THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 182
Interview on 04.14.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Rocco Cozza



Managing Partner of
Cozza Law Group PLLC

About Rocco Cozza

Rocco Cozza is the Managing Partner at Cozza Law Group PLLC in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

Rocco earned his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law, where he was a Recent Decisions Editor for the Duquesne Law Review. He received an M.B.A. in applied business from Waynesburg University and his undergraduate degree in psychology from Washington & Jefferson College. Rocco is also a licensed PA Title Agent and co-founder of 24-7 Settlement Services, LLC. He frequently speaks at conferences on the topics of leadership, motivation, and the art of kindness in business. In January 2019, he stepped on a TEDx stage to share his talk called “Radical Kindness: Why the Unbillable Hour Matters Most in Business.” Rocco has sat on various non-profit boards and currently sits on the Board of Directors of Alpha House, Inc., a behavioral rehabilitation center located in Pittsburgh, PA.

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 for this episode of the Managing Partners podcast. In this podcast series, we interview America’s top managing partners to find out how they’re running their law firms, how they’re growing their law firms and how they are keeping their case pipeline full. And today I have with me Rocco Cozza. Hey Rocco.

Rocco Cozza:
Hey, Erik, how are you?

Erik Olson:
I’m doing great. Well, I appreciate your time.

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Erik Olson:
Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Rocco is the founder of the Cozza law group. He has practiced law since 2003. During this time he has advised hundreds of businesses and business owners across the country on a wide array of matters. He also advises early stage startups in funding matters and spent 13 years as general council of an international information technology firm. Rocco, welcome to the podcast.

Rocco Cozza:
Thanks for having me, appreciate it.

Erik Olson:
You got it. Well, first, could you tell the audience a little bit more about you that’s not in the bio and about your firm please?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, absolutely. So obviously I’ve been practicing law quite a long time. We’re in the business, entertainment and cannabis law space. I myself have been an entrepreneur my entire career. So outside of the law, I actually own or co-own quite a few other businesses. So I bring a really different perspective to the practice of law with our clients. I also have an MBA, father of three amazing kids. When I created the firm, I wanted to build something different. I came out of law school, I worked in big law. I went in house so I saw the way things were done in big law firms. I saw what companies struggled with working with outside lawyers. So when I started this firm, I really wanted to create a different law firm model, and we’ve just carved out our niche in the business space. And I mean, we’ve grown exponentially over the past three years and it’s been a phenomenal ride. We’ve been having a blast doing it.

Erik Olson:
That’s incredible. Good for you. So you spent some time in big law. What was that like for someone like you? Entrepreneur, MBA, did it drive you crazy?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, it was hard. It was great because I got a really good training ground and a couple of the partners I worked with as a summer associate and through law school taught me a ton about being a lawyer, but I understood there was a hierarchy. There was a process you had to go through and you couldn’t really carve your own path. And I’ve always been this rebel, this entrepreneur, so I wanted the opportunity to really be able to create my own path. So when I went from big law to in house, I got a taste of the other side. I got to see what corporate law was like, what working in a big corporation was and I saw the downfall of that. So I took those two at experiences and said, “Okay, how do I create something completely different that’s going to attract the right lawyers and the right clients?” And that’s what I think we’re doing.

Erik Olson:
Yeah, that’s great. There’s certainly a lot of takeaways. I’ve been in a similar position as you, as far as working for bigger companies and starting my own. And it always drove me crazy working for a bigger company because it was just not fast enough, you know?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Erik Olson:
There’s a lot of opportunities. A lot of opportunities when you start your own firm to do something a little bit different, but then bring in that experience and… How big are you? How many attorneys or staff?

Rocco Cozza:
So we have four attorneys right now and then we have two other staff members and we’re anticipating growth into next year. I have a couple job ads out right now for another assistant and a paralegal. So I would say by mid next year, we’ll probably have 10 total staff.

Erik Olson:
Yeah, good for you. And it’s interesting because I assume like you, I want something different than big law. I’m a marketer so for me it was just big company. So when you start the firm you have a different vision, but then as you grow you’re like, “Well, we actually need some process and some people and responsibilities.” So there’s a balance between doing the entrepreneurial thing and actually the rigor and processes that come with big law or big companies.

Rocco Cozza:
And that’s actually an interesting point because that’s a struggle we’re going through right now. We’ve had a huge growth spurt this year. We grew 2019 to 2020, we grew 120 some percent. We’re on pace to grow another 80% this year. So we have good processes in place. I’m learning myself that I need to be a better leader and learn a different type of management style and really start carving out a different path because it does, like you said, I’m an entrepreneur so I can kind of go off on these tangents where I know we actually have a big firm now that I have to learn to manage differently. So it’s a constant struggle. It’s a constant evolution. I’m constantly educating myself. I work with a phenomenal business coach that helps. So there’s a lot to it.

