THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 179
Interview on 04.05.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Alice Paré



Managing Partner of
Paré & Associates, LLC

About Alice Paré

Alice Paré is the Managing Partner at Paré & Associates, LLC in Germantown, Maryland.

Alice worked for Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in health insurance. Her formal education was in microbiology and economics. She worked in strategic planning and market analysis.

After law school, she had little interest in working in the health care industry and found a love for the courtroom and started working as a Divorce Attorney in Maryland helping people with their legal issues at her Law Firm Alice Law or Law Office of Alice Pare.

Learn from her expertise and what trends are helping grow her 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 from Array Digital. And today we are doing another interview for the Managing Partners Podcast. On this podcast series, we interview managing partners from around the country to find out how they’re running their companies, how they’re marketing their companies, and how they’re growing their companies. And today from Germantown, Maryland, I have Alice Paré.

Alice Paré:
Good morning. How are you, Erik?

Erik J. Olson:
Hi, Alice. All right, thanks for joining us. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Alice Paré is the founder of Paré & Associates based in Germantown, Maryland. She has been practicing law for more than 30 years. And her practice focuses primarily on family law and bankruptcy, with a secondary focus on trusts and estates, criminal and personal injury. Welcome to the show.

Alice Paré:
Good morning. Thank you. Happy to be here.

Erik J. Olson:
Well, thanks for joining us and I appreciate your time. If you would, can you tell the audience a little bit more about you and your firm?

Alice Paré:
Sure. I came here from Brooklyn actually, I’m in Maryland and I set up an office in Germantown, which is a little bit outside the area where the courthouse is. So there is the greatest concentration of attorneys. So I did that for marketing advantage, less competition, the idea, a big fish in a small sea type of thing. And it’s worked, it’s been very successful for 30 years. I was able to start to grow the firm. For years I was a solo practitioner, and then I took on another attorney. We were doing just fine. The pandemic came and I think that maybe the experience here was a little bit different. We actually did a lot of work during the pandemic, more business than usual, I think people cleaned house. All of a sudden, about nine months into the pandemic, the phone stopped ringing. And I needed to figure out what to do. So I started focusing on marketing, throwing more money into the business rather than scaling back.

Erik J. Olson:
Good for you. What were some of the things that you started doing?

Alice Paré:
Well, I looked at marketing. Really, I hired a coach to tell me how to do it and what I’m doing wrong. And of course I found out that for 29 years there were a lot of things that I should have been doing and I wasn’t, but it was really looking at my business more as a business person than as a lawyer. And as I’m going through this growth process, what I’m doing is extracting myself from the day-to-day lawyering and working and aligning myself more with my, I hired a marketing person who is handling pretty much the internet and how my website communicates with the outer world. That’s really what it’s all about today, I think. And we hired a dedicated intake person.

Alice Paré:
So it’s not a paralegal, it’s not somebody who has other things to do. And we’re investing in that person, training them. We are using some YouTube, but there’s some really good intake courses out there. So we’re doing that. Another thing we’re doing is we’re tracking everything, from the initial phone call all the way through to that person either becoming a client and concluding the case, or to that person deciding to move on.

Erik J. Olson:
All right, so a lot of good nuggets there and tidbits. So, the first was treat your law firm like a business. And even in this intro, we only speak to managing partners of law firms, but then I was talking about growing your business, running your business. And it seems unfortunate, but a lot of managing partners and partners of law firms do not treat their law firms like a business, they treat it like a practice, and seems like they’re hoping for the best. And they can do well, they can do very well, but if you don’t treat it like a business, then it’s not going to grow like a business.

Erik J. Olson:
And I was recently reading a book by someone who’s done fairly well in the law industry. And he was saying that, “You have to be objective about it. Would you invest money into a company like yours, knowing how it’s run?” Probably not, because you want to invest in a business that has growth opportunities. So you need to treat it like a business and do all the right things. So I commend you for coming to that realization, because it’s a tough thing to transition from practicing law, to practicing running a business.

Alice Paré:
But I’ll tell you, I think that lawyers are particularly equipped to make that transition if you could just flip that switch. We understand the value of evidence. And when you’re doing the business, it’s understanding the value of data. So it’s, what are the number of calls that I’m getting? Where did to come from? Do I want it? And what happens with it? It’s data. So yeah, I could tell you the percentage of family law cases, I could tell you the average that each one of those cases will bring into this office, I track that. So this way I know how much I want to spend on advertising. I know the number of cases that are in the office, about how many hours we need. And so if I know that, what I can do then is then double my advertising dollars and hire another attorney, because I could break down the math. This attorney is doing that, this is how much it costs me to feed that attorney, and where’s my profit? I did that by feel, now I’m doing that by data.

