Charles Gillis: Hiring, Recruiting, and Retaining for a Thriving Law Firm

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Charles Gillis discuss:

  • Why associates are the key to profitability in a law firm.
  • How COVID changed the landscape of law for young lawyers.
  • The generational change in lawyers in the industry.
  • Tips for hiring and recruiting.

Key Takeaways:

  • Working in a remote or hybrid firm is possible, but having a connection and building relationships are key, especially for newer associates.
  • What you do in the first 7-8 years of your practice will lay the foundation for the rest of your career.
  • You do not always need to work with a recruiter to hire great talent. You just need to be plugged into your community and invest time in new lawyers and excellent law students.
  • If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to qualify them and build the relationship to make sure they are who you want to work with.

“You can put information out, without being too heavy-handed, about who we are and what we value. And smart candidates research the heck out of that stuff. The challenge is to live it.” —  Charles Gillis

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About Charles Gillis: Charles Gillis is a seasoned business executive who has over thirty years of law firm management and administration experience. At Platt Richmond, Mr. Gillis oversees all strategic and operational matters for the firm, including finances, human resources, and marketing. He is the author of The Seven Year Trap: Back Office Observations of the Business of Law & the Path to Partnership. Charles received an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin, an executive MBA from The University of Texas at Dallas, and a Graduate Finance Certificate from Southern Methodist University. He holds an SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRMSCP) designation.

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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.


[00:00:00] Steve Fretzin: Hey everyone, listen up real quick. Before we begin the show, I’d like to present my Be That Lawyer challenge. If you’ve ever wondered how much more you could be making as an attorney, I challenge you to meet with me for 30 minutes to discuss your law firm. If I’m unable to identify ways to bring in more business for you, I’ll pay your hourly rate for our time together.

[00:00:19] Steve Fretzin: I’m just that confident. Go to Fretzin. com to accept this challenge and hope to meet you soon.

[00:00:29] Narrator: You’re listening to be that lawyer life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice Each episode your host author and lawyer coach Steve Fretzin will take a deeper dive Helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results Now here’s your host steve Fretzin

[00:00:52] Charles Gillis: Well,

[00:00:52] Steve Fretzin: hey everybody welcome to be that lawyer.

[00:00:53] Steve Fretzin: I am Steve Fretzin You’ve been listening to this podcast. You don’t know who I am already. And if you’re new, welcome. I’m a business development coach, uh, working to help identify gaps in lawyers, business development game, and working with them in a couple of ways to do it. Number one, coaching and training and going through all the stuff you never learned in law school and making sure that you become a rainmaking assassin.

[00:01:13] Steve Fretzin: Then I take those assassins and I stick them in a round table group, a mastermind group together. Let them battle it out to help each other grow and develop and be as successful and live the best lawyer life possible. And this show is all about helping you to be that lawyer. Someone who’s confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker.

[00:01:30] Steve Fretzin: And I’ve just been hearing a ton lately from all my managing partner clients about how difficult it’s been to find good talent and how difficult it’s been, especially to find associates to delegate work to. And a lot of the partners are doing associate level work and they’re not able to, you know, really get out there and develop business.

[00:01:47] Steve Fretzin: And that makes me angry. So I want to, I want to talk to my friend Charles today. How you doing Charles? I’m doing great, Steve. Thanks. You’re a two timer. You know that, buddy? I’m thrilled to be back. All right. All right. You know what I meant by two timer. Okay. Uh, and, uh, so we’re going to work with Charles today and he’s, he’s been just doing a killer job of, of building and developing the firm that he’s the executive director, uh, with.

[00:02:09] Steve Fretzin: And of course have to start with the quote of the show. And we’ve got a, uh, a Walt Disney special called, um, essentially saying all our dreams can come true if we have the courage, courage to pursue them. Pretty true. Pretty true. Yeah. Welcome to the show, Charles. Welcome back. And, uh, Give us a little love context

[00:02:25] Charles Gillis: on that quote.

[00:02:27] Charles Gillis: Well, you know, uh, I’m a, a big Disney guy at heart and, uh, still find a lot of motivation, um, from Walt Disney’s genius, you know, the visionary, uh, and, and I, I think that, that a lot of what he said early on, um, when he was beginning the empire, uh, was, was, you know, it applies to me because. He wasn’t limited by the reality that was around him that said, you can’t do this, right?

