Owen McGrann is the Founder and Managing Member of McGrann Law, a modest firm that works with ordinary people on estate planning and small businesses. His background includes work at law firms such as Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C. and Tucker Arensberg, P.C. Owen has been on the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers & Rising Stars list on six separate occasions for his expertise and hands-on work with the community. He received his JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and his master’s in literature from Binghamton University.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Why Owen McGrann left the big law firms and started his own
- The power of storytelling in sales
- Understanding the similarities between sales and law
- How overlooking math skills in law firms is costing lawyers
- The importance of knowing where the money is allocated in law firms
- The best piece of advice that Owen has received
- Why being aware of your surroundings is essential
- Owen’s favorite practicing attorneys
- Which software transformed Owen’s law firm
In this episode…
It’s no secret that lawyers have a stigma in western culture. Even the best law firms can be perceived as manipulative or conniving based solely on stereotypes. The profession comes with its own pitfalls and preconceptions and, unfortunately, some lawyers only serve to perpetuate those notions. Meanwhile, others work tirelessly to serve their clients and practice fairly. One such lawyer is Owen McGrann.
After a decade at larger law firms, Owen decided to start his own to help his clients better. He has a direct but honest approach that filters to the rest of his team at McGrann Law. Their reputation is built on these ideals, and on today’s show, Owen explains exactly how they operate.
Michael Renfro interviews Owen McGrann, the Founder and Managing Member of McGrann Law, on this episode of 15 Minutes to talk about his approach to practicing law and what’s worked for his firm. They discuss the overlooked mechanics of running a law firm and why knowing your numbers is so important. They touch on subjects such as CRMs for law firms, using storytelling to win clients, and some of the best attorneys working today.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- McGrann Law
- Owen McGrann on LinkedIn
- Michael Renfro on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Michael Renfro’s email address: MICHAEL@gladiatorlawmarketing.com
- Adam Draper on LinkedIn
- Marshall Lichty on LinkedIn
- Wendy Witt on LinkedIn
- Akimbo a podcast from Seth Godin
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.
To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to Adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.
You’re listening to 15 minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t.
Michael Renfro 0:13
Hello, everyone, Michael Renfro here I’m the host of 15 Minutes, where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law firm. 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 potential growth. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your law firm needs to have a better website, it also needs to have the best, excuse me, the better the better content, more extensive content. At Gladiator Law Marketing we use artificial intelligence along with machine learning and decades literally actually close to a century in over a century now of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to law, gladiatorlawmarketing.com, or schedule a free consultation, you can also send an email directly to me, that’s simply Michael MICHAEL@gladiatorlawmarketing.com. That should be on the stream. But for those who do not have visuals that’s spelled exactly as those words are normally spelled, or typically, I should say, gladiatorlawmarketing.com. Anyway, today’s guest is Owen McGrann. Owen, I’m gonna let you introduce yourself here in just a moment. But nice to have you on the show. Very, very glad that you came on and allowed us to interview and see what see what your past is all about and see what you’re doing now.
Owen McGrann 1:37
Well, cool. Thanks so much for having me.
Michael Renfro 1:38
No, no, it was great. I appreciate it. I know we haven’t met yet until just now. So that’s always kind of fun. And the interview by process where somebody’s interviewing someone else in there.
Owen McGrann 1:47
I have no idea what you’re getting here.
Michael Renfro 1:49
Yeah, no idea what you do have no idea who I write. It’s fun, though. So we’ll make it we’ll make it quick and painful. Okay. So let’s just start off with with the obvious, and I’m sure you have a good one here that like everybody. It’s funny, because I tell stories all the time. And I was like, you have so many stories. I’m like, actually, everybody has great stories. It’s just whether or not they’re willing to share them.
Owen McGrann 2:10
So I mean, I mean, that’s the thing, if people actually paid attention to their lives, they would realize that they could tell stories for ages, right. And, frankly, life would be a lot more interesting if we recognize our own stories, because we’ve participated in it a little bit more.
Michael Renfro 2:26
It’s also where our experience and character all come from as our own stories, right? I mean, what are you without them?
Owen McGrann 2:31
That’s right. So yeah, as you say, I’m a one. I am a an attorney in Pittsburgh. I’ve been practicing for over a decade, but that’s the boring shit. That’s, you know, I spent seven, eight years in big law, you know.
Michael Renfro 2:50
Like, for a big firm, you mean.
Owen McGrann 2:52
Big firms and burned myself out doing it? Or that store? Got actually very ill almost died twice. And
Michael Renfro 3:05
work from the overload.
Owen McGrann 3:07
No, I got independently ill. And, you know, in the wake of that decided that I couldn’t go back to the way that I was-
Michael Renfro 3:17
That was no longer conducive, and where you’re
Owen McGrann 3:19
Right, you know, and, you know, I was one of those idiots who became a lawyer because I wanted to help people. Right? And it turns out that in big law firms, you’re helping big companies make more and more money or, you know, defend against things that aren’t necessarily the most savory, you know, kind of thing. So, you know, getting getting as sick as I was, was actually a bit of a blessing because it allowed me It forced me to take a step back, you know, walk away from the firm that I was with, and, you know, sort of recalibrate where where I am. So, now, what I do, I own a very small shop. I do business consultancy, so I work with a lot of startups, small businesses, businesses.
Michael Renfro 4:04
Businesses that are literally just they don’t even understand how harsh businesses probably.
Owen McGrann 4:08
You know, I mean, right there. One of my first clients was a auto automotive repair shop. And the first time I met with them, they said, so do you think we should incorporate? Let’s say, you’ve been in business for 20 years? You should have done that 20 years ago? Yeah. Yes, you know, shocking that you haven’t been sued already. So, you know, it’s it’s nice taking, you know, some of the more sophisticated ways that big business, you know, handles problems and health and apply more folks, you know, leverage the same kind of, you know, tactics and knowledge.
