THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 177
Interview on 03.29.2022

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

Raiford Palmer



Managing Partner of
STG Divorce Law

About Raiford Palmer

Raiford Palmer is the Managing Partner of STG Divorce Law in Illinois.

Named a Super Lawyer and top-rated lawyer in Divorce & Family Law for several years, Raif concentrates his practice in high net worth and complex asset divorce matters, especially those involving business and real estate interests. He handles collaborative divorce cases as well as litigated matters and mediation. Raif has extensive legal experience in commercial litigation, business transactions, and personal injury litigation, which gives him a broader understanding of these issues in divorce matters.

He wrote the book, “I Just Want This Done, How Smart, Successful People get Divorced Without Losing Their Kids, Money, and Minds”.

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 Daisey:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another live recording of The Managing Partners Podcast. My name is Kevin Daisey, and I’ll be your host. I’m also the founder of Array Digital, where we exist to help law firms grow their practice by using digital marketing. I’m joined today by an awesome guests coming out of Chicago, Illinois area, Raif Palmer. Welcome to the show.

Raiford Palmer:
Thank you very much, Kevin. I appreciate it.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. Excited to have you on, and everyone. We’re going to be talking about a lot of different things here, but Raif really has done a lot of cool stuff with his firm. Their marketing looks tight. He’s doing some really interesting things. He’s on TikTok, where most of you probably are not, so I’m hoping you’re going to learn a lot from what he’s doing and maybe get out of your comfort zone and take your firm to the next level. So, think about some of the things that he’s got to share today and tune in, please tune in.

Kevin Daisey:
So, Raif, let’s get started. First off, your background, your story, what was that defining moment that made you become an attorney? And give us a little bit of the story to where you got to where you are today.

Raiford Palmer:
The short story about defining moment on being an attorney was when I was a kid, I dreamed of being a fighter pilot or a rockstar but my eyes were no good and I can’t sing, so my grandfather suggested I’d make a great lawyer because I like to read, I like to write, and I guess argue as well, so I think he thought I had the makings of a good attorney. But we don’t have any lawyers in our family. I’m the first one. So, I thought the competitive nature of trial practice attracted me, the gun slinger thing. So, late in college, I decided I would go to law school and close the loop on my grandfather’s suggestion that I’d be a great lawyer, and I ended up loving it. I was clerking actually before I was in law school and I liked what I saw the trial lawyers doing, and I thought, “This is going to be exciting. I want to do this.” And I wasn’t a family lawyer or divorce attorney, I started out doing actually personal injury.

Kevin Daisey:
[crosstalk 00:02:08].

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And doing auto accidents and stuff like that, and trying cases, doing that, and commercial litigation, and a lot of other things. And I had a very colorful past and I’ve reinvented my legal career a few times actually.

Raiford Palmer:
So, the defining moment about being a managing partner or wanting to own a law firm came after frustration of working as an associate for a few years and thinking I’m not getting paid what I want to make, that I’m interested in business development, and marketing, and how a business is run, and that stuff just interests me also, and I just found I had a desire to learn some of that stuff and I wanted to be at the front of the bus, not in the back. Even if it was a small bus, I wanted to be in the front. And I read Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and that blew my mind.

Kevin Daisey:
Great book.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And that changed my entire life when I read that in 1998 or 1999, and I realized at that point, I need to own a law firm. I’m going to do it some way somehow, I’m not sure how, but eventually, I’m going to figure this out and do it. So, that’s how it started.

Kevin Daisey:
I love it. And how many attorneys that I know or have talked to or got to interview, you don’t start out knowing how to run a business. And a lot of attorneys don’t still know how to run a business. They’re a lawyer and they’re a technician, right, they’re a practitioner. And so I’m all about business and running businesses, no matter what the business is, but you got to get that figured out. So, if you’re listening right now too, you’re running a business and that’s what you got to get good at, so I love that. Great book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. I think about two years ago was the first time I actually read it, so a little bit late to the game, but yeah, a great book. Everyone should check that out.

Raiford Palmer:
Absolutely. It’s like a fundamental. I have my sons read it and they’re in college. If you have that mindset, it helps set the course for the rest of your life. I wish I’d read it sooner, but it was in enough time to help me out, so yeah, I recommend it to anybody’s reading for sure.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. So yeah, to your point, my son is 10, my daughter’s eight. That book makes me think a lot about what I say and do and how I treat them and how they understand when they want to buy something or get money from a birthday card or whatever, and what we’re going to do with it and what it means. So, definitely something that everyone should take a look at that, if you haven’t read that book.

Kevin Daisey:
So, let’s transition over to you started your own firm, you’ve shifted gears. You started out in PI. What do you specialize in now? What is your firm known for? And give us a little bit of a profile maybe on the firm itself.

