We’re excited to welcome Legal Recruiter Brian Moskowitz to this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer® Podcast. As a 20-year lawyer, Brian observed that while some attorneys flourished, many others were miserable and on the edge of burnout. When he decided to leave the daily practice of law, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: help attorneys unhappy with their careers find a better way. Now, as the Managing Director for Kenzak Group, a talent access firm, he matches uncommon lawyers with uncommon law firms.
Brian says, “If you want to compete in this day and age, you need to widen the sourcing pool.”
Listen as he shares his insider knowledge—not only as a lawyer, but as a long-time legal recruiter—and the keys to attracting the best talent now, including:
- Out-of-the-box places to look if you’re ready to expand but not finding candidates;
- What makes employees tick—how to ante up on the motivating factors that will make your position more lucrative to potential hires;
- Discovering what makes your firm unique, and how to craft a story that will drive attorneys to opt into the hiring conversation with you;
- And much more!
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. We believe all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers. Our mission is to provide thought provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m so excited for you to meet our guest today. So let’s get started. Brian Moskowitz is a legal recruiter and attorney coach who matches uncommon lawyers with uncommon law firms.
He is a performance and business strategist with a history of leading and building successful teams while helping attorneys to thrive at work and at home. When not impacting the lives of attorneys, Brian travels the country as a trainer for Tony Robbins, changing lives in the rest of the world. He’s also a fire walker. So if you’re familiar with Tony Robbins, you know what a fire walker is. If you’re not, Brian’s gonna tell us in a minute. Thanks so much for being here on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast, Brian, we’re happy to have you.
Brian Moskowitz: My pleasure. Thank you for having me here, Davina.
Davina: Great. So I’ve been stalking you for a while on social media, I’m so glad that I’m able to finally get you here on our on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. And I think this is very timely because of what you do, and the need so many attorneys and law firm owners are having in their business with regard to staffing. So I’m sure you’re gonna have a lot of wonderful things to share with us. But before we jump into that, I want to hear a little bit about how you came to doing what it is you do now.
Brian: Yeah, so great question. And I’ve had several different incarnations over my life. I’ve practiced law on three separate occasions. And every time you know, I left, they pulled me back in. But this time, yeah, it’s like the Godfather movie. But this time, I am out for good. And I am doing legal recruiting this the second time, I’ve gone into legal recruiting. And the way I got started in this, this time is actually I got burnt out. I practiced high end divorce cases, you know, high end marital family law for 20 plus years, and I just didn’t want to fight anymore. But having my own firm for 23, you know, I guess the 25 years gave me the flexibility to raise my children as a single parent.
Gave me the flex flexibly to have the hours I needed and to earn a decent income to you know, raise my children as a divorced parent. But at some point, you know, once my kids moved on with their lives. I have one daughter who’s now moved on, she has a job, she lives out of state. My son is a junior in college, so I’m so close to being an empty nester. I decided I don’t want to fight anymore. So I and I, my skill set is much better suited to putting deals together and bringing people together than tearing them apart in the divorce. So that’s sort of how I got into recruiting the first time. And also this time, again, the skill set is much more suited in my personality, to bring people together.
Davina: I love it, I love it. And I really relate to it. Because when I started my law practice, I also did a lot of family law. And it was it’s very stressful. Because you’re in the middle of, you know, people, some people’s worst times in people’s lives with regard to splitting up in a relationship. And there’s sometimes there’s not a whole lot of rational thought among people when you’re going through divorce, for good reason. Or maybe sometimes not for good reason. And it can be very stressful and I did not hang out for 20 years like you did. I had to get out of it a lot faster.
And very similarly, I said, you know, I’d really like I would rather, can’t we all just get along. Like I’d rather help bring people together and do something that’s uplifting, as opposed to fighting all the time. And I do think people you know, when they’re going through divorce, they need that attorney who’s willing to get in there and be their advocate and fight for them. But I knew that that was not going to be me for that long. So I really relate to what you’re saying. Tell me what, what led you to legal recruiting.
Brian: So what led me to it at the very beginning was the same thing that led me to the practice of law as a solo, the flexibility to do it on my own on my own schedule, and there being the high income potential. So that was recruiting in general. But as far as legal specific, having practiced for 20 years understanding the lawyer mindset, which I believe is unique amongst all mindsets. You know, I think we are all created differently but us lawyers have a certain way we think and act most of the time.
So I, I truly, after having lived it for, you know, 25 years, and working with so many lawyers, it just made sense to go into the legal recruiting field. One knowing lots of attorneys, but two really understand the how they think, how they click, how they make decisions. Yeah, and what the challenges are, because it’s all about helping them overcome, you know, the challenges in getting out of their own way, know, to make decisions. Whether it’s in their practice, whether it’s in their life, or whether it’s in changing firms.
