Erik J. Olson (00:01):
Hey there. This is Erik J. Olson, your host for this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast. In this podcast, we talked to America’s top managing partners to find out what they’re doing to run their firms, grow their firms, and most importantly, keep the cases flowing. And today I have with me from New Jersey Drew Britcher. Hey Drew.
Drew Britcher (00:22):
Hey Erik, how are you?
Erik J. Olson (00:24):
I’m doing great. I appreciate you making the time. Can you tell the audience a little bit more about you and your firm?
Drew Britcher (00:30):
So I’m a New Jersey based medical malpractice, personal injury trial lawyer. I’m what they call a a New Jersey parlance, a certified civil trial lawyer, which just simply means I subjected myself to a review of credentials and a second bar exam and managed to pass it. And now put myself through a five year cycle of having to teach enough or listen to other people, teach enough to keep that title, which allows a New Jersey an interesting thing from an ethical standpoint, we’re allowed to actually pay referral fees to lawyers, without them having to actually do any work on the file, which is very different in many other states. Our firm is a six lawyer personal injury and medical malpractice firm. We have two offices. One of them is in Glen rock and Bergen county, relatively close to Manhattan. And the other one is in Morris county in Morristown about a half an hour away. And you know, we try cases and we handle cases and we try to do our best to help people who have had something really lousy happen to them be able to deal with the rest of their life.
Erik J. Olson (01:42):
Sure. So in, in this day and age with a, a lot of people working remotely, how has that changed your office staffing? Do you have people actively working at each office?
Drew Britcher (01:55):
For the point till now, it’s almost been completely remote. You know, when, when, when the pandemic hit, because we had done so many depositions via some platform like this, we immediately walked out on Friday, walked in on Monday, were all of our employees and us on a Monday morning two week calendar review. We’ve continued to do that every Monday 9:00 AM, we’re all on for an hour. And then we go off to do our, the rest of our work and likewise throughout the pandemic to maintain connection with everybody every week I was seen to it that a case of wine was getting delivered to my office and it was getting distributed amongst my people. And every Friday at four o’clock, we would shut down an hour early and get on zoom together and have a wine tasting and a discussion of how a week went.
Drew Britcher (02:58):
And that not only included us, it included our spouses or significant others in, you know, those on a regular basis. And that really kind of, you know, kept everybody connected. We have not changed our staffing over that. Everybody’s remained employed. We haven’t, you know, added anybody. The vast majority of people work remotely until things kind of calm down a bit. Now everybody is expected in the office for some portion of the time. And we have one employee who can walk to our Glen rock office. That is the person who came in through the whole pandemic every single day and open the doors and collected the mail and saw to it that if something had to happen physically there, we were, you know, able to do it. But now we’re, we’re starting to have the discussion about what’s the right balance. I think people have gotten used to being able to work from home. They’ve proven they can do it. But I think for the people who have for reasons of their tasks reasons they kind of needed to return to the office, it becomes a little bit isolated when, you know, they’re the, the only one or two or maybe three, you know, in the office. So we’re, we’re having the conversation.
Erik J. Olson (04:20):
Yeah, for me. It, it was, it was nice for a while until I decided it wasn’t nice. It was, it’s kind of like, I, I likened it to camping. It, it, it, you look forward to it, you do it for a couple days and then, then you’re ready to go back to normal. And, and I went camping for about a year, basically in my house, working out of the house with all the distractions there. And I, I just couldn’t take it any longer. So didn’t make any sense since my office is only about 15 minutes away from home, so sure. I was the first one back after about a year out. And and now we we’ve settled into a new norm, but most people are remote these days. Just cuz we’ve been hiring from outta the area, but all sorts of different companies take different tactics on this issue. And I know a lot of actually I know a lot of lawyers that are working remotely and even outta state, maybe even outta the country, I’ve heard of that as well. And cuz they, they rarely have to show up in, you know, in court they can do everything electronic, which is really interesting.
Drew Britcher (05:17):
You know, it’s kind of interesting cause we’re primarily a trial firm and we we have not had a trial in the last two years. We, we don’t do the kind of smaller matters generally that can be tried fully remotely. A lot of our cases are the 3, 4, 5, sometimes six week long, you know, medically oriented cases that need to be done physically. And we just got our first case where a judge has said August one you will go physically in the courthouse, but in New Jersey the current circumstance is that they are still, even for the cases they are bringing into courthouses picking the juries remotely and only bringing the chosen jurors into the courthouse for the trial.
