THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 180
Interview on 04.07.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

John Fisher



Managing Partner of
John H. Fisher, P.C.

About John Fisher

John Fisher is the Managing Partner at John H. Fisher, P.C.

John limits his practice to catastrophic injury law for injury victims in New York State. He has been cited as a legal expert on numerous occasions by TRIAL magazine of the American Association for Justice and the New York Law Journal, and he speaks frequently for the New York State Bar Association, The National Trial Lawyers, PILMMA, Great Legal Marketing, and county and regional bar associations concerning law practice management, internet marketing for lawyers, referral-based marketing and trial skills.

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 Olson:
Hey, everybody. I am Erik J. Olson, your host of The Managing Partners Podcast, where we speak to managing partners from across the country to find out how they started their companies, how they’re running their firms, how they’re growing their firms and how they’re keeping their case pipeline full. And today I have with me, I’m very excited, John Fisher. How are you doing, John?

John Fisher:
Hey, I’m great. Thank you, Erik. Appreciate it.

Erik Olson:
For those that don’t already know you, let me introduce you. Here’s his bio. John Fisher is the founder and managing partner of John H. Fisher, a medical malpractice law firm in New York. He is the author of The Power Of A System: How To Build the Injury Law Practice of Your Dreams, available at ultimateinjurylaw.com. By the way, I listened to that book and it is excellent. He also has a new book named The Law Firm Of Your Dreams, available on amazon.com. He also heads The Mastermind Experience, an exclusive Mastermind for personal injury lawyers. Welcome to the show, John.

John Fisher:
Thank you, Erik. Appreciate it.

Erik Olson:
Besides what’s in the bio, which is, there’s a lot of stuff in there, but tell us a little bit more about you, your firm, when you started the firm, things like that.

John Fisher:
June 2nd, 2010 was the day I got let go by my firm. I’d worked there my whole career, about 14 years, and I didn’t know what to do. And so basically, I’m completely shocked, get called into a partners meeting. They said it’s time that we part ways. And at that point, I had no clue to what to do. But in December 2010, I went to a [inaudible 00:01:42] and what I knew I had to do was to take the information that was in my mind and get it down on paper and document every core process, every system and policy that I had. I started writing and writing. And then, I kept writing more. Everything from marketing management to the technical aspects of writing firm, administrative minutia, I wrote it all. It took about two and a half years. I completed it, I packaged it into a book that’s called The Power Of A System.

John Fisher:
And when I got done, my publisher Advantage Media said, “There is way too much information in here. This could be three books.” And I said, “I don’t care. Put it all out there.” And I gave it away. There really was a very selfish motive in doing this, which was, I wanted to document the core processes of our law firm so we wouldn’t be repeating tasks over and over again. And anyone at our firm would know exactly what to do at any given moment. If you get The Power Of A System, you might think, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t sound like a book about law firm marketing and management. This seems like a book that sets forth the game plan, the office policies for this lawyer’s firm.” And that’s exactly what it is.

John Fisher:
You’re getting the inside map of how we do things. Everything. Scheduling depositions, settlements, trial preparation, you name it. Hiring and firing, even opening the front door. Everything is packaged into The Power Of A System. And so, I gave it away. When I first went to a partner’s meeting, because this book had been in the works for quite a long to time, the lawyers in my firm, we were about seven or eight, they said, “This is absolutely idiotic, that you would give away everything that you know.” And I said, “No one else is doing it, so why not?” And so, I just gave it away. What I found, Erik, is that the best thing that anyone can do is when you give away everything that you know, it comes back to you in spades. It’s $26, but I give it away for free.

John Fisher:
If anyone asks me for a signed copy, I mail it to them. What I find is it just builds relationships. I’ve spoken at national convention speaking events. I’ve spoken, this year, in Arkansas at their Trial Lawyers Association. I’ve spoken nationally for American Association of Justice and all these other things. The reality is, the book is… Basically, the calling card to get invited to speak nationally is a book, because how many people have a definitive hardcover book? It’s huge. So then, I spent about four and a half years writing my second book, which is a far more comprehensive book called The Law Firm Of Your Dreams. That book covers everything for marketing management, trial practice, you name it. Mindset, which I consider most important. It’s a 500 page book, and I put just my best content in The Law Firm Of Your Dreams.

