Miriam Airington-Fisher: Be the Entrepreneur of Your Law Firm

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Miriam Airington-Fisher discuss:

  • Building your business on your own or under a firm umbrella.
  • Embracing an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Growing and scaling in different ways.
  • Advice for those lawyers going out on their own.

Key Takeaways:

  • You get a higher return when you’re the one that you’re investing in.
  • Even though we are all important in our own ways, we can still delegate to others. You do not need to be the person talking to every single person on every single issue.
  • Take yourself out of the day-to-day equation. You can do that with technology, a small staff, or a large staff. Regardless of your goals, getting out of the whirlwind counts as scaling.
  • There is never a perfect time to pull the trigger. Draw a line in the sand, bet on yourself, and go do it.

“When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in control, you can you can shape how the business looks.” —  Miriam Airington-Fisher

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Episode References: 

About Miriam Airington-Fisher: Miriam is a lawyer, firm owner, speaker, and best-selling author. She started a practice in 2016 as a new mom in the middle of a divorce, and over the past 8 years has grown it into a 12-person, multi-million dollar firm specializing in immigration and civil rights. Today, she runs the Virginia-based firm, Airington Law, and consults with lawyers and law firm owners who want to build or scale family-friendly law firms. She is the author of Mom’s A Lawyer: How to Start a Firm and Take Control of Your Life.

Connect with Miriam Airington-Fisher:  

Website: https://airingtonlaw.com/

Website: https://www.momsalawyer.com/

Book: https://www.momsalawyer.com/book

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawyer-like-a-mother/

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

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.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steve Fretzin: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone. Have you ever wondered how much more business you could be generating each month? Well, you can take the Be That Lawyer challenge to find out. If I’m unable to help you find the money that’s been evading you, I’ll pay your hourly rate for the time invested together. Just go to Fretzin.com to sign up. I’m challenging you. Now enjoy the show.

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: Well, hey everybody, welcome back to another exciting and fun episode of Be That Lawyer. I’m Steve Fretzin, happy that you’re with us. We um, you know, we’re a show all about helping you to be that lawyer with threats and someone who’s confident, organized and a skilled rainmaker. My job is to just continue to bring [00:01:00] you great people.

Steve Fretzin: Today is no different. I’ve got Miriam waiting in the wings. How you doing? Hey Steve, how are you? Yeah, I’m good. I just want to mention how impressed I am with your name. My mother was a Muriel, and there are no more Muriels anymore. It’s like a, like, and there’s no Steves either, by the way. Like, that name is gone.

Steve Fretzin: It’s all, you know, Nates and, and Zacks and all that. So we’ve got classic names from the, what, from the, uh, 40s through the 70s 80s.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah. I mean, I, yeah, my name is definitely, uh, it was, I did not know any other Miriam’s growing up. That’s for sure.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. They broke the mold, but that’s good. You know what? I like unique names.

Steve Fretzin: And eventually when I get older, Steve will be a unique name. I mean, when I was coming up, there were like four Steve’s in a class, like any class I had, there was four Steve’s. And so even when I tried to, uh, in Spanish class, I was Esteban and somebody else wanted to be Esteban father, but a little, little threats in Spanish history there, uh, you guys weren’t expecting.

Steve Fretzin: So let’s start off with the quote of the show, and I’m a huge fan of this and we’ll talk about it in a moment why I’m a big [00:02:00] fan, but, but let’s start off with invest in yourself. And that’s paraphrased by many entrepreneurs, obviously. And why of all the quotes in the world that you could have chosen for this show, you picked out.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah, I love that quote. And I think it’s been used by many entrepreneurs. So I don’t know who specifically or who originally to attribute it to, but entrepreneurship is all about investing in yourself and taking risks and really betting on yourself. And so many people. Think of entrepreneurship as too risky or too scary.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And it was really a mindset shift for me a few years ago when I started realizing that, you know, betting on myself or investing myself was actually the safest bet or the safest investment.

