Over the years, we have met and interviewed some of the fastest-growing law firms. The one common denominator that we have encountered amongst all of them is culture alignment. In this week’s episode, attorney Reza Torkzedeh joins us for a conversation that explores the before and after his law firm experienced when he realized he had to up his game and start running his law firm like a Fortune 500 company.
Reza is the author of two books, and one of the primary topics in his most recent book, The Lawyer as CEO, is company culture. We talk about what was the moment he understood that despite his belief that he was running a successful firm, he was slowing it down and even alienating its most important asset: his team.
Learn how putting culture at the forefront of his business empowered TorkLaw to grow exponentially, stay ahead of the curve even for unforeseeable events, and lead the path in which modern law firms do business and network in tomorrow’s world.
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Liel: [00:00:00] Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, says a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation and entrepreneurs Job is to build the foundation. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and author of Beyond Se Habla Español How Lawyers Win the Hispanic Market. And this is in Camera podcast where we welcome and learn from culture centered lawyers.
Liel: [00:00:53] Welcome to.
Liel: [00:00:54] In-camera Podcast Private Legal Marketing.
Liel: [00:00:55] Conversations. Grace Welcome.
Liel: [00:00:57] Back. How are you today?
Grace: [00:00:58] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel: [00:00:59] Doing great. Grace cannot be better and very excited today because we have a very special guest and interview and Grace. Without further ado, I’m going to let you. Go and introduce our next guest.
Grace: [00:01:14] Well, everybody, as as Liel just said, we have a fantastic guest today. We are thrilled to welcome Reza talk today for a conversation on his recently released book, The Lawyer as CEO. Reza Talk today is the founder and CEO of Talk Law, a people focused personal injury law firm known for its innovative approach to law, firm marketing strategy and growth. Reza’s legal commentary has been featured in major national publications, and he’s a frequently invited guest speaker on the topic of law firm management recognized in the top 5% of US attorneys by Thomson Reuters. Reza co-founded Law Works in 2019, which provides a shared workspace for lawyers to collaborate with colleagues, meet with clients and grow their business with purpose.
Liel: [00:01:56] Reza, welcome to In-camera Podcast is a real pleasure having you here. Where does this podcast find you?
Reza: [00:02:02] Oh man. Liel, thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity and the invite to be on. It finds me in a very interesting part of my life. I’m currently in Southern California, which is what I think the question was. But it’s also a very exciting and interesting time in my life, as you know, with the release of the lawyer as CEO. But also my my children are graduating from their respective and respective grades. And so we’re getting ready for the summer time and that’s really exciting.
Liel: [00:02:34] Well, that’s amazing. Congratulations on everything. But of course, we’ve been following the release of your new book, as you say, the lawyer as CEO. And our congratulations, as we’ve noticed that it also became an Amazon bestseller. So quite an accomplishment. But it’s not your first time in the rodeo, right? This is the second book that you wrote. And I think, though, it’s fair to say that two very different audiences, it seems like your first book was more geared towards prospective clients, whereas now you’re pretty much creating a book that is seeking to speak to other lawyers. So tell us a little bit of how you went from first writing a book for establishing yourself as an authority for personal injury clients. And now you’re writing a book to basically share your experience and a little bit of your process with other potential fellow lawyers. And I think it’s fair to say, you know, going through the book, business owners in general.
Reza: [00:03:27] You’re absolutely right. And so, you know, when I first started practicing law and I’ve been doing plaintiffs work only representing people who’ve been injured or their families, and I realized very quickly early on that one of the most challenging parts of any case from a client’s perspective is the unknown. And that was this fear that almost every client had across the board was they didn’t know what to expect. They didn’t know what the process was like. And then ultimately, you know, the reality is nobody wants to be sitting with an attorney or having to hire an attorney. That in itself is a very uncomfortable, awkward position to be in. And so what I started doing at the firm was writing these one or two page or sometimes three page kind of how to and what to expect guides. And we started doing those for each practice area that we were handling cases in so that this could be a handout we would give to a client who came in just to reassure them and give them some direction or a roadmap of what to expect throughout the case in hopes of easing some of those unnecessary and oftentimes unwarranted concerns. And so what started out as these handouts to really help answer the common questions that clients had.
