Michele Ross: Building Your Law Firm with Human Expertise and Great Systems

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Michele Ross discuss:

  • Why patience and time are key to anything worthwhile.
  • Avoiding repeated mistakes and moving forward with improvement.
  • Business management tools to make your law firm more efficient.
  • Building a great team that works toward the same vision.

Key Takeaways:

  • You will have to find your way forward from the mistakes you make – and you will make mistakes. Don’t let them keep you down.
  • It is a balancing act and, as a law firm owner, the key is removing hats with delegation and technology. You cannot do everything all the time.
  • Understanding your values will help make hiring decisions easier because you know who you are looking for, even if you haven’t met them yet.
  • Ask your employees what their goals are – not just within the office, but outside of the office as well.

“Be interested in what your employees can contribute beyond just work product. Make them a part of the movement and the vision, because they’re the ones that can really open your eyes up.” —  Michele Ross

Join our interactive webinar, “Quality Over Quantity: Getting More Qualified Clients” on June 11th, and secure your spot today! Sign up now at lawmatics.com/webinars

Thank you to our Sponsors!

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Episode References: 

About Michele Ross: Michele L. Ross is an experienced business attorney and commercial litigator who focuses her practice in the areas of business law, real estate law, and employment law matters. Having represented a wide range of commercial clients in the transactional arena, as well as in a litigious setting, Ms. Ross’ track record of success in and out of the courtroom has consistently helped her to achieve efficient and satisfying results for clients while minimizing the costs and delays that clients seek to avoid.

M. Ross & Associates, LLC is located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in Bergen County and serves all of Northern New Jersey. Ms. Ross recognizes that the interests and financial position of each client varies considerably, which is why providing uniquely tailored legal solutions, in the most cost-efficient manner, is what distinguishes M. Ross & Associates, LLC from other small law firms.

Prior to establishing M. Ross & Associates, LLC, Ms. Ross gained substantial, sophisticated experience in high-stakes employment litigation where she represented several Fortune 500 companies while employed at national and international law firms located in New York City. Today, clients benefit from Ms. Ross’ comprehensive legal background and her ability to provide personal attention and individualized service to her clients.

Connect with Michele Ross:  

Website: https://www.mrossllc.com/

Phone: 201-568-2064

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/m-ross-associates-llc/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrossllc/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/litigationlane/

Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Instagram: @fretzinsteve

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.

Website: Fretzin.com

Email: Steve@Fretzin.com

Book: Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

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, everybody, before we get to the show, just want to mention a quick event coming up from our friends at Lawmatics, CEO Matt Spiegel and our marketing buddy, Bull Royal, are going to be speaking quality over quantity, getting more qualified clients. This is happening on June 11th, and you can sign up at Lawmatics.

[00:00:17] Steve Fretzin: com slash webinars at the top of the screen. You’ll see a sign up. Hope to see you there.

[00:00:26] 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.

[00:00:48] Steve Fretzin: Well, hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Be That Lawyer with Brettson podcast. This is the show, as you know, helping you to be that lawyer, someone who’s confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker. Which of those is most important to you, Michelle, confidence, organization, or being a skilled rainmaker?

[00:01:04] Steve Fretzin: Out of curiosity. I think they’re 

[00:01:05] Michele Ross: all important. 

[00:01:06] Steve Fretzin: Totally putting you on the spot right now. 

[00:01:08] Michele Ross: I think they’re all important. 

[00:01:10] Steve Fretzin: All right. You’re not going to pick one. That’s why there’s three together is my be that lawyer, you know, post tagline or whatever because they’re all important. And that’s what I’m offering is as a coach and as a trainer and as a mentor to lawyers are those three things.

[00:01:24] Steve Fretzin: So if they’re all necessary, then everybody needs me. All right, just saying anyway, welcome to the show. I’m so happy that you’re here and I’m happy that the audience is here listening and twice a week. Every week, we’re bringing you great content, great guests to pick their brains and identify how we can just continue to get incremental improvement.

[00:01:42] Steve Fretzin: And that leads into Michelle, our quote of the show. Which is very straightforward. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Is that something you find yourself saying all the time? I’m very often 

[00:01:53] Michele Ross: in all aspects of my life, not just legal. 

[00:01:56] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Well, I try to say that with my teenager, when he, you know, and he’s, he’s acting up, I go, I guess this is a, this is a process.