Michael Renfro 4:49
Let me just say I don’t mean to interrupt, but that’s actually obviously it’s not the first time I’ve heard the story and I think it’s because people you know, with good intentions go go into a situation. And we it’s just like we said at the beginning, you really don’t know what you’re getting into until you actually work for a company, I’ve said this recently, you don’t know a person until you shake their hand no matter how well you know them online until you actually give them that bear hug, especially if you’re, you know, becoming friends with them. I had a discussion about internet friends, right? So it’s all about that, you know, that, that getting to know you truly phase and sometimes people, they get to know what they got themselves into. And they’re like, this isn’t really what I intended my life to be.
Owen McGrann 5:32
No, you know, and then part of the problem, if you work for big firms is by the time you start realizing it, you’re already making pretty decent money. Right? And you’ve, you’ve got the student loans, and, you know, it becomes very difficult to disentangle yourself from, you know.
Michael Renfro 5:47
By that time, as they say, they have their claws into it, right, I need to let go, because-
Owen McGrann 5:53
I mean, you’ve got a mortgage and salary that you were making, and you’ve got a family and you can’t just suddenly say, you know, I’m out. I’ve got no plan, but I’m out. So, you know, it’s, it’s been really pretty fascinating getting into opening my own shop, because I’m a startup too.
Michael Renfro 6:15
Helping so how long? How long? Just how long has How old is the firm? Now?
Owen McGrann 6:19
We’re just over three years. So we opened, we’re not starting
Michael Renfro 6:23
anymore. But I mean, yeah, you’ve made it past quite a few of the early stages.
Owen McGrann 6:27
We are We are more than stable at this point. We’re in, you know, doing very well. So your adulation? Thank you. Thank you. So we’re here, let
Michael Renfro 6:37
me get let me let me I’m gonna get right into it, then. Because i you i love that you did what you did, because that, that gives us a much better idea of you without even before we go into these standard questions, you know, and I think that, quite frankly, I think that’s refreshing. Hopefully, some of the guests in the future will will see this
Owen McGrann 6:57
opportunity, as you said, stories are the best way to get across anything, right? So they really
Michael Renfro 7:01
are. It’s how, you know, just my boss probably will hate me saying this, but from a sales perspective. And what I’ve always told him, Because I hate to look at things at tactics, I just look, I’ve always been a natural salesman, and been doing it since I was 14, right? So 36 years now. And it’s funny, because the things that I always did naturally, later on, when I would read books, there was two big ones that I always did just inherently without ever thinking about. It’s just who I was. And it was tell stories and give analogies, because it’s just it made sense to me. And those are considered two huge sales tactics. But I don’t look at him that way. Because to me, it gets it’s allows you, it’s the best way to relay your message to someone so that they fully understand
Owen McGrann 7:47
that it’s a way to talk to somebody that invites them in. Right and not programmed either. Yeah, you know, because people, people don’t, frankly, care what you’re selling. Right. They that’s that’s if you lead with that it never worked. You know, it has to be inviting somebody into a discussion about ways that you’re able to help them. Right, because they don’t care about, you know, at least not at first. No, it’s
Michael Renfro 8:14
funny. You’re saying these things because I have preached my whole life that attorneys are nothing more than the most prestigious salespeople on the planet. We are glorified waitstaff. Yeah, you’re not I will not go that far. Sir. I know, I have talked to you a little bit before and I know you have a great sense of humor. I get it to me, I anybody in this world. You know, I used to have a saying that I started back in 98. Life’s a pitch and then you buy and because everybody in all the way you know, if you want to get biblical with it all the way back to Jesus getting upset in the market, it was all because it’s about buying and selling. And that’s all it’s become like you’re either doing one or the other from the getting your wife, right to getting a job and feel like we’re getting a job. What about the other? I’m like they’re selling you a job. You’re selling yourself, you’re both at the table selling.
Owen McGrann 9:02
Right. So you both of you are hoping for a match.
Michael Renfro 9:05
Exactly, exactly. How did you get started? Let me ask you that. How did how did you know I know where you are now. But how did how did you come to the point where like, I want to be an attorney?
Owen McGrann 9:14
Well, you know, so my dad’s an attorney. Okay, that I grew up with it. He’s He’s a litigator. You know, he works for large practice areas. Same practice areas initially. Right. So when I first started, I was in litigation. You know, I did super fun cases and, you know, works on cases all the way up to the Supreme Court. Stuff that most people think would be like an ideal kind of thing. And, you know, the sort of secret that a lot of people don’t want to tell you is, it doesn’t matter how prestigious it is. It is if you don’t actually enjoy that particular work or you don’t believe in what you’re doing you It’s just fancy or window dressing for the same mindset.
Michael Renfro 10:04
You have to have I’ll go into in a minute, but you really do have to believe in that cause of being so funny. I don’t know if you do in sales, but I’ve always said that sales and law are so damn similar. Because if you do not absolutely believe in what you’re selling to someone, they will not hear the conviction, and you will not pass that on to them. And as they say, like you guys have to believe what you’re pushing particularly litigators, like the confidence sitting in front of a judge and jury is the highest confidence that you guys have to exhibit I would imagine.
