THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 139
Interview on 11.11.2021

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Aron Finkelstein



Managing Partner of
Murthy Law Firm

About Aron Finkelstein

Aron A. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner at Murthy Law Firm in Owings Mills, Maryland.

Aron helped establish the firm’s Corporate Teleconference series and regularly participates on the panel to clarify critical employment immigration matters. He advises clients, serves as a mentor to other attorneys, and is responsible for the daily management of the Murthy Law Firm. His specific area of expertise within employment-based immigration law is working with corporations and individuals to achieve innovative solutions to complex issues within the immigration context.

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

Erik J. Olson:
What’s happening everybody? I am Erik J. Olson, and I am recording another live episode for The Managing Partners Podcast. In this podcast series, we interview America’s top managing partners to find out what they’re doing to grow their law firms and to keep their case pipeline full. And today I have Aron Finkelstein. Hey buddy. How you doing?

Aron Finkelstein:
Hey, how are you?

Erik J. Olson:
I’m doing great.

Aron Finkelstein:
Thanks for having me.

Erik J. Olson:
Did I get the name right? I know we practiced beforehand.

Aron Finkelstein:
Yeah. It’s as close as anybody, so perfect. Yes.

Erik J. Olson:
All right, you’re going to give me a pass. I appreciate that. Well, cool. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. So Aron Finkelstein is a member and managing attorney at the Murthy Law Firm, which specializes in employment immigration matters. Mr. Finkelstein’s specific area of expertise within employment-based immigration law, is working with corporations and individuals to achieve innovative solutions to complex issues within the immigration context. Welcome to the show.

Aron Finkelstein:
Thank you very much. Nice to be here Erik.

Erik J. Olson:
I appreciate your time. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your law firm? Things like how long you’ve been around, the size of your firm, stuff like that?

Aron Finkelstein:
Sure. So my story is a funny story, I think. When I graduated law school back in ’97… That’s a 1997, for some of you just making… I never thought I’d be doing immigration law. I actually joined a litigation firm in downtown Baltimore, and I was working in litigation, and was doing that in the meantime. People, immigrants would come in off the street, primarily from the Russian descent, and they’d have issue with citizenship and naturalization and various things. It interested me, and I started doing that. That started picking up quite a bit. But at the same time, the person who was running our family-based practice that did QDROs, divorces, separations, things like that, she became a judge.

Aron Finkelstein:
This is my first or second year out of law school. They said, “Okay, Finkelstein, we want you to take over that practice. You’re becoming the official expert,” and that was just pure misery. I did that for maybe about six months, and then my wife told me, “Either get another job or get another wife,” because I was such a misery to live with. Because I enjoyed the naturalization stuff and helping people, which was really incredible, I had an opportunity to interview at the Murthy Law Firm, and I think that was in… It was actually… This is what will be my 22nd year here, [crosstalk 00:02:55] October… Today.

Erik J. Olson:
Today?

Aron Finkelstein:
Today’s my second year anniversary [crosstalk 00:02:59].

Erik J. Olson:
Happy anniversary.

Aron Finkelstein:
Thank you very much. And so I came on board. I was the second attorney that Sheela Murthy hired. Sheela Murthy took me under her wing, as they say, and here we are 22 years later. It’s been an absolutely amazing ride, being able to help people and not deal in those types of difficult things, originally. Murthy Law Firm, itself, started just about five or six years before I joined. We’ve been in business for about 27 years now, and, as you mentioned, we have a lot of focus to employment-based immigration.

Aron Finkelstein:
We do the Hs, the LS, that’s the non-immigrant visas, the Os, the Ps, the Es. We had to go through the list of non-immigrant visas. That’s specialized knowledge workers, extraordinary ability workers, intercompany transferees, and we do the green cards, EB-1, two, and three. We do the extraordinary ability, outstanding professor researchers, all of those, as well as the PERM processes. All of these things we have. Right now, we have 21 attorneys and one junior associate, who will soon be an attorney. We have a total staff of a little bit under a hundred here. We have offices in Owings Mills, in Seattle, Washington, and then we have two offices, one in Chennai and one in Hyderabad in India.

Erik J. Olson:
Wow. That’s really interesting. It must be incredible for you to see the growth of the firm since you started exactly 22 years ago. That’s quite a bit of growth, huh?