Reza: [00:04:49] I got together with a mentor of mind and a legal scholar by the name of Alan Wilkinson, who I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with for about 15 years. Alan is a 50 year plus attorney who has many books on his own published. And so we sat down together and kind of looked at the content that we had already generated and said, Look, if we put this all together, it could actually be a very useful tool to consumers. And that’s really what the intention was, is to provide a roadmap and a tool that potential clients could use in making decisions like how to find the right lawyer. Like, how do I know this is the right lawyer for me? And that was the intention of it. And you’re absolutely right with the lawyer as CEO now, totally different audience, which is now really targeted towards lawyers. But as you pointed out correctly, more so even business owners, because all of the principles I talk about in the book, which are the majority, all of the mistakes that I made that I’m sharing and being vulnerable in that sense, you know, it took me 15 years and a lot of pain and a lot of challenges to overcome.
Reza: [00:06:04] I never had a book that I could go to. I never had a resource that I could look. And it’s really interesting because any other industry you look at, whether it’s finance, whether it’s any business that you look at, there’s all these books on how to and what to expect and how to be a better businessperson and how to be a better restaurant owner and how to start your own hair salon or whatever it might be, all these other industries. And interestingly enough, as lawyers, we were never trained in business, in law school. We were never taught how to run a proper business, how to establish culture, how to hire people. These are all concepts that are novel even still today. And you know, as I travel the country and I meet with young lawyers and senior lawyers and we look at their practices, it’s it’s quite fascinating how little attention is paid to the actual fundamentals of business itself. And that was my hope with this book, that the takeaway would be either, a, you’re inspired and take action in your own firm or really sparks what could be potentially a transformational change within your own organizations, whether you’re a lawyer, a law firm owner or any kind of business owner.
Grace: [00:07:24] Thank you for that. Because that actually led into our other question about the question you ask in the book. Right. Because you say as the CEO of your law firm, you ask yourself, if I were running a Fortune 500 company, would I be allowed to stay the CEO? Should I be the CEO? You know, so this question is, is what the entire book is based off of was what you’re saying. And you gave us a little bit about your journey as to getting there. And a couple of our podcasts have been basically about that, working on the business of law instead of letting it work you. So can you tell us just a little bit about we saw how how you kind of got to that journey a little bit, right? 15 years of dealing with it and why and all of that. But can you give us a little bit more kind of why did you ask that question? Let’s say, should I be the CEO? Why are you asking that?
Reza: [00:08:13] Yeah, absolutely. And that’s a great question, Grace, and thanks for having me on. And, you know, there is a level of ego that lawyers have, whether you want to believe it or not. I never believed I had ego and it was probably year four or five of the firm. And I thought and I talk about this in the book, I thought Talk Law was the greatest place to work. I thought we were the best and. That was my ego. I didn’t recognize what really was happening in the firm. And on one hand, I was saying to the team members, Hey, I’ve got your back. You are like family to me. And. On the other hand, I was allowing really toxic and bad behavior to persist. And I was shutting those concerns down and taking the attitude like, look, this person is making money. I don’t care if they’re toxic. And then on the other hand, I’m talking about culture and all these great things. So I was full of shit and I didn’t realize up until and I talk about this as a real transformational part of our law firm history and our process. But there was one day where I offered the entire staff three months severance to leave the firm, and I made that proposal and offer to everyone in the firm stupidly thinking and this was my ego, that nobody is going to take that offer because we are the greatest place to work. Right? We are the best. And guess what? I lost half my firm that day. Half the staff walked out and took. It was a very expensive day to pay. So don’t do that. If you’re a law firm owner or your business owner, don’t do what I did. But that was my ego.
Liel: [00:10:04] Three months is a very, very generous offer. I’ve heard three weeks before. Three months. You’ve really probably crossed the line there.
Reza: [00:10:10] Yeah, I mean, and that was my ego at play because I thought nobody would take it and I was wrong. And so, Grace, when you ask, give you a little bit more. That was a moment I went home that night feeling that was the worst day of my life. Right? I let everybody down. I was I had this misconception that I’m so great. The firm is so great. We built this great culture, but it wasn’t true. And that was a lot of ego at play and it took a reality check and me looking in the mirror and asking those hard questions, you know, if if we were a public company and I allowed the company to continue in a way my firm had at that time, I would probably be kicked out faster than we could all blink. And so that’s the question I encourage everybody to ask themselves. And that can be a barometer, right? If we were a public company, would I be allowed to run my firm the way I have been? And for me at that time, the answer would have been absolutely not. You’re I was a shitty CEO. I was a shitty leader, and I wasn’t setting the example that I wanted to be for, for everybody else. And so what what was the worst day of my life when that happened turned out to be actually the best day in the history of our firm in the changes. Not only that we made fundamentally in the structure of the organization, but also in me and looking internally to me and what kind of leader I wanted to be.
