THE

Managing
Partners
podcast

Episode # 215
Interview on 08.16.2022

Hosted By
Erik J. Olson

Featuring Attorney

Mike Bryant



Managing Partner of
Bradshaw & Bryant, PLLC

About Mike Bryant

Mike Bryant is the Managing Partner at Bradshaw & Bryant, PLLC in Waite Park, Minnesota.

Mike is an experienced personal injury lawyer who regularly represents clients suffering from minor, serious, and catastrophic injuries. He got the following awards as Top 100 Super Lawyers in Minnesota, Top 40 personal Injury Lawyer 4 of the last 5 years, awarded as MTLA Trial lawyer of the Year and MTLA Excellence Award Winner.

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 J. Olson:

Hey, everybody. This is Erik J. Olson, your host for this episode of the Managing Partners Podcast, where we interview America’s top managing partners to find out how they are running their law firms and what they are doing to grow them as well. Today from Minnesota, Michael Bryant. Hey, Michael,

Mike Bryant:

Good day. How are you today?

Erik J. Olson:

Fantastic. Thanks for joining me. I appreciate it. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Michael Bryant is the managing partner of Bradshaw & Bryant, PLLC, where he devotes his practice to representing clients suffering from minor, serious, and catastrophic injuries. Mr. Bryant has extensive experience negotiating with insurance companies, as well as litigating personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Minnesota. Once again, thanks for joining me for the show.

Mike Bryant:

Thank you for having me on

Erik J. Olson:

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

Mike Bryant:

Yeah. Bradshaw & Bryant was created in like the late ’80s by John Bradshaw. I joined him in 1991. I was sworn in on a Friday and I was in court on Monday morning. The firm went from Bradshaw Law Office to Bradshaw & Bryant, and then Bradshaw & Bryant, PLLC, and then John retired. Now I’ve got six lawyers that work for me. We’ve got nine paralegals. We work primarily in plaintiffs’ personal injury. We also do some criminal defense. I have one full-time criminal defense lawyer, and a couple of us that still do it.

Mike Bryant:

My first appearance was a criminal appearance back on that Monday morning, right after the Twins won, I drove out to Central Minnesota on a case. Basically, that’s what we do, is primarily plaintiffs’ personal injury. Representing people who are injured through no fault of their own. I do cases all over the state. I’ve been in all but nine counties in courts in the state, in counties, and I’ve tried cases and all but 13 of the counties.

Erik J. Olson:

Oh, wow. 30 years of experience all at one law firm. I am sure that you have seen quite a bit of change. What’s it been like to witness the change? What are some big things that have changed, really in the firm? I’m sure technology, of course, has changed, but in the firm, did you always start off doing personal injury and criminal law or did you do other practice areas as well?

Mike Bryant:

No, we’ve always done that. The biggest change, when I started, there was two lawyers, and there were two paralegals, and one front desk person. That front desk person did phone calls, did scheduling, did filing. Now I have a person whose job is filing and a person whose job is scheduling. The biggest changes is how it’s grown in that direction, and just have gone from two lawyers that were doing the work we did.

Mike Bryant:

In Minnesota, we have something called no-fault law, which is basically paying people’s medical bills and wage loss after a car collision that comes from their own insurance company. Not all states have that, but we have that. I’d done a lot of that kind of work as a law clerk working for a personal injury firm as a law clerk and so when I came in, we started doing tons of that. Now I have a full-time paralegal whose only job is to work on no-fault.

Erik J. Olson:

Nice. That’s great. Yeah, it’s interesting how you talked about how the company has morphed and the positions have changed. As a bigger company, you have different roles than you did at a smaller company, people wearing multiple hats at a smaller company. One structure does not work for the different size companies at all, does it?

Mike Bryant:

No, no. That’s making the decisions on expanding and how you expand with the employees on top of just lawyers.

Erik J. Olson:

One of the things that we hear from managing partners a lot is how to get new cases. It seems to be a pretty big, common concern. Something we talk about a lot on the podcast. Referrals are usually top of the list. Besides referrals, what are some different ways you go about getting new cases?

Mike Bryant:

We do a lot of radio advertising. We’ve been involved in radio for probably 15, 16, 17 years and that’s had a big impact. That’s done a lot towards branding the name. Because what’s crazy about personal injury or criminal defense is your advertising isn’t to everybody. It’s basically, it is to everybody, but it’s only to certain people at certain times.

Mike Bryant:

You need to brand your name so that they think of you in that short period of time after something happens, so they come to you and get help from you at that point. You’re shooting at a bunch of people with the idea that there’s only a couple of them that’ll be impacted, and hoping that works out.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Are you doing also, internet advertising?