Steve Fretzin: It’s, it was sort of ingrained in me from my father, Larry, the lawyer, that if you ever have the chance to work for yourself, take it.

Steve Fretzin: And I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I looked at franchises and all different types of options when, because I knew I was going to start something. But I think my passion was, um, not only in sales, but also in teaching sales and what lawyers like to call business development. And we [00:03:00] all call it that now.

Steve Fretzin: But the idea that I could, I could sell and I could teach and I could, you know, help an industry, things like that really kind of was exciting to me, versus like the idea of even going back and having a boss right now would be exciting to me. Insane to me.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I agree 100%. And you know, that requires taking a leap, but trusting yourself and taking responsibility for your own success or failure.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And every step that you take towards that, everything that you learn, every way that you grow, you’re investing in yourself. And so you’re reaping a thousand percent of those dividends.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I think the reason people don’t invest in themselves, in addition to the fear of doing it is they don’t know the business side of it.

Steve Fretzin: And, and they don’t realize that there’s a lot of great. Coaches and consultants and people that they can count on and lean on, not to mention friends that have done it. That would be real to advise. And so it’s like, you feel like you’re on an island. You got to do this by yourself, but you don’t.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah, exactly.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I mean, that was my experience. Like so many lawyers, I thought, you know, I had my own reasons for starting a [00:04:00] firm, but I had no business background, no business acumen or education. I just thought, well, I’ve been a lawyer for a couple of years. I’ve got a couple of clients, you know, how hard can it be to start an office?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And it was very humbling for me to realize how much I had to learn. And then once I decided to learn all of that, it was the next chapter of my life.

Steve Fretzin: I mean, I don’t think we want to make it sound like it’s easy. It’s not easy. I mean, anything that’s worthwhile in life isn’t easy, but it’s, it’s valuable in how you have security in your future and how you enjoy quality of life and other things that you enjoy.

Steve Fretzin: Some lawyers that work at big firms and they’re just our, you know, hourly billing machines and you know, they have a shelf life and they have the ability to pay where I got a call from a lawyer the other day and you know, he’s in his fifties multimillion dollar book, but it was all based on one or two cases that settled.

Steve Fretzin: Right. And so now he’s like, and he’s actually very, a very good lawyer and very well specialized, but his, uh, his knowledge about it. So. It’s, it’s, there’s, there’s opportunities [00:05:00] to, to go off on your own. There’s opportunities to stay and build your business underneath a firm umbrella. They’re both good options, but I think you have to look at it as you win.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah, you do. And I was at an event, speaking at an event last night, not specifically for lawyers, for different business owners. And of course, you know, I’m always kind of going back to law or using law in my, in my talking points. And several people came up to me after the, afterwards and said, Every lawyer I know is miserable.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Every lawyer I know is stressed out, you know, because that’s the perception. That’s very much the culture. You work at a firm, you work for an agency and it’s, you know, work and stress. And, uh, you know, for me, I’ve found entrepreneurship was, was the only way to have control and to shape it into what I wanted it to be.

Steve Fretzin: I want to say one more thing about invest in yourself. So, so people can invest in you. They can invest in me. We’re getting the money for the skills that we’re teaching and for the help that we’re providing. But ultimately what’s happening is they’re, they’re, what they don’t realize maybe is that even though we’re taking the money, they’re investing in themselves and their future.

Steve Fretzin: And when someone can double, triple, quadruple [00:06:00] a book of business and make it sustainable through our help, that is a better investment than the market. That’s a better investment than a house. That’s a better investment than a lot of other ways that you can spend money or invest money and get a 5 or 10 percent return.

Steve Fretzin: You’re getting a much higher return when you’re the one that. The money’s going into, even though again, we get, we get paid.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s infinite returns. It’s skills that you can use for the rest of your career, the rest of your life. It’s like, um, if someone was going to take classes and invest in themselves to learn another language or, you know, some other skill.