Erik Olson:
That’s another interesting point is working with a business coach. And you said early on in the interview, you’re very business bonded. You work with business owners and businesses and it seems to be a theme that I’m picking up on with many managing partners from these interviews, from books that I’m reading from managing partners. It’s not just about running the law firm, but it’s about the business of a law firm.

Rocco Cozza:
Absolutely. I have a lot of friends that have their own firms that I went to law school with and I always say even when we hire people, I said, “There’s two types of lawyers in the type of practice we are. There are lawyers that practice law and there’s entrepreneurs that sell legal services.” We are the latter. So I run this like a business, right? I look at marketing, business development, branding. That’s kind of our focus. That’s how we’ve grown so much. The legal services, that’s just what we sell, that’s our product. And we have to have an unbelievable client experience. We have to do top notch work but if I’m not looking at it as a business first, that doesn’t matter. So it’s creating the culture, creating those systems, creating those processes that support an actual business.

Erik Olson:
Great points, great points. In your bio it says that you’ve advised hundreds of businesses and owners across the country. Are you licensed to practice in multiple states? How does it work?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, so we’re licensed in Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Florida and I have my Tennessee license pending. A lot of what we do because it’s transactional, if there’s some relation to either one of the states we practice in or the states that they’re located in, there’s a lot of states that have reciprocity, where you can do transactional work in that state if what you’re doing in that state wouldn’t violate the ethics laws of your own state or a state your licensed in. And again, with the internet and the way the law has changed, I think these ethics rules are going to evolve over the next five years because it’s almost impossible to prevent attorneys that do what we do from practicing across state lines. I mean, it really isn’t a transactional matter. It’s almost impossible.

Rocco Cozza:
So we’ve had the opportunity to work with a really great group of clients, our client bases from startups. So we have a couple Fortune 100 companies we work with. So we’ve had the opportunity work in a lot of different spaces which has given us a large landscape of experience to work from.

Erik Olson:
That’s excellent. Yeah, usually it seems like most law firms are focused either in one or two states or they work at the federal level and so they’re nationwide. But it seems to be rare where they’re actually licensed to practice in multiple states and is the goal to expand until [crosstalk 00:07:49]?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, that’s the goal. So I’m trying to right now, pick and choose the states. Because I’ve been practicing so long, I can just wave in with reciprocity, right? So I don’t have to take an exam. One of my associates, he just took the Florida bar exam and passed it this summer so he’s licensed there. So yeah, our goal is to get into as many states as possible where we see opportunity, like Tennessee is the one that’s [inaudible 00:08:11] right now because we’re in the entertainment space. I’ve worked on deals for clients that have a deal going on in Tennessee. I just saw an opportunity down there with the way the lawyers down there were practicing. I just see a different pricing model that we can approach the market with. So I’m just waiting on that license to get approved so we can start advertising down there.

Erik Olson:
How are you picking these states? Are you following individual opportunities or individual clients and now all of a sudden you’re exposed to a new state and-

Rocco Cozza:
That’s pretty much… Yeah. So Pennsylvania, that’s where we’re based. A lot of our clients have winter homes in Florida, have businesses in Florida so that’s why we chose Florida. West Virginia, right south of us, that’s there. Tennessee, we saw the opportunity in the entertainment space. New York, I was working on a deal and I saw an opportunity there. So where the opportunities take us is where we end up going when it comes to licensing.

Erik Olson:
Nice. That’s really cool. Good for you with expanding to all those states.

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah it’s fun, definitely.

Erik Olson:
In most law firms, and I would think especially in business law, new clients come from doing good work and referrals. I’m sure that’s the same for you. Besides that, are there other techniques that you use in your marketing to get new clients?

Rocco Cozza:
So I would say referrals, they used to be a large portion of our client acquisition. It’s become less. Now we’ve been doing Google ads, which we’ve had success with. We’ve done a lot of setting up networking events. So setting up events for our clients and potential clients, not for the purpose of us getting business, but to connect them together what ends up just coming back to us. So we saw this need where clients were coming to us saying, “Hey, can you connect us with so and so?” Or, “Do you know someone that can do this?” So we just started holding these events. Let’s get everybody in a room, you guys talk. And the business came from that and then I’ve done a lot on social media. That’s where I’ve generated quite a bit of business on Facebook, through Instagram and I just started a TikTok page to put out small legal tip videos and people joke about it, but I probably generated a couple hundred thousand in business just from Instagram alone.