[00:02:54] Charles Gillis: And sometimes you have to chase the dreams and you have to, uh, uh, have confidence in the direction that you’re going. Even when people say that’s a wrong direction, um, because often as, as, as he has shown, you know, the new path leads to the greenest pasture. So I’m, I really love thinking about him as a, as a young scrappy animator, you know, uh, kind of working in a, in a tiny office and, and, you know, trying to figure out how to, how to make enough money to pay rent, uh, to, to pursuing that dream.

[00:03:26] Charles Gillis: So I, and I think everybody has a different path that they can follow that they can take them in the same direction.

[00:03:31] Steve Fretzin: Did you ever hear of the podcast? We regret to inform you. No, you might want to check that out. They do a whole deal on Disney. Basically the show is about. People that get rejected over and over and over again and keep pursuing their dream and disney was one of their best episodes because they really went back to.

[00:03:51] Steve Fretzin: Him base. I don’t want to say he was like delivering like some things for his father. Like, oh, he was like coal. He was like delivering coal or something crazy for his father. Like he just everything he did was, was rejected. Every cartoon he did was rejected and the story goes on from there and it’s obviously happy ending, but that’s a really cool podcast.

[00:04:10] Steve Fretzin: Everybody, if you want to check that out, we regret to inform you. I’ll tell you one other thing, Charles, my best friend in the whole world. Uh, when I told him that I was going to start my own business doing business development coaching, he told me why he thought that was a terrible idea and why it wouldn’t be successful.

[00:04:27] Steve Fretzin: I was like, man, I love you, but you’re wrong. And every time I, not every time I see it, but we, we go

[00:04:32] Charles Gillis: back and we play through

[00:04:33] Steve Fretzin: that. He just shakes his head. He goes, man, I’m so sorry. That was just terrible advice. I’m like, I know it’s okay,

[00:04:38] Charles Gillis: buddy. I’m going to tell you, yeah. So the successful people I know have been told, you don’t know what you’re doing.

[00:04:44] Charles Gillis: You’re making a mistake. This is nuts. And, uh, and you know, they didn’t listen and good for them. Yeah.

[00:04:49] Steve Fretzin: And I mean, again, there’s, I’ve also told people, here’s why I think it’s a bad idea. And then, you know, and I, you know, we all give our opinions and we try to protect the ones we love and that’s really where I think it came from with him.

[00:05:00] Steve Fretzin: It wasn’t, it was, you know, it was. Just, you know, he just thought the working at a job and in sales was the way to go. Meanwhile, you know, he’s been working in the, you know, different jobs and, you know, he, I think he regrets not going into being an entrepreneur at a younger age. Cause I think he’d actually do really well at that.

[00:05:15] Steve Fretzin: I’m not going to say anyways, anyway, so let’s go through and talk a little bit about your background because how you got into legal and all that is, is a bit of a trip and then leading into your be that lawyer tipping point.

[00:05:27] Charles Gillis: Yeah. So, you know, I, um, I began in, uh, in legal and in 1991 as a courthouse runner.

[00:05:34] Charles Gillis: I was a penniless college student. Um, yeah, I got to Austin, Texas with like 20 in my pocket. Uh, and, uh, I took the job because it was a job, uh, five bucks an hour. Um, uh, but it turned out to be a great experience, uh, really enjoyed. Working with, with such a, um, uh, intelligent group of people, uh, you know, brilliant people that were doing great things, um, you know, for their clients and their communities.

[00:06:01] Charles Gillis: And I thought, well, this will be fun until I go do my real job. Uh, and by the time I got out of college, um, you know, I was paying my own freight. So, you know, kind of traditional four year journey that, that took eight. Uh, but by the time I got out of college, I was already an office manager. Uh, and, uh, uh, and then I thought, well, okay, I’ll do this for a little while, and then I’ll, I’ll find a real job.

[00:06:22] Charles Gillis: And then I, I got, I was promoted to an administrator of another firm and I got my MBA and, and I thought this is going to be the thing that will get me, you know, into the corporate world and out of legal. Uh, and, um, during the MBA program, uh, our school, uh, connected with, uh, an international law firm and I ended up working for them after I graduated.

[00:06:42] Charles Gillis: So every time I thought I could get out. Uh, I got, I kind of got pulled back in, it’s like a mafia story. It is, you know, and, and, and, you know, after 30 years, you’re like, okay, well, I, I guess this is probably where I’m going to stay, but it’s, it’s really been wonderful. Um, it, you know, it’s such a big, diverse, varied industry.

