Finding Your Path and Hitting Your Stride
Episode 4: Finding Your Path and Hitting Your Stride
Ten years into a cush gig with a large law firm, Jeremy Tissot decided it was time to leave the land of the lost and launch his own solo practice. On the latest episode of The Bootstrapped Solo, Jeremy admits he didn’t have the required skill set to run his own firm and doesn’t hold back as he describes exactly how he went from winging it to winning it.
In This Episode
Jeremy Tissot, The Tissot Law Firm
Pratik Shah (00:00:08):
Welcome to Bootstrapped Solo. I am Pratik Shah, your host. And today, we’re going to be talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly about running your own practice. Excuse me. The podcast is for those that want to know what it’s really like to start, run, and grow a practice.
Pratik Shah (00:00:23):
Today’s guest is my very good friend, Jeremy Tissot. He runs the Tissot Law Firm, which is about a 20-person practice that’s focused in Los Angeles, mainly on catastrophic personal injury. He started his practice back in 2007 and has been growing strong ever since.
Pratik Shah (00:00:39):
For those of you that are on any social media, it’s at TissotESQ, T-I-S-S-O-T-E-S-Q. Jeremy’s a great guy, fun guy to hang out with, learn a lot from. He does a lot of TBI seminars, traumatic brain injury cases. I’m very glad to have you, Jeremy. Thanks for joining, and thank you for willing to jump on and share with us what it was like when you just first started getting going.
Jeremy Tissot (00:01:04):
Yeah. Pratik, it’s great. Great to be on here. Great idea to have this. I’ve obviously spoken and done podcasts on a number of other platforms, but I think focusing on this is really cool because there’s not a lot of this out there. A lot of people are being told to start their own practices and just get out there and do it. I think they need to know maybe some reality, at least from my perspective and yours. Right?
Pratik Shah (00:01:28):
Exactly. That’s exactly it. I think it’s great that people are starting their own practice. I never want to discourage anyone from starting their own practice. I want people to do it. I just want them to go in with eyes wide open, understand that there’s a process to this.
Pratik Shah (00:01:43):
You started your practice out in 2007. I guess let me start with the basic question is, after you started your practice in 2007, how long after 2007 did it feel like you finally got some traction and you were finally building the practice that you wanted to build?
Jeremy Tissot (00:01:59):
It took me a long time. I’ll just tell you bluntly, because I just don’t think everyone comes from the same model. If you were working at one of these well-known PI plaintiff firms in LA or anywhere else, whether it’s maybe one of the smaller ones or the real large ones, you know exactly what you want to do probably if you go on your own. You know like okay, I’ve seen what this guy’s doing, who was running the firm, and I may have an idea that I want to be like a small firm. Or maybe I want to try to run some giant empire like that person. Maybe you have goals in mind.
Jeremy Tissot (00:02:37):
I don’t think everyone comes from that place though, and I don’t think everyone necessarily has that mindset. People may have doubts about whether this is what they want to do in the long term. Maybe they just want to run a small firm and not handle seven, eight figure cases. Maybe they didn’t like certain aspects of what they did at that firm. Maybe they feel like they’re more suited to a pre-lit operation even after they worked … My firm obviously does.
Jeremy Tissot (00:03:05):
We get brought in by other lawyers to try cases and litigate them at various stages, but we do the pre-lit also, largely. We take cases at that stage. You see things maybe while you’re working at a firm early on and it’s presumed that you just like, you’re going to do something. I think we just have to be sensitive that everyone can’t just fit a mold. I certainly did not fit the mold. That’s the thing is that I did come, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Maybe in the world that you and I are in and we hang out in conferences, we meet a lot of people who are doing the same things.
Jeremy Tissot (00:03:43):
But I think we have to understand that there’s people that will come into our business as good plaintiff lawyers, for instance, who came from a defense background. Some of them even came as prosecutors. It’s like, one of the things that really intimidated me when I started to move into this, I’m playing for us, I didn’t really know anyone. I felt like I was an outcast. That was really hard. I didn’t really care that much, I guess, maybe in some part of my mind. Because I thought, well, I’m a pretty good trial lawyer. I tried a lot of cases. Not a lot, but I had first-chaired like 20 cases to jury trials, done numerous arbitrations. But I really lacked the management skills.
Pratik Shah (00:04:30):
Yeah. Everybody’s got different strengths. I think that’s super important that you brought that up, and I appreciate you being raw and honest about it. Because when you’re running a practice, there’s a lot to it. Not only do you have to be a good lawyer, you have to be good enough of a marketer to bring in cases.
Pratik Shah (00:04:44):
You have to be good enough of an operator to make sure your firm financially doesn’t fall apart. You wear a lot of hats, where you’re getting your taxes done, getting your administrative stuff done, getting business in the door, maintaining those relationships, et cetera, et cetera.
Pratik Shah (00:04:58):
In the beginning, very, very, very, very few people are good at all of those stages. For me, I had to learn a lot about organization and operations, and handling the books and making sure taxes got filed on time. That is not a strength of mine, and I had to learn how to do that. It sounds like it was similar for you.
Jeremy Tissot (00:05:17):
It definitely was. Again, coming from another world, I hear a lot about get out and try cases or get out and start your own firm. That concerns me for people. I do believe that people should take risks and chances. I was in a place where early on in my career, I’m not going to say that I … Again, we’ll talk about this a little bit, but I did want to be a plaintiff lawyer probably fairly just a couple years in. I had some people that actually rented space from us when we were a defense firm that I admired, that had done defense for a couple years and then got into plaintiff right away. Those were the people I hung out with.
Jeremy Tissot (00:05:58):
My firm gave me an opportunity to work on different types of cases. We were not like state farm, in-house council. We were one of the more prominent outside firms, but they saw the writing on the wall that we were going to need to get into other business areas because the insurance companies were going in-house. They said, “Look, believe it or not, you can bring plaintiff cases as long as there’s no conflict of interest.” You can bring business litigation. You don’t have to do what we’re doing. So I did start to build a practice within a practice.
Jeremy Tissot (00:06:27):
But I will tell you that one of the quotes you might like, it didn’t probably didn’t scare me at the time, but I came to think of it over and over again was, I think the senior partner at that firm, he did see me probably as someone who had some good natural skill for trial, was a good litigator. But when I left and I actually took the plaintiff cases I had with me and some other work, and I took this work because I was concerned, I was scared, I had a certain lifestyle. I wasn’t a two or three-year lawyer. Okay. I didn’t grow up with money, so I didn’t have stuff to fall back on.
Jeremy Tissot (00:07:02):
My parents had done okay, but they weren’t going to bail me out of the lifestyle. I’d gotten seven, eight years out and I built a lot of bills to pay. And so it was scary to go on my own. I guess if you have someone to bail you out, or if I had done it a couple years out, it would’ve been like, okay, I’m 27. But I was scared. I was dead scared when I had to take the leap rather suddenly, because the culture had gone way downhill, Pratik, where I was early on.
