamer you’re a doer. So that’s really cool. So I like what you’ve done. I like your big vision.
I love big vision I like being around people at big vision. So we need to check in with each other periodically see how things are going, but last question here If you weren’t practicing law, if you weren’t running your law firm, what would you be doing?
Steven Lefkoff: It depends on whether I needed the revenue, because I can tell you this, I can tell you this, my two dream jobs. Are to cut grass on a golf course. I would just love to put headphones in, put my head down, and just cut grass. All day. I like the smell of it. I like being outside. The other one, and I don’t even smoke cigars, but I think it would be cool to live on a boat and sell cigars to other people on boats.
I don’t know why I think that would be cool, but I Just think that would be like a cool thing to do. Like go from marina to marina, like Tuesdays I’m at this marina, [01:05:00] Wednesday I’m at that marina. Come get your cigars from
Jonathan Hawkins: Just hang out with Jimmy Buffett or the the upcoming Jimmy Buffett, just sail the Caribbean, right?
Steven Lefkoff: Any day I would do that in a heartbeat.
Jonathan Hawkins: Well, cool. I appreciate you really diving deep with me today. That has been enlightening. I think what you’re doing is really cool. So if folks want to find you, how, what’s the best way to get in touch with you to get through the the email. Remember you got the email. You got to get through, but how come folks find you?
Steven Lefkoff: That’s right. Well, they can email me directly. Steven S T E V E N at Lefkoff law. com. L E F as in Frank K O F as in Frank F as in Frank L A W. You’ll get the bounce back, the auto reply, but don’t worry about it. It’ll still get to me and I’m happy to help anybody. It’s one of my very favorite things to do is to help people.
I’ve been there. I’m still there. We’re all still learning. We’re growing. I don’t have. The 10 people I want to hire, they’re not at my law firm yet. Like I’m still working towards [01:06:00] it. So I’m happy to talk with anyone. And I really appreciate you bringing me on here to share a little snippet of what we do. It’s fine.
Jonathan Hawkins: Thanks again. And I encourage folks to go check out your website, see some of these cool things that you’ve got small claims Academy driveway, maybe you can borrow some of these ideas and you know, maybe Stephen will hit the road and do some workshops for the rest of us.
Steven Lefkoff: Thanks Jonathan.
Jonathan Hawkins: All right. Thank you.