Owen McGrann 10:35
Well, he is both confidence but also vulnerability in it right, you know, because so
Michael Renfro 10:41
they’re not cockiness, let me be very clear, not right. You don’t want to piss off those people. You want to be confident, but again, yes. Yeah, like you said, humbling. And
Owen McGrann 10:54
forget it. Go ahead. Yeah, no, I mean, my first job out of law school, I clerked for a judge. And it was the best job I’ll ever have. But the the thing that I learned there was the attorneys who came in. And you know, if the judge said, Well, what about this? Right? And if the attorney said, Your Honor, I don’t know. This is very difficult question. There’s no clear authority on this. I think that you can make a cogent argument like I’m making, I think you can make a cogent argument like my opponents making. Here’s why I think we still win. But it’s not a clear thing. If you hear that, and you’re the one in the middle trying to decide it. Say this person’s being honest with me. Right? This person is trying to convey to me confidence and bias. Right? You know, and, you know, sales is really no different in that regard. And attorneys are terrible. At sales is a dirty word for, for most attorneys. I know. And that’s why
Michael Renfro 12:01
when I took when I say this, most attorneys are like, we’re not salesmen. I’m like, okay, bullshit, you know, and all you’re doing is convincing people of your position, that is exactly what a salesman does his entire her entire life,
Owen McGrann 12:12
that there are all kinds of things that that attorneys were very bad about doing for ourselves. We don’t think that we’re in sales. Really. How else are you getting clients? Right? I mean, it’s like,
Michael Renfro 12:26
I didn’t even touch that side of it bad. I wasn’t even looking like I’m only talking about the litigate, you
Owen McGrann 12:31
know, and I mean, it’s literally Yeah, you got the Yeah, we can call it business development, right, if that makes us feel better about it. But there’s still deals to you there deal sales. Were also terrible business people, because we think that we’re somehow above business, we are professionals. If you have a 401K matching program for your employees, your goddamn business, right? If you’ve got Paul now,
Michael Renfro 12:54
businessman, right, you’re running
Owen McGrann 12:56
a business, an actual normal business. And the fact that we don’t act like it makes us run really terrible businesses. Right isn’t a terrible business to work in to own and to work for.
Michael Renfro 13:10
I’m sending this video out to every potential. You don’t as you literally did. You sound like me and my CEO, Adam Draper are talking to one another because we’re like, you know, attorneys don’t understand that once they take on this role, they now become a businessman. And at some point, some point, if they get big enough, they have to leave the attorney role altogether and straight become the business.
Owen McGrann 13:34
That’s right. You know, and, you know, I had a post about this on LinkedIn last week where, you know, like some of the some of the things that are just
Michael Renfro 13:43
share that with me, because I don’t know if we’re on LinkedIn, if we’ve met on there, but I am on LinkedIn, it’s just like,
Owen McGrann 13:50
yeah, for those overseas. The there are some dead giveaways that, you know, a law firm doesn’t think of themselves as a business. Right? The first one is, let’s make the Rainmaker the general or the managing partner, right? Why are you taking your best salesperson out of the field? Number one, do you really think that somebody who’s really good at sales is really good at operations? No, almost never. Almost never. And three, do you think the Rainmaker is really going to stop making rain? Do you think he’s going to stop or she’s going to stop and run a business? No, you’re just going to have a business without a leader. You know, that they’re just so many different, they’re
Michael Renfro 14:33
the key, they’re the face, and you allow someone else to do operations that they could even be CEO if you want to make them look like it and then have CEO
Owen McGrann 14:42
and run everything, but you need an ops person.
Michael Renfro 14:45
Right, exactly. That’s exactly my point that Oh, takes care of everything. And
Owen McGrann 14:50
there are just so many dysfunctions the way that attorneys run businesses, right, you know, I could go on about this for days but I think no, no,
Michael Renfro 14:58
no Listen, listen, if you go off script on something like this, I’ve already scratched off like eight questions, bro. I’m just telling you right now, like, I’d rather have this discussion because, you know, it is your 15 minutes to shine. But it’s also your 15 minutes to show why I mean, you have obviously, let me just say this with all due respect, three years, 10 years with a with a larger, you know, and you went through all that now three years on your own, we all know that. You have made it past the mark that if anything fails, now it’s probably going to be yes on you. But the success that you have had is also up to this point on you. You know what I mean? But I don’t I don’t believe you’ll see. And if you did, I think it would only be a hiccup. I don’t think you would see actual failure, you might see hiccup like we all do, and you’ll recover and retrace and, and fix it, you know, but the fact that you look at it from this perspective going in, my owner did a paper on ROI for attorneys, because it’s so different than ROI for any it is ROI still is. But it’s different ROI. When you’re looking at it from an attorney standpoint, you know, or from a law firm it let’s just say law firm in that sense. When you’re running a law firm, you really have to look at that differently. After you share that. I’ll share that link with you. I think you’ll you will absolutely love his he did a white paper on on law firm ROI, law firm marketing ROI, which
Owen McGrann 16:18
is just, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard this from attorneys before, you know, I didn’t go to law school to do math, right. First of all, I think that’s, you know, really devaluing you know, what most attorneys do, because if you’re, if you’re, you know, doing, you know, any sort of litigation, you’re doing math, right. But you have to, there are so many attorneys who just don’t understand the numbers of a business, right? It’s not even, we’re not talking, you know, forensics, forensic, you know, accounting or something like that.
