THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 137
Interview on 11.04.2021

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Paul Bekman



Managing Partner of
Bekman,Marder&Adkins, LLC

About Paul Bekman

Paul Bekman is the Managing Partner at Bekman, Marder & Adkins, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland.

Best Lawyers in America has recognized him as one of the top personal injury lawyers in the country since 1989. Paul has been a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1993, a distinguished honor achieved by less than 1% of the nation's lawyers.

In 1997-98, he served as President of the Maryland State Bar Association, the first plaintiff's attorney ever to hold that position for the 19,000-member organization. He has been consistently recognized as a Top Ten vote-getter in SuperLawyers magazine.

Paul enthusiastically shares his expertise with other lawyers and students of the law through bar leadership positions, as a longstanding member of the MICPEL faculty, and most recently, as Chair of the University of Maryland School of Law Board of Visitors. He received the distinguished graduate award in 2010. In 2011, he was recognized as one of the 11 Living Legal Legends by the Bar Association of Baltimore City.

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 Daisy:
All right, everyone. Welcome to another live recording of the Managing Partners Podcast. My name’s Kevin Daisy. I am your host, and I’m also the founder of Array Digital. We help law firms fill their pipeline using digital marketing, and today I’ve a special guest from Baltimore, Maryland. Paul Bekman. Welcome to the show.

Paul Bekman:
Thanks Kevin. Thanks for asking me.

Kevin Daisy:
Yeah. Great conversation we got to have a little bit backstage. I’m excited to have the viewers learn about your story and a couple of interesting things about yourself. So without further ado, I want to really want to hear your journey, the Paul Bekman’s story. At what point in your childhood maybe did you decide, “I’m going to be an attorney.”

Paul Bekman:
Well, that’s a great question. I was actually in college at the time and I took an introduction to law course. And for me that was it. I was totally captured and that’s when I decided that I wanted to go to law school.

Kevin Daisy:
Excellent. And I’ll throw in some other questions here in a minute that I want to know more about, but so you got to law school and… Tell us a little bit about how that panned out when you came out of law school to be where you are today, managing a firm. Give us a little bit of that journey that you took and how you got to where you are today.

Paul Bekman:
When I was attending law school, I went to the University of Maryland School of Law, which is located in Baltimore. I worked as a law clerk for a local firm after my first year of law school, and during the summers. And after I graduated, took the bar and went to work for the same law firm, it was a general practice firm. And they did all types of work, but they did litigation, which I was very much intrigued with. And I had been a lawyer no more than 30 days when they said to me, “Here, take these two cases and try them. You’ll get a lot of experience. Don’t worry about losing they’re losers, but you’ll get great experience.” So I took them, I tried them, they were jury trials and I won them both.

Kevin Daisy:
Wow.

Paul Bekman:
After that I was hooked and I have been trying cases ever since that time.

Kevin Daisy:
So you’re saying you’re good at what you do?

Paul Bekman:
Well, I have a little motto and it’s something that I’ve tried to live by. And that’s this, the harder I work, the luckier I get. And I believe anybody who is going to be a trial lawyer, the trial of a case in my view is about 90% preparation and 10% talent. If you do what is necessary to prepare the case, 90% of the time you’re going to win it if you take the right case, which is always an important aspect of being a trial lawyer. Because we as lawyers, when we graduated from law school, we were here to help people. We were here to help people and do the right thing. And sometimes the hardest thing that a lawyer has to say is, “No, I can’t take your case. No, you don’t have a case,” but everybody deserves an appropriate answer and reasons why if you don’t take a case, the reasons why you don’t.

Kevin Daisy:
Yeah, I like that. I love what you said about being lucky. And I think that’s a good… I run a business, I do okay for myself. There’s a lot more I want to accomplish of course, but you have those people that go, “Oh, you’re so lucky,” and they don’t see all the work and effort that goes into it. And yes, by doing a lot of work, being persistent and doing more activity than most people want to do, you seem to get lucky more often. That’s for sure.

Paul Bekman:
Yeah, it’s like the story you always hear Kevin about. You got to be the first one there in the morning and you got to be the last one there at night, and you show by your hard work and your diligence that you care and that you know what you’re doing and you then move up the ladder. It’s a story that pervades I think all of us in the practice of law, we all did that in order to succeed.

Kevin Daisy:
Yeah. If you do that, you’re going to stand out. You’re going to get things accomplished and it’s going to work in your favor. So yeah. I wish everyone got that. That’s for sure. And of my employees listening [inaudible 00:05:15]. Yeah, we got to work hard. We got to step it up. A couple of things you mentioned too, you are not just an attorney, you’ve been an attorney for a long time. You also have family that are lawyers and they have spouses that are lawyers. So tell us a little bit about how you’re surrounded by it.

