THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 133
Interview on 10.21.2021

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Trevor Newberry



Managing Partner of
OakBridge Law Group

About Trevor Newberry

Trevor Newberry is the Managing Partner of OakBridge Law Group, a new law firm concept based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Trevor started the firm as a reaction to his experience as in-house counsel for a major healthcare provider in the southeast, where he saw skyrocketing legal bills, inefficient outcomes, and unaligned incentives between client and defense attorney. So, he started from scratch, abandoning the outmoded billable hour, and built a team of forward-thinking attorneys and staff whose sole goal is to get the best resolution for their clients at the lowest possible cost.

Trevor is a graduate of Emory University Law School and remains a recovering defense attorney. More than anything, he enjoys spending time with his daughter and wife, and when time permits, playing golf poorly.

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Erik J. Olson:
Hey there, it is Erik J. Olson, and we have another episode of The Managing Partners Podcast coming at you live once again. And today I have with me, Trevor Newberry. Hey, Trevor.

Trevor Newberry:
Hey, Erik. How are you? Thanks for having me.

Erik J. Olson:
Thanks for being on, I appreciate it. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. So Trevor Newberry is the managing partner of OakBridge Law Group, a new law firm concept based in Atlanta, Georgia. I want to hear about that new part, that’s cool. Trevor started the firm as a reaction to his experience as in-house counsel for a major healthcare provider in the Southeast, where he saw skyrocketing legal bills, inefficient outcomes, and unaligned incentives between client and defense attorney. Trevor is a graduate of Emory University Law School and remains a recovering defense attorney. Welcome to the show.

Trevor Newberry:
Thanks so much, Erik. I really appreciate it.

Erik J. Olson:
You know, it’s funny. I hear that phrase a lot, recovering attorney, recovering defense attorney. There’s always like recovery involved in the legal industry, it seems like, huh?

Trevor Newberry:
It does feel like a lifestyle addiction in a lot of ways, being a defense attorney. You can’t stop working ever and you feel bad about it, so yeah, that’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s funny, man. Well, Hey Trevor, I appreciate your time. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and the firm and this new concept.

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, absolutely. So as you mentioned in the bio, I’ve been a defense attorney for going on about a decade now. I started in medical malpractice defense and in doing so, I ended up working with a lot of long-term care clients, nursing home defense. After several years of doing nursing home defense, my one big client that I worked with all the time, we had a great relationship and they brought me in house. And I’ll tell you, that was an awakening for me. As the associate, who was my sole goal was to get as many hours as possible and in the year to make sure I hit my quota, made sure my work was getting done, seeing the other side of that coin as the one who was approving the bills and running strategy, it started to make less and less sense to me. Particularly when my new goal was to save money for my client, and then save on those legal bills and get better outcomes.

Trevor Newberry:
And so in that role, I was tasked, of course, with how can we do this better. And I was very fortunate to be working with a group of executives and a general counsel who were open-minded and interested in trying something new. And so ultimately, sitting in my desk one day, thinking about what the heck am I going to do other than look through every single one of these bills and figure out what nickels and dimes I can save, I was like, “Let’s just scratch this. There’s got to be a better way to do it.” And what we came up with was this concept of OakBridge Law Group.

Trevor Newberry:
And so, I left my client entirely with their blessing and thankfully, with the guarantee that they’d send me the business. And we started OakBridge Law Group, which, at its core, really, it goes to that statement in my bio. It’s about aligning incentives. One of the difficulties that I saw was that when you’re a defense attorney, and this is not to say that it’s not pejorative in any way, but certainly one of your incentives as a defense attorney is to make sure you get your time then. I can’t tell you how many times I got those emails at the end of the month, “Make sure you get your bills in so we can get paid.” That’s the business model. It’s what they do. And one of the issues with that is, whether it’s at the front of your mind or the back, it’s built into what you do day to day as an attorney, it does in a way make you a little less efficient than you could be.

Trevor Newberry:
And so, what we wanted to do at OakBridge is to marry those incentives. So we thought, “Well, what is going to better serve the client than when the attorney his or herself is also working toward number one at a quick resolution, a favorable resolution and a cheap resolution.” And so, I won’t say there’s any particular magic to it other than… We went from a billable model to more of like a Netflix, a subscription model. So they’re really just paying us when they have cases. It’s a flat fee for the month. In that way, our attorneys are incentivized. Like, “Hey, if you get this off your docket, attorney, and you resolve it quickly and efficiently, you’ve got more time to spend with your family, you got more time to do things you want to do, and your clients can be really happy because they can close a case cheaply.” So, that’s really the crux of it.