Raiford Palmer:
Sure. I’ve owned a couple different firms. This firm I joined in 2009, STG Divorce Law. I co-own it with my wife actually, Juli Gumina is my partner, we own it. And I’ve been with the firm now, whatever, it’s been about 11 years or so, and I’ve been the managing shareholder for three years now, so since the beginning of 2018, and had a management role before that, but officially became the managing shareholder in beginning of ’18. So, I’ve owned and managed a law firm in the past in the early 2000s and then had my own firm for a while, then came to this firm.

Raiford Palmer:
So, we are a 15 attorney divorce practice. We do other bits and pieces of family law, but divorce is the main thing. We have four offices, 15 lawyers, and we are in the Chicagoland area in Illinois. So, that’s a little sketch about our firm. We’ve been around since 1994, so we’ve got long term legacy in the practice and have a great reputation and we intend to keep it and grow it.

Kevin Daisey:
And that’s a good size family law firm. That’s pretty large actually. Typically, a six, seven is what I come across at the biggest.

Raiford Palmer:
We’re the largest outside of downtown Chicago, we’re the biggest divorce firm in Illinois, outside of Chicago.

Kevin Daisey:
Okay. Well, that makes sense. So yeah, congratulations on that then. And so divorce is your big thing and I want to talk about how you get clients.

Raiford Palmer:
Sure.

Kevin Daisey:
… next. It is a big piece. Obviously, we do digital marketing for law firms. All I like to know is how do law firms run and how do they get clients, and that’s pretty much it. But tell me what have you guys done that’s really been successful to get clients marketing in the Illinois area?

Raiford Palmer:
So, we’ve transitioned dramatically in the last few years to internet marketing and social media. Since we’re a legacy firm, a large portion of our business when I took over management was referrals and past clients sending folks. So, we had a huge percentage of that driving our business, which scared me because you don’t want to rely on that. Hopefully, you do a good job for folks and they keep coming back, and that grew us from one attorney to 12 or 13, but I realized market share is getting gobbled up by lots of upstart law firms who are being savvy in the internet market space, they had good social, they were running pay per click, their websites were good. And we’d been pretty good in the web I’d say about 2000 till about 2010, 2012, we had a great website, we had good natural search results on Google, so we were doing pretty well on that, but I saw our fresh clients declining, our internet referral percentage dropping very slowly and that got my attention.

Raiford Palmer:
So, first, I was getting metrics to figure out how we were doing and look at our business sources. We didn’t really track that stuff very well in the past. So, measuring that stuff was really important so we could see where it was coming from and start dashboarding and seeing what was going on. And then we were able to diagnose the problem. And I knew our social media game was weak, our website need a major revamp, so we rebranded. This logo was part of that. And changing the names of people to a brand that would last beyond certain people leaving or coming and going so we could create a lasting brand was also important and a way of thinking rather than just this person or that person, like a cult of personality.

Raiford Palmer:
So, building a constellation of information around website, social, pay per click, building, that constellation has been my major mission in the last few years.

Kevin Daisey:
Excellent.

Raiford Palmer:
And so we’ve shifted our business dramatically from 80% referral and people we know to about 50% or under 50%, now we’re getting a lot of raw, fresh business from internet sources of all kinds.

Kevin Daisey:
Which you can turn into more referrals.

Raiford Palmer:
Absolutely. But you’re shoveling fresh colon into the engine rather than continuing to mine the same sources, and that’s really the engine driving a lot of the growth.

Kevin Daisey:
I love it actually. And that’s how I started my business. I started my company in ’06 doing websites and SEO, and that was much where I stood, and I was all referral. I had to go out and find it. I had to network. It was local. That was it. But yeah, it would scare me if it’s all I had now, we couldn’t do that. But this is where you got to start. You got to do good work, you got to get referrals, reach out to other attorneys, have mentors, people that can refer you. Maybe the previous place you worked, if they don’t handle divorce, but they handle PI, they can send you… It’s a great way to start.

Raiford Palmer:
And these things all work if you execute on them. You have to be consistent and persistent in executing. You have to pick a couple of channels, but we have the resources to pursue several channels. So, we can afford pay per click, we can afford a great website, a I have folks doing writing for it, all these things, and social media. I have the time and the wherewithal to crank out videos on TikTok. Not everybody can do that. That’s okay. If you’re smaller scale, you have to pick something and focus on it and execute, and if that doesn’t work, shift to the next thing and execute.

Raiford Palmer:
And some folks, if you’re starting out or whatever, you’re not going to have the time or the resources to chase down shooting a bunch of video on TikTok, but maybe you’ve got time to prep a bunch of tweets on Twitter or create a bunch of posts on LinkedIn and drop them over the following week, and batch them and get them out there, or like you said, human networking isn’t dead. It’s just that you have to be good at pursuing it and create a system.