Paul Bekman:
Well, first of all, I’d say this. I’m one of those people who is proud to be a lawyer. And I have two daughters, both of whom are lawyers and both of whom married lawyers. So we have lawyers everywhere. And no, we don’t have arguments every night or every weekend when we get together. But everybody respects everybody’s opinion because everybody is doing something a little bit different, but I’m very proud of both my daughters and my son-in-laws who are very hard working individuals who try to do the right thing, it’s a pleasure.

Paul Bekman:
I remember the times when my daughters accompanied me to bar conventions so that they could see what goes on and they made their own decision about whether or not they wanted to go to law school. And I think part of that was the fact that they saw that I enjoyed the practice of law. I think it makes a difference if they have someone that they may respect, and in this case they wanted to be a lawyer as well and they’re doing very nicely

Kevin Daisy:
Well, I’m assuming you’re a major influence in their lives and decisions for that I’m sure. For a plenty of other folks as well, I’m sure with a lot of folks in your organization there, so kudos to you for that and how that’s going to work out for you. Let’s go a little different question. I got some other great questions for you that we discussed in the beginning, but just a little bit about the firm itself, always wanted to know how you get clients. I know you’re big probably on referrals mouth to mouth as well, but what has worked well for you from more of outbound marketing aspect that has worked for you in the firm? I know you don’t advertise, but what things that you’ve done that maybe are a little bit different or unique that have worked for you?

Paul Bekman:
Well, it’s a traditional type approach. Even when I was a young lawyer, I got involved. I got involved with the young lawyer section of the bar, became the chairman of the Young Lawyers Section, got involved in the Maryland Trial Lawyers, which was the plaintiff’s bar, ended up becoming the president of the Trial Lawyers. Got involved in the City Bar Association of Baltimore, ended up being the president and also was involved in the State Bar and became the president of the State Bar.

Paul Bekman:
When you do those kind of things, you meet a lot of lawyers. You meet a lot of lawyers who you would otherwise not generally meet, who were in totally different practice areas. I started out at a very young age, doing a lot of different type of seminars for our local continuing professional legal organization and also the national business Institute, as well as the bar associations on various topics relating to litigation and trial of cases. And then we do what probably is the biggest thing, for attraction of cases is we go out and my law firm does this. We try cases. Even our website mdtrialfirm.com signifies what we do. And we do try a lot of cases.

Paul Bekman:
We’ve been very fortunate in getting a lot of very good results and the word spreads. People want to make sure that if they’ve got a case and they need assistance, they can come to somebody who will be able to help them and try to assist them in representing their clients. So a lot of it ends up being referrals from other lawyers. And in some cases, referrals from lawyers against whom we have had cases. We have actually 10 lawyers here in the office and they all try cases and they’re not afraid to go to court and they’re prepared. And I think that makes a big difference.

Paul Bekman:
The other thing that you mentioned, word of mouth that happens. If you have somebody that you’ve represented, satisfied client, they’re going to call you, their friends are going to call you, their relatives are going to call you, their acquaintances are going to call you. So we’ve been very fortunate in being able to attract a lot of business. We don’t have a problem doing that.

Kevin Daisy:
Excellent. And you have the new website that’s coming out soon. If you’re listen to this later, it might already be out. So, their website address is on the screen here, mdtrialfirm.com. Go check that out and learn more about their firm and what they’re up to. Yeah, so I mean, you’re doing the things that some firms just don’t want to do. They don’t want to go to trial and then they kick it over to you I assume some referral fee in there for this?

Paul Bekman:
Yeah. That’s true. And our view on that is look, the client is the client of the person who refers them. We will work with them jointly and we can assist people who may not be in a position to try some of these cases, which as you probably know, can be extremely expensive from a cost perspective. And just like the cost of living, the cost of trying a case has gone up substantially. Primarily because of expert fees, deposition costs, less on travel because of the Zoom world we’re in, because we’re doing a lot of depositions by Zoom.

Paul Bekman:
The cost of trying a case is a very expensive proposition. And for us, and for anybody who is doing it, you have to make the right decision in the right case. And as a plaintiff’s lawyer, which I’ve been my entire life, we try to make the right decision. No one is right 100% of the time, no one wins all of their cases show me the lawyer that hasn’t lost a case, and I’ll show you a lawyer who hasn’t tried many cases. It’s just the way things go. And you don’t know what a jury’s going to do in many times that you try a case.

