THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 155
Interview on 01.11.2022

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Kia Champion



Managing Partner of
Champion Law Firm

About Kia Champion

Kia Champion is the Managing Partner at Champion Law Firm in California.

His dedication to his clients sets him apart from other attorneys. His mission has always been to combine commitment, compassion, and character in his representation of clients. That means working as hard as possible to attain the desired result, providing a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, and always remaining honest and forthright with clients.

Kia graduated with honors from the University of California Irvine, earning a BA in Psychology. He subsequently attended the prestigious University of San Diego School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor.

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:
All right, what’s up everybody? We are recording. We are coming to you live with another live recording of the managing partners podcast. My name is Kevin Daisy. I’ll be your host. I’m also the founder of Array Digital, where we help law firms grow their pipeline using digital marketing. So today I have a special guest coming out of California, Kia champion. What’s up, man?

Kia:
How you doing, Kevin?

Kevin:
Welcome to the show. So we got to chat a little bit backstage with some of the cool things you got going on, and just really excited to hear your story, hear the audience, learn more about you and what your firm’s up to. Some of the things that you’ve been able to accomplish. So I want to start from the beginning. What’s your story, man? Tell us your background, how you got started, and what made you decide to become an attorney?

Kia:
I was originally born in Iran. My family moved to America when I was three. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, until I was about 14. Then we moved to Los Angeles. My father is a plastic surgeon, so he was in med school, up in Oregon. And then he opened up his own practice out here in LA. So most of my adult life has been in LA. I went to law school in San Diego, the university of San Diego, then moved back here. My story’s a very unique, how I got here. There was a lot of trials and tribulations before even getting my license. In my twenties, I did some stupid things, got in some trouble criminally. I got in trouble with the law.

Kia:
And so actually, when I passed the bar, the California bar didn’t give me my license for three years. They made me do all these classes and just a bunch of hoops that I had to jump through to get my license. And at the time, it was devastating. There were some really dark times, but out of that actually sprouted my confidence and who I am today as a business owner, because I couldn’t get hired. Nobody would hire me as a paralegal.

Kevin:
Oh, really? Wow.

Kia:
Because they said, okay, wait a minute, you passed the bar, but you don’t have your license. And we can’t hire you as an attorney. And we don’t want to hire you as a paralegal, because what if you get your license and then you want to be an attorney. So it was really tough. I couldn’t find a job. So I decided to open up a bar tutoring business, basically tutoring people who had trouble passing the California bar.

Kevin:
Wow. Interesting.

Kia:
Yeah. And I had put an ad in Craigslist, believe it or not. I remember I offered 2,500 as a flat fee, and if you don’t pass, you get your money back. And I had one guy actually call me, and he had failed the bar like four times. So he gave me a shot. He passed the bar. He referred a bunch of people, and I turned that into a six figure business before I even had my license.

Kevin:
I love it.

Kia:
And it also paved the way for how I wanted to run my practice, because I saw, you do a good job, your name will get out there, and you’ll get referrals. And that’s the best way to retain a client, is if somebody that they trust says go to this guy, 99 percent of the time, they end up signing up. So once I got my license, I immediately opened up my practice as a solo practitioner. I had some money saved up from the bar tutoring, so I spent some money on Google ad clicks and I put a billboard up. I did anything I could in those early days to try to muster up some business. And eventually I got one, two, was able to do a good job for them, turned into five, 20, 40. And here we are six years later, and we have 350 open pre-litigation PI cases, about 200 litigation cases. We also do employment law. So it just snowballed from those humble beginnings.

Kevin:
I love that, man. That’s an amazing story. A couple things in there. Your dad’s an entrepreneur. So I assume that had some effect on you as far as going on your own versus trying to work for someone else. Interesting about the parallel. Basically, you were overqualified to be a paralegal, and that’s interesting. [inaudible 00:05:39] but you didn’t give up. You figured out some other way to really stay within the industry, but you got to make a buck, and you got to get yourself to the next side, which is [inaudible 00:05:51]. Did they tell you it’s going to be three years, or you just didn’t really have a timeline? [crosstalk 00:05:56]

Kia:
No timeline. I was flying blind, just doing everything I could. Going back to what you were saying, absolutely. My father was a big role model as far as having your own business. Medicine wasn’t for me. I like to talk and argue, so I thought law would be the way to go.

