THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 132
Interview on 10.19.2021

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Deborah Marsh



Managing Partner of
Law Office of Deborah Marsh

About Deborah Marsh

Deborah Marsh is the Managing Partner at Law Office of Deborah Marsh in Miami, Florida.

Deborah's firm is ready to go to trial to fight for the rights for their clients. Rather, the Firm will go to trial if necessary to fight for the rights of their clients. The Core Competency at her firm is providing advocacy in immigration, family and criminal defense.

Learn from her expertise and what trends are helping grow her firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Kevin Daisey:
All right. Welcome everyone to another live recording of the Managing Partners Podcast. I’m Kevin Daisey, your host. I’m also the founder of Array Digital. We exist to help law firms with their digital marketing and help them grow their case pipelines. Today, it’s Friday as I’m recording this, I got a special guest from London, but she is here in the U.S. to talk about her firm. Deborah Marsh, thanks so much for joining us.
Deborah Marsh:
Thank you for having me. Thank you. Thank you.
Kevin Daisey:
I love the accent. I’m going to enjoy that.
Deborah Marsh:
[crosstalk 00:00:41] until they live with me. And then they hear me all the time.
Kevin Daisey:
Well, I can listen to you. So you’re an attorney here in the United States and you’re from London, so I’m interested to hear, what was your journey to becoming an attorney? [crosstalk 00:01:03] And how you got started?
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah, it was a long journey and lots of twists and turns. So as a kid, I wanted to be an attorney. My mom wanted me to be an attorney. They said, I talked a lot. I argued a lot. “You need to be an attorney, Deborah.” And then I loved talking and I loved making people laugh and I loved socializing. So I thought they’re wrong; I need to do marketing. So I went to school initially to do Public Relations and marketing as my bachelors. Then when I came over to the U.S., my first job was in marketing. Then weirdly, I transitioned into it. I don’t know how, and it’s too long of a story and I’m not going to bore you with the details of how I made that transition. So then I did a Masters in Information Systems and I’m moving along with my life as an Executive, doing programs and projects. Then my last job, I’m going to say, was at Citi Group where I headed up a global program. So I’m there at Citi Group, Obama gets elected in 2008. I start Citi Group, I think 2009; I’m having a nice life.
Deborah Marsh:
Then I read this book by Michelle Alexander called The New Jim Crow; I read it in about 2011. It’s talking about mass incarceration of our prison system in the U.S. And instead of just reading it, I found it to be like a call to action. How can I help address the inequities we have in our criminal justice system? I know how: I’m going to go to law school. That’s what I did. Everybody thought I was crazy. I was making a very good living. I’m an executive. I was young to have that position, but not young for law school. I was old for law school. But I wanted to work in criminal justice. Not just talk about it, but do something about it, and get into the trenches. So that’s what I did.
Deborah Marsh:
I went to law school and I knew I didn’t want to work for a firm. I knew the day I left, I was going to pick up some clients. I knew that I was going to figure out how I can attract clients. I did by being ridiculously cheap, the first couple of clients that I had… I Made zero money, zero. It cost me to manage those couple of cases. But from there, those two cases, I got referrals and referrals are my life blood. So when they were incarcerated, they told their colleagues, who told their cousin, who told their brother, who told their sister, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that’s how I have built it. I think that I’ve been successful at it because I believe in what I’m doing.
Deborah Marsh:
Okay. Let me, let you ask a next question because I can keep going. I told you, they said to be a lawyer because I can talk for hours. So…
Kevin Daisey:
No, you’re fine.
Deborah Marsh:
Let me let you ask a question.
Kevin Daisey:
No, you’re fine. It’s a great story and a unique story. Everyone’s got their own little way of going about it. The thing is, whatever it was, that book resonated with you, it stuck a chord and you found your purpose. I think when anyone finds that, you’re not stopping them from doing it.
Kevin Daisey:
If anyone listening right now, that’s young and wants to do something different, or they’re not sure if they want to work for an attorney or a firm or do their own thing… You got to like what you’re doing and feel like you’re doing something that’s purposeful. So good on you for doing that. Not always the easiest way to go, right?
Deborah Marsh:
