On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Tiana Hardison. Tiana is the Vice President of Development and Content for PILMMA, an educational institution that strives to be the best and most sought after resource for marketing and managing law firms.

Tiana, who practiced law before joining PILMMA says: “When I had my solo practice years ago, I just didn’t know how to leverage— I didn’t know how to do the grassroots or online marketing that you needed to grow your firm. So, I had a kind of a personal crisis going on, I needed to generate more income than my small practice could handle and ended up joining a firm and started social security law, and through that, I met my husband. He had PILMMA, which stands for ‘Powerful, Innovative, Legal Marketing Management. So he had a company that gave me a taste of an opportunity to see, okay, how do you grow a law firm?” says Tiana.

We chat about Tiana’s extensive career as an attorney, as well as:

  • Advice for attorneys looking to pursue an additional practice area
  • How PILMMA serves attorneys
  • Tips for operating a virtual practice
  • Business growth strategies during a pandemic
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. 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 here today with attorney Tiana Hardison, Vice President of development and content for PILMMA. 

PILMMA is an educational institution that strives to be the best and most sought after resource for marketing and managing law firms because they love to help attorneys become successful. So welcome Tiana. We’re so happy to have you here today on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.

Tiana Hardison: Well, thank you, Davina. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m excited.

Davina: Great, great. So, why don’t you start out telling us, I know you have been an attorney for almost 30 years. So yeah, this is gonna be a great podcast today because I’m sure you have a wealth of experience in your career. So why don’t you start out just telling us about your sort of journey to becoming an attorney? And then what you’ve, what your career has looked like in that 29 years?

Tiana’s Long and Prosperous Career

Tiana: Certainly. Well, as you’ve indicated, I’ve been practicing law for almost 30 years. So through that time, I’ve certainly done a lot of different kinds of law in different contexts. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer. I thought I would end up being a reporter. But once I got into college and got ready to graduate, a friend of mine took the OFAC, and I think I was a little competitive, and I said, I’ll just take the OFAC kind of like a joke. Let’s see who does better.

Davina: Yeah, that’s a sure sign that you’re bred to be a lawyer right there.

Tiana: Perhaps because he ended up not doing as well as I did. He didn’t go to law school, and I did.

Davina: Wow. I love it.

Tiana: So yeah. And so, over the years, of course, I was an associate in a variety of firms. And I was also a solo practitioner. Had an adoption law practice for about 12 years. And also worked in personal injury. And at one point in my practice, I had to, I didn’t know what we teach at PILMMA. And when I had my solo practice years ago, I just didn’t know how to leverage. I didn’t know how to do the grassroots or online marketing that you needed to grow your firm. 

And so I had a kind of a personal crisis going on, I needed to generate more income than my small practice could handle. And ended up joining a firm and started social security law, hit kind of a glass ceiling in that. But relocated, more social security work. But through that I met Ken Hardison who’s now my husband. He had a social security firm which he since sold, but he also had PILMMA, which is Powerful, Innovative Legal Marketing and Management. 

So he had a company that gave me a taste, an opportunity to say, Okay, how do you grow a law firm? How do you really grow it? And so I started transitioning from less of the actual practice of law to more working with lawyers in marketing and management. And thus now, I don’t do any legal work anymore outside of just doing PILMMA. And working with lawyers within that context.

Davina: Great. Great. So there’s a lot to unpack there. And I have some, so one of the things I think is interesting is that, you know, oftentimes we think, as lawyers that we, you know, once we start down one path or practice area, that we’re married to that somehow and we can’t shift practice areas. And because it’s just, you know, and other lawyers who practice to the other practice areas are often resistant and say things that are discouraging if you try to change practice areas. But your career is proof that you can practice in any area you want as a lawyer, right?

Tiana: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And really, I think one of the critical keys to success for any lawyer is keeping your eye on the horizon. For example, even right now, I know that with the pandemic, a lot of domestic criminal attorneys are really struggling. PR attorneys are a little bit better in that they already had a lot of cases in the hopper. They work on contingency anyway, they’re gonna feel the burn probably in the next six to nine months. Whereas criminal domestic is feeling it more so right now. 

But looking to see what other practice areas that you can develop, and unfortunately, sadly, but I think the reality we’re going to need more bankruptcy. I’ve seen a lot of attorneys go into say something like eminent domain, if they see something, the practice area that they’re in getting kind of closed out by statutes in that kind of thing. So I think keeping your eye on the horizon. Where do we need to go? How can I shift? And any of us can. 

