Our guest is COO Alliance Member Luis Scott, Managing Partner for Bader Scott Injury Lawyers.
Many people forget that running a law firm is equally challenging as running a business. Therefore, lawyers in this field encounter the same predicaments entrepreneurs deal with on a regular basis. Exploring this industry even further with Cameron Herold is Luis Scott, the Managing Partner at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers. He shares how he and the entire firm managed to cope with their quick growth both in sales and size, as well as their rapid transition into virtual services due to the pandemic. Luis also discusses how they handle employee screening and hiring, his working relationship with CEO Seth Bader, and how he taught himself to run a business using only the knowledge he acquired from law school.
Heralded as Super Lawyer’s Rising Star, The National Trial Lawyers Association Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers, American Institute of Legal Counsels 10 Best Attorneys in 2017 for Worker’ Compensation, Luis focuses his legal practice on people who have been injured or disabled in serious accidents. As the Managing Partner of the firm, Luis works on the strategic planning of the firm and guides every aspect of the firm to excel in the overall mission of standing up for clients, standing by our work, and standing with each other.
Luis began his legal career in 2001 as an intern and interpreter for the Chief Magistrate Court Judge of Clayton County. Subsequently interpreting in civil litigation, mediations, and criminal proceedings, he joined a firm and rose through the ranks as a part-time interpreter in 2004 to the managing partner of the firm in ten years. With his broad range of experience, Luis understands million-dollar victories aren’t like the movies, won with a single flashy courtroom speech. Cases are won because of teams of experts who work together, determined to get the job done. It takes a team of dedicated professionals to get the job done. Luis is the Chief Operating Officer or Managing Partner for Bader Scott Injury Lawyers. He’s also a member of the COO Alliance. Luis, welcome to the call.
Thank you for having me. I’m glad I’m here.
I’m looking forward to this. Why don’t you tell me how you got involved with Bader Scott and then give us a quick rundown on what Bader Scott specifically focuses on and then we’ll get into your role as the Managing Partner or second in command?
I’ve had a legal career for years. It started when I was an undergrad and started in the reception, working, interpreting, and doing some small task in a law firm. I eventually went to law school. I became an attorney and was the Managing Partner of another firm out in the West Georgia area. After working for them for about fourteen and a half years, I moved on to start my own thing. The owner and founder of Bader Scott, which used to be called Bader Law Firm, was a good friend of mine and he was looking to scale and grow. He knew I had that previous experience with another firm. Being friends, it developed naturally.
I went through the most grueling interview process. I tell people all the time, “If you think your interview process is difficult, you should have gone what I went through,” which was a 4 to 5-month due diligence period for him. We had a friendship and we wanted to make sure that we maintain that. The firm primarily focuses on injury work. We represent people who are injured in car accidents and work accidents, primarily.
Four to five months due diligence process on hiring you, that’s incredible. How many employees were at the firm when you joined? You guys are going through some pretty fast growth now.
When I joined, there were 25 employees. For me, it was a relatively big firm. In the legal industry, there’s not a lot of law firms that have 25 employees. Those are considered big firms. We have 150 full-time employees and 25 contractors. It’s around 175 people that work for the firm. The contractors focus on some things that we could probably have in-house. Strategically, we have it as third parties.
You guys are in the top 1% of law firms in terms of size and by the number of employees.
At least in the type of work that we do, we’re absolutely in the top 1%. There are some defense firms out there, you hear about these corporate firms around the country, they have hundreds and hundreds of lawyers that work for those firms. In what they call the single event space, we’re one of the bigger players as they said.
What’s interesting in your space is when you guys go through law school, they don’t teach you how to run companies. Do they? How many courses on marketing, management, operations, and people did you get?
Zero. You’re right. They don’t teach you about running a business. In law school, they teach you to go work for someone. The whole purpose of going to law school is, “How do I become a litigator? How do I go to court? How do I get the job with the big firm?” They don’t tell you that hanging your own shingle and starting a business is part of the recipe for success. If you go out and you start on your own right out of law school, it is a grueling challenge to get off the ground because you don’t know anything. Nobody trusts your ability to be a lawyer at that point. You don’t have enough connections to develop a book of business. It’s challenging.