Davina: Right, right. And now you work with, your company, you work with those who are attorneys who are seeking to change careers, move up in law firms, jump from one law firm to another, make advances in their career, and then you also on the flip side work with law firms who are seeking good attorneys, correct.
Brian: Right. So the way the industry works and has worked for, you know, decades, is the law firm is the client, right? They hire you to go out and recruit an attorney for them. So they say I need a, you know, fifth, fifth year corporate attorney with experience in life sciences. Go and find that person for me, okay. And they pay you a fee to do that. There is no fee paid by the attorney. That’s the way it’s been done, tried and true all the years. And that’s also a good chunk of the way I operate. But I come at it a different way.
And what I call the uncommon way. I tend to look at attorneys as professional athletes, you know, who are free agents. And, you know, work with them to sort of find out what they want out of life, whether the firm they’re at is the right fit. And lots of times it is sometimes it isn’t. But then I take them to market, right, as opposed to saying, hey, Davina, I have an opportunity, let me try to take you and fit you into this, you know, this, this box over here, which may or may not fit you. I sort of shift it and I speak to the attorney and say hey, what do you want? What works for you? And then I go find the law firm that fits their needs. So I sort of do it reverse.
Davina: I love that.
Brian: Yeah, and in this day and age with the, the raging war for legal talent right now. Pretty much any law firm, that I take a uncommon lawyer to, you know, someone that I’ve pre qualified and spoken to and is ready to make a move, they will interview them, right? Because they are that desperate is a strong word, but lots of law firms are desperate, right? And so whether they either have an opening, or they don’t, they will interview, speak to and hire, you know, the top legal talent that’s available. So I look at it as free agents. Non competes don’t exist. For attorneys, there could be client conflicts. But it’s like you know, when LeBron James, and I’m taking my talents to Miami, you know, you can take your talents wherever you want.
Davina: Right, right. Let’s dive into that. The audience here are law firm owners. And one of the big challenges a lot of my clients right now and women law firm owners who I’m, you know, in conversation with, is this, as you said, desperation. Certainly need to get, where they’re wanting to expand, they’re trying to expand, and they’re finding a shortage of good candidates for working with their law firms. So tell me, what do you think is happening among in the legal profession among associates? Now, you know, we have this great resignation going on in the country where people are quitting jobs and moving jobs. What do you think the reason is kind of behind this with associates?
Brian: So I think there is a lot of pent up frustration with attorneys, associates, that became that was exacerbated during you know, COVID and the pandemic. I think some firms have handled it really well. Others have not. And by that I mean communication wise. You know, the firm’s that have communicated throughout I think are doing better, well I know for a fact are doing better than the firms that did not communicate. But associates are fed up you know, they’re not gonna take it anymore. And whether it’s a different generation because we’re talking you know, associates are typically one year to eight, nine, maybe pushing 10 years out of law school, maybe a different generation, but the like that movie, they’re not going to take it anymore.
Now you can only push them yeah, you can only push them so far. And so that whether it’s a great resignation, or they’re just saying, you know what, what’s in it for me, right, and I’m gonna make the best decision for me. I see that as a big part of what’s going on now. And it starts at the top with the big firms and trickles its way down. Because the big firms are in such a competition for the top talent. There’s not enough top, top top talent, when I say that, I mean, out of the top, you know, 14 major law schools, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, knows not as many of the top 10%.
So they sort of take the notch down and look at medium sized firms. And they start poaching for medium sized firms. Well, where do medium sized firms go to? Well, they go to firms smaller than them. And it’s a trickle down effect, which makes it even harder for smaller firms to attract and retain their attorneys. Because the bigger firms with more resources, more name recognition, you know, bigger, better clients, so to speak, are poaching from them now. So it’s the trickle down and trickle up effect. So small law firms I see getting hit hard in this area.
Davina: Makes a lot of sense. And tell, give us, so tell us what you are hearing from attorneys who are job seeking, or who are working someplace, but you are approaching them and saying, you know, hey, I have these other opportunities for you. What kinds of things are they discussing? What is it that they’re looking for? What is it that they want? What moves them? Because a lot of times is not money, like people think. Sometimes it is.
Brian: Right. It’s not just money, and everyone throws around the term, you know, work life balance. And when I speak to attorneys, you know, more often than I would say, 85 to 90% of the time, they’re going to put in and say to me, you know what, I’m looking for work, life balance, but they don’t know what that means. Right? When I say okay, great. Tell me what work life balance is? They don’t know. So we dig a little bit deeper. But what I end up finding, say it’s compensation. Oftentimes it is compensation. It’s being valued. But if I ever say that, compensation is big, right? Although they don’t say it, that makes them feel valued. And that’s what I think is causing a lot of the great resignation now, because there’s so much money being thrown around.