Steve Fretzin: But it’s a skill that in, in, in business development and marketing and scaling a law practice. Even more so like I could learn a language and invest in learning a language that might be fun and that might be useful when I go to that country or just to talk to people locally. But is it making me money?

Steve Fretzin: Is it helping my family? Is it yet? No, not quite the same investing in yourself and your business. So anyway, we could probably yammer on about that for days, but here we go. It’s Miriam Arrington Fisher is a lawyer, an author, [00:07:00] a coach, and I’m just so happy that you’re on the show and we’re going to get into the weeds on You know, scaling business and thinking bigger and all of that.

Steve Fretzin: But give us a little bit of background because that’s not where you come from.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Sure. So, um, I’ve been practicing law for 15 years and, uh, in the. Historically, I would have described myself as a criminal defense attorney. That’s what I wanted to do. That’s what I dreamed of doing. Um, I was very lucky, you know, in the first few years of my career to work for an amazing criminal defense firm.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I had incredible mentors. But I was doing a very typical trial lawyer lifestyle, seven days a week. You know, court all day, jail visits at night, trial prep on weekends. And I loved it for the first several years. Um, eight years ago I had my daughter and I found myself in really a conundrum. I very much wanted to continue trying cases, practicing.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I love law. You know, I’m that percentage of lawyers that I love law. I’m proud to be a lawyer, but I just, it was time for me to do my own thing because I needed to have control over what the next trajectory looked like. So I, [00:08:00] as we say hung a shingle, I found an office space with two other lawyers, very kind of a loose partnership, not like a partnership in a You know, a business sense, but we, we shared an office and, um, I really operated kind of as a solo, I didn’t have staff and just, you know, went on to wing it and that was kind of the beginning of, of my accidental entrepreneurship and then after a few years of that, I really got serious about growing the business.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Like we were saying before, I, you know, started realizing all the things that I didn’t know. And I would say about maybe 2018, I really kind of embarked on, on this journey of, I’m going to develop a vision for my business and I’m going to, I’m going to build it into something big and self sustaining and profitable.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I think you have to have that, and I call it a be that lawyer tipping point, but you have to have that moment where. You draw a line in the sand and you say, no more, I’m not going to keep going the way I’m going. I’m not going to keep struggling the way I’m struggling. What do I need to learn?

Steve Fretzin: What do I need to change? How do I need to adapt to [00:09:00] get to the next level and live the dream? And that for many attorneys, that’s in entrepreneurs. I mean, that’s, that’s that, that critical juncture you need to get to at some point. And unfortunately for some, it’s because they hit rock bottom and for others, it’s just the ambition to not, not make last year the same as this year, the same as last year.

Steve Fretzin: Exactly.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Exactly.

Steve Fretzin: So, why do lawyers struggle with thinking big? Why do they struggle with, with envisioning and, and, and looking to execute on where they want to go? They sort of stay in the same place year after year, just kind of making a living or, you know, doing their thing, but it’s not, it’s not necessarily where they want it to be.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I think there’s a few reasons from, from what I’ve seen in, in, in the legal profession. It, it’s kind of like there’s. Big firms and their solos. And I think that lawyers in those two camps really identify very differently. My, you know, historically came from criminal defense. I do have other practice areas now, but criminal defense attorney attorneys tend to be [00:10:00] small firms solo.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And it’s when you look around and you see what everybody else is doing and you’re at court and the whole, all the lawyers on the docket are all solo, you know, solopreneurs or, or small firm practitioners. I think one thing is, is that it’s just difficult. For anybody in any field to, to see a possibility that’s not, um, that they don’t have an example for.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: So there’s no blueprint for that. You know, in our field in law, you know, growth and marketing, and they have not always been sometimes they’ve been bad words, right there. That was not, um, running a law firm as a business, you know, marketing, personal branding. These are all fairly recent mainstream ideas.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And so a lot of lawyers were just trained to to not view law firms as businesses in that way. Um, I know I certainly was earlier in my career and then, you know, a final thing that I think is a mindset issue for lawyers and has to do with how we’re trained is, you know, we’re professionals, we’re experts and it’s a [00:11:00] high level of responsibility for client outcomes and I think that lawyers have a really hard time delegating and letting go and building organizations of people who can, you know, work on cases or or assist clients.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: When I work with lawyers one on one One of the biggest roadblocks that you know We have to kind of overcome is people will say well My clients will only talk to me or my clients will only meet with me My clients are not going to like to meet with an associate They’re not going to want to talk to a paralegal.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Um, and that’s just simply not true But it’s a very ingrained sort of cultural perception among lawyers that really holds people back from growth I