Erik J. Olson (06:13):
Well that I would think that would make sense. That’s, that’s a pretty good use of everyone’s time. Right. So really interesting things that are, that are changing with remote work and whatnot. So let’s, let’s shift a little bit we’re, we’re a digital marketing agency. We’re always interested to know what’s happening in digital marketing with various law firms across the country. And it, it’s pretty interesting to, to me and to us that different firms take different tactics. So I wanted to find out from you as far as getting new cases besides referrals which is always big with law firms, but besides referrals, what are some different ways that you go about getting new clients?
Drew Britcher (06:51):
Well, certainly, you know different people, you do different things. Our website, for example, is more of a reputation website than a marketing website meaning in effect that I would tell you that I am truly of the belief that despite what the judge tells members of the jury, the very first thing they do when they get home at the end of the first day is they look me and my adversary and my clients, et cetera, up on the internet. And so the last thing I want is them coming to a website that is going to turn them off because it somehow reinforces their misimpression of what people who do, what I do are about and what we’re like. So we’re probably a little more personal a little more professional in some ways. You know, for example, our firm does a lot of work in the charitable space.
Drew Britcher (07:51):
And so when you go to my website tab, number two, isn’t, you know verdicts and settlements, it’s charitable works and that’s by design because we don’t want people thinking that what I do is quote, unquote all about the money, cuz it’s not, it’s completely about trying to help people. Who’ve had something really bad happen, deal with the remainder of their life, you know, and that’s the nature of, you know, of, of where we position ourselves now, does that mean we don’t spend time and money with an SEO professional thinking about what words we need to be using and how those play? No, we do do that. We, you know, we do certainly try to use that as a mechanism.
Erik J. Olson (08:39):
I’m on your side now I’m sharing it. If anyone’s watching the video, you can see it. If, if you’re just listening, obviously won’t be able to see it. But yeah, the third tab charitable works. So when you click on that, that’s, that’s that’s really nice. I like that.
Drew Britcher (08:54):
Yeah. You know it, it has sort of a historical background with the firm. We were in our second year of operation and we were working on a case that involved a particular medical condition known as shoulder dystocia, which is a problem that can occur in childbirth when the baby’s shoulder becomes hitch, done a portion of the mother’s anatomy. And as a result of that you need to undertake certain maneuvers to see too, you don’t cause a nerve injury to the child’s arm. And we repeatedly had handled many of these. And so we started gathering every piece of literature that had ever been published on the subject, going back to like 1931, I think was the first piece. And we gathered and put it together and we prepared ourself, you know, for a particular matter we had and someone else in a national list serve asked if anybody had X, Y, Z pieces of literature.
Drew Britcher (09:51):
And I wrote back and said, well, I have that. And I have, you know, all these others too. And they said, would you send me a copy? And I said, I’d be happy to. And the gentleman turned around and unsolicitedly sent me a check for $250. <Laugh> turned around and had a light bulb moment. I said, well, maybe everybody else would like this. We can turn it into good. So I turned around and I said, everybody, I said, I’ll tell you what anybody else who wants one you know, 250 bucks will have it made, we’ll have it shipped to you, et cetera. And the money will all go to buying Christmas presents, you know, for children in need in our area. And it was like that old I think it was Xerox, did the commercial where the people are like they got their first order and they’re excited and they got their second order and they’re excited and then they get their 10th order.
Drew Britcher (10:44):
And they’re like, now what do we do? Yeah. So we left on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and you know, and in those days we didn’t really follow our email on the weekend to speak of. And I came back in on Monday morning and it was kind of like that we had exploded from, you know, 4, 5, 6 requests by the time it was done and over, we had nearly a hundred. Wow. And so in those days, again, because we weren’t necessarily dropping everything onto disc, we weren’t necessarily doing things on file share, et cetera. We literally took three binders to a printer who created 100 bound copies of this, that we then shipped all around the country. And in fact, a couple outside the country, we actually had a lawyer’s far away as Australia you know, get a copy. And so we then created a truly separate account within the firm called our special works account.
