THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 170
Interview on 03.03.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Daniel Brook



Managing Partner of
Brook Legal Inc.

About Daniel Brook

Daniel Brook is the Managing Partner at Brook Legal Inc. in Quebec, Canada

Daniel's primary areas of practice are family law, commercial shareholder disputes and general civil responsibility. He started Brook Legal Inc. in 2012 almost immediately after finishing his six month articling position at a boutique Montreal law firm. He lives and breathes the words of Michael Jordan: "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen others make it happen."

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. It is Erik J. Olson. I am your host today for The Managing Partners Podcast. We’re recording this live and today I am joined by Daniel Brook. Hey, Daniel.

Daniel Brook:

Hi. How are you?

Erik J. Olson:

I’m doing great. Thanks for making the time. I appreciate it.

Daniel Brook:

Pleasure’s all mine.

Erik J. Olson:

Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Daniel Brook is the managing partner of Brook Legal Incorporated in Montreal, Quebec. Brook Legal Incorporated has grown from a solo practice to a burgeoning firm that now has five lawyers and two articling students. His primary areas of practice are family law, commercial shareholder disputes, and general civil responsibility. Thanks for joining us, Daniel.

Daniel Brook:

Thanks for having me again.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah, man. Hey, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what your firm does.

Daniel Brook:

Great. I have a Bachelor in Science in business from Yeshiva University, which is a Jewish private school in New York, which is affiliated with Columbia University. I have my background is in business, like I said, accounting, and more management and advertising. I graduated university right as… I think Bear Stearns closed the week I graduated. So, there was no finance jobs available. I had nothing to do. I wanted to become an accountant and my grandmother actually told me if I became an accountant, she’d never speak to me again.

Erik J. Olson:

Wow!

Daniel Brook:

So, a pretty solid statement. When I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer, so I decided to go to law school. I graduated from law school in… I think around 2010, I graduated law school. Then, in Quebec there’s a mandatory six month articling position, which is an internship, where it’s supposed to be paid. It is paid, but basically, you have the same responsibilities and obligations of a lawyer, but you’re not an official full title lawyer just yet. You’d have to be supervised by a lawyer as five years of experience. That’s that’s the rule, so I did that.

Daniel Brook:

And then, when I graduated my internship, basically, the offer, let’s just say, wasn’t that enticing to stay at the firm I was at. So I figured back right away after my six month articling that the time was right and I just went on my own. At first, I had a partner for about nine months. That didn’t work out and then I started the firm that eventually became Brook Legal in 2012, on my birthday actually of 2000. I incorporated the company the same day as my birthday. That was just a… I don’t know.

Erik J. Olson:

Coincidence.

Daniel Brook:

Yeah, it could… No, it wasn’t a coincidence at all. I wanted it on purpose. They had a meeting for me, so we started in 2012. At first, I started in my parents’ attic. They had a big house in Montreal. They had about a 1,500 square foot addict… attic. Sorry, I don’t know why it’s hard to say. I built a wall to make it confidential for my clients: a soundproof wall. I basically worked there for two years.

Daniel Brook:

At first, I think I had a secretary after about six months. I don’t remember, but it was just me in my parents’ attic. And then, slowly, we moved into offices getting bigger and bigger. And today, I grew to one lawyer, two lawyers, three lawyers, and now we’re at five. Actually, two of my brothers are lawyers. One works with me, Joseph, and the other brother’s on his own. He’s a free bird. So yeah, we’re five lawyers today. I usually have between one and two of those interns I was talking about before, and we have a support staff about three to five people who do the billing and keep up with the files, et cetera, make sure the office for runs smoothly. They’re the real brain of the office.

Erik J. Olson:

Oh yeah, that’s right.

Daniel Brook:

So we grew from, like I said, one lawyer to five. At the beginning, it was organic growth: just word of mouth referrals; keeping the prices honest; competing on a price level. Recently, as of 2016, I got more interested with Google Ads: being top of the page when you Google certain words. That’s pretty much it. We have referrals. We do run Google Ads. They are successful for the most part, depends which topic of [inaudible 00:04:20]. I don’t know if you want and ask more specific questions on that, but…

Erik J. Olson:

Actually, I would love to know because a lot of our guests have run Google Ads in the past, but they haven’t seen a lot of success and have stopped. So, what is it that you’re doing in Google ads where you’ve seen success?

Daniel Brook:

We also do minor traffic violations like speeding, stop signs, stuff like that. We have a lawyer who specializes in that. So at first, I experimented in 2016 only in doing Google ads for those type of infractions. That didn’t really work because the price of Google Ads didn’t pay. It took too many positive conversions to justify the expenditure. So I did, but I did notice that the phone did ring off the hook. So I did notice there was a positive result, just that the dollars and cents didn’t make sense.