Kevin Daisy:
Yeah. So I’ve actually talked to quite a few firms, some newer firms that they find something that most firms don’t want to do or deal with, and they’ll find a little niche there and then that’s what they do. And so I’ve heard a lot of trials being, but for you, it’s going, it’s going to trial. So it makes a lot of sense. You guys that’s what you do, for some other firms that just maybe not have been able to invest in that or take that risk or have the expense that we can take on.

Paul Bekman:
Yeah. And Kevin, I think that’s what we’re seeing now in the practice of law, which is people basically focusing their practice in a particular area. It’s extremely difficult, extremely difficult to do what may have been done 50 years ago, which is being in a general practitioner and doing a little bit of everything. You really cannot do it in terms of keeping up with the law, doing a will one day, doing corporate work the next day, searching a title the next day, trying a case the next day. It just doesn’t work that way. So we find that the law firms all over are technically specializing if you will, in a particular area of the law, that’s where we are today.

Kevin Daisy:
Well, just to plug myself, we used to do general marketing for all kinds of companies. We now niche with only working with law firms and that’s been a journey for us, but so much more focused. We can understand the industry, your business much better. And that’s all we do. It’s made things so much more easier to learn, to understand, to know the business work myth. So yeah, I think same with what I do. It’s very hard to just be like yeah, we can market for anybody. There’s so many digital platforms and social media and traditional ways of marketing still and advertising. So it’s so much easier when you can just say, this is all we do, we’re going to be the best at it.

Paul Bekman:
I think that’s why. And I think that there are a lot of very fine lawyers out there, people in your businesses that focus on a particular type of work and do it well.

Kevin Daisy:
Yeah. That’s what we want to do as well. So that makes a lot of sense. I’m hearing a lot more of that as well as I interview, which I believe you’re somewhere in the 130th managing partner that I’ve interviewed this year. So got to hear a lot of different stories, a lot of different things that people are up to and it’s been really cool to see. I’m going to one more question about the business and I want to get to some of the fun stuff that we just spoke about in the beginning, but what’s some of the plans you’re going to say that you’ve been practicing 50 years in January, correct?

Paul Bekman:
Correct.

Kevin Daisy:
I’m talking about growth and you mentioned you haven’t hit your peak yet. So what are some of the plans maybe for the next year or two, maybe three years down the road. What’s some of the plans and goals for growing the firm?

Paul Bekman:
Sometimes Kevin and I’m sure you’ve found this out. And a lot of people have bigger is not always better. And that’s true in the practice of law. So I think we will have some modest growth over time, adding one to three additional, but we’re for a plaintiff’s firm, having a plaintiff’s firm, that’s just 10 lawyers is a lot. We do a lot of medical negligence work. We do a lot of product liability work. We do a lot of general negligence work.

Paul Bekman:
We’re focused in a specialized area. And yes, I think it’s inevitable, that time goes by, you add people. We have for example, three nurses who work with us full time here in the office, who are very much helpful in our medical area. We will I’m sure be adding a few lawyers as time goes by because we’re all busy. We have a lot of work to do. We go all over this state, we try cases in adjoining states.

Paul Bekman:
As a practical matter, it’s important to have a team effort. We like to go to trial with at least two lawyers, not just one. We have technical assistance as well, whether it’s legal assistance or other individuals for presentation of evidence, opening statements, closing arguments, that type of thing. So we’ll have a modest growth, planned growth, but if we end up taking on something that is going to be booming, then I don’t think we’ll have any problem in additional people, but it’ll be planned growth and making sure that we do what is necessary to represent our clients the best way we can.

Kevin Daisy:
Well, it’s a smart plan. They say slow and steady wins the race. So yeah, no wrong answer. I think that’s great. You got slow, nice moderate growth that you can control and handle. And I guess quality control is important as well. So again, that’s great. I think 10 attorneys in your area, that’s a lot already, but you got to do great work. So I assume you’re going to grow just naturally through that. Well, so I want to ask a couple things. So you’re 50 years in January, and you’ve won some awards that you had mentioned, and your wife picks on you about it, but what is one of the awards you just said you won just a while back?

Paul Bekman:
Well, a couple of years ago, the Baltimore City Bar Association for the first time had a panel that identified 11 lawyers practicing in Baltimore as living legal legends. Now somewhat embarrassing to be called a legend of anything. And a living legend may be even worse, but it was a great honor. The people that were honored with me are Science of the Bar. Wonderful lawyers who have had tremendous practice. It was a great honor. And then I think I may have mentioned to you that I was named by Law Dragon, which is a national organization as the lion of Baltimore. So my wife has got plenty of things to call me other than husband. And she does with a smile on her face.

