THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 161
Interview on 01.28.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

David Munoz



Managing Partner of
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers

About David Munoz

David J. Munoz is the Managing Partner of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. in San Diego, Chula Vista, Carlsbad and El Paso.

David is an experienced and top-reviewed San Diego personal injury attorney, he is devoted to raising the bar of excellence in service and advocacy for his clients, and his committed to serving the San Diego legal community as a whole. As a result, he is an active in the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego and have served as a speaker/seminar presenter.

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, your host for this live episode of The Managing Partners Podcast. In this podcast, we interview America’s top managing partners to find out what they’re doing to run their businesses, grow their businesses, and to keep their case pipeline full. And today I have with me, David Munoz. Did I get it?

David Munoz:
You’re close. You’re very close.

Erik J. Olson:
All right. Okay. We’re not going to rerecord that. Actually, would you say your last name for the audience? I want to make sure we got it right.

David Munoz:
My last name is Munoz.

Erik J. Olson:
Munoz.

David Munoz:
As I mentioned earlier, I think you hit it on the head as to why we’re not Munoz Law Firm. We wanted people to actually be able to pronounce the firm name.

Erik J. Olson:
This is like a recurring thing on this podcast where I screw up someone’s name and then we talk about it, so my apologies, but thanks for playing along. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. David is the co-founder and managing partner at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers with offices in San Diego, California, and in El Paso, Texas. Welcome to the show, David.

David Munoz:
Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Erik J. Olson:
Well, appreciate you making the time. Would you mind telling the audience a little bit more about yourself and your firm?

David Munoz:
Yeah. Well, again, my name is David Munoz. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and that’s actually where my dad opened up his office, Munoz Law Firm. I went through college and law school and grad school in San Antonio, Texas. While I was there, my parents decided that they wanted to move to San Diego, to retire mainly. They asked me if I’d be willing to give California a shot. Most people outside of California think moving to California is just crazy and so I wasn’t really sold on the idea, but I told them, “Well, I’ll give it a shot.” So we ended up moving here to San Diego together and I ended up loving it. When I first moved here, I started in intellectual property and I realized that I’m not so much of an intellectual property person.

David Munoz:
It was much more of a desk job than I ever wanted to do. My focus wanted to be more in trial. I asked my dad if we opened up an office here, would he work with me. Reluctantly, he agreed because he came here to retire, mainly, but he’s been helping me ever since. We’ve been open for 12 years, well, almost 12 years now and our firm name is now Mission Personal Injury. Thanks to Texas passing the ability to use trade names, the El Paso office is Mission Personal Injury, as well.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s awesome. That’s a really interesting story, how you changed practice areas and a pretty significant change as well. I mean, I would imagine going from IP to personal injury and that.

David Munoz:
Yeah, it’s definitely a change. Learning about inventions, and biotech inventions were the ones that I was working on and they’re great, God bless people that do that work. It just, for me, I wanted to be up moving around a little bit more and trial work is where I found that. When we first opened this office, I did what’s called door law, meaning I pretty much took everything that comes through the door and that includes criminal law, business formation, all kinds of stuff. Even though I liked the ability to go try cases using criminal law, I just found personal injury to be a little bit more specific to my background and what I like to do. It just seemed the right fit for me.

Erik J. Olson:
Good for you. That is a big change. I’m interested and I think our managing partners should listen to this podcast and would be interested in knowing how long did that transition require before you felt like you were actually a personal injury lawyer?

David Munoz:
I would say approximately four years, maybe a little less, but to go from IP… And the thing is, when you’re working at those jobs, they pay well and to leave that to start a business, it was pretty tough because that means I was going to have to be 30 years old and move in with my parents. So there’s no bigger motivator than being 30 years old and living with your parents and trying to go on the dating scene. I really had to try and hustle just to make sure that I could, hopefully, at least one day move out of my parents’ house and maybe a girl would go on a date with me. I did everything and I finally was able to just narrow down only personal injury. Maybe it took about four years, I’d say, because as you know, and I don’t know what most people don’t know, in personal injury, you don’t get paid right away. You have to wait until the case settles and you have to build up your savings and be able to sustain yourself until those cases settled. So it takes some time.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. And based on what you just talked about, how you’re funding the case in advance and certainly hoping for a verdict in your favor, I’m guessing you needed that transition time of four years where you’re doing other kinds of work to fund the personal injury law practice area. Is that about right?

David Munoz:
Exactly. Exactly. I mean, you can charge a retainer in other areas, you can charge hourly in other areas, but personal injury is not one of those. And so, yeah, definitely, the other areas helped fund the personal injury practice.

Erik J. Olson:
It’s always been interesting to me. Why is this so different in personal injury where the lawyer funds those cases as compared to other practice areas? Have you come to a conclusion on that or is it just that’s just the way it’s always been?