Daniel Brook:

In 2018, I decided to redo Google Ads, but this time, not with minor traffic violations, but more with real… I call them real, but more serious lawyer issues, specifically divorces: family law. Because I found that people were often too shy or too embarrassed to call friends or to ask work colleagues for a divorce lawyer; it was something more private. People did Google that a lot whereas other forms of law, people… Somebody who runs a business is not looking for a commercial lawyer on Google. They have their own referral system, their own network that they have, so I found that in family law, it worked well.

Daniel Brook:

We also ran Facebook ads. Facebook ads didn’t work because the way I view it is that nobody goes on Facebook, sees a divorce lawyer, and is like, “Oh, I should really get divorced today.” Whereas you might see a nice pair of shoes or a baseball cap you want to buy, but doesn’t work the same way with divorces, so I stayed away from Facebook ads. A lot of my friends that are in the advertising business swear by Facebook ads, but I think it’s more for retail. I think it’s more for a call to action.

Daniel Brook:

I’m not trying to convince people to get divorced. That’s not my intention. My intention is, “If you’re already in the market for a divorce, you call us,” so that’s why Google works because Google is a client-based initiation, meaning the client has to be looking for a lawyer, and then they’ll find us, so again. Also, Google Ads don’t work on a short term basis. They work on a long term basis, meaning you have to have the cashflow to endure the storm, so there might be some weeks where you spend, for me, a lot of money, between two and $5,000 a week and you see zero results, but the next week you might get five or six clients which pays back the previous expenditure and more.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. I completely agree with you when it comes to Google. High intent: people are at the moment instantly searching for something; they’re asking a question; and if it has to do with you and you’re offering, you could be front and center. So certainly, the ad is a really good way to get up front and center with them. Another great a is SEO, right?

Daniel Brook:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Because it turns out a lot of people do just jump right over the ads and they go to the organic results, so if you can get in there as well, that’s fantastic. Now, when it comes to Facebook or social media, just curious, have you tried something like retargeting so that when they come to your website, you can get back in front of them in a [crosstalk 00:07:38] Facebook?

Daniel Brook:

Yeah, we tried. I also didn’t want to do Facebook ads because I didn’t want to be… I wanted to stay away from the ambulance chasing in and I felt that Facebook ads were just… What I consider an ambulance chaser is a lawyer who goes out to look for a client, whereas let the client come to you and that’s how I felt. I just didn’t think Facebook was a good ad.

Daniel Brook:

Instagram, on the other hand, is not… I starting with Instagram, but it’s not to find clients. It’s more to gain credibility. I feel like today, if you don’t have an Instagram… It used to be about five years ago, six years ago, I would get international clients and they’d ask me for my website. At the beginning, I didn’t have a website and if you didn’t have a website, you didn’t exist. You were like [crosstalk 00:08:22].

Erik J. Olson:

That’s right.

Daniel Brook:

I think that… Forget the website today. I think that’s a given, but I think that’s today like, “Oh, what’s your Instagram handle? What’s your Twitter?” That’s what people are looking for. So it’s not really to advertise our service. It’s more to show credibility that we’re current with the times.

Erik J. Olson:

So social media seems like it’s used primarily for verification of who you are as a firm, who you are as a person, get to know the staff, awards. And it really just verifies that you’re a legitimate business because if you’re not on a place like Instagram or Facebook these days, it’s considered weird, right. It’s like not having a website. If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. It’s not quite the same with social media, but it’s getting to that point. Sp yeah, you have-

Daniel Brook:

No, I agree.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Certainly, my opinion and yours, it sounds like you have to have a presence on social media and you have to keep it pretty fresh. You can’t go weeks or months without posting, so you have to have some sort of a plan to post something. That’s certainly one big aspect.

Erik J. Olson:

The other part though is you could advertise in addition to that. It’s a little bit separated actually, but with retargeting at least you can get back in front of those people that came to your website. These are people that probably found you through Google or a referral, or somehow they ended up on your website, and you can get right back in front of them. So, it’s not so much the chasing like you had mentioned, more like getting back in front of the people that came to you in the first place.

Daniel Brook:

Right. I find that Google reviews are also very important. I’d say Google Reviews are even more important than the ads because the Google review legitimizes the service rendered. I don’t have that many Google reviews. I maybe have 13, I think, but most of my clients don’t want advertise to the world that they hired me. Nobody’s proud that they hired a divorce lawyer or a commercial lawyer. So really those 13 posts are clients that I felt comfortable asking to post a review. Some of them are spontaneous, but I’d say nine of them I’d asked just, “If you were happy with a service, please leave a review.” But somebody who’s going through a messy divorce fighting for custody of their children, I don’t really feel comfortable asking them to leave a review. Whether or not I’m 100% certain that the client is satisfied, I don’t think it’s appropriate. That’s just my opinion.