Grace: [00:11:41] It was your eureka moment, huh? That’s what it sounds like. Definitely.
Reza: [00:11:46] Absolutely.
Grace: [00:11:46] It’s good to have those. I think you know, I think a lot of business owners, unfortunately, don’t understand the concept of being a CEO. So I think that what you’re talking about and how you came to that realization really helps people understand, you know, should you be the CEO of your law.
Grace: [00:12:04] Firm.
Grace: [00:12:05] As the business owner? Maybe not. So that kind of brings us to the next question. Where in the first chapter of your book, again, talking about ego, right? Keeping up with the Joneses. The Jones and the Jones. Right. That’s I mean, everybody wants to keep up with everybody else. I’m the best. We’re the best. The firm is the best. Everybody wants to be with our law firm and work with me, attorneys included. Right. So what would be in your mind the balance to differentiate your firm from others, but also stay competitive? Like how do you get that USP? Right, because we’re talking about being in the business of law as a CEO. So if we’re going to talk about like in that vein, how do you create a unique selling proposition as a law firm and not keep up with the Joneses?
Reza: [00:12:47] Another great question, Grace. I mean, I think there’s there’s a couple of things at play. Number one, the average consumer cannot tell the difference between the billboard lawyer and the TV lawyer and the radio lawyer and then the trial lawyers that are actually trying the cases and doing great work and meaningful work. Like nobody can tell, the average consumer cannot. Now, we all can because we’re in the industry. And when I talk about don’t worry about what your competitors are doing, it’s just that like I’m never worried and I’m not looking or focused at all in trying to be like my competitors. I think we have a unique value proposition in that we provide a level of service that’s unusual for the practice of law. And one of the things that I tell our staff all the time is we are a customer service business that happens to practice law. And we live by that. And so for us, our unique proposition is actually to our clients and the way that we treat them, the way we treat opposing counsel, the way that ultimately anyone that comes into our contact with our firm or our staff is left feeling. And at the end of the day, regardless of how much money we get a client or what the relationship has been with a defense counsel.
Reza: [00:14:10] Everyone is left with the same thing. And that’s how did we make them feel that we treat them with respect if we give them the time and the courtesy. And for us, it’s that it’s that you’re going to get we’re going to promise a level of service that you can’t find elsewhere. And what I talk about, Jones’s Jones’s Jones’s is like. You don’t need a copier competitor because just because they’re on the billboard, just because they have all this TV time, just because they have all these radio, I mean, anybody could spend money. That’s that’s not a big deal. And who said that that advertising is effective? And just to be clear, all advertising works and I say that in the book, too, all kinds of advertising works. Everything works. But what are you willing to spend to acquire a case? And so don’t assume that the other firm has it right. Don’t assume that your competitor is making more money. And just because they’re screaming the loudest doesn’t necessarily mean that they are profitable business.
Liel: [00:15:10] Yeah, that’s a that’s a great point. I think knowing those micro numbers are very important in order to make sure that your marketing stays effective and you’re not overpaying in kind of like pushing capacity at a point that it’s becoming cost ineffective to acquire additional cases, particularly when you are close to coming to saturation. But I want to go back also and kind of like as we’re digging deeper here into into different parts and phrases that come up in the book. There’s one character, a colleague of yours, Patricia. Right. And you bring her up. And just we’re wondering, without necessarily giving too much away, how would how would you have handled things differently now, knowing what you know with her?
Reza: [00:15:55] Yeah. Whether it was this individual or somebody like this, I think as a law firm owner, we all either have or have had this person in the firm and I’ll describe her to you. Highly effective. Makes you a shit ton of money, but is a horrible human being and very toxic and can’t play with others. I mean, we have all had this person and what I did at the time is I put the money she was making the firm ahead of the overall good and the damage she was doing to everybody else. And so where I used to put extreme amount of value on talent over culture, I now will take a good human being and someone who’s a good cultural fit with zero talent that I have to train versus someone that doesn’t is not a cultural fit. No matter how much money they can generate, it’s just not worth it. Because ultimately the success of any organization in my mind really depends on its culture. And I know that that word culture has been overused and it sounds kind of out there in the ether. But but truly, culture is a fabric that will make or break your organization regardless of whether you’re a law firm or your Tesla. And so for me, I take someone who’s a hard worker, who’s dedicated, who’s committed, who believes in the vision and mission of the firm and is a good human being over somebody who just knows how to make good money but can’t get along with others. I would I should have gotten A) I should have listened to all of the complaints I was getting over and over and over again early on. And, B), just acted a lot fast.