Erik J. Olson:
I love it, and I think it’s a trend in the industry. We see that a lot, that attorneys are going in that direction, but there are few that I’ve seen that have actually done it all in. I know even us as a digital marketing agency, we’ve gone all in when it comes to fixed price for fixed services on a recurring basis. It makes a lot of sense for both sides of the party. I mean, it’s very rare that you would hire anyone these days and pay an hourly rate for an unknown quantity of hours, right?
Trevor Newberry:
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
Let’s say you’re getting some work done around your house and the carpenter is like, “Ah, I charge a hundred bucks an hour or whatever, but we’ll tell you how many hours.” Right?

Trevor Newberry:
Exactly.

Erik J. Olson:
And as someone who used to charge by the hour, I found that I’d give my rate, but then I’d also have to give an estimate of the number of hours, and you’ve really just backed yourself into a fixed price contract anyways. And sometimes you start doing stupid stuff to make sure you’re within that estimate. You don’t want to blow that SRA. And so, you’re effectively doing it anyways. You just, you know, most people don’t want to acknowledge it. So I applaud you for just going all in, I think it’s great. I love the model.

Trevor Newberry:
Thanks. Yeah, it’s made our client extremely happy. Saved them, no exaggeration, millions of dollars this past year. And we’ve got a small team. We’ve got four outstanding attorneys that are doing all the work in Georgia. They’re the happiest group of attorneys I’ve ever seen because they get to take vacations and work how they want to work, and when they want to work. It’s been a great change for all of us.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah, I’m with you. For us here, it was life-changing. It really was because I used to get complaints all the time about, “Oh, it takes 30 minutes a day to fill out my time sheet and then I’d have to review everything before the invoice.” It was terrible. So you just cut through all that, it’s great. So yeah, once again, good job. So that’s on the business model, so I think it was great. How about going out and getting new clients? What are some different ways that you get new clients?

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, that’s a great question. Traditionally, I’d always just worked on building relationships. A lot of these types of clients, particularly the type of clients we service, which are high volume or large insurance defense, traditionally-type clients, it really is a lot about building the relationship with the in-house counsel, explaining what we’re doing. And I feel so confidently, particularly now that we have a year’s worth of numbers to show people, that the model should sell itself as long as it’s a good fit for that client. So other than that, I would love some great suggestions from y’all. I printed out my T-shirts, I didn’t bring you one today, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the game winner.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s funny. Well, yeah, we cover these things in different episodes, so there’s a lot of different ways, and I’m sure you do a lot of them. Certainly, referrals are the best. And then it’s a matter of going on and getting exposed or getting your firm exposed to people that are not familiar with you, right?

Trevor Newberry:
That’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
In one way or another, so…

Trevor Newberry:
That’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
Yep, but I like the T-shirt idea.

Trevor Newberry:
Thanks, it’s old school. I grew up in Panama city, Florida, and that was the sole way to get restaurants, businesses. Either you print souvenir cups or T-shirts, that’s their whole marketing plan. It works great for them, I’m not sure if it’ll work for us.

Erik J. Olson:
I’ve done T-shirts in the past. It’s pretty cool actually, when you see someone wearing your T-shirt.

Trevor Newberry:
Exactly, exactly.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. Well, cool. So when you get a prospective client coming to you, there’s a period of time, usually between when you first find out about them and then fast forward to when they become a client. That period of time usually requires… You identify who they are, you track them. What kind of tools are you using to just organize your pipeline? And then, do you do anything to nurture them while they’re in that pipeline?

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, excellent question. I guess I’m a little bit old school in that way. I like to, you know, I’ll take people to happy hour, go to lunch, and then, and then I have my email reminder to go follow up with them and say, “Hey, how are things going?” Our biggest challenge I’ve found is it’s not getting in front of people, it’s building their trust with something new. The billable hour model defense firm has been around for 500 years, and we’re trying to change that. And being a new firm with, now I think, a proven track record, it’s been hard to get people to come around on it and say, “Hey, I want to give you all a shot. I want to give you some trust.”