Drew Britcher (11:50):
And we started using it for that purpose. And then as time went on, we did the same thing with other literature. We updated that set of materials. We started putting them on discs <laugh> and making them word searchable and et cetera. And and I do a certain amount of personal counsel work for doctors that I don’t, you know, take as an income. And I do a certain amount of expert witness work that I don’t take as an income and that money all goes in there. And we use it to support food pantries and battered women’s shelters and youth shelters and cerebral palsy centers that are in our region. And we also do a little project called the Christmas shoes that we do every so often. We don’t do that every year because it’s a, it’s a significant expenditure when we do it.
Drew Britcher (12:43):
Where I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the song, the Christmas shoes, it was popular a number of years ago. It generally brings it here to almost anybody’s eye who listens to it. It’s a, a Christian band called new song does a song that’s based on a story of a little boy going into a store and trying to buy a pair of shoes for his mother. Who’s dying for Christmas and he doesn’t have enough money. And so somebody behind him provides him the resource and the child, of course, the world is made. And so we’ve gone out and identified people in our community through what we generally refer to as an angel. So the people who are benefiting from this, they don’t know it’s us.
Erik J. Olson (13:30):
They have no
Drew Britcher (13:31):
Idea whatsoever. You know, again kind of goes back to the old mash episode where Winchester talks about, you know, that true charity is done without recognition.
Erik J. Olson (13:42):
Yeah, I agree.
Drew Britcher (13:43):
So, you know, I like talking about it, but I also will tell you that when it comes to that one, it’s that child doesn’t need to know who it was that that’s right. That’s right. And their parent on that trip,
Erik J. Olson (13:55):
I feel the same way when I give it’s not about me, it’s about, you know giving. So yeah, very nice. I would imagine it’s well received in the community as well. And certainly like the fact that you put that well, high end in the center of your website, that’s really nice on your marketing. So how, how are you handling that and what, what is working well these days for you?
Drew Britcher (14:21):
Well, we’ve always followed the multi dimensional approach, everything supports everything else. So even though I don’t believe in yellow pages advertising, you know, today I still, because they haven’t raised their rates in forever, and I have the back cover of the local phone books in my area. I still, you know spend the money on it. Why, because that one time a year when it drops on everybody’s you know, doorstep they, they see the ad. And that then reinforces that we do do some television, you know, advertising not a lot. And we don’t, again, we do it differently. It’s very focused on my partner being a physician, me being a certified civil trial attorney, as opposed to on, you know not to pick on my colleagues, but I’m offended when I see a commercial that says, call us, we’ll get you money because that’s not what this is about.
Drew Britcher (15:24):
And you know, that then gets reinforced by things like, you know, the annual super lawyer’s thing and you, you know, et cetera, when people see the name and see the name and see the name and see the name, it re reinforces enough that when something unfortunately happens, they think back to it. And so one leads to another leads to another. I, I was hysterical. I was at a, a law firm last night. I’m the incoming president, the alumni association of my law school. And we had a New Jersey alumni networking event last night at one of the firms that routinely defends cases of mine. And I’m in their central lobby area of, of near where their conference rooms are. And they have a television that, you know, runs the local news channel in the background. And so while I’m standing talking to these people in the middle of the conversation, all of a sudden, there’s my firm’s advertisement on the screen, and we’re all like stopping dead in our discussion because, you know, we could have timed that any better, that for that moment.
Drew Britcher (16:32):
And we just find that repetition of recognition is out there. We do something good. We, we have a, we have a public relations person who sees to it that, you know, the little local newspapers town, I live in the town where my offices are, etcetera, my partners, town, et cetera. They’re always looking for something mm-hmm <affirmative>. So you send, you send them first release and they pretty much publish it, you know, exactly as you, it was written and then today’s age more and more there’s these local know what I wanna call them, I guess I’d call them sort of local news sites, but they’re kind of almost because they send you, you know, notification of anything that’s new. They’re almost like a, a version of the local Facebook. Yeah. Without anybody really posting on it, et cetera. Sure, sure. I, you know, I guess the other thing is, yeah, I still am. I’m a relationship builder, you know tomorrow night I will be having a, you know, a, a wine tasting for a series of people that are you know, leaders in my community. Why, because you want them to remember you’re out there.
