THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 209
Interview on 07.19.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Diana Adjadj



Managing Partner of
Diana Legal

About Diana Adjadj

Diana Adjadj is the Managing Partner at Diana Legal in California.

After earning her BA in Economics, she was accepted to Thomas Jefferson School of Law on a Dean’s Academic Scholarship. Ms. Adjadj graduated from law school and earned her doctorate with distinguished honors. Upon receipt of her Jurisprudence Doctorate, she moved to the Middle East and served as a legal adviser to a large multinational law firm. After completing her project in Beirut, Lebanon, she returned to San Diego, California, where she established Adjadj Legal Group. ALG is a civil litigation firm, where attorneys serve as zealous advocates for injury victims and foreign nationals seeking investment and commercial opportunities in the United States.

She serves on the board of the Miramar College Paralegal Program, Manages the paralegal internship course at Cuyamaca College, and teaches Civil Litigation at Southwestern.

Learn from her expertise and what trends are helping grow her firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!

Watch the Episode

Episode Transcript

Erik J. Olson:

Hey everybody, this is Erik J. Olson. I am your host today for another episode of the Managing Partners Podcast. On this podcast, we interview America’s top managing partners to find out how they’re running their firms, how they’re growing their firms, and how they are keeping their case pipeline full. Today all the way from La Jolla, California, we have Diana Adjadj. Hey Diana.

Diana Adjadj:

Hello, Erik. How are you?

Erik J. Olson:

I’m doing great. Thanks so much for making the time. It’s noon where I’m at, it’s 9:00 AM, so this is the very beginning of your day. I appreciate it, thanks so much.

Diana Adjadj:

My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Erik J. Olson:

You got it. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your firm?

Diana Adjadj:

Sure. I have a civil litigation firm, and I know everyone grows up wanting to be an attorney, that wasn’t the case for me. I was at USC, studying Economics, actually. I remember specifically I took a Beatles course there, and my friend at the time had told me his mother had a JD, and it was a dynamic degree. I was like, fabulous, that’s three more years of school, I don’t have to decide what I want to do yet. I said, dynamic, that would give me options. I go to law school, and in the course of it, I clerked for the public defender’s office, family law, and then I eventually met my mentor who does civil litigation, and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

Diana Adjadj:

Then go take the bar, picked up, moved to the Middle East right after I got my law degree, because I was barred at 25, so I felt, hey, I wish I had done a little bit more before I started my career. Went out there, worked out there for a little bit, came back, and after looking for a job for three weeks, people had reached out. I guess without being young and naive, not knowing, I said, you know what? Let’s just start my own practice. It was the end goal anyway, I just didn’t expect I would start right away. As of 2010, I’ve had a plaintiff’s firm doing civil litigation. Now this June, we’ll be in practice for 12 years.

Erik J. Olson:

Good for you, that’s really impressive.

Diana Adjadj:

Thank you.

Erik J. Olson:

I love hearing those stories where you actually had one plan, you want to get a job, but then it just wasn’t happening. So it’s, well, I could either just hope for the best and see what happens or just go make my own way. That’s what you did, and it’s worked out. It’s been 11, 12 years now, and that’s incredible. I don’t even know what the percentage is of businesses that are open for 10 years, but it’s probably definitely below 50%, I know that, and probably more like 25%, so congratulations.

Diana Adjadj:

Thank you. I think my mentor misled me, said, Diana, the reason people don’t open up law firms is, because they have a problem drumming up business and you don’t have… I had already set quite a bit of clients during my law school years. I think there’s a little bit more to that, but… Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Which I’m really glad that you brought that up, because that is a recurring topic on this podcast. It’s actually that the purpose of the podcast is to share ideas about how managing partners and law firms are drumming up business, because… Then my next question is, how do you go about doing that? A lot of law firms rely exclusively and only on referrals, which are great, everybody loves referrals, I love referrals, they are a great lead source, but it’s one of those things that is very difficult to generate the demand, especially when you need it. You’re just kind of passively kicking back, hoping that these referrals come in, but what do you do to actively go out and get new business?