John Fisher:
So anyone listening to us, your fans, your followers, I’m happy to mail a signed copy of both books to them. If they email me, I’ll be happy to give you that. Email address is jfisher, F-I-S-H-E-R, lawyer@gmail.com, or call me (518) 265-9131. That’s my cell. You can text me or call me. Happy to give this to you. But Erik, the thing that I did with these books was I decided that it’s not really that productive to have an office manual. Something that is a physical product, people don’t really look at it, read it. It doesn’t matter. The only way to get people to really buy into systems is to have them create the systems, because then it’s their product. They made the system. The most common question is, where do you begin? You begin with the most basic administrative mundane minutia of your law firm.

John Fisher:
How do you open the office? How do you send a fax? During the pandemic, I didn’t know how to send a fax. I’m thinking, what do I do here? There’s the basic stuff. How do I send a letter? I didn’t know, and none of my staff was in my office. I’m stuck, and I said, I’ve got to create a system for every little aspect. And so, fisherpedia.com, F-I-S-H-E-R, and then pedia.com, is a Wiki style website. The goal of this is anything that anyone would want to do, how to archive a deposition testimony, it’s all there. It’s got video, it’s got screenshots. And anyone listening, Erik, can have access to Fisherpedia right now. I will put in the chat the log in as well as the password. The password is 278wall, lowercase, W-A-L-L.

John Fisher:
And the log in is… The user is Fisherpedia, F-I-S-H-E-R-P-E-D-I-A. If anyone goes in, they email me, I’ll give them access as well. But anyone could go through that and copy and move any of the systems. You might say, “Where do you begin?” You begin with anything that is a recurring task for your law firm. If you give the same answer over and over again to something, you’ve got to stop doing that, because Peter Drucker, when he wrote The Effective Executive, said that the number one thing that really bogs down a business is that the owner of the business is answering the same questions over and over again, and you’ve got to stop that. Whenever that happens, you have to create a system or a policy to address the issue, share it with your team.

John Fisher:
Ideally, get them to create this system because members of your law firm will know how to do things better than you will. How do you electronically file a new lawsuit in federal court? I don’t know how to do that, but I can tell you, when one of our paralegals was out once and no one else knew how to file a federal lawsuit electronically, and I’m like, we got a problem here because it needs to be done that day. And so, we had an intern from Germany who goes into Fisherpedia and she goes, “It’s all right here.” There’s video, there’s screenshots, there’s text explaining exactly how to file a lawsuit in federal court. Five minutes later, the lawsuit was filed. The other day, I was on a conference call with a judge and the phone line didn’t work.

John Fisher:
And I said, “No problem, judge. I can set up a five way conference call for everybody.” Of course, I didn’t know how to do that. Go into Fisherpedia, how to do a conference call. Boom, boom, boom. A couple minutes later, I’ve got five other attorneys and the judge on the same thing. I didn’t even know how to do that, but Fisherpedia gives you the ability to do whatever you want in your office, the internal processes. Now you might say, “We’ve got to hire a new paralegal or new secretary.” No problem. We’ve got a documented core process explaining step by step how to do that. And so, all of the advertisement for the paralegals is right there, copy paste, where to file it on the different job sites is right there. Your processes even for an interview. Every question that I ask an interview, it’s right on Fisherpedia.

John Fisher:
Anyone could go into an interview and know what I’m going to ask because it’s part of our process. That gets us to the most common question that I ask people in an interview, what did you do to prepare for this interview? Because the level of preparation that they made for the interview is going to be the same preparation that they do on the job. And if they didn’t do much other than look at our website… But what I asked them to do, Erik, is recite for us the four core values of our law firm and the purpose of our law firm, because that’s actually right in the job description. If they can’t do the advertisement, if they can’t recite it, then they didn’t put much effort into the preparation. Having candidates come in there and say, “I’m going to recite your core values and the purpose of your law firm right now”, then I know that they’ve spent the time in preparation.

