James Grant is the Co-founding Partner at Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant, helping personal injury lawyers make more money with less stress through litigation. James is an experienced personal injury attorney and has worked for The Law Office of Angela M. Kinley, was a Senior Associate Attorney for Atlanta Trial Lawyers Group at Jaffe Law Center, LLC, and worked as the Assistant Solicitor-General with the Gwinnett County Solicitor-General’s Office and the Municipal Court of Suwanee.
James graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS in civil engineering and from Faulkner University with his JD in law. He is active in his local community and has appeared on several law-centered podcasts.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- James Grant explains why 40% of cases go through the litigation phase — and the importance of an attorney
- Why attorneys are ill-equipped for the processes and procedures of running a business
- James talks about how relationships built on trust can grow a business
- The importance of aligning with others who have similar business philosophies
- James details why running a business needs to be based on objective metrics
In this episode…
What can you do to reach your target audience? Cultivating relationships has more of an impact than direct marketing strategies. How can your relationships generate long-term growth?
James Grant knows the first step to growing your business is building trust — then you can showcase your networking abilities. Rather than viewing your clients as a one-time transaction, consider their lifetime value. Taking the time to follow up with previous clients allows you to continue to market to their needs. James recommends this strategy to maintain your brand, expand your client base, and scale your business.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, Bela Musits sits down with James Grant, Co-founding Partner of Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant, to talk about an entrepreneur’s perspective on growing a law firm. James discusses helping other attorneys succeed, why trust must be your foundation, and the importance of business objective metrics.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Bela Musits on LinkedIn
- James Grant on LinkedIn
- Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t.
Bela Musits 0:13
Hello, listeners I’m Bela Musits, the host of the 15 Minutes share your voice podcast, where we talk to top notch law firms and attorneys about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help your law firm accomplish its objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign, and to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Today’s guest on the podcast is attorney James Grant. He is one of the founding partners of Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant LLC. James has extensive trial experience, and he is the firm’s lead trial attorney. Georgia Trial Attorneys also works with other law firms as a litigation resource across the southeastern United States. Welcome to the podcast James.
James Grant 1:29
Hey, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Bela Musits 1:32
Yeah, sure. So tell me a little bit about your firm and what it does.
James Grant 1:37
Yeah, so we’re a little bit different than the typical personal injury law firm. The typical personal injury law firm that many of us think of, and many of your listeners are probably, you know, following that same pattern is, you know, hustle market sell, it’s kind of what I say a lot is, you know, they’re they’re beaten the ground and they’re beaten the streets, they’re, you know, doing everything they can to get cases in the door, and then run them through the pre litigation process. That, you know, a lot of people need that there are so many people that are being taken advantage of by these greedy insurance companies, and anybody that’s in an accident, they just need an attorney. So it’s great to have a resource and somebody that’s very well equipped in that area of law. And a lot of law firms, especially when they want to do personal injury, they navigate and they typically gravitate to that side of personal injury. The other side of a personal injury field is the the litigation process, the cases that don’t settle in pre litigation, they need to go to that next level, they need a lawsuit filed, they may need a trial, they need to go through that process. And the thing that my business partner I mark have realized is you know, baseball and football, two totally separate things. Constitutional Law and employment discrimination, two separate things, pre litigation and litigation, two entirely separate things. And you can’t use the same team for pre litigation that you can for litigation. So we’ve specialized even further that we are a personal injury law firm, but we are a personal injury law firm that offers litigation services to other law firms. And that is our niche. That is where we fit, while also not doing pre litigation and driving up the partners that we’re trying to help. We don’t want to drive up their acquisition costs in our lane, and we only offer those litigation services to help other attorneys make more money faster and with less stress.
Bela Musits 3:35
Oh, very interesting. So what sort of percentage of personal injury activities ended up in litigation out versus being settled prior to that?
James Grant 3:47
I’m going to say a vast majority of the cases are, I won’t say that they’re adjusted fairly, but they are resolved without having to get education phase. You know, there’s a lot of factors that are at play for a client or an estate that’s been involved in a personal injury, whatever it is, I mean, you’ve got time you’ve got money, you’ve got you know, do you want to commit this much do you want to have to go back and relive the past? So you know, there’s some times where the insurance company wins, and they’re able to settle for a lot less, but that’s worth more to the person or the family. And on the flip side as well, sometimes it works out the other way. And they get more than the insurance company is willing to pay but they want to get it done as well. But there are those that do you need litigation. So I would say probably at least 60% of cases do resolve without having to file a lawsuit.