Davina: Right. Yeah. What kind of advice would you have for attorneys who want to explore and maybe pursue an additional practice area or another practice area? How should they go about that?

Growing Your Skillset as an Attorney

Tiana: Well, I think, you know, obviously, education is key. One of the things we’ve talked about, some in PILMMA, is recognizing that there’s going to be an increase in the need for bankruptcy lawyers in bankruptcy law. If you don’t have that area of practice, it’s one to start developing for sure. I mean, obviously, the easiest way is going to bring in a lateral that already knows this area of law, so you don’t have to educate yourself on it. 

Then again, you certainly can get up to speed on it on your own. I know I did that with my adoption law practice when I switched from PI to adoption years ago and just sucked it up. And then, you know, networking and talking and reading and getting a sense of it, but it’s always easy if you can find a lateral associate to bring in in that area.

Davina: I love the thought of bringing in a lateral associate and bringing in, you don’t necessarily have to be the one to get, I think that’s one of the ideas oftentimes that smaller firms have it, you know, if you have somebody who’s not in, gotten into that CEO mindset yet that they’re building a business that’s bigger than them, they think, well, I have to learn this new area. I have to know everything myself, and I have to learn. But that’s not necessarily the case. You could hire people who are, who have expertise in other areas of law than when you have and grow your firm that way.

Tiana: Oh, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I think that’s one of the rubs for women in law is trying to wear the hats all the time. Too many hats and not being willing or ready to delegate. Leverage your strengths, delegate your weaknesses or delegate something else that maybe you could do it but you just don’t have time or shouldn’t take the time because you need to focus on the bigger picture.

Davina: Right. So tell us a little bit about PILMMA and work you do there now.

Tiana: Well, now I’m excited. Ken and I just finished writing a book, Powerful Online Legal Marketing is actually what it’s called. It’s kind of a how-to treat us, which I love doing the research on because it gave me a chance to take a step back. And what I wanted to do was to have both a mountaintop looking down view as well as an in the trees. So forest and tree view of marketing, digital marketing, online marketing, because that’s the great equalizer. 

You know, you can compete with the big guys, the big guns, the gorilla law firms if you know how to leverage online marketing, as well as wonderful grassroots concepts. So that’s one of the things I’ve just finished just writing that. And I’ve been writing a book that workers comp attorneys can use to give to their clients to kind of as set themselves up as an expert in their field. 

And what I like to do, what we do at PILMMA, one of the things we do is we put together books written by lawyers, with the idea being that you can make it your own without having to take the time to write the whole book yourself. You know, we give you kind of the guts of it and then you can tweak it with your intro, your conclusion. You know, read it carefully. If I’ve written something that’s generic, kind of like a model code kind of concept and you want to tweak it to your state. So, I just finished a worker’s comp book in that vein. But we do a lot of that. I think that helps lawyers as well.

Davina: Right, right. So let’s dive into, I listen to a podcast, you wrote an article and then you subsequently have done a podcast on the topic of, you know, making that shift to virtual because of the COVID 19 pandemic which is, we’re recording that during this time. Now, we’ve kind of gotten past the point where everybody was quarantined. And now some states are opening up, some are quarantined. 

It’s, you know, it’s a little fluid, let’s say, and I think it’s gonna be fluid for a while. So you gave some great tips on transitioning to virtual practice. Let’s talk about some of those, and then let’s talk about kind of maybe how to move back into the workplace as so many are finding themselves doing and they’re finding challenges in moving back. 

But first, let’s kind of address maybe some of the critical aspects to working virtually because I know a lot of people are still doing that or maybe they’re doing a hybrid version of that, some virtual some back in the office. Some team members may be in the office, spaced out and some may be working remotely. So let’s talk about some of those tips that you share. Can you tell us maybe, you know, some of the, you know, what do you think is the number one consideration for working virtually during this time? 

Tiana: Well, I think moving remote certainly, as you’ve indicated, it was a tremendous challenge because all of a sudden it was just thrust on us as law firm owners. Okay, we got to get remote and go remote now. And some people were on server, some folks were on the cloud. And that made a big difference in terms of how you and how quickly you could transition phone systems and all that. 