John Fisher:
Documenting the core process is so vital. This is what has made McDonald’s the biggest restaurant chain in the world, because everything that they do is documented carefully, so that if you get a burger in Indonesia, it’s going to be the same one that you would get in Raleigh, North Carolina, because that burger has been on the grill for the same time, the fries are in the fryer at the same time, the whole thing. See, that’s the thing. Every law firm should be running like McDonald’s, with core processes that are carefully documented and laid out.

Erik Olson:
If someone were to go to fisherpedia.com, I’m guessing it won’t be blank at the very beginning. It’s going to have templates and whatnot, but then you can modify it for your own firm. Is that the way it works?

John Fisher:
Yes, you can modify it. It’s basically… It would set up, it’s a WordPress website that was set up for a thousand bucks, and there’s no recurring fees. Anyone who wants to do this, I can give them the information for it. But basically, any user can go in there and create a system, and it gives you the ability to add text, you can add screenshots, you can add video. You can add anything that you want. One or the other day, I said to my son, Tim, who creates a lot of our systems, he would watch what I do and just document everything. I said, “Tim, how do I add one of these notations with an arrow or a circle?” And he said, “Dad, there’s a policy in that for Fisherpedia. You should know better.” He didn’t answer my question.

John Fisher:
He just sent me back into Fisherpedia, and he was right. Everything is right there at your fingertips. Erik, if you’re going to a court in, let’s say, a specific court, and you’ve never dealt with a judge, we might have a policy in there explaining where to park, what the judges likes and dislikes are. And so, you’re not going in there and getting blindsided by a mean spirited judge. You already know because you’ve checked it out in Fisherpedia. Or if you go to an AAJ convention and you learn a lot about internet marketing, just put that into Fisherpedia and share it with your team. The idea is to get others to document the core processes of your team. Where that begins? Hire a high school student. Say, “Watch what I do and document everything.” Young kids are great at doing that.

John Fisher:
They’ll put fancy screenshots. For example, I could show you a policy called archive video deposition, and basically everything… You don’t have to read it. You could look at it. You could watch a video explaining everything. Erik, if you want to say, “How do you retrieve medical records from your medical record, personal health provider?” No problem. We’ve got all of the information, including videos in Fisherpedia. Even though you’ve never worked a moment in my law firm, you could understand the processes of our firm. For me, that is the most important thing for running a firm, because if our staff leaves tomorrow, I know that the new staff coming in would have the same access to exactly how we do things and we don’t have to retrain them. We have certain onboarding videos that go out every single time we hire a new paralegal or secretary, so we’re not retraining everyone from scratch.

Erik Olson:
Yeah. From personal experience, receiving those detailed SOPs has been impactful for me. I had a boss many years ago who wanted to start a new project, and the staff, me included, we’re like, we got other things to do. And so, as we were talking about it and as he tried to get us moving in the right direction, we would ask basically dumb questions, and he would go to the SOP that he wrote and he’d flip through and he’d say, “The answer’s on page 34.” And then, okay, I read page 34, I got it. I asked a second time some other question about the project. And he goes, “Hold on a second, Erik.” And he pulled it out and took his time. “That’s on 57, right here.” Guess what that taught me? Go look at the document. I better learn that document before I go ask stupid questions. It worked.

John Fisher:
Absolutely. Right.

Erik Olson:
Yeah. And then, like you said, the hit by the bus syndrome. If someone gets hit by a bus or they win the lottery and they’re gone, now what? Someone has to pick up the pieces and they need to do the job, so at least it’s documented. That’s great.

John Fisher:
And that happens all the time. We had a fantastic paralegal who left our firm about a month ago and she’s like, “I’m out. I’m going into a different career. I’m like, “Great.” But the reality is, all of our process were set up for hiring a new person. We hired a phenomenal virtual paralegal with 30 years of experience, and she was just digging in. She’s proactive. And here’s the thing. This is a selling point for our firm, because new employees see this is a firm that’s set up for success. They documented everything. They’re sharing everything. And so, I know what’s expected of me and I know what I have to do. I know there’s an organizational chart I can rely on. And when I need help figuring out how do they prepare a discovery response, it’s all there in Fisherpedia. You don’t have to guess.

John Fisher:
And so, what you’re doing is you’re giving guidance to new employees on how you do things. How many law firms are doing that? Not many. And so, it gives you a real step up in terms of hiring people, because they know you are a law firm that knows what you’re doing.

