THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 157
Interview on 01.14.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Alex Gertsburg



Managing Partner of
Gertsburg Licata

About Alex Gertsburg

Alex Gertsburg is the Managing Partner at Gertsburg Licata in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 2003, Alex proudly served in Iraq with the 762d Army Transportation Company. In 2006, he became the first General Counsel for Broadvox, a large VoIP and telecommunications company. For the next ten years, Mr. Gertsburg served as its GC and Corporate Secretary, as well as an EVP and head of its human resources department. He has been selected to SuperLawyers each year since 2016 and as “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell each year since 2012.

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:
Hey everybody. I am Erik J. Olson, your host today for the Managing Partners Podcast where we interview America’s top managing partners to find out how they’re running their law firms, how they’re growing their law firms, and how they’re keeping their case pipeline full. And today I have with me Alex Gertsburg. Hey, Alex.

Alex Gertsburg :
Erik, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Erik J. Olson:
Thanks for making that time. I appreciate it. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Alex Gertsburg has worn four hats in his 20 year legal career, including serving as a business litigator with large firms, as in-house council with a large corporation, and as an officer with a line haul truck company in the army with a year of combat deployment in Iraq. And you don’t hear that every day from our guests. So thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Erik J. Olson:
He is currently the founder of CoverMySix and a managing partner of Cleveland’s Gertsburg Licata Law firm and Gertsburg Licata Acquisitions, a middle market M&A advisory firm. Thanks again for your time.

Alex Gertsburg :
Erik, thanks for having me.

Erik J. Olson:
So if I counted correctly, I think I listed three firms. Is that correct?

Alex Gertsburg :
I’ve worked for three firms before this one.

Erik J. Olson:
We have CoverMySix, the law firm, and then the acquisitions firm.

Alex Gertsburg :
And there’s a fourth one. And that is Gertsburg Licata Talent where we do executive search for our clients. Yeah, so Gertsburg Licata is a law firm with a couple thousand clients that was the result of a merger. We talked earlier about being in EO. I’m in EO, you’re in EO. Well, so is my partner, Lou Licata.

Alex Gertsburg :
Lou Licata is like one of the OG guys from Cleveland EO. He’s been in it for like 20 years, and I’ve been in it for two. And in my first year, which was last year, I met Lou. My law firm, all business, his law firm, all business law. And I just kind of hit this place where I had way too much work, which is a great problem to have, but not a good problem to have too.

Alex Gertsburg :
And so Lou got me out of this bind and contributed some of his lawyers to some of my cases. And we did that for enough months for some number of months, when we looked at each other and said, “Hey, let’s keep dating, and let’s buy this building,” which we did. We bought this building that we’re in. “And let’s move in and let’s merge.” And that’s what we did. So on April one of this year, Gertsburg law firm and Licata law became Gertsburg Licata.

Alex Gertsburg :
Alongside that, we have Gertsburg Licata Acquisitions, which is an intermediary M & A firm where we help our clients buy and sell companies. And Gertsburg Licata Talent. And then CoverMySix is this, it’s fundamentally a legal audit service for businesses.

Alex Gertsburg :
There are only six kinds of plaintiffs who can sue a business, customers, vendors, employees, shareholders, the government, and competitors. I’ve never met a seventh plaintiff in 20 years.

Alex Gertsburg :
And the premise is that if you know which six plaintiffs can sue a business, then protecting yourself from those plaintiffs is just a matter of reverse engineering who can sue you into what they can sue you for into how to protect yourself from those claims. So in a nutshell, that’s CoverMySix.

Erik J. Olson:
So that’s kind of a risk management company? Is that-

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah. Yeah. We’re going into software and developing some technology around it. It is an auditing company. It goes in, it is for companies who don’t have in-house counsel or who do and who need this platform to create a framework around their internal audits.

Alex Gertsburg :
As you mentioned, I was in-house council before I started my law firm. And it was a large telecom company. I didn’t know anything about telecom long when I started there. And over the course of the next eight years, I learned that auditing my company followed the same framework as you would use for any company, whether it’s telecom or restaurants or nursing homes. Right?

Alex Gertsburg :
It’s still the same six plaintiffs. And once you know that, it’s just, you’re building your audit around that concept. And that’s what CoverMySix does. It goes into companies of any size and excavates all of their legal problems and then tries to resolve them before a plaintiff’s lawyer or the government may resolve them for them one at a time.

Erik J. Olson:
So the merger happened in April, and by the way, my company, Array Digital, is the result of a merger as well.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
For me, we have a very similar story as far as dating before we got married.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
And working on projects together. But even with that, once we got married, once we merged, it was six months of chaos for us to figure out what we had just done and to merge the cultures together. Did you experience something like that as well?

Alex Gertsburg :
No, but the reason we didn’t, I think anyway, is because Lou and I are both business lawyers, and we’ve been doing M & A our entire careers. We locked ourselves in a room for about three months for a day, one day a week, and just went through the checklists. The culture fit checklists and the financials and all the things that you do during due diligence when you’re buying a company, which Lou has done a million times, and I’ve done a million times. It was really methodical for us.