Bela Musits 4:38
Okay, well, still a pretty significant number 40% That that go to lawsuit phase,
James Grant 4:44
and that number has changed drastically as well. You know, I don’t know what has happened. I I have my thoughts. Not much has changed in the last, you know, 1015 years, other than the fact of advertising advertising has just gone through the roof with a lot of these insurance companies, rates really haven’t changed too much. So they’re not getting a lot more money. So my thought is, in order to pay for all these advertising campaigns, they had to steal that money from claims. And I think that’s why claims have gone down, which is necessitated that lawsuits have gone up because they aren’t willing to pay as much. But still, I mean, 40% is a large number, but generally, your your your case is probably going to resolve at some point in the pre litigation phase, or even the litigation phase, very few cases do actually go to trial.
Bela Musits 5:35
Yeah, yeah. So what’s your specific role there at the firm,
James Grant 5:40
so I’m working as the managing partner, but I’m also working in another field. So my business partner, and I have learned through the practice of law and becoming an entrepreneurial minded business owner, that I have to do what you’re good at, and you can’t do everything, you know, my job, as the owner of a business is not to know how to do everything, or be good at everything, but to bring on people that are good in their respective skill sets where they want to be and place them in roles to be successful. So being the managing attorney is not necessarily doing all the work, but helping the attorneys that we have to succeed. And then at the same time, I’m also working in a role of the sales and marketing aspect. And then my business partner, Mark, he’s responsible for the operations and the finance, and we kind of divide and conquer that.
Bela Musits 6:31
Very nice, Western interesting, you bring that point up, because I know a couple of corporate attorneys who specialize in sort of corporate law stuff. And I’ve had some good conversations with them, where we’ve talked about, well, how do you run your business? Right? Because you’re actually running a business? He goes, Yeah, I know, I went to law school for three years, and I did not have one how to run your business course. And I graduated from law school. And, you know, whether I join as an associate, or whether I hang my own shingle, I’m running a business. And it was like a steep learning curve. I knew nothing about that.
James Grant 7:06
No, I think that’s one of the biggest failures across our nation, when it comes to the law schools and the state bars. I mean, because just like you said, I mean, whether I’m gonna say at least probably 60 to 70% of attorneys, at some point in their career are going to be a very high level decision maker in the law firm that they’re at, right, where they’re going to own their own law firm. Right? I mean, most people end up in that position at some point in time. But they never tell us the basics of running a business, or you know, what processes, what procedures are, how to think like an entrepreneur. And then when you backtrack, and then you look at all of the, you know, the things that are said about attorneys and how cheats and we’re thief’s, and we’re, you’re stealing and taking advantage and like death, all the negative aspects that come from attorneys generally are in relation to they don’t have business skills, they don’t know how to run a business, which then leads into this just dumpster fire of all the problems with the bar, right? Let’s just fix it and talk about it and teach it. And then we don’t have to, you know, relearn or learned much relearn it.
Bela Musits 8:17
Yeah, exactly. And your your clients interact with you not only sort of, in the legal context, but they’re also interacting in a business context, right customer service, you know, all those things that they hopefully teach you in business school, or in a how to run your own business course. And, and so you have to have both facets of that. So it’s very interesting that you recognize that right, you have one partner who sort of runs the business, so to speak, right, and focuses on that, because they have the skills in it.
James Grant 8:50
And I think that’s a lot of problems too, with partnerships, because you see, so many law firms that either start out or become partners, and then they dissolve or move away, because they don’t know how to work together, right? Understand that, you know, one person can have a skill set over here, and another person can have a skill set. And those two things can coexist, because you can’t do the same thing. If that’s right, you know, for named partners that are all making the financial decisions, or the process decisions, or the marketing decisions, like you’re obviously going to run into problems. So you have to stay in your lane. And then also have that trust that the other person is doing in the best interest of the company. So yeah, there’s a lot of things there with vision and clarity and transparency and cohesiveness that you have to go together as a business.
Bela Musits 9:37
Sure, sure. So how long has your firm been around and what sort of inspired you to found, you know, to go out on your own sort of and found a separate firm?