Pratik Shah (00:07:37):
Yeah. I want to jump in on that a little bit. I want to dig in a little bit deeper when you say, “Hey, look, I started my practice very, very early on. I was a first-year attorney just going into my second year, and then I started my practice at the time.” It’s different because my wife was used to not having any money. So it was fine. Our bills weren’t very high.
Pratik Shah (00:07:57):
There was no lifestyle she was accustomed to. We continued to rent this condo. My first office was … I shared it with the nursery with my newborn. Well, he was one, but around there. So it is different. Now, if I had been a 10-year lawyer, or … How long had you been practicing before you started your practice?
Jeremy Tissot (00:08:18):
Just about 10 years.
Pratik Shah (00:08:21):
Yeah. If you’re a 10-year lawyer, you’ve gotten accustomed to a certain lifestyle, a certain paycheck coming in every two weeks and money in your account, et cetera, et cetera. Then to switch and say, “I’m going to go start my firm and I don’t know where the next check is coming from,” it’s very scary.
Jeremy Tissot (00:08:35):
Right. It’s like it’s a little bit deflating mentally in terms of your confidence too, because you just don’t know that you’re going to be able to present yourself in the same way, have this certain lifestyle. I had a fiancée at the time. I was living in a house. I’d just gotten to Manhattan Beach. There was a lot of expenses involved. I was doing well, but I needed to make a move. It was a time to make the move. It was pretty frightening when I actually did it, more so than when I decided or just tried to plan it.
Jeremy Tissot (00:09:08):
But what this lawyer had said to me, he was a really good guy. He looked at me when I told him I was leaving and he basically said, “Can you do it?” He never would say anything negative, but he also wouldn’t pump you up artificially. He wasn’t one of those guys. What he meant, or what he clarified was that he was concerned for me on the management side, the accounting side.
Jeremy Tissot (00:09:29):
Even though I actually had been a junior partner there, so I had some idea of the inner workings of a law firm and the finances, which by the way, a lot of these, if you work at a plaintiff law firm, a larger law firm, and you’re just an associate, or you’re an associate like a defense firm, you don’t know shit sometimes about what’s actually going on. Because not only do you not have access to it-
Pratik Shah (00:09:51):
How much things cost. It’s crazy.
Jeremy Tissot (00:09:54):
… you can’t believe what they might be telling you.
Pratik Shah (00:09:57):
Jeremy Tissot (00:09:58):
I remember that at that firm, well, I wasn’t an equity partner. I’d just become partner and I left sometime shortly after that. They really held the equity among three lawyers, and there were 50, 60, 70 lawyers at various points statewide. They wouldn’t really let us see the real numbers. You know what I’m saying? We wouldn’t really know exactly what they were getting. We would see expenses. That was a new world to me. But again, the operating of your plaintiff law firm, whether it’s one or two or five people, totally different world from what I was in.
Jeremy Tissot (00:10:35):
I was concerned about my ability to do that, because I knew a couple things. I knew that I would be able to litigate the cases well, try cases, and even get cases. I always had an ability to talk and market, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to do all the administrative. And that is not something I enjoy doing. Now, I finally got ramped up to the point. Well, I say, now it’s been a few years, but when you get that in place, ugh, is that a relief, right?
Pratik Shah (00:11:05):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s just getting that. And then the administrative part is super important. Because if things aren’t being done right, the whole firm can unravel. Yeah. You absolutely want to try to get it off your plate if it’s not your strength, but it’s got to be the right person that’s doing it. Because if they’re not doing it right or they’re not doing it the way that you’re doing it, it’s a mess. How did you eventually get it off your plate? What did you do?
Jeremy Tissot (00:11:30):
Well, I did recognize right away, because I’d been practicing long enough, that we had an administrator at our old firm. So I had some idea. I knew at least what needed to be done. I had a pretty good understanding of the inner operations of say, trust accounts, for example. And so I was aware of issues that could arise with that. I was concerned about that, so I just quite honestly did a shit ton of work myself to make sure that stuff went right. Because I was aware of problems that could go wrong. I did come from a business background because I was a business major.
Jeremy Tissot (00:12:10):
My dad owned his own business, so I was aware of things that could go wrong. It doesn’t mean I didn’t get it all right, but it was more so in the sense of there were cash flow problems only in the sense that when you’re used to getting paid … Even though I was doing plaintiff work, I was getting paid a pretty substantial salary when you added in commissions and bonuses from all the time I worked and billed. Then I would get extra money for settling a plaintiff case or something I brought in, but it was no longer extra money now. That’s the only way I’m making money, right now.
Pratik Shah (00:12:43):
Right. That’s the only money. There’s no other money. That’s all you got. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:12:47):
Pratik Shah (00:12:47):
You know what? Your bills don’t go down. The mortgage stays the same. The credit card bill, not the credit card bill, but the car payment stays the same. The student loan, everything that you have that were your bills, that were your hardcore bills, don’t go down when you start your practice. It’s not like everything goes down with you. The bank says, “Congratulations. You still got to pay this sometime.”
Jeremy Tissot (00:13:08):
Yeah. Look, and that applies. I think it applies even if my scenario, and I know, I remember talking to somebody, a couple people this weekend who told me that they came from the defense side, too. I was surprised. People have different paths. I feel like sometimes when I see people talking about this, it’s like this is what your path should be. You should just work at a firm for a couple years and then build your own firm. Don’t work for someone else. That works for some people.
Jeremy Tissot (00:13:35):
I think it’s good if you have something to call back on, if you’re a certain personality, if you’ve been planning that all along. I was not planning it all along quite honestly. I really didn’t know. And it was sad to admit this, but I really didn’t know that. I can’t say I got a year or two in and I’m like, “I want to be a plaintiff lawyer and open up a firm that looks like this, that looks like this guy’s firm.” Because I was scattered. All I figured out was that I was pretty good at litigating and that I could maneuver my way around a courtroom and advocate.
Jeremy Tissot (00:14:09):
So I just was like okay, I could do that. Let me just go to the next thing. I’ll do this. I went into trials early on. I probably did four or five trials in my first couple years, which was unusual. And it came mostly by somewhat of dumb luck because the files just didn’t settle. I focused on that. There was a lot of focus on my firm, unlike some other firms of that type on developing business. But what I left behind was like okay, what do I want to be doing in three or four years? I just figured I’m doing fine here.
Jeremy Tissot (00:14:44):
I did think eventually I’ll go out and probably do something else, but I wasn’t under pressure to do it. And that’s the thing that’s scary. It’s like all of a sudden you wake up and you are seven, eight, nine years out, right? Or something.
Pratik Shah (00:14:57):
Right. Right. Yeah. You’re just going day by day, quarter by quarter, year by year. Like you said, you wake up and you’re nine years out. I want to talk about this. You’re nine, 10, 11 years out in that range and you start having the conversations with your fiancée saying, “Hey, I want to leave and start my own practice.” How does she react?
Jeremy Tissot (00:15:14):
Well, I just think that it was something that I felt like I had to do, because the culture of that firm had gone downhill and so I was going to have to pull it out. But that was probably the hardest part, because I was feeling lacking confidence then. A year or two before that, when the culture was a little bit better at least, I had a lot of stress there because of people. It’s just, when I say culture, I’m really just talking about assholes that were there. Okay. People I couldn’t work with anymore [inaudible 00:15:48].