[00:07:02] Charles Gillis: Uh, it’s just, you know, really great experience. So I, you know, I, I think I’ve been reasonably successful in what I do because I’ve, I’ve worked in probably every position, uh, you know, I work, I work my way up the records and through accounting and through the marketing department and, and, and to, you know, administration.

[00:07:19] Charles Gillis: So I get to see the business side of the law firm, um, which as many of us know is not the strong suit of every lawyer. Which is fine, right? We want them to focus on developing their practice and becoming the best lawyer they can be. So we’re going to worry, you know, on the administrative side about accounting and it and all the operational issues to allow them to focus on their job, their highest purpose.

[00:07:42] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I know one of the things that you do and you do a lot over there is, you know, recruiting and retention and really making sure that you’re staffed up properly. I was, as I mentioned at the very beginning of the show, there’s, there seems to be a A deficit of associates, I don’t know if that’s the two to five years in or where that falls, that a lot of lawyers are doing, you know, work and be feeling overwhelmed because they’re doing just so much work that maybe is.

[00:08:09] Steve Fretzin: It’s stuff that should be pushed down, like, you know, I was talking to a personal injury attorney last night and needs his associate just left to start his own gig and, you know, okay, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but maybe that we’re going back to like, you know, the guy’s pursuing his dream and we need to be supportive, but that’s, you know, that’s who should be going to court for this lawyer, this court lawyer should not be running around in traffic and going into the city and going to court all the time for little, you know, little things.

[00:08:31] Steve Fretzin: Why do you think there’s a bit of a, or there’s a high need for associates today, maybe then a year or two or

[00:08:37] Charles Gillis: three ago, you know, the market is still recovering sort of post COVID. I mean, it’s, it w we’re so far gone from it now that it, it seems hard to believe, but, but really it changed, uh, the dynamics a bit for, for younger attorneys.

[00:08:53] Charles Gillis: Having associates, uh, uh, for, for most firms is absolutely mandatory. It’s the key to profitability, uh, because if you’re a small shop and you’ve got five or 10 partners, uh, and you have, uh, uh, no associates, um, there’s a finite amount of work that you can do. Uh, and every hour that you spend working, uh, is an hour that you’re not spending building the practice, which is fine if your goal is to just work and then stop.

[00:09:20] Charles Gillis: Um, but most people want to create a firm that is going to not only give them a rewarding career. Uh, maximize their earnings, uh, but also provide a path, uh, for when they want to slow down and do other things, you know, later in their career when they don’t want to prank out, you know, 10 hour work days. So you have to, so it’s all about leverage, which is simply the ratio of sort of partners to non partners, other timekeepers, um, uh, you know, how you calculate it is not terribly important as long as you’re consistent in the calculation.

[00:09:50] Charles Gillis: But when you can bring in associates now, instead of, uh, working on one client, you could work on four clients, uh, and you know, you can essentially, uh, improve your earnings by, uh, expanding the capacity, uh, and getting full utilization out of those associates. It’s harder now because so many associates, we would think there were two years of new classes that began, uh, during COVID, uh, in a virtual environment.

[00:10:17] Charles Gillis: And, you know, a lot of firms, my firm is hybrid. Everybody doesn’t have to come in every day. Uh, but you still have to have a connection. And a lot of people didn’t get that connection either through the clerkship, uh, path, uh, or starting on. And so there’s still a little bit of, of noise and shakeout that’s coming from that experience.

[00:10:36] Charles Gillis: The other thing is the economy is, uh, is moving. And a lot of lawyers don’t, don’t realize this, that, that the economy goes from peak to trough to peak to trough. And the longest period in American history without a recession was 11 years. And that means you may graduate, uh, during a recession, uh, and where, where no one’s hiring, right.

[00:10:56] Charles Gillis: Or there’s a perception that we’re going to be heading to a recession. Uh, and so all these things sort of complicate the, the, the candidate market and the job opportunities. Beyond all of that, I think law firms are, uh, many law firms are. Struggling with the, with the reality, the 38 to 40, 000 new graduates that come out of law school every year are better aware of the reality of the working conditions, uh, and the path to partnership, right?