Kevin Daisey:
No, 100%. Everything you said, I agree with. And also too, everyone listening and tuning in, if you’re on video, the website address is right below.

Raiford Palmer:
Well, thank you.

Kevin Daisey:
If you’re listening on their podcast, it’s STGlaw.com, short and sweet, STG law.com. Check it out. It’s a really cool site. I like their brand. Nice and fresh and clean. Not like your traditional law firm website. I think it looks good. I like your logo and brand.

Kevin Daisey:
Some of the things you said there, I want to pick up on, is one, all the channels online work, whether or not you get them to work for you the first time you took a stab at it or whoever you hired, or if you try to do it in-house, maybe it didn’t, but SEO works, a good website works, advertising works, social media, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. I’ve had folks on here from every type of law practice area that have had it and make it work. And I think sometimes attorneys are like, “Well, that won’t work for me. That’s not going to work for me.” And that’s not the case.

Kevin Daisey:
And there’s another gentleman that we’re actually talking with now. He was a guest on… He’s got 500,000 followers on the TikTok. He’s an old, White guy, lawyer. You would think, “There’s no way this guy’s on TikTok, and he shouldn’t have 500,000 followers.” So, people are doing it and it works for them. And so I guess get it out of your mind that, “Ah, that doesn’t work. I tried it once before.” I had someone tell me that earlier with SEO. Yeah, “I tried SEO. It doesn’t work.”

Raiford Palmer:
Well, you’re making a good point. These things are all cumulative games, they’re games of incremental improvement, and like SEO, it doesn’t work in a month. It takes a long time to build up. And an SEO strategy, and you’re the expert on this, but I’ve learned you can’t keyword stuff a website anymore and call it a day, say divorce lawyer, divorce lawyer, divorce lawyer, all in black on a black screen. Google figured that out a long time ago, folks. Smart SEO, it takes time and money, and it’s a lengthy period of time, but you will build over time. And the other forms of marketing are the same thing. When I started on TikTok, my mom and my sister followed me, but you do a video that… and then the algorithm on TikTok is wired to be viral.

Raiford Palmer:
So, you have a video that gets a good watch time, TikTok shares it to a bunch of other people, and a eventually the algorithm starts to figure out who likes your stuff. So, if people watch similar videos, it’s blowing that video to larger numbers of people, and the algorithm sends it to your followers originally, then if they like it, a bigger group of people, and a bigger group of people. And even though I have 14,000 some followers right now, started out with zero, but I’ll have a video that hits 75,000 views and a bunch of shares if it’s the right topic. And sometimes you have no idea what’s going to be viral or what interests people. You just have to keep taking shots every day. To use the hockey analogy, the more shots on goal you have, the more you’re going to score. It’s very simple.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s right.

Raiford Palmer:
It’s just persistence and keeping at it, and also watching other folks who are successful. Like you said, watch this guy who’s got 500,000 followers. Look at his videos. What’s he doing that you’re not doing? Maybe it’s not something you want to do, but-

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah, what’s you, what works for you, and be natural, be yourself. I watched a bunch of your videos, and everyone, you can take a look and follow him. It’s just Raiford Palmer on TikTok, and you’re on some other places as well, but-

Raiford Palmer:
That’s me like everywhere. My name on Facebook, Insta, TikTok, Twitter. I’m really all over the place.

Kevin Daisey:
Well, I’m lucky like you. Kevin Daisey, there’s a D-A-I-S-E-Y, I got that everywhere, so there’s not two of them, which is good. But yeah, you have to find what works for you, be yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not, just have fun with it. We had a film crew in here yesterday and I made, I think six reels for Instagram, and those can go out the next couple weeks, so Tuesdays and Thursdays and whatever. And reels are new for me personally, and so we got people that do it all for us, we pay them to come in, I got people that post it. So yeah, if you don’t have the resources, just start messing with it. SEO… Yeah, you got your phone. Yeah.

Raiford Palmer:
All you need is this, folks. I do all my TikTok on this thing. Half of the posts, I do myself and edit them with TikTok’s app and drop them on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and then I have a team that does some editing and does some nice graphics on some of them Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but you don’t need a team to do it. You can shoot them yourself on your phone. There’s a million tools out there that are free or low cost to help edit these things. It’s just a matter of, if you have time, great, you can put in the time, if you have money, you can have someone else leverage their time to do it.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. 100%. And I think that goes with just anything we’re talking about, right? There’s different channels, there’s different SEO, which I believe in that strongly. It’s somewhat logical and scientific on, okay, here’s what we’re going after, here’s what we’re going to write, and back links we’re going to get, but you sometimes don’t always know which one’s going to really hit it, and you’re putting out more content. Just like with TikTok, you don’t know which video is going to just whatever, for whatever reason, blow up and take off. So, you just got to keep putting stuff out, you got to be consistent.

