THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 197
Interview on 06.07.2022

Hosted By
Kevin Daisey

Featuring Attorney

David Ginsberg



Managing Partner of
Cooper Ginsberg Gray PLLC

About David Ginsberg

David Ginsberg is the Managing Partner at Cooper Ginsberg Gray PLLC Family Law in Virginia.

David earned his law degree from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in 1996. He has been honored to be recognized on multiple occasions as one of the area’s top divorce lawyers in the Washingtonian Magazine, Arlington Magazine, and Northern Virginia Magazine, a member of the Legal Elite by Virginia Business, and included in The Best Lawyers in America. I earned an AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell, a leading peer review rating entity for legal professionals.

He currently serves on the Board of the Collaborative Professionals of Northern Virginia and is the co-chair of the Fairfax Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Committee. He previously served as President of the Antonin Scalia Law School’s Alumni Association Board, and as a board member of the Fairfax Law Foundation. He is an active member of the Virginia State Bar, Fairfax Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.

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:

All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another live recording of The Managing Partners Podcast. I’m Kevin Daisey, and I’m your host, also the founder of Array Digital where we help law firms grow through digital marketing. Today, I got a special guest from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. That’s where I’m from. Not many people there, but David Ginsberg, welcome to the show.

David Ginsberg:

Thanks, Kevin. Really appreciate you having me.

Kevin Daisey:

Yeah, absolutely. So for everyone that’s not familiar with the Eastern Shore of Virginia, it’s a smaller area, rural farmland area, but also in the water, those sides, beautiful spot, an up and coming area, but just still don’t meet many people from there, especially when I’m out and about or talking to people like David here that are running law firms like that. And David, you are in the Fairfax, Arlington, Virginia area, correct?

David Ginsberg:

I am now. I did grow up in Eastern Shore, and I agree, Kevin, it is a beautiful place. Not nearly as many people as there are in Fairfax. And I’ve been up in Northern Virginia for about the last 25 years.

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent. Well, you got out. So that’s what most people would tell me. They’re like, “Yeah, you got away.” But no, now I love it. I’d love to go back there. I have a vacation house there, and I might be up there this weekend after this recording. Well, let’s talk a little bit about you. Of course, that’s why we’re here. So just love always to hear your story, your background, obviously from the Eastern Shore, but there was some moment where you decided that you’re going to be an attorney. You’re going to go to law school. So what was that like for you and what’s that story like?

David Ginsberg:

Sure. So just a little bit of background. I left the Eastern Shore and I went to the University of Virginia, and my focus at Virginia was in business, finance and marketing, and so I have that background. And after being at Virginia, I went to law school at George Mason. And my first job out of law school was working for a legal aid in Southern Virginia, so I really bounced around the state of Virginia for a little while, but my practice now is family law, and so how did I get to there from a business background and then law school at George Mason and then legal aid? And what I found in law school, one of the reasons I went to law school and then at legal aid, was that I wanted to help people and I wanted to help people through difficult times.

David Ginsberg:

And one of the things that I’m able to do in family law is to help somebody deal with and address the most what’s usually one of the most difficult time periods in their life, and my goal is to help them from a place where they’re not very happy and hopefully put them on a path going forward. And so taking that path that I enjoy finance, and I enjoy that background, I’m able to use that knowledge in my cases, but then I’m able to help people and hopefully leave the legal process in a better place than where they started.

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent. Love that. And I’m sure that business background helps you or helped you a lot when you were starting your own practice, which is as we all know, it’s not just practicing the law or being an attorney but it’s also running a business.

David Ginsberg:

It is. And I really enjoy the business side of it at this point in my career as much as the legal side of it. And for the last 10 years or so, a law school classmate and I, Bobby Feisee, we teach law practice management at George Mason University, and we’ve written a book on the topic, How Successful Law Firms Really Work.

Kevin Daisey:

On the bottom of the screen here for everyone too just so you can see the title. You can search it. It’s on the bar site, the link below there, but if you just Google it, you can find it pretty easily.