Rocco Cozza:
Just by sharing what we do, our story and our personality. So people tend to work with us and the common theme we hear from clients is they like us because we’re relatable. We’re like good people. They like who we are. We don’t seem like the typical lawyers and we do that through social media, right? I share my kids, I share my life, the ups and the downs. And then people see the realness behind that and it ends up attracting the right type of clients.

Erik Olson:
I think on social media, that’s important to show your whole self. And one of the nice things about Instagram in particular is there’s almost two sides of Instagram. There’s your feed, which is that polished look and then there’s stories. And with stories, you can post anything. I mean, I’ll take your screenshot right now and that’ll go up on stories and I’ll tag you, right? And so it’s super easy, it’s very quick. So I’m going to take a picture right now after I flip the camera on. So there’s the picture. And then what I’ll do is afterwards, I’ll just look you up and I’ll tag you, right?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah.

Erik Olson:
And so it’s super simple, that was not polished at all but that’s actually the expectation on things like stories. So you can put things up there. Maybe your kids, you don’t want to be up there forever, but you can kind of show behind the scenes, maybe getting ready for a podcast, after a podcast, all those kinds of things. It’s really interesting. I used to use Twitter for that. Just quick hits, but the video and the photo and the music and everything with stories is really, really interesting.

Rocco Cozza:
And honestly, TikTok. I read a statistic a few months ago that I think it was more 18 to 45 year old business owners are on TikTok than Instagram. So I started looking on it and there’s not many lawyers on, there’s a few that are doing stuff. I mean, I just started really last week I would say, really pushing hard at it. I went from a few followers, I think I’m almost at 800 right now in a few days. And just by putting up videos and just sharing, “Hey, the difference between a copyright and a trademark. Here’s things to think about if you’re performing an LLC.” Just quick one to two minute videos, but people appreciate the education. And there’s a niche there I think and there’s a need for it, but a lot of lawyers are afraid to put themselves out there.

Erik Olson:
Good for you.

Rocco Cozza:
Thank you.

Erik Olson:
And my guess is you’re not doing the latest dance or anything like that.

Rocco Cozza:
No, no, definitely not. No, absolutely not.

Erik Olson:
No, you’re basically just talking to the camera and maybe walking around the office while you’re doing that. It’s really actually pretty simple. And you can also repurpose a lot of the videos that you probably took for Instagram.

Rocco Cozza:
Exactly. That’s exactly what we do, yeah. I’ll put it on my story, I’ll share them at different times as reels. I mean, people don’t understand the power of social media and it’s free. It’s free.

Erik Olson:
That’s the key.

Rocco Cozza:
And I mean, I know how much business I’ve generated from platforms and any lawyer that’s asked me, “Hey, what are you doing?” I tell them, just pick a social media platform, get really good at it and the business will come. You have to give it time. You can’t expect it to happen in 30 days, but there’s so much potential out there.

Erik Olson:
Yeah. Are you familiar with Law By Mike?

Rocco Cozza:
How do I know that?

Erik Olson:
Lawyer on TikTok 5.5 million fans or followers.

Rocco Cozza:
Yes, that’s where I saw it. Because it rung a bell.

Erik Olson:
Highly produced. Yeah, 5.5 million the last time I checked, which was probably about a month ago and I think 500,000 on Instagram. He’s clearly doing a lot of production, I’m sure it’s time consuming, but I also would imagine it’s batched.

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, exactly.

Erik Olson:
So you set aside a day and then you do your marketing for a day. But then things like stories, you can work that into your day. You don’t need to set aside time. So it’s not that people need to set aside a ton of time to let their audience know or remember that they exist. You can work just like I did, work it in, right?

Rocco Cozza:
Exactly. Yeah, it’s-

Erik Olson:
Well, good for you. 800 followers in three days. That’s very impressive.

Rocco Cozza:
We’re getting there. Thank you.

Erik Olson:
How are you handling that? Are you doing it all yourself? You have someone in the firm?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, so that type of stuff. So my Instagram and TikTok, I handle myself. I do all that myself because I haven’t got to the point where I need to produce it yet. We have a part-time marketing coordinator. So she handles my LinkedIn, our firm LinkedIn and our firm Facebook page. And then she also does community outreach. We do a lot of sponsorships, nonprofit work where we just go out and sponsor different events. And then she also sets up client events for us. And I have another company that we work with that does all of our digital ads, like our Google ads and our Bing ads.