Erik J. Olson (17:50):
So a couple thoughts on what, what you said first you, I wanna give you an award because you are the first person that I’ve come across that that still advertises in the yellow pages. <Laugh> but if it works, it works right. So you’re doing something that’s different. Right. So in, in my area, like I used to get the, the yellow pages dropped on my driveway years ago. I, that hasn’t happened in, I don’t even know how long, at least five years, probably more like 10 years. And, you know, for me, at least it would drop and then I would pick it up and guess where it would go, right. So if you’re gonna do it, spend the money, right. To get the advertisement visible. Otherwise you, you may only get one shot. It’s kind of like a direct mail. But that, at least for me, like they don’t, they don’t do that anymore.
Erik J. Olson (18:45):
So if in your area they’re still doing that, then, then there’s an opportunity there, which probably a lot of people have exited from, which means you’ve got, you know, it’s probably a shrinking media. Yep. But it’s there. And if you could take advantage of it. Great. I believe the same thing even in I’m a digital marketer, but I believe the same thing with direct mail, physical mail. And even in some cases, some niche either newspapers or magazines, they make a lot of sense. So, but, but that, that is interesting. I, I have not heard of someone in a, in a long, long time talking about the yellow pages. So if it’s still working for you, that’s awesome. And then the second
Drew Britcher (19:25):
Really works in that fashion that we just discussed. I, yeah, I never, I would never promote to anybody the idea of putting something inside the book.
Erik J. Olson (19:33):
Yeah. There you go. Cause the chances of getting it opened are pretty slim. So the, the other concept was recognition versus recall of, of a name, right? So by doing all the things that you’re doing the PR the charitable giving as, as much as your name is associated with that, but basically being out in the community that builds up name recognition. So when people see your name, they’ll recognize it from the past exposure to the brand recall is a lot more difficult, right? So like, I, we have a personal injury lawyer outta South Carolina. And his philosophy is when it comes to the mass marketing, really put yourself out there, get attention, get people to know the name. And so they’ll recognize the name when they see it, but they won’t need you until a particular event happens, a car accident really, right.
Erik J. Olson (20:25):
Or something similar to that in your case would be like medical malpractice. And they’re gonna go to the source that people go to these days, which is Google. And they’re gonna do a search for car accident, lawyer near me, or some variation of that depending on their situation. And when they get the list, he wants that his name to be recognized from all the other broad advertising and marketing that he’s done. So he, he’s a true believer. And I would agree that it’s, it’s very, very difficult for people to recall the name from a, you know, blank piece of paper from, from nothing, but they’ll recognize it when they see it in a list. And he’s, so he’s banking on the recognition and it’s doing well for him. Well, what, what are your thoughts on recall versus recognition?
Drew Britcher (21:09):
Well, I think sometimes you get a benefit, you know, coincidentally, my last name, for example there are maybe 160 Brits in the entire United States in the state of New Jersey where I practice the only bris you’ll find, you know are me, my daughter, who has been the director of operations for Rutgers gymnastics. You know my son who is in, you know medical transport person down in Newark my ex-wife who still uses my last name, who used to be the director the assistant director of the food pantry in the county. And that’s it, there’s a guy down south Jersey someplace who’s not related who has my last name. So the good news for me is butcher leading our name, you know, was for other reasons, but you know, it works out well. Yeah. I mean, as opposed to my partner, you know arm and Leon own, you know, here in New Jersey, there are plenty of Leon own families and you, you know, it might stick, it might not stick. Arguably if he were the first name, we’d be using a lion somehow because of, you know, the reinforcement, but you get lucky.
Erik J. Olson (22:27):
Well, I would say you are lucky with the last name because it’s, it’s unique as you say. But it’s easy to spell and say usually you have to sacrifice those two qualities for uniqueness, right? So
Drew Britcher (22:40):
Yeah. As long as you get them to the B part, you’re good. You’re good because there is a common family name, Pritchard, and I have had my problem with people, you know, who’ve done that, but they get the B the rest of it flows pretty easily.