James Grant 9:47
It was. Well, I probably have two perspectives. I’m thinking back of the idealistic perspective, you know, looking back over the years of what I was thinking, and probably Like, when I’m looking back, sitting in that law firm that I was in, like, Alright, we’re ready to start something new, it’s probably probably two different viewpoints. But the law firm that I was at my business partner, and I mark, we started within two weeks of each other. And we realized very early on in that firm, that, you know, we can probably do this ourselves, we can probably do this a little better, and then it’ll be just that it’ll be ours. And we’ll be people the way that we want to help them as opposed to having to take direction from somebody else, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just if you have your own ideals and vision, that’s a good thing. So, you know, we put things in place, and it was about 11 to 12 months later, once we made that decision that we opened, Georgia Trial Attorneys. And, you know, we were these idealistic, you know, pie in the sky thought that this, you know, just grandiose law firm was just gonna just spontaneously just grow forth, and it was going to be all unicorns and rainbows and sunshine. Very early on, we realized that there’s a lot of work to running a business. And I mean, for probably the first four years, three years, I mean, we, we really didn’t know what we were doing. We were making all the mistakes that you shouldn’t make, and having to figure things out on our own, because they’re, they’re not a lot of resources. But we got into coaching, we found out that there’s a whole business world that’s out there, and we’re like, okay, we need help. We understand that we need help, we want to be accepting, to learn to think like a business owner. And that’s just been what’s changed so much is adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur, that just so happens to practice law.
Bela Musits 11:48
Yeah, yeah. So one of the I think one of the challenges in any business is finding customers or in your case, clients. So how has that shifted on how you do that from those early days? Right, when you first sort of started? The how you do that now?
James Grant 12:07
Yeah, it’s an entirely, you know, 180 degree switch. I mean, doing the business that we do now, is the exact opposite. Because before we were a B to C business, a business to consumer, we’re going after individuals that were injured in accidents. Now, on the other side, we’re a b2b, we’re in business to business. So we’re looking for other law firms that we can help to then offer our services as effectively their outsourced litigation depart. Right. So it’s an entirely different dynamic, the demographics are different, everything about it is a different perspective. And one thing that we’ve transitioned away from is, you know, the, the marketing, the social media, the Facebook, you know, all all the push to get in front of eyeballs. Well, I know exactly how many lawyers there are in the state of Georgia, right? Look that up very easily.
Bela Musits 13:02
And you know, and you know, where their their offices are, you know, what their phone numbers are?
James Grant 13:06
Yeah. So with that, it’s more of, okay, we have a box, we know exactly who our audience is. Now we need to go and market and network. And that’s where it’s, it’s different. You can do a digital campaign, and you can get leads right away. Not necessarily the case, when it comes to business to business, especially dealing with other law firms. So my role in marketing and sales is, I’m now out meeting with other law firms, and I’m building relationships, because in this instance, relationships are what matter, you only really do business with people that you know, like and trust. And those things don’t come easy. So my role is now meeting other attorneys, getting to know them, building a relationship, telling them first, but building that trust, and then showing them how we can help them and then getting exposure to their networks, and then spidering it out that way, as opposed to you know, the cold call, cold calls on my end don’t really work. It’s more about relationships, introductions and referrals. That’s an entirely different model. But yeah, business development versus direct marketing.
Bela Musits 14:21
Yeah, yeah. You know, I’m a little bit familiar with the medical field. And there are, you know, doctors, doctors, you know, the doc, there are there is a group of physicians, like, analogous to what you do that help other physicians with really difficult cases or, or they come in and do that really difficult cases. And one of the ways that they establish their expertise is through publications and presentations at you know, medical forums. Is it similar in the in the law space? Yes.
James Grant 14:50
I mean, so we have something that’s, you know, CLEs continuing legal education. So, you know, having the opportunity to to get in front of other lawyers to provide a benefit but also by providing that benefit and putting yourself out there as not necessarily expert, but an authority on a particular subject gives you the opportunity to then say, you know, this is what we do. This is my business, this is how we help other people. And it’s more of just offering a taste. Yes, you never go in with a hard sell. If you go in with a hard sell, you turn people off and say, Hey, here’s something, this is something that you could use this potentially be a benefit to you, you know, and working that way and getting to know the person. So that’s where, you know, there’s a little bit of a difference in that.