It’s interesting because I’ve been privileged to be able to work behind the scenes a little bit. Coaching both you and Seth and then having you in the COO Alliance, I’ve gotten to see you guys a little bit. I’ve worked with a few other law firms but I’ve also coached some dental practices and it’s similar. In dentistry, they don’t teach dentists how to become business owners but you end up running a business. What do you think the big lessons are that you’ve pulled on your own? You’re not learning it from the theory of the classroom. You’re learning it from the practical. What practical experience have you learned in scaling out a company that you know to be true now?
I went to law school and I came into both the previous firm I was working for and this firm with a different mindset. I never wanted to be a lawyer, per se. I wanted to run a business. I wanted to own a business. I always had that entrepreneur mindset. I spent a lot of time, especially in my early twenties, working with a business coach and he was a mentor of mine who used to say, “Leaders are readers. You got to be reading and you got to be associating with the right people. You have to be doing things differently than other people do.”
I spent a lot of time reading. I’ve read 350 books. I mentioned this to you and you told me I was crazy. I need to scale it down. I read 50 books in 52 weeks. My goal was 52 out of 52. I ended up reading 50. I missed tit by wo books. I know your advice is read twelve. I can see a lot of value in that because you don’t retain as much when you read as many books as I’ve been reading. A lot of the things that I learned, whether it’s growing a business or scaling a business, has come through reading, great mentors. Working with you has helped a lot in learning a lot of different things, especially from the business operational standpoint. That’s where we’ve gained a lot of knowledge.
I love the whole mantra of leaders are readers. There is a lot of value in reading books and it becomes part of that neuroplasticity. It sticks in the back of your brain and you pull it out when you need it. Where I like people to be reading books is that if you’re working on a project next month or next quarter, read some books or papers about that. If you’ve got a board meeting, read about board meetings. If you’re launching your marketing program, read about marketing. If you’re working on your interview process, read about interviewing. It’s maybe more of a focused approach to reading versus the randomness.
You’re working with a CEO who’s a classic entrepreneurial CEO, the big picture, 30,000-foot, big shiny object syndrome, fast-paced, works fast, thinks fast, talks fast, moves fast, caring about people, empathetic with people. You’re more of the logical, a little bit more left-brained to his right brain. You’re a little bit more processed and maybe analytical. You ask more questions. How have you kept in sync with Seth, the CEO? How do you guys keep in sync?
From a meeting standpoint, we meet every day. We talk a lot and that has helped us stay in sync. We have a weekly meeting that we have on Wednesdays. It’s supposed to be a two-hour meeting. Usually, it lasts four hours. We talk about everything. We want to have a good gauge of how the business is running. What’s interesting about Seth, in particular, is that he is a visionary. He comes up with all kinds of creative ideas but he’s also passionate about the work itself. He’ll get in, he’ll work the systems and he’ll try to figure out things on his own. He’s involved and hands-on in that sense.
In order to stay in sync, I have what’s called the CEO funnel. You gave us the Decision Filter and that’s been huge for us, especially as we’ve started to organize our projects. Having him funnel all of his ideas through a funnel and putting it on a piece of paper and then meeting about it later has been instrumental for us for staying in sync and developing the vision for the business, both short-term and long-term.
It’s a model that I’m constantly working on and revising. It takes an idea and tries to flesh out the idea into a great idea but what’s it going to look like when it’s completed? What are all the inputs? How much time is it going to take? How many people are going to take? How many hours is it going to take? What are the ROIs we’re going to get off that to allow you guys to say whether or not you want a green light, yellow light, or red light, the idea? Green light meaning, “Let’s do it. We’ll put it into the plan.” Yellow light means, “It’s a good idea but we’re not going to do it this quarter.” Red light means, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe it was a good idea but not now,” and you delete it. It’s a great system to use with him. The meetings sound like you guys have done well at that. You guys have such a great relationship. How do you maintain a good relationship during those stressful times?
There was a couple of books that we both read, one of them was Radical Candor and it was about having those tough conversations but doing it in truth. I always say that truth is not effective unless it’s done in love. You have to have truth and love. For us, the business comes number one. That’s the first priority for us but because of our previous existing friendship, friendship has become number one. How do we make good decisions for the business but also maintain the integrity of the friendship and the relationship? That can be tricky sometimes because we’re not the same person. We’re going to disagree on different things and different strategies.
