THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 135
Interview on 10.29.2021

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Cornelius O’Reilly



Managing Partner of
The O'Reilly Law Firm

About Cornelius O’Reilly

Cornelius (“Neil”) J. O’Reilly is the Managing Partner at The O'Reilly Law Firm in Staten Island, New York.

Neil is an attorney whose practice is focused in the areas of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, and Business Succession Planning. He is a proud member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, a national organization comprised of attorneys concentrating on estate planning and dedicated to providing clients with the highest quality legal service and finest client experience. He is also a member of the New York Bar Association and New Jersey State Bar Association.

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

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Kevin Daisey:
All right, we are live and recording. So welcome everybody for tuning in, this is another live recording of The Managing Partners Podcast. My name’s Kevin Daisey, I’ll be your host. I’m also the founder of Array Digital, where we help law firms fill their pipeline using digital marketing. So I have a special guest coming in today from New York, we have Neil O’Reilly joining us today. Thanks for coming on the show.

Neil O’Reilly:
Anytime Kevin, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, yeah, thanks. So I want to jump right into it. You’re a sole proprietor.

Neil O’Reilly:
Correct.

Kevin Daisey:
And I just want to put this out there, and a lot of people say this, Neil’s like, “Why should I be on this show? I’m just a sole proprietor.” And in all honesty, everyone listening right now, we all can learn from each other. And so, what this show is about, other than us getting our name in the marketplace, because that is a good reason for us to do this, is we want to help Neil’s story help someone else and vice versa. So whatever Neil’s done, hopefully it can help someone. So if you’re a young attorney or you’re in law school, or you’re just stuck at a law firm that you don’t want to be at and you’re thinking about going on your own, Neil went on his own. Whether or not he started that way, we’re about to find out his story. But if you listen to these episodes, you’re just looking for that little golden nugget, that little piece of information or inspiration that’ll help you with your firm.

Kevin Daisey:
So Neil, you’re a great fit for the podcast and we’re happy to have you tell your story today. And again, someone’s going to get some good information from this so I appreciate you coming on and spend some time with us. So tell us your story. What inspires you to become an attorney? What happened? What was that moment? Just give us a little background on that.

Neil O’Reilly:
For me, when I was in college, I was a finance major and I just felt that being a lawyer was a way to just have more freedom. Which is funny, because my sister worked at law firms and support, and she was like, “In larger New York city firms, you have no idea. You’re exactly wrong about that.” So I went to law school, I worked at a smaller firm and then what I really wanted to do, I realized, was trial work. So I went up to the Bronx DA’s office. I was in domestic violence and sex crimes, and then I was the first assistant chosen for the organized crime unit, Dan unit. We went through about 15 names in a year and a half.

Neil O’Reilly:
So when I left, I was trying to think about what I wanted to do, and a lot of my friends do criminal defense. I’m not disparaging, but it’s just not for me. So I started thinking about what could I do to really help people. So I started to do some estate planning. I went and got my LM, but all the firms… So I had my own firm at first and then I joined a larger firm in New Jersey and they wanted me to do some planning, but they really wanted me to be in court. So do a state litigation or tax litigation. So I did that. I moved around to a couple firms, I went back out on my own, and then just about a year ago, so right when the pandemic was starting, I decided I didn’t want to do the litigation anymore.

Neil O’Reilly:
The grind of the litigation, there was a lot of, as you know, there’s a lot of times where it’s just… Sometimes, I feel like people hear about in the state litigation, it’s an easy way to make a little bit of money, so let’s go for it. And it just got to me after a while. So I decided I really want to deal with people. I really want to help people maybe avoid that problem. So that’s why year to 18 months ago, I parried away everything except the planning and the administration. So that’s what I do now. That’s how I got to where I am today. I just like the fact of, like I said, when I was doing the domestic violence and sex crimes or the organized crime, I liked helping people. That was the best part of the job. So that’s why I do what I do now in a nutshell.