Raiford Palmer:
Right. And one other tip I would have for people is know your business and understand how people in that market find you. So, for example, you mentioned before the show, LinkedIn, and how you’ve got a presence on LinkedIn. I’m there too, but we’re really a direct to consumer business. Folks are looking for divorces, they’re looking online at night or during the day, and they’re searching for divorce law firms, typically, maybe they’re asking a friend, but it’s usually not a B2B type thing. It’s rare to get referrals from LinkedIn.

Raiford Palmer:
But occasionally, a lawyer on LinkedIn, like a business attorney will say, “I have my client who needs to talk to someone about a divorce.” So it does happen, but for us, it’s more of the direct to consumer, so Facebook’s big for our demo. Our demo is 35 to 55-year-old folks, they’re on Facebook, they’re also on Instagram, but they’re not on Snapchat. Now, eventually, they will be. Our folks are going to get older and now older people are trending on TikTok. My dad’s on TikTok now. He’s in his mid 70s. So, it’s find the thing that works for your market, like we said, and then take a stab at it, don’t give up after a short period of time though. It’s going to take time but you’ll find it builds. And a lot of content can be recycled as well. You don’t have to use it only once.

Kevin Daisey:
Repurpose, and that’s something that we try to do here. Like this episode right now that we’re filming, this is going to be on YouTube, it’s going to be on our website, it’s going to be on the podcast, the audio version, it’s going to be probably a half a dozen micro content pieces, Instagram stories, Instagram post, it’ll be all over the place, for my company and me personally, LinkedIn, Facebook, from one 15 minute episode that we’re recording right now. And so don’t put all the effort in and then stop at that one piece. Take that one bit of effort you put in and 10X that.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And with the technology, it’s just easier and easier to do. You do a podcast or you shoot a video, you can extract the transcript, you can pull the audio off of it. The tech makes it so easy to do this. These are things that were impossible without sophisticated technology several years ago, and now this is stuff that apps on your phone can do.

Kevin Daisey:
It really is. And we actually do transcripts for this too on our website, it gives us good SEO value. So, there’s just so many things you can do. And if you can’t afford to hire, like, say my company, we’re an agency where we do the work for you, Fiverr. You can go online and hire people that can just do simple tasking for you. You can get a virtual assistant. So, there’s cheaper other ways to get it done and just find those small tasks that you’re just like, “You know what, I can’t do it,” and get someone else to do it for a fair price.

Raiford Palmer:
Absolutely.

Kevin Daisey:
So, yeah. And then there’s just so many things out there. Buffer, there’s other apps you can use to load up your social media. Have a social media planning day, fill up your Buffer, which basically allows you to put all the posts in there and post them later for you. Facebook, you can schedule posts. Spend a couple hours one day and then you’re done for the rest of the week, or maybe even the rest of the month, it depends on how many you want to post.

Raiford Palmer:
We use Sprout Social and we have everything pre-loaded in there and everything’s planned ahead of time, and the content drops at regular intervals. And also you do the research and find out when your content’s going to get the most viewers, views, and shares, and then you’re dropping it at the appropriate time, so the more eyeballs see the content.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. All that’s available. Just Google best time to post on Instagram, best time to post on LinkedIn. People have done all this study and information and all you got to do is go look for it. So yeah. There’s no reason for anyone not to do it other than they’re either scared to do it, they don’t think it’s going to work, or they think they don’t have the time.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And also, I would say, don’t think you can’t get an audience. You may say, “Well, there’s somebody else doing it.” Yeah, but they’re not you, and they’re not in your particular area, and maybe there’s somebody in Florida doing it but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You’re in Illinois, New York state or somewhere else. There will be an audience that likes you and wants to follow your content, so don’t worry that there are three other people doing it on Instagram, or don’t feel like you’re copying somebody. Don’t let that bother you. There will be an audience for you as well.

Kevin Daisey:
Well, yeah. Think about it like this. So, say you’re a law firm in Chicago and your office is right here and you’re the only one for like 10 mile for years, and then boom, here comes another law firm next door. They’re going to take some of your market share, they’re right next to you. Google My Business is going to get ranked, they’re going to get SEO value, they’re going to start taking your customers. So, you either could do something about it and play in the game or not. And that’s what you said in the beginning, 80% referrals, and there’s all these new firms popping up that are doing cool, exciting things, they’re paperless, they’re virtual, and you got to do something about it, you got to step it up and get in front of these people.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And we’ve really been leading into the technology. We’re an all remote law firm now. We have physical locations but they’re really just to meet clients and our lawyers have a place to go if they need to, maybe their kids are distracting them or something unique around the house, but we went all virtual at the beginning of the pandemic and we’re staying that way. And it’s worked out beautifully. The tech has worked really well. I’m actually in my home office now. So, we’ve found a huge advantage to leveraging the technology, and our clients enjoy it as well.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s awesome. But that’s what you got to do. You can’t stay stagnant, you got to pivot, you got to get out of your comfort zone, TikToks and all the cool stuff that’s happening out there. But all these channels, no matter what they are, all these different things can work and they’re working for the people that put the time and attention into it. So, I think that’s a great lesson out of what you had to share here today. Check out his TikTok too everyone and see what he’s done. He’s answering questions.