David Ginsberg:

Thanks, Kevin. Yeah. And just having that business background and looking at a law firm as a business that provides legal services, we’re a professional services business and taking that perspective and looking at it and working on the business itself is something that I enjoy doing.

Kevin Daisey:

Yeah, I think that’s great. I hear that term quite often with some of the more established, the more prominent firms, is practice management and taking care of the client, that’s the reason you do it and that’s why you’re there. But if your business is not in order, you’re not financially sound, you have a lot of turnover with employees and staff, then you’re not able to really serve the customer, the client and take care of their needs.

David Ginsberg:

That’s right. Yeah. It all fits together. And certainly, the ultimate goal is providing the best possible legal service you can. But if you’re distracted by, as you said, constant turnover or struggling financially, just getting your expenses in order and everything else, it just takes away from your primary goal. And I know a lot of lawyers went to law school and said, “I never want to deal with numbers and budgets and things like that,” but if you’re running your business, I think it’s critical that you look at that side of things and give that the appropriate attention.

Kevin Daisey:

Yeah, a hundred percent. I think if you’re an attorney that started a firm and you don’t want to deal with all that stuff, you might want to find some folks that can come on board to help you out.

David Ginsberg:

Right.

Kevin Daisey:

But yeah, but you don’t get also to run a business necessarily. I think a lot of stories I’ve heard on here is that most didn’t want to be a business owner. They didn’t want to go on their own, and whatever in life changed that put them in that situation, now they find themselves running a firm.

David Ginsberg:

I think it’s interesting. I agree with you, Kevin. A lot of lawyers end up running their own firm and maybe they didn’t see that coming, but I would also say if you are working in a firm, a medium size to a lot larger size firm, in some ways, you have your own business within a business. You have to develop your own clients, your own referrals. You have to manage your team of paralegals, support staff, however you describe that. And so it may not be completely your business, but I think that the more successful lawyers would look at it that way as I’ve got to manage all aspects of this. I can’t just ignore them or leave them. I do agree with you. If it’s not your strength, finding somebody else to do some of these things, but you still have to make sure that it is being addressed and being coordinated.

Kevin Daisey:

Well, sure. The buck stops with you and you’re the one ultimately that owns the business, so you can’t rely on someone to do it all, but no, I totally agree with you. And if you’re an attorney listening and you work at a firm and you’re planning to just become partner and you want to stay at that firm, you got to bring in business, and you can just fly under the radar and sometimes these bigger firms may provide you the business. I think that’s more dangerous than the other way around because what if you decide to leave or they go out of business or they sell and you get tossed to the street and you developed no brand for yourself and no presence, no referral sources? Then you’re almost starting from square one where you’re used to probably making a good amount of money and you’ve not worked to build your own network. That can be a dangerous place to be.

David Ginsberg:

Well, I think that’s the key, what you just said, is working to build you own network. And I would recommend that anybody listing be systematic about it, not just hoping that a referral is going to fall into your lap, not just hoping that work is going to come your way, whether you’re in a firm or not, and developing a plan as to how you’re going to get that business coming to you or to your team.

Kevin Daisey:

No. A hundred percent. I love that. And I spent most of my time going on my own, building a network, not necessarily systematically, but more of I guess for me, it was more of I had no choice, I guess. I moved from the Eastern Shore and over here, I don’t know anybody, and so I just had to go meet people, and I was trying to do marketing and websites, but I just got worked in with people, got a part of networks, join boards, helped out, do community off, and the work came through that and I was able to build a lot of relationships, and that still pays off today.

David Ginsberg:

Absolutely. And I think just bringing it back to my practice a little bit, from a family law perspective, like Kevin said, joining clubs, joining community groups, organizations, all good ways to go, but to be a little bit more targeted in doing that. From a family law perspective, anybody might be going through a divorce, but if you’re going through a divorce, who are the people you’re most likely to talk to? A therapist or the only lawyer that you know or a financial advisor. And so as a family law attorney, speaking to those organizations or getting partnerships with those people so that they’re in a position to make a referral to you when that person does reach out. I think it can make those efforts of yours more productive.