Alex Gertsburg :
And we just kind of followed our own internal checklists that we used with our clients. And we were able, I think, to knock out all of the big ticket items first to make sure that it was the right fit before knocking out all the other boxes that you have to check that are more technical. But culture is the biggest by far.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

Alex Gertsburg :
It’s the most important thing in any company. And we knew early on that we had a really good cultural fit. That made it easy.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s incredibly important. Yeah.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
And then once you merged, well, actually let me ask the question. There’s four companies that we’ve talked about. Right? And three of them, I believe, have both of your names on them.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
Did you start those three or four companies after the merger? Since April and right now it’s October?

Alex Gertsburg :
They were seedlings of ideas that sprouted into the forest that we have today post merger. But pre-merger, they were… So CoverMySix was around. The acquisitions company and the talent company were just getting off the ground. And when Lou and I merged, they took off.

Alex Gertsburg :
Lou and I occupy, and I encourage anyone listening to this who is considering EOS and reading Traction. That system has really helped us tremendously. Lou and I have very specific seats that we occupy in this organization, and he has his lane and I have my lane, and we are really compatible because of who we are and what seats we occupy. And EOS as a system has been huge for us because, well, I have severe ADD. Right? Severe ADD, and most entrepreneurs I know, do too. Right?

Alex Gertsburg :
And that’s what systems like that are for. It doesn’t have to be EOS. It could be EMyth or Scaling Up or whatever you want, but creating boxes and compartmentalizing roles, responsibilities, accountability is so important. And focusing everyone on the same goals.

Alex Gertsburg :
That to me, is the real magic of EOS is you’ve got everybody in the company working on the same five to seven, they call them rocks in EOS. The same goals. And they’re the most important things in the company for that quarter.

Alex Gertsburg :
All of that makes the growth of our existing companies, and we’ve got a pretty creative strategy for the next five years as well. But that makes it more intuitive, easier.

Erik J. Olson:
Absolutely. No, that’s great. We’re both members of EO. So what we’re saying may actually be jargon to some of our listeners. So let me define it. EO is the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. It’s a group of business owners, founders, or operators of businesses that have a million dollars in gross revenue or more per year.

Erik J. Olson:
And EOS is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. I believe that’s what it stands for based on a book by Gina Wickman, named Traction. I have read the book. We’ve implemented parts of it, but I would not call us an EOS shop. It sounds like you’ve taken it much further. Did you actually go through training or did you get a facilitator to help you with that?

Alex Gertsburg :
So I wish I had earlier. We self-implemented. In addition to having ADD, I also have OCD, which led me down these rabbit holes where I felt like if I just talked to enough people and learned enough about what other people did, I could self-implement.

Alex Gertsburg :
And I would say we got 70% of the way there, but that other 30% was significant. So we ended up getting an implementer about six months into our self-implementation journey.

Alex Gertsburg :
But while self-implementing, I created a Facebook group called EOS Self-Implementers Unite. So if anyone… Yeah, Erik, if you’re still self-implementing or any of your listeners, go to that Facebook group and join it because people share a lot of good tidbits on self-implementing EOS there.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s a really good idea. I’m writing it down right now. It’s like a mastermind of people that are working their way through it.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah. Yeah. It’s crazy because most groups I start, it’s just crickets, right?

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

Alex Gertsburg :
This one’s got thousands of members, and it’s pretty active. People really are, they are very helpful to each other. Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
Let me ask you a couple questions about growing your firm. Clearly the merger probably just by itself and the synergy has had a lot of impact for you. That’s what it sounds like. And it led to other business ventures, which is really impressive. But as a business law firm, you’re going after business clients, which as a digital marketer, that’s a little bit of a challenge trying to work your way into a corporation. Whereas with B2C companies, it’s a lot easier. You can target individuals on places like Facebook and Google. For B2B, what are some different ways that you go about getting clients?

Alex Gertsburg :
This is going to sound really hokey. Okay? But I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true. We have really strong core values in our organization, and one of them and the most important one is innovation. And we bleed innovation. We talk about it every day here. And I believe that that is why we have almost 3000 clients in this law firm, which eight years ago, I started with one eight years ago.

Alex Gertsburg :
And I believe that we’ve developed both a reputation and a process that is just imbued with innovation. CoverMySix is a perfect example, right? I don’t know any other business law firm anywhere that talks to his its clients in this 300 degree way dedicated entirely to preventing lawsuits. Right?

Alex Gertsburg :
So 250 years of American jurisprudence is almost predominantly based on reactivity. Lawyers get hired by businesses when they’re getting sued, when they’re getting investigated, when there’s a problem, they’re reacting.

Alex Gertsburg :
The problem with that is you’re solving one problem at a time. You’re panicked, it’s stressful, it’s public often, and it’s extremely expensive. And you’re not solving all these other problems that are just waiting to blow up.

Alex Gertsburg :
And when you’re a maturing company, those problems just keep maturing with you. Right? So that is an example of innovation. I don’t know any other lawyer. They might be out there, but we’ve created a system around this. We’ve created a product, a service around keeping our clients out of the courtroom, and it’s in this really intuitive way. And we’re now moving to creating technology around it, portals. That’s one example.