Rocco Cozza:
Eventually moving into [inaudible 00:15:24] I’d like to find a part-time just content creator to come into the office and take photos and take video. Just the stuff that I know we should be doing but we don’t always think to do. But the stuff like my Instagram and my TikTok, I handle myself and it’s easy. I mean, I’ll take an hour one evening, shoot three or four videos, save them in the drafts, and then now I have a video to post over the next four days and then I repost them on Instagram.

Erik Olson:
I did the same thing and I recently just got into reels in Instagram and the reach there is incredible compared to… With stories and posts, you’re only going to reach your audience and it’s going to be very hard for someone to find you on Instagram. But with reels, it’s almost all people that you aren’t following. And so it seems to us, it’s kind of the last bastion of discoverability in Instagram.

Rocco Cozza:
I agree.

Erik Olson:
And that’s all that TikTok is, that’s the only thing.

Rocco Cozza:
Absolutely.

Erik Olson:
That’s really interesting. Good for you. Well, cool. What is something that you used to do in your marketing that really isn’t working that well, or maybe even you stopped doing?

Rocco Cozza:
Blogs, honestly. I used to do a lot more blog posts and writing blog posts, trying to make them SEO friendly. It helped us a lot when we rebuilt our site about a year and a half ago, but I’m realizing that there’s only so much blog content you can create and people have moved to video. They want quick information, quick format so blogs… We were honestly probably doing three a month. Now we’re doing maybe one a month, one every other month and just because I don’t see necessarily the value in it as much as I used to.

Erik Olson:
Well, when you were doing that, how were you figuring out keywords? Were you doing anything like that?

Rocco Cozza:
I was using, I think it was called Ubersuggest was one of the sites I would look to use. And then I had another, I think it was called Webtexttool. It was a paid service where you could type in keywords, it would give you a ranking for it. Then you’d write the actual blog post in the software so it would tell you how to make it 100% SEO friendly. If you need more keywords, more H1 tags. So I got really good on the technical side of it, but it would just take time and I’m not seeing the benefit as much as I am from the other things we’re doing.

Erik Olson:
There you go. Got you. Okay, that makes a lot of sense.

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah.

Erik Olson:
Well, cool. So we talked about maybe adding a few more people to your staff, expanding in other states, are there other kinds of growth plans that you have in mind? Do you have goals?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah. I mean, we just talked about this this morning actually, going in the next year. We have a large goal for revenue next year and we want to… So we have three buckets of clients we say. Our first bucket is really the start up transactional matters. The second bucket is they’re probably the one to 15 million revenue companies that need legal help, but not on a consistent basis, right? They’re one off projects. The third bucket are a handful of large clients that are consistent billable work. We want to try and move more into that space. Instead of having that be 25% of our revenue, make that 35 to 40% next year. So it’s going to be going out and doing a little bit more networking, deeper networking, going and leveraging connections we already have. So that’s kind of the plan for next year.

Rocco Cozza:
And then just getting my team out. One thing that we do differently here is I don’t incentivize. They get incentives for clients, but I don’t incentivize them on billable hours. They get incentivized, we have quarterly competitions based upon their marketing initiatives. They get points for going out and networking with people, going out and setting up referral meetings, going to events, writing blog posts, doing videos. So they meet certain levels of points and they get a quarterly bonus. So that again, the more they do that, the more they’re going to build their own brand within the firm. So it helps them bring in clients as well.

Erik Olson:
That’s really interesting.

Rocco Cozza:
We have a lot of big goals for next year and we’re very a marketing and branding first firm, I would say.

Erik Olson:
Good for you. Do you have a growth percentage that you want to share?

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah. We blew our number away this year, so I would like to grow about another 60 to 70% next year.

Erik Olson:
Strong. I like that a lot.

Rocco Cozza:
I think we can do it because we’ve been consistent. Like I said, 120 some last year, we’re going to be about 80% this year. So I think we can do 60 to 70 next year in growth.

Erik Olson:
Very strong, very strong. Good for you.

Rocco Cozza:
Yeah, thank you.

Erik Olson:
If somebody out there would like to reach out to you, ask you about TikTok or anything else, what’s a good way to connect with you?

Rocco Cozza:
Well, they can definitely go to our website. It’s just cozzalaw.com or they can feel free to email me directly. My email address is just rcozza, first initial, last name @cozzalaw.com. I’d be happy to answer any questions anybody has.

Erik Olson:
Awesome, Rocco. Thanks so much. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out other episodes like this, you can go to arraylaw.com/podcast. Each episode is tagged by practice area and by state so you can find exactly what you’re looking for very quickly. And if you’re looking for digital marketing for your law firm, my company Array Digital focuses exclusively on law firms. We offer websites, SEO, online advertising and social media, but not TikTok yet. All right, Rocco thanks so much.

Rocco Cozza:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

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