Michael Renfro 16:58
They just don’t want to take the time, because if they only gave it 30 seconds, it would they don’t understand it’s all common sense anyway, and I don’t mean that in a rude way, I mean, that like, it would just click, I’ve watched it happen so many times on the phone. And that’s why I say that I know,
Owen McGrann 17:11
you know, and, you know, just basic things, basic KPIs, you know, or knowing what a KPI is to begin with, you know, getting a sense of, you know, rather than just throwing money at it at a marketing campaign, right. Are you doing any tracking on the ROI? Right? Are you a be testing anything on Facebook? You know, are it is there any sort of sense? Or are you just throwing mud against the wall and hoping something sticks? Do you
Michael Renfro 17:41
know where every dollar of that campaign goes? Because something I love to point out to people is that a lot of agencies, and I can truly say that we don’t, but they just give you like, if you go to them for SEO, right? And say, Hey, can you do SEO for me for Business Law in Pittsburgh? Right? And they’re like, Okay, it’s gonna cost you $3,500. And you’d be surprised row, how many attorneys will not ask, what’s been allocated? What am I getting for 3500. All they care about is what most of these agencies say after this is what it’ll take to get you number one. You know, and this is not to gloat Gladiator. But I think one of the important things that matters, and what attorneys do like about us, and I know you would dig it, it’s everything’s itemized, you see how many words you’re getting, and we meet with people monthly to show them the deliverables. That’s why our attorneys are more How do you say it was, it was our founders whole concept. They’re more empowered, they have the understanding of where every dollar goes and how it affects. Because if you’re doing that, too, and I know you’re gonna get this because it’s exactly what you’re doing. You have the tracking. You can know exactly where every dollar is, then you can see okay, this is this is the vertical that is not working in the campaign. Here. Yeah. Well, and then, you know, and what was your biggest turning point? Understanding that just out of curiosity, where did you go from being, you know, oh, and oh, and the attorney, to now what what it feels like, you’re not you’re not at this one only. And what I mean by that is, you’re not solely a business. I can see that that when did you take both seats? And really, you know,
Owen McGrann 19:22
take, take hold of that. There was there was a point.
Michael Renfro 19:28
I mean, when did it click? I know it was before us.
Owen McGrann 19:31
So I mean, it clicked for me. So I had an organ transplant in January 2020. So right before COVID hit. And there was no I mean, it was a good thing. I’m a lot, right. I
Michael Renfro 19:42
know. I know. It’s just a that would be a
Owen McGrann 19:46
it was a hell of a time to become immunocompromised. I can tell you that like COVID was two months away. But there’s a period where I was, you know, recovering. I was learning to walk again. I was, you know, learning to you know, having to do a lot of things again, imagine I’m and I wasn’t able to practice as much as I normally was. And so I started taking a closer look at the finances of the business and how things were being allocated. And I realized that I had no idea what what money was going to really. I was just spending money. That was the light bulb. And yeah, exactly. And I had that moment. I said, if I saw one of my clients do this, I would read them out. Are you doing? Right? And, and there was a sort of, as you say, lightbulb moment where it’s like, well, if, if I believe in myself enough to give that advice to my clients, take it. Take it myself.
Michael Renfro 20:40
Yeah, I love it, man. And we hear that all the time. Right. And
Owen McGrann 20:43
so at that point, it was, you know, a lesson in analytics, and, you know, getting into how all of these things were being played out allocated. And, you know, what was returning income?
Michael Renfro 20:56
You know, I have to say, I love it, because you really nailed a point there. I think ever since the firm, the entire world has understood that attorneys, even though they say 6500 retainer, you’ve got to show where every dollar for every minute went, right. And if you didn’t cover 6500, then you gotta give some back. They don’t, a lot of people don’t take that into consideration, that that’s not guaranteed that the attorney gets all that depending on the case, right and ours. So to me, it’s no different, like any attorney knows that. But yet, they will go and sign this agreement that just has really no responsibility. And that’s not the word I’m looking for. But there’s no ownership of what I’m delivering to you, other than I’m going to do SEO for you. Right, it’s
Owen McGrann 21:44
a black box to most attorneys. You know, and, you know, I, in the same way that I advise any of my business clients, you know, if you’re buying something, know what you’re buying, right? Read the contract, understand what services you’re purchasing, you know, if if you’re bringing on a vendor to do something.
Michael Renfro 22:04
Yeah, I mean, that’s all this applies to the truth. I love that. Because every all this applies to the same dudes that you’re helping the same companies. Yep. Women, men, whoever, you know, yeah, the same folks. It’s, you know,
Owen McGrann 22:16
and that was one of the things it’s having to do this for myself, has made me a much better attorney for my clients. Because it’s no longer theoretical. Right? It is something that I’ve lived experience. I’ve lost money on because I did stupid shit. You know? And
Michael Renfro 22:32
wait, no, you got I’m sorry. You got to segue. What was your biggest stupid shit? What was your biggest pitfall? That and let me be clear on this, not just your biggest but the one that gave you because I don’t look at anything bad anymore. I really don’t. Everything that bad happens is as I have learned that it’s the catalyst to a greatest moment and a greater moment in the future. But for you what was the biggest one that gave you the most?
Owen McGrann 22:54
So I will preface this by saying and I agree with you there’s there’s a line in Ulysses by James Joyce were says, you know, men of genius, make no mistakes. All their errors are volitional. And are they are the portals of discovery. Right? If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. Exactly. The only way you learn, you know, if you’re not pushing the boundaries, if you’re not uncomfortable a little bit, you’re never going to grow and get bigger or, or more efficient, or you know, get better at what you’re doing. The the biggest mistake that I made in marketing was in 2019, believing that print marketing was still the way to go. And I signed a three year contract for a local magazine. You know, and luckily, it wasn’t a huge amount of money, but it was one of those ones where every every month every
Michael Renfro 23:44
month, it’s still hitting the bandwidth. Like this is
Owen McGrann 23:46
getting me nowhere. I didn’t get a single lead from that.
Michael Renfro 23:50
Not one and then that just ended right if I’m correct that like you finally just got out from under that
Owen McGrann 23:56
party. I threw a party when I when I learned that last. It was taken out. You know, it was
Michael Renfro 24:02
are you I have to ask, are you married with kids?