Kevin Daisy:
That’s hilarious. Sounds like my wife a little bit there. So yeah, I mean, great honors to have a little embarrassed maybe if I was to win something like that as well. But I’m sure you were humbled and honored to receive the lion here today on the show of Baltimore, everyone. So I think that’s amazing and congrats on your success and that you had mentioned to me, you haven’t hit your peak yet.

Paul Bekman:
Correct.

Kevin Daisy:
Kudos to you. I hope I’m in the same place, you are mentally and focused too. So thanks for sharing that with us. Now, you mentioned another story about how you know Donald Trump very well, and this is the not political people, but he has an interesting story. I thought it was pretty cool that I thought Paul could share. So how do you know Donald Trump and what was the story you mentioned to me?

Paul Bekman:
This goes back a number of years, but I wanted to go to one of the service academies. I did not know any Congressman or any senators who typically make appointments. So what I decided to do was to attend a military prep school for my junior and senior year, and hopefully compete for an appointment through the school nationally to get an appointment to one of the academy. So I attended New York military academy, which is located in Cornwell on Hudson, New York. And I came there as a junior and I was there for my junior and senior year. And in my class was none other than Donald J. Trump.

Paul Bekman:
We knew each other quite well. He was captain of the baseball team. I was captain the golf team. We both played on the football team together. And when we graduated in 1964, I had gotten an appointment to the air force academy where I went. And then I was a good student, worked hard, graduated first in the class and was voted most likely to succeed. So they really screwed that up. But they voted Donald Trump, ladies’ man. No comment.

Kevin Daisy:
No comment done. Yeah. That’s hilarious. Yeah. They messed up. Well, they got that one right as well. But obviously you succeeded pretty well. So I don’t think they’ve… And you have your reputation still.

Paul Bekman:
Trying hard to keep it.

Kevin Daisy:
At the end of the day, they still may be right.

Paul Bekman:
Well, you never know. Not done yet.

Kevin Daisy:
Well, great story. That’s pretty amazing. And again, I think it’s great that you’re still going, charging hard and still have the same motivation and drive that you had back then. So just anyone listening, I think the young attorneys tuned in, should be a good inspiration what Paul is doing and if you’re just getting started, you got a long ride ahead and I feel a lot of success. Paul anything else you’d like to share if we have a young attorney tuned in today?

Paul Bekman:
I tell people, when they ask me what I do and and I tell them I’m a lawyer. I’m proud to be a lawyer. I’m proud that my two daughters are lawyers and my son-in-laws as well. It is a wonderful profession. There are many things that can be done in the practice of law to fulfill our main goal, which is to help people. And I love doing what I do. I enjoy doing what I do and get a great deal of satisfaction too trying to make a positive influence on people’s lives. And I plan to continue to do it as long as I have it.

Kevin Daisy:
Again, take that from Paul right there. You’re here to help people. We’re all here to help people and find what you love in your profession. And I think a lot of people out here, they started out in one practice area, working for a firm interning or doing whatever they can until they find out what they really want to be and what they love. I think that another thing too is you might love being a lawyer, but which area of practice you want to be in, figure that out and find it and settle into that.

Paul Bekman:
Good advice Kevin.

Kevin Daisy:
Like Paul has done. So he likes going to trial and you might not, so got to find what you love to do. So, Paul thanks so much for joining me. Again you guys can check out the website address below mdtrialfirm.com, learn more about Paul, check him out the lion of Baltimore. And hopefully he’s not charging me for his time today, but Paul, your website will be up here soon on our website on arraylaw.com/podcast. This will also be up on the podcast version, which is available now on all podcast platforms. So look out for that too. This will also be on our YouTube channel, my LinkedIn. So you’ll find Paul all over the place soon.

Kevin Daisy:
And for us, if you’re an attorney looking for help with your marketing, whether it’s just a website, that’s going to help you with word of mouth and referral traffic, or if it’s actually generating leads, that’s what we do. You can go arraylaw.com check us out. If you have any questions too for me, I’m open book, you don’t have to be a client. We don’t have to sign his client.

Kevin Daisy:
If you’ve got questions I’m happy to help and just reach out to me or someone on my team and have no problem answering any questions you have. So, Paul thanks so much. Stick on with me first just a second, and we’ll end the recording everyone else, have a good day. Paul, you want to say bye?

Paul Bekman:
Thank you, Kevin. Two things, one thank you for asking me to be here today and of course no charge.

Kevin Daisy:
All right. Good. Appreciate that. All right, everyone have a good day. Thanks for tuning in, take some of Paul’s advice and best of luck to everyone.

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