155. Brian Matlin, Matlin Injury Law — $4.5 Million in Year One: Lessons on Systems, Culture, and Relationships

subscribe NOW

Brian Matlin (@brianthecarcrashguy) was thrown into the fire right out of law school. Asked to start up a satellite office with no previous experience, he brought in $4.5 million in year one. The 28-year-old reveals his steps to success at Matlin Injury Law (@matlininjurylaw). He explains how to nurture relationships with staff, clients, and referral partners. And how to get more Google reviews. When considering marketing strategy, don’t dabble. He shares the marketing practices that help his firm thrive.

Links

Want to hear more from elite personal injury lawyers and industry-leading marketers?

Follow us on social media for more.

What’s in This Episode:

  • Who is Brian Matlin?
  • How did Brian grow such a successful business right out of law school?
  • How does he navigate the growing pains and maintain culture?
  • Why did he decide on a remote firm?
  • How does he think about and execute the flywheel of marketing for his firm?

Past Guests

Past guests on Personal Injury Mastermind: Brent Sibley, Sam Glover, Larry Nussbaum, Michael Mogill, Brian Chase, Jay Kelley, Alvaro Arauz, Eric Chaffin, Brian Panish, John Gomez, Sol Weiss, Matthew Dolman, Gabriel Levin, Seth Godin, David Craig, Pete Strom, John Ruhlin, Andrew Finkelstein, Harry Morton, Shay Rowbottom, Maria Monroy, Dave Thomas, Marc Anidjar, Bob Simon, Seth Price, John Gomez, Megan Hargroder, Brandon Yosha, Mike Mandell, Brett Sachs, Paul Faust, Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert

Additional Episodes You Might Enjoy

Transcript

Brian Matlin:

The thing is you go to law school and law school doesn’t teach you really anything about business, doesn’t teach you about running a practice. It barely even teaches you how to be a lawyer, honestly.

Chris Dreyer:

When starting a law firm, figuring out on the fly can be both the biggest challenge and the biggest reward, and you get to decide exactly what your firm looks like.

Brian Matlin:

People only see the end result. They don’t see the sleepless nights that go in before and all the things that occupy your mind 24/7. All that they see is, oh look, you have a crazy successful firm. Wow, you’re so lucky. Look at you, and they don’t really see the work that goes in, but that’s okay.

Chris Dreyer:

You’re listening to Personal Injury Mastermind. We give you the tools you need to take your personal injury practice to the next level. When COVID hit, Brian Matlin went all in. He opened a firm and in year one, he cleared over $4.5 million. He’s on track to double those numbers in year two and the kicker, he’s less than 30 years old.
Brian and I break down his success. We look at building a remote firm from cultured SEO and how to build relationships that boost referrals.
I’m your host Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first rate rankings with search engine optimization. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people, so let’s get to know our guest.
At just two years old, Brian’s parents told him he would be a lawyer. With determination, he decided to do whatever it took to become the first in his family to go to law school. Here’s Brian Matlin, owner at Matlin Injury Law.

Brian Matlin:

It’s barely been three years, so it’s hard to call it a career, but it’s been just a series of luck, just lucky things that happened. Straight out of law school, I was promised a job and that fell through, and so I had to apply for a million other jobs and I got one for a firm out of Las Vegas. They were opening up a satellite office in Colorado. They wanted to try out the market out here.
They hired me out of law school basically having no experience, and they said, here, here’s a law firm. Go run it for us. Sign up all these clients, manage their cases and be a lawyer. They just threw me into the fire, let me fail. That was my first year out of law school, so gave me the preparation that I needed to be like, okay, you know what? I can go start my own firm.
After doing that for a year, I worked out an agreement with them and basically they’re like, yeah, go ahead. Just go start your own firm, and we just finished our second year and I don’t know, everything’s just been a milestone. Every case is a milestone.

Chris Dreyer:

That is really fortunate. It makes me think of that John Morgan interview, I think he was with Chris talking about life is luck and you’re born either a lion or a sloth. Two are born every single day and lion runs the jungle, but you had this opportunity.
I’ve talked to other attorneys where they get these opportunities to try a bunch of cases, but you got to actually put on the owner hat and was just like, hey, go figure this out. Did they provide the resources and the training, or was it just go figure it out? You’ve got this driving mentality. How did that lend itself to that?