Kevin Daisey:
And there’s another good book, which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, is They Ask You Answer. It’s a gentleman that I’ve actually got to meet before, it’s Marcus Sheridan. But he had a pool company, so not a law firm, but he started blogging any question that ever came in from any customer. He had a pretty big pools and spa company. Oh, my camera’s [inaudible 00:23:24] focusing on my mic. There we go. And so basically he started just writing an article responding to every question any client ever asked. How much does the pool cost? What’s the right size of a pool? What’s the difference between vinyl and a liner pool? Whatever. And his business has made… they’re like the biggest pool company in the country now, but he wrote a book about it called They Ask You Answer. And so that’s what Raif’s really done really well on TikTok, is people have asked, all over the internet, questions, comments, and he answers them. And it’s all about divorce and it’s great. You got a huge library on there too of videos that you’ve posted.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And once people start following and they ask the questions, it makes shooting the videos easy, because half of them, you’re just answering the questions and the viewers are driving the content, so you don’t have to sit there worrying about, “Well, what am I going to talk about?”

Kevin Daisey:
Exactly. So, I have another podcast called the Journey to 100 Million, it’s my personal podcast with my business partner, and we have over 1,000 episodes, and that’s just me on video by myself talking about something, and that’s a pain. I got to make a list of what am I going to talk about this week? What happened in the company with my employees, my team, clients, whatever? And that usually becomes my list, but it takes a good bit of effort to figure out what I’m going to talk about, so it’s nice when you get the questions and you can just answer them.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. The viewers end up driving the content, so it becomes fairly easy to build it. And then when people see you’re responsive, you get more viewers because people say, “Well, great. Maybe he’ll answer my question,” and it grows.

Kevin Daisey:
And then also, I mean with divorce, I think, specifically, that’s not a wake up in the middle of the night and go, “Ha, I’m going to get a divorce today.” People spend time, a year, a year and a half. They’re seasonal, to some degree, right? Holidays coming up. Not a lot of divorces happen at the holidays.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. It tends to be definitely seasonal, so it slows down a bit in the summer, picks up in the fall, slows down for the holidays, picks up again after the holidays. Yeah, absolutely true.

Kevin Daisey:
So, they have to be immersed and feel like they know you, and if they do, when they’re like, “You know what, I’m ready to make this decision.” I’ve been watching your videos and I feel like I know you. And I’ve had clients come to me saying, “I feel like I know you, I’m ready to sign up with you guys now.” And I’m like, “I don’t even know who these people are.” But it works, and I’ve seen it happen and it’s happened with me, and I’m sure you get that happen with you.

Raiford Palmer:
Absolutely. You build up credibility through social because people really feel like they know you and you build up trust before they even come in the door. You’re absolutely right. That’s very unique change in a service business where they maybe saw an ad in the Yellow Pages back… I’m old enough to have had Yellow Pages and watch them die too, by the way. But people would come-

Kevin Daisey:
I helped them die, I think.

Raiford Palmer:
Well, yeah. And then I switched over, as the tech changed, we built a website and all that, so we made it fine, but it was an interesting time seeing that transition occur right before our eyes where we would get 75 calls a month from our Yellow Pages ad, then it was 65, then it was 50, and it was 30, and it was like you’re literally watching it die off in real time. And the credibility you’d have to build from the minute they walked in, so what does the office look like, was very important, still important, to some extent-

Kevin Daisey:
How do you answer the phone.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. All those things were, and obviously, still important, but far more important back then when nobody really knew anything about you or your law firm until they walked in the door, now a lot of them are pre-sold because they’ve been reading the articles, seeing you on social media, seeing Google reviews and they say, “Well, this guy’s awesome.” They have no qualms about coming in and meeting with you. It’s, to some extent, perfunctory when they come in for [crosstalk 00:27:22] people.

Kevin Daisey:
Or better yet, “He answered my question online.”

Raiford Palmer:
Right.

Kevin Daisey:
How powerful is that? “Who else would I go to?” Unless I was not in your state and I couldn’t work with you or something, but other than that, it would be like, “You answered my question. I’m not going with anybody else. You already helped me for free.” So, I think that’s just super powerful. And I think, think about seeing a billboard with an attorney on it, in a nice suit, sitting there, “Call us now.” You have no allegiance to that person and don’t even know who they are, and that billboard can’t replace like a video where you’re online talking and giving helpful tips. There’s just no way.