Liel: [00:17:49] Right. Reza, talking about Tesla, they’re imposing a rule for all employees to get back to the factories, for everyone to be there potential. One thing that stood out to me is that you you’re now basically for the most of it, a virtual law firm. Most of your team works remotely. And even though you do have physical locations, you have the flexibility for your colleagues to work from everywhere. And being in an industry, the legal industry is still pretty much a brick and mortar industry, and there’s been a lot of resistance even even after the pandemic. And so how do you make it work from the standpoint that operations are actually not being affected? In fact, maybe you would argue that they’ve become more productive. And then also the very important component that you’re bringing up here, which is the culture, right. Because one of the most important selling points for people who are bringing their teams back together is, well, you cannot have culture if you don’t have presidential interactions, if you don’t actually have a team bonding together and sitting together around tables and having conversations. So of course, we know there’s a lot of technology out there that can help you and Matrix that can help you keep the productivity thing taken care of. But what happens with the culture part of it? And so tell us a little bit about what’s your formula for keeping up with both of those?
Reza: [00:19:12] Great question. So we are remote with the exception of our what we call office ambassador or reception team. They are they are still in the office. There’s four people they handle incoming mail, outgoing mail. Other than them, we are all remote, 60 something. Remote offices, and it’s a very expensive endeavor, but one that we’re going to keep an early on when even before COVID, we would always test new software and the latest and greatest technologies. And oftentimes people would ask me, why are you spending all this money? Like, why are you doing cloud based phones? Why is the firm totally paperless? Why are we on Slack? Why are we doing this is all pre COVID. And it was not that I didn’t have a crystal ball. I didn’t know, you know, nobody knew COVID was happening. And, you know, a lot of our folks thought that we were wasting money on some of the technology that we really didn’t need. And when the stay at home orders came in with COVID and everyone went home and we were functional within less than a couple of hours, I look like a genius, right? Because everyone came in the office, grabbed their computers, went home, plugged it in. Everyone’s got access to every file. Everyone’s got on their same phone system. The phone system didn’t change. I mean, we didn’t miss a beat, and I look like a genius, but I had no idea.
Reza: [00:20:38] And that was just really good timing. But it was a very challenging time for everybody. People are talking about layoffs, people. It was just the unknown. So the absolute first thing I did is we called an all hands meeting the entire staff on Zoom. And the first thing I told everybody was we will have no layoffs. Everybody will continue to be paid as they are. And it’s business as usual. And I could feel the relief come through the screen. It was really a pivotal moment, I think, at the beginning of COVID because the staff got to hear from me that this is one thing I don’t want them to worry about is where they’re going to get paid, where their next paycheck is coming from, how they’re going to pay rent. That allowed the staff to really step up and focus on production. I will tell you, we had the best year we ever had across the board in 2020. We had an even better year in 2021 and productivity did go up. We watch you know, we have set key performance indicators that we circulate through the firm every Monday. And we saw productivity go up. We saw quality of life increase across the board. There’s no more commuting Southern California to get anywhere. You’re looking at an hour drive.
Reza: [00:21:57] You’ve got to get ready. You’ve got to get dressed, you have to drop your kids off and you’ve got to drive. And so from a quality of life standpoint, I think it was an incredible change for everybody. So we’re not going back. We won’t we won’t be in office firm again ever. With the exception of our lawyers, like to get together and roundtable our cases, and they did that on their own. So they all get together once a week in person to talk about cases. We’ve got other staff members who just want a break from being at home. They’re more than welcome. We’ve got office space and you talk about culture and how do you maintain culture being remote. There’s nothing stopping us from doing it, and we do this in the firm. We have a happy hour once a month. We do our quarterly trips to Las Vegas where we have a big portion of our staff and we’ll do a big dinner there. We’ll surprise our staff by sending them pizza, randomly sending them ice cream. We’ll do get togethers like like we are on Zoom and we do our normal all hands meetings where we do an update on the staff and my weekly emails that come out that share the KPIs. We do shout outs to staff and we link to their own videos.