And what I am seeing is the boomerang effect. Attorneys making a move for the money, and then not being happy, or I’ll go so far as saying being miserable, and then either going back to where they came from, or to another firm and taking less money. So when I see the move, work, it’s the attorney understanding what makes them drive, you know, what their underlying human needs are. And you know, that’s a term I learned from Tony Robbins. You know, what he teaches is we all have these six human needs, you know, whether it’s certainty and uncertainty, significance, love and connection, growth and contribution. So we all have those six needs. The question is, which do we put above the others?
So when I work with attorneys, I find out which is their driving need, their top two needs. And that’s where I really find out the goal. That’s what I know, okay, this will be a good move for you. When you tell me money. It’s because you want to be significant sometimes, right? You want to make sure you earn the most that you can. Others want certainty. Tell me I’m gonna be able to work from eight to six and go home. Okay. So it’s digging, it’s digging beneath the words they tell me to find out what makes them move and going back to attorneys being unique creatures. I’d say the overwhelming majority of attorneys I speak to, certainty and significance are there two, top two driving needs, right? That’s just the attorney, bio or mindset or psychology. They want to be significant and they want to be certain as to the outcome of their life.
Davina: Right, right. Give me an idea of the size of law firm clients that you tend to work with the most.
Brian: So right now it is, I’m looking at medium sized firms. I’d have to say, I work with the largest firms, you know in the world. And they just look at attorneys as a body generally, right? You know, when I introduce attorneys to them, it’s all through a portal system. It’s hard to even speak to somebody over there. Whereas the medium size to even have a solo trying to recruit for right now, that’s really hard. So I think the majority of firms work with now with a medium size anywhere from 20, 25, to under 100 attorneys. But I do have a solo and a few three to four attorney firms who are using me to find them the right attorney.
Davina: So for the attorneys that you’re representing who are changing jobs, do you find very many of them who have gone out on their own and started their own law firm businesses and decided that that didn’t work, and they’re looking for security someplace else, or something where they could just focus on and be a lawyer? What are you seeing with regard to trends that people sort of starting their firms.
Brian: What I’ve seen. So in the past, again, 18 months, two years, during COVID, I have seen multiple solos, who have gotten spooked by the lack of certainty, right, and where the next paycheck or client is coming from, that has either gone and taken a job with a firm, or look to merge a solo practice with a more established firm. Okay, so I’ve definitely seen that going on. Because, again, it’s been scary times. At the very beginning, even the large law firms were, you know, laying off attorneys. So the solos were, you know, tried to find out the best way to preserve themselves. And that was often getting a job or joining a firm or trying to merge with another attorney or attorneys in your position.
Davina: You know, there’s there’s been a lot of research around kind of the millennial generation, and of course, millennials now, you know, I think the oldest millennial now is like, in their 40s, right? So, millennials are aging along with the rest of us. But this idea that a lot of younger attorneys are wanting something different in a job than you might have found in a Gen X generation or a boomer generation, where there was a lot of focus on money and prestige. So there’s, wealth, there’s procedures moving up, there’s, you know, and, and putting in the time to move up. So the 50 to 100 hour weeks, you know, working to rise to the top. And we’re seeing more and more research that’s come out this is this is not what this the this younger generation wants in the business in a job. Are you seeing that? Or are you not, I mean, you mentioned already that that compensation is a huge factor.
Brian: So I am seeing purpose driven, you know, causes. And I think that’s also a great recruiting tool right now, and also retention tool, whether it’s allowing attorneys to have a set number of pro bono hours to work on a client, right or a cause that they believe in. Whether firms support causes with their own dollars. Now having that purpose driven mentality I see with, not necessarily the oldest millennials, but you know, the middle to maybe younger millennial, I’m seeing that.
But what I do see is they talk that but then it comes down to the dollars at the end of the day, right? So if it came down to the purpose driven opportunity, that paid somewhat similar to the non purpose opportunity, they’re gonna grab the purpose driven opportunity, if it aligns with them, politically, environmentally, socially, personally, if it clicks with them. And if it’s a decent size compensation difference, I have seen at the upper levels, that the purpose driven goes aside. Not that they forget about it all together, you know, they may go and do it on their own, but they will take that law firm opportunity with the money and I had to take a guess maybe one of the reasons is that law school loans, right.
And it only goes so far, being socially environmentally conscious, when you have bills to pay. I’m not, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna say that the purpose driven hiring isn’t out there, but when there’s a big difference in money, I do see the attorneys going to, going for the money and there’s nothing wrong with it. They put in the time, the effort, the law school, took out the loans and they can go make the money for a few years and then go devote themselves to the cause when they have the money.
Davina: Right, right.
Brian: And that may not be politically correct answer. But that’s what I’m seeing out there.