Mike Bryant:

Yeah. We have some internet advertising and we have … The big thing with the internet advertising or the internet overall was real early, I came to the understanding that you don’t need a ton of traffic to your website. There isn’t any reason a thousand people are going to come to my website.

Mike Bryant:

So many of the internet providers that don’t really understand what we do come to you with these ideas of getting all this traffic to your website. I don’t need that because I don’t have games or giveaways at my website that anybody would go, “Hey, let’s go look at that website,” so what you need is that certain number of visits. That’s really what you need, and then converting those visits into people, coming for a reason and converting them into cases. That’s the key.

Mike Bryant:

If you get 25 visits to your website a day and two or three of those convert to some sort of question that may be a case, that’s all you need, depending on your size, but that’s all. You don’t need that giant thing that a lot of marketers in the internet try to convince you of, because we’re not selling widgets. Sometimes I think it would be the greatest thing in the world for just one year to go sell widgets because I’d be really good at it.

Erik J. Olson:

It’s funny, the gym that I go to there’s like four desks right when you walk in. It’s all the salespeople, and I always think, “Man, I would love that job,” because you just sit around, and people walk in, and all you got to really do is show them around and close them. I’m like, “Ah, it must be so nice.” Yeah, not quite the same in a law firm.

Erik J. Olson:

Well, so I do agree with you that you don’t need a ton of traffic, especially if it’s not the right traffic, but what you do want is good traffic, relevant traffic where they’re potentially searching for a keyword that’s relevant to you like car accident, Minnesota, and then they come to your website. That right there is really, really good traffic.

Erik J. Olson:

Backing up to radio, it’s interesting that you’re doing radio and the approach. On the one hand, a lot of brand awareness, which is always good. I tend to think that people have a difficult time recalling the name of a firm that advertises. If they get hurt and they have to think, and they don’t have a computer by them, they may not think of the firm that advertises a lot and remember someone advertises. “Who was it? I can’t remember,” but they can recognize it, so they’ll go to the internet. They’ll search for a car accident lawyer, Minnesota. Up pops a list.

Erik J. Olson:

Then, I believe, the goal is to have your name up there. Then they recognize you from your history, from your brand awareness campaigns. When they recognize you, they’re like, “Oh, yeah. I do remember these people. I’m going to click on this link, go to their website, find out more.” Would you agree with that?

Mike Bryant:

Yeah, that’s true. It’s one of the reasons why there are certain things that I learned more about radio than I ever thought I … When I was in law school, I never knew I’d have to take an education in radio, but it’s part of the reason why we use the same bricks all the time. There’s certain keywords we use all the same time.

Mike Bryant:

I did not want a jingle, but we got a jingle and it’s worked really well, and people sing it. One of the neatest tweets I got one time was I got this tweet in the middle of a Friday night saying that someone had fallen off a bar stool and other people in the bar started singing our jingle. That’s not a case-

Erik J. Olson:

Funny but not funny.

Mike Bryant:

One of those that you think, “Wow,” that people could sing it. The person who wrote our jingle does concerts around and sometimes, he’ll sing jingles at the concerts, and people will sing along to our jingle, so that’s helped with that. It’s not just a commercial, it’s how we put the commercial together and how we’ve continuously gone with the same voice, same taglines, same parts to make that work so that we do get that name recognition that you’re talking about.

Erik J. Olson:

I think that’s great. Consistency. Consistency over time is great. The same jingle for a long time. Maybe not forever. Maybe you want to change it up every five, 10 years, but for a long time, stick with it, the same tagline. That way, people see it, they hear it over and over again and they get used to it. That’s a really good story about the bar and the fact that people started to break out and sing the jingle. That’s really interesting.

Erik J. Olson:

How are you going about handling your marketing right now? Are you doing in-house? You’ve mentioned a couple of different people you work with, the radio folks, the jingle person. Do you have a collection of people?

Mike Bryant:

I still, I tend to do stuff on relationships and knowing people, so I’ve still done a lot of the writing on commercials, or I do blogs that they then turn into commercials, so I’m pretty hands-on as far as it goes. There’s places you could buy that would get you the best rate every single week or every single month in radio all the time. I tend to go with longer contracts and not worry about that kind of stuff.

Mike Bryant:

It’s cost money at times but the reality is it’s worked for me and I’m willing to do it along those lines. It’s primarily been more in my own hands and more of my own type of ideas, working with people versus having a managing person or a person that runs it.

Erik J. Olson:

Oh, great. That’s awesome. What is something that’s working well right now in your marketing? You mentioned that the radio, you’ve been doing that for a long time. Is that one of the better performing marketing tactics for you?