Raiford Palmer:
Well, one of the thing is you’re meeting them when they’re looking, thanks to social being 24/7, and those posts are all out there. If it’s midnight and they want to go through my videos and find something that interests them, they can. If they’re Googling, they can do it any time they want. The doors don’t have to be open in the law firm, and they’re able to make a connection with you 24/7, 365, and that’s powerful. Basically, your marketing force is awake 24/7 working for you. Then of course, the next thing is, are you ready to accept those calls when they do come in and can you deliver quickly? And you better have an infrastructure to deal with the folks when they want to come in and talk to you.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. How’s your intake process next?

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. Do you want me to talk about that?

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. Tell me what you guys do for that and how you manage your case pipeline. What’s that looking like?

Raiford Palmer:
Sure. So, we formalized an intake team a few years back. We used to have just our paralegals would answer the calls as they came in, and that wasn’t their main job, so it was sort of a distraction for them to handle new client calls. Well, that’s not a great way to approach new client calls because they’re the life blood of the law firm. So, we had asked one of our paralegals to become an intake specialist, and we did some training. She agreed to do it. She wasn’t sure that she’d be busy enough doing it. I felt otherwise. And it became her full-time job. And then we added two more people to that team.

Raiford Palmer:
So, we have three full-time intakers and their mission in life is getting those people in the door, getting consults scheduled, vetting them, running conflicts checks, all that stuff. And it’s down to a well-oiled machine at this point. And they collect the consultation fee for the people where we charge the fee. They vet people, like I said, and pre-qualify clients. They listen to their story, they talk to them and make a connection. We have people who are great listeners, and then schedule the consultation. So, it’s working out very well at this point.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s awesome.

Raiford Palmer:
And also they’re entering data into our system, so we have notes, and we know what these folks are asking about when they come in. So, when the consultation occurs, the attorneys have the information they need and can have an effective consult. We had a much more rough system before with really no follow ups and an old school system where people called and it was much more ad hoc, and so we systematized it and it’s worked out very well.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s excellent. Kudos on you for that.

Raiford Palmer:
Thank you.

Kevin Daisey:
We’re an agency, but that’s been the biggest difference for us as far as… we don’t have like an intake call problem necessarily, but just client onboarding and that whole experience from the start, to onboarding, to the first day, to the first month, to the first 90 days, and for us, it’s a longer relationship of course, with the client, but all those things matter. And I beat my team up literally weekly, daily, about how important that is and how we should always be improving it. But you have to have a system in place, it can’t be ad hoc. Follow up is massive.

Raiford Palmer:
Absolutely right.

Kevin Daisey:
I’ve had employees be like, “Well, I emailed them like a couple days ago. I contacted them.” And like, yeah, how many attorneys are checking their email every day? And they don’t even know they were contacted at all because they might not even see the email. So, we’re going to call, we’re going to text, we’re going to email, and you’re going to do it again before the end of the day until they say, “Stop.”

Raiford Palmer:
That’s right. Persistence pays off, and hitting all the modalities, or whatever their preferred form of communication is. If they text you, you text them. Don’t make them switch channels. If they’re DMing you on Instagram, you DM them on Instagram. You don’t say, “Oh, call me at this number.” You’re going to lose folks in the gap who are going to say, “Well, why don’t I just text you on Instagram? Why are you making me call you?” You have to meet the clients where they’re at and not force them to switch to whatever modality you like. And there are a lot of law firms do that. Like, “You got to call us at this phone number.” Why are you doing that?

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. So, for the firms out there, think of about that too. A lot of firms, especially the new ones, I’ve had a lot of the younger firms that started in COVID which I wanted to have on as guests to hear their stories about their struggles, but they had no choice. They’re like, “I’m paperless, I’m virtual, and I meet clients wherever they need one to meet. I don’t care if it’s on TikTok, or LinkedIn, or Instagram, or whatever,” they don’t care and they’re doing it. And so they’re taking advantage of the landscape that’s out there.

Raiford Palmer:
And as the clientele gets older, these kids grew up with a phone in their hand. They’re going to be your paying clients. If they aren’t already, they’re going to be soon, and if you don’t meet them where they’re at, they’re not going to call you, they’re going to call the young guy that just started his law firm down the street and is willing to text them and willing to set up a consult DMing on Instagram.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. You got to think about metaverse, and you got to think about cryptocurrencies and accepting that stuff at some point. There’s all kinds of changes that are happening and they’re all going to happen faster as technology speeds up. You’re just going to be trying to keep up.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. And the reality is occurring and the rate of change increases, and lawyer don’t like that. I know, I don’t love it either. I started as a lawyer in ’94, and tech is fun for me, I’ve always been interested in computers, software, hardware, and technology, a lot of lawyers aren’t, but I find it fun, but it’s a reality and that wave has hit our beach later than most other service industries. So, it’s hit the travel industry, it’s hit the stock broke- You don’t call your broker anymore. You don’t go to your bank anymore. You can buy a car on your phone.