Brian Matlin:

When I first got hired with the other firm before going to start my own, they basically gave me everything that I needed. They had a small little, a Regis suite that they had and it was me and a paralegal. This paralegal wasn’t really even my paralegal, she was for someone else and she just helped me out doing little things here and there.
It was basically just me working by myself in Colorado with everyone out in Vegas doing their own thing. Basically, I mean they gave me everything that I needed. If I have questions, they were there for me. But building treatment plans, they gave me the rundown on here’s what you have to do. But I was forced to figure it out on my own.
In doing that, I was able to make the connections and the relationships with the different people in the industry in Colorado. When I went to open up my own firm out here, it was all set and I just hit the ground running because they knew me and because I reached out to them.

Chris Dreyer:

During those early years, what were some of the most challenging components of just starting this off? Was it the business development side or was that covered? There may be a PI attorney listening that works for another firm, they’re considering going out on their own. What were the things that you thought were most important when making this consideration for this jump?

Brian Matlin:

The thing is you go to law school and law school doesn’t teach you really anything about business, doesn’t teach you about running a practice. It barely even teaches you how to be a lawyer, honestly. They’re just things that you have to figure out. Figuring everything out as you go is the biggest challenge, but it’s fun. I mean, how do you open up a trust account and how do you do payroll and things like that. Taxes and just figuring things out was really difficult.
The client management wasn’t too hard because when I started off, we didn’t have any clients and we were just building and building and building. As we continued to grow, then more and more challenges presented themselves on that front, in terms of hiring employees and scaling and building systems and different kinds of things like that. It all is a combination of challenges that are fun and opportunistic for sure. But I mean, it’s been a great experience.

Chris Dreyer:

It makes me think even sports like in high school where those practices, although you put in the work and you got it done, these great stories come from this adversity that you overcome.

Brian Matlin:

Yeah, I mean people only see the end result. They don’t see the sleepless nights that go in before and all the things that occupy your mind 24/7. All that they see is, oh look, you have a crazy successful firm. Wow, you’re so lucky. Look at you, and they don’t really see the work that goes in, but that’s okay. I don’t really care. I prefer living under the iceberg. I’m cool with it.

Chris Dreyer:

As a firm grows, it can put strains on existing systems. Brian explains how he navigated the growing pains.

Brian Matlin:

Systems broke down and problems were created even more frequently than us doubling. Sometimes, it was weekly. It’s funny timing that we’re having this conversation right now is because we hired a new employee and every single time we hired a new employee, more and more challenges were created.
When it was just me, I had brought on one person, then we were fine, then another person. Once we got to adding in our sixth person to the firm, I mean every person that we added, every subsequent person created new challenges and new problems. Where do they fit? How do we delegate this work? How do we split this up?
The culture also started tearing apart a little bit where people weren’t really sure that they were gelling with other people and certain tasks were being assigned and nobody was clear on what they were doing. There was that cultural aspect that was falling apart.
Same with the systems. We’ve just had to change and innovate it, and it’s even a daily thing where I look at all the systems that we have now. People, my employees are coming to me and they say, hey Brian, what if we did this? I’m always open to it because I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know what I’m doing. I need to take the feedback from everyone who works with me and they say, hey Brian, I think this works better. Let’s try that. And I say, sure, absolutely.
As we grow as different challenges present themselves, we’re able to adapt quickly and people are on board with that, which has made it easier. But systems are breaking, but if you’re ready for it and you know that it’s coming, it’s pretty easy to get yourself back on track and build a better system.

Chris Dreyer:

That’s a great characteristic that you have, that best idea wins and being open to those ideas and feedback. When you were having these growing moments, what did it look like from a culture perspective? Did you have one-on-ones? Where you doing more team outings? What kind of things are you doing to try to keep that culture really front center, front facing?

Brian Matlin:

Actually, an important thing to mention is we’re a completely remote virtual firm. We don’t have an office. I operate out of my house, home office. I have two employees who actually live in Las Vegas and I have three other employees who live in Colorado, so we’re all just virtual.
The biggest challenge in growing up and realizing that I wanted to be a business owner, I always wanted to make sure I had a good company culture. That’s really hard to do when you’re operating remote and you don’t get to see people and talk to them and socialize and chat.
At first, it was just me and one other person and we would just, we’d chat on the phone, we’d talk here and there. She’d ask me questions and we’d have meetings every once in a while on Google Meet or Zoom or whatever. As we added more people, and then I started doing a Monday morning meeting where they all would talk. It was cool because the employees they’d come to me and they’d say, hey, we’re on FaceTime just chatting, do you want to join? And I’m like, how do you guys even have time to go on FaceTime and talk right now?
But they’ve been able to build their own culture amongst themselves, which has made it easier in building in that regard. But yeah, I mean for the employees in Colorado, we go out to dinner. I’m planning a holiday party for us out here, and one of our employees is having a baby. She’s actually on her way to the hospital now to go give birth.