Steve Fretzin: mean I had a conversation My brother’s going to have knee surgery and I kind of take care of my brother. So You I’m involved in the whole thing and I just had like a very in depth conversation with not the doctor, but like the doctor’s number one, like assistant.

Steve Fretzin: And I think that conversation was important and it, I didn’t need to speak to the doctor that wasn’t, it wasn’t, you know, the day of the surgery, right? So, like, we have to [00:12:00] understand that, that even though we are all important in our own ways and have our expertise, if we’re not relying on other people to help us out and delegating down and figuring out, like, where are, Superpowers are where are our best time is spent.

Steve Fretzin: I think that’s where a lot of lawyers get dragged down.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Absolutely. The doctor analogy is perfect. I was actually just talking about that with my staff yesterday because somebody came into our firm, you know, without an appointment and had a question and initially expected to just walk in and talk to a lawyer.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Of course, apparently, I was able to assist them, but We always compare it to doctors. I mean, nobody walks into a doctor’s office without an appointment and says, I need to speak to, you know, Dr Fisher right now and but a lot of law firms have cultivated that culture and cultivated those expectations. And so it can be hard to shift away from that.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: But, um, it absolutely is possible. And, and the other side of the coin is, is that yeah. You’re not giving, you’re not shorting clients. I think that’s the thing too. Lawyers are often very invested. Um, and so it’s coming from a [00:13:00] good place, you know, they, they don’t want to let their clients down, but with the proper training and the proper people in place and the proper systems, you can still give excellent service and not have everything run through you, you know, every second of every day.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And it’s just, it’s, it’s impossible to run the day. In an efficient way when everybody’s coming to you and you’re, you’re wearing 12 different hats. It just, it’s never going to happen. So we, we need to start looking at not only delegation as a skill, but also how we want to structure things. Um, and, and who’s in charge of what.

Steve Fretzin: So why, why should law firm owners be willing to do things differently than everyone around them? If everybody’s just kind of staying the course and working at the firm in the same March step, Why should someone Do something different or why should, why should a law firm owner do something different than another law firm owner?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Well, it’s the only way to grow. And, you know, earlier in my career when I was practicing primarily criminal defense, you know, like I said, I would look around and I saw people from age [00:14:00] 25 to 75 and they’re, you know, they’re all in court, they’re in court all day. They’re doing jail visits at night. It’s the same old, same old.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Some people may be happy with that. But if you want to grow and scale and raise your income, improve your quality of life, expand the reach of, of people that you can serve, you’ve got to break the mold and you’ve got to do things differently. It’s, it’s just the only way to move forward. And it’s scary.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: It’s scary for people in any profession, but particularly law tends to be a little bit behind the times. I find, um, you know, lawyers are very nervous people. They don’t want to break the rules. If something’s new or different, it might break the rules, but there is just So much opportunity for lawyers to, to do things differently and to model after other industries too.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And that was a big, a big lesson for me when I, you know, went on this journey of how am I going to run a business? Of course I work with other lawyers and I attend legal conferences and things like that. But you can also learn so much about how other industries are doing things. [00:15:00]

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Steve Fretzin: think it’s important to, to look at other lawyers that do what you do [00:17:00] and that are more successful than you. Not only to potentially emulate what they’ve done and what they’re doing. But you also could reach out and say, hey, you know, you’re in San Diego.

