This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Small, a DUI and traffic attorney in Seattle, Washington. Chris recently partnered up with another lawyer to form the Emerald City Law Group, thus adding a personal injury practice area. Chris is not only a great all-around guy, and devoted husband and father, but he is also a wealth of information when it comes to legal marketing. Besides his law firm, Chris also has a website devoted to legal marketing and is the producer of the Law Firm Marketing Mastery Podcast. I feel so luck to have been able to brought such a talented lawyer and legal marketer onto the show – I hope you enjoy!
Right click here to download the mp3
Items Mentioned in the Podcast
- Emerald City Law Group
- The CMS Law Firm
- Law Firm Marketing Mastery and Podcast
- The DUI Guys Podcast
- Google Apps
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords by Perry Marshall
- Google Adwords
A little about Chris
Originally from Kansas, Chris owns the Emerald City Law Group with another attorney in Seattle, Washington. They handle DUI, Criminal cases, Traffic Tickets and Personal Injury.
Chris’s journey to start his law practice
Chris started thinking about opening his firm while he still lived in Kansas. He began blogging before he and his wife moved to Seattle. Chris believes wholeheartedly in blogging to build up your online presence if you are thinking about starting a law practice. You can do this even if you are still in law school.
How Chris made the jump from working for someone else to starting his own law firm
Moving to Seattle was a tremendous opportunity for Chris. He also realized early on that he was going to have to do the marketing work to get the phone to ring. According to Chris, you need to do something actionable every single day to keep moving in the right direction.
Chris was offered a job almost immediately when he moved to Seattle, but turned it down.
2 Tips that Chris has for lawyers starting a practice
Make sure you spend a lot of time on your marketing, rather than spending all your time working on cases.
Become interested in and embrace the business side of running a law practice. You can learn this information from other successful attorneys, but be careful about who you take advice from – lots of attorneys are very bad business people!
How Chris’s family reacted to the idea of him starting a law practice
Chris’s wife and family were very supportive.
What Chris loves about owning his own law firm
He gets to make his own decisions and gets to live his life on his terms. He also gets to “eat what he kills” so to say, instead of billing lots of hours for the firm. You get out everything from the firm that you put in – Chris loves this. Also, Chris has great ideas about marketing and how a firm should be run. Since he is the owner, he can implement all of these things into the practice to make sure that his client’s have a fantastic experience with his firm. Also, Chris loves the fact that he can build a practice that suits his lifestyle.
A major failure that Chris has learned from
Lots of Chris’s marketing was internet based at the beginning. He was getting great results on Google and was getting a lot of clients from the internet. Then, when Google updated their search algorithm last March, he dropped off the map for several months and he lost business. As a result of this, Chris has learned to diversify his marketing efforts and not focus all his eggs in one basket.
Why Chris decided to join a partnership
Chris says that you should look for strengths in a partner that are complementary to your own. Chris’s partner loves being a lawyer, while Chris loves running the business. Chris is good at internet marketing, while his partner is better at building in-person relationships. They split everything 50-50 (both risks and rewards).
Resources that Chris recommends
Chris uses Dropbox for all of his firm’s file storage and for online back-up.
They also use Google Apps for email, calendaring, etc. He is a big Google fan.
Finally, Chris uses Basecamp for Case Management. This is not a lawyer based piece of software, and this works for them because they are not billing by the hour. Basecamp allows Chris to set up a project template for each case so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time a new case comes in. They can log phone calls and court appearances directly into Basecamp.
If Chris had to start over from scratch…
First, he would pick one practice area and stick with it. He would immediately start a blog and think about every single question that someone might have that he could answer. He would devote 75% of his time to marketing and practice building, and 25% of his time to practicing law.
He would get active in groups that he is interested in, which is not bar association meetings!
What about Google Adwords?
Chris uses Adwords for his traffic ticket practice. You must be very careful if you are going to use Adwords in your practice and you have to hire someone that knows what they are doing, or learn how to manage your account yourself. Chris recommends The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords, by as a resource.
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Excellent suggestions! I can also recommend Dropbox, we use it for file transfer among all parties in our firm including external contractors too.
Hi David – Thanks for the comment! I know that a lot of attorneys use dropbox – and I did when I started out as well. However, I recently (within the past 6 months) migrated over to Box.com and can say without hesitation that everyone in my office loves it. You should check it out.
Glad you enjoy the podcast – let me know if there is anything I can do to help you with your practice.
Matt Levi says
Great interview! Please explain how did you direct web traffic from your second website–the one with the NC Divorce guide–to your firm’s website. Thanks!
Thanks Mat – I appreciate the comment. I don’t actually use the divorce guide website to direct traffic to the firm website. The goal of the divorce guide website is to get people to sign up for me email list so that I can continue to send them useful information throughout the process.