Owen McGrann 24:05
I am married no kids yet? No kids. Okay, so
Michael Renfro 24:07
then you and the wife had had a blast when you finally got I get it? I guess we did. We did.
Owen McGrann 24:13
So you know, things like you know, figuring out where people actually show up. Now, you know, it turns out it’s not in a magazine for a rich neighborhood.
Michael Renfro 24:25
No, stupid. It’s everything man everything. Anybody who doubts it is just not somehow been woken up to the reality of it with the sheer numbers. I mean, there’s I don’t even know that people even get a paper anymore. Other than what’s funny, I asked around because, you know, I still see the papers at the corner store, right? I’ve bought papers do you want to Why have bought newspapers in the last four years? You’re gonna love this? Never wants to read firestarters Yeah. We’ve always It’s believed that we had puppies, right. And so we we believe, a paper with a band around it. And they get scared of the paper. I mean, they’ve only probably been smacked on the butt like twice with it. But I had to have a paper I didn’t. Because I don’t have any I went out and had to get these newspapers, but not for reading them. They were literally the end I imagined, like and also bedding for different animals. So my point being that very useful. Yes. Mind you. Yeah, not for the same purposes now.
Owen McGrann 25:32
I last month, I had to get an alternative service on a quiet title action. And the way you do that, as you publish it in a newspaper, that was just like, this is the most useless thing like, No, there’s no no possible way that this actually is going to effectuate any sort of service. Nobody reads a newspaper anymore.
Michael Renfro 25:54
And they do they not allow assuming that this is a by the books kind of thing. Do they not allow had they not gone to the point of allowing electronic submissions in the same manner to work in the same way since there’s actually readership they’re
Owen McGrann 26:07
not in the back county of Pennsylvania? You know, and, you know, you would
Michael Renfro 26:11
think Pennsylvania would be one of the ones that’s a little more I’m not, not, I don’t really want to try to be political, I just think you would think Pennsylvania would be a little more ahead. When it comes to technology, just due to who they are as a as a state.
Owen McGrann 26:22
Typically, we are that I mean, this is this is a,
Michael Renfro 26:26
but it’s law. It’s law. It’s always slower. We know that. I
Owen McGrann 26:29
mean, we were we were 15 years behind everybody else. You know, I talked to people about automation, and they’re just like, well, you have to write your email yourself. It’s like the hell I do.
Michael Renfro 26:41
So let me ask you this. Who in? Because if I’m hearing about you’ve had almost 15 years now of who’s your mentor?
Owen McGrann 26:50
Michael Renfro 26:53
how you say, What’s the best piece of advice that that person? Why would you call them their mentor was the one thing that they really changed for you.
Owen McGrann 27:02
So the I mentioned that right out of law school, I clerked, the judge that I clerked for owes him was, is he’s pretty old now. But he’s still alive. And I still talk with him. He, he was the sort of Dean of Pennsylvania trial court judges in the state. Okay, he wrote all the discovery rules, and did all that kind of stuff. And, you know, he was one of those sort of old school genteel guys, who never got too high or too low on anything, and just sort of did his thing. And, you know, I remember, you know, the biggest lesson that I took from that year of clerking was was the combination of what he told me, but also seeing it play out in front of me, which was, there’s no one way to be an attorney. Right? What you see on TV, or in movies, that doesn’t really happen. You know, most attorneys aren’t like that, if they are, they’re not being themselves. Right. And, you know, it took me until I had my own firm to really understand that if I’m to be successful, I just got to be myself. Right. And that means, you know, show, you know, I have a practice where with every new business client that I have, I also do estate planning. With every new business client, I have, within the first two or three meetings, I wear a hoodie to a meeting.
Michael Renfro 28:33
Because of them,
Owen McGrann 28:34
because if they don’t want to deal with that, if they need somebody who wears, you know, a button up, you know, in a shirt every time, we’re not going to get along well enough for us to have a long term relationship. Right. And so, you know, I will curse, you know, within, you know, the first meeting, usually because I do that’s just, that’s just how I talk.
Michael Renfro 29:02
Did it was me within the first I think 10 sentences that we met each other this morning, what’s your like? I’ve got to tell you, I really like you. I mean, we we have y’all understand like, it’s just one of those where I do it likewise
Owen McGrann 29:15
feeling’s mutual. You know, and, you know, but it was this guy, though, that really Yeah, you know, where he he said,
Michael Renfro 29:23
Is there even one single piece of advice that you can can boil it down to that gets you the most? I mean, truly, when you talk about it, I
Owen McGrann 29:30
mean, he, you know, he was one of those people yourself, and that was it. Right? He said, he said, be yourself and do your homework. And I remember him, this is the one thing that stuck with me, you know, where he really said, you know, hard work is hard. There’s no shortcut. You can’t sort of have acid. The hard work is hard work. And you just got to do it all in or nothing. Right, you know, and he said, it’s worth it. write, you know, if you do the hard work once you’re going to know how to do it better next time, and it’s not going to be as hard. But you’ve got to do it at least once.
Michael Renfro 30:08
Well, it also just pays your dues sort of speak. I mean, I’ve always my father said to me something, you know, to me years ago, and it’s always stuck with me, but nothing ever comes easy or for free, even when they say it’s free, there’s a cost, you’re not seeing it. And I’m not talking about marketing free, I’m just about anything, anything that’s free. You know, a great example of that is if you rent a car, right, you still gotta pay taxes on the thing, and all of a sudden, you have this big bill that you were not anticipating.