Steve Fretzin: I’m in Chicago. I am loving what you’re doing. I’m watching you from from afar with great admiration. And I just wonder if you take 30 minutes to just share with me some words of wisdom and provide some advice for me. I think one thing lawyers are typically willing to do is provide advice, you know, to other lawyers, especially ones that ask and that have a need.

Steve Fretzin: Oh,

Miriam Airington-Fisher: yeah. Is there anything we like doing more than telling people what I should be doing?

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Uh, in fact, when I work with lawyers, uh, that are doing a ton of free consulting in, um, in their, like, you know, prospective client meetings, I’d say you’ve got to stop. You’ve got to stop solving things in the meeting because you’re not doing enough asking and questioning and listening.

Steve Fretzin: You’re just, you just hear a problem and you want to solve a problem. So like I have a, a class of like 10 or 12 lawyers at any given time. And I say, raise your hand if you like solving problems that [00:18:00] every head goes up really high. And then I say, all right. And so we’re going to have to, we’re going to have to break that because part of business development, the way I teach it is, you know, it’s a lot more, as I mentioned, questioning, listening, empathy, things like that.

Steve Fretzin: It’s not that we’re not going to solve. It’s just not going to happen in the middle of a meeting. It’s going to happen after we’ve qualified and identified that this is a good fit. So it’s, it is a little bit like breaking a horse when that comes up. But, but the idea that, that other lawyers would want to help you and advise you.

Steve Fretzin: Especially in areas where, where you need to learn and need to kind of find out what the road map is, people are pretty open.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And, you know, something that has been that I still do is I’m in a mastermind and, you know, I started doing that in 2019, 2020, and I’ve grown and I’ve, you know, my circle has changed.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And now I actually just got back from a mastermind meeting. I’m with like, 20 other, uh, immigration law firm owners all kind of in, you know, sort of a similar, um, revenue range and every single time I learn something new, [00:19:00] it’s what are other people doing? You know, the people who are at your level and then the people who are where you aspire to be.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: So just that, you know, willingness to always learn and grow and it could be something little. It could be some, some little new, uh, technology that they’re using. Okay. Or it could be some massive organizational, you know, overhaul that they just did that might be worth trying.

Steve Fretzin: And since you brought it up, many people know that I do coaching and training, but I also run these Rainmaker roundtables and we had one yesterday where, you know, they, they come in and share ideas and they also solve problems.

Steve Fretzin: One of the attorneys is in a very specialized area. It’s very hard to find associates. And so we laid into him with all these questions to better it out and get it all out. And at the end, we gave him five suggestions, two or three of which he had never thought of as ways to get associates in his space, including buying small firms that do what he does and absorbing them into his very successful, very large firm.

Steve Fretzin: He’s probably the largest firm in the country that does what he does. And it was like, you know, his head [00:20:00] exploded. Like he couldn’t believe the advice he was getting from people that, you know, again, had more experience with than him in a certain area. And so those groups, whether it’s mastermind, peer advisory, just anything you can do to get advice from people who have been there and done that, um, really, really a strong play for a lawyer.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Very valuable.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. So is one of the problems that lawyers in law entrepreneurs have is that they’re not thinking big enough. They’re just like, how do I just get out of the. Grind that I’m in, but they’re not able to then see how do I get to 5 million or 10 million in, in building out a law firm?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I really do. I think, I think most lawyers don’t think in terms of scaling, they think in terms of, you know, I could maybe raise my fees over time, or I could get more clients, or maybe I could hire an associate. But, you know, really thinking big as far as, you know, how can I get from 1 million to 5 million?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: How can I get from 5 million to 12 million? And, and that’s more, that, that takes more than just raising your, your fees a little bit every [00:21:00] year or, or getting in, getting more cases in the door. You need to have completely different operations, you know, from, from one level to the next. And I, I do think that most lawyers, particularly in, you know, in my fields where, you know, practitioners are in court a lot or, or used to doing a lot of the client meetings.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: It is, uh, it’s, it’s not something that people naturally think of.