Kevin Daisey:

A hundred percent. And I’ve always got the power group. I used to be in a local networking group, and they’d be like the CPA or the real estate agent and the mortgage broker. There were some of these folks, they were power groups. They all could work together to get the referrals they’re looking for, and some people are just like your lawyer, your CPA, whatever, they can make certain recommendations, and I think certain people trust them because they’re trusted advisors to go, “Hey. Do you know anyone that can help me with this?” And I think that’s important to find that power group of your own or create that if you want to. Reach out to folks. Talk to them and say, “Hey, I’m happy to help you with any referrals you’re looking for. What would they be? Here’s what I’m looking for,” and have those conversations.

David Ginsberg:

Right. It can be even more than that in that if you’re on a committee together and you’re each doing work, they can see that you’re capable of doing things and that they build trust in your ability to follow through on things. You don’t want to just exchange business cards with somebody and say, “Please send me a referral.” You want to develop a partnership. What kind of clients do you need or do you want? What referrals would be helpful? These are the ones that would be helpful for me. And build almost a partnership with these referral sources as much as you can because then it’s not just I know this lawyer. It’s let me tell you about this lawyer and let me tell you why this is the person that you should be working with.

Kevin Daisey:

A hundred percent. And anyone listening too, when I joined boards or be part of organizations, this is not an overnight thing. This is not like, oh, Kevin just joined the board. Let’s send him a bunch of referrals. It’s literally months, years potentially when you’ve proven yourself trustworthy enough for people to put their name on the line. And so, yeah, you have to be genuine about it. You have to work at it and you have to show that you can produce a good product or service in order for them to actually probably refer you. So it’s not something you can sneak in and just start getting referrals. You have to put in the work and the effort to make it happen.

David Ginsberg:

Totally agree. It is a long-term investment, but it does build over time. Once you get that first referral from that person and they hear back that, “Hey, when I referred to this person, it went well,” they’ll be more confident in making referrals. And the people that you’ve done a good job for, it just builds on top of each other, but it is a long-term investment.

Kevin Daisey:

A hundred percent. I forgot to put your website up. To anyone listening or following the show right now, the website address is at the bottom. It’s cgglawyers.com. So that’s cgglawyers.com if you’re listening. You can go check out David’s website, see what they’re all about, what areas they cover. I always encourage referral partners on the show. There’s a lot of attorneys that listen in. We’ve had lots of attorneys as guests, over 200 in the last year. Connect with each other, refer to each other, just talk to each other, even if it’s just to help grow your own businesses or have questions. Go check out David’s website there. Connect with him on that.

Kevin Daisey:

So you mentioned community stuff and some of the things that you’ve done well. I want to mention your golf tournament that you have, and I looked it up on your website. It looks like the 21st annual, so it’s something you’ve been doing for quite a while, but tell us a little bit about that, how that’s been, and then let folks know about it. So if they’re in the local area, maybe they can participate.

David Ginsberg:

Well, thanks. Certainly, our firm, Cooper Ginsberg Gray, one of our goals is to be a good member of the community, and one of the things that we encourage our lawyers to do is to participate. One of my partners is on a board of a mental health organization. I’m on the board of a shelter house, a homeless and domestic violence shelter organization. And so years ago, I, growing up in the Eastern Shore, played some golf, worked in a pro shop. And when I worked at legal aid, one of my responsibilities was to go meet with abused women at a domestic violence shelter every couple of weeks, and I always wanted to help in some way. And when I moved to Northern Virginia at the beginning, I wasn’t able to do as much pro bono work as I would’ve liked. And so one thing I did was, well, I know a little bit about setting up golf tournaments. I will start one, and all of the benefits will go to the local domestic violence shelter.