Kevin Daisey:
It’s crazy. Isn’t it?

Raiford Palmer:
So, you have to understand that that’s the world everybody’s living in now. Yeah, you’re not just ordering a pizza on the phone, you can buy a car on your phone. And so that’s the kind of world we’re living, and the lawyers are really risking their business success by not acknowledging that and not moving toward that. And since we’re a controlled monopoly in the United States, we’ve been able to pull off on some of that, but there are lawyers catching on and they’re doing this stuff, and if you fail to do it, you’re really putting your success of your business in jeopardy. You don’t have to do it all at once, but you have to start moving towards it, incrementally at least, and get started.

Kevin Daisey:
And COVID just sped it way up.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. Well, one thing I’d say is we meant to go remote in five years. Our vision was we were going to be an all remote law firm in five years, when I wrote out our plan, and it happened in five weeks because of COVID.

Kevin Daisey:
Hey, well I got this plan here, and let’s just…

Raiford Palmer:
Well, like people said, when are we coming back? And I talked to my business partner and said, “Why don’t we tell them we’re never coming back?” And they said, “Okay, that sounds great.” And they actually said, “You’re not going to make us come back. Are you?” And we said, “No, we’re really serious. We’re not going back.” And everything’s been on Zoom ever since then, stand up meeting at 8:45, attorney meeting every Thursday, staff meetings, all this stuff is on Zoom-

Kevin Daisey:
Love it.

Raiford Palmer:
… and we’re all remote. And there are folks that go into the physical office, but even when we have meetings, they’re on Zoom in their own offices, not sitting together, because we didn’t want to create this in office, out of office tribal thing, which is what happens when… I think hybrid is not a good plan because-

Kevin Daisey:
I gotcha. Yeah.

Raiford Palmer:
… you create two tribes. You create the in office tribe and the out of office tribe, and then people play favorites and all this trouble starts.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s a good point.

Raiford Palmer:
So, I think you either go all the way, one, or all the way to the other. I would urge people, from what I’ve read and what I’m seeing, either go all remote or be in the office, and I think hybrid ultimately will not be successful for folks.

Kevin Daisey:
That’s a good point right there. I haven’t had anyone tell me that before, and I didn’t even think about it myself. We went all remote. I’m in the office right now. We have an office that we own. So, we know we didn’t have to expand the office footprint, which is good. So, me and my business partner and my other president of another firm that I own, we’re in the office full time, but the rest of my team, I have 22 people that are completely at home. We do get together and have lunch that we pay for every other week. We do have a lot of people that are different states, Florida, we have eight, I think, so we got some people spread out, which can’t get together anyway.

Kevin Daisey:
So, we’ve avoided the whole tribal thing because it’s really just some of the owners and leaders hang out in the office, but that’s about it. But I can see that being a problem if you had a handful of employees in the office every day hanging out with the owners and the leaders versus the people that were just at home, feeling like they’re disadvantaged for some reason.

Raiford Palmer:
Well, sure. And you’ve got the boss sees these people at their desks, and they’re BSing, and they’re having nice little side conversations, and the tendency is what you see is what you’re paying attention to. And remote has forced us to be better managers by increasing the level of communication And making us do one-to-one meetings every week with every person, and all the things you’re really supposed to do as a good manager, we had to implement that stuff because you can’t just manage by lunch meetings or by ad hoc, walking around the office, talking to people. Remote makes you manage better because you have to put in those systems and professionalize your management, and really, you should do it when you’re in the office too. People have an illusion that, “Well, since I see these people, I’m managing them well.”

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. I talked to them earlier, so that was a one-on-one, right?

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. Right.

Kevin Daisey:
In the lunchroom.

Raiford Palmer:
When I got coffee, I saw the guy, so everything must be good. And you don’t know that.

Kevin Daisey:
Well, another kudos to you, because have you read the book Traction?

Raiford Palmer:
Oh, absolutely. That was another good one.

Kevin Daisey:
Okay. So yeah, we have every morning huddles for the whole team-

Raiford Palmer:
We do too.

Kevin Daisey:
… and we’ve gotten a little too big, so we now have like a sales team huddle, and we have an operations huddle, and every manager has one-on-ones with their team members, all, each one of them every week.