[00:02:02] Steve Fretzin: This is going to take some time. I hear he’s going to take till he’s 30 to come back and say that I was right about everything. 

[00:02:08] Michele Ross: Probably. 

[00:02:09] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. That’s unfortunate. I don’t really want to wait that long. I’d rather it happened sooner, but oh, well. 

[00:02:14] Michele Ross: I know you’re right, Steve. So I’ll give you that. 

[00:02:16] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I mean, if lawyers are telling me I’m right and everyone else is telling me I’m right, my teenager is the only one who isn’t.

[00:02:22] Steve Fretzin: Maybe it’s his issue, not mine. Right. How about that? All right. Very good. Very good. So talk about Rome wasn’t built in a day. I mean, we all have heard that, but what is it kind of the special meaning to you and why you find yourself saying it all the time? And welcome to the show. 

[00:02:36] Michele Ross: Well, thank you for having me.

[00:02:37] Michele Ross: This is really, really exciting. This is my first podcast, 

[00:02:41] Steve Fretzin: so, 

[00:02:42] Michele Ross: you know, hopefully I do okay. 

[00:02:45] Steve Fretzin: It’s only downhill from here, Michelle. 

[00:02:49] Michele Ross: But I’m particularly excited because this is a topic that’s obviously really close to my heart and what I do day in and day out. And I think it’s, it’s great that other lawyers have the opportunity to listen to you and to gain knowledge because really Rome wasn’t built in a day and gaining that knowledge along the way is critical to evolution.

[00:03:10] Michele Ross: And I think that. You know, businesses and us as individual professionals, we start at one spot and we move along a trajectory and that’s an evolution and. You know, sometimes that’s a personal evolution, sometimes that’s a professional evolution, sometimes they run together concurrently, but things just take time.

[00:03:33] Michele Ross: And I think that patience and time is something that a lot of us don’t have bandwidth for. And we want instant gratification. Start this project, you start this case, you start a business, boom, it’s supposed to all come together and happen. And I think recognizing that. It does take time and you have to plant those seeds and sometimes some of them grow and others don’t.

[00:04:02] Michele Ross: Sometimes they grow, they die and you replant. I mean, it’s really, it is a process and that can hold you back if you don’t look at it like 

[00:04:13] Steve Fretzin: that. I think people forget I’m a, you know, just like you, I’m an entrepreneur, right? You know, if I had to list all the mistakes I’ve made in bad hires, if I had to list the mistakes I made in bad marketing decisions of hiring, you know, terrible marketing people, not unlike who I’m working with now, who’s one of our sponsors, Green Cardigan Markets, shout out to them.

[00:04:34] Steve Fretzin: But, you know, we all make these mistakes and I think a big part of it, Michelle, is what have we learned? How can we not repeat those mistakes and continue to improve and get better? And is that really at the core of what makes a successful law practice or makes a successful entrepreneur? 

[00:04:52] Michele Ross: I think it is, right?

[00:04:53] Michele Ross: I think that anyone who thinks they’re not going to mistakes, make mistakes is delusional. But what I also find delusional is not learning from those mistakes. And I certainly have been victim to my own mistakes at times, right? Like sometimes you have to Realize that you are making them and that is a process as well.

[00:05:13] Michele Ross: And, and hopefully after you’ve made them a few times, you really, it sort of crystallizes that you, you get it and you say, I can’t make that mistake again. Sometimes you learn it immediately, right? It just depends on what it is. But what I have found is that those mistakes, the hiring mistakes, the marketing mistakes, the, you know, whatever else you invest in that maybe doesn’t return the way you think you, you really do grow from them.

[00:05:42] Michele Ross: And then the next time you go to hire a marketing agency, you’re. Way more knowledgeable, way more aware of what you need, what you should expect the hiring is the same thing. You can, it almost like jumps out at you from the page. You will see things that you didn’t previously see. You will spot those traits where your, your internal flag goes up and you say, oh, no, we’re out here.

[00:06:04] Michele Ross: We’re done here. You know, whereas before. You say, Oh, maybe I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe you could train somebody. Maybe I should overlook the fact that this person’s been unemployed for two years. You know, maybe they just had a bad run, but then you quickly realize, you know, it’s like my analogy.

[00:06:24] Michele Ross: Uh, I don’t know if you ever watched the show Frazier. 