[00:11:26] Charles Gillis: So 20 years ago, if you graduated law school, you thought, well, I’m going to work seven or eight years and I’ll be partner. Well, now we have the data and we can look at things like intake of class to, to partner, uh, promotion ratios and see, well, here’s a big law firm that you have a one in 10 chance of making partner.

[00:11:43] Charles Gillis: So I think that’s making the, the associates make more informed decisions about where they’re going to invest their time and, and, you know, there’s this sort of rebalance of what the priorities are and, and what they want to do. It makes it harder for employers.

[00:11:56] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I don’t, I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole too far, but, uh, you know, I also sort of feel like, are there some lawyers who just are happy doing the work and going home and partnership track is not their primary concern?

[00:12:09] Steve Fretzin: Maybe in the past it was.

[00:12:10] Charles Gillis: Yeah, I absolutely, I see that all the time, uh, you know, and I, I remember talking to a young attorney who was like, why would I ever put in more hours than my minimum requirement? Why would I ever do that? Right. To get a bonus, it’s not worth it for me sacrificing my time, you know?

[00:12:26] Charles Gillis: And, and my response to that person was like, don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for the firm. Do it for your career. Because what you do with the first seven or eight years of your practice is going to lay the foundation for the following 30. Uh, and, and so, you know, you need to like have more sophisticated work so that you’re become an expert and you need to be at a point where you can.

[00:12:47] Charles Gillis: Work less and put more into business development so that you can get a book and become a partner, but not everybody wants to be a partner anymore. And, and that’s okay. Uh, it’s fine to be a staff attorney. It’s fine to be a non equity income partner. It’s all great until it isn’t. And when it isn’t is when the economy turns.

[00:13:06] Charles Gillis: Yeah. So, so, you know, a lot of people haven’t felt, uh, the big downturn, right? If you talk to an attorney who was looking for a job in 2009, they have a very, very different perspective of how things work and what kind of deal you should take than somebody who graduated in the last year or two.

[00:13:23] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And are, are, um, lawyers interested in, in making the most money?

[00:13:31] Steve Fretzin: Are they interested in a strong culture? Are they interested in work from home? Like, what are you seeing as the primary drivers of lawyers today that want to work, but it’s not always, you know, for money, which is what maybe it used to be. Yeah. You know,

[00:13:47] Charles Gillis: I will say, I think there is a generational change of priorities.

[00:13:52] Charles Gillis: Uh, and, and I’m all, I’m all for that. It, it is, we just know too many older attorneys who worked way too much, you know, in the past, the industry’s dealt with substance abuse issues and, and mental health issues, and, you know, it wasn’t, wasn’t that hard to find people who were divorced and, you know, and, and, and hardly saw their kids.

[00:14:14] Charles Gillis: And, and that has all changed. I mean, and which I think is a, is a good thing that a lot of attorneys that I see now are approaching this as a marathon runner and not a sprinter. So it used to be about, I’m going to get the best gig I can get and get that big cravat scale starting salary. Uh, and, uh, and you know, I’m going to try to make it a partner.

[00:14:35] Charles Gillis: So many young people that I talk to now in the industry are like, I think that’s a sucker’s bet. Um, it may work for some people, but I’m not willing to like, you know, not see my family. Uh, it’s just not worth it. Uh, and so, so they’re, they’re trading up. Right. And, and that’s how a firm like mine, I mean, we’re a small shop in the scope of, of, you know, the broader industry we’re, you know, we’re, we’re 50 people, we’re 28 lawyers, but yet we attract some of the, the best talent from big law firms.

[00:15:05] Charles Gillis: Like, like some of the biggest law firms in the world. Well, how, why do they come here? We can, we’re competitive, you know, we’re competitive, just enough on the pay. Right. But we provide, you know, uh, an environment and they’re aligned to our culture. So they’re like, I want to come to a place where there’s no hierarchy, where, you know, the staff are great and they’re treated well, where I like everybody, where I’m not expected to sacrifice every minute of my personal life to make some partner up the ranks money.

[00:15:33] Charles Gillis: And that makes a big difference. I mean, you come to a place like, and there’s lots of firms like mine. But, you know, you can’t tell the partners from the associates, from the staff, if we have a happy hour, you literally can’t, I mean, there’s no. Everybody is, is, is the same and, and I mean, not the same, but you know, everyone is, is, uh, treated with the same respect.