Davina: I don’t want the, I don’t necessarily want the politically correct answer. I want to get to the heart of what women law firm owners can do, what law firm owners can do to, smaller firms, and midsize firms can do to compete in this really employee driven sort of marketplace. Because that is really what, you know, a lot of my clients are looking at it, and they’re going okay, should I offer more money, but it, you know, region, region plays a lot in terms of what the right amount of money is. And I think a lot of people try to figure that out. Have you seen that, too, like, depending on where you are, we’re talking about the United States. Depending on where you are in the United States, or that can vary greatly. And so I think employers are trying to sort of figure that out.
Brian: Absolutely. And especially in the time of working from home and virtually, I mean, I know a lot of firms that are either based in California or New York, where attorneys are receiving those salaries, and have lived in, you know, Florida, Kansas, Colorado, other less expensive states, keeping that income. Right. So I think that has been an issue that’s going to be addressed going forward. And I’ve read a lot about that, you know, whether the incomes should drop, if someone is, you know, working from a less expensive state, or whether the New York attorney working for New York firm regards to whether working should maintain that income. I don’t know how that’s going to shake out.
But I see that conversation happening now. But for the smaller firms, you know, I think, what I would advise my clients, and what I think is a good path forward is to expand the sourcing and recruiting. You know, so attorneys who may not have gone to the best firms. Attorneys who may have had maybe a gap or two on the resume, you know, I think they are well worth having conversations with. And I think, when you look at the hiring and interviewing, there’s two parts to this, you know, and I think that was one of my posts that you may have seen. There is the hard skills, right, which is their resume.
And, you know, can they do the job? Do they have the core skill to do the job I need? And that’s the price for admission. Right? If they don’t have that I would not speak with them. But after that, the soft skills, right? Will they do the job? What is their character? Are they resilient? Are they adaptable? Are they humble? I think those are the key traits. And I think a lot of firms miss out on good hires, because they’re looking for only the hard skills on the resume. And you can teach hard skills. Once they have the bare bones. Let’s say you need a year of family law experience, they have a year of family law experience. If it’s not high end, you can teach them high end, right? If it’s not collaborative, and you do collaborative, you can teach them collaborative. If it’s in bankruptcy, they’ve done chapter seven, you can teach them chapter 13s.
Once they have in the elder law, you can teach elder, and teach estate planning. So they have that basic level of skill set, I would not ignore them, if they don’t have the exact you know, 10 out of 10 skills, hopefully I can teach that. But they must have the ability to be resilient, to bounce back during adversity, to adapt, to be flexible. And I think you’ve seen a lot of attorneys who were flexible during this time period. A lot of attorneys who were not flexible during this time period and they just asked for examples of you know, when they’ve been resilient. Whether it’s in the practice of law or outside the practice of law. See, I think that is a key for the smaller firms to expand the pool and get the attorneys they need on board. And then money too.
Davina: So we’re gonna so we’re just gonna say money is like a baseline thing and and figure that out for the that’s the challenge that you’re gonna have to figure out depending on what region you’re in and also taking into account what you mentioned earlier, it’s something I’ve been reading a lot about, too is how this kind of controversy that’s come up where people are taking jobs in a state with a higher cost of living, and yet they’re living in states with low cost of living. So they’re really, which is super smart financially if you can do that and get away with it. I think you’re having a lot of that happen but you know, are companies get to make adjustments around that.
And you know, if you have a smaller firm and are medium sized firm, you’re kind of like you said there’s a there’s a force of economics is being driven maybe by the larger firms, larger companies. And we’re having to play within that, kind of play that game and figure that out where we fit in that. But I also think there are certain, there are certain professions within the legal profession, where you can have people working remotely to help you do things. But then there are others where you’ve got to have people locally, because people are still needing to go to court, you know, in some places in person, again, we’re starting to see more of that happening.
And I think that’s the challenge that people are having is you’re having a lot of folks who are saying, I still want to I just want to work remotely. Now that I’ve had Zoo hearings, and Zoom court, I don’t want to go back to court in person. And I think there’s still going to be a need for that. That’s what some so many law firm owners seem to be facing is, you know, people who don’t really want to go in person. And and that’s still an issue, kind of a COVID driven issue. Have you been seeing that?
Brian: Yes. And on both the law firms side, and on the attorney side. You know, again, if we just look at the big firms, they all have these plans in place. Coming back by this date, you’ll be in the office, boom, boom, boom. And now the overwhelming majority has, if not pushed the date back to 2022 said, okay, we have no date now. Right. And then on the flip side, I have attorneys who say, you know what, I am not going into the office, there’s no need to go in ever again. I do corporate work, or I do real estate, and all I do is review documents. Whereas I have other attorneys who are pulling their hair out at home. Whether there’s too much going on at home, or it’s too quiet at home, and they want to be back in the office. So which is, again, I think another key for your clientele, is flexibility and communication. You know, what works today may not work next month, may work in two months, right?