Pratik Shah (00:15:52):
At a defense firm? Wait. Assholes at a defense firm? Are you sure? Yeah. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:15:52):
Yeah. Well, in the early days, it does change, but you do start to see things after a while.
Pratik Shah (00:15:58):
Jeremy Tissot (00:16:00):
Not all defense firms are like that. We know some that are good, but it’s more about the particular people that are there at a certain time.
Pratik Shah (00:16:07):
Jeremy Tissot (00:16:07):
I just remember, and I was what? 20? I think I passed the bar at 24, and 25 I was sworn in. I was a young guy and I was making a decent salary. I hadn’t grown up with money. I was pretty happy to just be … I worked hard, but I had a good social life. And then as soon as I made this partner, I feel like I was a target. Things started to actually go down because there were people older than me that hadn’t made partner. It’s a nasty thing that you haven’t seen, I’m just presuming that, but some people will see.
Pratik Shah (00:16:42):
I haven’t seen that. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:16:43):
Yeah. Yeah. I just thought it will always be this way. Because it was like, I did my work. I had good relations with people in the office. We had fun. We’d win a case. We’d go and pop champagne. We’d go on the firm boat. And then I just built my stuff, but I did really well in trials and they were happy. It was defensive stuff. It was all great. But nothing’s forever, man. Right.
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:06):
It goes like, as you’re working up in your career, and I don’t know if it’s so much, because I didn’t come up in the plaintiff side, but for the first five years, maybe seven, it’s like you always have this idea that okay, in the first year, I’ll maybe take a bunch of depos. Then I’ll try a case in the second year. And then I’ll make this much money in the third year.
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:27):
Well, when you get to about seven, eight years out, it’s just a blur after that. And it’s rather scary. And all of a sudden you’re at 20.
Pratik Shah (00:17:34):
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:35):
Okay. I’ll just-
Pratik Shah (00:17:36):
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:37):
Pratik Shah (00:17:38):
Yeah. How long had you been practicing? I’m sorry. You started your firm in 2007. It’s obviously now, 2022. So you’ve had your own firm about 15 years now?
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:48):
Right. I’m almost exclusively doing plaintiff. I just think people can hit their stride at a certain point.
Pratik Shah (00:17:57):
Jeremy Tissot (00:17:58):
I had enough. I actually had a struggle with that firm because I was taking, and this is something that people will probably deal with if you’re a little further out is, unless you’re just like in a … There’s a business model at a plaintiff law firm. You’re trying to leave. You have a really good relationship and the guy’s always been supportive and said, “Hey, someday, you’ll leave. No one really likes anybody to leave, though. Do they, really?” It’s like it’s disruptive.
Pratik Shah (00:18:23):
Yes, they don’t. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:18:26):
Let’s be honest.
Pratik Shah (00:18:26):
Yeah, it is.
Jeremy Tissot (00:18:27):
I see there are some of these lawyers, they go, “Yeah, everybody would be fine. Just open your own practice.” You know what they did to some of these guys? They come after them and sue them.
Pratik Shah (00:18:35):
Jeremy Tissot (00:18:37):
I don’t know. You probably know some stories like that. It was funny that-
Pratik Shah (00:18:41):
Yeah. You just can’t be in litigation as a small solo firm. You just don’t have the time or the money to deal with that.
Jeremy Tissot (00:18:47):
Yeah. We know that there are some lawsuits that even people we know have engaged in this business, but it was funny these guys. Because I had a unique practice. I got too comfortable where I was, and so I was doing some business, lit and some entertainment lit. I was also mostly doing plaintiff cases, PI, and I just got real comfortable in that. And then when I moved my cases, they actually didn’t threaten me, but they threatened some other people who were taking defense business. But they didn’t know what the hell I was doing really, so they were like, “Just don’t commit malpractice on the way out the door.” Which is what happens when people move cases, right?
Pratik Shah (00:19:27):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, it happens.
Jeremy Tissot (00:19:29):
Yeah. They were concerned that I was going to go like, F you know. Because when you’re moving cases, you sometimes don’t get the whole file. Think about these things. Those are the things that people don’t talk about. When I gave notice, a lot of times if you’re at that level, partnership level or it’s like a corporate executive, they’ll lock the doors on you and escort you out with security when you give notice. Because they don’t want you there anymore.
Pratik Shah (00:19:59):
Jeremy Tissot (00:20:00):
When I gave notice and I told them I was taking all these cases, they actually still let me back in because they were concerned that if they didn’t let me have access, that the cases would get all effed up and then they get sued. Because they didn’t really understand what I was doing, since they were off doing a certain thing. It’s craziness. But to get back to your question, Pratik, you were asking me about … I guess I’ll just tell you. It took a long time for me to hit a stride where I really knew what my final path was. I don’t want to say final path. It sounds like death.
Pratik Shah (00:20:35):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:20:35):
But I mean really what I wanted to do, because also when I came out of this firm, I was very concerned that I needed to have crutches. Because again, I’d gotten to a point where if it was early on, it would’ve been different. But I was earning enough money that I had too many responsibilities, family and bills and loans or whatever. That I just-
Pratik Shah (00:21:01):
Well, it would …
Jeremy Tissot (00:21:02):
Pratik Shah (00:21:03):
Sorry. Sorry, go ahead.
Jeremy Tissot (00:21:04):
My crutches were, I’ll just say quickly, were that I had to have some business lit cases, some hourly cases. And so I was all over the board, Pratik, about that. Even though I had litigated, I had worked on a complex brain injury case probably before anybody that’s watching this podcast, assuming it’s younger lawyers, in about the year 2000 when we started figuring out that the plaintiff firms, as defense lawyers were coming up with this strategy where they had a team of lawyers that would manifest this whole brain injury case, not to say it’s not real, but they had a team that we had to defeat. It wasn’t like I wasn’t doing important stuff or trying cases, but I never could hit my stride on this is the exact path I want to have.
Pratik Shah (00:21:55):
Jeremy Tissot (00:21:57):
I’m sure I’m being brutally honest about this, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that problem.
Pratik Shah (00:22:02):
No. No, that happened to me. I started my practice. I left the DA’s office and I thought I was going to be a criminal defense lawyer. Because that’s the natural path after leaving the DA’s office is, “Hey, I know how to do criminal law. I know how to go try a case. I know how to prosecute a criminal case. I know what the defense does too.” And then it wasn’t for me. I realized very quickly that’s just not my path. And then I had taken some family law and I had done some stuff like that, because you need some hourly stuff to bring the business in.
Pratik Shah (00:22:32):
I’d co-counsel with family law lawyers to make sure that people were getting proper representation. And just make sure that I was competently representing people in areas of law that I didn’t know, while still trying to make a little bit of a living and pay the bills and keep the lights on. Yeah. My path wasn’t direct PI. I never worked at a PI firm before. When you say it took you a long time, for some people they might think six months is a long time. When you say a long time, what do you mean?