Reza: [00:23:15] We have staff recording videos of themselves, introducing themselves and who they are and a little bit about them. And so every week when we recognize a staff member, we also link to their profile. And Slack is a great way to really keep people in real time together. So we, we use an add on to slack called bonus where the staff is giving each other points. And it’s really amazing. And the bigger piece of that and I think that is really valuable to me, is to see not who’s receiving the most points, but who’s giving out the points and what they’re giving out the points for. And that’s really big and that’s really, I think, effective and keeps us all on the same page. What really grounds all this together and puts it together is that we have written core values. And we have a written vision. And these core values are everything that we live by, how we run the practice, how we make the decisions, and how it is expected of the rest of the team to act and behave. And we didn’t have core values when all of that stuff went down with the firm where I lost half the staff and I shouldn’t have been surprised. And so I think the foundation is really all believing in core values and then living by them every day, right?
Grace: [00:24:32] So when we’re talking about the keys of culture, right in the workspace and particularly being with a remote team like you have and kudos to you to think ahead. Right. It’s hard for, I think, law firms to think about technology and really utilize it instead of letting it kind of work them like you were talking about before, about the business of law versus, you know, having it work on you as well. So when we’re talking about culture in the workplace, you state that all companies have to have a why. What is your why and how did you find it?
Reza: [00:25:08] Our why is we get to change people’s lives. Pretty powerful. I get text messages, cards, presents from clients that I represented 14 years ago, 12 years ago, ten years ago with true heartfelt messages. And I’ll get photos on Thanksgiving with a family sitting around a dining table that says, Thanks to you, we’re able to have this dinner. Right? And it’s not the money and it’s never the amount of money we get a client that makes a difference. It’s it’s what that money represents and what it allows them to do. And truly, we are changing people’s lives at the most human level. Right. They come to us during the darkest time of their lives. And in most cases they have no one else to go to. And we stand up for them and we fight for them. And the result is, you know, their lives will A) never be the same because of what happened to them. But B) our goal and our aim at the end is that their lives will never be like it was during that period, and the money will allow them to move forward with dignity and live a life that they can be proud of. And so we change people’s lives and our receptionists who are answering the phones. We couldn’t do that work without them answering the phones. Our legal assistants who are ordering medical records, guess what? We couldn’t change our clients lives without those medical records. And it’s all across the board. So when we’ve got staff members who are doing tedious tasks, who are that do get mundane and boring and repetitive, what drives them is our why. I talk about that in the book as well about what it means to have a purpose, a greater purpose that really motivates and can rally a team around each other. So if you have your why and it’ll be different for every company and organization, the why is really the fabric of the why are your core values. I think you can do amazing things.
Grace: [00:27:17] So that really brings me almost perfectly into the next question I have about hiring, right? Because culture has to be given at the time of hiring. I mean, that’s like one of the first things and I know you talk about that. So how has the science of the hiring process changed since defining your company culture for you?
Reza: [00:27:39] Yeah, I’ll tell you, people don’t change like you can’t change people no matter how much you want to, no matter how much you want to believe. So you can’t change people. And so for us, the way we used to hire people was we put out a job post. You know, we get hundreds of resumes. We’ll look at the resumes if they have some experience. We’ll bring him in for an interview if they work for a competitor. Even better, because we’re mistakenly assuming that the competitor has trained these folks. Right. So we bring them in and everybody interviews. Really great. Because it’s all lies. Everyone interviews. Well, and that was our process. There was no rhyme nor reason as to why we were bringing these new people into the firm. And what happens is you can’t develop culture when that’s how you’re hiring. If you’re just looking for warm bodies, every one of those people that you blindly let into your organization, they’re going to have their own beliefs. They’re going to have their own kind of attitudes and cultures and bad habits. And so now what we’ve done are our hiring to get hired at our firm is actually a challenge. It’s very difficult. So instead of looking for warm bodies and instead of having this kind of catch all process, we now look for reasons why not to hire people.
Reza: [00:29:01] And we have a funnel system that really weeds out people for not following instructions, not responding in time. We give personal assessments so that we can get a better feel of what kind of person you are. And it isn’t until step four or five in our final where you’re actually talking to somebody from the firm. And this has been absolutely pivotal and transformational in us establishing our culture. I think a lot of our our job listings and postings are now advertisements about the firm and who we are and what our culture is. And we share that. And I think naturally, if you’re not a person that believes in these things, you’re going to be dissuaded from applying. But we also find that through the funnel, we’re truly finding the best of the best. Now, it isn’t always 100%, but it’s significantly better and I think more scientific than just picking a resume and interviewing someone and giving them a shot. And you’re right, culture starts from before somebody is hired and brought into your organization, and it needs to be a continual every day repetition of what really makes the firm and the company and organization. What you want it to be.