But it’s just being flexible with what is going on in the moment. And I truly believe you need to over communicate with your team. Right? And you know, lead them where you want to go. But also lead them in a way that they want to be led. Right. And I think a lot of that does come back to being able to over communicate and being flexible. Because everybody’s different. And I’ve said that a couple of times, you may have two attorneys in your firm, and both want to work from home, but want to work from home for different reasons. Okay. And you need to figure out, you know what that reason is, so you can lead that person, the right way to benefit them, which benefits your firm. So I do think it comes down to flexibility and communication.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. And it’s interesting that you say that I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this topic as well. Kind of what’s, you know, given what’s been going on in our economy. And one of the philosophies or solutions that I have heard is a lot what you’re talking about in terms of flexibility and communication, but it taking it down even to an individual level. Right. So employers are used to saying, this is what we all are doing, right? You come to work at this time, you leave at this time, you know, people are paying, you know, what they’re paid according to the position or whatever, and kind of dictating what we want.
And what I’ve been reading is that employers are because of the way the way, it’s such an employee driven market right now that employers are really needing to look at individual needs, not just saying, okay, we’re all working from home, or we’re all working in the office. But really dialing down to the different individuals and what works and what doesn’t, and what may be a great experience for us. So a lot of my clients run virtual firms, they like working from their home. And then we start talking about staff, beyond attorneys, but staff.
You have a lot of people who don’t have a setup to work from home, they there is no separate office in their house that they can and they’re literally you know, in their closet, having Zoom meetings, because that’s where the, you know, the sound quality is best. Or they can keep the little kids out or whatever. So it really, when you’re looking in your, at your employees all across the board, you know what you’re saying having that open communication is so important in finding out really what’s behind the request or the desire or you know, what, what they want. Looking at what, why they want it right?
Brian: You nailed it. You nailed it. And the best example I can give, I don’t mean to cut you off, the best example I can give it a great corollary is parenting and raising children. Right? So and I’ll use my two children. And it goes back to the six human needs I talked about before. If I take my daughter she is driven by certainty. So if I want to motivate her or lead her in a certain way, I know I need to show her that if you do this, that will happen. Right? If you perform this way, you will get that reward. Okay, one plus one must equal two in her mind, okay?
Now, if I were to do the same thing with my son, he’d look at me crazy and go right back into his phone and start playing video games. Right? With my. Exactly. So my son, I need to say, you know what, if you do this, you’ll be the first one ever to do that. If you come here, and you perform in this way, you will be the number one person in your fraternity, right? So he wants significance, he wants to be put on a pedestal, right. Whereas that will be anathema to my daughter. Right? So if I try to lead her with significance, I would fail. Not her, me. I would fail as a leader. If I were to try to leave my son with certainty.
Again, we would fail. Same thing with employees, right? You need to see what makes them tick. Why does that person want to work from home? Do they not want to sit in traffic? Right? Or do they want to go to pick up their children? Right? Why does this person want to come come to work? Are they trying to avoid their home? Right? Because there’s problems going on there they’re looking to avoid? Or do they just, you know, work better and need that mentorship? Or camaraderie or social, you know, interaction being in the office? And if you try to lead in the wrong way, that’s when that when I see people leave.
Davina: Right, right. And I love this discussion about retention, because I know that’s something you you advise people on and you help employers try to figure this part out. Is that, you know, if we can hang on to the people that we have, you know, that’s going to help, that’s going to help, that’s going to go a long way. Because that team, maybe what gets us through this transition, right? But also sort of sorting out the ones who, who aren’t a good fit with the company culture and what the law firm owners or partners are envisioning for the firm. If you aren’t a good fit in your law firm and your culture, right.
Brian: And I think you need to invite those people to leave immediately, right? Because if they are not the good fit, it’s like it becomes poison to everybody else there who is a good fit. Okay. So oftentimes, you know, it’s addition by subtraction, that you may be losing a good employee. Why? Because you’re keeping a bad employee around. Right. And that’s a whole, that’s a whole other discussion. You know, there’s a retention. And there’s also, you know, the stats talk about why do, what are the reasons while firms give for associates leaving, you know, and a lot of them are well, we wanted them to leave. Right?
It was a benefit to have them leave. But I think it does come down to if somebody is it’s, what is it hire slow and fire fast? I think that’s a term I’ve heard multiple times over the years, and it just creates a toxic work culture. Right. I’m sorry, on toxic work culture. I think a lot of attorneys leave firms because the boss creates a toxic work culture. You know, I just haven’t that just popped into my head when I said toxic work coach with employees, but a lot of times that stems from the, you know, top on down.