But once you’ve done the actual logistical stuff to actually move your firm remote. I think the challenge is maintaining the sense of community and communication that you need to keep the ball rolling and keep your firm operational during this time because people were used to working in the community and being able to conference at the watercooler and the kitchen. And so the communication I think is critical. And that’s why I recommend the daily huddle and weekly meetings and using Zoom audio conferencing. 

And when I say a daily huddle, what I mean is like a very quick touch base meeting, six to seven minutes, and everyone goes around and shares what they’re doing. So what their win was from the day before, if they’re stuck on anything, what it is they’re stuck on and what they’re planning to do that day. And that way everybody can kind of stay on the same page in a way that they used to be able to do more naturally in an office setting. 

But it also gives you as the firm owner the opportunity to make sure that your staff’s priorities that day are what you want them to be. And obviously running reports through your case management system becomes critical. So, attorneys that didn’t have all of those kinds of reports before, I think this is a time to catch up and clean up during the pandemic and try to make sure that you have your affairs in order so to speak so that you can see okay, you know, what are my case centers doing? Let me be able to see the summary of notes and know who’s doing what. 

Another recommendation I’ve made is remembering to be flexible. I mean, most of us, many of us have children at home. And in whatever space they might be in from, you know, two-year-old to an 18-year-old and you’ve got to be flexible, they got to be flexible. Your staff wants to get their work done. They want to keep their job. They want to do a good job. And I think you as an owner have to be flexible and mindful that you may need to shift some times around that people are doing things and give them a little more flexibility and you have some understanding.

Davina: Right, right. You bring up a great point about that because that’s one of the, yeah, I was speaking with a client recently and she herself has almost grown children, teenage children, but she has an employee who has young children and so some, she noticed that some mistakes were happening because the client was, I mean, the other team member was working virtually as everybody was in the firm and it was a challenge because her home situation was such that there wasn’t a space or a time that she could isolate herself to work on things because of the age of her children and the status of her relationship. 

So she didn’t have a lot of resources. And so my client, the owner of the law firm, was struggling with what do we do, you know, in this situation? Because I have her. She can’t concentrate when she is working from home because she doesn’t have a setup for that, right? I mean, for those of us like me, I mean, I work from home all the time so I have a dedicated space and all that but I’ve seen a lot of pictures with a lot of attorneys and I’m sure their employees are the same way where they’re like, you know, this is my setup at home. It’s in the bedroom or on the kitchen bar table or whatever. 

So sometimes you think about our own circumstances but then just think of our employees. how, you know, how do we manage that? Now, in her particular case, we were able to come up with a solution that her employee could actually work in the office because my client had a home office and her other employees had good situations. And so she was still isolated if she was the only one in the office. So what are some of the situations that you’ve heard from your clients that they’ve talked about in going through this pandemic and having to work virtually and move their teams, distribute it, you know, have distributed teams and that kind of thing.

Being Flexible Enough to Navigate Your Circumstances

Tiana: I think what you’ve been describing is just that kind of element of flexibility and having to just kind of say, Okay, how can we navigate this? And some people are finding, some law firm owners find that it was best to let one or two of their employees come into the office, literally come in and work because obviously, you can more than social distance if there’s only one or two people in the entire building or on the floor where your office is. 

So for folks that just cannot carve out isolated space and time at home, that can sometimes be an option. Of course, that’s not going to be an option for all your employees. But for those that you can, I think that that staggered working is the way to go either staggering who’s in there during what day or some folks coming into the office and some folks continuing to work remotely. 

Another option is being flexible in terms of alright, let’s say they really can’t return client calls during a certain time while their kids are up or whatever. Finding that one or two-hour tough chunk of time where if you’ve got small children, you can put them in front of a movie or you can, or they’re down for a nap or something in returning calls only during that time or taking calls only during that time. 

And you as the law firm owner being mindful of Okay, who am I, team? Where are they at? You know, in terms of what are their situations, and then putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I mean, it is challenging. There’s no question about it. We’ve just not set up to all of a sudden be home with our children and not good childcare options. And even the older ones still want some direction or they’re going to PS4 it all day and not do anything.

Davina: Well, I think it’s a struggle, you know, mentally and emotionally for people because it feels so, you know, people are just so discombobulated and dealing with a lot of emotions around the whole thing as well you know? And then suddenly you’re sitting there going okay, I need to sit down and focus on work but your mind is unable to do that. You know, I think enough time has passed now where a lot more people have, thank goodness, human beings are, you know, adaptable to situations and a lot of people are starting to find ways to deal with it. 