Steve Fretzin: And I don’t think scaling is for everyone either. I’ve been, you know, I, there was a time and just sharing more personal stuff about me, you know, where I had, you know, 13 employees, I was running three businesses. I had three offices. I think my overhead was 30, 000 a month before I got paid.

Steve Fretzin: It was just in, in, and I wasn’t enjoying it. So, you know, the idea that I actually scaled back decided to kind of, you know, Delegate the stuff that I could delegate, do what I love to do, which is sell market and work with clients and helping them sell in market and just be kind of high profit, low overhead.

Steve Fretzin: And that’s been phenomenal for me. Like I’ve never. [00:22:00] Thought again about you know trying to hire more people or scale up. That’s my thing, right? I that’s my my play other people they’d say that’s you know, that’s not for me. I want to have 10 attorneys I want to blow this thing out and God bless them and I’m you know, I love to help them do that But but a guy just want to put it out there It’s there’s with different ways to to build business in it’s not a one size fits all

Miriam Airington-Fisher: For sure.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And, you know, scaling doesn’t necessarily have to be, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to mean adding employees or adding offices. I think it’s, for me, I look at it as, you know, when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in control, you can, you can shape how the business looks. One of the, the biggest important steps I think for any business owner, but including a law firm owner is just to, um, you know, to take themselves out of the day to day equation a little bit.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And you can do that by having technology. You can do that by having a very small staff, or you can do it by having a large staff. Some of the women that, you know, I was talking to last night were saying, well, if I don’t work, there’s no money. And I [00:23:00] think that that regardless of what your goals are, as far as the size of your business, I think that.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: You know, getting out of the, that sort of the hand to mouth, um, I think I would consider that to be scaling as well.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I mean, another thing that I’m seeing happening and in helping some people do, and my friend, Matt Kirbis is a big fan of this is, is a subscription model, right? So it’s not scaling in numbers of people that work for you, although that can happen.

Steve Fretzin: It’s really about coming up with alternative ways of. Taking in business. So instead of working with, you know, 10 clients a year at a hundred thousand apiece, maybe it’s working with 500 clients at less. And again, the amount of time that you spend with them is maybe less, but it’s a reoccurring revenue stream that’s, that’s bringing it in.

Steve Fretzin: So there’s a lot of different ways to go there. Let’s sort of wrap up with a question, you know, because I know like, you know, women owned business and, and women in law, it’s, it’s a, it’s become a really big thing. So why is being a woman or family friendly employer critical to a firm success? [00:24:00] And again, running a firm or maybe working at a firm that needs to have those kinds of policies.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: So the American Bar Association publishes a study every two years looking at the state of women in the law. And, you know, the sort of rough numbers, and these are generalizations, but this is kind of where the numbers fall. Between 25 and 30 percent of women lawyers leave mid career. So they leave in their 30s and 40s.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And, you know, most people that responded to the study reported that it was because of family and work life pressures. And, you know, there’s a ton written on this. Claudia Golden, who won the Nobel Prize in economics this year, published a book on this out of Harvard. But basically, it’s it’s the tension between what is traditionally such a consuming, dominating career.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Just running up against biology and, you know, the years that you’re going to have children and raise children coincide with peak career years. So, and I certainly experienced that and my own decision to become an entrepreneur coincided with me becoming a [00:25:00] parent. So, you know, what that data tells me as an employer is if I want to attract and retain top talent.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Across the board, but hopefully including women that I need to be responsive to that. And I need to think about how my firm structure is and how my employment policies respond to that.

Steve Fretzin: And I, I’m seeing it on my side too. I mean, you know, business development and investing in learning that skill would be mostly men, you know, in years past.

Steve Fretzin: And now I’m about 50 50 with the number of women that I’m coaching and I’m working with on a, on a yearly basis. And I think women who were feeling like left behind by the cigars and the golf and the, and the cock in the, in the, you know, the glad handing that men had been doing for years are realizing they have a lot more, a lot more power.