Davina: Right. Or maybe working on your own. Working on yourself. Yeah. And asking the question, is it me, you know, if my very well be me, right? Yeah, I agree with you there. I want to just talked about that part about letting people, letting people go more quickly. If you’re in a state where you feel like we don’t, you know, the work is just pouring in. And we don’t have enough people as it is, it can be a difficult decision to let a person go. But like you said, I mean, I’ve always felt like if it’s, you know, this person’s a cancer to your organization is what I heard, and I share with my clients.
They’re a cancer, you have to cut them out, you have to get them out, because what they’re gonna do is infect other people in the organization. You have somebody who’s got a bad attitude about something, it’s going to just, they’re going to spread it. They’re going to try to spread it and create division in your organization, and you’re gonna wind up losing your good people, and then you’re just stuck with people who are the best people that are going to be the worst situation. So it’s better just to cut that loss even at a time like this. When it feels like oh my gosh, am I gonna get the right person? Right?
Brian: I would agree. I would agree whether it’s so you taken a little bit less business now. Because you’ve removed that you can, I think that is a better decision long term. But even in the short term, there are ways to get the work done. You know whether you just sleep less and work more hours. Or there are contract attorneys out there. And that’s not something that my firm does. But there’s the temporary staffing and contract attorneys who will come in to work on a case for you, or a file for you to get you through that, you know, short term solution as a band aid. Right. But I, I think it comes down to a lot of self reflection as to who you want to be, as a law firm owner. Is a growth at all costs?
And I’m going to keep the toxic employee because I need somebody to do the work? Or is it having a conversation with the client saying, you know, what, I don’t have the capacity to handle this right now go, you know, maybe you should speak to this attorney who can help you. I think, long term, you know, that comes back to help people. We tend to think, very short term. And I know we’re bouncing around here a lot. But I think our mindset is very short term, the next, you know, day, week, month, three months, six months, whereas decision like that, I think can have tremendous benefit. 1, 3, 5, 10 years down the road.
Davina: Right. No, and you’re and you’re great. I think we’re we’re still on topic, we’re just diving deep into this and into this topic. Because I think it’s a topic, it’s what I’m hearing a lot from my clients, and women law firm owners in conversation about growing their business is this is really become the issue right now. We’re ready to expand, we want to expand and you know, we’re not having as many good candidates to do it. And so diving into this is really important. And I want to talk specifically about women since our audience is largely women law firm owners.
A lot of women law firm owners in the polling that I’ve done, have said the reason that they start their own firms is because they require flexibility, number one, flexibility and freedom that they don’t feel that they can get in a traditional law firm. And we can look at reports from things like the ABA, and they’re walking out the door report where they actually reported how women partners are leaving around about the time that they should really be enjoying the fruits of all their labor in their 50s. They’re leaving, because they’re just burned out by some of these traditional models.
And we’re seeing a lot of women, especially women of color, go and start their own law firm businesses, because there have not been a place for them in a traditional type of law firm. What kinds of things are you seeing from the recruiting standpoint? With regard to that? Are we starting to see more diversity in larger law firms, in mid sized law firms? Are they being more intentional about seeking candidates? And also, are they sort of providing some of those things that I know particularly women have expressed they have a desire for? Which is more time flexibility. That’s a compound question!
Brian: No, and it’s a great question. And I was mentioned before I started my solo practice, for that same exact reason. So it’s not limited to women alone, it was needing to have the flexibility to have your life. Right. What I see now is firms, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, are moving towards, you know, the DE&I, the diversity programs, it’s a big push in law firms. And there was a lot of talk about it. And I have also seeing action in it, and placing and working with candidates and law firms. So I do see action taking place based on diversity, whether it’s minorities, or whether you know, women. And I also see flexibility, a very big reality, work life balance.
Again, although it’s very hard, I do see a lot of firms putting in work life balance procedures, policies. Whether it’s you get, you know, what was it 20 hours a year for, you know, mental health time or personal development time. Trying to create that environment where they can not burn out their attorneys. So I would say where I am most seeing this, I would not see a huge difference between women and men. Right? When I’m placing attorneys in, you know, medium to larger law firms, but I am seeing lots more flexibility and not only talk on the diversity flexibility side, but actually results in actions in the law firms on both the diversity and flexibility side. So I think that’s good that I am seeing action.
Davina: Yeah, I think well that’s I think that’s probably a recent thing that’s kind of being forced to come about I because you know, we still have you, if you still look, look up any look at any of the midsize or large law firms and you’re still gonna see from a partnership standpoint, white male faces predominantly and you may see a few female white faces, but, as partners, but you’re not going to see a 50/50 split for the large law firms. And even a lot of medium sized law firms, and certainly not as many faces of color, unless they are, you know, started by founders of color.