If you look at it from a relationship standpoint, how do we maintain the relationship in the midst of disagreement and make things a lot smoother? Since I’m always looking through that lens, if I have a disagreement with him about something, I’m always going to ask myself, “How do I disagree in love and not be defensive and also not be offensive to him and attack him for what he believes?” He does the same thing. That’s why it works so well for us.
That’s huge. I love that you read the book, Radical Candor, and applying that. I love that you’re trying to do it within a frame of love because the relationship can get destroyed quickly if we don’t approach it that way. More than ever, the CEO needs to have the second in command, being the naysayer, asking the tough questions, confronting the brutal facts, the Emperor’s new suit, and showing them that, at times, their ideas aren’t that great. It’s also doing it in private versus with the rest of the team around as well. Are you cognizant of that as well?
Absolutely. I don’t dissent in public with him. If we’re in a group meeting, let’s suppose that it’s us two and the leadership and he comes up with an idea, I always say, “That sounds like a great idea. We need to flesh it out. Let’s talk about it.” When we meet afterward, I’ll say, “That idea is not good. We can’t do that for this and that reason.” The thing is it doesn’t happen that often. He has a lot of great ideas. It’s more of, how do we accomplish all of the great ideas into a reasonable timetable? That makes my job a little bit easier. When I do have to disagree or I do have to push back, it’s always better to do it outside of that context because I never want him to lose his authority. I don’t want to create the perception that me and him are not unified. If you do that in public, you’re going to create that perception and it’s bad for the morale of the business.
Your role is to make him iconic, to make him look good. Your job is to shine a spotlight on him and make him look good. His job is to shine a spotlight on you. If you need to be that dissenting opinion, doing it privately is often way better than doing it publicly.
Creating that value for him and the company, makes his ideas resonate better because the leadership is more onboard because the second in the command, who I am in this relationship, is onboard. It’s good for the business.
What do you think he noticed in the 4 to 5 months of due diligence? First off, what was he looking for? What was he trying to figure out? What do you think he noticed that allowed him to want to move forward with you?
Because he was a visionary, he was looking for somebody who could implement. We knew each other for many years before that. He already knew my mindset. We already had a lot of conversations regarding my strategy and what I would do. In that 4 to 5-month period, he was calling people and asking them what my reputation was in the community, what was my reputation in the legal field, what was my reputation with my employees.
I found this out after the fact. I didn’t know this. He called a couple of my previous employees who worked for me and asked, “What kind of person was he, what kind of leader was he.” I may have been scared on the front end if I would have known he was doing that. He was not dissuaded by anything he heard and that was good. He was looking for somebody who could take his vision and implement it. The thing is that’s hard to judge in any interview. You can call all the references in the world and it’s hard to judge if somebody is an implementer until you put them into that role and then you see if they can implement. Prior to hiring me on, he said, “What would be Luis’s plan once he steps in the Bader Law from day one? What does he do?” I wrote a three-page plan and I said, “This is what I would do. These are the things that I would implement. This is what I would start with on day one, 6 months later, 12 months later, and 18 months later.” He liked the plan. We did it and we started implementing it.
That’s interesting. I love that approach as well. Do you use a similar approach when you’re hiring key executives or key employees into the firm? Have you got a good interviewing system?
We have a hiring funnel that we developed and that we use and it takes people through several rounds of interviews, several rounds of assessments that we do. For our key positions, we ask them to provide a work product. We’re in the middle of hiring a data analyst. He already had gone through a couple of rounds of interviews and I said, “Before we hire you on, we’re 95% of the way there, I’m going to send you some datasets and I want you to analyze it for me and I want to see your thought process. I don’t want to hire you on and then find out that it was a total disaster. Let me know now if it’s going to be a disaster or if it’s going to be something that we can work with.” We sent him the datasets and we’re waiting for him to analyze them and come back with the presentation. Especially for high-level positions, we do that.
In growing from 25 employees up to 150, plus all the freelancers or fractional people, you’ve made some mistakes on the hiring front. What did you learn from those? What mistakes did you make because that’s a rapid growth?