Kevin Daisey:
Excellent. Well, again, it’s interesting to hear these different stories, but everyone has this… They went from a firm or they went into one thing, but eventually what I see is they find out where they really want to be, and it doesn’t happen overnight. So young attorneys, listen to this, that first job you take or that internship or whatever, might not be where you stay or where you end up, but it’s going to give you some experience and probably allow you to figure out where you don’t want to be and where you do want to be. So I think, for you, you basically niched. You’re saying, “Hey, I want to do this,” and that’s it. And now you can just be really good at that. And I think if you’re talking to the right customer, the right client, that should speak volume. So then like, “Hey, this person does this and only this and you’re going to be really good at it.” So I think niching is huge and kind of getting your little spot and stay to it.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah. Like you said, since there are young attorneys watching this, I mean, I started practicing in ’93. My first firm with the Admiralty and Maritime, I thought the choice of law questions would be great, but it’s all insurance driven, so the choice of law questions are gone. So, that’s one of the main reasons I moved to the DA’s office. And then from there, you start to wonder is… When I went to a firm, I had the litigation. I loved it and I was great at it, but then eventually it just got to like you’re saying, over time, there’s something gawing at you that this isn’t the right thing. So if anyone’s out there and you’re thinking, “I don’t know what direction it’s going to go.” For me, it took quite some time to figure this out, so it’s not a problem if it takes you a while.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, yeah, 100%. Well, kudos, figuring that out. It does take a while. And I think you just got to get out there, put yourself out there and get going, and it will happen at some point. Maybe some people are more fortunate, they figure out what they want prior but… Coming out of high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do, to be honest with you. So I was not going, “Oh, I’m going to be a lawyer,” or, “I’m going to be a marketer.” It was kind of a very gray area for me. Now, I’m here where I’m at. So as you’re listening to, you want to take a look at Neil’s website. It’s a nice website, cjorlaw.com. It’s at the bottom of your screen if you’re tuning in on video. If not, it’s, again, cjorlaw.com. Take a look at that and you kind of see more about what he does, check out his firm. So your location is in New York and you said you live in Jersey Shore?

Neil O’Reilly:
Correct.

Kevin Daisey:
Actually, do you practice in New Jersey as well, or just New York?

Neil O’Reilly:
New York and New Jersey, both.

Kevin Daisey:
Okay, both. Excellent. That seems pretty common when I talk to lawyers in the New York area, so really cool. So what are some of the ways… Obviously you’ve been at a firm, you’ve gone back on your own, I guess either way, what are some of the things that you’ve done to get clients and get in front of folks? Especially now you’re a little bit more specific on what you’re looking for. What things have you done that have worked at all to get in front of those folks and bring those clients in the door?

Neil O’Reilly:
Just the first thing I want to say is, coming from the DA’s office and I left the DA’s office a while ago, but it still took me a while to figure this out. Coming from a long line of blue collar, not surprising, Irish, New York, I come from a long line of cops. You don’t ever talk about how to get business. That’s not something that anyone ever discusses. And when I was at the DA’s office, you don’t worry about business, it just happens. So I was always good mechanically as a lawyer, but I was always terrible at clients. So that’s part of the reason when I first came out, I used to had my own firm, I wasn’t really good at bringing clients in. I’ve always felt held back by charging money, and I felt back for a number of reasons. I just wasn’t any good at it.

Neil O’Reilly:
So this time, and this is part of the reason why, when I went back on my own. So what I do now is one of the first things I did was I joined a networking group. And it’s great for networking, yes. But really, what it’s really good about is how to learn how to network better. So if you’re someone like me where it was just a chore, it’s just like I don’t really want to ask someone for business. So, that’s one of the first things I did. A lot of what I did was, mentally, how do I go about this. So it’s not really about networking anymore, it’s not really about getting clients. The main way I get clients right now is I do seminars. With COVID, you can’t really do seminars, but I’m going to start those up live again. I do a lot of webinars.

Kevin Daisey:
I saw that on your website, yeah.

Neil O’Reilly:
What that does though, gets me into the mindset of, I’m here to get clients, but really what I’m here to do is help people. I help people, I’ll get clients. So a lot of times people will come to the webinar, I give them a complimentary consultation and I tell them at the end of it, I want a decision. Is now the time we move forward or is now not the time? No is perfectly fine. A lot of people who say no still refer me clients because they see that I’m real about that. Once I feel a no coming on, it’s not as though we just end and I’m in a snit. I want them to know. You had questions, that’s why I offered you.