Aron Finkelstein:
Yeah. Well, when I started, I was the 25th employee and the first guy that they hired, the first male that they hired. I always joke with Sheela and I say, “I’m the diversity hire,” if you will, because I was the first male person that they hired. Everybody else was women, and, since that, we’ve grown to almost a hundred in the US, an additional 25 in India. So yeah, it’s been a pretty fun ride.

Erik J. Olson:
So India office, we haven’t come across that a lot when we interview managing partners, and we’ve done at least a 120 or 30 of these, at this point. How did that come about, and what kind of work are they doing for you out of that office?

Aron Finkelstein:
Our India office is an affiliate office because, legally, it has to be set up a certain way. That came about primarily because we had clients that were going to the consulate. A large part of our clientele was from India, and we had clients that were going to the consulates in Hyderabad and in Chennai, and they needed preparation for the consulates. They were having issues that were coming up. There’s something called a 221(g), which is when they issue a piece of paper that says, “Here’s a mess of stuff that we need, otherwise we’re not going to give you the visa.” These types of things were coming up quite a bit, and it became very difficult to remotely handle those types of issues that were coming up. The clients were, this is… Now Zoom is all the rage, but about 14, 15 years ago, it was not the rage. You couldn’t do it as easily as we’re doing right now.

Aron Finkelstein:
People needed that personal touch, so we developed the office there, and our attorneys… We have a managing attorney there. His name is Senthil Kumar. We have a second in command over there. His name is Gnanamookan. Brilliant lawyers that have been with us for 10, 15 years, and their only focus is focused on the consular practice. So we found that that made an enormous difference. It allows us to bill in rupees, not dollars, so it’s a little bit cheaper for individuals who generally pay for their own freight when they’re going to the consulates. It also allowed them to have a much more tactile feel of what’s going on, on a day to day, so that they could let us know how consulates were handling various things, so that we could be up to date and as cutting edge as possible, as we were assisting people.

Erik J. Olson:
Was that office up and running when you came into the firm, or is that something that happened since you’ve been a managing partner?

Aron Finkelstein:
No, that-

Erik J. Olson:
[crosstalk 00:07:21].

Aron Finkelstein:
I came in the firm in ’99, and that office has been around, probably, for about maybe under 14 or 15 years. So that was something that was an office brainchild. That’s something that we created. Sheela, when she was in India, she did some very aggressive hiring. I like to think… They say that when something works out, you have to work really, really, really, really hard to put yourself in a position that you can get lucky.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s right.

Aron Finkelstein:
So we worked really, really, really hard to get it up and running, and then we got lucky by getting really great people to staff the office and to make sure that the things that we were doing would make a big difference for our clients. I’m very proud to say that I was a part of that.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s really… I like what you just said, yeah. You work very, very hard, and then you may get lucky, but it requires hard work first. So that’s super fantastic. I really like that phrase. I may have to borrow that from you. When you were talking about… When you clarified that ’97 was 1997, I was going to say something. I’ll throw it out now. I’ve heard that timeframe now referred to as of late 1900s. That’s how old we’re getting.

Aron Finkelstein:
Yeah. My son asked me, he said, “What year were you born?” I said, “1970.” He goes, “Really dad? How were the dinosaurs back then?” Wow.

Erik J. Olson:
Valid question, you know. Funny. Cool. So you’ve got offices in the United States. You’ve got offices in India. How do you go about getting clients, and are they…? You mentioned like a lot of clientele coming from India. Are you marketing and advertising there, here, both?

Aron Finkelstein:
It’s funny because I would say the begin… First of all, we were ranked… Our website was ranked number one in Encyclopedia Britannica for the most traffic for any legal website. Now, if you think about it, we’re not a huge website. We were only… I think that was about seven, eight years ago. We were only a hundred people, but there are a thousand people law firms. The reason why this happened is, Sheela Murthy got in on the internet back in 1994. In ’94, I mean, that you didn’t have a lot of people that were doing it, and she sat there for the first three, four, five years, and she said, “People are not going to care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.”

Aron Finkelstein:
So she sat for free and would put content, and more content, and more content on the internet, and that developed to a point where we started to get unique visitors. I think at one point we were at over a million unique visitors. We’re somewhere in that range right now. I haven’t checked it, but, I mean, that’s what I understand. But because of that, people started to see Murthy’s providing free information. Murthy’s giving free guidance. People started to send questions. We were answering free questions by emails. What, now, we’ve converted those free questions into something which we call pre-hires, which we do, and I think everything kind of generated from there.