Some of the mistakes that we made is not following the process. Once you develop the process, the process is meaningless if you don’t follow it. This is a funny story. We have an interview. He seemed like the kindest man you’ll ever meet. He told us a story about how he was taking care of his wife, that’s why he was not working for the last two years. She was ill. That’s why he didn’t have any record for work and employment for the last two years. It was a sad story. He talked the talk. He came in. He was dressed in a suit. He had his books that he had read. He was quoting positivity and we’re like, “We got to hire this guy. This guy is everything we want for this position.”
Within a couple of months, we knew this was terrible, a total disaster hiring this guy. What happened is this guy runs out of gas on the way going home. One of our employees goes to go help him put gas in his car and the police are there. The police are there because he didn’t run out of gas. What happened is he had bumped somebody in the gas station and the police were called because he had caused an accident. The reason the police were there is because he had a warrant for his arrest and he was being arrested for violation of probation because he was out of work for two years. He had burglarized somebody at a store. What we learned is we probably need to do the criminal background checks sometime before two months.
Also, to probe. People can be good at embellishing and creating a story. You need to probe around that story.
It was a funny story. What’s worse about it is that the guy was in his mid-50s. His crime was he stole a purse from underneath the bathroom stall of a woman who was using the bathroom at Walmart. It’s the most bizarre type of crime you could think of. We got to do those criminal background checks on the forefront. We changed our funnel at the forefront to ask more probing questions. That was a big learning lesson for us, for sure.
At our COO Alliance event, the whole theme is recruiting, interviewing, and selection. I hope you’ll be there at that because there’s going to be some good points around that. Talk about transitioning. We’re in the middle of this whole COVID-19 crisis. We’re coming through where businesses are allowed to start opening again. You guys went virtual quickly. Can you walk us through what happened and how fast and what did you learn from being able to transition to a law firm, which would never have people working remotely? How did you guys do it?
It was a scary thing. We didn’t know what was going to happen in that transition. We didn’t know if we were going to lose business. We didn’t know how people were going to feel. We always try to be cognizant of the emotional component to what we do and how we phrase things in a notice that we send out. We had worked on a task force because we heard that it was coming down the pipeline and that the governor was going to shut down the state. We wanted to be prepared. There’s a concept, business readiness. Cy Wakeman talks about that in her book, Reality-Based Leadership. We wanted to get people ready.
The leaders got together over on a Saturday and we put together a plan. On Monday morning we heard, “By the end of the week, everything is shut down.” We said, “We’re going to shut it down now. We’re going to get this out of the way. We’re not going to wait until the announcement comes.” We do a huddle every morning at 8:48. We did the huddle and we said, “By the way, we’ve made this executive decision to send everyone remote. What you’re going to do now is you’re going to get all of your things together. You’re going to pack it all up. You’re going to unplug it. You’re going to go home and you’re going to work there.” Everybody started scrambling to make that happen. Within a four-hour period, we had everyone from the office in their home with their computers.
That’s pretty extraordinary for a law firm to be able to make that transition. Do you think you will ever hire remote employees?
The opportunity to have remote workers is there. The problem is that clients accept that you’re working from home because of the situation but once this situation has mostly gone and the fear is not there anymore, they want to come in. We have many clients that want to come into the office and see the attorneys face-to-face. When it comes to depositions, mediations, legal work, and going to court, you have to show up. A lot of those things are being postponed. The courts aren’t even open. It’s easy to say, “We don’t need to meet. The court is not open.” I don’t think we have that opportunity but there are some backend office workers that we had never considered sending remote. Now it’s likely we can send them remotely.
Possibility, too. You wanted to run a business when you were in law school. You got a business coach. What was it that got you to have a business coach so early?
It was not by design. I stumbled across it. I was in my twenties. I was playing baseball at the University of West Georgia. I knew my career was ending. I was graduating. I had an accounting degree. It was somebody that my dad knew. He took a liking to me and he was like, “I want to help you.” He was teaching me business concepts. He started telling me those things about leaders being readers and I started having an interest in reading. It was by accident.
The desire to be in business was something that I’ve had from a young age. I remember my first hustle was when I was in high school. I washed both of my parents’ cars. I cut the grass in the front and the back of the yard with a push mower. I even dry cleaned. I ironed all of my parents’ clothes. I did it for the grand old sum of $20 a weekend. The thing that got me energized was earning that money and having that business. I always had that spirit to want to own a business. Once I had the attraction to law, I knew that I wanted to own a law business.