[00:06:27] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Back in the day. Is that not the new one? 

[00:06:29] Michele Ross: Frazier is still on and believe it or not, all these years later, it’s extremely relevant and it’s hilarious. Right. And it’s just so smart and well done. And there’s an, there’s an episode of Frazier where he starts dating his colleague and you know, he hated her initially and then he, she grew on him.

[00:06:49] Michele Ross: And he brought her to introduce, uh, to the rest of the family and she was awful, right. And terrible. And they’d like, it’s my, one of my favorite lines, because it’s like, I think there’s sometimes in business and it’s like, I hear Frazier going, I made a terrible mistake, you know, about this, this woman that he’s now dating, you know, and sometimes the growth happens when you make the mistake and it hurts and you have to find your way out of the mistake.

[00:07:18] Michele Ross: And. Generally, when you find your path forward from that, you’re a lot better off. But there is that feeling of like, ick, 

[00:07:26] Steve Fretzin: or like, Yeah. Yeah. The S word or the F word, if we will. Right. 

[00:07:31] Michele Ross: But I think we’ve all been there. So you have to kind of They’ve, everyone’s made mistakes, you know, like Jeff Bezos made mistakes, Steve Jobs made mistakes, you know, you don’t really hear about them.

[00:07:42] Michele Ross:

[00:07:43] Steve Fretzin: mean, the hope, but then the hope, the hope, Michelle, is that, that, A, you don’t make the same mistake twice, and then the other is that, that the mistakes you make are, are small. Um, you know, if it’s a bet, bet the firm, bet the business mistake, maybe, you know, maybe, you know, those are, those are ones sometimes you can’t recover from, but I think most lawyers and most practices, it is a hiring mistake that you can move on from.

[00:08:05] Steve Fretzin: It is, you know, a poor vendor mistake. It is, you know, you don’t understand the numbers and so you make mistakes because you’re not understanding, you know, KPIs, key performance indicators, or anything that, that, that you realize later on, you know, would have saved you some, some pain. But that’s growth.

[00:08:22] Steve Fretzin: That’s an experience. That’s like what life is all about is those mistakes that, that, that define us, like, you know, we have to have that. We can’t, like we say with our kids, like we have to let them fail. We have to let them ball. We can’t. You know, bubble wrap them because what’s that going to teach them about life?

[00:08:40] Steve Fretzin: So I think there’s a lot we could probably have a conversation about, you know, kids and mistakes too. But moving along, let’s get a little bit of a flavor for your background though, Michelle, because I think that that leads into some of the things we’re going to talk about in a few minutes. 

[00:08:53] Michele Ross: Okay, so I am a graduate of Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn Heights, New York, and I started my career at Carter, Paul Hastings, Janofsky Walker, which was a large international law firm.

[00:09:09] Michele Ross: And I spent a few years there in the early 2000s, when the legal profession was very different from what it is today. Learned a lot, worked an awful lot and, uh, did that grind for several years and went and worked in another national law firm called Carter, Ledyard and Milburn, which is also in New York City.

[00:09:33] Michele Ross: It was a bit smaller worked there for a few years. Also, I was in the litigation department in both of these locations. Um, and then I transitioned to a New Jersey firm shortly after I, I got married and, and I was able to take on different types of work there because it was a smaller practice. So, aside from litigation, I learned a bit about transactional work and real estate work because we’ve been doing.

[00:09:59] Michele Ross: Local development work. And so I started to network and join business group and see if I could bring in business and the, and the, the owners of the firm were willing to pay me a percentage of whatever I brought in. And so that’s really how I, I got started in client development and I. Went to these breakfast meetings at seven o’clock once a week, every week.

[00:10:22] Michele Ross: Um, and you know, they were, it was called BNI and I did a lot of that. I did a lot of local bar types of meetings and things of that nature. And I started to build a very small book that my, that the owners of the firm didn’t very care much for because it was, you know, peanuts in their worlds, but they let me run with it.

[00:10:42] Michele Ross: And I realized that You know, I could, I could do that, right? I could meet people and sell the services of the firm and sell myself. And I started to do that more and more. And then there was a huge financial mortgage crisis in, uh, 2009. And I also happened to be very pregnant at that time. And so I decided to take a leap of faith and take the clients that I had and start my own practice and.