Raiford Palmer:
Us too. Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
We have company meetings every month and that’s more of me and my partner company vision where we’ve been, where we’re going. But those things are crucial and we’ve been doing it for about three years now, maybe four years actually. But when we first got a daily huddle, everyone’s like, “What?”

Raiford Palmer:
“Why are you wasting your time with us?”

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. But it’s when we get together and we’re virtual, so we get to see everyone every day, and make sure that no one’s siloed, make sure everyone’s good to go. And then we have the one-on-ones, so we really find out, “Hey, is everything good?” And we don’t talk about work if we can help it.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. You’re right. It made a big difference for us, and especially going through the pandemic when people were scared and everybody was very concerned, we had folks tell us that if we didn’t have the 8:45, they said, “I don’t know how’d get out of bed and get dressed because it motivates me to get going and have a benchmark about, okay, the work day starts now.” And our office opens at 8:30 and the lawyers typically start at 9:00, or they have court or whatever, and so it was an important touchstone every day, and it still is. Like you said, “Everybody okay? Any last minute issues? Anybody need court covered?” Okay, ready, go. And it’s like five minutes, maybe 10. And if folks want to stay on and talk about some issue, they can, but most people break and go do what they have to do. But yeah, you’re right. It forced us to be systematic about things, Wickman’s book is excellent. I recommend it to anybody.

Kevin Daisey:
I got to meet him a couple weeks ago and got a signed autographed copy.

Raiford Palmer:
That’s cool.

Kevin Daisey:
But I’ve had it for quite a few years. I think I’ve read it twice. My business partner has read it twice. We just keep going back and saying, “All right, what else did we not do yet?”

Raiford Palmer:
Sure.

Kevin Daisey:
But the EOS system is another thing to look into, which is the entrepreneurs operating system, which is what the book’s based on.

Kevin Daisey:
Well, cool. I don’t want to take out too much of your time. Last question. What do you see coming down the pike? What’s the plans for the next couple years for your firm?

Raiford Palmer:
Plans are further expansions. We added two lawyers in the beginning of the year. We added two newbies at the beginning of the year. We just hired two very experienced lawyers, one out of a state’s attorney’s office, she’s a great trial lawyer, and the other one has several years divorce experience. And we are expanding in downtown Chicago. We do work there, but we’re really going to add lawyers who will be dedicated to that location. And we want to grow into the other county. We already serve all the counties around Chicago, but we want to add local offices in those. So, we already have four, and we use Regis and other similar places to get office locations when we rent actual space there. So, we’re going to expand further.

Raiford Palmer:
So, we have a local presence in every one of the communities that we serve so folks can do consultations with us there and helps with marketing. Obviously, online marketing, helps to have a local location as well.

Kevin Daisey:
Google My Business, yeah. Get your map listing, start ranking for that area. Good to go. Yeah. Well, I really enjoyed talking to you. It’s really cool to see what you’re doing and-

Raiford Palmer:
Thanks.

Kevin Daisey:
… the other goal would be a million followers on TikTok. You got [crosstalk 00:42:07].

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah. So, anybody wants to follow me, I’d appreciate it.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. Check him out. Raiford Palmer. It’s down at the bottom of your screen, if you’re checking this out. If you’re listening, it’s R-A-I-F-O-R-D Palmer.

Raiford Palmer:
Yeah.

Kevin Daisey:
Check him out.

Raiford Palmer:
Like, share, and follow please. We appreciate it.

Kevin Daisey:
I’m going to. Don’t worry. I looked at it on my desktop, which I’m not logged into that to just watch a couple, but I’ll get on my phone here shortly and should be sure to follow you. But a lot of good tips and lessons here, everyone. If you’re listening to this episode, talked about a lot of different things, everything from marketing, to technology, and working remote, and managing your teams. So, a lot of things covered. I would definitely check this episode out again if you are turning in now, and Raif, I just appreciate you sharing everything today.

Raiford Palmer:
My pleasure, Kevin. Thanks for having me.

Kevin Daisey:
Yeah. Also, check out their website, also a really nice job with the website and their branding, their style, everything like that. So, STGlaw.com. This episode will be up live soon on our website, arraylaw.com/podcast. So, if you search by Illinois, or divorce, or family law, you should be able to find Raif, he’ll be up there soon. We’ve had over 150, probably 170. We just don’t have them all on the website yet, but been quite the year of interviews, and so all kinds of great content on there. Go check out the episodes that we have.

Kevin Daisey:
And of course, if you need help going the direction that Raif is going, check us out. Arraylaw.com. We help law firms grow through digital marketing, websites, SEO, social media, and advertising, and check us out. So, Raif, anything else you want to add before we go?

Raiford Palmer:
No. Thank you very much for the opportunity. It was my pleasure.

Kevin Daisey:
Yes, sir. Well, thank you. Stay on with me. Everyone else, will see you soon, will see you in the next episode.

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