Neil O’Reilly:
So, that’s a big way that I get clients. The networking, I joined a BNI group. Again, that helps me because it’s not about calling there and convincing people to give me business, it’s just about being helpful. So, that’s extremely helpful for me. One of the things that I try to do is give presentations at local churches. That’s really helpful for me. It’s people of a similar cultural background to me, so it’s helpful. They trust me because of that. And then also one of the big things I’m working on now is, I went to a small private high school. I’m trying to work with the alumni group there.

Kevin Daisey:
Awesome.

Neil O’Reilly:
They’re trying to do a lot of fundraising. And if I can get into that, that’s a way for me to get involved with generations of people who went to my high school. So those are my main ways of doing it. Obviously, I try to deal with people in similar areas, whether it be CPAs or financial planners. That works out okay, but the webinars, just meeting people all around town, that’s… As silly as it seems, once I started really reaching out and just putting out information, people from different aspects of my life have reached out to me, whether it’s friends or family, and said, “I didn’t really realize that’s what you did, but can you help me out?” So it’s something that even though I’ve been in business for a while, I hadn’t reached out to those people in the past, and you kind of think to yourself, those won’t be good sources for me. But just, again, being helpful, a lot of those people are coming to me now. So those are my main areas where I’m getting clients today.

Kevin Daisey:
I love every single one of that, those approaches. And I saw the webinars on your site, I was going to ask you about it, but you brought it up. So I think that is a really great way. If you’re listening to this and you’re in criminal defense or personal injury or some of those other areas that may be more of immediate need and you have to market yourself and be available more in Google and advertise, those things is harder. You know, you don’t go to your friends and say, “Hey, I criminal defense, let me know if you need me.” But I think what you do and what you offer, other estate planning, attorneys, will trust, family law, things like that, I think what you’re doing, Neil, is awesome because it’s really what I would call like a power base. If anyone works like Grant Cardone, he’s like big on sales and whatever. But the power base is your friends, your family, everybody that you know, letting them know what you are up to, what you do, because half the time, they probably don’t even have a clue what you’re doing.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
And so you going back at those folks and say, “Hey, by the way, I just want to let you know, I go to your high school.” I got my high school reunion 20 years coming up next weekend. But you know, “Hey, this is what I do.” And there’s going to be a need, probably, there. I love the things you’re doing at the local, like the churches and other groups like that. Everyone there should be needing your service at some point in their life.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
And I think it’s great, what you’re doing with all that. But yeah, having that power base, and I think the other one is what I call a power group, for networking. BNI, I used to be in that a long time ago. We only work with law firms, so it doesn’t really work for me anymore because there can only be one lawyer in the group.

Neil O’Reilly:
Right.

Kevin Daisey:
And most of our clients are national. But the CPAs, the other types of attorneys, all those folks, getting them to know what you’re doing and building those referral sources is huge. And we try to do that, like at my company, I have a spreadsheet. So my employees, if they’re working with a client and someone says, “Hey, do you guys know a photographer?” Or, “Do you know this or that?” We have a sheet of trusted people. CPA, business attorney, whatever, that we can say, “Oh, yeah, we actually have someone that we know and trust.” And we pass that along. It’s just helping the client. It’s just being helpful, like you said.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, I love all of that. So, yeah, being helpful, putting out free information and then “Hey, if you want to work with us, we’re right here.” If not, even if they’re not ready, they get their friend on the weekend talking to them about, “Yeah, I need to get stuff straight, whatever.” “Oh, well I got a guy. He’s awesome. I haven’t worked with him yet,” and they can refer you. So, I love it.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah. I think people are a lot more are open when they don’t feel like they’re being sold. That’s the main thing. That’s why something like this is great. You’re saying to people, I’m being helpful. There’s just an honesty about that that’s a little better than… The person, when they feel they’re being hunted, they just don’t stay.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, no, yeah. Sometimes with the podcast here, where people feel like, “Why are you reaching out to me? And how’d you find out my information?” It’s like, “Hey, we just want you to be a guest on the podcast and tell your story. We got plenty of other people that would like to be on set. We’re not pursuing you, you know?” And they know what we do and maybe it’s their need. Yeah, so it’ll work the same way that you’re doing. So something like this would be awesome for you. Maybe not so much in, whether this is more broadly broadcasted and not specific to New York, New Jersey.