Trevor Newberry:
So for me, it really is about making sure I stay in touch with my contacts, make them stay, and making sure that I have just constant presence of mind to the extent that I can for these potential clients, so that when they do have a need or a gap they want to fill, or when their CEO says, “Hey, we need to save some money. We’re paying an outrageous amount of legal fees,” that hopefully we’ll be the first ones they think of. Of course, other than that, we have our online presence. We’ve got Instagram, and LinkedIn, and our website, of course, but a lot of it really is just that go out there and hustle and grind. My wife constantly questions how much golf I play with people and I do tell her that is legitimate marketing.

Erik J. Olson:
It is. Business development, unfortunately.

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, that’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
And now a tax write off.

Trevor Newberry:
That’s right, that’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s funny. Hey, so actually, how long have you been around? When did you start the firm?

Trevor Newberry:
So we are almost one year as of November 1st. So we started November 1st of 2020. It was an interesting time to start a firm. No one was going in the office, but I have to say, it is informed our culture in a pretty amazing way of… We’re not a bed-check firm, we’re not walking past people’s offices, making sure they’re working because we don’t have to. I don’t care when people work or how they work as long as they’re being creative and producing a great product. And so, that’s what we’re about.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s right. No, that’s great. All right, so you’ve been in business for coming up on one year.

Trevor Newberry:
One year, I know. Still feels pretty-

Erik J. Olson:
Wow. Yeah, and you have four attorneys?

Trevor Newberry:
Four attorneys, right.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s impressive.

Trevor Newberry:
Thank you, thank you. I guess one of the benefits we had starting out was that we had an institutional client. I think this would be a challenging concept to build without somebody who was already willing to send you all their business. And that was one of the mini boons we had starting out was, “Hey, we’re going to go ahead and give you X number of files.” So we had to build our team relatively quickly. The good news is we were able to go out and hire the people we wanted. This was such an appealing concept for attorneys to work in, that it made it easy to pick who exactly who we wanted to do the work.

Trevor Newberry:
Going back to that, just culturally speaking, this is not the firm where you go to be a millionaire lawyer, but you’re also going to get to see your family as much as you want. So I think generationally, particularly folks myself and younger, there’s more value placed on that, having time for your interests and your hobbies and your family. And believe me, they still do very well, but I don’t think any of us are going to have any plans in the near future, and I’m okay with that.

Erik J. Olson:
Well, I think it’s quite impressive, what you’ve built so far, so good for you. I mean, in just one year, you don’t normally see that kind of growth, so certainly something is going well.

Trevor Newberry:
Thank you, thank you.

Erik J. Olson:
And then, and then with your pricing model, that, at least in my experience, it took years to get to that point where I was confident enough to do that. And so, to go right to that right off the bat, I think that’s really strong.

Trevor Newberry:
Thank you.

Erik J. Olson:
Once again, congratulations.

Trevor Newberry:
Thank you.

Erik J. Olson:
So as a digital marketing agency for law firms, we’re always interested to find out what is working well for law firms when it comes to their marketing and then conversely, what is something that no longer works for you?

Trevor Newberry:
Gosh, I’ll tell you, my plan and what I’ve done and what has worked well for me is it really is just getting together with those people, those decision-makers, and spending time with them. The last year, because no one has been allowed out of the house, or if they do, you’ve got your mask on or you can’t sit inside, a lot of people are still understandably uncomfortable spending time in public places with other people. That has been a real challenge, less so lately, but certainly it’s been a challenge to get in front of people the way we had before.

Trevor Newberry:
Fortunately though, people have really come around, I think, on Zoom and using Teams and whatever video conferencing platform that they’re comfortable with, and take those meetings seriously. As a firm, we did depositions virtually, we do mediations virtually, and I think there’s become more and more credibility and reliability on those platforms. And I use that for clients too. Sometimes, literally, we’ll put on a video screen and I’ll pour a drink at my house and they’ll pour a drink at their house and we’ll just sit and visit for half an hour and pretend like it’s happy hour, but that’s becoming easier.

Trevor Newberry:
Now, what is not working? I’ll tell you. And I told you this, Erik, and I’m going to have lots of questions for you about this, is our online presence, I wish were stronger. And frankly, I was never trained that way. I don’t know the first thing about how to make it better, but that does seem to be the way of the future. I know that when I go look for a product or service, particularly a new one, first thing I do is Google to see if they have a website to make sure I’m not being scammed, to make sure it’s legitimate. And when it’s difficult to find that website, like I was telling you, when I Google our name online, it doesn’t come up as quickly as I’d like. We want to give that legitimacy and show that we’re really doing things right. But from our perspective, I certainly don’t have the know how to do that. So I’d love to talk to you more about that as well.