Diana Adjadj:

Look, it’s transitioned over the years. When I first started my practice, first of all, I couldn’t handle really a decent caseload when I first started, because I was just trying to learn everything. In that case, I was co-counseling with a lot of other attorneys. At the time when I just show up at their office saying, do you have anything, I’m running low? Thankfully they helped, but… Yeah, we have the referral thing, but when I first started my practice also, I didn’t have a dollar to my name. I knew these two attorneys, one did bankruptcy, the other one did criminal defense. I said, I’ll answer phones for you in exchange to use your office space. Then as that relationship develops in close proximity, they start shifting me clients. Okay, but so initially it starts off referrals that you can’t really rely on it, because it’s not stable, and you don’t know when it’s coming in. Eventually what ended up happening, unintentionally.

Diana Adjadj:

The work I had done overseas, I had my contacts, and then the [inaudible 00:04:31] start sending me cases. Sometimes it’d be, Diana, there’s somebody getting a divorce in Connecticut. I’m, well, I’m sorry to hear it, but I can’t help you. Then other times it would’ve been, hey, they try to purchase a plot of land in the US. We take it for granted here that if you have funds, you just easily could invest, but in other countries they don’t have that luxury, right? The cost of entries is a little bit higher, you need residency, you need certain things. In that aspect, I mean, I was the only attorney they knew, and it was a really weird niche, because you have these four nationals doing investments here in the US. Then I started getting that.

Diana Adjadj:

Then also I became known as the attorney who would take anything at some point, because I would have clients who would’ve sat in, maybe they got rejected by two or three other attorneys. One time, there’s a girl who told me, you’re my sixth attorney. Which I was… So humility, I guess. I would take these cases that other people wouldn’t necessarily won’t see the value in or thought liability was too high to kind of overcome. That was initially.

Diana Adjadj:

Then for the past six years, about halfway through my practice, I started teaching. Then teaching changed things significantly. Initially I had about an audience of 30, 35 students each semester, and I’d be in-person. I’d cultivate a relationship with these students, and they’re older. We were doing this at night, so I met their children, because their children would sometimes come to class with them, and that ended up being a great way to get business. Then I started… I had a website, so then I had a marketing guy who came in and said, Diana, you need to start posting blogs, about three years later, right? This is about what? Three years ago. I was, what do you mean blogs? What are we going to write about? He’s like, well, what do you teach about? I debriefed cases with my class, we look at real cases, real hypotheticals, and he’s, look, if you’re breaking these down anyway, and you’re going to lecture on it, just write something on it.

Diana Adjadj:

Honestly, I mean, the first… I don’t think I got a call for the first year and a half, nothing. I was doing it for the class, so I was, fine, just post this stuff. Now after three years, no, he was right. I mean, it took long… I didn’t do ad pay, so it really was organically coming up in search engines. Now after three years, no, I mean, I get calls, I get… The majority of my hourly stuff comes in through these blogs, so yeah. Actually it’s ironic that we’re having this interview now, because it’s only now that I’m actually seeing the value of it. I’m now in the process of actually, okay, let’s get somebody on board. Every month he’s doing something with the website, maybe now start investing in Google AdWords. This is something I’m actually looking at, because I’m seeing it’s actually reaping benefits.

Erik J. Olson:

I think that’s great. Yeah, and what’s really interesting about that story is that you already had the content, because you were teaching and it was really just a matter of repurposing it for the most part. I’m sure you had to rework it a little bit, but repurposing what you were already doing to create content for your website. Whenever you can repurpose, you should, and especially if you could figure out what it is that your ideal kinds of clients are looking for, and then teach that, if you can, if the curriculum allows it. If you can change the curriculum, that would be even better, but basically gear everything that you do towards what your ideal client is looking for, then post it all over the place. Have you used that kind of content in other places besides just your blog, maybe LinkedIn or something like that?