You guys are different from a law firm in a lot of ways. You’re focused on your employees, your people and your culture. Can you speak to that?
To us, culture is everything. We believe that creating a place to work where people enjoy working is up there with generating revenue and developing profit. Our greatest impact is absolutely on clients because we represent thousands of them. The depth of our impact can be felt through our employees. Something that I say on our Friday huddle every week is that you only have one life experience and our goal is to make that experience the best possible experience. We’re always looking to make it the best experience possible for employees. If we do that, they become the extension of who we are.
If our vision is to help thousands of people and we’re accomplishing that vision through our people, we want our people to feel good about what they’re doing. We want them to be happy to come to work. We want them to be excited about who they work with. We spend a lot of time doing events. We do quarterly events until the Coronavirus hit. Every quarter, we had a department event for each department and that helps gel the team together.
Talk about the skills that you’ve grown over the last couple of years. Taking the firm from 25 to 150 employees, your skills as a leader have had to adapt and change. Where do you think you’ve grown and what have you worked on over the last couple of years?
You don’t realize your shortcomings until your business starts generating that amount of employees. When you start adding that many people, you start seeing where you are and where you fall short. One of the areas where I fell short, and I didn’t know this prior to this experience, was having those tough conversations with people. We’re all human beings. We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Firing people is not easy. Telling somebody that they’re not meeting their objective, that’s not easy.
If you don’t develop a thick skin, you’re going to internalize everything, you’re going to take everything personally. It’s easy to take something personal and hold that when it’s one person but when you’re having to deal with 150 different connections, 150 different relationships, 150 different emotions, nobody can hold that burden. You have to start developing yourself as a person, not just a leader but as an individual. You have to become strong in who you are. What I’ve had to do is separate myself as an emotional person from a logical person and say, “This is not about them as a person, it’s about the business.” When you do that, it makes it a lot easier to have those tough conversations. That was a growth point for me.
I’ve had a few people over the years think that fast growth must be easy and they think that tough times are hard. At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we had six consecutive years of 100% revenue growth. I assure you, it’s not easy. It’s different and difficult at times. Was there anything that you found difficult in that rapid growth that you maybe didn’t expect?
The relationships are the most difficult thing, needing space for people and needing to be a better cashflow manager. When you’re small, you don’t have high months of expenditures because you’re a small business. At one point, we were spending $350,000 a month ordering furniture, ordering computers. In our practice, for context, we’re a contingency business which means we bring in a lot of business but we don’t make money when that business comes in. We make money 6 to 10 months later.
You have to manage the cashflow.
Managing cashflow when you’re rapidly growing is the most important thing. By the time that money comes in, you could be in a dire situation if you don’t manage it properly.
I’ve always said that cash is your oxygen. When you’re small and if you’re tight on cash, you put it on your credit card, you don’t pay yourself for a month or two, you borrow money, and you’re good. If you’re a little bigger, you go to the credit line, you talk to the bank, you’re pretty much okay. Maybe you need some money from mom or dad. At one point at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we needed to borrow $420,000 from Brian’s mom to meet payroll. You get to a point where all of a sudden, if you’re sucking oxygen, you’re dead. What do you guys do to measure or to manage cashflow? It is critical. What lessons can you share with us on that?
For us, managing cashflow, we’ve used several things. Having a line of credit has been good, especially in the highest growth periods where we’ve been able to use the line of credit to manage our cashflow. One of the things that I’ve instituted is three strategies but paying down bills in a more systematic way. A lot of businesses, when the bill comes in, they pay it immediately even though it’s not due for 30 days. We like to take an approach of looking at the overall health of the business and determining whether that bill needs to be paid right now or not. Maybe that’s not the recommendation you give in an evenly growing company but in a fast-growing company, you have to watch your expenditures. The other thing that we’ve done is we’ve tried to grow larger than our capacity. Our production team can only handle so much but we grow bigger than our production team. That way, we’re not hiring many people which sounds funny because we hired 125, 130 people. That’s what we’ve done.
Jim Collins in Good to Great talked about a no faster than a number that they would grow at a certain prescribed rate and they would grow no faster than that. Do you manage to that number at all or something like that, knowing what’s your cash or capacity can be?