Erik Olson:
I like it. I like it a lot. That’s really nice. I think it’s incredibly generous, actually, for you to spend the money to build it and then give it away for free. I would imagine any managing partner that is listening to this right now, the credentials were provided by John before. And by the way, John, we’re going to put them on the video so people can see it if they watch the video. If you’re listening to this podcast and you didn’t really pick up or write down what those credentials were, then go check out the videos at arraylaw.com/podcast, and we will have those credentials up on the screen when John mentions it. Let’s talk about The Mastermind Experience. How did that come about? When did that happen?

John Fisher:
I was invited to a Mastermind in Chandler, Arizona in October 2013. It was the best internet marketers in the world, basically, were there, small group. It was hosted by Infusionsoft, which is now called Keap. I’m there and I’m like, what on earth am I doing here? I have no right to be in this room, because all the other people were running incredibly successful businesses in Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, United States. Everywhere, basically. I’m just in there like I’m a total imposter and I was. But when I came home, I told my wife, I said, “This is the most amazing event I’ve ever been to. The founders of Infusionsoft just spent three days with me, and I met all these incredible people from 1-800-FLOWERS in Australia and all this other stuff.” And my wife was like, “How much did it cost?”

John Fisher:
And I said, “Honey, don’t worry about it. It’s all good.” And so finally, I answered, “$10,000”. And she’s like, “Are you kidding me? We could have gone on vacation for that.” I said, “Yeah, but this was the best use of money that I’ve ever seen.” I started thinking, Erik, don’t lawyers have Masterminds? And they did. There were Masterminds all over the place, but I saw flaws in each one of them. The number one flaw that I saw was too much time, way too much money. $25,000 to $30,000 for anyone to even join. And I’m like, no, that’s no good. I started in 2014 in Chicago, what’s called The Mastermind Experience. The name, the origin of that name, is because I wanted people to experience a Mastermind just like I had experienced it, so they could see what is it like when you go into a room for one day and people collaborate, cheer. They cry, they’re vulnerable, they’re real.

John Fisher:
They just share all the problems that they’ve got about management and marketing of a law firm. And so, we did it in Chicago. I didn’t know anyone who came. There were 19 phenomenal lawyers, and I met some people. The bulk of them stayed in the Mastermind, but it was a whirlwind. Every [inaudible 00:17:56] Mastermind we had was a little bit better. The last one we had before the pandemic was in Maui, and John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan came to our Mastermind and we were just [inaudible 00:18:08] for about an hour and a half. He’s just unloading real personal stuff. I thought… Everything’s confidential, so I can’t share any bit, but the reality is that it’s amazing what you can do when you tap into the wisdom and knowledge of people who are doing things bigger and better than you are.

John Fisher:
That is the whole concept of the Mastermind. Lawyers in small town America think that they’ve got all the answers. I guess I give myself a little bit of credit. I realize that I don’t, and that there’s so much out there that others are doing better than I’m doing. If I can just tap into that wisdom, then my practice can exponentially get better in a much quicker way than if I’m just sitting in my office trying to figure it out myself. The number one piece of advice I’d give to any young lawyer is get into a Mastermind, not of your peers, but of people who are doing things bigger and better than you are, because that’s where real success comes. Tony Robbins was once asked by someone at an event and the person’s said, “Tony, I don’t get it. You make $10,000,000 and I make $1,000,000, but we do the same thing. What is the difference?”

John Fisher:
And Tony Robbins asked him, “Who are the people that you hang out with?” And the guy said, “I hang out with people just like me who are making a $1,000,000 a year.” And Tony said, “That’s the problem. You need to hang out with people who are making $10,000,000 a year, because you’re never going to get to 10,000,000 unless you hang out with people like me.” It was so critical to understand that we don’t want to be the smartest people in the room. We want to be, ideally, the dumbest people in the room so we can soak in the wisdom of others. I can tell you in the Mastermind, our members, which right now are 191, I could call any one of them on a moment’s notice and they would do anything for me. That’s the power of a Mastermind.