Owen McGrann 30:34
Right, you know, or, you know, most people think of free in terms of money. Right. But, you know, time is the only non fungible good that we have. Yeah. Right. Yeah. You can’t, you can’t trade time. You know, it is, it is the, the only pegged commodity that we have. And, you know, if you say, like, all I have to do is give my time, frankly, I’d rather give my money. You know,
Michael Renfro 31:06
thank you very much for giving me your time today. Of course,
Owen McGrann 31:10
you know, because my time is not anything I can ever get back, I can always go make more money.
Michael Renfro 31:16
Right? Right. Good point. I’ve lost money three, three times in my life. All right. So, right.
Owen McGrann 31:23
So, you know, there’s always a cost, as you say, whether it’s money, whether it’s time, whether it’s relationships with people, you know, there’s, you know, and then it really pays to be more intentional about the way that we choose to do these things. And I know that’s become a buzzword, and you’ve been intentional about stuff, but I
Michael Renfro 31:42
wouldn’t even know man, I don’t listen to buzz.
Owen McGrann 31:47
But I mean, like, be aware of the shit that you’re doing. Choose to do it.
Michael Renfro 31:53
aware of your surroundings is something I constantly preach. And when I when I say that some people, they don’t take it, for what I made it for. And what I mean by that is, they’re like, What I understand what’s going on. I was like, when I say that, I’m really talking deeper, like, you know, read the people in the room, read the room itself, read, you know, what’s going on, like, think about all of it and how and not overanalyzing it in that sense. But just know where you are, you know, it helps you control this when I used to just did. Oh, yeah. So I really started taking hold of that Think before you talk. And when you actually take the time to think, before you before you speak, it’s usually because you have an idea of truly your surroundings and what’s going on and have something to contribute.
Owen McGrann 32:39
Well, and there’s also the benefit of when you shut up you realize that the people around you are really fascinating. Yes, is given take, you know, it’s so often you know, we we get caught up in our own heads and in the believing that what we have to say is the most important thing that’s going to come out attorneys are very, very bad about this, right? Because we’re the smartest boy in the room every single time. You have to be you know, and the thing is, you know, we’re often not even if we pretend to be, right. So, you know, every every once in a while, just shut the fuck up. Alright, listen to people, you’re going to
Michael Renfro 33:19
learn a lot, given the a virtual power.
Owen McGrann 33:23
You know, it’s, you know, the monologue doesn’t need to be a monologue. No, it doesn’t.
Michael Renfro 33:31
You know, that actually gives me a truly a great segue for my next question for you. The people that know you, you know, your your close network of friends. What would you say would be the things that they would call your your strange habits, the things that make you a little different your quirks if you will.
Owen McGrann 33:51
So I have raging ADHD. Alright, so
Michael Renfro 33:56
that’s why we get along now. It all makes sense.
Owen McGrann 33:59
When you mentioned earlier that you naturally talk in analogies and storytelling, I was like, I Yeah, he is he’s a brother. So I very frequently will just randomly start talking about something. tangents is what? No idea what I’m talking about. Right? And eventually it does circle back. There’s a connection always. I always, it always connects but, you know, sometimes it
Michael Renfro 34:29
takes five stories for me, and they’re like, are you telling another story? Within the story within the story with I’m sorry,
Owen McGrann 34:35
just hilarious. This is like a normal walk in Zen comb. Right. It’s yeah. So you know,
Michael Renfro 34:44
that’s good. That’s the one that
Owen McGrann 34:46
a lot of people who know me professionally, you know, think that I’m a very straightforward, you know, I’ve got got it and I tell the thing, when I’m around my people, it is not like that. And you know it It can appear that I am just totally all over the place. And in my close friends, I know that at some point, there’s going to be a payoff. Right that it does that it does cohere. It might just take a little bit of time to get there. I,
Michael Renfro 35:17
I will share this because I’m a very transparent person. But first of all, we’re gonna we’re gonna have some talks brother, I don’t mean someone who literally clones like almost everything I say, but just in the only difference is your industry is law. And mine is selling law. So it’s really, but no, I mean that, but I got just a few more, these are quick. And these are the ones that are just kind of fun. But I really, man, quite frankly, one of my biggest beliefs in this world that I’ve come to, is that I do not believe that mistakes. Number one, right, but I take it further because I do not believe in coincidences. I do not believe that. I believe everything literally happens the way it’s supposed to. And I know some people argue that and here’s what I tell him. I’ll give you a quick example of me. And then I’m gonna ask you these five questions. I think of life. I know you’ve heard of GTA, right? Everybody knows GTA. So I think of life like a sandbox video game, right. And what I mean by that is, if you look at that, that is very programmed, and everything happens, specifically the way it’s supposed to. However, you can be a flounder, and sit in there and never actually push the game forward and go to a checkpoint. And you can literally just run around that city forever, your entire time on GTA forever, cannot push the story forward. Or you can take the leap and decide I’m going to run all these missions, I’m going to run all this and push all the story to a closure, but it always lead you to the next point perfectly. But yet, randomly and I tell people it’s they just don’t get it. But it’s chaotic destiny. It’s it sounds like a crazy term, but it is what it is you can go with the chaos. Or you can find your path. It’s that’s the choice that yeah, no, that makes perfect sense to me. Yeah, so with that, whose would you say is the colleagues that? I know that’s the one the one but maybe other than the judge who I know is is no longer active? Who would you say in the in the active legal realm is probably one of the ones that you respect most in the industry.