Erik J. Olson:
I love it. Yeah, data turns into information, information is power. Once you have that information, you can do something with that data. So that’s fantastic. Primary focus in family law and divorce, which is why I’ve heard from many family law managing partners that the pandemic was pretty good for them. People were stuck with each other for more time than they care to be stuck with them. And yeah, you said before, a clean house. Why do you think that that period of time ended after about nine months? Which I guess, the pandemic started in March. So I’m guessing around January of 2021 is when the phones just stopped ringing. What do you think caused that?

Alice Paré:
I would say it was a little earlier. I would put it more in the October of that. Your math was right, my math was wrong, but about October. And I think that that’s relevant because that’s the beginning of the holiday season, which it typically happens, it either slows down, some things speed up. Like for instance, that’s when a good time to pick up your efforts to get domestic violence and stuff like that that happens. But people don’t initiate divorces typically at that time of year. And then I think going into the January, I think that there was just so many people who had gotten divorced, there’s only so many [crosstalk 00:07:44] at any given time. So yeah, I would say that the business wasn’t there, but also Google changed its algorithms. And I had everything geared at that.

Alice Paré:
At that point, I had a firm from India managing my website. And they are just not as in tune with what’s going on with Google and the United States. That hurt me tremendously. I think I’ll never do that again. I will keep my money in this country and I’ll just pay what it cost. It was an expensive lesson.

Erik J. Olson:
What was it like for you? What was that experience like working with a company that was outside of the country? And I ask that because that comes up a lot in our line of business. Externally the expenses much less than US-based, but you’re saying it was a mistake. So besides maybe they didn’t understand Google, what are some other obstacles that you maybe you had working with someone out of the country?

Alice Paré:
The language barrier. They’re a terrific folk to work with. There’s a lot of pride in the work, they’re very good with deliver deliverables. At least the company that I was working with, but they agreed to do some of the writing for the website for me and for blogs, and it was horrific. I’m so busy at not paying attention to those things that can hurt you, when I finally stopped and took a look, it was disarming to see bad English, mistakes, and just something you don’t want to be associated with. It’s not a doable thing. It was a great company, but you need a very crisp look.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. And yeah, it reflects on you as a company and on you personally. And certainly as lawyers, everyone who’s listening, has worked a long time to get to where they’re at, even if you’re just starting your law career, because you had to go through college and law school, but you’re working on your reputation, and reputation precedes you and integrity is important. And you certainly of don’t want to have pieces on your website that are just in broken English, so it can be compelling. And I get it, it can be compelling to go with the lowest bidder effectively. And from a technical standpoint, it can be argued that it’s the same, I would disagree based on what I’ve seen in the past. But certainly the language barrier, the cultural differences and how that’s reflected in things like copy and design, it’s hard to quantify beforehand, but you know it when you see it.

Alice Paré:
Oh yeah. I can tell you now, websites that are done in the states versus websites that are done in India just by looking.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

Alice Paré:
Yeah, I learned a lesson.

Erik J. Olson:
Going back to that fateful moment, I guess about six months into the pandemic when the phone stopped ringing and you decided you had to do something. It’s interesting, because a lot of times in business we pride ourselves on being business owners and supporting the business whatnot. But a lot of times there’s this thought in the back of your mind… Okay, I’ll speak on my experience and you can tell me if this was yours.

Alice Paré:
Sure.

Erik J. Olson:
There’s always this doubt, this thought that maybe you need to do something different, but when the phones are ringing, when everything’s status quo, everything’s fine, but then at some point you get a kick in the butt and you need to do something. Was that how you felt as well?

Alice Paré:
Yeah. And I didn’t know what to do. First I did more of the same stuff, “It’s okay. I’ll put more content into the website. What am I going to do?” I was focused more on the organic marketing approach. I always veered away from pay per clicks, and I wasn’t doing any of the more contemporary stuff like Facebook and blogs and so forth. So I started looking at that, but at the same time, about the January, February of this year, 2021, we’re way into the pandemic and it’s now five or six months, there’s no phone ringing, this organic stuff is not working. And I was coming up, I was always in the Google Maps. And so, long as you were there, you were pretty safe. And I get referrals because I’ve been practicing for such a long time. I got a solicitation several times from this guy, Bill Hauser at SMB. And I just went into that and I took a look to see what that was about. And I decided that I needed to really learn how to run a business from a marketing perspective and not as a lawyer.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah, I gotcha. I agree with you that organic can be a challenge for sure. When you were trying that, before you accepted the call or the solicitation, were you doing that on your own? Did you have a specialist that you were working with, with the strategy?

Alice Paré:
Sure. We used the Google Analytics report. So it shows you what business is coming to your website and what’s driving it there. So we relied a lot on that. And the problem with that is you’re looking at your website and what drove the business there, when what you really want to do is look at maybe some other people’s websites who are a little more successful and see what’s driving the business to them, because mine was broken. So looking at it and understanding it as if it were right was completely the wrong approach.