Mike Bryant:

Yeah. I would say radio’s the biggest, or the biggest thing we do as far as marketing goes, if we get away from just the idea of referrals, but it’s that marketing. I think it’s being there for people. If people are going down the phone book or going down the internet, they’ll call down the list and if they don’t get ahold of somebody right away, they’ll call the next person. One of the things I added a year and a half ago was a lawyer whose job it is to call all the people back. Because as much as I wanted to call people back, you get busy, you’re in trial, you’re in depositions, you’re I this or that.

Mike Bryant:

I didn’t know COVID was coming, which probably gave me more time, but you can’t just call back all the time, and so I’d go a day without getting back to them, and so you’d lose people that way. Then you see with that, there’s certain people that come from certain radio stations or certain reasons why they call us. They’ll be mad when you call them, but they’ll wait for you to call them back.

Mike Bryant:

It’s figuring out where they come from, how strong of a referral or a basis it is, and then also getting to them as quick as possible so that we can help them. Because there’s people who have gone from zero to 100. They suddenly need help right now, and they’re worried about their wage loss, they’re worried about their property damage. They’re worried about all these things they need help with right now, and it’s getting them that help right now which is important.

Erik J. Olson:

I think that’s a great point. Yeah, people are impatient. The moment that they need us, or the moment that they decide that they’re going to reach out to a lawyer. Especially if they don’t know how long they need to wait. If I were to be hurt in Minnesota, and I contacted you, and I left a voicemail, as an example, or I left a message, and no one told me when I should expect a call back. Guess what? I’m going to keep calling because I’m not going to wait around, so I think it’s incredibly important, just like you, number one that you’re easy to get ahold of.

Erik J. Olson:

I have a brand new client. I can’t get through to them on their phone number, the published phone number. I call and the call gets disconnected every single time, so I had to get their cellphone. That’s not good for business, so we’re going to be correcting that right away. Once you get through, if you can have some answer the phone, a real human, and even after hours. Maybe pay for after hours receptionist, it’s worth it. People want to talk to a human whenever possible.

Erik J. Olson:

Then, like you said, follow up very quickly with urgency. If you can do it within 15 minutes, which I know to a lot of people that are listening right now or watching, probably sounds absurd, but if you could get back to them that quick, it’s really going to improve your chances. I’ve seen studies where hundreds of percent increases in closing cases if you respond within 15 minutes versus 15 hours.

Mike Bryant:

Yep. I think that all makes sense. It’s dealing with that need right off the bat when they need it.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. I asked you what’s working well. What about on the flip side? What is something that isn’t working quite as well now as it used to?

Mike Bryant:

Well, and this is one of those things. As much as I’m glad phone books are gone, so there’s not that regular buying phone books and the back page and whatever you buy, or the big ads. The one thing that I miss about that is when you bought the back of a phone book, you were on it for a year. Nobody went in and ripped it off and replaced it with somebody else. There might be one or two that did that, but overall, it didn’t happen.

Mike Bryant:

The one thing I don’t like, overall, about the internet is how much it changes all the time, so it’s like this daily battle or this weekly battle of being on top and then suddenly, you’re not on top. Then Google changes everything, so you need to stay with people that are staying up on what’s happening with Google because this is important today and then the next week, that’s not important. Something else is important.

Mike Bryant:

The thing I haven’t liked, and this may be twisting your question a little bit, but is that part of it because it’s so unpredictable, and so you don’t get what you paid for because it changes, and it’s something else, and then you got to pay for something else or do it in a different way. That part of it I haven’t liked. That would probably be the thing that comes to mind as far as the biggest goes, number of times I’ve wasted money on different things.

Mike Bryant:

Because I would say it’s very important to make sure the person who’s selling you what they’re selling knows what they’re selling and understands what they’re selling. We saw, as much as I love phone book people, there are a lot of phone book people that went into other things that really didn’t understand what they were selling so they thought, “Well, I can just sell it because I sold these other things,” but they didn’t understand the product, and so you end up in these things that they tell you are certain things. Then once you look into them, they’re not even close to what they think that they’re selling.

Erik J. Olson:

You made several very good points. On the last part about the folks in traditional advertising moving into digital marketing, we see that a lot. Especially with TV, radio, the coupons that get mailed out, the billboards. A lot of them, these local advertisers, which are usually part of a national conglomerate, but the local folks, they go to their existing client base and they also do digital now, and that makes me …

Erik J. Olson:

We’re a full-time digital marketing agency, and so it makes me nervous for their clients, frankly, because that’s not their business. Their business is to put giant posters up in the air, or to man the printing presses, or to get those TV commercials or radio commercials out. That’s their business and then digital is this add-on. It’s very difficult for them sometimes to compete if they don’t have a dedicated digital marketing team, in my opinion. Then again, I’m in this business and we’re full-time.