David Ginsberg:

So we’ve done it for 21 years. We’ve raised over $650,000. We do it every fall, and we have a great group of golfers that we interact with, sponsors, other businesses, other law firms that participate. And really not only raising money but building awareness around this issue, which is something that we hold very close and feel is something that needs much more attention.

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent. Well, that’s awesome that you’re doing that. And you’ve been 21 years into it. I saw that you guys had maybe some setbacks for COVID and you were back this year, is what I saw, I read on your website. So plans are it’s on this year, I assume, back to normal?

David Ginsberg:

We’re back to normal. Last year, we were back in person. This year, October 3rd, we’re going to be out at Bull Run Golf Tournament, but contact us through the website if you’re interested in playing, and we’d love to have you, or if you’re interested in sponsoring or just getting some more information about it.

Kevin Daisey:

I also think it’s a good tip to other firms out there on things they may be able to do like that to give back, to do something for the community, but also create some awareness and build that network as well. So I think it’s a great way to kill a few birds with one stone.

David Ginsberg:

Thank you for bringing that up. One other thing that our firm has started doing in the last couple of years, we’ve always, the last quarter of the year, would send thank you notes and a referral gift to everybody who’s sent us a case over the years and always handwritten notes to all of them, despite the hand cramps. But in recent years, what we’ve done, especially after COVID, is partnering with local businesses, independent mom and pop shops that have been struggling a little bit and sending gifts from them to our referral sources and-

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent.

David Ginsberg:

… trying to be good community members and really have gotten a lot of positive feedback about that.

Kevin Daisey:

That’s excellent. That’s a great idea, especially with the pandemic and things like that, local businesses versus just going online and sending a quick gift from a big conglomerate that can just ship it out fast and cheap maybe, but going the extra mile to make sure you send something local. That’s awesome.

David Ginsberg:

Thank you.

Kevin Daisey:

Again, just check out the website. It’s at the bottom of the screen, cgglawyers.com. The golf tournament is off there. You can learn more about that there too. So David, you’re big on referrals, which is great, a huge part of our business, a big part of my business since I started. What are some of the goals that you guys have there for growth or for anything coming up in the next couple of years? What’s on the radar for the next year or two?

David Ginsberg:

On the radar for us, growing is one of our goals. Adding an attorney or two each year for the next few years is part of our goal. Certainly to do that, adding cases as we go, and we are a full service family law firm, but at the same time, we want to make sure that those are the cases that we want and the types of cases that we want to work on. And that is in looking at … We track the numbers pretty closely in terms of cases that are coming in, where they’re coming from, and working on increasing the number of cases in the areas that we found to be most productive.

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent. That’s great. You got to be, selective might be the right word, but you got to be able to do the cases that you’re good at and that you want and you know you can run your business off of while still helping people. And I think two attorneys a year, that’s pretty good growth right there, so I’m sure you’re going to be just fine accomplishing that. But yeah, those are great goals to have. Now, as far as the areas that you serve up there in Northern Virginia, what’s your sweet spot? Is there certain areas that you won’t go into? Do you go into DC? What does that look like?

David Ginsberg:

We stay with Northern Virginia, primarily Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Prince William, Alexandria, the core groups, jurisdictions around us. We have some lawyers that are licensed in DC and Maryland, but rather than them take those cases, we work with other firms and we refer to them and they refer to us when things come across the river into Virginia. So for us, it is focusing on the core, back to we have set up what we view as our ideal client, and our ideal client, part of that is in Northern Virginia. And as you get further out of Virginia, just between the travel costs and the other, not knowing the judges as well, the clients are better served by having a local attorney. So we’ll look to refer out.

Kevin Daisey:

That’s excellent. So it sounds like you have almost like an avatar, like a client profile of what you’re looking for.

David Ginsberg:

We do. And it’s a little bit different for … We have a firm wide one, but then within the firm, different personalities, different styles of the attorneys. One attorney may prefer to work on custody cases. One attorney may prefer to work on cases that are finance heavy. And so there is some flexibility, but across the board, there is a general, look, these are the ideal clients that we would like to be … These are the people that we would like our referral sources to be sending to us.