Jeremy Tissot (00:22:59):
Well, look, I’m not sure that it took me a long time in terms of I was financially struggling. Because I came in with some cases. I remember we did some class action cases on the plaintiff side. I had some consumer fraud case that had settled into the … It wasn’t a huge case, but it settled into the seven figures. I remember living off the money, the cut that I split with them on that. If I hadn’t had that, it would’ve been tough because I wasn’t used to the idea that I had to settle. Most of my income was going to now come from PI cases.
Jeremy Tissot (00:23:36):
So I was just trying to stay afloat and keep up what was a pretty well into the six figures earning lifestyle, but it scared me every day that eventually that money would run out. I wouldn’t get the next cases. Then I remember just diving into like, I had cases in motion. So I just started trying a case or arbitrating a case. I would say it was five years in that I figured out I just need to focus on one thing now. Not one thing. It wasn’t as narrowly focused as I am now. I have a really clearly defined path.
Jeremy Tissot (00:24:15):
To be honest, what I want to do, and again, I had opportunities presented to me. I honestly don’t think the vision I have now, and I’m saying this just to be humble because of the fact that I didn’t have a clear vision till probably three or four years ago. Now, I wasn’t suffering. I wasn’t poor, but I didn’t feel confident that I knew like, this is my identity, at least as an attorney or a law firm owner.
Pratik Shah (00:24:52):
This is who I want to be, and this is what I want to be known for, it didn’t come for you right away.
Jeremy Tissot (00:24:56):
It didn’t come to me right away.
Pratik Shah (00:24:56):
And I think that’s really important.
Jeremy Tissot (00:24:58):
Yeah. Pratik, it wasn’t like I was living off scraps. But still from a mental perspective, I felt like I had a little imposter syndrome. Is this who I am, or is this who I am? Now, I know who I am in terms of, I’ll just say, not everything, but in terms of, this is how I identify myself in this profession. This is what I have a skillset at. This is what I really feel like if I’m going to get up and try to teach people, or maybe be on a platform that I’m not pontificating, that I really do have some knowledge. And it’s pretty narrow, man.
Jeremy Tissot (00:25:36):
There’s a tendency as younger lawyers to be like, people call you. I love to say this to people when they call. I go, “I just don’t know that.” But when you’re a younger lawyer, your family might call right about something. You have your sister call or your uncle. And they assume you’re the lawyer in the family, if you didn’t grow up with a lot of lawyers, that you know everything. So I go like, “I don’t know that.” They’re shocked.
Pratik Shah (00:26:02):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good question.
Jeremy Tissot (00:26:02):
It’s like a doctor who know something.
Pratik Shah (00:26:02):
It’s like, “Hey, that’s a good question. If you find out the answer, tell me too, because I don’t know what it is.”
Jeremy Tissot (00:26:07):
Right. They assume we would know it. There’s something called presumed competency that most non-lawyers have until you, I guess, show them you’re not. But I actually like to tell people now. I think I probably had a number of lanes I was in for a while, just because I knew okay, I know how to do a traumatic brain injury case. I know I had to do a catastrophic injury case. I can do a spine case. But I also thought, well, maybe I’ll do this too because I could do that too. I’m making some money on that. Well, and I know something about that. But I think my lanes are pretty narrow right now and I like it that way, I’ll tell you.
Pratik Shah (00:26:45):
I think you bring up a good point. Somebody said this to me and I thought it was just really brilliant is that, the more success you have in your business and the more success you have in your career, the better the opportunities that you have to say no to. A call you might get that says, “Hey, you got this great business litigation case and you know how to do business litigation, and it might be financially lucrative,” but you know what? Maybe five years ago you would’ve taken it. But now you’re going to say no, because even though that could make some decent coin, that’s not what it is you want to do or what your purpose is.
Jeremy Tissot (00:27:25):
Pratik, that is so spot on, man. And I never really saw that. It wasn’t about the money. It was so much like, I would make a ton of money, but it was like, why would I turn that down? That’s a comfort zone. That’s something I know. Well, I’m not necessarily of the philosophy that some people have to have super narrow practice area, like a niche within a niche, necessarily. I do understand. I spend a lot more time on the business of law these days. Right?
Pratik Shah (00:27:56):
Jeremy Tissot (00:28:02):
I was able to really pull together a good team the last few years, and I’m talking about people that it takes a long time. And part of it is reputation in the industry, so people know and want to come work for you. I’m very fortunate to have that, but it took me a really long time to have that. And as you know, it’s not so easy to find people these days. So I’m very grateful for that. But when you’re working on all these different things, I see a lot of lawyers that go out there and I’m not judging it, but I see the personal injury and the employment together. Wow.
Jeremy Tissot (00:28:34):
I did employment law. I defended employment law. I’ve done some of those cases. And if I needed to do it, I could do it. But you’re going to know a TBI case and you’re going to understand spine stimulators in the back, and you’re going to be to explain that to a jury. You’ll also understand all the law about wrongful termination and every current case decision when you’re getting a summary judgment motion. I don’t have the bandwidth to do that now. Now, five, seven years ago, I’d be like, “Yeah, I know all this shit.” Now, I realize what I don’t know.
Pratik Shah (00:29:07):
Right. Right. It’s almost peaceful realizing that and saying, “Hey, I know what I know. I know what I’m good at, and it’s easy for me to say no.” Because in the beginning, there’s a lot of stress of, if I say no to that opportunity, what does that mean? What if I don’t get another case? What if I don’t get another brain injury case when that’s what I’m focusing on? And I just went ahead and said no to this great case. There is a stress as you’re building a firm.
Pratik Shah (00:29:32):
You’re obviously at the point now where you know these cases are coming in, people trust you. You have the right reputation when it comes to these cases and the results and all that stuff, all that good stuff. But in the beginning, it’s scary. You just don’t know. Those first five years, I want to talk a little bit about that. Those first five years, you’re running a variety of different practice areas, it seems like.
Pratik Shah (00:29:53):
You’ve got some business lit. You’ve got some hourly stuff. Help keep the lights on, help fund the lifestyle. And then you’ve got these plaintiff cases that you’re really enjoying, but quite frankly, they just take years to pay out for the client, as well as the lawyer. And so everybody’s just pushing these cases along. But in those first five years, can you look back and think about one of your darkest days?
Pratik Shah (00:30:18):
Was there ever a time in those five years where you were just like, “I don’t know if I should just go back to hourly or if I should just go find a job somewhere, or I’m not even sure what I’m doing here?”
Jeremy Tissot (00:30:31):
Yeah. I think that to say that there was one dark day would not be honest. I try to put those things behind me, so it doesn’t jump out immediately. But I do recall that what would happen to me is that I would get so wrapped up. When you’re running a small firm, this is scary. I get so wrapped up in the case I was handling.
Jeremy Tissot (00:30:55):
I’m so driven to do well and win, and more importantly than money, get results for the client. I was handling cases all around the state. I still do that, but I do it in a very refined manner. If I’m going to go up and try a case in San Francisco, God help me that my office in LA is going to be set before I leave.
Jeremy Tissot (00:31:14):
I just remember a dark time being going up Alameda County to try a case and the reality setting in that I was alone in a hotel room. I didn’t have the comfort of my family or friends in LA and I was going to be here for fucking three weeks. Sorry for the cursing.