Kevin:
That’s awesome. Amazing story, man. And some of the things, the challenges you had, not even being from the country and moving around and all those things as well. But good on you for sticking with it, and now look where you’re at. And doing good work. I’ve interviewed over a hundred [inaudible 00:06:46] manager partners this year, and the number one thing is you’ve got to do good work, and you have to be transparent, you have to have integrity. You’re going to get work from that. It’s going to come back to you for sure.

Kia:
Absolutely.

Kevin:
You can’t beat a referral. If I get a referral, it’s the best thing ever, and it’s usually a done deal. So you got to do good work and do that. So it’s cool, man. Doing good things, putting good vibes out there. You’re going to get stuff in return. So tell me a little bit more about your firm. So what’s the different practice areas that you focus on? I think you have a few locations as well. So it gives us a little bit more information on the firm itself.

Kia:
I would say we’re probably about 70 percent personal injury, 25 percent employment and 5 percent criminal defense. It didn’t start that way. It started out, I was going to do criminal defense. The PI just took off. And when I was in law school, I worked for an employment firm, and the first attorney I hired, he came from an employment firm. So we said, why don’t we add employment law to our practice? And he’s done an amazing job of building the employment practice up.

Kevin:
That makes sense. He’s got the skills and the know how. It makes sense to run it. Now, for the criminal defense, so the seems like a really small percentage of that. Is that coming in from leads or from referrals from your other types of clients?

Kia:
Mostly referrals.

Kevin:
Got you. Cool. I know you put some money in Google ads and you’ve done some SEO in the past and you have a nice website. Outside of referrals and just doing good work, what are some of the things that you’ve done that have been effective for you? Or are there things that you’ve done that just, you don’t believe are going to work.

Kia:
It’s a lot of being a foot soldier. Anytime I would get in an Uber or a Lyft, I would strike a conversation up with the driver, give him my card. I think the key is finding some connection with the person beyond just, I’m an attorney. You should hire me. If they remember you and they like you, they’re more likely to call you. They’re more likely to remember you when they get rear-ended. So I try to build relationships with everybody. I think my background helps in that. Even though I’m Iranian, my mother is Jewish. My father, even though he’s not religious, he’s a man of science, but he comes from a Muslim background, and in Iran, that was really unheard of, for a Muslim and a Jewish person to marry. So there’s a very broad group of people that I’ve associated with in my life. And I don’t put myself in any one category, personally.

Kevin:
My camera’s messing up. That’s similar to me. Not for my background, but just, I like striking up a conversation with pretty much anybody. I like to just talk to people. And business comes up no matter what. So it doesn’t always help me when I’m at home with my wife, [inaudible 00:10:54] with her. But that’s the way I am too. So I just like talking to people, having a conversation, and it leads to good things. People are going to refer you, whether or not they can be a client or not, it doesn’t matter. Camera’s messing up.

Kia:
Yeah, you’re looking a little blurry.

Kevin:
I think it’s picking up the mic on the [inaudible 00:11:16]. There we go. Let’s try this. I don’t know. Well, that’s fine. So yeah, really cool stuff. So you mentioned some of the things. Let me switch my camera and see if that works. There we go. We’re back, people. Sorry about that. So some of the things you have done, you mentioned the billboard. Did that do anything for you, or was that just a big waste of money?

Kia:
I think it was a big waste of money. Unless you’re going to put a billboard on every block. Because in Los Angeles, there’s a PI attorney on every block.

Kevin:
I can imagine.

Kia:
There’s so many. Because we have a lot of car accidents here. And so, unless you saturate the market with your likeness, which, there’s a couple of attorneys that have done that. Every time you turn on the TV, you see their commercials, or you see their billboards everywhere. Which is, I’m sure it works. It’s a huge investment. So I don’t know. I don’t know how successful they are, and of course they get cases, but I think it’s not filtered. They’re getting just hundreds of calls a day. A lot of them might not even be… Like, I rear ended someone, do I have a case? No, sorry. You don’t have a case.

Kevin:
You might want to call someone else. I do digital marketing. You know what we do, because we’ve spoken to you. So we do digital marketing. I’m completely against those types of marketing tactics. Like you just mentioned, it takes an insane investment over years, sometimes decades, and it’s a broadcast. So you definitely can’t filter people. You can’t really be there when they actually need you if it’s a billboard, unless they wrecked right in front of it. So if they don’t remember your name, then they’re not going to call you. So it just takes a long time to penetrate the market. And so you just have to go all in and dominate it; whereas one billboard’s a complete waste of money.