[00:11:15] Michele Ross: You know, that was really my first baby and that baby was born shortly before my daughter who is now 15 and We’ve just organically grown over the years when I started I was I was seven months pregnant working out of my basement. Then I moved into a small office that I sublet from a local business owner.

[00:11:37] Michele Ross: From there I moved into my own office that I shared with another attorney and then he left and then I took that over and then I moved into a larger office as I grew and hired attorneys and paralegals and staff and so that’s really been an evolution. But that’s, but 

[00:11:55] Steve Fretzin: so gutsy. I mean, just to, just to put it out there, you know it, but I mean, seven months pregnant, starting your own firm and just taking, taking that, you know, rolling those dice and taking that chance and then sticking with it all these years.

[00:12:08] Steve Fretzin: Um, and this is going back to, you know, what have we learned, right? So, I mean, how did you, whether we’re going back a few years or, or more recently, Figure out the balance, because that’s the biggest challenge of you’ve got the firm to run, you’ve got the business to build, the rainmaking, and then you have this whole life at home with the kiddies, kiddos, if you will, uh, to, you know, be the, be a great mom, a great, you know, wife, whatever it is like to your family, to have that family too.

[00:12:39] Michele Ross: Well, I think that’s a great question. I mean, and I. I think it’s very hard to balance and I wouldn’t tell anybody that it’s easy because it’s not. And at times it has been a struggle for me, just very candidly. And I think, I think being candid about those types of things is really important because we, as women, you know, idealize, you know, a certain image or standard that we have to maintain or that we should maintain and, and like, there’s a lot of chaos in that, right?

[00:13:07] Michele Ross: Like sometimes it looks a lot more glamorous than it is. But I don’t know that I’m the best at balancing, you know, I, I, I do my best, but sometimes I go home and I work on my computer and mornings and the weekends I get up and I’m on my computer and, you know, I try to make the time that I need to, um, I think, I think certainly having support in the office is pivotal.

[00:13:30] Michele Ross: And in allowing me to do that, and I think, you know, that ebbs and flows when you have the right people and you have support, you’re better able to make that balance when you don’t have the right people that you’re taking on the hiring, the business, the admin, the legal, you’re doing a lot of things like you’re wearing a lot of hat.

[00:13:47] Michele Ross: And that is unfortunately sometimes what happens as a firm owner, uh, whether you’re a male or a female, because in the end you’re responsible. You know, maybe your billings that week are a little bit down because you’ve been dealing with admin that somebody else 

[00:14:04] Steve Fretzin: do. 

[00:14:05] Michele Ross: So, 

[00:14:06] Steve Fretzin: I mean, and you know, I mean, you know, I’m running these managing partner rainmaker roundtables.

[00:14:10] Steve Fretzin: I think we may have, I may have mentioned it at some point, but this is a topic that comes up all the time. And so I know we’ve got, you know, AI, I know we’ve got legal tech, I know we’ve got administrators and assistants. And what we’re trying to figure out every day, and it’s an ongoing, you know, an ongoing play is how much can we delegate?

[00:14:32] Steve Fretzin: How much can we offload to technology? How much can we really, how many hats can we take off? Right? So like I interviewed a guy about a month ago. He’s, uh, Tom Dunlap. Uh, he’s actually, yeah. And all he does is rainmaking and be the face of the firm. You know, that didn’t happen overnight, right? Either just like wrong, but like, it was something that, that.

[00:14:53] Steve Fretzin: He needed to do and eventually, you know, brought in a CEO, brought in a CFO, brought in all these things so that he can just wear one or two hats. And I’m not saying that a small firm that’s possible, you know, but the goal is like, how many good people and how many good technologies and how many things can you put in your corner that are going to support your ability to be like, let off on and have more, more time, more free time than, than you do now.

[00:15:18] Steve Fretzin: That’s really, 

[00:15:19] Michele Ross: I mean, that that’s an admirable position for him to be in. And I, and I’d love to talk to him and hear more, but you could 

[00:15:24] Steve Fretzin: listen to the podcast after we’re done today. It just literally launched today and we’re going to be on, you know, we’re the following month, but yeah, Tom Dunlap, check that out.