But you bring up a great point that it’s certainly important to be very aware of what emotions our employees are experiencing as well and their home life situations. What kind of tools or systems are you recommending to people? You know, are there things that sort of have been a standout for you that have been helpful in firms that have had to go remote and work with their employees remotely?

Tiana: Well, honestly, one of the things I’ve seen be the most powerful is the Zoom conferences, like within PILMMA, that members wanting to Zoom together and talk and share ideas. That, I think being in contact with one another as law firm owners and bouncing ideas around, I’m doing this, I’m doing that, that seems to be really powerful and helpful. So like within PILMMA, we have mastermind groups. We used to meet, you know, back in the day when you could travel with meet-in locations. 

But of course, now everybody’s Zooming. But instead of meeting a couple of times a year now they want to meet, they want to talk, you know, once a week, once a month. Everybody wants to be in a community and sharing ideas. And I think, you know, that has been very helpful for lots of law firm owners to be in the context of sharing and brainstorming together. And also then you don’t feel as isolated as well.

Davina: Right. And it’s been interesting to me to watch because I’m always advocating for my clients to create videos and, you know, I meet with all my clients through Zoom. And it’s been interesting because this has, you know, there’s been a lot of reluctance among people to Zoom. They’re like, I don’t know, if I want to be on video. 

You know, they’ll go to a networking meeting and meet people in person but to be on video feels uncomfortable and they’d rather talk on the phone or, you know. And so now we’re seeing more and more people just embracing these audio, I mean, these video options where they, because we want to see other people’s faces. We want to see because we can’t go out and see people in person. 

You know, we’re wanting to be able to see another human face even if their hair is up in a ponytail and they’re not wearing any makeup, we want to be able to see them and just know there’s somebody else there experiencing what we’re experiencing. So there’s been so much more acceptance of the video. And I’m excited about it, because I think that it’s also going to impact long-term attorneys using video more comfortably in their marketing because they’re getting used to seeing themselves and hearing themselves on video now.

Tiana: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I’m thinking. I’m thinking we’ve had to do it. So now we’ve gotten past that hurdle. So more and more lawyers are going to be more comfortable with Zoom in going video. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, Zoom in for marketing purposes and Facebook Live and using video so that people can see who you are as a real person that they can connect. Because people hire the people that they like or trust. And know, and when they can see your face, you become someone that they can embrace and hopefully hire. 

I also think from a management perspective and also in terms of solidifying relationships with your existing clients and boosting referral opportunities, I’m seeing, I’m encouraging lawyers to use Zoom when they’re talking with their own clients, because again, you’re just creating a deeper relationship and they’re going to be much more likely to refer their friends and family when their own lawyer takes time or their case manager and they feel seen, heard, and they, that relationship is strengthened. I think it’s going to do nothing but increase the value long term.

Davina: I was talking with an attorney earlier this week. I interviewed another attorney on for a podcast episode, and she said that she uses video to give case updates. So she will just pop on our phone, record a video for a client and text that video or email that video or send it to the client. And it’s her speaking, and they get to see her face and hear her voice and she’s talking to them about their case. And I thought that was such a great idea because it, you know, one of the number one bar complaints throughout, you know, the country is the top two are messing with your trust account and not communicating effectively, frequently enough with your client. 

And I thought, what a great way to communicate and make clients feel like you’re still thinking about them and you’re still working on their case even though they’re not seeing, you know, you’re not able to come into the office. They’re not seeing what work that’s going on because you’re doing stuff behind the scenes. But I thought that was a great use of video. Have you heard other attorneys do that?

Tiana: Not yet, but I intend to be sharing that great idea.

Davina: Yeah, it’s a good one. I thought it was. So

Tiana: Oh absolutely. And you can do it on your own terms. I mean, you’re not having to take this call and all of a sudden, oh my god, they caught me with no makeup on and my hair is asunder, you know, you’re doing the video so do it when you want to do it. And when it’s quiet and when you can do it and pushing it out. One thing I am encouraging lawyers to do as well is don’t lose the opportunity to continue to build your testimonials. I mean, when you can settle a case and you can talk with them on Facebook Live or whatever, you can turn that still into video testimonials that you can push out later on your website and social media.