Pratik Shah (00:31:34):
No, it’s fine.
Jeremy Tissot (00:31:35):
I’m in a hotel. It’s like the Crowne Plaza, because there wasn’t really anything else close to the courtroom. I’m like, what am I doing here? You know? And when am I going to get back to my office? That basically I’m the only one who can look at the books? I don’t trust anybody else? But I was like, think about this.
Jeremy Tissot (00:31:54):
Couldn’t sell the case. I wasn’t so keen. I had tried obviously. Jury trial, I had a number of jury trials before then. But it wasn’t a great time for me to be traveling for a case I probably shouldn’t have taken in Northern California, and spending three weeks in a hotel room, while I’m still trying to-
Pratik Shah (00:32:12):
And three weeks in a hotel room is not cheap.
Jeremy Tissot (00:32:15):
Yeah. Right. No doubt, man. And that the bill keeps clicking and clicking. When the judge goes, “We’re going to do a half day tomorrow,” I’m like, “Oh, shit.”
Pratik Shah (00:32:23):
No, you’re like-
Jeremy Tissot (00:32:24):
“This a five-day estimate that went to three weeks.” I’m like-
Pratik Shah (00:32:28):
You’re like, “Judge, let’s just keep going. My witnesses are here. We’re ready to go.”
Jeremy Tissot (00:32:32):
Yeah. At one point, I was going to go home because he was like, “We’re dark on Friday.” I’m like, “God, if I go home, it’s going to cost me even more. So I’ll just stay here.”
Pratik Shah (00:32:38):
Right. I might as well just stay.
Jeremy Tissot (00:32:39):
These are the things you don’t think about.
Pratik Shah (00:32:40):
Now, you got to stay over the weekend.
Jeremy Tissot (00:32:42):
Pratik, you don’t think about this stuff. Look, and even I remember trying a case in San Bernardino where I felt like after a couple days, I couldn’t go home. I needed to be there for the last couple days because at that time, the traffic was so bad. And I thought, I just need a war room, and the war room in San be Bernardino is not a nice war room either. It’s like [inaudible 00:33:02], but it was like, I just need to stay there. So look, you have all these expenses and normally, maybe I’d put them on the old firm’s credit card. Now, it’s me.
Pratik Shah (00:33:12):
Yeah. Yeah. You’re like, as you’re handing over the card, you’re thinking about like, oh my goodness.
Jeremy Tissot (00:33:18):
Yeah. That was one of those things, I think, literally dark in that I was sitting in probably a dingy hotel room at the time, if that answers your question. But there were other days. And as you know, I think one of the things we should talk about a little bit, if you want, is the finance situation is difficult. It’s a very competitive business. This business of personal injury that we’re in and many people on this podcast are, I don’t think it applies to everyone, it’s more competitive than ever. This idea that you just go out there and open another law firm, let’s be aware that I’ve seen more growth like that.
Jeremy Tissot (00:34:01):
I’ve obviously been in this business for a long time. I’m not some sort of expert that monitors everything, or the marketing or the firm opening trends, but there aren’t less firms than there are more. Or there aren’t less firms than there were in the past. I’ve never been one to ever tell my younger associates, or I have law clerks that have come in and out, to say, “This is going to be real tough for you. You shouldn’t have been a lawyer or shouldn’t become one.” Look, there’s enough business for someone who works hard, is competent and has passion.
Jeremy Tissot (00:34:32):
I believe that and I want to have more good lawyers out there, but look, people have to look at the realities of competition out there in the marketplace. What do you think about that? What do you see?
Pratik Shah (00:34:46):
No, I think a lot of people are good lawyers. And because they’ve been a good lawyer for a long time, they say, “Hey, I’m going to go start my firm.” But they don’t think about things like that. I didn’t necessarily think about that. I come from a little bit of a business background in just having done some sales and stuff before I went to law school. So my mind naturally goes there. But yeah, the amount of competition that’s out there. Not just competition, but that your competition is super well-capitalized.
Jeremy Tissot (00:35:12):
Pratik Shah (00:35:13):
This isn’t competition of people struggling to pay bills. This is competition of people spending a million dollars a month on advertising. Now, at the same time, now that we know the competition, we know the struggle, we understand the hard work it takes and the dark days that come in, but the important question is, would you ever trade it away?
Jeremy Tissot (00:35:33):
No. I think that’s an awesome question and I don’t think I would’ve told you that before, because I’m not going to be a quitter. Okay. I’m going to fight like hell and everything, but I won’t tell you that the major bumps in the road weren’t deeply stressful. But I am so effing grateful, man, for what I was able to get through. And for some of the things, the fortuity that came upon me, quite honestly. Some of the opportunities I missed, I goddamn missed them, but a few that came my way, especially in the last few years, I’m very happy. And again-
Pratik Shah (00:36:11):
Something you said, I think is a mentality everybody has to adopt, which is, those opportunities you missed, you missed them. You got to move on. You can’t be beating yourself up and saying, “Oh, I should have done that and I should have done this.” Because every single person running their practice, every single person has made mistakes in missing opportunities. Or like what you talked about, about that Alameda case is like, taking a case that they shouldn’t have taken, because they saw the dollar signs or whatever and they thought this was going to be their …
Pratik Shah (00:36:37):
I’ve done that. I’ve taken a case where I’ve ignored all the red flags because I’m like, this might be really good. Then I get stuck in it and I’m like, I knew I shouldn’t have taken it. I should have trusted my instincts. But the reality is your instincts get developed over time and you start understanding what the red flags are and why you should be saying no. The mistakes you’ve made, you have to learn from them and you have to move on from them.
Jeremy Tissot (00:37:01):
Yeah. I think-
Pratik Shah (00:37:02):
What do you say?
Jeremy Tissot (00:37:02):
I think you’ve said a really important thing, because you mentioned something that’s along the lines of case selection. But for me, quite honestly, it wasn’t so much about like I needed the money. That’s why I was there. I ended up in a place where I’m like, F it. I was so pissed off. I’m like, I’ll just go up there and try it. I cared about the results so passionately, but look, that’s emotion getting in the way. I was probably too far gone on it, but I think that’s a lot of like, you see this justice warrior thing in our business and all that.
Jeremy Tissot (00:37:38):
Ideally, what I want to do now, now that I’ve really hit my stride and hopefully I’ll continue to, and we have to be aware, nothing lasts forever, let’s keep it going, but I want to focus on the … One thing that I think it would be good for people to know, because I’m sure there’s people listening who are not just the 25-year-old or 30-year-old or 35 who’s opening their own practice, is that we should talk about this is that one thing that’s really helped me is when you get to as far out as I am, you start to lose touch with things like technology and hands-onness and keeping up with what’s being done. Not just MCLEs, but what’s the business of law?
Jeremy Tissot (00:38:23):
One of the things that just really ignites me is I love to stay up with technology, and I think that’s a little odd for someone who’s been practicing as long as I am. I see that if I fall behind that curve, I’m going to fall way back in the pack.
Pratik Shah (00:38:42):
Right. That’s right.