Erik J. Olson:
I gotcha, yeah, I’m with you. So here at Array Digital, just to provide a different perspective on that topic, we have tremendous success with organic SEO, even for companies that haven’t done it before. But there’s a tremendous amount of research, and frankly, experience and skill that goes into that to figure out what that strategy is, the keywords to go after. And like you said, Alice, it can’t be based on what you’ve done in the past for your own site necessarily, it needs to be more based on what the market wants. And every market is different. So you’re in Germantown, Maryland, there’s going to be different search results and inventory, if you will, there than in my market, which is Virginia Beach, Virginia. Now they’ll probably be pretty similar, but you go somewhere like Colorado, it could be totally different. So if you work with the right folks, I think you can get big success, but I understand switching gears.

Alice Paré:
I totally agree with you, it cannot be underestimated. And the value that something, like what you were saying, marketers who know what they’re doing. And when you start to talking about SEO, sometimes you need to know when you don’t know enough.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah.

Alice Paré:
And like, don’t do your own divorce, don’t do your own SEO. Somebody who’s schooled in that is going to be better, I think.

Erik J. Olson:
100%. And the same way that I can read a contract, and I can pretty much figure out what it says, but I’m not going to create a contract from scratch.

Alice Paré:
Right.

Erik J. Olson:
So I’m going to go to someone like you, Alice, or to a lawyer. And that’s the purpose. So I think this pertains in a lot of different areas in business, it could be legal, it could be advertising and marketing, it could be accounting, et cetera. So I think it’s really good that you came to that conclusion. I also think it’s quite gutsy that you did that, because that was a difficult time. It’s hard for us to remember, we’re recording this in November of 2021 and the world’s pretty close to normal these days, everything’s open again, but at that time, there was a lot of doubt, we didn’t know where this thing was going.

Erik J. Olson:
And so to make a decision like that, I commend you for it. But also, I think it’s interesting that it took that jolt to spark that action. And that’s happened to me multiple times in my career, that I knew something needed to change, and then I got that event and I knew I had to go do something. In retrospect, I always wished that I would have taken that action months earlier or years earlier. How do you feel about your action now with your marketing and whatnot? Do you wish you had done that 29 years earlier?

Alice Paré:
Well, I’ll tell you, even in this conversation, if I could communicate something to other lawyers, it would be, don’t use the FindLaws of the world that are coming in and taking over your website, use a powerful tool for you developing your business. The SEO doesn’t go away, and Westlaw never gives it to you, they’re driving business through directories or something and charging way too much. But when you use, like what I understand you’re doing, you are helping websites with SEO. That is so powerful for an attorney who owns that website.

Erik J. Olson:
Yeah. Well, hey, I agree with you.

Alice Paré:
It’s true. If you invest in a place like FindLaw, and then you leave, you have nothing.

Erik J. Olson:
That’s a very strong point, it’s actually part of our sales process. And the experience that we have with our clients is that you own everything, you should own the website, you should be able to take the website with you at some point. But when you use a proprietary system, you can’t take it with you. The best you can do is maybe copy the words, but that’s a long ways away from recreating a website. So if you’re going to invest money in your marketing, make sure that you have the ability to take it with you. It needs to be portable, because at some point you may want to leave for various reasons, and you don’t want to start over from scratch. Imagine starting a new website, starting SEO from scratch. You don’t want to lose that, it takes a long time to build that up. It’s an investment in your business. So make sure it’s your investment in your business, not their business.

Alice Paré:
Right. And to look at it, what it drives. Understand it, it’s important.

Erik J. Olson:
I appreciate, Alice. That was actually a great outro for me, and I didn’t have to pay you for that. [crosstalk 00:19:29]. This has been a really good conversation. I appreciate you taking the time. I didn’t get to any of the pre-planned questions because we have a really good discussion about marketing, and I think it’s great. If somebody would like to pick your brain on this topic, or maybe they have a referral for you for your business, for your firm, what is a good way to get in touch with you?

Alice Paré:
I think through my website is really the best way, alicelaw.com. And we’re on top of any communication that comes through the website within hours.

Erik J. Olson:
Thank you so much, Alice, it was a pleasure. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out other amazing episodes like this, the entire backlog of over 150 interviews is at arraylaw.com/podcast. Each episode is organized by practice area and by state, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. And if you are looking for digital marketing services for your law firm, please check out my agency, which is Array Digital. We are at arraylaw.com and we specialize in websites, SEO, online advertising and social media.

Alice Paré:
Thank you. Have a great day.

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

© Array Law
Website Design, Online Advertising, SEO, Social Media & Digital Marketing.
© Array Law