Erik J. Olson:

For me at least, it’s important because for the reasons you talked about. It changes all the time. Almost on a daily basis, there is some big news about digital marketing, in particular Google or Facebook, which is also Instagram. Sometimes, to a lesser degree, LinkedIn, Twitter, but there’s big, big changes. Apple and Google going at it over privacy. That’s a massive, massive change for digital advertising. It had a profound impact on a lot of people that were spending millions of dollars a day on advertising.

Erik J. Olson:

If you’re not keeping up with these things, you could be wasting a whole lot of money. It’s a full-time job just to keep up with one of those narrow niches within digital marketing, nevermind the whole spectrum, so I could not agree with you more. I think you’re absolutely right. It’s exhausting. It’s a full-time job.

Mike Bryant:

I know. It’s not something you learned when you started. Talking about that, the other thing I’d add is you need to make sure, if you go into digital marketing, to find out what ads are being used to get information. Because you can get lots of calls from certain ads. If you’ve got barking dogs, or a big check, or boxing gloves, you can get people that will call. They might … Half of them will be not good leads. Second, the big thing for me is we try lots of cases or did before we got shut down for a while with COVID, but I tried about five to seven cases a year.

Mike Bryant:

What’s important about that is jurors go and look at you, or they know what you’re advertising. If you’re connected to an ad that you look at and think, “That’s not me.” Or, “I’m sure that I got calls, but that’s not what I’m doing.” If other people want to do that, that’s fine. I just can’t go in front of a juror that won’t look at that and think, “Well, you’re just a scumbag,” because that won’t work.

Mike Bryant:

You got to watch what it is that’s being used because there’s well-meaning people out there who think, “Oh, yeah. This is great. I’ll do this to get you more calls,” but if it’s not something that consistent with what you believe or what you stand for, that can cause you bigger problems down the road.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah, that’s interesting. You’re talking about the company’s brand, a personal brand, and a need to be aligned with your actual belief systems and those of the jurors, right?

Mike Bryant:

Correct, yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah.

Mike Bryant:

Yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

That’s a really good point. Especially in personal injury because a lot of times, probably in every city where there’s personal injury lawyers, there’s that one that’s over the top with explosions, and gorillas, and everything else, right?

Mike Bryant:

Yeah, yeah.

Erik J. Olson:

Yeah. Well, awesome. What are your growth plans for the next couple of years?

Mike Bryant:

Well, trying to get back on track in the sense of getting back with, we’ve got a really big backlog on trials in Minnesota, so trying to get back on track so that we have that leveling idea of where we’re sitting once we start getting back into court. Because once we get trials rolling again, I think we’re going to start getting pressure from judges to help them get their backlog done, so it’s getting through all that.

Mike Bryant:

The growth plan is as much a plan of trying to make sure we maintain where we’re at, and we get through all the stuff that’s behind us. At the same time, making sure we look out and reach out for those opportunities for the cases that are out there. More people are out on the roads. Minnesota passed a great law where you couldn’t have your cellphone in your hands, and during the whole shutdown, people forgot about it so we have cellphones like crazy and back in people’s hands, even though it was heading in the right direction for a while. There’s all these things out there that we try to deal with, and unfortunately, we have clients that are injured as a result of, but that’s the getting those messages out to people because there’s always new people coming along.

Erik J. Olson:

Good for you. That’s awesome. Well, if someone has a question for you or maybe they would like to refer a case to you, what is a good way for them to get in touch with you?

Mike Bryant:

Sure. It’s Minnesota … Our website is minnesotapersonalinjury.com, minnesotapersonalinjury.com, all spelled out. Then our office number’s 800-770-7008.

Erik J. Olson:

By the way, I love your domain name. I think that is fantastic.

Mike Bryant:

Thank you.

Erik J. Olson:

You’ve had it for a little while, haven’t you?

Mike Bryant:

We’ve had it a long time. I just stumbled on it by accident. It was open and I bought it. I even bought it long before I even knew the importance of it.

Erik J. Olson:

Ah, good for you. All right, everybody. Go check out the website, minnesotapersonalinjury.com. Great domain name. I love it. If you are looking for other episodes like this with managing partners from across the country, check out our website at arraylaw.com/podcast. Every episode is tagged by the practice area and the state, and you can drill down and find exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for digital marketing for your law firm, consider my company, Array Digital. You can find out more at arraylaw.com. All right, thanks so much.

Mike Bryant:

Thank you.

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