Davina: Right, right. And of course, we’re going to leave it up to people to, you know, check their bar rules in their own state and see what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Different states may have some different, you know, rules about testimonials and things like that, but so just as a caveat to anyone listening, you’re responsible for checking your bar rules. We’re throwing out ideas.

Tiana: That’s right, Davina. That’s, right. Yeah.

Davina: Exactly. So let’s talk about some of the, you know, the conversations that you may be having with some of your clients about transitioning back to the office. I know that one of the issues that’s come up for some of my clients has been, excuse me, the having employees who they kind of have quarantine brain, you know, they get that sort of brain fog or whatever. And then when it comes to transitioning back to the office, it still feels, you know, we’re transitioning back with new rules about social distancing and cleaning and wearing face masks and all the different, you know, things. 

And obviously, people should have policies around that and I’m sure a lot of attorneys are. But they’re dealing with employees who might have still be kind of in a fog and not as engaged and focused in their work as they used to be. What kind of advice would you have for employers for helping their staff and their associates get back, rally and get back on the work page? Because work still needs to be done.

Adapting to the New Normal

Tiana: Absolutely. And yes, I think you’re right. I think there’s gonna be this kind of a wait a minute. We were in quarantine brain, what does this look like now? And I think it’s a loss of owner understanding there is going to be some transition. But also making sure every employee understands that these are the measures that we are taking proactively to make sure this workplace is safe. And these are the measures that we’re taking now so you can feel safer about it. 

And frankly, I think a lot of it will, they will naturally merge back in because people are so hungry, you know, for real interaction. I think they want to come back, but they’re scared and somewhat frightened. So some of the things that we’re suggesting, and going to be, I’m going to be trying to do some writing and webinars and stuff talking about the very things that you’re bringing up, like how do we merge back into real-life safely because it isn’t like we have this magic drug that’s going to make COVID go away. 

We’re going to be stuck with this thing in some capacity probably for quite some time. So the new normal isn’t like the old normal, for sure. So I’ve got some ideas about things that employers, law firm owners can be implementing and preparing to implement as they move back into brick and mortar space. 

One of the things is recognizing that you want to still maintain that social distance, like you mentioned, and there’s ways to do it. I mean, you’re going to have to look at how you’re doing firm is literally physically structured. And it may be that you need to pull out some chairs and make it in every other situation if you’ve got folks in cubicle type areas or making sure you’ve got more privacy or plexiglass type thing for cubicles and the face masks wearing. 

But another thing is to encourage just because we’re back in brick and mortar doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to do audio conferences in Zoom even with your own folks. So they can still stay at their desk for example. And you guys can still have a huddle meeting without getting up and being in close connection with each other. I think that’s going to be important. I also think that you’re going to find that there’s some employees that are incredibly productive in remote status and may not want to come back or may only want to come back part-time, or you may find that you can stagger. 

They come in, well, you know, two people come in three days a week, some folks come in two days a week and in kind of flip flop and in terms of having folks working from and working in the office, I think that’s going to be a viable option to keep with this thing and keep folks moving forward, but do it in a way that safe. I also think you’re gonna have to think about lunch, the logistics of staggering when people are taking their lunch, encouraging them to do it at their desks. I think you may want to buy an extra microwave. I mean, you’re just gonna have to kind of think practically about some of this stuff as well. 

But it also is going to open up a whole new opportunity too, you know, because we’ve had to go remote, we now know that we can get work done and be operational in remote status. So one of the things that’s going to be for you is you’re no longer stuck with trying to find great people to work in your firm that live within a 30 to 60-mile radius. It’s like your case managers and intake folks, you now have a 3000-mile radius option. So when you start thinking outside the box, think look at the opportunities that this has created. And that’s a good thing. So yeah, I think that the new normal is definitely new. There’s not going to be the old normal. 

Davina: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, bringing up that, the idea of being able to, you know, rely on remote resources, earlier when you mentioned people trying to, you know, talk on the, answer the phones and things like that talking to those, you know, I’ve been advising some of my clients to use remote reception services because of the availability and remote reception. And that takes that piece off of their employees, particularly if they have employees, staff that are doing double duty. 

They’re functioning as, you know, a paralegal and answering the phone and the office, taking that off of them. And because with some employees being remote and having limited time when their kids are, you know, around or their spouse or whatever, anything that you could sort of remove and shift to a remote service, even if it’s only temporary can maybe, you know, if you find the right service for you, it may be an option to use those. I know some attorneys, of course, I know many attorneys who work virtually, who have remote paralegals, you know, that they’re already using. And so go ahead.