[00:15:52] Charles Gillis: They have the same opportunities and, and a lot of younger lawyers, that’s what they want. Even if their path to like higher wealth is a little slower than the big law, it’s just not worth it for them to make the sacrifice. Here’s everything

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[00:17:51] Steve Fretzin: stand out. The lawyer that you mentioned earlier, who wants to, you know, work the set number of hours that’s required and go home and, and all that, and there’s a, there’s a disconnect between the older generations and the newer generations about, you know, work ethic and, and what our work ethic is and what your work ethic is.

[00:18:09] Steve Fretzin: And I think what I’m seeing too is, and this is maybe in more of the large, large firm space in some respects. Is lawyers wanting to hire not on what college law school someone graduated from or that they spent a number of years at a big firm really more about work ethic are they willing to work and go the extra mile because that’s what’s needed for.

[00:18:31] Steve Fretzin: This job, right, until they can build their book and then they can start delegating and the thing goes out on, is that a real thing? Is that a factor?

[00:18:40] Charles Gillis: You know, it is a real thing. And so when you look at, like, if you look at, at the 2022 graduating class and organizations like now the national association, legal placement, um, they track these things and have for years.

[00:18:55] Charles Gillis: So there’s this perception that every, you know, you got to go into big law. Well, slightly under a third of the graduates that went into private practice, by the way, not everybody does, right? But, but of the 60 percent of law graduates that go into private practice, less than one in three go to firms over 500 attorneys, right?

[00:19:14] Charles Gillis: 40 percent go to firms that are 50 or under like mine, right? So, you know, I mean, there’s a lot of misinformation out there for people, but when you sort of understand how the industry works, it helps you approach it better. So for, for, from the hiring perspective and you’re absolutely right, I mean, we’ve got multiple generations now in, in leadership, people retire later, uh, in this business than they used to, uh, and, and those folks, um, uh, recognize that without the proper leverage and without, uh, the productivity that’s supposed to come from it, you’re not going to hit your numbers.

[00:19:47] Charles Gillis: Uh, and so what’s more valuable to me, a T14 graduate, like top law school graduate, uh, or, uh, somebody who is a graduate from a, uh, a school that, that is lesser ranked, but they’re spot on, well, let me tell you, I’ll take the, I mean, I will take the hardworking, you know, a, a, a top graduate from any law school is probably pretty sharp.

[00:20:09] Charles Gillis: For generally speaking, right. I mean, some law schools are better than others, but if you’re in the top of your class, you’re, you’re motivated and, and you’re smart and, you know, you don’t get to the top of the class by, by slacking. Right. The people who get it and, and recognize that I’m going to work hard and, and I’ve got a plan to advance are the ones that I want.

[00:20:30] Charles Gillis: You know, so, so I’ve got some young attorneys here, um, that, you know, did not graduate in the, in the top 50 law schools who I would not trade for a top 50 grad, uh, for anything, you know, because I can see already by like year two, this person’s going to be a partner here. I have no doubt in my mind. I mean, everything that, that did that is aligned to, to our program, you know, they’re, they’re

[00:20:54] Steve Fretzin: on board.

[00:20:56] Steve Fretzin: And I’m, I am a big fan of, of recruiters. I think that they, they serve a purpose that, that is critical for matching up the right, you know, talent with the right firm and all that. However, you know, they’re obviously very expensive and sometimes there is, you know, they’re, who are they working for? Who are they getting paid by?

[00:21:13] Steve Fretzin: They’re getting paid by the firm, not by the candidates. So who’s, you know, where’s their best interest. And I find the ones that really care and that, that, that are gonna, you know, they’re going to be honest and they’re going to place the right people in the right, you know, for the right reasons. However, I think one thing we spoke about that I wanted to hear from you is, is what are two or three tips that you can give to lawyers who want to hire.

[00:21:34] Steve Fretzin: And don’t want to use a recruiter. Don’t want to pay that big, you know, 20 percent plus fee on a hundred thousand, 200, 000 salary to get them the best, the best talent. Yeah,

[00:21:46] Charles Gillis: so I’ll tell you, that’s very common, you know, particularly for smaller firms, you know, market is 25 percent and, and that’s a lot of money to put down on someone who’s not going to really be generating revenue, you know, fully, you know, for a full quarter.

[00:21:59] Charles Gillis: Yeah. Um, uh, and so small firms have to do that now, you know, we hired like 17 people last year and, and, uh, I think we used a recruiter once. So there’s a, um, uh, a way to do it, and it’s by being connected to your community. So there are different organizations that we’re very supportive of, voluntary bar associations.