It is. It’s very tempting sometimes when I see those cases that are big settlement cases, civil cases, and I so often get tempted. I won’t have to work this hard if I could do that. But I need to do what is going to fulfill me. So being an attorney for me, is me; I am an attorney. I love the law. I love the practice of being an attorney. I was at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, had a dinner then gala last night, and the president of that organization retired. He talked about compassionate advocacy, that was such a beautiful characterization on something that, I consider, I do naturally.
Deborah Marsh:
Each person that walks into my office or into my law firm, I’m really compassionate. It’s not just that I want to get them off the case. I want to help them. Because we do have an issue of re activism, where they go in jail, get off, go back in jail, within two years. That continual cycle is what, I figure, that I want to help them break. So they’re not just getting legal advice. I then put them onto, “Here is what you need to do to get your Medicaid card, so that you can get some mental health service.” That “This community college over here is doing free GED classes. Here’s the information, so you can get your GED,” because we need to figure out how to stop the cycle. So I’m the lawyer plus. Compassionate advocacy was the terminology that was used yesterday and I’m stealing it and taking it as my own.
Kevin Daisey:
I love that. I think it’s great that you’re trying to do that. And again, you found your place and your passion and that’s where you need to be. So everyone, if you’re tuning in too, you can go check out her website, learn more about what she’s doing and what she’s up to. It’s DAMarsh.com. That’s also down at the bottom of the screen, if you’re watching on LinkedIn or YouTube or Facebook. But go check, take a look and see what she’s all about.
Kevin Daisey:
So I love your story. I think it’s amazing. And yeah, steal that. Use it.
Deborah Marsh:
I am, I’ve already stolen it.
Kevin Daisey:
Your website’s a beautiful website. Put that right on the top.
Deborah Marsh:
[crosstalk 00:08:40] already. So I’ve already emailed my website guy. He said, “we need a meeting this afternoon.” [crosstalk 00:08:49]
Kevin Daisey:
You got to change it now.
Deborah Marsh:
We need to change it, and change it now; “Compassionate advocacy…” Yeah. I love it. But it’s like, you really have to do what you love. There’s a lot of lawyers who are unhappy, because you do work a ridiculous amount of hours. There’s no free time, and you are going to be working all the time. I’m always working. If I’m not working, I’m sleeping. But when I’m cooking dinner for my kids, I’m thinking about the case and I’m thinking about what I could have done better. I’m always messing up. I’m constantly messing up. And I’m constantly figuring out, how can I do better next time? I’m constantly reading. I’m constant thinking, the next time is going to be the better time. There’s constant learning and you’re never, ever, ever going to know everything. So knowing that, make sure that’s what you want to do.
Deborah Marsh:
The law is such a powerful tool, that make sure you are doing it for something that you enjoy and can say you love. That was what was key for me in the areas that I practice. So it’s primarily 70%, I’m doing criminal defense; maybe not that much, maybe like 60%. The other area that I’ve kind of just fallen into, didn’t think I wanted to do it, was immigration.
Deborah Marsh:
I fell into immigration. One of my clients, when I got him off of the criminal case, he didn’t go home. He got picked up by immigration custody. I’m “Oh, What? What’s happening here?” And in the state of Florida, it’s not so much in Maryland… different counties in Maryland.
Kevin Daisey:
You practice in two states?
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah. Practice in Maryland and I practiced in Florida. Yeah. After I passed one bar, I went and did the bar again. I am so stupid. But yes; I did. I did the bar again. But the second bar is the UBE, so I can wave into the other states.
Deborah Marsh:
But anyway, I practice in Maryland and I practice in Florida. Florida jails have pacts with ICE. So that once a person has been released, they put an immigration hold. They have to execute that hold within 48 hours. They pick you up, put you into immigration custody. I was like, “oh my God, my clients getting put into immigration custody. What’s going on here?” And so…
Kevin Daisey:
So you dove into that.
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah. So then I found myself in the immigration court. He had been here since he was seven, he was 30 years old. He knew nothing about that home country, he hadn’t applied for DACA, but we figured it out for how to get him to stay.
Deborah Marsh:
So since that, I’ve done quite a few deportation defenses; that’s a hard area of the law, because it’s not in the defendant’s favor per se. You have to have a reason to be in the United States. You can’t just say, “I want to stay here.” If you don’t have a reason, a legal basis, you are getting deported. Maybe we can kick the can down the road, which is what I’ve done in a few instances, [crosstalk 00:12:23] but I find that not as gratifying. I only take those cases where I know I can potentially win. Where the person has a legal basis for being here. Now, maybe there’s other immigration lawyers, and one of them told me, “Don’t take it so hard. We’re in a area of the law where you are at 90% failure.” 90% failure; that doesn’t work for me. I need to have a 90%, at least have the [crosstalk 00:12:53] I can win. Right?
Kevin Daisey:
Can we get a 50/50?
Deborah Marsh:
Give me 50/50. But when you told me I’m at 90% failure, I just was like, “This isn’t for me.” But I have been dealing with people with criminal convictions or criminal cases, who have got deportation issues. So I seem to be good at it.
Kevin Daisey:
That’s awesome. Well, let’s flip the script a little bit. You mentioned a little bit about, obviously, you’re working hard, you’re doing good work, you care. Those are all great things that lead to referrals and word of mouth. What other things… You got the website and things like at that. What other things have you done from a marketing or outbound type of approach that you feel have worked?
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah, I need to do much, much more. But one of them is joining all the legal referral services from each of the different bar associations. So whether it be Miami or Baltimore, Prince George’s County; I’ve joined those. I did a couple of Facebook ads, and that brought me one client. I don’t feel like that’s enough from my Facebook ads, because I did it for a while. Blogs… I know what I need to do, but Kevin, I’ve not done it. So I’m going to start though, and do a much better job, because I definitely need to up it. But yeah, there was Facebook, as I said, it got me one client, so it wasn’t enough. But definitely Google placements, I did get a lot of traction there, in fact too much. I don’t want to hire people other than like a paralegal or maybe like one person. So that was when I first started and I was just like, “Oh my God, there’s too many people calling me,” and I just couldn’t handle the volume. I wanted to pace myself. But maybe I’ll do that again, because I think those work. Definitely video talks like this, absolutely work. Lunch and learns work; you get a lot of people calling you after those. But I’m going to be doing some more.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. Well, good on you. When did you actually start out on your own and establish your yourself as a practice?
Deborah Marsh:
2019.
Kevin Daisey:
So not too long ago.
Deborah Marsh:
Not too long ago. 2000… I’m going to say 2000… No, it was 2018. It’s still not long ago. Three years ago.
Kevin Daisey:
Still, no one starts and then starts doing blogs and SEO and advertising in the first year or two. You got to get that referral base going and work your way up. But that me leads you to the next question; what is your plan for the next couple years? How do you want to grow? Doesn’t have to be in size necessarily, but what’s in your mind? I know you got your head down, you’re busy, but are you thinking about what the next couple years looks like?
Deborah Marsh:
I am. I absolutely want to grow now. I do want to have a bigger network. I want to expand into different markets and do more collaboration with different organizations. I wouldn’t call myself a public interest law firm, because I’m for-profit, 100%. I need money to survive. As I said, it’s compassionate advocacy, so I want people who feel the same way I do to join the law firm. So I guess, a firm of about five to six attorneys would be great.
Deborah Marsh:
I’m partnering with… I’ve got an of council going to be joining my law firm in the next few weeks.
Kevin Daisey:
Excellent.
Deborah Marsh:
Primarily focusing on business law, it’s completely different than what I do. He’s actually my business lawyer, so he does all of my tax filings and everything for me. And I thought, “well, this is such a good idea, we should sell this to other people. Why don’t we?” So he’s going to join my firm as of council and we’re going to really push him doing a lot of business law activities and build out that practice as well. But on the core function, the core capabilities of criminal and immigration, definitely we’re going to build that capability out and have more attorneys join.
Deborah Marsh:
I don’t ever want to have so many clients that we become the same problem that we’re running from. With the public defender service, where each person has 90 clients, because I couldn’t service 90 people effectively. So I never want to get to the point that we’ve got more than 10 clients servicing at any time. We serve them; we really serve those 10 clients. So if it be 10 new per month, yeah. Because sometimes you’re waiting and waiting for the case to come up for months. So it’s not like you wouldn’t have the bandwidth to take on any more, but you just wouldn’t want to get in a situation that you’re trying to coordinate 90 clients. I don’t want to ever get into that position. So it just would be a nice size of clients, who we can help.