Brian: Right. But there is a long way to go. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, the overwhelming majority are gonna be white male, by far, and just because it’s, you know, a lot of talk right now, and there is action right now. It needs to continue. Right, once the pandemic is over and things go back to where they were does this is continue, right? Or was this just a big push during this, you know, 18 month, two year time period and band aid. So I think the we we need to see where it continues. If I had to guess I’m going to say it is going to continue, because society is not going to allow it not to continue, because what happens is, like you said, women and minorities will go start their own law firms. Right?
You know, with technology these days, you don’t have to have, you know, the white shoe law firm on, you know, Midtown Manhattan. You can be anywhere, you know, with a laptop. You have access and resources to the legal research that the solo has the same access as the largest firm in the world, right to legal research, and resources. So you can easily women, minorities can easily compete with anybody. So I think, if law firms want to keep doing what they’re doing, and keep growing and thriving, they need to make those accommodations or they’re gonna lose business, then there’ll be more of these minority driven women driven firms that are wildly successful by however you want to measure them.
Davina: Right, right. We’re definitely seeing I think a lot because of the the change in our technology, and also just all the changes in our society. And in our culture, I don’t think that the traditional model for the law firm that has, you know, the, the law, legal profession is slow to change. It’s often one of the slowest industries to change, right. And very, very, you know, has a white male tradition, really for the large law firms? And so I think we are seeing that we’re seeing now with the technology, technological resources available to us, the business model itself is changing.
Davina: It does allow more and more people to work in a distributed or remote way, and have a lot more flexibility, a lot more flexibility for the clients to not have to drive down to, you know, the law firm and meet with a lawyer. And, you know, have that same sort of reverential sort of feel, you know, when you go to a law firm and meet with a lawyer. I don’t think lawyers are being put on the pedestals that they have for so many decades, right. So I think we’re starting to see some changes in the business model itself, it’s going to be interesting to see how it shakes out.
And it’s, and it is a challenge for the small firms right now. So can you tell us, what are some must do considerations that we need to put in place if we are seeking associate attorneys to come and work with our small law firm? You know, is this something that’s special we need to put in an ad out there? Are there certain places that we need to be sure that we’re connecting? Are there certain benefits that we really need to be highlighting? What kind of advice would you leave us with today?
Brian: So you mentioned ads, so that’ll dial back to sourcing, recruiting, I think you just need to expand the pie, and look at a lot more candidates. Initially, than you did in the past. So let’s say you have a estate planning practice, and you just can’t find anybody with the three to five years of estate planning skills. But there is a attorney with real estate skills in the three year to five year range. That is resilient, adaptable, humble, great references, great culture fit, you can teach them the estate planning in part.
Okay, so I just think you need to widen the sourcing pool where you’re pulling candidates from in this day and age. By just with the competition. In ads. I’m always a fan of less is more, right. You know, people are not going to be reading a, you know, 10 paragraph posting. So I think if it was, less is more. I think the best way is just networking, LinkedIn, Facebook, just interacting with people and pulling as many people into your environment as possible to spread the word. You know, it’s sort of same thing on sales and Gary V, Vaynerchuk, talks about the jab, jab, jab, left hook. You know, you just want to be out there in plain sight. So everybody knows who you are.
And when they need you, they can find you. You mentioned benefits. The compensation has to be there, the benefits have to be there. If you’re competing against, you know, a small firm is competing against a 20 attorney firm or a medium sized firm, you have to be paying market dollar. You have to be giving health insurance and the 401k. You have to be able to compete on that level. I mean, sometimes you can find someone that has a spouse, you know, who has them covered. But I do think you have to have those in place, you know, to attract candidates.
Davina: Interesting that you mention the ad size. I want to stop you there, because I want to catch this, I want to make sure we don’t get too far from it. You mentioned the about the ads. I have seen a lot of advice to law firm owners when they are advertising for positions to to actually make it detailed and long and specific. Because that filters out people. It serves as a filtering process. But it’s so it’s interesting to me, and you say keep it shorter. And so I just wanted to go talk about that a little bit more. Can you kind of explain that a little?
Brian: From my perspective, the quality candidates, the candidates who you’re wanting to attract, who is going to be doing the same thing you want done at another firm is not going to go read a 10 paragraph ad, right. But if they see a ad, that’s gonna be one or two paragraphs or bullet points, that is intriguing, and captures their attention. And there’s a call to action for them to learn more, I believe that will pull in more of the type of attorney you’re looking for, as opposed to someone who will go through each and every line of your ad. One I don’t think lots of attorneys will. What I think also, I’ve seen happen, and I’ve heard, they then self select themselves out. Because if you have 10 requirements, and the attorney says, well, you know what, I only meet nine of those I’m not going to apply. They’ve already self selected themselves out. And you’re never going to speak to that person.
Davina: Right. I think that’s great advice.