Chris Dreyer:

Oh wow.

Brian Matlin:

She had a baby shower in Vegas, so I flew out the team to Vegas. We went and hung out over there. Just trying to do as much as you can to have a cohesive unit because… and you made mention of lions, lions and a sloth, I think you said. But I really like lions, and so I call all of our team a pride. We’re the pride of lions. What we do is we have these lions den meetings is what I call them, and so we get in and we talk and we just try to have as good of a culture as we possibly can for a remote firm.

Chris Dreyer:

I love that and I love that even incorporating, just owning who you are and using that language. I think that would really resonate with the consumers too, from just a branding perspective. Just something to think about.

Brian Matlin:

Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Dreyer:

Since you mentioned remote, I’m going to dig in here because first question is, when you were considering the options and the way that you’re looking at law, a brick and mortar versus remote. What were those considerations that you’re making to decide to go remote? And then the second question on that is, what technology are you currently using to take advantage and to really make this work?

Brian Matlin:

The first consideration was when it was just me, I didn’t really need to have an office because if I had to sign up a client, I’d go drive out to their house or I’d meet them at a Starbucks. I was able to do everything from the computer. We had our case management software. I had everything that I needed on just a laptop and a phone.
As we continued to grow, I was getting feedback from employees like, hey, it’s really nice working from home, I feel more productive. I’m just like, we don’t need a brick and mortar office per se. I mean, it’s helpful. It’s important if clients want to come in and have a local meeting spot and to have employees working together and building a team culture together.
But for business operations, it’s obsolete. There’s no reason to do it. Chiropractor, physical therapists, they have to do their work in person, but we don’t. We can do our work from anywhere. I can go fly to Bali and just work from Bali if I wanted. It’s just that technology connected.
As we’ve grown and we’ve added more systems, we’ve developed the ways to be connected as a firm and with our clients. Our case management software is cloud-based, online based where we have access to all of the data. We have an encrypted… I guess it’s like a drive kind of place where we keep all the client files and organize them into folders. We have communication tools with clients where we can text them and the whole team can see them together.
If we ever want to meet with the client, obviously I can drive out or I can jump on a Zoom call with them as well. There’s different things that we’ve figured out that just make it work to be remote. Now, long term, if you ask me do I want to have a brick and mortar office? I mean, yeah, probably. Long term, it’d be nice just again for the company culture and to have a central meeting spot and people go into work, into an office and have that environment. But I don’t think it’s necessarily necessary, you know what I mean?

Chris Dreyer:

We’re a remote company too. We hire strategically in pockets and we hire, let’s say seven to 10 people in Louisville. Then they can get together and have that closeness feel while still being able to work from home. I’m an SEO guy. How do you approach, do you even approach Google Maps and Google Screen? Because a lot of times they’re looking for physical office space.
Is that just like, oh, okay, hey, I’m going to approach all these other channels. There’s radio, there’s TikTok and social, and traditional business development. Is this just like, okay, I don’t need maybe to go all in on that channel? I got these other channels.

Brian Matlin:

I actually just had an SEO meeting with a prominent SEO company in the legal field. They’re saying, Brian, if you even want to rank on Google, if you even want to be in the same breath as some of those larger competitors, you have to have a brick and mortar office. For that reason, to have the Google visibility, we’ll probably need to have one for that reason.
But in terms of other kind of marketing, right now it’s not necessary because we’re getting a fair amount of referrals coming in, whether it’s word of mouth or referrals from our doctor partnerships that we have. I do a little bit of TikTok and Instagram here and there, and that brings in a couple of clients, nothing substantial. But we’re able to generate 20, 30, 40 clients a month just from word of mouth and doctor referrals.
Now, you made mention of the jingles. We have a couple of radio commercials out, and I’m going to be completely honest with you, they haven’t done anything because you can’t just have one stray radio ad here and there without compounding that with TV and billboards, and you have to be everywhere for it to even work.
The more I was thinking about it, the more I realized that I’m just on a radio as a flex. I’m just more like, oh, look at me, I’m so cool. I’m on the radio and to be honest, it’s not productive and I’m considering taking it down unless I’m going to double down or triple down with TV and billboards. I’m just not so sure that that’s a direction that I want to go in with the rate of growth that we have right now.
A lot of different marketing considerations, and it’s really just, if it’s working right now, I don’t want to overwhelm the firm. Because as we spoke about as the more we grow, the more and more our systems will break down and need to be fixed. I want to make sure that as we’re in the slower growth process right now, that we’re honing in on everything that way. If we do decide to go big and go on TV, billboards, radio, go all out on marketing, that we have the infrastructure, the systems, the people in place to be able to make that work.