Tiana: Yeah, I think that is spot on. I mean, take the pressure off. If you can bring in a remote service, outsource that, even if it’s just for your weekend coverage, or whatever. I think that makes a lot of sense. And I’m certainly written about that as well in terms of how we go remote and sustain it. Because you’re exactly right. I mean, people just being accessible on, being able to answer the phones at all times all throughout the day is not a reasonable expectation for most of your employees. It just simply isn’t. 

So you are going to have to either outsource or you’re going to have to figure out who can cover phones at specific times reflective of when they think they can control their environment in a way to be there at their phone at that time. And I think outsourcing is also a wonderful option because you really still need to be 24 seven as a law firm owner. I mean, we’ve got a business to run, you know, so you’ve got to make it work. That’s certainly a good way to get coverage.

Davina: Yeah, especially during this time. I mean, as you’re, like I said, you know, we’re fluid. So we don’t know what’s happening with the economy and what’s happening in certain practice areas. And so making yourself a little more accessible to clients who, especially clients, you know, they’ve already hired here, we’re not even talking about prospective clients, I mean existing clients, to reassure them that you’re still working and working in a safe way and you’re, but you haven’t, you know, you haven’t dropped the ball on their case. 

And then also making yourself available for those new, those clients that are still going to be coming because there are clients that are still coming. I mean, I’ve had, you know, all my family law attorneys are like, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. And I think that it, you know, even increased. Maybe it stopped for like a week and then after that, it started increasing because people are quarantined and their whatever relationship or marital problems they were having, they really came to the forefront. So my family law attorneys have not missed a beat, haven’t dropped, you know, in fact, their work is increasing. So,

Tiana: And I suspect after this pandemic, so yeah, when things get a little bit more where people are more able to travel around and so forth, I think we’re gonna see an increase even more, but you’re right. Because when relationships were on the rocks a little bit before and all of a sudden they’re forced into this quarantine together that, that is not a recipe for a happy situation, for sure.

Davina: Yeah. So I think there are many practice areas that are, they, you know, one of the things that I talk with attorneys about is that, often is that, you know, we are, the purpose of our job is to solve problems. Like we make order out of chaos. That’s what we do for a living. And I think that it’s an opportunity for law firm owners and attorneys to really step into leadership and not only lead their teams but lead their clients and lead prospective clients through this confusing and difficult time because attorneys are already seen as leaders in the community. And this is really a time to step into that leadership role, don’t you think?

Tiana: Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, using social media is a great vehicle by which you can reach others in the community, potential clients, and be that voice of calm and reason and do some Facebook Lives and that kind of thing. Absolutely, because we are leaders in our community. We’re perceived as leaders and so we might as well embrace that role, if needed at this time. And it’s also going to help you grow your business long term as well.

Davina: Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. So, again, talking about coming back into the workplace, one of the things I think that’s going to be happening is, you know, I don’t know if you’ve had a lot of conversations, I’m sure you’ve had conversations over the years with attorney clients about disaster planning. And this was a disaster that nobody even considered really, you know? 

Like, we think, I’m here in Florida, so we are accustomed to disaster planning for hurricanes. You know, we, a lot of us may have a written policy about what to do in the case for hurricanes Especially, I know a lot of people down, a lot of law firms down in South Florida, you know, after some of the devastating hurricanes of the company there have really had good policies on the disaster planning for things like weather-related events. 

And I’m sure in other parts of the country, whatever it is, if it’s tornadoes, or if it’s earthquakes or whatever. But this is kind of opening up a whole new opportunity to really think about your disaster planning in different kinds of circumstances. Are you seeing attorneys, you know, developing policies and procedures around this and kind of, you know, opening your mind to thinking, oh, gosh, we need to be having a, we need to have a plan for a lot of different situations.

Tiana: Yes, I think that’s some of the conversations that we’re seeing attorneys wanting to have. And as we’re gearing to go back into the brick and mortar space, we’re very mindful that we haven’t seen the last of COVID-19. I mean, we’re still in the throes of it even though we’re going back. So that being said, this is going to be a wax and wane, and it’s quite likely that even if you go back to brick and mortar now there’s going to be some time that you’re going to need to pull back in terms of being more fluid and understanding we’re not done with this. 