Liel: [00:30:24] Great for that. And so let’s talk a little bit about the before and after, right. I think it is very clear to us that things were miserable before culture was part of the law firm, an integral part of the law firm. And it sounds like it was hard for you because there was a lot of frustration on your plate, but obviously your team were unhappy. Now, let’s talk about the after what have been some of the more obvious and evident examples of how culture has improved the lives of your employees at work, outside of work? And also, I think a lot of people think, well, culture, what does it mean? It means that you’re super dedicated to your work and you put an extra amount of hours. And so you’re basically a workaholic that’s super excited about work or the way that your experiencing is different than that is it’s a better balance where people are more able to shift in and out to work. They’re just more productive without necessarily having to be leaving for work.
Reza: [00:31:22] Great question. And I think any time you can build a company or a business that doesn’t feel like work, that’s driven by purpose and it’s shared all together like a sports team, right? Everybody pulls their own weight and everybody gets the job done and does what what it takes. And you do so. In an enthusiastic, motivated, inspiring way. That to me is culture. I never want my staff to work nights. I don’t want our staff to work weekends. Does it happen? Yeah, it happens when it needs to happen. But the flip side of that is when when we survey our staff and when we talk to them now. It’s really meaningful to them to be able to play this role in what our company gets to do every day, and that’s represent clients. It’s meaningful to them to be a part of the change that we talk about. It’s meaningful to all of us to know that we’re making a difference in the community, we’re improving the safety in the community, and we’re improving and changing the lives of the folks that have come to us and trusted us. And so when we talk about this culture and the difference it has made now. I think drastically now.
Reza: [00:32:50] This is an incredibly amazing place to work where our colleagues support each other. Are colleagues back each other up? And a lot of times I’ll hear stories about them all getting together without us even initiating something. I mean, how many times you have a situation where your work colleagues, where you’re all remote, all of a sudden are starting to organize happy hours outside the company doing that? And how often do you hear about a company where its employees want other family members and friends to come work? I mean, that’s a very high compliment to us. How often do you see a plaintiff’s law firm that consistently gets resumes from defense law firms because they want to come work for this place? We never had it and it was never that way. And it is today, and I’m very proud of it. And we worked very hard to get here and we work even harder to maintain and keep this environment where it’s a positive, collegiate, challenging. It’s not an easy place to work. I’ll be the first to say that, but to watch it from where it was and to where it is now, you wouldn’t even know that it’s the same company.
Liel: [00:34:06] Yeah, well, all agreed signals that things are going on the right direction now, Reza, I want us to shift a little bit of conversation and talk about another project that you have going on, which is very, very unique and very interesting. And that’s law works. And for those who don’t know, it’s a workspace for lawyers. But in reality, you do much more than just being kind of like a co-working space. You offer way more than what you get on an average co-working space, like for instance, a we work or an industrial and it’s exclusively for lawyers. So let’s start from the beginning how the idea even came to mind. And I think it’s important to say that this was around 2019. So this is before COVID. And I think it’s very important to state that because A), it was it was at a time that co-working space for lawyers and kind of like a hybrid of between remote and in-person working was really not a thing for law firms. So what was in your mind that told you, hey, there is an opportunity here?
Reza: [00:35:07] So as much as I would love to take credit for the idea, it was 2018 towards the end of the year and my wife came home from a trip and says, I have this idea. A co-working space for lawyers. And I said, wow, that that is a really smart idea. So it was her idea. It was the end of 2018. We put a business plan together and she worked very hard on this project and we opened our doors in the summer of 2019. And essentially the pitch was we’re a co-working space for lawyers. So instead of signing these long term leases, come have this flexible workspace where it’s really a plug and play solution for you. You can meet your clients through your depositions. There’s open workstation for staff if you want, and there’s a whole host of other amenities in the space itself. And we went all out. I mean, we spent a fortune building the space out and getting the best of the best because I was putting myself in the shoes of an attorney who really wants high end office space, wants the best of the best furniture, and we spared no expense. And when we opened our doors, there was a lot of excitement around this co-working space idea. We had networking events several times a week where up to 50 people started showing up. We had judges showing up.