Erik J. Olson:
Absolutely. No, I think it’s great. And I think you’re on to the right things when it comes to marketing. It’s interesting because referrals, everybody says referrals, they want referrals, they live off referrals, but they don’t actually do much for referrals. And then the next thing, in our opinion here at Array Digital, in our opinion, the next… So referrals, high trust. The next lead source that is almost as high is Google. Now, that’s in our opinion. Referrals is the best, and then Google search results is the next best thing, we believe, is because people have become accustomed to the Google slash overlord of the world, knowing what’s good and what’s not. They’re the arbitrator of what’s worthy when it comes to what it is you’re searching for.

Erik J. Olson:
But it’s really a huge referral engine in itself because if you’re not putting out good content that’s meaningful, that talks about what the person wants to hear about, if you’re not getting reviews, if you’re getting slammed by previous clients that are unhappy with you, Google knows, right? And so, you want to get to the top of those rankings if it deems that you’re worthy. And so, it’s a huge referral engine all by itself. Just this morning, I was watching a video of a nonmarketer saying that they believe that search results are higher trust than actual referrals you get from a person.

Trevor Newberry:
I wouldn’t doubt it.

Erik J. Olson:
Which is, you know, it’s a tough one. It’s a tough pill to swallow because we all love referrals. I love referrals, right? We all love referrals, but the reality is you’re using all of the judgment of that one person, whereas with Google, it’s crowdsource. Maybe there’s something to it but I’m with you. I question everything and I always want to be in as many places as I can so… Cool, yeah. Well, we’ll definitely talk after this, all right?

Trevor Newberry:
And to add to your point too… What’s that? I’m sorry.

Erik J. Olson:
I said we’ll definitely talk after this.

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, that sounds great. And just to add on to your point too, whether you believe referrals or Google is stronger, you can’t have one without the other, you know?

Erik J. Olson:
That’s right.

Trevor Newberry:
My concern is I go and talk to somebody and they’re really interested in what we’re doing and want to give it a try, but then it’s already a leap of faith to try a brand new business model or a brand new fee model in this context. And it’s not like we have people googling defense firm that saves money, enter. You know what I mean? That’s not what they’re googling, right? It’s a source of legitimacy for us and that’s why it’s so important.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. I love that last point actually, because yes, it doesn’t really matter if referrals are better or Google’s better when it comes to lead sources. The key is you want multiple lead sources. You don’t want to rely just on one, because one could dry up.

Trevor Newberry:
That’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
When you just rely, as an example, on Google and they change their algorithm, you could go from top of page one to page 10 instantly. Also, with referral sources. If for whatever reason, something happens with that great referral source that was sending you a bunch of work, and now they’re sending it somewhere else, that can really put a dent in your pipeline, right? And so you have to have multiple referral sources, multiple avenues for online leads, all of those things. I totally agree. So I think that’s a really strong, valid point. I like that a lot, Trevor. Well, cool, man. Hey, if someone would like to reach out to you and pick your brain, or if they have a case for you, what is a good way for them to reach out to you?

Trevor Newberry:
Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve got our website, we have oakbridgelaw.com. We’re not, as all the plaintiff’s attorneys joke, the OakRidge boys. We’re OakBridge with a B. And so oakbridgelaw.com, or we’re on Instagram, @oakbridgelaw. Either of those are great, would love to hear from you all. And if you have any thoughts about how we can make things better, I want to hear that too. One of the things we pitch is not that we are so married to flat fees or subscription models, that’s the only way we do things. I mean, ultimately our goal is we want to find out what the client needs from a financial perspective and make it work for them. And we are open to be creative, we are small enough and flexible enough to be creative on that front. And I think that’s what, I hope, is what makes us stand out from the rest. So, I really appreciate that.

Erik J. Olson:
Fantastic. All right, thanks, Trevor. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out more awesome episodes like this, check them out. We have over 125 episodes on our website at arraylaw.com/podcast. And if you are looking for digital marketing for your law firm, you can check out my company, Array Digital, at arraylaw.com. We’ll explain our services such as website development, SEO, online advertising, and social media. Trevor, it’s been a pleasure. Appreciate it.

Trevor Newberry:
Erik, pleasure. Thank you so much.

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