Alex Gertsburg :
The other is just like the M & A company, the acquisition company. You’ve got a couple thousand business clients, at some point, every one of them is going to be thinking about either buying a company or selling their company.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s right.

Alex Gertsburg :
You’ve got those warm relationships already. And so if you can innovate and create your own apparatus for serving that need, it’s not a legal service. It acts almost like a brokerage, but that’s another example of innovating to serve our clients. And I believe that our growth trajectory has really benefited from that core value, that innovation value.

Erik J. Olson:
Love the answer. Yeah. Core values are incredibly important. And certainly one of the things that gets drilled into our heads as EO members.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
I know that I finally wrote them down once I started to get involved in EO, and yeah, it’s everything to a company. It should be right? Should be what you hire by, fire by.

Alex Gertsburg :
Right.

Erik J. Olson:
Reward by, promote by. Yeah, so it’s really interesting that that has worked its way for you into the different opportunities that you’ve created. And also about getting new clients. I like that a lot.

Erik J. Olson:
Look, I know you have a hard stop coming up. So I did want to ask one more question, and you kind of hinted about it, but you have five year plan it sounds like. Can you give us a little more insight into maybe your growth plans for the next of years?

Alex Gertsburg :
Sure. So you show me an entrepreneur, and I will show you someone who knows one thing really, really well and better than he or she will ever know anything else in their business, and that is their product. Right?

Alex Gertsburg :
So an entrepreneur will cobble together all the other things they need to scale their business through trial and error. Right?

Erik J. Olson:
That’s right.

Erik J. Olson:
So I know my widget because it came out of my head, and I have a passion for it. I’ve researched it. I’ve studied it. I know how to build it. I’ve got manufacturing taken care of. I’ve got the processes. Now I need legal. I need marketing. I need HR. I need accounting. I need, e-commerce. All the things that have to be there to scale your business, I don’t know those things as an entrepreneur. I have to figure it out.

Erik J. Olson:
More likely I’m doing is I’m calling my neighbor, the lawyer, or I’m calling my cousin, the accountant, or I’m calling someone in, maybe it’s someone in EO, which is actually a great idea. You’ll get high caliber people at EO in general, but you’re cobbling together your executive team. Right?

Erik J. Olson:
And if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re doing a lot of failing along the way. So what Gertsburg Licata is doing is creating a one stop shop where we build a dream team of fractional executives for any company that can help it go from zero to a hundred much faster than when they cobble it together through trial and error.

Erik J. Olson:
Really interesting. No, that that’s great. I think you’re spot on. Most entrepreneurs are really good at one thing and okay at a few others. But certainly they talk amongst themselves, and I just did this last night with my EO chapter. Hey, who do we know that can remove asbestos floor tile? That’s the problem that I’m challenged with right now. And I want to know who else has done it and who they recommend.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
So there’s a lot of chitter chatter behind the scenes when it comes to not just EO, but businesses in general, who do you know? Who do you recommend? So I think it would be really interesting to have networks like you’re talking about, and I would imagine, well, I think that’ll do very well.

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah. We are creating a service. The service that we’re creating is we will build your company around you with permanent fractional executives so that you walk in the door, it is a monthly subscription fee, and you will have your head of HR, your legal, your accounting, your marketing, all of that will be there for you so that you just plug your product in, and we take care of the rest.

Erik J. Olson:
I would think in some cases, maybe even your fractional CEO.

Alex Gertsburg :
Strategic planning is in there. And the fractional CEO works great, and I would encourage it. Getting an entrepreneur to not want to be their own CEO, I think, is going to be the challenge. But I think that you’re spot on, Erik. I think that a lot of entrepreneurs just need to get out of their own way, and let their idea ride. You know, but we’re going to cross that. [crosstalk 00:20:12].

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah. We’re going to cross that bridge when we come to it though. This is our five year plan.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s awesome. I love it. Well, Alex, this has been really interesting. And congratulations on the merger and your success. If someone would like to ask questions for you, or if they have a referral for you, what is a good way for them to get in touch with you?

Alex Gertsburg :
Yeah, gertsburglicata.com is our website. I and the people here who are much smarter and better looking than me are all there. And you can contact them through that website, or feel free to email me. I’m on LinkedIn. My email is agertsburg@gertsburglicata.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and send me InMail messages to your hearts content. And there’s a decent chance I will respond.

Erik J. Olson:
Very nice. All right, everybody, if you’d like to reach out to Alex, check out his website or LinkedIn, and if you would like to listen to or watch more episodes with other managing partners, you can check out our entire backlog at arraylaw.com/podcast. They are organized by practice area and by state, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Erik J. Olson:
And if you are in need of digital marketing for your law firm, my firm, Array Digital, can be found at arraylaw.com. We focus on websites, SEO, online advertising, and social media. All right, Alex. Thanks so much.

Alex Gertsburg :
Thank you, Erik. Have a good one. Thank you.

Erik J. Olson:
Same to you.

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