John Fisher:
We call it a tribe. A tribe means people who will drop anything and just do anything for you. When people go to war in the United States, they think, they go to war, it’s a horrible experience, people get killed. But you know what, Erik, the number one thing that soldiers will tell you is they want to go back to Afghanistan, they want to go back to Iraq, and no one understands that because it seems crazy. Why would you want to go back to that environment? Because that is the only environment that person has ever been in where other people are willing to die for them. That is the power of a tribe. When you get around people who will do anything for you, you want nothing more than to be back in that environment. I get that because our world can be doggie dog cutthroat.

John Fisher:
And isn’t it really cool when you’ve got a group of high achieving lawyers who’ve got your back and will do anything for you? And so, that’s what we do. Our next Mastermind actually is in the Caribbean in Curaçao on February 18th. And then, we have one in New York City on April 9th. We do this, and it’s just an amazing event. I don’t have to pitch the Mastermind to any of the people who have been to one because they already see the value of it. There’s no recurring fees. It’s a thousand bucks and that’s it. But other people look at that and say, “A thousand bucks, that’s a lot of money.”

Erik Olson:
No, that’s an incredible deal. One time fee.

John Fisher:
Yeah, one time fee. And what that does is it brings them into our tribe and they’d have access, not only just to a private Facebook group where we collaborate and share every day, but also we have a “Members Only “website with all of the video presentations by experts, and it’s just a great resource. The thing is, Erik, the referrals that are made by our partners from one to the next are invaluable, but the relationships are even better. It’s definitely the best thing that I’ve ever done in my career, is create The Mastermind Experience. We do have an offshoot of that, that is a weekly virtual Mastermind that’s called Plaintiffs Elite. If anyone wanted information, they could go to mastermindexperience.com or plaintiffselite.com. We have information about both.

Erik Olson:
A lot of really good information here. The pattern that I see with you, John, is that you put out really good information and you’re really not charging anything. A thousand dollars, one time fee for a Mastermind is how much I’ve paid on a monthly basis for Masterminds in the past, and that’s not even the most expensive one. That’s a cheap one. A one time fee… Now I’m guessing going to the events, there’re extra fees, but there’s usually a monthly fee just to stay in the Mastermind, so I think that’s a great bargain. I think the books are amazing, especially if you’re giving those away. I think the Fisherpedia is an incredible value that you’re giving to people. You’re really giving back a lot to the community. Very nice [inaudible 00:22:53].

John Fisher:
Thank you. I mean, the reality, Erik, is that we lose money on every Mastermind. We don’t make a profit from this stuff. And some people like my bookkeepers, “Come on. When are you actually going to make money from this?” Probably never, because the reality is, I’m not doing this to try to monetize. How did Facebook become so powerful? Because Mark Zuckerberg refused to monetize his business. He said, “No, we’re going to just keep expanding.” All the people who co-founded it with him were like, “Hey, we’ve got a real big footprint right now. Let’s start making money from it.” And he said, “No, let’s keep expanding it.” And to me, that’s the biggest thing. If you can give value without asking anything in return, it comes back to you tenfold.

Erik Olson:
Love it. All right, John. Let’s wrap this up. I appreciate your time. If someone wants to reach out to you and find out more information, you’ve dropped several different URLs, but what’s a good way… You put this in the private chat here, your email address.

John Fisher:
The best way is my personal email, jfisher, F-I-S-H-E-R, lawyer@gmail.com. They can also text or call me on my cell phone (518) 265-9131. Happy to discuss with them anything. If they email me, I’m going to mail them my books, The Power Of A System and The Law Firm Of Your Dreams. I can email the audio book of The Power Of A System as well. And any information about the Masterminds, I’m happy to help. Or if someone just wants to chat, I’m more than happy to do that.

Erik Olson:
Very generous. I appreciate your time. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out other episodes like this, you can check out our entire backlog of about 150 interviews with managing partners at arraylaw.com/podcast. Each episode is tagged by practice area and by state, so you can find what you’re looking for very quickly. And also, if you’re looking for digital marketing for your law firm, my company Array Digital focuses exclusively on law firms. We provide websites [inaudible 00:24:51] on advertising and social media. John, appreciate it.

John Fisher:
Thank you, Erik. Appreciate it.

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