Reza: [00:36:26] We had mediators who decided to use the space for mediation. And it was really an amazing time because there was no product like this on the market. But it was also the worst time in history to start a coworking space. And we all know what happened with COVID, and we were essentially shut for one year where we had a very expensive storage in the office space. And so as law works went from a brick and mortar business to us trying to figure out how do we add value now that no one’s coming into the office space? We started putting on webinars that were educational for our membership, whether it’s how to try cases, how to take a deposition, how to live a healthier life, how to maximize your business. We started providing these both for free to the public, and also we did ones virtually for our members. We then decided that we were going to create a private Slack workspace for the entire membership where the membership could communicate in real time and they can refer cases back to each other, they can co cases. And that has started probably that started during COVID. And that’s really been a very important part of what Law Works provides now, which is this kind of brain trust and mastermind group of lawyers, young lawyers, new lawyers, veteran lawyers who are collaborating in real time.
Reza: [00:37:57] And as law work continues to evolve, we’re going to be opening up our second location in Los Angeles. And it’s you’re right, it’s more than just a workspace. It’s a place where you can come not only have a built in instant network, but it’s a place where you can truly, with purpose, grow your practice if you want, meet new people. If you want, get referrals, send referrals and just have a one stop plug and play solution. If you are a lawyer and you care about improving your practice, and I can tell you, I know firsthand several lawyers that have come up to me and said, look, if it wasn’t for law works, I wouldn’t have my practice today. And that’s an incredible platform for us to be able to provide because I know that when I first started my practice, I would have loved to have something like this where everything is taken care of, the platform is there, it’s a matter of what I do with it. And so just like everything else in life, what you put in is what you get out. And I think law works is no different than that, but we’re open for business and the platform is there and we’re working hard to really provide value back to the lawyers and the membership that’s there. Yeah, it’s really.
Liel: [00:39:10] Interesting how it came up as, as basically as, as a more flexible solution for brick and mortar office and kind of like it evolved into becoming a network. Right. And I’m very excited to hear that you’re actually opening a second location and that the concept been embraced so well. I can certainly think that, you know, it goes now beyond just like the facilities that you can access that you can have access to. But the real value is the opportunity, I guess, of being part of the network and being able to have this opportunity to to work, learn and just be exposed to opportunities out there. And I think it’s right, even though there is there is no shortage of masterminds and opportunities for lawyers to gain knowledge and get trained. There is really not a lot of solutions that are from lawyer to lawyer that are outside the traditional concept of mastermind. And I think obviously not to not to mention the very competitive pricing that it has because it’s really unusual usually to join any one of these other groups that doesn’t have necessarily a selling agenda, kind of like a freemium sort of model. It’s very unusual. So yeah, I think it was it was spot on. And it’s interesting how times kind of like reshaped it to what it needed to be. So that’s great. And so we’ll definitely going to have a link to lower for those who want to go and visit. And whether you are because your current location is in Irvine, your second location is going to be in Los Angeles. I think it’s whether you’re there or not, whether you’re going to you have an all virtual option as well is just no longer something relevant to just the location.
Reza: [00:40:49] Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And the price per entry is 99 bucks a month for the virtual plan. And we we made it that so that everybody could afford to do it and participate and be a part of that conversation. And I think if you pick up one thing that improves your practice, it’s paid it’s paid for itself ten times over. So really the motivation behind all that is to increase the membership and be able to expand the reach and network of law works.
Grace: [00:41:17] So what we have next is unfortunately, we’re coming to the end of our podcast. It really has been amazing. But at this point we ask you to provide us with three actionable takeaways, as you see from this call that we’ve had that they can take and do something with, hopefully today or a week or a month to three from you.
Reza: [00:41:37] So three takeaways, I think. Number one, are you having an honest conversation with yourself about being a leader and being a CEO? Number two, identify your why and it can’t be tied to money. What is your purpose? What is your core? What is your core purpose? And then number three, if you don’t have core values, sit down, give it some thought and establish the core values that really make you who you are and why you have decided to be a leader of a law firm or an organization. And I think if you do those three things, then you’re way ahead of where I was when I started my practice.
Liel: [00:42:21] Reza, thank you so much. Not just for a great conversation, but for very thoughtful and insightful takeaways. And for anyone who’s interested, the lawyer asks, the CEO is available now, can be bought in Amazon or any other platform where you can order books online. We’ll have a link on our episode notes and we hope that we get to have you back because there’s so much more to talk about that we did not have an opportunity to fit in this conversation. But again, thank you for your time and let’s plan for the next one sometime soon.
Grace: [00:42:50] Thank you, Reza.