Brian: So the funnel, I think you need to get as wide as possible at the top. And you know what, there’s three to four or five bullet points of the real must haves. But after that, I think less is more. You just want them to opt into the conversation with you. Where you know, the first part of the interview process, you know, maybe is a five minute phone call. And I think you could figure out a lot in that five minute phone call. Maybe within the first minute know if it’s worth even continuing the conversation. But I think you exclude lots of qualified prospects with these long job postings. But that’s not that’s just one man’s opinion.
Davina: No, I like this one man’s opinion. I like that you shared it, it’s it is. And I think it’s something that where, before with you know, when it was a time when it was more of an employer’s market, and you would get, you know, hundreds of resumes, 1000s of resumes, any type of put them out, putting something helps you filter and select might be a better approach. And then now what you’re talking about though, is you’re an employer, you’re at a point where you’re trying to attract as many different types of, you know, people and then sort of sort through it in the conversation and see, you know, see who’s who’s a good fit culturally with our, you know, our culture and what we’re trying to do.
So I like that advice. It’s a different way of looking at it from some of the things that I’ve read and heard. So and I am one of those people who, you know, I wouldn’t want to read a 10 paragraph ad. It would exhaust me just to look at it. I’ve got so much already. Not that I’m job seeking. But you know, I think we’re so used to quick bytes of information that people don’t even read long articles.
Brian: Think LinkedIn. Think LinkedIn, okay. So one, it’s got to be visually appealing. But when I spend some time in LinkedIn, I know you do as well. If there is a long posting, which is gonna be one or two paragraphs of sentence after sentence after sentence. It might be one of the greatest works of literature ever, but I’m never going to know. However, if it is, you know, one or two lines, space, a few bullet points, space, that’s gonna intrigue me, right, I’m gonna jump into that. And then maybe there’s a link in the comments that I’m gonna now go read, because I was pulled in by the initial posts.
Davina: Right, right. And I’m actually one of those people too, that doesn’t if it’s a long video, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna watch it. Because I just don’t have time for it. I’m often not in a place where I can listen to a video anyway, but a lot of people love videos, you know, for sure, but I think we’re seeing more and more sort of shorter, even YouTube has come out with his own short version of videos that people can do now. But we digress. So tell us, is there any final thought that you sort of want to leave us with before we wrap up here?
Brian: Yes. When you are small law firm, or any law firm, is looking to recruit someone who is doing what they need to be done. But at the competition, you need to have a story, right? You need to be able to say why they should leave their job, where they’ve been for X number of years, earning a good salary, providing for their family, to leave that comfort and certainty to take the risk of coming to work for you. Right? What is different, unique, uncommon about what you have going on, that will benefit them. Right. So what is your story? Why should they leave where they are to come to you, and it can’t be a work life balance.
It can’t be just saying compensation, you really got to drill down and find the nuggets. Right? Because 10 firms will say work life balance, right? So what what do you mean by work life balance? You knock off at 12 o’clock on a Friday? Right? Is there no work on the weekend? So whatever it is, needs to be able to that story. I just want to make sure I get that out. Because I think a lot of firms just think that because I’m a law firm, and I’m going to, you know, pay your salary, you should come work for me. No, they can get it anywhere. What’s unique and uncommon about you. So little rambling now. But that’s the last piece I think I wanted to get out.
Davina: No, I love that. I love that well, and I did promise people that we would tell them what a fire walker is, if they did not know if they do not know, Tony Robbins. So I think we need you to, you need to fill that in. Fill in that gap for people.
Brian: So absolutely. So Tony Robbins is a life coach, development speaker, motivational speaker, and he does live events. Well we haven’t done any in two years, but at his entry level event called unleash the power within, we do a breakthrough process called a fire walk. And what we do is we start out and I’m on the actual team that builds the fires. And we’re actually doing one in November, the first one in two years, right. In West Palm Beach, Florida. So we have a bed of hot burning coals, probably 2000 degrees and up by eight to 10 feet.
And you literally walk across those coals from one side to the other. And all it does is prove to you if you can do this, what else can you do? Right? Whether it is I can’t start my own firm. Whether it is you know, I can’t find the right relationship. I can’t hire the right attorney. I can’t learn this practice area, right? What do you mean? You just walked on fire, okay, so it’s literally walking across hot coals to prove to yourself what you can do to then take that back and be able to do other things in your life.
Davina: Alright, I love it. Thanks so much for being here today. Brian, it was great to finally get a chance to chat with you. Tell us how we can connect with you. I know you’re on LinkedIn. Tell us what we need to do to reach out if we want to reach out to you.
Brian: You just nailed it. The best way is gonna be LinkedIn. Find me on LinkedIn. Send me a direct message. You can go to my website you know which is kenzakgroup.com. But again, the best way will be LinkedIn. That’s where I spend most of my social media time. Direct message me there and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you.
Davina: All right, wonderful. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed our conversation immensely.
Brian: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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