Jeremy Tissot (00:38:43):
I’m always talking to my associate and being like, “What’s with this program? What’s with this company? Can we use this?” I’m not always getting into it myself, but I’m like, “Can we use this? Can we try this? Are we missing this?”
Pratik Shah (00:38:53):
Jeremy Tissot (00:38:53):
It’s like, because once you fall behind that, you’re going to … We were talking about running firms against a small guy running against. And I don’t want to discourage people, but like you said, you’ve got firms marketing out there, spending a million dollars or more a month for cases. We know that. How can you compete against that? Well, being really nimble on technology. Can you talk about that, what you’ve seen a little bit?
Pratik Shah (00:39:16):
Yeah. 100%. I think it’s such a game-changer. You made such a great point in that if you fall behind, even once you’ve turned that corner, whether it’s three years, five years or seven or 10 years for you, once you’ve turned that corner and you’re finally hitting your stride, don’t take your foot off the gas. If you take your foot off the gas on learning new stuff, if you take your foot off the gas on being hands-on and understanding boots on the ground, then that’s when you start falling behind. Your business is either growing or dying at some point. It’s never stagnant. It’s either growing or dying, and so you got to make sure you’re always pushing forward. One way to always push forward and compete is technology.
Pratik Shah (00:39:55):
Obviously, I run Esquire Tek, but there’s a million other technology platforms out there that help small firms run efficiently, that compete. Because when you’re small and you don’t have 10 people working for you, you’re doing everything yourself. You’re either going to work 100 hours a week or you’re going to leverage technology to not have to do that. Those things are super important. Just like a case management, something as simple as a case management software, there’s 20 different ones out there, but you got to find the one that’s right for you.
Pratik Shah (00:40:27):
Having everything set up, especially nowadays, even back when I started, which was 2013, so it wasn’t that long ago, but there was no Zoom depos. If I wanted to take a depo in a far away place, I had to go there. If it was in Modesto, I would have to drive there. I’m in San Diego. So if it was an LA depo, I’d drive to LA. And sometimes the witness doesn’t show up. I drove to LA for a non-appearance and I’m driving back, and I just spent five hours of my day on a non=appearance.
Jeremy Tissot (00:40:57):
God, that’s so-
Pratik Shah (00:40:58):
It’s crazy, but you have no choice.
Jeremy Tissot (00:41:00):
It’s so important. One of the things I want to emphasize is I had an elevation of things for me during the period of COVID, which I’m almost embarrassed to say. Look, there were a lot of people who struggled and also a lot of sad things happened, but it forced me. And not that I wasn’t already embracing technology, it sounds like a cliche, but I just became-
Pratik Shah (00:41:20):
Jeremy Tissot (00:41:22):
It’s hard to explain this, but there’s always a phase in your career where you’re locked in on the inside. For you, you have this tech company. You’re very aware of what’s going on in this business. But sometimes people are like, I’ve seen lawyers, they think they know it all after a certain period of time. So you’ll see that guy who’s like, he’s just out of touch. And he could be younger than me, or he could be a lot of times, a lot older.
Pratik Shah (00:41:47):
Yes. Yes. That’s true. Yeah. That’s true.
Jeremy Tissot (00:41:49):
Maybe in the ’90s, or I don’t know, even 2008, he was the guy who knew everything that was going on in the business. He knew the code, he knew the latest technology. But now he’s not. Right now, I feel like I’m on the edge of the business of law. I talk on some of it and I moderate on some of the stuff, so I learn it. And I have to learn it in order to be a host or moderated with a tech person or a marketing person. I need to learn it, so I read about it to prepare.
Jeremy Tissot (00:42:18):
But I don’t want to turn that corner and go down that road where I think t’s like a marathon and I’m just jogging it. And then that guy’s coming up behind me. I think that’s very easy to do in this profession, because lawyers have this ego and we get comfortable. There’s going to be a next phase. I think this phase of COVID, to me, it’s like one little thing dramatically changed the industry. And it’s a small little silly thing is now we used to get a pile of mail in our mailbox, with every goddamn document served by mail. Stupidity. Stupidity. And then somebody has to go through that and scan it.
Pratik Shah (00:42:52):
It was the worst.
Jeremy Tissot (00:42:53):
Now, it’s like-
Pratik Shah (00:42:54):
It was the worst.
Jeremy Tissot (00:42:55):
Now, it’s like, I still get some things. The insurance companies still send us these letters, even though every letter I send out says, “If you choose to send it, email it too.” But they just can’t. They can’t do it. They’re afraid that they’re going to get hacked or something. Right?
Pratik Shah (00:43:09):
Right. Right. Right. Yeah. No one wants your discovery. You’re not getting hacked. Just send it by email. You’re fine. Nobody wants to read about form rocks, other than us. There’s no one hacking. There’s no hacker group out there trying to hack your discovery. Let’s just be honest.
Jeremy Tissot (00:43:25):
Think about all the changes we still have to make though. We’re still using the same form interrogatories. By the way, dude, we’re using the same form interrogatories that they were using when I started, which is a long effing time ago.
Pratik Shah (00:43:38):
Jeremy Tissot (00:43:38):
Nothing has changed. You’d think that for you, don’t you think we should modify those to make those more practical?
Pratik Shah (00:43:45):
Oh, yeah. Some of them are a little totally outdated. But we are in an outdated profession. Let’s just be honest about it. We talked a little bit about the COVID technology boost where really the profession was pushed almost 15 years ahead of its time, I think.
Jeremy Tissot (00:44:01):
Pratik Shah (00:44:01):
The idea of Zoom depos and all that. Just the idea of Zoom depos or Zoom court appearances was unfathomable three, four years ago. If you told somebody we should be doing depos or we should be doing court appearances by Zoom, they would’ve laughed in your face and said, “You’re crazy. You can’t do that.” [inaudible 00:44:18].
Jeremy Tissot (00:44:18):
Not only would they have laughed in your face, but I remember, and this is a case I ended up trying, but we had witnesses all over the country. I remember I needed to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma on a case with about 50 witnesses. Going to be a three week trial. I think that was the one case that we did a video deposition because a guy refused to do it otherwise. It’s just unbelievable.
Jeremy Tissot (00:44:46):
I was going to fly to Tulsa. Do you know how hard it is to get to Tulsa, and the amount of time and money? Then what would happen is if you suggested the technology that did exist at the time, you know it existed, video depositions, remote depositions, the defense lawyer would go lik, “No effing way. You’re crazy. No one does that.” Now, they sit back in their-
Pratik Shah (00:45:11):
Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s absolutely crazy.
Jeremy Tissot (00:45:11):
Now, they’re sitting on their couch. It’s so nuts.
Pratik Shah (00:45:11):
Yeah. No. Bringing it back to your original question of leveraging technology as a young lawyer, this goes back to that. Think about the cost savings of not having to fly in 20 witnesses, or fly out 25 times to go take the deposition of these witnesses. A lot of times it used to happen, forget the drive to LA, but I had a witness deposition out in Idaho. I flew out there and then the witness was like, “Well, I’m not sure I can really make it work. Can we bump this to tomorrow?” I’m like, “Wait, I’m here. I flew to Idaho. I’ve never been to Idaho in my life.”