Owen McGrann 37:29
So this might not make me a whole lot of friends with my attorney colleagues. But I don’t hang out with a lot of attorneys. You know, my best friends are chemists and musicians and actors and educators, right? I don’t have a whole lot to learn from people who are just like me. So, you know, there are people in the industry that I that I really respect, you know, some who are no longer practicing, you know, moved on. Right, you know, Marshall Lichty, who resonate, Marshall Lichty. He runs JDHD, which is a group that’s designed for lawyers with ADHD,
Michael Renfro 38:18
I was about to say is that I was like, it’s got all but one, I was like, is it somehow relate? That’s
Owen McGrann 38:24
cool. That’s cool. You know, Wendy Whitt I already
Michael Renfro 38:29
want to, I’m gonna reach out to him, I’ll tell you that, that’s for sure. He sounds like if he if he’s somebody you respect, and he’s doing that, I can only imagine and I might have a good
Owen McGrann 38:38
conversation. You know, and there are a lot of people out there who are doing really interesting things, you know, the people in law that interest me are the ones who are poking and prodding at it and trying to get it to do it, do something differently. Right. Right.
Michael Renfro 38:57
Related, if you will, I rather say persuaded, I don’t like manipulation. I don’t like that word. Persuade it to see it from a different angle or see, you know, use it in a different way.
Owen McGrann 39:07
Yeah, you know, I mean, you know, my firm has moved, mostly at this point, probably 75% or so it’s a flat fee billing. What was that? I’m sorry, went a flat fee.
Michael Renfro 39:19
Okay, okay. Got it. Right. So we’re moving away. I’ve heard of that. I’ve seen a lot of lawyers doing that now where they’re like, this doesn’t matter if I go 10 hours or if I go to burn 50 hours. You’re good.
Owen McGrann 39:30
Right? You know, and it gives. It gives clients some certainty as far as Okay, here’s the cost, right? Right. If I do my job, and I scope it properly, it gives me all all of the motivation to be efficient, right in a way that billable hours. Do not
Michael Renfro 39:51
restrictive, you know, when I look back at billable hours that they see more restrictive because it just seems even more restrictive. When you Think about what you can do for a client nowadays,
Owen McGrann 40:01
the thing that I hate, and I don’t use that word lightly, the thing that I hate about billable hours is that there’s an inherent conflict of interest between myself and my client doing it because my client wants me to be efficient. Right? The less time that I spend on something, the less money that they spent. Me on their other hand, I want to be thorough, right, I want to do as much work on this as possible. I think flat fee billing aligns client and attorney better, right, here’s what needs to be done. Here’s a price that we agree on.
Michael Renfro 40:37
Let’s go. You know, it’s funny, Toyota introduced that into the sales concept of like, taking bargaining out of it. So right the bargaining, no longer play to a piece of the value of the vehicle. And that’s essentially, it’s really the same concept for your services. Just just it’s just a service, right? Does it like you say, it even evens the playing field? So nobody’s feeling like one’s getting something that the other one shouldn’t? Nobody feels like they’re getting more or less than what they should be getting? Yeah, I like that. I would go into it more. But I recently had to use that for a situation personally. And I was like, wow, that makes it a lot easier to because I just don’t have to worry about how much more could this go up? If it goes here, it goes there and all those other things that,
Owen McGrann 41:21
you know, and for me, and you’ll get this because you have ADHD. I was terrible at keeping track of every six minutes of my life. Oh, god. Yeah. Right. So keeping track of my billable time, it was a disaster. Right. So flat for you imagine, flat fees are a godsend.
Michael Renfro 41:39
All right. That’s cool. I like that. What’s your favorite podcast? Or do you have
Owen McGrann 41:43
one? So I really love Akimbo by Seth Godin. I don’t, I used to listen to a lot more podcasts. I find that so in addition to running the firm, practicing law, being married, having two dogs, I’m also writing a novel so I don’t have a whole lot of time extra. And so I sort of been, you know, narrowing down the the extraneous. Exactly. Right. It’s out. So, yeah,
Michael Renfro 42:24
I get it, man. I get it. I, you know, it’s funny because I do one but I think another friend of mine who does videos and YouTube and stuff. He said it best. He’s like, Man, I make them I don’t watch them. Like I I don’t know, if I’m making them, how do I possibly have time to go out there and do all the content and make all this stuff that I’m doing and then sit down once and
Owen McGrann 42:47
there’s also you know, when you do something all the time? I mean, I I get tired of it? Well, you know, I used to play music and a bunch of bands when I was in my 20s Mostly guitar. I can also do bass drums. You know, I can fake a lot more a little bit. A bit a little bit. Yeah. And that was a lot of fun. But now when I listen to music, I can’t just listen to music. Right? I hear the business like it’s like, oh, that’s an interesting arrangement. Yeah, you’re literally taking it apart. Right? And you’re like, huh, that was like a How did he do that? Right. Exactly. And so it’s analytical rather than just like this is amazing. That’s what movies
Michael Renfro 43:28
for me I do not I am a huge I never actually directed mind you but I’ve studied branded everything but actually direct writing screenplay. You know, the whole works and I still may do it one day because I think that I would enjoy now because watching them even my favorite movies oh and my most dear movies I’m like, Oh, I just see the artist. I see the art of it. But then I also at the same time shred them because I’m like, Wow, you guys were capable of so much more even back then you know, it’s just it like you say right comes 100% analytical rather than sitting and just enjoying it. Yeah, you see. Here’s here’s an easy one for you. Because I’m I’m assuming this is probably not law based just getting to know you. But what’s your favorite conference?
Owen McGrann 44:19
Conference? So yeah, as I mentioned, I’m in Pittsburgh, so we are home to the national furry convention. The National furry Yeah.
