THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 187
Interview on 05.03.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Frank Kearney



Managing Partner of
Donahoe Kearney, LLP

About Frank Kearney

Frank R. Kearney is a Nationally Recognized, Board Certified civil trial lawyer, author, and advocate for injured workers, patient safety, serious car accident victims and people with long term disability claims. Early in his career, Mr. Kearney represented insurance companies and other corporations, defending personal injury lawsuits. He now uses this experience to his clients' advantage. He comes from a working-class background and his philosophy is simple - treat all his clients with respect. Mr. Kearney founded Donahoe Kearney, LLP with one goal in mind - to provide the absolute best experience for people with serious injuries or disabilities.

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Erik Olson:
Hey, everybody, it is Erik J. Olson with another 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 firms and how they’re growing their firms. And today, from Washington DC, just right down the street for me, we have Frank Kearney. Hey, Frank.

Frank Kearney:
Hey, Erik, how are you? It’s great to be here.

Erik Olson:
I appreciate you making the time. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Frank R. Kearney is a founding partner of Donahoe-Kearney, a board certified in civil trial advocates by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. I think I missed a word there. And is the author of Protect Your Rights, the injured worker’s guide to DC workers’ compensation. A comprehensive book, serving as a guide to the worker’s compensation system for injured workers and their families. He represents people with serious injuries and disabilities and families who have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, nursing home malpractice, car accidents, construction site accidents and other serious work accidents. Frank, welcome to the show.

Frank Kearney:
Thanks Erik, it’s great to be here, I appreciate it.

Erik Olson:
You got it. Well, would you tell the audience a little bit more about yourself and your firm?

Frank Kearney:
Absolutely. So, what we do, Erik, is we help people stand up to the insurance companies after they’ve had a serious injury or disability or illness. And really, more than that, especially in the last 5 or 10 years, we really help people thrive and we really try to coach them and help them adjust to life after their serious injury, well after their case is over. I mean, we connect with people who we represented 15, 20 years ago and we’re still talking to them on a regular basis to see how they’re doing and to see what they’re doing. Now, how do we do all of that? Well, I mean, couple things, one, it really starts up front in our firm with trying to give the best customer service, the best experience, that we can give somebody, because we want to take away all the stress and the anxiety and the worry of a serious injury case. So, we try to focus on that and help people just so they don’t have to worry about it, they can just focus on getting better.

Frank Kearney:
Now, really, that starts with our first phone call with people and most people will talk to Summer Roberts, who has a fantastic track record and all kinds of Google reviews about how smart and quick and professional she is. And another core staff member of ours, our senior paralegal, Priscilla, Priscilla Villalta, people will talk to her as well. And just from the very beginning, we try to make people feel comfortable and at ease and make it easy for people, because we pride ourselves in really being easy to talk to, in doing that. And let me tell you, I mean, I’ve been a lawyer now for 27, almost 28 years and it wasn’t always that way, especially early on in the profession. I mean, lawyers just didn’t… That kind of service, I think, was unheard of and so, I feel like we’ve really come a long way. I mean, my story personally, I always knew I wanted to help people, thought when I was in college that being a lawyer would be able to help people.

Frank Kearney:
I had an army ROTC scholarship in college, so I thought I was going to go into the army but I was able to defer my commission to go to law school and then became part of the JAG Corps, which is the army. Army Lawyers in the beginning. So, it was all about helping people and, of course, the best thing about my law school experience was, I met my wife Kathy there, so that was good. And she is like Eric, like I just learned, another Lake Braddock grad, went to the same high school as you did, so there’s a great connection there. But so, I think a lot of people start off wanting to help people but it’s really more than that, you’ve got to… In my view, what we do best in class is, we really help people stand up for themselves. We really help people help themselves and stand up to insurance companies and really thrive. And I think that’s really our secret sauce that, kind of, sets us apart.