And so this kind of disaster, I think lawyers are recognizing we’ve got to come up with plans. Granted, we’ve gone remote, so we know what to do. So now is the time to put it into policies and procedures. Because when it first happened, everybody is just running around trying to get it done, freaking out, trying to go remote as quickly as they can. 

Okay, we’ve done that now. So when we go back to our offices, go ahead and create those practices, policies and procedures so that when this happens again, and it’s likely to, you already, everyone knows what to do in the various positions that you have. So you systematize with policies and procedures. And so that’s the discussions attorneys are having now, and the ones that they should be having. As we go back, let’s take the time to create the systems we need so that the next time this happens, we’re not scampering. We know what to do and here’s the protocol.

Davina: Right, right. You know, and I also think that it’s a time that a lot of law firm owners are really looking at their strategy and so many, you know, there’s the kind of knee jerk reaction of Okay, how do we pivot in this moment, but we also, as business owners, have to step back and look and say, Okay, what is our long term strategy? 

And we know that we may need to be adaptable. I mean, they may need to be flexible, because we don’t really know what’s going on in the external world, but just because we don’t know what’s going on the external world doesn’t mean that we still don’t have a business that we need to be profitable and sustainable and thriving, right? 

Because people count on it and depend on us. So also, are you having conversations, are you hearing from attorneys that they’re working on their business growth strategies and rethinking that and looking at it, see what’s still valid, not throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Are those kinds of discussions that you guys are having as well?

Tiana: Oh, absolutely. Because the deal has been for some law firm owners, the initial when this struck was like freeze. Deer in the headlights. You know, what are we going to do and we just got to survive this. But we need to be pushing forward always. And so the question even on your own marketing and so forth is how do you walk this through? And so we’ve got to not only remain operational or just to kind of survive, but you want to thrive and grow. And you can still do that even during a pandemic. 

And part of it’s the mindset of moving forward and continuing to engage in the strategies that are going to move you forward, both online and off. I mean, like right now, more and more people are online than ever before. So continuing to strategize and move your firm forward with leveraging the online marketing thing is still really important for lawyers. And not to just get scared and pull back. Okay, I’m not gonna do any kind of advertising and, you know, there’s none of that right now. Just keep moving forward.

Davina: Yeah. You said a mouthful when you said mindset. I mean, the difference between people I think will come out of this and continue to thrive and people who will, you know, maybe go out of business or scale back their business or whatever is so, it’s mindset. So much of it is mindset and really deciding what it is that you really want badly enough to make it happen, you know? Or what do you think about that?

Pivot Forward

Tiana: Absolutely. I mean, the word that comes to my mind is pivot. You know, when you’re at a crossroads, you know, pivot it to your advantage and move forward. Look for those things that are going to make this work, rather than being in a freeze. So pivot forward. And that’s what we’re encouraging lawyers to do, and that we can do. 

And like I say, one of the big ways is continuing to be relevant in your community and with your online presence. I mean, that doesn’t even cost much money at all, but, and we have the time and opportunity. We’re home. So the lawyers that are blasting out great social media. I’ve got one attorney, he had face coverings that he was using for promoting motorcycles. 

You know, trying to attract motorcycle cases, and he started giving those away as face coverings and boy was it popular. And blasting it out on social media, but he was making a difference. He was being positive, he was being relevant to the moment, building tons of goodwill and leveraging and pivoting, seeing more and more people doing Facebook Live. So pivoting is the deal. Moving forward, propelling your firm forward despite this circumstance. 

Davina: Yeah, yeah. that’s great advice. Great advice. So tell us how we can find out more information about you and PILMMA on the social media and the interwebs. Where can we connect with you and learn more?

Tiana: Well, we are PILMMA. So it stands for Powerful Innovative Legal Marketing and Management Association. You can find us online at www.pilmma.org. And hook up with us that way and drop us an email. If, so yeah, I think hopefully you’ll be able to find this easily online. We’ve also got a podcast too. I don’t do it but definitely, we’re here to help and we’re readily available. So don’t hesitate to reach out to us, for sure. 

Davina: Great. Thank you, Tiana. I really appreciate that you’re here today and I think we’ve had a great conversation. You’ve offered some wonderful advice and tips and I thank you so much. 

Tiana: Oh, thank you. My pleasure.