Erik J. Olson:
Like you said before, if you work really hard, you may get lucky, right? So getting it on the internet in ’94, I mean, that’s… I don’t think… I think that’s when Amazon launched, or maybe it was ’95, but basically that was the beginning of an era that we didn’t really know what was happening. Like, there were still people back then questioning if this internet thing was going to stick. Right? So, if she got in, you guys got in at that point, and especially if you learned the content game, basically, any questions that are asked of you, put the answer on a website, you got in really early. I’m looking at a tool that we use here to evaluate websites and, oh yeah, you guys have… You have really good search engine optimization value, quite high, so that comes from a long time on the web, for sure. So you’re definitely doing something right there.

Aron Finkelstein:
Well, it’s also… It’s easy to get out there, but if you get the wrong content out there, if you make consistent mistakes, if you do things that are not accurate… I think that the biggest boon for our reputation, for us, is that we’re not looking to editorialize at all. We’re looking to give you the substance of what’s going on. This is the law. This is the rule. This is how it applies. This is what you need to do to be able to be successful. These are things that work. These are those things that don’t work. And right in the middle of the road of the law. It’s a very user friendly type of website, and it’s geared towards people who are not lawyers. It’s geared towards just the everyday guy who’s going through their process. Their lawyer told them something. They’re not quite sure what it means. They can go on our website, and they can search for it, and they can find what they need, so that they have a better understanding of where they are and what they need to do to move forward.

Aron Finkelstein:
We are extraordinarily proud of it, and we have a dedicated staff that spends a lot of time making sure that it’s accurate and it’s correct. And Sheela with… I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention her husband, Vasant Nayak, who is the… I would say if Sheela is the brainchild of Murthy Law Firm, he’s certainly the brainchild of the website and of all the workings that’s there to make it so user friendly. He’s an absolutely incredible person.

Erik J. Olson:
Excellent. So, one of the questions we like to ask of managing partners… We’re a digital marketing agency, so I absolutely appreciate what you guys have done with your website. But we like to find out what managing partners feel like they’re doing well when it comes to marketing. I’m guessing that’s the website for you, but then conversely, maybe something that you’ve tried in the past that has not worked, maybe something recently. Is there something that you kind of just stopped doing somewhat recent when it comes to your marketing or advertising?

Aron Finkelstein:
Well, I… You know, it’s funny, our website is not where we stopped. So I mean, we have a corporate teleconference that we do, that we spend a lot of time with in developing, and that’s something that I had developed about 11 years ago or 10 years ago. That’s something that we’re extraordinarily proud of, and it’s really developed. We have a forum, which we have something that’s unique, which is a monitored forum, which allows people to ask questions, and we have what’s called topic of the week, which allows people to ask a question within a topic, and one of the Murthy Law Firm attorneys will give you answers to your questions in that topic or that area. We try to use all of those things, and yes, of course we have things that didn’t work. I think anytime we try to target an audience, it doesn’t really go the way that we want it to go.

Aron Finkelstein:
We always think that, “Oh, we’re Murthy Law Firm, so let’s target X or let’s target Y,” and it turns out the people that are attracted or the corporations that are attracted to us are always A or B or C. So that’s something that we find that happens, and we’ve had a few failure to launches, a few things we had. I remember a few years ago, we decided that we were… Everybody was telling us, “Look how many hits you have. Look at all these wonderful things.” So we were up in San Francisco for a conference where we were speaking and we said, “Okay, we have tons of clients in Cali. Let’s go ahead and make this huge dinner at this incredible Indian restaurant,” and so we had RSVPs and we had everything. We did an absolutely incredible dinner, and we had like 26 people show up.

Aron Finkelstein:
So we’ve had those types of things, but I would like to say that the most important thing is, not to kind of get down on it, but to kind of learn what your core strengths are, and then to really focus heavily on developing from your core strengths. I think anytime we’ve gone outside of our core strengths, which is we’re very knowledgeable and we care. Anytime we go outside of our core strengths, which is to pass on that knowledge, to pass on what we care, it always kind of ends up not going in a great place. I don’t think we have a single client that we played golf with, is what I’m saying. We’re not wining and dining people the way we hear other large law firms are, and perhaps we should. It’s just, that’s not our thing.