Bela Musits 15:32
Right, right. So what I hear you’re saying is, there’s this notion of establishing your credibility and your expertise, and differentiating that. So you know, filling, filling a niche for your clients, which are other attorney firms, and then going out and figuring out how to meet them, how to engage with them, and how to get that eyeball to eyeball relationship going. So that so that you can have a relationship? Yep. And I mean,
James Grant 15:56
you know, there, there’s a couple of ways this can go, you know, with the business to consumer thing. A lot of attorneys and specifically personal injury attorneys, they fail to see the forest for the trees, a lot of times they look at one client, one customer, and they see it as a one time transaction, you need to look at your clients for their lifetime value, especially in the personal injury field, it’s not a matter of if it’s just a matter of when they’re going to get in that next accident, especially in Georgia, and further in the Atlanta metro area. So if you stay in touch with him, if you continue to follow up and market to them, they will come back. So you can get a lot out of that on a business to consumer side. Same thing with the business to business, you know, if I build a strong relationship with one firm, one firm could send me 20 cases a month or more, you know, that’s worth a lot to me and to them. Right. So with that it’s more about finding who all is out there. What is their need, what is their, you know, caseload that they could be helped with, and then onboarding them into our system, but then still continuing to network and follow up. Because if that relationship goes bad, all of those cases, reposted
Bela Musits 17:11
one? That’s right. Yeah, yeah, good point. So what sort of activities give you the sort of greatest amount of traction and results in sort of connecting with other law firms and getting that business?
James Grant 17:22
The first thing, the easiest thing everybody has to eat. And that’s one of the first things really, when it comes to sales and business development is, you know, taking people out to lunch and dinner. That’s the easiest way. And everyone, I mean, especially attorneys, they like to eat at nice place. So that’s one thing that I do is I’ll take people out to lunch, I’ll take people out to dinner, and know them, then from there, then it can develop into other things like, you know, let’s say, Hey, let’s go play golf at the golf club, let’s go out to a hawks game, let’s go out to a football game, you know, let’s start to build a relationship, because then you get to know somebody outside of practice of law. And you see how they interact on a personal level with others. And I think that shows a lot about who you are, and then who they are, and then by you your philosophies and do your personalities align, because again, you want to do business with people that you feel comfortable with, because there may be a referral back, you know, I may have a referral for you as well. And I want to have the confidence to know like and trust you that the referral I’m handing to you is going to be taken care of. Right.
Bela Musits 18:33
Right, because it reflects on them as well. Yeah. Right. And it sounds like these engagements that you have with these other firms are long lasting. So So you want to be able to get along, right, as you said, you want to work with people that you get along with you sort of have the similar values and ideas. It’s not just a quick transaction. It’s not a it’s not a quick transaction business. These are long lasting relationships. So up, what what percentage of your time, let’s say in a week, do you devote to sort of, you know, cultivating the fields and going out and building these relationships?
James Grant 19:11
Oh, me, it’s easily 50% or more. I mean, wow, that’s the vast majority of my time is spending time with other attorneys. And whether and I would lump in, there’s planning that goes in as well and works with my team to make sure that we’re able to plan things and put pieces in place and make sure that the all the logistics are worked out. But yeah, I mean, a very big, big part of my week is focused on other attorneys and these other firms that we work with, because it’s twofold marketing. You’ve got to work with the people that you currently have. You’ve still got to market. To them. It’s a different message because I’ve already doing business with you. But you still have to maintain this while also going out and seeking other business while also going out and saying these are the prospects to come in the next 90 days, then it’s It’s all about marketing, and planning and managing the whole funnel. And, yeah,
Bela Musits 20:07
so if you reflect back over the last, you know, five or six years, what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned from marketing and trying to attract other law firms and build those relationships? You know, what are some of the key takeaways that if you had to say, here’s my top three, what are
James Grant 20:24