Steve Fretzin: And a lot more ability to develop business and develop relationships than they did in the past. And I’m, I’m couldn’t be happier about it. Um, because that’s, I think in the, you know, I think there’s more women in law school and coming out of law [00:26:00] school than men now.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah. And that’s a very interesting number because 50 to 60 percent of incoming law students are women, but still at the top, it’s less than 20%.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And it’s because of that drain mid career. So I think that, you know, as an employer and also as a consultant now, you know, that’s really a big focus of mine, a big passion project of both as an employer and also in working with other employers. Like, what can we do to, to stop that brain drain?

Steve Fretzin: But I think that’s going to change too, because of the hybrid model and the work from home model, it’s so much more enticing than you got to be in the office five days a week for 12 hours a day.

Steve Fretzin: And you’re never going to see your kids, right? So I think there’s I don’t know like what the time frame is on that shift and maybe it’s already happening But I I think less women are going to leave Leave the practice of law because of because of that that work life balance. I think that’s evening out

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Yeah, I think there’s more visibility to the issue.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: And so, you know it Hopefully it’s inevitable that that other employers take [00:27:00] note that you know, this is an opportunity. It’s it’s not just okay We need to do this because it’s nice for moms. It’s it’s An opportunity to differentiate yourself as an employer and attract and retain top talent.

Steve Fretzin: So final thought, words of wisdom, uh, advice for folks that want to go out on their own, but just haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

Steve Fretzin: And I’m seeing it at a record. Hey, some more people are leaving, you know, big law and leaving mid market to go out on their own and having that confidence. But what’s like, if you could just give, like, you’re talking to him right now, they’re thinking about it, they’ve been thinking about it for years.

Steve Fretzin: They haven’t pulled the trigger. What would you say?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: It was the best decision professionally that I’ve ever made, and I’ve had some really great opportunities in my career, but going off on my own was, uh, That investment in myself, it completely changed my professional life and my personal life. There’s never a perfect time.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: A lot of people that I work with, they say, well, when I have 12 months expenses saved, I’ll do it. You know, it’s, there’s, there’s not a perfect time. You have to just draw a line in the sand. Like you said earlier, [00:28:00] have that moment where, you know, I’m betting on myself and I’m going to go do this. Um, you know, when I started my firm 8 years ago, there were a lot less resources out there for new lawyers than there are even today.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Your programs, uh, there’s, you know, tons of resources, coaching opportunities, masterminds to support new law entrepreneurs. And so, you know, I guess step 1 would be just do it. And then step 2 would be, Learn everything that you need to learn.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah, become a student of the game, the game of business, the game of business development, the game of marketing, the game of delegation time management.

Steve Fretzin: It’s, there’s four or five books, four or five different skills that are going to make a big difference between success and failure. And I think if you just go into it and wing it, it’s not that you can’t do it. It’s just, it’s going to take you longer. You’re going to make a lot more mistakes than if you start early becoming a student of those types of skills.

Steve Fretzin: So, um, yeah. And before we get to the game changing book, you’re an author and it’s, um, mom’s a lawyer, how to start a [00:29:00] firm and take control of your life. You want to just give 30 seconds about that?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Sure. So that was, that’s a guide. It’s a beginner’s guide to start a law firm, I say in 90 days or less. And so really quickly, you know, I started my firm when I was a single mom with a newborn, um, no plan, very kind of last minute under the, under the gun.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I don’t advise that, but from that experience and taking that experience and growing it into the firm that I have today, which is a, you know, 12 person multimillion dollar firm. I know that it’s possible. And so I wrote that guide as what I wish I had back then. It’s really kind of a start to finish of if you’re at a firm and you’re unhappy, if you’re at a government agency, if you’re unhappy, if you’re not practicing yet, but you want to go straight to entrepreneurship, I wanted that to be a guide of how to do it.