David Munoz:
I’ve come to the conclusion, and I think it’s more of a public policy decision because not everybody who has money gets into accidents. What I mean by that is people from all walks of life get hurt and get involved in a personal injury. If we charged hourly, then only people with money would be able to get justice for whatever happened to them. So I think it’s a great way to do things because it means anybody can hire an attorney no matter what walk of life they come from, and we’re able to get a recovery for them. I love that model. There’s definitely other places where I worked that only big corporate Fortune 500 companies were able to afford the services and it didn’t sit well with me. So I really, really like the contingency fee arrangement.

Erik J. Olson:
And you have to be on top of your game, right? I mean, if you don’t get paid until you get results, you better figure out how to get results pretty quick. Well, congratulations on the transition. I know it’s been a while now, you said 12 years, but that’s a tough decision to make and certainly dating from your parents’ house at the age of 30, that’s the motivation, right?

David Munoz:
That was the biggest motivator I’d have to say is I felt like, I don’t know if you’ve seen Seinfeld, but I felt like George Costanza living with his parents.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s hilarious. So now, as a personal injury lawyer, what are some different ways you go about getting the attention of people who need your help?

David Munoz:
We’ve reached a weird spot in the legal field because the people before me wanted to focus on trial skills and making sure that they’re the best trial lawyer that they can possibly be, which is how I started. I made sure that I tried as many cases I possibly could because I didn’t want anybody to be able to out-game me in trial. I think the worst thing that you could possibly do is the first big case that you get is also your first trial. That’d be extremely scary for me. So I wanted to make sure I tried as many cases as possible so I could be prepared. But recently, I would say maybe three to four years ago now, the wants to become a good trial lawyer isn’t really there as much for the younger generation.

David Munoz:
For them, they care more about the marketing and putting themselves out there on social media, on ads, on commercials and stuff like that without really obtaining the skills of a lawyer. Then, I guess, after they get the book of business, then they can hire a trial lawyer. I think that’s probably what their plan is. For me, I feel like I’m in the middle because I’ve worked on my trial skills and becoming a good lawyer first and now I’m trying to play catch up with the other stuff as far as the marketing. So that’s where I’m at now.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s interesting, yeah. The two different kinds of lawyers, the trial lawyer versus the marketer who effectively delegates the trials when necessary to someone else, it seems like I’ve come across that in other industries. Usually, it’s either someone who’s very familiar with business or someone who’s very skilled with the trade, whatever that happens to be.

David Munoz:
Right.

Erik J. Olson:
And there’s few people who have skills in both areas, you’re being one of, so that’s really impressive that you feel comfortable on both sides of the business and the marketing.

David Munoz:
Yeah. That’s what I’m trying to do to differentiate myself from most.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. Yeah. When it comes to the actual marketing, personal injury lawyers are pretty well known for things like billboards, TVs, different styles, but certainly attention getting styles. What’s the approach that you take when it comes to your marketing and the different kinds of marketing that you do?

David Munoz:
Honestly, I can say that we take more of a conservative approach just because so many attorneys focus on attention getting that I think that the marketing comes across as distasteful, and it might be attention grabbing for a certain sect of people, but we want to attract the people that don’t want that type of lawyer, that want a lawyer that’s honorable and respectful and has skills. On top of that, because everybody in our office speaks Spanish, a good number of our clients are also Spanish speaking, so that’s the niche that we focus on is the people that care more about having a respectable attorney and one that speaks Spanish.

Erik J. Olson:
Are the majority of your clients Spanish speaking?

David Munoz:
No, I would say about 40 to 45% of our clients are Spanish speaking.

Erik J. Olson:
Okay. So certainly, yeah, I mean El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California, large Spanish speaking populations. Makes a lot of sense that you would be bilingual, definitely.

David Munoz:
Yeah. And when I say we’re bilingual, I mean, literally everybody in the office from the receptionist to the attorneys. I think most offices might have somebody in the office, like a paralegal or somebody that speaks Spanish, but literally everybody in the office does. We’ve even had Spanish speaking days, like Tuesday, Thursdays are the days that we’re supposed to only speak Spanish in the office.

Erik J. Olson:
Oh, wow. That’s interesting. Yeah, so actually to that point, a lot of times when you call a business, it’ll say press one for English and the Spanish version or press two for Spanish. I’m guessing you don’t need to do that. You can handle anybody. That’s interesting.

David Munoz:
Right. Our receptionist actually speaks French too, but we don’t have a whole lot of people that only speak French.

Erik J. Olson:
Nah, we don’t get a lot of that in the United States. So from a marketing standpoint, personal injury, you’ve taken, a more conservative, respectable, if you will approach. What is something that you’ve discovered, maybe even recently, that just hasn’t worked quite as well as it used to? Something that maybe you stopped doing when it comes to your marketing.