Erik Olson:
That’s great. Everything that you said I really like, especially the client experience, starting with the first call, onboarding. You mentioned your staff, I think that’s wonderful. And if you’re hurt, you’re David going up against Goliath because these insurance companies they are not going to give you what you deserve unless you really make a fuss over it and that’s where they could use some help. And I think it’s really interesting how with a personal injury, in particular, it’s almost always based on if you win that’s when the lawyers get paid, because otherwise people wouldn’t have the funds to be able to, well, fund this actual lawsuit. It’s an interesting practice area, for sure. Have you- [crosstalk 00:05:45]

Frank Kearney:
Absolutely. And we do, we fund all of our cases as well. We don’t ask people in our serious injury cases for cost for experts and evaluations and depositions and things like that, because you’re right, because no one can really pay that when they’re significantly hurt, going to the doctor, worried about their surgery bills, their hospital bills, what they’re going to do for a living, all of that.

Erik Olson:
Yeah. Have you all always focused on personal injury?

Frank Kearney:
Yeah. Actually, when I started out as a young lawyer, I worked for a law firm that did insurance defense. So, worked for insurance companies defending these kinds of cases. After one of our cases, I got a call from a partner at a firm that just represented people, plaintiff’s personal injury firm, who said, hey, would you consider coming over to our side? Coming over to our group, to our law firm? Which was, kind of, funny because this was in the mid 90s and my insurance defense firm had casual Fridays, which were really more like grunge Fridays, everyone just wore jeans and t-shirts.

Frank Kearney:
And this so happened, I got this call on a Friday, so I had to run home, get changed, put on a suit and tie, come back, meet with this guy over lunch and then, that’s how I… I knew I had always wanted to go that route to represent people that’s, kind of, how I got started. And then, became a partner at that law firm and then, Keith Donahoe and I started our firm now 17 years ago. And all we do is represent people with serious injuries and in long-term disability cases. So, it’s all fighting insurance company, all day, every day.

Erik Olson:
After that lunch interview, did you have to rush back home and put on your jeans and get to the office?

Frank Kearney:
As a matter of fact, I probably did. I couldn’t have gone back to the office wearing a suit and tie, that’s a good point. The other thing I remember really struck me as odd, I think shows maybe I was a little naive was, the guy who I met for lunch ordered a glass of wine at lunch and I was like, oh my gosh, middle of the day, how can you do this? I was in my mid to late 20s, I suppose, just out of law school a year or two.

Erik Olson:
The rebel, right? Oh, I mean, it was grunge Friday after all so. That’s funny. How big of a factor are referrals in your practice?

Frank Kearney:
Oh, they’re a huge factor for us. And we’ve been fortunate to represent a lot of great people who will refer us, their friends, their families, their coworkers and what have you. One of the things that I think really helps with that is really establishing yourself as an authority in your practice areas. For us, I mean, what that means is, I’ve written a book on the workers’ compensation system in DC, it’s the only book of its kind. And we will give that away, we will actually mail it to anybody who’s gotten hurt on the job in DC, as long as they certify that they don’t work for an insurance company or a law firm that represents insurance companies. And then, a number of other guides and reports on medical malpractice, long-term disability, car accident cases. So, we try to really give of people as much information, as much education, about the system, as we possibly can. Because, I mean, let’s face it, some folks with a relatively minor injury, they may not even need a lawyer, they can do that themselves if they have the right tools.

Erik Olson:
So, speaking of the book, I want to share the screen here and show the audience. If you’re watching the video, you should see now, Protect Your Rights, the ultimate guide to DC workers’ compensation. It’s on their website, at donahoekearney.com/reports. And the reason I wanted to show this is, not only because of the book but I’m just going to scroll up and down here, look at all of these different books, eBooks, guides, even in Spanish, there’s a lot of information that you provide here on your website. How long have you been doing that for? And from a business development perspective, what does it do for you?