Jeremy Tissot (00:45:45):
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. We had a case-
Pratik Shah (00:45:48):
Well, I’m in Idaho for you and now you want to move the depo?
Jeremy Tissot (00:45:51):
Yeah. It’s like, it started to me with the basic thing of the mail thing. We’re insisting on US Mail serving things and relying on actually what’s a really crappy post office. I remember some lawyer who was a really older lawyer, and not to say that’s the issue, but he was like, he didn’t get the idea that we have electronic service now. This is recently. And I’m like, “Dude, no. It should have happened like 15 years ago.”
Pratik Shah (00:46:19):
It should have happened 10 years ago. Yeah. Absolutely.
Jeremy Tissot (00:46:22):
And the same with the Zooms, but like-
Pratik Shah (00:46:23):
Everybody has email. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have email.
Jeremy Tissot (00:46:24):
Okay. Here’s another thing. I really thought when you’re thinking about the need for an associate attorney or multiple associates, when I was a newer attorney, whether it’s plaintiff or defense, one of the things I ended up doing, because before the PI hubs, and it’s still two on direct calendaring cases, you got to go to a status conference or a CMC.
Jeremy Tissot (00:46:45):
What you need a newer lawyer to do if you got a bunch of cases is just do those BS things where they drive to Bakersfield or to Santa Barbara. That’s a better one. I thought to myself, what I started doing was like even what you were saying, drive into that depo that may not even be a big depo. Like defending maybe a soft tissue case depo early on, or something. That’s hours and hours in LA.
Pratik Shah (00:47:07):
Jeremy Tissot (00:47:09):
Now I’m like, okay, do I really need another-
Pratik Shah (00:47:11):
That’s super valuable time.
Jeremy Tissot (00:47:12):
Do I need another associate attorney when the court appearance that would involve me when I lived in, I think, Hermosa earlier in my career, I had to leave at 6:45 to get to that 8:30 court appearance and then I’d bill for? And then another hour back? That was four hours. Now, this guy can jump on in 15 minutes. Do I really need to hire an associate? Because if it was all those court appearances, I’m talking simple stuff, all those simple defending a depo, I didn’t need another associate just for that, if it was the old way.
Pratik Shah (00:47:43):
Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right. Zoom mediations, all these things. I remember very, very early on and it’s like, I’m driving to a mediation and I’m trying to find parking. It’s like $45 for parking and I’m like, gee.
Jeremy Tissot (00:47:56):
It is crazy.
Pratik Shah (00:47:57):
This is crazy, but I’ll [inaudible 00:47:59].
Jeremy Tissot (00:47:59):
And then the client’s calling you. The client’s calling you and saying, “Do I have to pay the $45?”
Pratik Shah (00:48:02):
Do I have to pay for parking? Yeah. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:48:05):
It’s here. Can you pay for it?
Pratik Shah (00:48:07):
Yeah. You’re like okay, let me run out and put my card in and get your parking taken care of.
Jeremy Tissot (00:48:12):
What this changes also is the ability, if you are starting your own practice and you have maybe a lot of cases or you expect them, maybe you don’t need as many people. You need to do the economic calculations, and they need one less associate. Because if I’m comfortable with it and it works, I can give someone else that. It changes the economics. It allows us to compete as Davids against Goliaths a lot more effectively, don’t you think? And we see that with some technology that you know.
Pratik Shah (00:48:49):
100%. 100%. The reason that the origin story of Esquire Tek is me being my own lawyer and my own practice. Just me having to do my own discovery and copying and pasting questions onto a Word document and spending two hours doing that, wanting to pull my hair out. It’s like I’m going gray because of discovery, because I’m copying and pasting.
Pratik Shah (00:49:09):
And hiring people is scary because the last thing you want to do, you finally get some money into the firm, you’re like okay, I need to hire somebody so I can stop doing everything myself. But then you’re like, the last thing I want to do is hire somebody and then what if my cases don’t settle and then I can’t pay them? And then I got to let them go after six months? I don’t want to do that to people.
Jeremy Tissot (00:49:27):
Yeah. And you’re also-
Pratik Shah (00:49:27):
They leave their job, they join me. They rely on me and then I have to get rid of them because I don’t have the money to pay them?
Jeremy Tissot (00:49:32):
Yeah. Yeah. Good point. Let’s not forget also that there is fatigue and emotions involved in the process of dealing with human beings, if you care. When you have something like an Esquire Tek or an outsourcing, it dissipates some of that. Because look, the next thing you got to deal with that you didn’t deal with probably at your bigger plaintiff law firm you worked at, or your previous one before you opened your own firm is you didn’t have to deal with employee management issues. And that’s a thing, too. It’s hard to find labor now, people. Be aware of this. People don’t want to work as much. I’m sure you’ve found this. It’s a little-
Pratik Shah (00:50:14):
And it’s easier than ever to start your own. There’s no barrier to entry. The barrier to entry 25 years ago was you had to have an office. You had to have a receptionist. You needed to have the books to do research. Yeah. Obviously, that went away about 10 years ago, even when I started my practice. I used Google for a lot of research, or I went to law library or relied on other people’s motions and stuff like that, because all those tools were there. I didn’t have money to have the law books. But now it’s even better because now, the barrier to entry is nothing. So you’re not only competing with other law firms for good people, you’re competing with the idea that they might want to go out and have their own practice.
Pratik Shah (00:50:52):
I’ve been on my own for about nine years, recently left and joined Brian Panish’s office. But that was a tough decision because there are so many benefits to running your own. But that’s what you’re competing against. If you really want somebody who’s a good lawyer and somebody who is a hard worker, and really understands their own value because they know what they can bring to the table, you’re not just competing with them wanting to go work at some other firm, they might want to go out on their own. And so you have to make it worth their while to say, “Don’t go out on your own, join me.” That’s really what you’re talking about is, not just the competition of all the people running practices.
Pratik Shah (00:51:31):
There’s no barrier to entry. Technology’s making it easier than ever. If you are running a practice and you want to hire people, it is tough to find good people. It is tough to make sure that they’re happy there and that they feel like they’re being valued. What you talked about very early on is that you hit a stride now where you have a vision of what your firm is. I think that’s really, really important. If you have a vision of where your company is going, whether it’s a software company or a law firm, or if you have a purpose of what you’re doing, not just, “I want to make a little bit of more money than I did last year,” it’s, “Hey, I’m trying to actually do something here,” people will believe in that.
Pratik Shah (00:52:10):
People want to follow that and be a part of something that is going somewhere. You have to have that. It may take you a while to get there, but I think you have to have that. What do you think about that, Jeremy?
Jeremy Tissot (00:52:20):
Well, I think it’s all just so well-said, and it comes from … Can you see me?
Pratik Shah (00:52:29):
Jeremy Tissot (00:52:30):
Pratik Shah (00:52:30):
Yeah. Keep going.