Michael Renfro 44:31
Well, and I won’t
Owen McGrann 44:33
so furries are people who dress up in animal costume. Oh, they
Michael Renfro 44:37
are okay, because I was thinking it might be I was thinking might be a plush or something like that. That I was aware of that it gotten really popular like the Kirby’s or whatever though,
Owen McGrann 44:43
ya know, so. Okay, so
Michael Renfro 44:46
furry. Playing after
Owen McGrann 44:53
because I’ll never forget I think it was probably 2011 2012 When I was still working downtown You know, once you’re under lunch, I was just like, What the hell is going on? There? They’re an interesting group, I take a look like
Michael Renfro 45:10
that. Let me just say that only sounds like fun, light hearted time. I don’t see anybody going there to be a Negative Nelly, if you will, or I’m sure there’s always some don’t get me wrong. That’s just that’s just the way it is. But it seems like most people are there to be light hearted and have a good time. And
Owen McGrann 45:27
then there are other activities too. That’s cool.
Michael Renfro 45:31
I will look it up. You’ve got to them definitely gonna look it up. So last one, and this one is really specific to law. And what I mean by that is when you know what you’re practicing, what’s your favorite tool? And that might be software. But what’s your favorite tool? And if it’s not a piece of software, what’s your favorite SaaS software as a service or piece of software that you that you will rely on most?
Owen McGrann 45:57
So the the piece of software that changed the way that I practice law is Lawmatics. Lawmatics. Yeah, you know, it’s it’s a CRM, but specifically for attorneys. You know, and it just does amazing stuff. You know, good hair case, I
Michael Renfro 46:17
imagine is one Yeah,
Owen McGrann 46:18
you know, about the way it does the tracking the case, you can feed all of your marketing analytics into a to to get reports on, on how all of that’s going. It’s a really robust program. But the problem for people like us is, you get into it, and there’s so much, it can be overwhelming, overwhelming.
Michael Renfro 46:41
Yeah, I knew exactly where to start, right, you
Owen McGrann 46:45
go down 30 Different rabbit holes, you know, and your wife comes against you at three in the morning, he looks like a coked up raccoon and you’re like. So, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things where, you know, there are people out there who can help you with it. You know, so,
Michael Renfro 47:03
since you said it, what would be your best advice for someone who’s first, you know, who is just learning Lawmatics but doesn’t want to, you know, be a coked? Out rabbit hole kind of guy? Yeah. So I mean, what would be what would what would be your advice to him?
Owen McGrann 47:20
Don’t Don’t try to do everything at once, pick one thing, whether it’s, you know, putting together a single, you know, email drip campaign for somebody fills out a form on your website,
Michael Renfro 47:33
you do that. So it’s a full CRM, when you say, Oh, it is
Owen McGrann 47:37
fully operational. You can run newsletters and stuff through that everything.
Michael Renfro 47:42
That’s why Okay, now that it becomes even more clear, when I was, I was thinking it had had some stripped down concepts of it since it was for law, but now I see it. It’s a CRM for law firm, right, you know,
Owen McGrann 47:56
and it’s got you can do scheduling through it, there’s like, it’s something like Calendly, you know, and
Michael Renfro 48:02
no, I drive, which to me is become my favorite now. Yeah, does it just out of curiosity, one of the things I like about Pipedrive, that changed the game for me is that it had rows, columns of each, each deal and where they are in the process, because each column is a separate process. So in a flash, I could literally see my entire pipeline, hence the name Pipedrive.
Owen McGrann 48:27
Right. So it’s, you can set up various pipelines within Lawmatics. You know, it’s
Michael Renfro 48:34
which you can see everything, you can pretty much see everything with a little bit of scrolling I imagined, but that’s rolling down,
Owen McGrann 48:40
and systemize, customize reporting and stuff like that. It’s, it’s, it’s fantastic. So
Michael Renfro 48:46
that is your number one tool slash off. That’s,
Owen McGrann 48:48
it can be a full time job, though. Oh, no, I get it. Like,
Michael Renfro 48:52
I would almost say that. You know, I’ll just say this only for me as software. So you have your advice, and I’m just throwing this out there. But if I were to use it, the first thing I would probably do is go somewhere like Udemy. Right, one of these places that that may have courses where I wouldn’t want to watch the course don’t get me wrong, but those are usually set up very well. So I can just go in there and write cross reference and get straight to that I need to have it to pull up.
Owen McGrann 49:19
Absolutely. One of the things that thematics does really well is they have an onboarding, where they’ll they’ll have somebody videos, actually, well, a person will sit there in it with you and show you how to do things
Michael Renfro 49:32
like literally screensharing type situation where you together. Oh, that’s really cool. Yeah. So
Owen McGrann 49:37
they do a really,
Michael Renfro 49:39
I think they recognize that, you know, at first I don’t think they did that robust realize that people were just overwhelmed with with the possibility. So, right. It’s like jumping into I remember the first time that I jumped into Sugar back in the day for sales. It was a lot of people tried to I don’t know if you know, but Sugar is an open source CRM. Of course a lot of folks tried to I’ll take that. And because it’s open source, rewrite it for law, right? Those attempts did not work out very well. I’ll just say, well, listen, man, it has been absolutely wonderful. I went past the hour, I do apologize, but the conversation was just there. On a personal note, I will tell you this, I will absolutely be reaching out, I hope to find you. Or maybe you’ll end up hitting me first. But I will find you on LinkedIn. There’s some things I want to share. But I don’t want to I don’t want to take up your time anymore. And some of those things, okay. The world just doesn’t need to know. Oh, and
Owen McGrann 50:34
that is true. That is true. I am a professional secret keeper. So
Michael Renfro 50:39
exactly. I but I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much. Thanks. I believe the way that this all goes is I think links to all that stuff will be in the description to your firm and, and other things like that. So and trust me after this conversation, I will only have the highest praise. It really was an honor to meet you. And I can only say this is Alan, everything truly happens for a reason and just continues to slap me in the face.
Owen McGrann 51:06
Indeed. Well, thank you so much for your time.
Michael Renfro 51:08
Thank you. Have a great day. All right. I’ll see you.
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