Frank Kearney:
Oh, I mean, from a business development perspective, it’s fantastic, because people really get the opportunity to read and review us. And we’ve written all of that ourselves, none of this is ghost written or canned or what have you. This is actual specific information on these different niche areas. For example, we represent professional athletes in their injury settlements, when they get hurt playing, because a lot of people don’t realize, pro athletes, most of them don’t really make that much money, they’re up and down between the minors and the major leagues or the NHL or what have you. And they have serious injuries and they can’t do a whole lot after that, oftentimes, for a period of time, because they’ve spent their whole life training to become a hockey player, a baseball player, a basketball player, what have you.

Frank Kearney:
But that’s a good example of one. And the other is that, it really allows people, like someone with a potential medical malpractice case or if their child has cerebral palsy or what have you, allows them to take the time, kind of, just sit at home at their kitchen table, go through this information, think about it and not rush into any decision necessarily and to feel comfortable. And I think it gives people a certain level of trust and comfort with us.

Erik Olson:
That’s great. How are you currently handling your marketing? Are you doing it in-house? Do you work with someone outside of the firm?

Frank Kearney:
We do almost all of it in-house. For our website, we write all of the content for that and we try to make that, again, educational and informational but well written but also easy to read. We want to make it easy for people, people are looking for an answer like, do I have to take a light duty job if I’ve been hurt at work? Or what’s the settlement value of a rotator cuff injury? Or how long do I have to sue a hospital for medical malpractice? Those kinds of things. So, we really try to make that easy for them. And certainly, we have a newsletter that we send, a print newsletter that we send to clients and friends.

Frank Kearney:
But, again, we write all of the content for anything we do marketing wise, partially because we are in really niche areas, like a [inaudible 00:13:20] long-term disability, there’s very few lawyers who handle those types of cases. Same with the DC workers’ comp, it’s much different than in Virginia or Maryland. So, we’ve just, sort of, developed that over years and years. And I’d say, Eric, we’ve been writing, I think I published the first or the first edition of my workers’ comp book was published in probably 2009, so it’s the third edition now. So, about 12 years or so, probably.

Erik Olson:
Good for you. Now, did I hear correctly, you have a print newsletter?

Frank Kearney:

Yes, absolutely.

Erik Olson:
Now, you don’t see a lot of those anymore.

Frank Kearney:
Yeah. We mail those. We use a program to send informational emails to people as well, kind of, a nurture campaign, we call it, that we try to make…

Erik Olson:
How often does the print new newsletter go out?

Frank Kearney:
Once a month. So, it’s a monthly four page. And one of the keys about it is, we don’t make it all about the law. It’s not, here’s the statute of limitations for every kind of case in DC, Maryland and Virginia, it’s more interesting things, things that our clients are doing, friends are doing, our staff, all of that.

Erik Olson:
That is not an easy thing to undertake and to continue to do over time. So, I definitely recognize that a lot of energy and labor and labor of love goes into those newsletters. And then, there’s also the expense of printing them and mailing them. And so many people have switched over to electronic newsletters which, certainly, it has a place but when you get something in the mail, it’s different than getting an email. So, I think that’s a really interesting thing that you’ve done, because most people would forego the work and the expense of the print newsletter. Have you done that for a long time and you just continued to do it or is that something you actually introduced in the last few years?

Frank Kearney:
No. I would say, Eric, we’ve probably been doing it now for seven or eight years, I would say. And you’re right, it is a lot of work and it is a lot of… to keep it fresh and to keep it interesting. But I’m like you, I mean, when I get mail at home, say, from a real estate agent or what have you, I mean, I will look at it, I will read it and it’ll sit on the kitchen counter for a few days or what have you. And, in fact, I just had a… unfortunately, a great former client of mine from about 20 years ago, one of my first, first clients just passed away recently, unfortunately, just the other day.

Frank Kearney:
Well, his sister called me and she said, well, I’ve been thinking about you and I wanted to let you know that Tyrone passed away. I got your newsletter and I saw your phone number there, so it reminded me to, kind of, pick up the phone and let you know. So now, obviously, I know about the funeral arrangements and what have you, that I’m going to next week. So, it is and I think, certainly, if you have clients who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, it’s really effective.