they? Ma’am, they’re there, there are so many lessons. The biggest lesson overall, it may not be directly on point, but it does relate is being cheap as expensive. Don’t be cheap when it comes to anything. The first thing a lot of people think of as staff. But obviously, that’s a huge one. But if you’re cheap in any area of your practice, whether it’s sales, marketing, production, your people your financial controls and metrics, whatever it is, it is going to be expensive down the road. So especially when it comes to our marketing and sales process, yes, you can’t be cheap, you have to put your best foot forward, because this is the first and potentially only interaction you may have with someone. And a lot of times people perceive that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. So you want to make sure that you put your best foot forward, that doesn’t mean that you have to go out and say, Hey, I’m going to invite you to this $15,000 plate dinner? No, but you know, don’t be like, Hey, let’s go out to McDonald’s. And I’m gonna tell you about this business where we can, like make each other a lot of money and save you time. Like, again, right? receptions are real? Yeah. So I mean, that’s one. And then the other is being objective. If you are not objective, you are running your business based upon your gut, or your feel or hunches. The second that you do that you’re off the rails. And I think that’s a problem with a lot of legal community, because we don’t have that training. But through a lot of the coaching that my business partner I have done, we’ve come to realize that you have to run a business based upon objective metrics, objective key performance indicators and objective standards. And once you do that, it’s it’s just like Amazon, like Jeff Bezos does not run Amazon, based on gut and feel and whims that come by, right. It’s based on metrics. And if Amazon can do it, any other business can do it, even if my business just so happens to practice law. So you know, again, from all of those different facets of running a business, and specifically with marketing and sales, you have to run it based on your metrics, you have to know, you know, what is your sales cycle this quarter? What is was it last quarter, you know, what’s your conversion ratio, and you tracking all of those things. You may think the problems over here, but the numbers tell you that the problems down here. And that allows you to fix and adjust as opposed to just saying, Well, I’m going to throw at this whole marketing campaign and go with something new when it’s just one little tweak. Right,
Bela Musits 23:11
right. Excellent point. Well, I, you sounded like, MBA Business School professor right there.
James Grant 23:15
Well, I’ve made a lot of mistakes to get here. So that’s the you see the scars, then you’ll understand why.
Bela Musits 23:22
Yeah, those are excellent points. So what’s sort of the next big goal that you want to achieve at the firm?
James Grant 23:31
So where we are right now is we’re offering this in Georgia, we are building out our process, we are building out our team so that we have capacity to go outside of Georgia. And we’ve done that through an entirely virtual team, which has really helped by not limiting ourselves geographically to you have to work in this physical location is open up a whole world of candidates, we have people all across the US all across the world that work for us. But now we’re really pushing to build up that team. Because the model that we have here that works in Georgia can work in any other state. So that is our next big push is to then open up in other states and offer the exact same services to other firms. Because bottom line, there’s just a need for it. If if you are running two law firms or two departments, pre litigation and litigation with the same staff, you’re doing them effectively a mediocre job. And you could run one run would run one really well. Exceptional. And now it’s going to make the clients even happier. And then let us be exceptional where we are and it benefits everyone. I definitely see it as a service. That’s not just something that’s Georgia specific, but something that’s really can be offered effectively across the nation, but you’ve got to make that first step into the next state. See what works. See what doesn’t work. A dat. And then yes, allow to others.
Bela Musits 25:05
Oh, very nice very nice. So let’s start wrapping this up. Is there something that I should have asked you that I haven’t? Or is there anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
James Grant 25:16
One thing I’d like to share is check out our website. Yes, 8334thewin.com. That’s our toll free number 833 The number 4 thewin.com, check out our free resources, we like to offer a lot of our template complaints motions, you know, pleadings across the board so that way others can benefit from what we’ve seen that work. So whether it be discovery or you know, it doesn’t matter what it is. A lot of attorneys like hold that dear and personal that this is, this is my special pleading, and it’s only going to help me but a rising tide lifts all ships. And if my templates can help you do better, then that’s great. If you have questions with my templates and think we can work together based upon the work product you’ve seen that we’ve offered for free, you probably have an indication of the work product, you’re going to get one when when there’s no money that’s being exchanged and exchanging hands. So, you know, use our free resources. Use us, you know, I have no problem. I talked with attorneys across the nation, several times each week. So you know, if you want to pick up the phone and call me if you want to email me if you want to do a zoom call. You know, I love talking with other attorneys. I love helping other attorneys, helping them litigate their cases and maximizing their recovery for their clients and for their firm.
Bela Musits 26:36
That’s great. I’m glad you shared that because that was going to be my last question was how to people get in touch with you? So hey, James, I really enjoyed our conversation. You’ve been a wonderful guest. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.
James Grant 26:49
No, thank you very much. It’s been a blast.
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