Diana Adjadj:

Oh yeah, I mean, there’s the plugin that I guess when the post goes to my LinkedIn, it goes to Facebook and stuff, and Twitter. Yeah, so it does it in itself. I click a button and that is it.

Erik J. Olson:

Very cool. So as far as your marketing goes, how are you currently handling that? You’ve mentioned your writing blogs, you’ve mentioned that there is or was someone involved in helping you with the website?

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Are you doing it all in house now, kind of a combination?

Diana Adjadj:

I draft my own material. There’s a guy that post it, I mean, I kind of know how to post it too, but we’re just starting now to see how are we going to integrate AdWords, if he wants. I mean, we meet, we talk every two weeks, but it’s only new, I don’t think he has actually started any of it.

Erik J. Olson:

Okay. That’s great. Cool.

Diana Adjadj:

To be honest, I’m not tech savvy, so quite frankly, if he could do all of it, that would be ideal. I mean, I’ll draft the content, send it to him and… Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Just have someone take care of all that stuff.

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

No, I’m totally with you. Well, cool. When it comes to something that’s working, especially well, would you say it’s the blogs that have really kind of taken off for you?

Diana Adjadj:

It’s the blogs. Look, if I had more, I definitely see the potential of it. Again, predominantly I’m drafting based on what I’m teaching, depending on the curriculum for that week. There’s a certain area of law that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily do, like targeting for investors doing business here or targeting the susceptible claimant. There’s really a direct thing that I like to do in practice, and now realizing that it is generating business, I could be better by being more specific on those topics specifically, but sometimes depending on what the class is, it doesn’t lend for it. I think if I was more specific with the topics, if I was more consistent with the exact topics that I want to bring in, I imagine it would be better. That would be the shift to focus, but yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Okay. Cool. Then as additional marketing industry we’re always actually interested in what used to work, but no longer works for you. Is there something that you could think of?

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah, there was. I hired… Look the way I’ve gotten my best clients ever, it’s always been relationship. It’s not relationships with other attorneys necessarily. I’m a local, I grew up in San Diego, wonderful connections here, volunteer quite a bit, I’m active in a club. Through my activities, they’ve actually been the best source of referrals. What I try to do, I try to actually like outsource that. There was a phenomenal lady who, dear friend of mine to this day, she has her own marketing firm, and I said, you know what? Get on board and why don’t you start building those relationships on my behalf? It didn’t work, because it’s different. The conversations that you have with your colleagues, the conversations you have with your friends, that stuff can’t be necessarily, I think, unless… I don’t think that could be reciprocated through another, you can’t outsource that.

Erik J. Olson:

Are you talking about a business development person that would go out in the community and represent your firm?

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

That kind of from a personal perspective too, this is the person that represents your firm. Yeah.

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah. She had a history of doing marketing, whether it’s with physicians with… So she would go out, reach to certain people, and stuff like that. It was different. When you were the face of it, and it’s, oh yeah, I know Dian. Getting a third party in between that line, at least for me, it didn’t work.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Basically a sales person, right?

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah. By the way, it’s not the necessarily most economical route to go, I just… Look, I’m a solo practitioner, I have several contract paralegals that I shift work out to, but it really is me. What I really do want to focus on, I want smaller cases, higher value. I think in this profession, you see that it thrives in one of two manners. You’re either a practice that’s operating on volume, and then in which case you’re just squeezing really quickly whatever you can out of the lemon and tossing it in next case, next case. I think for me, it’s not the… One, I have the ability to kind of really take time on it, maybe it takes a month or two, a little bit longer, but I’m squeezing every ounce of liquid out that lemon before I’m tossing it out.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah.

Diana Adjadj:

So you close out the case. That’s what I enjoy, because through that process, I’m really working with my clients. We’re getting into the arguments in regards to liability. You’re not only working with the clients itself, I’m meeting their families. I know my client’s spouses, their children, their colleagues. Especially now with COVID, everyone will get on the Zoom and talk to me, which is great. When I had hired the marketing lady, to this day actually, how I’d really do want to build my practice, I don’t want necessarily higher in volume. I want more substantial cases. When the smaller stuff do come in, I mean, there’s wonderful referrals, there’s tons of attorneys here in San Diego, many who have the capacity in house to really operate on volume, which is not where I’m necessarily headed.