Kevin:
So that’s why we look at digital marketing to try to, when someone’s looking and they don’t know you, how can they find you that way? And you come up. So I’m in Virginia, you’re in California, but there’s a firm here local that I’ve, I’ve spoken with, just to get an analysis of their stuff, and they spent a tremendous amount of money on all traditional stuff over the years, and they have something like eight people full time, just answering phones all day to try to source through all the phone calls they get. And I forgot how much it costs them per month. It was a lot of money.

Kevin:
But just to source the calls. They had that many calls that they had to source through. And most of them are definitely not cases. So it’s a really small percentage. But now they have to invest in all these folks and people answering phones just to wade through all the crap that they’re producing, just to go out and get… And their case values are low compared to what they used to be. So it can cause a lot of issues if that’s all you do.

Kia:
Yeah. I also did the Google ad pay-per-click. It was good in that I did get a few cases, and from that, those people referred people. So it was a good jump off to get me in the door with clients. But after a while, I really didn’t need to do that anymore. I had enough clout that, whatever you want to call it. My reputation had built up to the point where I was getting a lot of clients without having to do the Google ads.

Kevin:
[inaudible 00:15:53] So the way we look at it, it’s a trust level. And then when I’m talking about your potential clients and what they trust and your website’s down at the bottom, they trust that a lot, versus. And then Google organic search, they’ll trust that and the reviews on your Google listings. They’ll trust that more than ads. They don’t trust that at all. Social media is in the middle there. So it’s certain things that I just feel that people don’t trust as much, and with the ads, you’re usually getting lower quality leads for sure. We see that across the board with our clients.

Kevin:
It’s good if you’ve nailed the other things down, your SEO crushes it, your website’s awesome. Then advertising makes a little bit more sense, but we see across the board, it’s definitely a lower quality lead when you’re paying for those ads. But some firms, they’ve done everything, and now they want more. So they’ll dump more money into that. And as long as they have a system for it, an intake process that works, it makes sense, I think so. So you have almost 400 cases, 350 cases active. So what do you do to manage that pipeline? Any kind of a case management software? What do you guys use for that?

Kia:
We have a case management software. I have 14 employees.

Kevin:
Four attorneys?

Kia:
Five attorneys.

Kevin:
Five attorneys.

Kia:
Including me, five attorneys.

Kevin:
Awesome. And you got, I saw on your website, I think three different locations.

Kia:
We also have a location now in Nevada as well. We have a location in Vegas.

Kevin:
Oh, wow. Interesting. I didn’t know that. Okay. So how many locations? Is that five?

Kia:
Four.

Kevin:
Four. Okay.

Kia:
And one of the attorneys, he lives there and he basically manages the Vegas office.

Kevin:
Okay, excellent. So that’s separately managed by him. Okay, cool. What’s the case management software that you’re using?

Kia:
Case Peer.

Kevin:
Case Peer. I haven’t heard of that one. I always try to make note of that for Cleo and…

Kia:
We tried Cleo. We tried some of the other ones. I really like Case Peer so far. A lot of these software, they’re not PI specific. They’re more civil litigation specific; whereas Case Pear is really PI specific.

Kevin:
Nice. Okay. That’s awesome. I heard someone the other day, there is one out of Australia. It’s called like Smoke Ball.

Kia:
I have haven’t heard of that one.

Kevin:
I was like, Smoke Ball? What’s that? So whatever works for you. So Kia, what’s kind of coming down? What’s your plans for next year and maybe the next couple of years? What’s some of the growth that you’re working on? Maybe it’s not just growth, but efficiencies. What what do you have planned?

Kia:
Well, I’m always looking for new, innovative ways to bring in business. So we try a lot of different things, but I don’t have a specific, this is what we’re going to do. I tether myself to do the best job on every case, and the cases will come. And so far, so good.

Kevin:
Well, you can grow with that. Is there any plans that, so you got the new office location Nevada too. Is there any plans to have any more offices or add any more attorneys or grow the staff at all?

Kia:
It’s funny, one of my mentors, he’s a big time PI attorney here in LA, and he told me, number one advice he gave me for employees is, don’t hire new employees unless you’re absolutely overrun and need it. So I’ve followed that when I’ve seen we’re too busy and we need help, I’ll hire somebody new. So I just been doing it incrementally as we’ve gotten busier.