Kevin Daisey:
Yep. I love it. That’s for great. So that means great plans for growth. I think you want to help and you’re doing the right thing and you’re trying to fix something. If you could get other people to join you, that also believe that then you’re just making a bigger impact.
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah, exactly.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, that’s great. I was going to say, we have about 80 some clients, but we have 22 full time and they just have to manage those clients. We add a few a month at the most.
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah. You’ve got 22 people, so that’s different.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. But yeah, having one attorney managing 90, that sounds overwhelming.
Deborah Marsh:
It does. It just does. My friends who are public defenders; that’s what they’re doing. I’m like, “That’s just so many people.”
Kevin Daisey:
I wouldn’t know what I was doing.
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah. Yeah. I never want to get to that position. I want to be able to look after my clients and work for my clients and serve them, as I’m supposed to. I want to [crosstalk 00:19:56].
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. I think at that point, are you really helping them if you forgot something or something slips through the tracks and their life’s in jeopardy.
Deborah Marsh:
I would forget them. I just would forget something. I just know my personality.
Kevin Daisey:
So much to deal with. Yeah.
Deborah Marsh:
Yeah. Yeah.
Kevin Daisey:
Well, Deborah, your website’s down here at the bottom, DAMarsh.com. I think I saw your web guy already updated the tagline there. So…
Deborah Marsh:
Did he really? Because I texted him this morning…
Kevin Daisey:
It looks like it. That’s what I see on there. Johnny on the spot… So check out the website. I love what you’re doing. I like the passion you have and what you’re trying to do. But at the same time, you got plans for growth and there’s a lot more growth ahead for you, I’m sure. COVID hopefully is slowing down and we’ll get back to normal, but we’ll see how that goes too.
Deborah Marsh:
Yes. I didn’t get hit by COVID; I still had clients calling me. People were, I think, stealing more, right? There just seems to be the same amount of clients. I wasn’t hit.
Kevin Daisey:
Most people I talked to, and most of the business owners I talked to, and definitely a lot of attorneys that I get to interview, most saw a better year. An uptick in business, which is good.
Deborah Marsh:
So, my friend who does medical malpractice, he got hit, right?
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. I have some personal injury and medical malp that had some slow down.
Deborah Marsh:
Everybody else was fine, I think. Everybody else was fine.
Kevin Daisey:
Totally agree.
Deborah Marsh:
I really enjoy talking to you, Kevin.
Kevin Daisey:
Yeah.
Deborah Marsh:
Do check out my website, everyone. DAMarsh.com. Law firm of Deborah Marsh. Crazy Deborah is licensed in Maryland and Florida. So that’s it.
Kevin Daisey:
Well, thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully you picked up some lessons from Deborah, her passion and desire to help people, I’d say is the big story. You don’t have to be an attorney right out of school, right out of high school. She had a different path and I think everyone’s got their own little journey that they go through. Thanks for sharing that.
Kevin Daisey:
New episode will be up soon on our website, as well as all the other platforms; LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook. Also the web address down here, arraylaw.com [inaudible 00:22:33] podcast. We’ll have that up soon. Deborah will have her own page; we’ll feature that and get it out to everyone as well.
Kevin Daisey:
We also have a new newsletter coming out, which is a Managing Partner’s Newsletter, that’ll feature different people like Deborah as well. So we’ll be sending that out to anyone that’s been a member of the show. And others, if you want to join that newsletter, please reach out to us.
Kevin Daisey:
For us, if you’re interested in any help with digital marketing, some of the things that Deborah’s hoping to do in the future, that’s what we do. So definitely check us out at arraylaw.com. Reach out to my company or me personally. I’ll connect you the right people.
Kevin Daisey:
But that’s it. Other than that, again, you might not be listening on a Friday, but it’s a Friday afternoon when we’re recording this. So if it’s not Friday, have a good day. Deborah, anything else?
Deborah Marsh:
No. Enjoy your weekend. Don’t get too drunk, but have a cocktail.
Kevin Daisey:
All right. You heard it here. Don’t get in trouble. If you do call Deborah if you’re…
Deborah Marsh:
If you do get in trouble, call me.
Kevin Daisey:
Call Deborah if you’re in Maryland or Florida. Deborah, just stay on with me. I’ll hit stop on this, but everyone else. Thanks for joining the show. We’ll see you again soon.

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