Jeremy Tissot (00:52:31):
Yeah. I think the thing that’s an issue is that think about … It’s great to have the technology, but when you’re at that larger firm or that firm where you’re just an employee or an associate, you’re not dealing with the human resources issues. Now, I’m fortunate, and again, it took a lot of struggles, that I do have people that want to work for me or may see me at various events and say they know who I am. So it’s easier for me to get better employees. But it was basically not like that for almost all of my career.
Jeremy Tissot (00:53:03):
Now, when I worked in a bigger firm, they were maybe offering initially more. Certain people wanted to work at that firm because they knew they were going to get certain benefits and prestige and all that. A smaller firm doesn’t look like that. At least it doesn’t from the outside, but it may have other benefits.
Pratik Shah (00:53:22):
It doesn’t. Yeah.
Jeremy Tissot (00:53:22):
Pratik Shah (00:53:22):
Yeah. For sure, we do.
Jeremy Tissot (00:53:22):
You may have less politics and it’s very important to have a culture. It sounds like a buzzword, but it’s more about, can you work in that setting and can it make you happy in the long term, and not just with the work? But do you get up in the morning, get your cup of coffee and sit down and feel like, ah, is this going to be a drag and then scare me? Or is it just, I can feel the light beaming in from the windows? Those are the ways that we approach life, I think, is that I had days where it was like, ugh, God. Where’s the next fire? Where’s the hose for the next fire?
Pratik Shah (00:53:58):
Right. Right. You’re just made a fireman all day. Right. Exactly. Yeah. Jeremy, this was really good. We’re running up on time here, but what I want to do to wrap this up is I want you to give, for those that are listening, that are thinking about running their own practice, that have maybe already started their own practice, or maybe they’re a couple years in, for somebody who’s been through the struggles and really come out the other side better for it, just a few words and a few pieces of advice that you really think they need to focus on.
Jeremy Tissot (00:54:28):
Yeah. I wouldn’t want to hold myself out as some sort of law firm management guru, but I’ve just seen a lot. I’m not even able to identify what all the mistakes were, but I would try to, here’s one thing, I would try to before you leave, because I left I wouldn’t say too soon, but too rapidly. Okay. And I thought, well, I’ve got enough cases to hold me together. But the problem I had is look, identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Jeremy Tissot (00:54:55):
So if there are the categories of marketing, number one, can I get cases? Who’s going to do that? Firm management and finance is number two. And then the actual work, be it litigation, pre-litigation or trials, make sure you know where your strength lies and try to plan a lot to focus into that one. Assuming those are the three big pots, make sure you’re really ahead of the curve. More has been put in. You’re a couple steps ahead on that one area that you know is weak. If you haven’t identified that weakness, you’re not ready to go yet.
Pratik Shah (00:55:30):
Jeremy Tissot (00:55:31):
And I’ll say, I just want-
Pratik Shah (00:55:32):
I think that’s super important. I think that’s … Go ahead.
Jeremy Tissot (00:55:35):
Yeah. I’ll say one other thing is, please try not to listen to just one source that says, for instance, you should go out on your own now and this is how you should do it. Try to reach out to people. I don’t know it all. I come from a different path. I don’t come from the straight. Worked for that plaintiff firm and then two years did my thing, a little mole thing.
Jeremy Tissot (00:56:00):
But I’ve seen things, and I realize a lot of mistakes that I made or I saw people make. So try to reach out to different people, not just those people in your little circle. Reach out to someone like me that maybe had these long term struggles or was doing well, but didn’t get to this echelon until a lot of work and a lot of fortuity. You just want to hear about it, because things change, right?
Pratik Shah (00:56:26):
Yeah. No. I think what you said is very true and very serious, which is, don’t get stuck in an echo chamber. It’s very easy to fall into a circle and listen to the same 10 people over and over. Maybe it’s the people you follow on Instagram, or maybe it’s the friends that you see at conferences. Or maybe it’s the people that you went to law school with. Or whatever it may be, it’s very, very easy to get stuck in that echo chamber where everybody just says what they want to hear.
Pratik Shah (00:56:52):
And having the initiative to say, “Hey, I follow Jeremy on Instagram. I like some of his stuff. Let me just DM him and see if he’ll respond.” DM 50 people and somebody will respond. Honestly, what I’ve seen in the plaintiff community is if you DM 50 people, probably 49 will respond because everybody’s been so friendly. And I haven’t really run into many people that are just like, “I’m not going to help you. Why would I help you? You’re my competition.” I don’t really see that in the plaintiff community.
Pratik Shah (00:57:18):
I think most plaintiff lawyers are a rising tide that lifts all ships type of mentality. If you reach out to 50 people, you’ll probably get 49 that respond, and the 50th person probably just didn’t even see it. Yeah. I 100% encourage people, reach out to different people, learn from different people. You’re going to learn something different from everyone. And you have something to offer. Even if you’re a brand new lawyer, even if you’re just starting out, you have value that you can offer to that person, too.
Pratik Shah (00:57:44):
And come from a mentality of this person is taking time out of their busy day. Jeremy, for example, works on catastrophic brain injury cases. He could be spending time working on a catastrophic brain injury case. Let me see if I can provide some value in some way or shape or form as well. And not because anybody wants you to do that, but because it’s the right thing to do, which is I want to show them that their time spending with me is not wasted.
Jeremy Tissot (00:58:11):
It may sound a little bit cheesy, but when you get to a certain point in this profession, you’re looking for rewards. They don’t all come from the glory and the finances. They come from connection with people. Connection is so important. This emotional connection, this ability to help them, and I get it, I don’t think that I’m a know-it-all, but I would probably tell people, because I am connected to people in the community and I’ve seen maybe their struggles aren’t overt, or I’ve seen what they’ve accomplished, I would just tell them, hey, I don’t have much that I could tell you about what your business model is going forward because I had a different path than you.
Jeremy Tissot (00:58:48):
Or it looks like you’re going in a different route, but why don’t you talk to this guy? He had success, or he went this way. I know who those people are. And I will tell you that it does make me feel good to talk to people. They sometimes think I don’t have time, but it’s part of what I do. I want to talk to them. And I’ll tell them straight up, I don’t know that, but yes, please open up the circle when it comes to everything. If your circle is just like that one lawyer that you’re referring cases to, and wants to keep you in that click, I see that. Please try to talk to other people.
Jeremy Tissot (00:59:23):
Because like you said, things got different in COVID. In the next phase of this practice, there’ll be something different going on. So it’s never going to be the same. I just would encourage people to open that circle up and just try to talk to people.
Pratik Shah (00:59:39):
That’s exactly right. And let’s end on that. I think that’s great advice. Thank you for being here, Jeremy. Really appreciate it. You can find Jeremy at Tissot Esquire or TissotESQ. That’s T-I-S-S-O-T-E-S-Q. Thanks for listening or watching. We’ll see you on the next episode of Bootstrapped Solo. And remember that just because guys like Jeremy make it look effortless, it doesn’t mean that it is or that it was.
Jeremy Tissot (01:00:02):
Not at all. I love being on here. I think it’s a terrific idea. I welcome any questions or sitting down with anyone. Please do follow me on social media and we’ll see all you guys around. Thanks again, Pratik.
Pratik Shah (01:00:14):
Thank you, Jeremy.