Kevin:
I think that’s good, because I think in the past, I’ve gone through the same thing. I don’t run a law firm, but I run a marketing company, but we’re 22 roughly full time. And a lot of times I’ll have a manager or another employee say, hey, I want to hire this other person to help me out. And we’ll go, okay, well, let’s take a look, and let’s give it some time. Let’s see what the problems are and where we need help. And then we’ll look at the budgets and we’ll see if we can hire that person. And then a week goes by, which we almost do on purpose. A week or two. And they’re like, hey, how are things going? Oh man, everything’s good now. Slowed down. It was just a couple of new clients came on board. So I was just busy for that short period of time. So it’s like, there wasn’t really a need.

Kevin:
Of course everyone wants help when they can get it, but we got to buckle down and get the work done. And if we’re going to be busy for a little bit of time, then so be it. This is a business. So I think sometimes you ought to be careful about just hiring, and really there wasn’t a need or it was a short period of time. And then you ended up with this employee that you didn’t really need. So we do the same thing. It’s hard to plan. I’ve had a bunch of people on here, managing partners that have very specific plans, not necessarily in people, but maybe another state or another office or something like that. But it’s really hard to predict, I think.

Kia:
You try to be flexible. Also, one other thing, I never really mentioned, I’m not saying every attorney, but what separates separates me from a lot of attorneys is that, in speaking with my clients, it seems to be a number one complaint is there’s a lack of communication from the attorney. So they hand off the case to a case manager, and then the client never hears from the attorney again. And I try to give every client my personal cell phone, with the understanding that, hey, look, we have a lot of people here, but if you need something, text me, call me. Sometimes, even when I tell them that they’ll be like, you haven’t reached out to me in forever, and I’ll be like, remember I told you if you need anything, you could text away. But I think it’s really made a big difference, because like I said, it’s the number one complaint. I had a case five years ago, and I never even met the attorney. So I try to make myself available.

Kevin:
I could see that being a big… I know that in our industry, that’s a huge complaint too, and we’ve tried to address that as well, being over the top with communication. But the thing is, just like if someone hires us and they give us a bunch of money and they’re wondering what’s going on, is anything happening? And so that’s something over the years we’ve just tried to always improve. And I think from an attorney standpoint too, if I had a case or a personal situation and I wasn’t really sure about the outcomes or what’s going to happen, why you’re not getting back to them, they’re just literally sitting around thinking about it. What’s happening? Is this attorney listening to me? Are they going to do what they say? So you got to think about what the customer is feeling. And they’re constantly going to be thinking, what the hell is going on?

Kia:
Yeah.

Kevin:
You can use that in any situation. Say you’re getting a new kitchen in your house or whatever, and the contractor is not telling you what’s happening. What’s the schedule, when’s it going to be done? You’re going to pick up the phone and go, hey, what’s up? I haven’t heard anything from you.

Kia:
Right.

Kevin:
So I think across the board, better communication for the win, for sure. Well, Kia, thanks so much for sharing some of the things about you and interesting story, some of the things you had to go through. I agree with you. I think you’re in a better person, a better place probably for that. Having to go through that sucks, but it was so you’re doing well now. So I appreciate you coming on to share your story with us and the things that you’re up to. So anything else you want to share before we roll?

Kia:
I’ll just give you my credo, which is adversity is simply opportunity disguised. I’ll leave it at that.

Kevin:
I like it. [inaudible 00:25:21] adversity for sure. Well, Kia, I appreciate you coming on, man. Stick on with me for just a second. Everyone that’s tuning in, check out his firm. You can go to Champ Law Firm dot com. It’s down at the bottom of your screen if you’re watching on video. If you’re on audio, that’s champ law firm dot com. Super simple. It’s Kia Champion if you want to look him up, connect with him elsewhere. Also, his episode will be live up on our website soon at Ray Law dot com forward slash podcast. Also available on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook. And it’ll be up on the podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify, and every other platform available. So stay tuned for that. And if you need any help growing your firm, doing some of those tactics that’ll work for you to get more leads, you can check us out at Ray Law dot com. Reach out to me and my team. Happy to talk to you. I also give out my cell phone. If you need anything, let me know. And that’s it. Kia.

Kia:
Thank you so much, Kevin.

Kevin:
Yeah, man. Thanks for sharing, brother. Appreciate it. You stick on me for a second, and everyone else, have a great day. We’ll talk to you soon.

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© Array Law