Erik J. Olson (22:53):
Actually. Speaking of names, how many people get tied up or confused by the E in front of drew? Do they call you E
Drew Britcher (23:01):
No, they call me drew I’m I, you know, I, we talked about this last night in my law school thing, cuz the Dean, when I went there was E Donald Shapiro and part of why I ended up using E professionally was because at my law school, in my state where I went to New York, you had to use your first initial on everything. I was drew my whole life. You know, you go back to my high school stuff. My co drew, drew, drew. Yeah. When I was forced to have to put the E on it, there came a point where, you know, people made the comment that, you know, it kind of created a, a distinction in some way that you weren’t searching for a middle initial type of thing. And then it was kind of also funny because that, that Dean once said to me, what is your E stand for? And I said, Edwin, and trust me if I was called Edwin, it was because I knew I was in trouble and it was time to run <laugh>. And he said, well, that’s okay, mine’s urban. I think you’ve got the better end of the deal
Erik J. Olson (23:58):
Drew Britcher (23:59):
So it stuck, you know, and became something that now I get friends who do the E and instead of calling me
Erik J. Olson (24:09):
<Laugh> well, I, I, I bet the combination of, of, of the initial and, and the first and last name, I guess is really the middle name and the last name makes for uniqueness.
Drew Britcher (24:20):
Erik J. Olson (24:21):
Does. Yes. Which is very nice. I, I had to do something similar, which is when I injected the J in between Eric and Olson, because there’s a whole lot of Eric Olsons running around not only the United States, but around town. And so I, I, I had to try to get a little more unique and that was where I, I injected the J and there’s, there’s a couple of us kicking around with the same spelling and everything. And my, my spelling is, is different than most would expect. But I think it is important to try to get unique in your name whether it’s your personal brand or your company name otherwise it just becomes confusing and people don’t really, they, they can’t differentiate you from the other ones. So, so we’ve talked about some things that you’ve done in marketing, things that are working well. Is there anything in your marketing or advertising that, that used to work well, but you, you recently stopped doing within the last year or two
Drew Britcher (25:17):
Say, it’s funny, you used the word stop because I’d say the yellow page just doesn’t work anymore either, but I haven’t stopped doing it because I’ve got that, you know, exterior cover type thing now, you know I, I, I would certainly tell you that I think that the, what I’ll call sublist stuff doesn’t work very well. And I get a little frustrated by it too, when, when the, you know, again, like you take the super lawyers and they come to you and they say, you know we want you to spend money to be one of the, you know, five people listed that we restrict the super lawyers yeah. To in this region or whatever. And I look at it as, okay. So it happens that my website’s run by the same company that’s doing that. They they’re basically asking me to give them money to out position the website they’re running for me.
Drew Britcher (26:12):
So for me, it was like, I I’m just not gonna do this, but I also don’t think it works all that terribly well. Yeah. Because I think that people aren’t going to the sub sites, I think, you know, people have become cognizant to some degree about the difference between paid advertising on the internet versus, you know, real I guess you, you know think of it as more organic or recognition that this is a, a, a firm that does mm-hmm, <affirmative> what, you know, what they say they do. And that’s why I, you know, I think that those, you know, are kind of slowly dying off.
Erik J. Olson (26:58):
Yeah. Yeah. We call them aggregator sites. They already get a bunch of data and sometimes there’s a pay to play. Mean like the reality is they get clicks. They, they do have rankings if, if they do it well. So, so people will find those listings and, and they’ll click through, but there’s a lot more authority. If you can get your own listing high in the, basically the Google rankings, the organic rankings, and to your point about advertising versus non-advertising, you know, when, when you do a Google search for something like medical malpractice, lawyer, you’re gonna get at the very top of Google, you’re gonna see three or four ads at front and center. That’s all you see, right. You would think that they’d get a whole lot of clicks. Well, the reality is that only 3% of people click on those ads and the rest drop down.
Erik J. Olson (27:49):
So they have to actually take some action scroll to get down to the next section, which is the organic section of Google. So 97% of people scroll down there. Why is that? Well, I mean, I could probably make an educated guess that they trust those results more than the ones that are paid for or above. So, and, and, and, and it’s a much stronger conversion rate. Once people click through to the website from an organic result versus a paid result, more people will convert on the website after they’ve clicked through an organic listing. So they, they trust it more it has high reputation and people are also accustomed to the fact that those listings Google only puts them up there if Google basically believes in them. And they have everyone knows these days. I think it’s, I would say it’s common knowledge that, that Google has a very robust algorithm and you have to be one of the best to get to the top on the, on the top of the first page and not the ads top. So there there’s there’s authority that goes along with that, just because people have gotten to the first page and towards the top of the first page, because people believe in Google. So that brand authority of Google goes to the organic listings as well. But yeah, 3% click on the ads and 97 drop down, take action to scroll, to drop down. So I, I, I think your point is well taken.