David Munoz:
One thing that I think hasn’t worked as well in the past might be joining referral networks. I would say if you do BNI or, I’m trying to think of some other ones, chambers of commerce, at least for my particular practice area, hasn’t proven to be as fruitful only because you have to know somebody that something bad has happened to them. Maybe if you do business law or you do estate planning, those types of things might be good for you. But for my particular practice area, it just hasn’t proved to be beneficial.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. I can understand that. Certainly with personal injury, it seems like the amount of time that is required for people to make a decision is very narrow. They get injured. They’re going to reach out to a couple of personal injury lawyers. It seems like the decisions made within a matter of days. Whereas something like estate planning, you may ask a whole bunch of your colleagues, “Hey, where’s a good place that I can get a will?” or whatever, or family law is probably the same way. What have you found that duration of time to be between when someone gets injured and they make up their mind, generally speaking, on who they’re going to go with?

David Munoz:
I hate giving you the lawyer answer, but it depends. We’ve had people call the office within 10 minutes of being in an accident.

Erik J. Olson:
Wow.

David Munoz:
Then we also have other people who they really thought they could do it on their own and they waited until the day before we have to file a lawsuit to hire us. So you have a lot of people, and attorneys, I mean, it’s not just people. There’s attorneys that dabble too and want to handle it on their own. Maybe they specialize in family law, but they want to handle a personal injury case here and there and it just proves to be disastrous.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

David Munoz:
So I guess the answer is it depends. It can be anywhere from 10 minutes of the accident to hopefully they call us be for the statute of limitations is run, which is two years.

Erik J. Olson:
Two years, okay. At what point and what severity of an accident would you normally recommend people call you? Certainly if it’s a fender bender, no, but I mean, broken bones, at that level or certainly head trauma?

David Munoz:
I think no matter what the severity of the accident that you’ve been in, it’s a good idea to call a personal injury attorney no matter what, because I’ve had situations where it seemed like a smaller accident, but it just really blew up into something a lot more because you just never know how somebody’s going to be affected. So I think it’s a good idea. Plus on top of that, it makes dealing with the insurance company a lot easier. You don’t have to deal with them anymore.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

David Munoz:
So it takes away the headache of having to call them and you try and negotiate with them and get them the information. The attorney does all of that for you, so all you have to worry about is, even if it’s a small one, just getting better and let the attorney handle all the insurance headache. So it just really is no matter how severe the accident is, I really think it’s beneficial for everybody.

Erik J. Olson:
Good advice. I like that a lot. So you have offices now in two states.

David Munoz:
Correct.

Erik J. Olson:
Pretty far separation between the two. What are your growth plans for the next couple of years?

David Munoz:
Well, I’d like to be everywhere in the United States, but within the next couple of years-

Erik J. Olson:
You can do it.

David Munoz:
Yeah. Yeah. Within the next couple of years, I’d like to fill the gap between San Diego and El Paso and see how it goes from there, but time will tell. I believe in slow growth as opposed to just rushing in there and next thing you know, I have to shut down offices. I take being an employer pretty seriously. People depend on the job and you don’t want to do something too hasty that’s going to cost people their job. So I want to make sure that when we do something, that we’re ready and we can sustain it.

Erik J. Olson:
So are you thinking like from San Diego going east, basically?

David Munoz:
Yeah. Fill in the gap between El Paso and San Diego.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. Yeah. Would that require that you get a license to practice in those new states or you would need someone on your staff that has that ability?

David Munoz:
I’m working on that now. I’m trying to decide which one would be better.

Erik J. Olson:
Good for you.

David Munoz:
I don’t want to have to take the bar exam two more times.

Erik J. Olson:
They don’t cut you a break, do they?

David Munoz:
Yeah. Yeah. We’ll just see how it goes.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah, you would think if you were going for… Actually, I don’t know. I’m assuming, basically, you just said you have to take the entire exam a second time or a third time?

David Munoz:
Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:
They don’t give you a pass on the basic stuff, nah?

David Munoz:
Right. I wish they would.

Erik J. Olson:
Oh wow. That’s funny. Well, David, this has been really interesting. I’m really impressed with your firm and your plans and the way that you market. If someone would like to ask you questions about how you’re running your firm, if they want to follow up, if they want to find out more about you on social or maybe they have a case for you, what’s a good way to reach out to you?

David Munoz:
Well, obviously our website missionlegalcenter.com. You can find us there. You can email me there. Another great way to get in contact with me is through Instagram. Our Instagram handle is @missionpersonalinjury, and you can message me there and I’ll get back to you. I look forward to co-counseling with people all the time. It’s a great way to share the work, share the cost and the risk and have fun together trying a case, so love to do that.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s great. Well, thanks so much for your time. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out more episodes like this where we interview America’s top managing partners about how they’re growing their firms, the full backlog is at arraylaw.com/podcast. We have something like 150 episodes now categorized by practice area and state, so you can drill down to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you are looking for digital marketing for your law firm, my agency, Array Digital, focuses exclusively on law firm marketing. You can find more information at arraylaw.com, in particular about our services such as website design, search engine optimization, online ads and social media. All right, David. Thanks again.

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