Erik J. Olson:

Well, you’re right. No matter what, even a successful divorce is not the best thing in the world. Right?

Daniel Brook:

Exactly. Exactly.

Erik J. Olson:

But I like the fact that you have a plan for asking. So, you’ll ask in a particular situation versus not ask because it is very important. If you can get one of those, it’s highly valued and the people that are coming along afterwards, looking at you, looking at your Google My Business, if they see reviews, that’s another positive indicator just like having a website, just like being on social media, and you have reviews. That’s really good to get all those things.

Daniel Brook:

You can’t have too many because I find that the people who have… Companies that have 1,400 reviews, it looks almost like they lock you up in the office before you leave and you can’t leave without posting. So, you have to find the happy medium that are genuinely happy. I think a truly smart and informed client or consumer knows the difference between a fabricated ad and a real genuine… somebody who’s actually genuinely satisfied of the service.

Erik J. Olson:

That’s great. No, I love that. How are you handling your marketing right now? Are you doing it all in-house?

Daniel Brook:

No. I hire somebody external. I’ve been through a few people. The problem I find with Google Ads is the fee that the administrator takes often takes 100% or close to 100% of the gross profit, so you’re basically fighting to be even.

Daniel Brook:

I had somebody who was really good. He’s actually a lawyer now, but the fee didn’t make sense and also he didn’t want to do this the rest of his life. I have somebody now who’s very good, Montreal-based. It’s important for us to be Montreal-based because of the French. We speak French here like we spoke before. So, it has to be somebody who’s at least able to understand what the words mean in French because we do do ads both in English and in French. We’re always looking to… We don’t do it in-house. We tried doing it in-house, to be honest, for about six months. It doesn’t work. You have to be trained. It’s a lot of money to play with. It’s a big gamble. So no, we don’t do it in-house. We always look external.

Erik J. Olson:

It’s one of those things. And marketing, maybe it’s like the law. It’s easy to dabble in it. You can get familiar with it pretty quickly, but you’re not going to be an expert overnight. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of practice. And so, certainly, with something like Google Advertising, they make it very, very easy for you to open an account, put your credit card in, pick a couple keywords and you think you’re good, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much that goes in. And you’re right; you can definitely go through a lot of money very, very quickly if you open it up.

Daniel Brook:

Oh, it’s dangerous and if your words are too broad… We were at one point getting, I don’t know, 30-40 phone calls a day, which cost obviously a small fortune, but they’re looking for any lawyer. So meaning if your lawyer’s name is John Davis and you’re trying to settle an invoice with him and you Google John Davis, well, we came up,. So they called our office looking for John Davis and then getting upset because, “Where’s John Davis? Google said that this is John Davis’s office.”

Daniel Brook:

So, you have to be careful. The over-broadening of the scope of the ads has to be really reigned in. You have to avoid using the word lawyer. I find somebody who’s able to master the ads with actually using the word of the service, that’s the biggest secret because then you’ll actually get people are looking for you.

Erik J. Olson:

Yep. There you go. That’s nice. Now, what is something that you previously were doing in marketing or advertising that was working, but really isn’t working quite like it used to?

Daniel Brook:

I would say, like I said, Facebook did… We did get calls from Facebook. It’s just it wasn’t a good fit for the legal… You’re really guessing because Facebook is not cheap either. It’s not as bad as Google. It’s not as expensive as Google, but it’s still up there. And a good friend of mine in Montreal runs a Facebook-based marketing agency, so my cost wasn’t even that big. He was practically helping me. It was just literally the cost of Facebook Ads.

Daniel Brook:

But Facebook ads, I think, like I said, Facebook’s not appropriate for everything. I think Facebook is more retail-based and less of a professional service. I don’t think a doctor either would want to… Let’s say an orthodontist for braces treatment, I don’t think Facebook is a good fit. So I’d say it’s Facebook. We even tried at one point having a… in Montreal, where… You know the DMV where you pay your tickets?

Erik J. Olson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Daniel Brook:

We even got a lease right across the DMV in a shopping center, literally, very close like 20 or 30 feet away from there. I was hoping that people are going to the DMV to pay their tickets and they’ll stop by our little boutique, our little stor, on the way to settle them, but we were there for six months. I think there was two girls running it: two female lawyers. I think they were hit on, more than anything, so we just-

Erik J. Olson:

Can’t have that.

Daniel Brook:

Yeah. We just closed it. So maybe that in-person marketing didn’t work and Facebook, we won’t probably-

Erik J. Olson:

Interesting.