Steve Fretzin: Well, and sometimes when we make, when we make costly mistakes and when we can help others not make those same mistakes, that’s, you know, those are the, the, you know, that’s the best reason to, to put a book out is to help others and, and again, uh, avoid, avoid those things. Let’s talk about our game changing book, which is [00:30:00] Fireproof.

Steve Fretzin: I, I want to say that’s been on the show once before, but, but can you refresh your memories? Who wrote that and what’s that about?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Sure. So Mike Morse, uh, from the Mike Morse law firm in Detroit wrote the, wrote Fireproof. And then, um, Michael Mogul, who’s the CEO of Chris wrote Game Changers. Um, and they had his book and a podcast and both of them were very instrumental for me.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Um, Fireproof is a really a guide of, uh, running your firm as a business and it’s Mike Morse’s journey. He’s, I, I believe the biggest PI firm in the Midwest. And most of that growth has been over the last decade. And, you know, the, the concept of fireproof is, you know, how could you build your firm that if there was a fire in your office, you’d still be able to operate the next day.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: He talks a lot about profitability and business models and, and hiring. And, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s very comprehensive. The game changing attorney is, um, about a lot of, um, Branding and storytelling and marketing, which I think is a topic that I’m sure you’re, you know, [00:31:00] work a lot in, but, um, it’s new to many lawyers of how can you use yourself authentically in your personal brand and your personal stories in your law firm to communicate to clients and prospective clients, you know, who you are and what you do.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah, really great advice on a couple of platforms there. And, um, as we wrap up, I want to thank our wonderful sponsors, Get Staffed Up. Again, you know, we talk about delegating and how important it is, and to have a full time staff member that is not on your payroll, that’s not, you’re not ensuring their work for Get Staffed Up, but you have control over that individual virtually is phenomenal.

Steve Fretzin: Um, of course, Lawmatics, the automations that, so, you know, this leads right into our conversation, Miriam. How am I automating contracts? How am I automating marketing? How am I automating and making sure my pipeline is everybody’s being communicated to scheduling links, all the stuff that. Lawmatics does and more.

Steve Fretzin: And of course. We’ve got, um, Green Cardigan Marketing, you know, who’s updated my website. I’ve got now some great video and it really is a [00:32:00] better direct, directive of how people can learn about Bretson and, and understand is this for them or not very quickly. And then the website’s, you know, just one of the many things that they do over at, uh, Green Cardigan.

Steve Fretzin: So check them out, everybody. Miriam, if people want to get in touch with you, they want to work with you, they want to learn more about you, what are the best, uh, ways for them to find you?

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Sure. So my book, mom’s a lawyer, uh, how to start a firm and take control of your life is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, many other booksellers.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: I’m on social media. My, uh, Instagram handle is lawyer. Like a mother I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, and, uh, moms alert. com is the website. I have links about different resources and, um, people can also book a call with me to, to talk about how I can support them if they’re thinking about starting a firm or if they have a firm and they want to make some changes.

Steve Fretzin: Well, really terrific. I mean, this is a topic that that needs to continue to be, you know, banged away at because we’ve got lawyers that are just struggling in silence and it’s [00:33:00] not, you know, it’s not, it’s not the direction they need to go. So thank you so much. This was great. And I’m, I’m excited about, um, continuing to talk with you and then figure out how we can help each other as well.

Steve Fretzin: But, uh, appreciate you being on the show.

Miriam Airington-Fisher: Thanks, Steve. I really appreciate it.

Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And thank you everybody for, uh, hanging out with Miriam and I today with our old timey names. And, uh, and getting some great tips and ideas on how to, you know, build and scale and really, you know, consider entrepreneurship as a direction for you to be that lawyer with Bretson.

Steve Fretzin: It’s confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker. Take care, everybody. Be safe. Be well. We will talk again soon.

Narrator: Thanks for listening. To be that lawyer, 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 [00:34:00] notes.