We didn’t know that concept. It wasn’t until in a conversation we were having that I heard that concept before, the no faster than number. I went back and looked at it. We felt it. I didn’t know what it was but we knew if we grow faster than this, we’re going to be hurting. Even before Coronavirus, we started scaling back on our marketing because our marketing was working too good. It was bringing in way too many cases. We had to scale back because we realized we were going to suffer a cashflow problem, a cashflow crunch if we didn’t slow down. Organically, we figured that out. We realized we can’t grow in terms of new clients to X our production team because it suffocates the process and it suffocates their cashflow. We realized about 1.5X our production capacity is what we can grow with our cashflow constraints and the contingency practice that we’re in.
Is there anything you guys are restrained at being a law firm in terms of running a business? Are there any additional regulations or things that make running a business inside the legal space different or harder?
The biggest one is access to cash. We can’t go and raise a series A of $5 million and have investors. The only people that can invest in our business are lawyers. There’s not a bank of lawyers out there looking to invest in a law firm. There may be some around the country. It’s not an expansive list. If I came to most investors and I say, “I have a $30 million business. I want to take it to $100 million. Are you willing to invest in my business?” It would be easy to find people to do that. In the legal space, it’s challenging to raise money. You have to cashflow it or hope that the bank loans you some money. That’s a huge challenge for us.
That makes sense, too. In terms of your growth going forward, what do you think you’re going to be focusing on growing your skills going forward?
What I need to grow as an individual is understanding my role as the business transitions. We wait too long to redefine ourselves as leaders in the business. We wait until it’s absolutely necessary and I want to get away from that.
You were reacting to it instead of being proactive. Are you proactively working on a couple of areas now?
I’m trying to get out of doing the work and more into being the visionary for the operations. I’m reading a lot of books about scaling, a lot of books about operations, a lot of books about mindset, and trying to figure out what is the right mindset for COO. What’s the right concept that I should have for my team? How is it that I should relate with them? How can I connect with them better so that when we have the right people in place, they’re the ones doing the work and I’m overseeing the operations versus hands-on? I still am somewhat hands-on in a lot of the operational components of the business.
I’ve had a saying for a couple of years, “It needs to get done, but not by me.” I had a client that I coached a couple of years ago who was brilliant. She would sit down on Sunday night and spend half an hour coming up with an all-inclusive list of all the core stuff that she wanted to get done over the next week. She would look at each item on the list and figure out how many minutes or hours each item would take. She would add up the total time. Let’s say she came up with 60 hours’ worth of stuff. She would then force herself to delegate 80% of those hours to other people before she allowed herself to work on anything.
That’s a great strategy.
It was simple. It’s like, “All this stuff needs to get done, not by me. Who can do all this stuff and I’ll work on these things?” She would repeat that process every week, which allowed her to stay in her unique ability, focusing on growing her team, focusing on delegating, and coaching. It’s an interesting strategy. It’s simple.
To do that strategy, you have to have confidence in your team. A lot of times, we don’t delegate and we don’t give it to people because we don’t feel that sense of confidence. We need to hire the right people to make that happen. One of our focuses moving forward for the business is making sure we have the right person in the right seat and hiring the right talent so we can have that confidence to hand it off to them.
We were at the COO Alliance event and one of the second in command that was there. We were talking about the leaders’ job is to grow people and we always have to be growing the skills of our people. Somebody threw their hand up and said, “What about if we hired people that focused on growing their own skills all the time? We hired self-driven learners.” I’m like, “That’s pretty smart.” A behavioral trait to look for the self-driven learners who already have the skills to do what we’re hiring them to do but they also have that desire to keep learning as we scale, it seemed like a smart one.
One of our core values is growth. In our interview process, we ask people what do they do to grow. You’d be surprised how many people say they read but then you find out they don’t read. If you could find people like that, that are self-motivated to grow, your business would double, triple, and quadruple. How do you weed out the people that are truly telling you that they grow and the people that only say that they grow? That’s the hard one.
Some of it is looking for the proof of what they’re telling you they can do and not settling on the fact that I like them or they have good energy or they have the right answers, but it’s proving out those answers.
One of the follow-up questions that I like to ask when a person says, “I grow by reading,” I usually ask them, “What book are you reading right now?” A lot of times they can’t remember the book.