Erik Olson:
My bank sends out a printed newsletter, maybe, once a quarter and it’s just a regional bank but it’s fairly large, a lot of employees but I flip through it every time to see if my guy’s in there, my banker, right? And if so, I’m going to put a picture of him from the newsletter on LinkedIn and text him or something. I want to do something with that information. So, I think it’s really nice, that’s cool. What is something that you used to do in your marketing that doesn’t seem to have the impact that it used to and maybe you even stopped doing it?

Frank Kearney:
That’s a great question. I mean, we tend to try a lot of things, I would say. I think one of the things we tried to do was maybe Facebook marketing or, kind of, social media marketing and either we just didn’t get it or it just didn’t catch on, so we stopped that and we used… And now we use just our Facebook and Instagram, what have you for, I guess, what you would just call as engagement, right? I mean, it’s just normal stuff, people we’re connected with, that kind of thing. Clients who come in, pictures but it’s not really a… we don’t really use it as a marketing thing.

Frank Kearney:
I mean, you hear about people who do one thing or the other that’s really successful, I think a lot of… These days the competition is such and consumers have certainly changed, so I think marketing has changed as well. It’s a lot more complicated and it really has to be, you got to look at it from a broad perspective and really try to integrate things. I mean, I try, sort of, like investing, I try not to invest in anything I don’t understand. Try to do the same thing with marketing but not always. So, we’ve had some, sort of, I guess, ups and downs with that.

Erik Olson:
Gotcha. Okay, interesting. As far as the firm is concerned, over the next couple of years, what are your growth plans?

Frank Kearney:
Well, I’ve got a growth mindset, so we’re always looking to grow. Now, the reality is, we do take on clients but we’re really selective when we take on new clients. And a number of our cases are just very time consuming, so we want to do the best for the people that we represent, but yes. But no, our plan is to continue to grow and I think there’s plenty of growth opportunity here in the DC area. DC has a pretty strong economy, as you know. A lot of construction, a lot of folks here, a lot of lawyers here, of course. So, that’s good in the sense that, I think, there’s a lot of opportunity and I certainly… there’s a lot of abundance, you have, sort of, that abundance mentality but there’s also a lot of competition for things. And the trick is to grow but still retain, kind of, that hometown feel, kind of, that true feeling and connection with all the people that you help, with all the people you represent.

Erik Olson:
Yeah. And that’s where the culture of the company comes in, right?

Frank Kearney:
Definitely. Definitely.

Erik Olson:
Well, Frank, this has been great, I appreciate it. If someone would like to connect with you, what is a good way for them to do that?

Frank Kearney:
Sure. I mean, I’d say we’re, kind of, old fashioned, just pick up the phone, reach out to us, it’s 202-393-3320. You can check out our website, donahoekearney.com and certainly, contact us through that or you can send us an email, info, info@dkllp.com. But we’re happy to talk to everyone, we’re not some kind of mill, we don’t have an answering service somewhere in some foreign country or what have you. You’ll actually talk to one of us, talk to somebody who works here and we’ll get you squared away. And if we can and help you, we’ll try to get you to someone who can or get you some information that can help or what have you. So, that’s kind of what we’re all about.

Erik Olson:
Awesome. Thanks so much. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out other episodes like this, our full backlog is at arraylaw.com/podcast. Each episode is organized by a practice area and by state, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. And if you are looking for digital marketing for your law firm, my agency is Array Digital, you can find us at arraylaw.com, with more information on our websites, SEO on advertising and social media services. Frank, thanks again.

Frank Kearney:
Absolutely, thank you Erik.

Get Pricing

To find out our rates, fill out the form below. Or if you prefer, call us at 757. 333. 3021 or schedule a 15 minute phone call.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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

© Array Digital LLC

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