[00:22:19] Charles Gillis: Um, our partners, uh, are always excited to, to meet with and mentor, uh, young attorneys. Uh, and so like one of our co founders was the, um, Dallas area, uh, uh, Dallas association of young lawyers mentor of the year last year. Right? So, so by being plugged into the community, uh, by, by investing time into law students and young lawyers.

[00:22:44] Charles Gillis: And, you know, we’ve sort of generated this reputation to where, uh, people will come to us and we don’t have a formal clerkship program. We’re not that big, but yet we’ve got a stream of, of really talented law students that try to engage because they’ve recognized, Hey, those are the kind of people I want to work with.

[00:23:00] Charles Gillis: Uh, but beyond that, I think it’s really important to get, uh, to get all of your attorneys engaged in the process. So a lot of firms will pay like a, a sort of stipend, a bounty, you know, Hey, if you can recommend someone and we hire them, we’ll give you a 5, 000 bonus. Well, it’s, it’s really more than that.

[00:23:20] Charles Gillis: It’s if I have, uh, really successful, uh, people who are aligned with our values, they’re the best ambassadors in the legal community. Uh, and, and I guarantee you, I can, I can walk down the hall if I were looking for an attorney, uh, in a certain practice area and ask our associates, Hey, do you know somebody awesome who does this and they’re going to have three or four names.

[00:23:42] Charles Gillis: Wow. Uh, and, and so, so really, uh, I think you have the, the, for firms that want to try to avoid recruiter fees and I agree recruiters are, are important and, and it’s hard to tell the good ones from the bad ones sometimes, but, but they can be a game changer for both the employer. And the candidate, uh, but I think, I think law firms, um, don’t exhaust all the opportunities that they have to work without a recruiter sometimes because they feel like it’s such a rush.

[00:24:10] Charles Gillis: Uh, and that’s often because the recruiting timeline is so long, uh, that they’re like, I’ve got to get somebody right now,

[00:24:16] Steve Fretzin: uh, and the recruiter might not even be. On your page, meaning that the recruiter has, let’s say 20 firms that they are trying to find people for representing that means there’s hundreds of other firms that aren’t getting that candidate from that recruiter, that they’re not even looking at you as an option or other firms as an option.

[00:24:33] Charles Gillis: You know, it, it is, um, uh, it, it is just boggling to the mind, the, the, the differences between some recruiters. I mean, there are some that are golden. Uh, that, you know, can, it doesn’t, they’re so well connected, uh, in the industry that they know people, you know, that they’ve known for years, right? It’s not just a resume hitting their desk.

[00:24:56] Charles Gillis: Uh, and then there are some recruiters that are literally blacklisted. By, by dozens, if, if, you know, not scores of, of law firms that are like this person is toxic and, and no one uses them, right? Like I’ve literally seen blacklists on emails and say, you know, I, this person can’t even email us. Uh, so the results and, and that’s, that’s scary from the candidate perspective.

[00:25:21] Charles Gillis: Uh, but also a real problem from the employer perspective, if you don’t do your homework and get the references. Yeah,

[00:25:27] Steve Fretzin: I think it’s so critical to get to know a recruiter and I, I really do qualify the junk out of them and network with them and see what their capacity is to, not only to, to, you know, to, to, to play ball and as far as like, you know, helping me find business, I help them find business, but while we’re doing that, I’m sort of testing them out to see.

[00:25:46] Steve Fretzin: What their methodology is and what their sort of integrity is and how that all plays out. Um, so if small firms want to win the talent war, you know, with against larger, better, more funded firms, leveraging their community, leveraging their internal people. I think that’s all great. There’s also a play of.

[00:26:08] Steve Fretzin: You know, websites and social media and, and demonstrating the culture, uh, so that the candidates or the people that might find you can, can really get a flavor for the firm and get a flavor for the, the community within the firm. And I don’t think that a lot of firms are using their website for, for the, for the recruiting of people.

[00:26:27] Steve Fretzin: It’s more about, you know, the business of law, which I think is a big mistake.

[00:26:31] Charles Gillis: Yeah. You know, the, the. Websites, like it’s very rare that, that I’m going to get, um, a million dollar client because somebody stumbled upon my website, right? Clients hire lawyers, not even necessarily law firms. They hire lawyers because they, they trust them.