Erik J. Olson:

Sure. Are there particular practice areas that you would want to focus on when it comes to the high quality?

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah. The hourly stuff, actually, I got a great case this week. He found me on Google. This one’s odd, because there’s more domestic investment, but he had thought he had bought a portion of a very profitable business and come to find out he didn’t have ownership in it and then basically half a million dollars was gone. This is another thing, so unfortunately with these, there’s a lot of vetting, because I have to hire a PI, I have to see if, hey, are we going to go after? Is there something you’re actually going to get recourse against? I mean, oftentimes the conversation is, I’m really sorry this happened, but [inaudible 00:14:27] has nothing. Don’t put good money after [inaudible 00:14:33]. Thankfully in this situation, after we did the investigation, know there was stuff there.

Diana Adjadj:

He’s kind of the dream situation, because it is the fraud, it is deceit, it’s the contract breach. A guy who struggled to save up his money, and he did, and he was joining, making investment in something that he believed to be substantial, and unfortunately he bamboozled. One, it’s an honor to even just have these conversations with these guys, because they’re ambitious, they’re entrepreneurs, their energy is kind of… It’s nice, it’s exciting, and stuff like that. Then thankfully in this case, I’m looking at him, I’m, no, I think we actually got something here, we can make this work. This is a dream case. I could have had six, seven of these open at a time.

Erik J. Olson:

Oh yeah. Nice. When you say that he found you through Google, are you running ads right now or was that just one of the natural links?

Diana Adjadj:

No, this is funny. No, because I asked him, I said, [inaudible 00:15:39] my blog, but I guess I was on something like investor fraud. He told me this website, which I blew my mind, I didn’t even know what was on there. I imagine one of my articles that I had drafted at some point got tied to this or got quoted, I don’t know what happened. Tat was funny.

Erik J. Olson:

Isn’t that great?

Diana Adjadj:

Oh, it was wonderful.

Erik J. Olson:

That’s great, because you kind of sprinkle the magic all over the place and sometimes you know if it’s going to work, sometimes you don’t know, but it’s wonderful when there a year or so later, a great opportunity comes your way, because of that.

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah. I mean, yeah, it really is the ideal situation. It’s so funny how it’s that one conversation, and I mean, I wish Eric was still doing websites, because I would’ve been, hey, he’s not in the practice anymore, but he said, Diana, you’re doing it anyway, just put it in writing. You’re doing it. He’s right.

Erik J. Olson:

Smart.

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah, smart.

Erik J. Olson:

That was a good move. Well, cool. We’re running a little bit long, and I want to respect your time, so we are going to kind of wrap things up here, but what is the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to know more or they have a question for you or maybe a referral?

Diana Adjadj:

Sure. My website’s probably the best way. It’s dianalegal.com. My first name, then legal.com, and then through that, you have links to all my social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Erik J. Olson:

That was smart, using your first name in the URL instead of your last name, easy to pronounce, probably a little more difficult to actually spell out.

Diana Adjadj:

Look, there’s been, as a sole practitioner, a lot of it’s trial and error. Initially my domain name was my last name and first of all, say Adjadj, it’s not spelled like a judge, it’s like Adjadj, and… Yeah, I wish I thought of it earlier, an easy domain name, who would’ve thought?

Erik J. Olson:

Very smart.

Diana Adjadj:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

All right. Great. Thanks so much. All right, everybody, if you would like to check out other episodes like this, our entire backlog is at arraylaw.com/podcast. We have over 150 interviews just like this. Each one is organized by practice area and by state, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for digital marketing for your law firm, please consider my company Array Digital. We specialize in website design, SCO, article writing, AdWords, and also social media. You can find more at arraylaw.com. Diana, thanks so much.

Diana Adjadj:

Thank you so much, Erik.

 

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