[00:15:33] Steve Fretzin: I mean, it’s, you know, it took him, actually, he had to go into the, he had to go into the military and become like, have a military brain, I think really was a critical part of how he became who he became and how he did it. We all don’t want to do that to go into the military to figure it out. I don’t know 

[00:15:49] Michele Ross: that the military wants me at this point, but right.

[00:15:52] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, me either. Me either. But, but, but, but, but the, the, the point is that I think we can listen to his podcast episode. And my job in that episode was to pull out the nuggets of, of how to scale and how to do it in a way where you don’t want to, you know, pull your hair out every day. 

[00:16:10] Michele Ross: Listen, I think a lot of that is, is implementing, you know, prostheses and, Yeah.

[00:16:15] Michele Ross: You know. Format and really like building a machine that just runs, right? An intake that gets done a certain way. The retainers are done a certain way, like everything that you can put into place to make efficiency happen. And you’re billing, you know, really the primary crux of what goes on outside of remaking and bringing things in, which is how we make our money, but, but really processes are.

[00:16:44] Michele Ross: Critical to that, right? Like what softwares are we using? Do we use AI? Can we use AI? I mean, you know, that’s a really novel topic because it’s changing the landscape of everything. And, you know, LexisNexis has some really interesting AI features, right? Like if you, you want to write a letter of demand, like from a landlord to a tenant, you know, they have a feature that will allow you to do that now.

[00:17:13] Michele Ross: Is that something? That you want to do. Is that something you’re comfortable doing? Will clients pay for that? And, you know, do they need you if that feature is available? There’s another question, right? Do we want to become secondary to AI technology? I hope not. Um, so I, I think you have to be careful with how you’re using that, but I can tell you for certain, like I do use AI technology sometimes to help me with marketing ideas or, you know, how do I want to say this?

[00:17:40] Michele Ross: What’s a better way to say this? I mean, it does work. 

[00:17:43] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, you throw it into chat. GBT is an example and say, Hey, like I do this sometimes for like, I’m, I’m doing an event and I, and I have a title and a summary and I think it’s pretty good. All right. I’ve been doing this a long time, but I throw it into chat.

[00:17:56] Steve Fretzin: And I just say. This is a presentation I’m doing. Can you, is this, can you make the language better? More, more, you know, call to action, blah, blah, blah. And then sure enough, it punts out. I go, dang, that is better than mine. 

[00:18:07] Michele Ross: And I’m happy 

[00:18:08] Steve Fretzin: and I’m sad. I’m sad. I couldn’t come up with it myself, but I’m happy that it’s better.

[00:18:13] Michele Ross: Right, 

[00:18:13] Steve Fretzin: right. 

[00:18:14] Michele Ross: Well, that’s kind of the new world. 

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[00:20:10] Steve Fretzin: Let me ask you, Michelle, what are a couple of the, you mentioned LexisNexis. I mean, what are a couple of like business management tools that have made you more efficient to try to get to that, that, that, you know, balanced best balance you could try to have?

[00:20:24] Michele Ross: Sure. So, so obviously Lexis is, you know, Lexis, less law, whatever, whatever the firms use, but you know, there’s a lot of features that Lexis has in addition to just legal research. I mean, there’s. There’s Table of Authority and Table of Content features that we use through Lexis, right? So when we’re writing briefs, we don’t have to kind of manually go through the Microsoft program and do it.

[00:20:46] Michele Ross: We use Clio as a billing software, and that has a tremendous. Uh, amount of supporting resources. So you can prepare retainer agreements through Clio. You can send those out through Clio, and then you can facilitate payments through Clio with that. And then Clio is tracking those payments. And then you’re sort of using that as a secondary source to, you know, balance retainer accounts, right.

[00:21:15] Michele Ross: And have it all organized in one spot and it’s electronic and it’s maneuverable. And so. That’s really good. I mean, it allows you to track your time. Well, you can upload documents. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways that you can use that software. So more and more we’re trying to do that. And then certain other technologies that are, that are basic, but like Calendly or ways to connect with people, like, you know, just so you don’t have to get up and walk to the other office and say, Hey, are you able to do this at one o’clock or make a phone call?

[00:21:46] Michele Ross: And, you know, those are the types of technologies that I, that I do think. Enables kind of the day to day to run more, more smoothly. But I think in terms of, you know, rain making and bring yourself up for business development, you need talent around you. You need the right team. You need to. Find that talent and keep that talent, 

[00:22:08] Steve Fretzin: right?