[00:26:49] Charles Gillis: They’ve, they’ve connected, uh, and this person is going to bring value and solve their problems. I think you can put information out in social media on your website that creates a narrative on. Uh, who you are and how you do things. And so for us, that narrative is, is more, it’s, it’s, we’re not talking about, Hey, we’re the, you know, the, the, the best capitalized, uh, uh, you know, most expensive, most prestigious law firm in the country, right?

[00:27:17] Charles Gillis: It’s just not who we are. We’re a small firm, but what we do say is we’re entrepreneurial. Uh, and, uh, and this is an environment that we, we not only, uh, allow the side hustle, we support it, right? That’s great. People are founders, we’re business owners. So people see that and they go, wait a minute here. They are not only, uh, allowing someone to, to, you know, do other things, but they’re promoting it, right.

[00:27:41] Charles Gillis: They’re proud of it that the, and, and so you can go up and down our hallway, uh, and see that we embrace entrepreneurialism and it goes all the way down, you know, to the ranks, to the, our, we have staff, you know, our facilities guy has a taco truck. Uh, we’re thrilled with that. Uh, and, and so, so, you know, you can put information out without being too heavy handed, uh, about like who we are and what we value and, and smart candidates research the heck out of that stuff.

[00:28:08] Charles Gillis: The challenge is to live it right. You can’t, you can’t just say it if it’s not true. Uh, uh, because it’s, it is a whole lot easier to hire people. You can throw money at somebody and hire somebody. Yeah. The challenge and the key to profitability in this business, really one of the big levers is retention and, and that’s where, uh, results very wildly

[00:28:31] Steve Fretzin: in the industry.

[00:28:32] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. But I think, I think there’s, there’s. You, you, you know, I’m sure you, you know, you have a process for how you recruit, how you hire, how you on board, how you train, and that’s a good lead into the retention, you know, methodology process, whatever we want to call it. And I don’t think, I think there’s a lot of law firms that are winging it on how they hire.

[00:28:53] Steve Fretzin: It’s a gut thing, you know, it’s a resume thing, whatever they try someone out works, it doesn’t. And they’re not really on boarding them properly. They don’t have a plan for training and how they’re going to make them a better lawyer and make them a big part of the, of the culture and of the team. So there’s so many different elements and we’re not gonna have time to get into all that.

[00:29:11] Steve Fretzin: But I think from just from a standpoint of recruiting and, and understanding kind of what’s going on in the market, this has been incredibly helpful. And I appreciate you kind of sharing your, your, your mindset and wisdom on this. Let’s move to our game changing book or podcast. And the last time you were on the show, you threw this book out and I told you, I loved it.

[00:29:29] Steve Fretzin: And why for, for those listening, it’s called the goal. And who’s the author?

[00:29:33] Charles Gillis: Uh, uh, Elliot Goldratt.

[00:29:36] Steve Fretzin: And it’s to tell you, tell everybody what it is again, because it’s, it’s, it’s such, I don’t know that it’s for the lawyers to read, but it’s, it’s, there’s, there’s a part of it that maybe, maybe for the, for the entrepreneur to do.

[00:29:47] Charles Gillis: I actually think it’s a great business book for, for anybody, uh, that, that manages a business or owns a business. Uh, and so Goldratt wrote this book in the, in the eighties, uh, and it’s still relevant today and it’s a novel. Uh, so it was literally one of the first business books that a professor handed me when I did my MBA.

[00:30:08] Charles Gillis: Uh, the here read this, uh, and it’s, and it’s an easy read. I mean, you sit down and done on a, on a, on a, uh, you know, sit in the recliner on a, on a rainy Saturday morning and you can blow right through it. Right. But it’s, but it’s so great because he uses the book as, um, uh, as a platform to describe the theory of constraints, which is really about sort of this kind of continuous process improvement at identifying bottlenecks.

[00:30:32] Charles Gillis: And so, so not to get into the, the sort of business philosophy of, of throughput and all that stuff, but what it does is it sort of shows you in a really clear example of here are the little steps that we can take that are going to make things better. And then you sort of invest that improvement into the next improvement.

[00:30:52] Charles Gillis: And I’m telling you, once you get it, you look for the bottlenecks in everything you do, right? You’re like, how could this be a little bit better? And it’s not that, that you’re going for the home run or the slam dunk, but it’s like the incremental improvements. It, it has a huge impact in, you know, your future returns.