Daniel Brook:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Well, two completely different things, but that’s interesting because you’re trying different things. I think that’s a really good thing to do because a lot of people, they’ll just stick with one thing like you’ve mentioned Google Ads a couple of times. If it works, you’ll just stick with that. But I think you always need to be adding on different things because you never really know where your perspective clients are going to come from. And just because you and I may prefer a Google or we may prefer Facebook or we may prefer Instagram, doesn’t mean everyone else does.

Daniel Brook:

For sure.

Erik J. Olson:

Right? Yeah, interesting.

Daniel Brook:

The good part of the advertising that I’ve done over the past… it’s only about four or five years that I’ve been doing… is that our firm is not dependent on the advertising, meaning our referrals are 90% of our clients. So, it’s not a business that we were basically sitting in the office, staring at each other, hoping that this will work. So we did have the luxury of being able to run a business at 100% capacity and using Google.

Daniel Brook:

The only reason I started using Google, to be honest, is to try to expand to try to… for growth. And now you hear a lot of… I don’t know what this key word that’s going around, but to pivot and to scale. That’s the big word people are using. I don’t know how you could scale. I often think how to scale a law firm. My personal opinion is that in the domains of law that I work in, I don’t think you could scale it because when you scale something, the personal interaction goes down. I find the service… not that in a service-based industry, I would say it’s between hard and impossible to scale because I can’t manufacture shoes at a 10 time growth rate. Right?

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah.

Daniel Brook:

If I got 1,000 new clients tomorrow, well, everybody would lose because my existing clients would lose out. And those 1,000 clients, there’s no way I would be-

Erik J. Olson:

Well, the term scale, it seems to be overused. Right?

Daniel Brook:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

It’s really like a software term, in my opinion, where you can just pile on more and more customers without your expenses going up quite as much. In service based industries, marketing, legal, you, you have to increase your services, your expenses, to go along with the customers. But so speaking of growth, what are your growth plans for the next few years?

Daniel Brook:

You know what? I used to want to be at 10 lawyers. That was my… If you asked me two years ago, “What’s your goal” “To be at 10 lawyers.” I would say my plan is just to get to 10 lawyers. I wouldn’t want to exceed. I know the legal business pretty well and the bigger law firms have the reputations of being very overpriced. You’re paying… Like buying a Tiffany bracelet, you’re paying for the bag and for the lady who smiles at you when you purchase it. Right?

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah, I know.

Daniel Brook:

You’re not necessarily paying for the bracelet. It’s the same in law, the law business. Just because the lawyer charges you double what I’m charging you doesn’t mean that his service is twice as good.

Erik J. Olson:

That’s right.

Daniel Brook:

It does mean that his rent is 10 times higher than mine and that he has to bill you at three or four times the rate. Well, my goal was never to be a big firm. My goal would was up until about three years ago, I could go through my client list and tell you everybody’s name and everybody’s problems. Now, it’s a good thing I can’t anymore, but I still want to have a handle of at least half. I still want to have a personal relationship with at least half of the client, so I would say 10 is the magic number. I won’t be upset if I don’t get to 10. It’s not necessarily a hard goal, but 10 would be nice.

Erik J. Olson:

Good for you. Well, Daniel, if someone wants to reach out and ask you questions or just connect, what is a good way to connect with you?

Daniel Brook:

So, putting it up. It’s brooklegal.ca. It’s based in Montreal, so it’s +1 514 831-7776. If you want to reach me directly, my email is db@brooklegal.ca. That’s my personal email if you want to reach me out, and that’s it.

Erik J. Olson:

Cool.

Daniel Brook:

Another thing I learned from a podcast once is that if the owner answers the phone, the success rate of the sale multiplies by… I don’t know how many thousands of percent. So, believe it or not, I answer the phone at Brook Legal. We’re really busy. We get about 100 calls a day, but I’m the one who answers the phone. So if you [crosstalk 00:20:20], give a call.

Erik J. Olson:

I do the same thing. Good for you. It’s not easy to do. You want to outsource that, but it’s a great thing for you to pick up that call.

Daniel Brook:

People want to be the big shot with the secretary, but I do have a secretary, but her job is not to answer the phone, so that’s it.

Erik J. Olson:

All right. Well, I appreciate that. That was a great tip at the very end. So lots of tips: Google Ads are working for you; in-person marketing is not working, at least as far as a little boutique shop that you talked about, that was interesting; and then picking up the phone as the owner, that is definitely working. So thanks a lot.

Daniel Brook:

Thank you. Thank you, Erik.

Erik J. Olson:

All right, everybody [crosstalk 00:20:54], if you would like to check out more episodes like this, you can see our entire backlog at arraylaw.com/podcast. And also, if you’re looking for digital marketing services, then you can check out my firm Array Digital at arraylaw.com. We specialize in website design, SEO, online ads and social media. Daniel, once again, thank you.

Daniel Brook:

Thanks, Erik.

Website Design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Online Advertising, Social Media & Digital Marketing.

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