Reza: [00:42:51] Thank you guys so much. I appreciate the opportunity.
Speaker1: [00:43:01] Grace. What a great conversation. What a great guy Reza is.
Grace: [00:43:04] I mean. Well, I mean, everything he spoke about are things that you and I constantly talk about on all of our podcasts. So, yes, I thought that was a very great conversation and we definitely hope to have him back on here again to talk about some more things because there’s so much to explore from the book and otherwise.
Liel: [00:43:21] Yeah, totally Grace. So we’ve already have very, very good takeaways from Reza. Can we come up with some compliments or we’re going to back those up.
Grace: [00:43:30] So I think I’m going to back it up a little bit and maybe add a tiny bit more. Right. And to me, it’s all about culture. You know, it’s super important to not just have a culture written down in terms of vision. What what is it that you’re trying to achieve? What is your mission? All of those things sound like buzzwords, but the reality is they mean something, because if you don’t have a team that understands what your culture is, you don’t have it written down somewhere. I think that that could be the first takeaway. Have a culture, have it defined, understand what your culture is and make sure others do as well.
Liel: [00:44:06] Yeah. And kind of like have it present. Right. Landed every day into your daily tasks and routines. I think that’s important for it to always tie back to it. That’s the difference between kind of like having it published on your website or some sort of posters hanging somewhere. But although the posters are actually good, they do work. But it’s even better when when there is a constant connection that is reminding you what are you doing? Things I think that’s important. And it goes back in the way that you are setting up your business, the way that you’re setting up your SOPs, the way that your team are getting trained. Those are processes that are important. And there certainly are going to be supporting keeping that culture alive so Grace. That’s a really good one. Let’s go with take away number two. What would you say here?
Grace: [00:44:59] Hire for culture and fit, not for money. I really, really liked that line that he used because you can hire the best sales person in the world, but if they don’t get along with anybody else in your team, they’re never going to get the support that they’re going to need and your team is not going to get support it needs in turn as well. So don’t hire just for, as he said, talent, you know, just because they can bring a book of business or they claim that they were trained by another law firm, UN training somebody and training them to be a certain type of fit doesn’t work, as he said. People don’t change, right? You need to have them come on with the idea of your culture and mine. So my second takeaway is hire with your culture in mind. Not for money.
Liel: [00:45:47] Yeah. And we didn’t really talk in this episode much about how you hire for culture, right? How do you actually measure yourself skills and that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, they are ways to do so. We probably have other episodes where we cover that more in depth, but certainly, yeah, identify based on those values that you have written down, what is important, what are those of skills that are need to be embedded within the persons that you’re looking for? Grace I’m going to go for takeaway number three because I know while this conversation was very much centered around culture, I do think and one thing that I really like about how Reza and his team are doing things is that they are always looking forward into experimenting. They are technology centered or driven. They were already pretty much established in platforms that allow them to adapt to being completely remote even before COVID started. And so that I think it’s a very, very, very valuable mindset to have and one that you should not hold yourself from being open to. I think you need to be constantly experimenting, trying new things out and certainly not limiting yourself to the one only way that you know of doing things. I totally agree. You know, if it’s if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. That doesn’t mean you let it run as it’s still working, but at the same time, you’re playing with other variations to see, can I improve? Can I optimize here? And I think that’s one thing that they have going on and that has certainly helped them a be more agile when things got rough and also just accelerate growth when they found something that, hey, you know what, we actually came up with something here that it actually works. It’s better than what we’ve known or what we were doing. So yeah, I think that’s going to be critical for law firms moving forward in general.
Grace: [00:47:46] I want to add to what you said, Leo, because I’m glad that you brought that up. I mean, obviously as a communication software company ourselves persist. That is so important. So I’m glad that you brought it up because you’re right. I mean, how many times have I said I try to use two or three different new programs every month, if I can, every week. So it’s a continual improvement process. People, that’s what the goal, the key for everything you do, but particularly with technology, you can’t be behind and otherwise you are behind. Right. I mean, he was able to get back up and running runs firm within hours rather than what, months, days if you’re not ready and you’re not continually improving, improving your segment.
Liel: [00:48:30] That’s right. Grace So thank you very much for a great conversation. And we’ll be back next week.
Grace: [00:48:35] Next week. Thank you, Liel.
Liel: [00:48:36] Thank you. And if you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your coworkers, leave us a review and send us your questions at: ask
Liel: [00:48:50] An on.
Liel: [00:48:50] firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next week.