[00:31:11] Charles Gillis: Right. Uh, so, so I think it’s a, it’s a brilliant book. It’s an easy book. Uh, it’s easy to find and, uh, I recommend, I still recommend, I’ve, I’ve, I can’t say how many people I have bought the book for just because I think it’s, it’s just such a great

[00:31:25] Steve Fretzin: example. Yeah. Well, one of my entrepreneur clients back when I was working in the, in the, the grants, you know, the, the world of entrepreneur entrepreneurs.

[00:31:33] Steve Fretzin: Um, he was in data security and he told me about the book and said, Steve, I want you to write a book and I want you to follow this methodology, which is not a how to book, but a novel. It’s a, um, it’s a, it’s a book that has characters and dialogue and you learn through the story that is being told in that, in that book.

[00:31:51] Steve Fretzin: And I, my first book sales free selling was written in accordance with the goal and in that similar style. And I love it. I love, you know, occasionally I’ll reread it or, you know, I just love giving it out. And my clients regularly tell me how easy it is and how they really get a flavor for who I am as a coach and how my sales free selling methodology works and all that.

[00:32:11] Steve Fretzin: And it’s just, I love how to, I can write how to no problem, but that book was a, was an absolute challenge. I mean, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life. But I’m, I’m happy that I got through it and I got beat up by my editor quite a bit because I had no clue how to write dialogue.

[00:32:25] Steve Fretzin: But anyway, really great stuff. You figured it out. I did figure it out. It just was like, it took me five times longer and more effort than my second book, The Attorney’s Networking Handbook, which is a how to, which is, you know, here are the things you need to do. Bullet point, bullet point, step, step, step, graphic, you know, easy peasy.

[00:32:44] Steve Fretzin: So anyway, but, but I’m, I’m, you know, like anything, you’re happy when you get, when you get through something that, that, that makes you stronger as we wrap up, Charles, I want to thank our wonderful sponsors, of course, Lawmatics, uh, helping people to, to automate their, uh, follow up systems there and, and just take, you know, take your practice management software to the next level.

[00:33:03] Steve Fretzin: We’ve got get visible on the digital side and of course, get staffed up. Helping you get those full time VAs and get all that marketing and admin stuff off your back and get back to work, uh, building business. Um, Charles, if people want to learn more about your firm, if you want to give your website, because they may be interested in checking out your firm for a, for a job or to learn from you.

[00:33:23] Steve Fretzin: And you’ve got a great book. That was the seven year trap seven, seven year trap, seven year trap. Love that book. So, um, how do people get in touch with you?

[00:33:31] Charles Gillis: Uh, our website is plattrichmond. com, P L A T T, richmond. com, uh, and, um, my contact information is on there. I’m on the team page. Um, always happy to chat with people.

[00:33:44] Charles Gillis: I, I probably talk to two or three law students a week, uh, often talk to young attorneys. Uh, often talk to people who are, you know, in their sixties and looking to transition. Uh, so, uh, always happy to make a little time to, to share the wisdom. I wouldn’t be here, uh, where I am, had someone not done that for me.

[00:34:01] Charles Gillis: So yeah, I’d

[00:34:02] Steve Fretzin: be happy to pay it back. Yeah. And you always do. And that’s one of the, one of the reasons I wanted you back. And one of the reasons we, we keep in touch because I feel like you have. So much giving in you and so much, um, you know, wonderful, you know, experiences that you share. And so it’s, it’s, it’s always a pleasure, man.

[00:34:17] Steve Fretzin: I appreciate it.

[00:34:18] Charles Gillis: Well, thank you so much, Steve.

[00:34:20] Steve Fretzin: And thank you everybody for spending some time with Charles and I today, you know, again, take heed. There’s a lot of things that go into recruiting and retaining talent. But it starts with, it starts with, with setting yourself up to understand, you know, who you really want in your, in your firm and, and how to get those folks and then, uh, and then go from there.

[00:34:37] Steve Fretzin: Um, but, uh, but it’s so critical. So, so listen, everybody, um, be that lawyer, right? That’s the key. That’s the name. Uh, confident, organized, a skilled rainmaker. Take care, be safe, be well. We’ll talk to you again very soon.

[00:34:53] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Loyal, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website Fretzin. com for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.