Kevin Daisey:
But I mention this every once in a while, I had a guest on managing partner out of Colorado. They have a divorce podcast. And again, anyone in the world can access the podcast, but they get tons of clients from their podcast and they just talk about divorce topics and things like that. So there’s lots of different things you can do out there, but you’re putting out free content, you’re helping people. If you’re the resource they came to and you help them, answer questions and it’s all free advice, you’re they’re going to use when they get professional help. So, I love it.

Neil O’Reilly:
I’ll be honest with you, one of the things that I’ve had on the back burner for about six months now is, I have the thumbnail, the podcast I want to start is Small Business Need You. I want to do a local small business podcast in five boroughs and in Northern-Central New Jersey. Just small business owners.

Kevin Daisey:
Nice.

Neil O’Reilly:
I want to do maybe two a week, similar format to this, maybe 15, 20 minutes, just to get the word out. These are small businesses. If you care about small businesses and you say you care about small businesses and you want to help people who are probably crushed by the pandemic. I have a list of people and I’ve just been trying to figure out the mechanics of how to do a podcast like this.

Kevin Daisey:
I can help you.

Neil O’Reilly:
I’m definitely going to reach out for you.

Kevin Daisey:
For free, of course.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah, but it’s the same idea. Just trying to get the word out. Maybe I’ll get business out of it, I have no idea. As a small business owner, I feel like people should be using small business, particularly small businesses we’re talking about, rather than Amazon or Best Buy.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah.

Neil O’Reilly:
Just regular people.

Kevin Daisey:
No, 100%, I love that. And yeah, I have a whole kind of step by step process for doing your own podcast. Happy to share that with you. And whatever anyone else is listening to, I’m actually talking to a lot of lawyers that come on here and I’m helping them with this like free workshop type of thing. I’m just going to walk through it real quick. But no, I think that’s amazing. I think podcasts are not dead, they’re growing.

Kevin Daisey:
And here’s the thing is, there’s such an opportunity. I had some stats, it’s in my slide deck for podcasting. Actually at my local chamber, so I have a regional chamber here in Virginia, and they asked me to give a MasterClass. And so, I did that like a couple weeks ago. So I got all brand new material together for this. And that was just to help anyone listening that wants to start a podcast for their business. And so, the thing with podcasts, I think there’s like, I don’t know, 90, I forgot how many billions, like 90 billion websites or something crazy. And there’s only like in the millions of podcasts, so there’s such a difference in that number.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
There’s not a lot of podcasts that tune into, especially if you get specific, like in an area or estate planning or whatever it may be. But if you get specific, people are searching for that stuff. You’re going to get an audience that’s interested in that, and that’s what it’s all about. So yeah, I think it’s great. Let me know, I can help you after the show here. And that’s anyone else, if you’re looking to do a podcast for your law firm, I think it’s a great idea. It’s not something we charge and service for, I think, but it’s also not that difficult. You have to do it, you just got to do it. So any ideas [crosstalk 00:19:03].

Neil O’Reilly:
Clearly, for me, what I’ve been obsessing about is the lighting. See, your lighting, it’s great. Mine feels like a disaster.

Kevin Daisey:
Well, I was telling Neil before this, I just recorded a podcast right before this, and I had two back to back today kind of, and the lighting was not like this. So I had the overhead lights, which are fluorescent, and it was terrible. I got this like just white, shiny… So before this, when I went and got the ring light, which is on a stand, and just put it and turn my lights off. So at the end of the day though, I do this at my house. I just had a guy on today. He’s in New Mexico, in like Roswell, New Mexico area, and he was in a Denny’s. He recorded in a Denny’s while I was right here. And that was actually, his lighting was good, it was quiet. So he had his Denny’s coffee cup.

Kevin Daisey:
So, you know, you just got to do what you got to do. You’re talking about these small businesses, the conditions don’t have to be perfect to have a podcast. No one’s going to be that upset about it. Especially, you do video like this as well as audio, and you can get people on your podcast platforms as well as YouTube or your website, LinkedIn, whatever else you want to do. So, consider something like this. This is called Streamy and it does it all for you. I can export the audio and boom, I got my podcast. So it’s all in the thing I put together is not just creating the content, but how do you repurpose it and put it out to, you know, everywhere. So this will be Instagram stories coming out like, with you talking here soon. So you can slice and dice it and just keep reusing it.