Drew Britcher (29:11):
Yeah. I think once upon a time was different, but again, talk about things that evolve. I, I, I don’t think I’ve clicked on anything in that, you know, a section myself, and I’m not talking about lawyers, I’m talking about anything. I do probably for the last four or five years. Yeah. Once I came to understand how the system worked.
Erik J. Olson (29:30):
Yeah. So for, for me personally, I will click on an ad if it’s the perfect match. Right. So it, it has to specifically address the problem that I’m searching for, if there’s any vagueness to it. I, I won’t, because I know the organic results will satisfy what I’m looking for. Sure. So, yeah. And, and by the way, we, we do advertising here and we, we see results. But, but, but it takes an awful lot of work to make sure that specifically what’s being served for is what the ad says. You’ll get if you click on it. Right. So it can’t be broad. It has, it has to be a lot of ads, a lot of variation of ads based on what the person’s searching for. So cool. So earlier you said that you have six attorneys and sounds like you’ve been at about, at six for a while. Yeah. Do you have growth plans at this point?
Drew Britcher (30:24):
It would be fair to say that, you know, we’re all some level waiting to watch, you know, the pandemic come to its evolution conclusion, hopefully. And a lot of that has to do with, from our end that, you know, courts in New Jersey are significantly backlogged. You want to get a better sense of what’s the gap time between when we initiate a case and when we’re gonna finish a case, you know, you tell me that it’s gonna take me two years from the time I initiate a case to the time I’m gonna get a trial. And I know I can handle a particular, you know, number of cases you tell me that it’s, you know, gonna take me six years to get the same case, a number one. I can certainly handle a whole lot more. And B I can, you know, look at the, you know, investment, not only of, you know, time and personnel, but to the expense.
Drew Britcher (31:32):
I mean, one of the big things in my field, that’s a little bit different than, you know, other areas of law. We’re, we don’t get paid until it’s over. Yep. I mean, you know my friends are, do hourly rate work. They get paid when they do their work or not long thereafter. And two besides, you know, the risk aspect of it is the fact that we are generally in a position where our clients cannot afford to advance the costs of their litigation disbursements. And that’s a big issue. I mean, we have a huge amount of money for firm our size on the street. As we refer to it that are the disbursements of our client’s cases that the IRS says we can’t deduct. And there’s only so much of that when you’re not paying a line of credit down, you can borrow. And so that places, its biggest constraint on what you can potentially do, even if you had the extra files. So at the current time, our hope is that we will continue to expand the personal injury side of what, what we’re doing increase the personnel of our Marstown office, which is our smaller office you know over the next couple of years. And hopefully, you know, get to a point where we start working towards that point of who’s the next generation of me in Norman.
Erik J. Olson (33:01):
Yeah. Yep. Makes a lot of sense. Well, drew, I really appreciate your time. We’ve actually gone way over so that thank you for accommodating me. Hey, well I was the one that kept asking questions. I appreciate it. What is a good way for someone to reach out to you? If they have questions?
Drew Britcher (33:21):
Well, they can go to our website at medmalnj.com or they can email me email@example.com And be more than happy to answer any questions anybody has.
Erik J. Olson (33:38):
There you go. All right, everybody reach out to Drew. His website address is on the screen. And again, it’s, medmalnj.com. And if you are looking for other episodes like this, where we interview America’s top managing partners, you can check out our backlog of over 200 interviews at arraylaw.Com/Podcast. Every one of those episodes is tagged by practice area and states. So you can find exactly what you’re looking for. And if you’re looking for digital marketing for your law firm, check out my firm, which is arraylaw.com. We specialize in websites, SEO, online advertising and social media. All right, drew, thanks so much for your time.
Drew Britcher (34:19):
Thank you very much. I appreciate being invited on.