What did you learn from that book? What are you putting in place in that book? I interviewed a guy years ago, his name is Christopher Bennett. In the group interview, it came out that he spoke four languages fluently, had played cello in a symphony orchestra, had written two speeches for Canadian Prime Ministers, had been on Rock & Roll Jeopardy, had managed a bar, had been a pro surfer, and at least 2 or 3 other things that I was like, “I don’t know. If you’re this good, I want you.” I wanted proof. I said, “I needed proof.” He goes, “For what?” I said, “These ten things. I need it by Friday.” He goes, “I can’t prove that by Friday.” I was like, “I gotcha.” He’s like, “I need until Monday.” I’m like, “Alright. You got until Monday.”
He came on Monday afternoon. He had surfing magazines with his photo in it and his name. He had the two black line documents that he’s written for Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, Canadian Prime Ministers, that have been published in Maclean’s Magazine in Canada. He had two people on our call center interview him in French, Italian, and Spanish to prove that he spoke those three dialects. He already spoke English. He proved everything. I’m like, “This is incredible.” It was like, “Do people like you or are you such a renaissance man that they hate you because they can’t compete?”
I called his current boss at the time and he stood beside me as I called his boss. I called this guy Mark Hamilton, the CEO of Hcareers, and I said, “I’m calling about Christopher Ian Bennett.” He said, “You got my best guy.” It’s only when you do that real digging and it’s only when you find that real proof then you know. It’s good that you guys are uncovering that and enforcing that system. The process is only good if you follow the process.
A lot of times we deviate from the process. We want that person to be the one. We want them badly. Sometimes we’re stressed about our job, our work, the project, we want the person to be the one and we skip stuff and just hope they’re the one and then they end up not being the one. Not even from ground zero, we’re having to tear down the building and then redo it.
Do you have a system to help prevent that from hiring the one that isn’t the one?
I have found that even using our hiring funnel, it’s not perfect. We’re about 70%. Seventy percent of the people that we hire stay for at least one year, which is not the ultimate benchmark for me. I always feel like if we can keep an employee for three years, we’re going to profit from the work product of that employee. The one-year mark is crucial because it’s much more likely you can get them to three years if you get them to one year. We’re around 70%. It hurts because the other 30% usually leave you within the first three months. You wasted a lot of money on that person. They’re not even trained.
The cost of the interview time, recruiting time, onboarding time, training time, cycle time, and then having to do it again is extraordinary. Luis, if we were to go back to the 22-year-old you, let’s say you’re graduating from law school, what word of advice would you give yourself back then that you know to be true now but you wish you’d known when you were coming out of school and going into the workforce?
I would probably say, “Be more patient and show more grace to yourself.” I put a lot of stress to achieve things that weren’t achievable in a short period of time. I heard that many people overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can do in five years. If I could tell my 24, 25-year-old self some advice, I would say, “Give yourself ten years to become an overnight success. You’re going to enjoy ten years. You’ll enjoy it better, you’ll have a lot more fun and you’re going to get there. Be patient with yourself.”
That’s great. I heard somebody one time say, “It takes a long time to get to the night before you become the overnight success story.”
Luis Scott, Managing Partner for Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, thanks for sharing with us on the show.
Thanks for having me.
I appreciate it. That was great.
- Bader Scott Injury Lawyers
- Radical Candor
- Reality-Based Leadership
- Good to Great
- Christopher Bennett – Previous episode
About Luis Scott
Heralded as a Super Lawyer’s “Rising Star,” The National Trial Lawyers Association “Top 40 Lawyers Under 40” and American Institute of Legal Counsels “10 Best Attorneys in 2017” for Worker’ Compensation, Luis focuses his legal practice on people who have been injured or disabled in serious accidents. As the Managing Partner of the Firm, Luis works on the strategic planning of the Firm and guides every aspect of the Firm to excel in the overall mission of standing up for the clients, standing by our work, and standing with each other.
Luis began his legal career in 2001, as an intern and interpreter for the Chief Magistrate Court Judge of Clayton County. Subsequently interpreting in civil litigation, mediations and criminal proceedings, he joined a firm and rose through the ranks from a part time interpreter in 2004 to the managing partner of the firm just 10 years later.
With his broad range of experience, Luis understands million-dollar victories aren’t like in the movies—won with a single flashy courtroom speech. Cases are won because a team of experts work together, determined to get the job done. It takes a team of dedicated professionals to get the job done.