Neil O’Reilly:
That’s great, that’s great.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah.

Neil O’Reilly:
I mean, that’s the thing about it, is if you’re going to do it… That’s the thing about it, it’s invaluable about what you offer. I could pop out an hour-long podcast, right? But really, then I just get lost in the scene. You really have to learn how to do what you’re saying is. You can learn how to do a more concise podcast, but also how to break it down into all the components you’re talking about. That’s really great for someone in my position to learn about.

Kevin Daisey:
No, absolutely. This week, I looked on the calendar and we have 19 of these podcasts this week, so…

Neil O’Reilly:
Wow.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, and then there’s all the repurposing that comes with it. Emails out to you, the guest, you’re going to probably get like two more emails when… We’ll make the edits, we’ll send you all the files. It’s a production. And we don’t even do it as a service, we just do it for ourselves. But hopefully, we can teach a lot of people how they can do it for their firms. And at least maybe not to the scale that we’re doing it, but if it’s once a week, once a month, that’s more than doable. Just got to put some time aside for it.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
All right, next question and then we’ll get you wrapped up out of here. What’s really the plans for you, and how long have you had this firm, the practice on your own again?

Neil O’Reilly:
Well, I guess technically I’ve been out of my own in this last iteration for three years. But really, with just doing the estate planning and the administration work, it’s a year and a half.

Kevin Daisey:
Okay, so year and a half. So with that in mind, let’s just forget about the rest. I mean, you got the experience, but with that in mind, what’s really your next plans? Obviously, you’re looking to get out more, do some cool things, but what do you see kind of as the next year to three years, as far as what you’re looking to accomplish?

Neil O’Reilly:
So in the next six months, I want to add one staff member at least. That would probably be right at six months. And then from there, based on the growth, because for me, really the main thing is when someone does the planning and even the administration, there’s a lot of funding work that we have to do to make sure that when they’re doing trust work, make sure that’s funded, when we’re doing administration work. So that’s the first person I want to hire, because that’s just a lot of extra work for me.

Neil O’Reilly:
The other people who I want to hire, and I’d really like to have this within a year, is I want to have a customer relations person. You could say it’s a receptionist, but it’s really more than a receptionist because it’s going to be the person who mainly deals with the clients, the one who’s going to… When someone calls, they’re going to route them to the correct person. So it’s someone who has to think of themselves as more than a receptionist.

Neil O’Reilly:
And then I also want to have a person who, their job is to help me put the documents together and then also would help me with the signing ceremonies. So I want at least those three people. Ideally, if I were to add another person, that’d be great. But those are the three people I want to have in place in the next 12 months.

Kevin Daisey:
Love it, very precise. You know what you want, that’s good. Anyone listening, you’re looking for a job and you’re not a lawyer, submit your resume. No, I think that’s great. I like how you said receptionist, but not. The biggest thing I’ve done here at my company is hire a person. We always had an interaction with clients from multiple people, but we hired a person full-time to literally just be full-time, maybe account representative or account executive, whatever you want to call it.

Kevin Daisey:
There’s more outbound than there is inbound. So clients are calling us, they don’t call us that much, but when the client asks for something and it’s going to go get done or not get done, or it’s tasked, like they call text, email the client, like every day, pretty much. “Hey, here’s where we are,” or, “Hey, this is done,” it’s just over the top communication, so the client’s never like what’s going on. That’s helped a lot. So I think, yeah, that’s a good position to have. And not just waiting for calls, but proactively making sure every client’s touched, based with. And if a client doesn’t answer anything for like a week or a month, they call them anyway, you know? So yeah, I think that’s a good idea for you.

Neil O’Reilly:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. So, excellent. Well, I appreciate you sharing your story and what you’re up to. I love the ideas you have for the small business and the podcast. Definitely happy to help you with any of that stuff. If you want just tips or my recommendations, I’m happy to give that.

Neil O’Reilly:
I really appreciate that. Thank you so much, Kevin. This was great. Thanks a lot so much for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity to come on today.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, no problem. Again, anyone watching, check out his website, cjorlaw.com. And yeah, appreciate sharing your story. Everyone, have a good day. Neil, if you want, stay on with me for just a second. And everyone else, we’ll see you next time.

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