[00:22:09] Steve Fretzin: So, but, but let’s stop there though, because I don’t want to, I don’t want to pass by an opportunity to, to share a valuable lesson. So what’s your take in what you’ve learned in all these years on what you’re looking for in talent and how you get as much out of that talent as possible and retain that talent.

[00:22:27] Steve Fretzin: I mean, those, those are Those, you know, finding, keeping, and, and, you know, finding, leveraging, and keeping. What are just a couple thoughts on that? Just so, just so, you know, again, someone listening that maybe is looking for their first associate and doesn’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made or that others have made.

[00:22:43] Steve Fretzin: Um, I’d love for, love for you to share that. 

[00:22:46] Michele Ross: Well, one of the things that I’ve been doing recently is really focusing on, like, what are my core values for this business, right? So what is important to me as a, as an individual, as a business owner, as a lawyer, right? And you know, I care about output, right? I care about our polished product.

[00:23:09] Michele Ross: I care about, you know, providing value, right? We want to, we want to make people feel good about what we’re doing when they get that bill so that they can pay us. But, but we want to have done our job. Well, And so I think focusing on maybe you call it a core value, maybe you call it a mission statement, really what defines your organization, right?

[00:23:30] Michele Ross: Because I think from there, and this is a recent thing, Steve, that I’ve done. I wasn’t really doing this before, but I think because I’m doing it recently, it allows me to really ask different types of questions when I’m interviewing people. And you can really send. Whether that person is going to subscribe to your mission, your values, and work within your organization in a way that is meaningful and that is going to be meaningful.

[00:24:02] Michele Ross: One, successful and two, long term. Right? You, you, you’re interviewing and you kind of, sometimes you, you hear things, right? And, and you, you think, maybe that’s weird, but like, I’m just going to overlook that. But, but when you really get down to the nitty gritty and you, you ask people questions about things, you hear them talk, right?

[00:24:21] Michele Ross: And, and sometimes just hearing them talk or talk about other, other employers or other experiences. That’s like, you know, that opens the floodgates and the minute they start that you can really see this person will not be aligned with my values. And I think. That’s not something that I used to do and I did make a lot of mistakes because I thought oh, well, you know, and so now I’m able to really ask the kinds of questions like what is important to you or how would you handle a certain situation and I really kind of you I, I ask different questions now.

[00:24:56] Michele Ross: What would you do in this situation? What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you rectify it? Like maybe a little bit more colloquial, um, in that regard. And tell me about your worst experience. Tell me about your best experience. And then the way that they’re able to describe that, you know, when someone’s really throwing a prior boss under the bus.

[00:25:16] Michele Ross: And like, just even if it’s on a solicit, I mean, that’s like a. That’s a red flag. Now, 

[00:25:21] Steve Fretzin: people talk negatively about other people and they’re telling you as a sort of a stranger, they’re going to, they’re talking trash about everybody all the time. Like, that’s just, you just know that I had a guy I met with, uh, who’s, you know, guy network with and just destroyed everyone in my network.

[00:25:38] Steve Fretzin: Like one by one, this person’s a taker. This person’s a jerk. This person’s a, And I was like, I think that, I think that the problem might be you. Like, I didn’t say that to him because it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered if I said it to him anyway. But you know, that in my mind, you know, as someone who has a lot of experience networking and whatever, like he was the problem, you know, but I think if I had to add one thing to this, to this interviewing process that I really like to do, and I’ve done this a number of times with great success.

[00:26:05] Steve Fretzin: Is giving them a project like seeing how their work product is giving them something to do That brings in a lot of the skills that you’re looking for. That’s not going to help you with the cultural fit That’s not going to help you with the personality fit some of those things but from a standpoint of like I often I gave them an assignment.

[00:26:21] Steve Fretzin: How did it come back? And if it comes back with grammatical errors, it comes back Whatever like, you know, this is someone who doesn’t treat the work the way you do right and that’s not me That’s 

[00:26:31] Michele Ross: a terrific idea. We we we do that a little bit But I agree, you know, if something has grammatical mistakes during like an interview process, like that’s a precursor to what you’re going to state.

[00:26:47] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Give me a break. And then what about like, like he, like you’re right, so you, you hired the right person. They’re doing great work. They’re adding value to the team. What are a couple of things that you do to keep that person happy, to keep them sort of committed to the firm, committed to your vision and into working with you longterm?