Aron Finkelstein:
What our thing is, is maintaining cutting edge knowledge of immigration, of coming up with creative solutions for people, and really focusing on not… You know, when somebody comes to you, they point out all of their issues. You could take their issues and say, “Here’s 10 reasons why you’re in deep trouble,” or you could say, “Here’s five ways we’re going to fix your problem.” I think focusing on those solutions, whether it’s in articles, whether it’s in teleconferences, whether it’s in forums, whether it’s we used to do the Murthy chats, whatever it is that’s out there is focusing on people’s solutions and on letting them know that we’re going to help them on the journey. I think that’s the most critical thing. The messaging is the most critical thing.

Erik J. Olson:
Great points, all of them. You talked about kind of experimenting over time, like the dinner where you expected a lot more people to show up. We’ve had that situation here in my company, and it’s disappointing at the time. But, like you said, there’s lessons to be learned, and it gets you to refocus back on your core. I think it’s a good idea to experiment a little bit, at the risk of minor setbacks or failures. These are not catastrophic failures, right? You still have people show up to the dinner. I’m sure it was a fine event. You just wanted something different, so worst case scenario is really not all that bad, and it could be really, really good. My opinion, as someone who runs a business, is that it’s a good idea to try those things, yet always stick to your core, and when you are going to try one of those things, it needs to fit in somehow, right? You don’t want to do some crazy thing.

Aron Finkelstein:
I couldn’t agree more. It has to fit into what your culture is. It has to fit into how you’re doing everything else. It’s not that you can’t stretch your comfort zone. It’s that, if you stretch your comfort zone and you put yourself in a situation where you’re just not able to show your strengths, it’s not a win, so that type of thing. I do think that it worked out well, that dinner anyway, a lot of people got doggy bags at the end, and so that was kind of a neat thing, also. Sheela is incredible. She’s brilliant, and the one thing that she is, is… She and my Jewish mother have the same habit of, they can’t let anybody walk out the door when there’s food left on the table, so you just got your doggy bag and went on your way.

Erik J. Olson:
There you go. That’s funny. Yeah. Speaking of stretching a little bit, what do you anticipate are your growth plans for the next couple of years?

Aron Finkelstein:
It’s a very good question. I don’t know about growth, in terms of growth plans. We are, right now, focusing very heavily on our core competencies, and because we’re focusing on our core competencies, we are…. I think that would be our growth plan. I think it would be to be able to continue the quality that we have as we continue to grow. The one thing about Murthy Law Firm, is that we built all of these things. We built all of these vehicles to help people, and then we felt like we grew organically. We felt like the firm just grew around us. Then what we would do is, we would develop departments, or areas, or sections that would deal with what was coming in the front door, and so we had have a lot of the…

Aron Finkelstein:
Thank God, we’re doing very well, and we have a lot of business that’s coming in. But in order to do that, we had to be very careful about quality. We had to be very careful about quality, and, I think right now, as my group of people, the people that started 20 years ago, the people that started 17, 18 years ago, as we start to get a little bit older, it’s about making sure that the quality stays the same, that the passion and the excitement for helping people on their journey stays the same, and that we can kind of be able to expand it to accommodate the people that need our services and that and that can benefit from our help.

Erik J. Olson:
Love it. Well, this has been really insightful. Congratulations on 22 years for your work anniversary today. If someone would like to reach out to you and ask questions, or maybe they even have a case, they can refer to you, what is a good way to get in touch with you?

Aron Finkelstein:
You can contact us by going to our website, www.Murthy.com. There’s a contact feature there. You can sign up to our newsletter that’s on the website, as well. You can call us at 410-356-5440, and you’re welcome to schedule an appointment to speak to any of our fantastic attorneys, as well as, we have Murthy chat online, that you can do Murthy chat online. If you reach out to us, we tend to respond to everybody that contacts us.

Erik J. Olson:
Great policy. I love it. Well, thanks so much. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out more episodes like this, you can go to arraylaw.com/podcast. We have a full library up there of well over 120, 130 episodes so far and counting, and they’re organized by practice area and state, so you can find the applicable law firm in your area and watch those episodes. And if you would like to have an incredible website like these guys do, we can help you build that at arraylaw.com. My company, Array Digital is at arraylaw.com, and we focus on websites, SEO, online advertising, and social media. Thanks so much for your time.

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