Kevin Daisey:

That’s excellent. I think that’s super smart. I think a lot of firms don’t have that in place. They haven’t nailed down really what their ideal client. Ideal is the keyword. There is flexibility. There are exceptions, but if you have your ideal in mind, everything you write, your website content, the letters that you write, the gifts that you send, everything is a little bit easier to control, at least so you do your best job at attracting those and appealing to those ideal customers. Not that you’re always going to get the ideal customer.

David Ginsberg:

We can always have that goal.

Kevin Daisey:

You can always have the goal. It’s not going to happen though.

David Ginsberg:

Right.

Kevin Daisey:

Well, I love what you’re doing with how you’re running your business but still helping people and focusing on community and building referrals. I’m interested in the book you wrote myself. And it’s funny because I read law firm books, like how to manage law firms, how to build law firms. I don’t run a law firm, but I run a business. And a lot of it, I can apply a lot of those things that I learned. And also, our clients are law firms so the better I understand how your business runs, the better I can serve my clients. So how do successful law firms really work? You can Google that, look it up, and I think you can purchase it off the bar, the American Bar website, I think.

David Ginsberg:

Yes. And it should be on Amazon as well. Certainly, a lot of crossover, like you said, Kevin. The book is set up to be, there’s 21 chapters and at the end of each chapter, some questions, but the idea is if you go to chapter by chapter and answer those questions, you will build a business plan for your law firm. And so it walks you through step by step, and that’s something that we’ve always had as a business plan that every couple of years, we review and overhaul. We tweak it every year. But we hear so many times that law firms that don’t have a business plan and don’t have these things written out, and certainly Bobby and I feel strongly, it’s critical to having an efficient and productive firm, and so the book will take you step by step through that.

Kevin Daisey:

Excellent. Well, we should have started with that. But, hey, we will definitely add this to our newsletter and share it out with everyone that’s tuned in. If you’re not part of our newsletter, you can go sign up for it. I’ll share that in just a second actually. If you go to arraylaw.com/podcast for one, this episode with David and all the other are there, but there’s definitely an area that you can sign up for the newsletter, but we’ll add David’s book to the newsletter. It’s going to be a recommended book to manage your law firm. So we’ll get that shattered up there. Well, I love it. I’m going to go check it out myself and add it to my list of books to check out. Excellent.

David Ginsberg:

Well, thank you.

Kevin Daisey:

Well, David, yes, sir. Anything else you’d like to add before we go?

David Ginsberg:

I think we’ve covered everything or everything that we can in the short time that we have. I really appreciate you having me.

Kevin Daisey:

No, I appreciate you coming on and I think you had a lot of good things to share. You’re running your business like a business, which it is, but again, still focusing on the things that matter and helping the clients out. So a lot of lessons learned here, I think. Have your ideal customer defined. And I like not just that, but you also have profiled your attorneys and how they work with people and what they like, and aligning the clients with the right attorneys is very important. So I think that’s even a step further than most would take, so it makes a ton of sense.

David Ginsberg:

All right. Well thank you, Kevin.

Kevin Daisey:

Absolutely. All right. Well, everyone. Again, go to arraylaw.com/podcast to check this out along with the others. You can sort by city … or actually, I’m sorry. You can sort by state or practice area or both. So if you wanted to find family law or divorce attorneys in Virginia, say, that’s how you’d find David’s episode very quickly, but you might also see another couple of dozen of Virginia divorce attorneys around that you might want to connect with, listen to their episodes and see what they had to say. So feel free to go search those and hopefully get some help out of it.

Kevin Daisey:

If you need help, any marketing websites, SEO more cases, that’s what we do at arraylaw.com. We exclusively work with lawyers, and happy to talk to you or at least answer any questions you have if you have any.

Kevin Daisey:

So with that, thank you so much, David. Great talking to you. You can stay on with me for a few minutes. We’ll talk backstage. Everyone else, have a great day.

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