[00:27:05] Michele Ross: Well, for starters, I always thank people because I think people want to be thanked and I think people want to be praised when something is good. I mean, just because you are. A seasoned attorney doesn’t mean that like you don’t need to hear. Good job. That’s important to me. When somebody produces something that’s good, that’s effective, that’s winning, that’s clever.

[00:27:25] Michele Ross: That’s outside the box. I, um, I, I like to, it’s important. Yeah. And then we have other incentive programs that we, we do here with bonus and things of that nature, you know, exceeding certain hours. That’s one thing, but I, I think that like. Really to people to keep people invested and and and involved and and committed to like the vision and the growth.

[00:27:51] Michele Ross: Really just making them a part of things right like I welcome and want to hear people’s ideas right? Because my ideas are just mine and I. I like to tell people, you know, you can’t move that ball down the field without the rest of the players. So, you know, I might be Tom Brady, but if I don’t have the right, like people on the receiving end, it doesn’t matter.

[00:28:11] Michele Ross: So, and I’m not Tom Brady, but you know, I use that analogy a lot and I want to hear ideas like, and I. I’m interested in their idea. How can we make this better as a collective, right? Like it’s not a dictatorship, right? It’s, have you seen something that I haven’t seen? Maybe you’re a different generation than I am.

[00:28:32] Michele Ross: Maybe you had a friend who told you about something, or there’s a software that you used to use. You know, be interested in what your employees can contribute beyond just work product. Make them. a part of the movement and the vision because They’re the ones that can really open your eyes up right because we we see things So tunnel vision when it’s just our own idea.

[00:28:57] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, that’s fantastic And and anything you can do that where they feel like they’re part of the team. They feel like they’re part of the culture They’re they’re making a difference that matters to a lot of people and the one thing that I mean, i’m very fortunate as the recipient of you know, facilitating these roundtable groups.

[00:29:15] Steve Fretzin: I keep bringing up Is something came up yesterday where it was, do you know what your employees goals are? Now, when I say goals, people immediately start thinking of business development. That’s not what I’m talking about. And now what they were talking about, it’s really like, what’s their life goal? Like what are they?

[00:29:31] Steve Fretzin: I want to have a second home. I want to travel in Europe. I want to sock away from my kids 529. Like what is that employee trying to accomplish and what motivates them and how can you help them to that end? And that I think is some of the, some of the managing partners in my group were, I don’t want to say scratching their head, but they were like, damn, I haven’t done that.

[00:29:55] Steve Fretzin: And I think 

[00:29:56] Michele Ross: that’s a great question. 

[00:29:57] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. 

[00:29:58] Michele Ross: I’m going to use that. Yeah. 

[00:30:00] Steve Fretzin: We’re helping. We’re helping everybody today. Michelle, we’re working as a team. We’re offering up ideas and I wish I could take credit for all these, like they’re my own, but, but I’m again in a wonderful position where I get to learn as well as teach every day.

[00:30:14] Steve Fretzin: Let’s flip it a little bit. And let’s talk a little bit about, um, your game changing book, which is shoe dog, which now that’s different than the air movie, right? About the creation of. They are Jordan story or how that those George. This is like, uh, this is the Nike story, 

[00:30:29] Michele Ross: correct? This is a book written by Phil Phil Knight.

[00:30:32] Michele Ross: Okay, who you know founded Nike and You know, I’ve read a lot of business books over the years, and I listen to different, different podcasts or watch different films and, and listen, I think we kind of talked about this in the beginning. We had Rome wasn’t built in a day, but learning is a huge, huge thing.

[00:30:53] Michele Ross: You can’t stop learning, right? You have to continually be learning to push yourself to move forward. To think of new directions. So that’s become a much bigger thing as I’ve matured. Um, but I, but shoe dog is, is such a fantastic book because it shows you, I mean, it talks about Nike and its origins and how Phil Knight started and you know, his background in Oregon and like running the streets and.

[00:31:20] Michele Ross: And where his love of running developed. And really that’s where Nike, you know, was born. It was born out of that, but it’s his story and it’s his trials and tribulations. And you look at Nike and you’re just like, they’re Nike. I did. They did. They did some things, right. That’s for sure. They did some things, right.

[00:31:39] Michele Ross: And, but Nike today is not what Nike was when it started. And they did a lot of things that, you know, were risk taking. They did some things that You know, almost cost them Nike. And, you know, there were, there were personnel things in the book that, that he’s sharing, but, but more than that, I think it’s just, it’s just like reading wisdom, right?

[00:32:04] Michele Ross: I mean, 

[00:32:06] Steve Fretzin: Well, it 

[00:32:06] Michele Ross: sounds like it sounds like a hell of a book resonates with you because There’s a really great quote in there that that you know she talks about like he was visiting somebody in asia and Somebody made a metaphor about like you see those trees like next year when you come back they’ll be even higher and it’s sort of like right it takes time and patience and And seeds along the way right but but it’s a fabulous book and he’s incredible phil knight and he’s done so much Philanthropy and Given back, but 

[00:32:39] Steve Fretzin: we just, I feel like we just came full circle from the Rome isn’t built in a day and planting seeds.

[00:32:44] Steve Fretzin: It’s like, you know, we just figured out in 30 minutes how to do a full full roundabout on it. So check out shoe dog everybody and um, michelle, thanks so much before we wrap up. I want to thank our wonderful sponsors Of course lawmatics, which is a great automation tool for law firms from a marketing a client development staying in touch with people contracts Of course, get staffed up.

[00:33:05] Steve Fretzin: So we’re talking about delegating is a key element to balance. Well, get staffed up. That’s where I got my guy, Chris, who’s doing great work for me and, um, all my marketing and of course, green cardigan marketing. You could check out our updated website, um, fretson. com and, um, Michelle, if people want to get in touch with you and they want to network with you, they want to learn more about you.

[00:33:25] Steve Fretzin: What are the best ways for them to find you? 

[00:33:27] Michele Ross: Well, they can find us online at mross LLC. com. Uh, we also have a. Instagram called litigation lane, which is me kind of just talking about different topics in the state of New York and New Jersey that might be interesting to business owners. Or you can give us a call at 201 568 2064, but we’re on the web.

[00:33:52] Michele Ross: You’re fine. We have a website coming soon. So stay tuned. 

[00:33:55] Steve Fretzin: All right. That’s it. That’s it. Well, listen, thank you for being my guest and sharing your wisdom. I’ve got my. You know, usual page of notes of, of key takeaways from things that you’ve shared. And, um, you know, just inspiring to a lot of lawyers who.

[00:34:10] Steve Fretzin: Want to scale. They want to bring in other people and stop being the only person in the room. And, and that it isn’t easy, but it is something that is very doable. And, and, uh, and, uh, you just have to kind of keep making mistakes and then learning and improving. And that’s how, that’s how life happens. Right.

[00:34:26] Steve Fretzin: Right. Yeah. 

[00:34:27] Michele Ross: But, but listen to other people’s mistakes because they might get there faster than that. 

[00:34:30] Steve Fretzin: Well, and we talk quite a bit on this show about not only, you know, uh, solutions, but about mistakes and, and, and trying to, you know, pick up every little gem you can pick up along the way. But thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

[00:34:42] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, yeah. My pleasure. Hey, thank you everybody for spending some time with Michelle and I today on the Be That Lawyer with Brettson podcast. Seriously, this is, this is, you know, Not a big deal to be in your car, walk your dog, doing laundry, doing work, and having us in the background to get a couple of takeaways from every episode.

[00:35:00] Steve Fretzin: It’s not a surprise or an unusual situation. I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do is help pull out the gems that are going to help you be that lawyer. Someone who’s confident, organized, and a skilled Rainmaker. Michelle, final words. 

[00:35:13] Michele Ross: Dave, I wish you were around 15 

[00:35:15] Steve Fretzin: years ago. I was around 15 years ago. We just didn’t know each other then.

[00:35:19] Michele Ross: Keep doing it. I think it’s fantastic. I think learning and evolving and recognizing that you need to be patient, take every gem like you said, and just, you know. Keep going. Keep at it. Never step back. Just keep going. 

[00:35:33] Steve Fretzin: Well, that’s what the Be That Lawyer Credo is all about. And uh, so with that, we’re going to wrap up.

[00:35:38] Steve Fretzin: Thanks so much. And thank you everybody. Take care. Be safe. Be well. We will talk again soon.

[00:35:46] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website fretson. com for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.