Chris Dreyer:

I think that’s so powerful, and I really just want to emphasize what you’re saying here because I agree so much. It’s like you can’t just dabble, dabble here, dabble there, because it just won’t be effective and I’d encourage anyone listening to look at the flywheel concepts.
If you’re going to do radio, it works even better with billboards and outdoor advertisements. If you’re going to do digital and SEO, it works if you have a review strategy and you also do Google Screen and you do a little Google Ads because they complement each other and they supplement each other. I think that’s really powerful.
On the traditional business development side, how do you approach that? Because getting that number of cases is really strong. Is it just being intentional and creating these relationships, taking them out to breakfast? How do you approach, how would you recommend to another firm that they try? How would you tell them to go out and develop these relationships?

Brian Matlin:

Yeah, so you absolutely have to meet them. A lot of firms hire these marketing people that go send people out to go bring them gift boxes and lunch and sure, that’s fine, but you have to be the face of it. If you want a chiropractor to refer you a case, they have to know who they’re referring the case to.
First and foremost, you have to go meet them. Whether you take them out to lunch, I think you don’t even necessarily have to do that. You could just go into their office and say, hey, my name’s Brian Matlin. I just opened up Matlin Injury Law. Hey, I’m going to send you a case. Just see how we work, see the job that we do.
You have to do a really good job. If you’re not putting everything you have into your case, if you’re not following up, if you’re not answering their calls, if you’re not even doing a good job, if you’re not communicating with the client, these doctors won’t send you anything at all.
You have to have them know who you are, build a personal relationship, and you have to do a good job. You can’t have their clients coming in complaining to the chiro saying, hey, this lawyer that you referred me to is not answering the call. I can’t get ahold of them. What’s going on? Because then they’re not going to want to send you anyone.
You have to be good. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to meet them and you have to get enough cases to refer back to them because at the end of the day, it’s a business. Nobody’s going to send you all these cases if you’re not sending them cases.
I’m very intentional when we get a client. I’m very intentional, who we’re recommending that they go see. I say like, hey, you have two or three chiros in your area, but this one chiro, he sends me a lot of cases. Maybe in this situation, I’ll send him this case and that way I can build my business and get another case back, by doing that.
We don’t work with shitty providers, we work with the best of the best. Anyone who I’m referring a client over to, I would go to myself, I would refer my family members to. It’s not necessarily that I’m sacrificing on their health and wellbeing for my business building. It’s a mixture of the two. I know I’m sending them to someone that will get them better, that will care about them, that I’ve personally gone to and been adjusted by, knowing that they’ll be able to help my business back in return.
The more you do that, the more they get to know you. That’s definitely one huge targeted side of marketing is the chiros and PTs, things like that.

Chris Dreyer:

I heard Herb Mosley talk about this, and this really hit me hard. He’s like, if you tell people what to do, what they need to do, it’s kind of annoying. But if you say, well, this is who I use, I use so-and-so. They adjusted my back and I had a great experience with them. As opposed to saying, go see this guy, he’s a chiropractor. It’s like, eh, okay, maybe I will. I like that, that you say, hey, this is who I’ve used for my family, who I’ve used for myself.
The other thing is the best way to build a referral relationship is to give a referral. You can take them to a lot of breakfasts, but if you aren’t giving them any cases, they’re probably not going to send you much business.

Brian Matlin:

Useless.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah.

Brian Matlin:

Yeah, I have people dropping off gift boxes, but they do such a horrible job in their work and I’m like, okay, cool. Thanks for the chocolates. I appreciate the Christmas gift. I’m still not sending you anyone because you’re not doing a good job. It’s the same when people send us clients. If we’re not doing a good job, they’re not going to keep sending them to us.

Chris Dreyer:

Google reviews help secure clients. Brian shares how they have directly impacted his business and how he takes steps to secure more reviews.

Brian Matlin:

The Google reviews became a very intentional and targeted strategy. 120 five star reviews is nothing, it’s chump change. Ideally I’d love, I mean we’ve had over a thousand clients. I’d love to have 1,000 five star reviews.
The way that I really became targeted and intentional about it is there was one time where I got a really good referral. It was a commercial semi-truck case, serious injuries. It could have been a great case for us to have. When I spoke to the client, I was like, hey, you decided to go with another firm. Actually, they called me and they told me, hey, we decided to go with another firm. I was just looking at their reviews and they just have a lot more reviews. I had 14 or 15 five star reviews, and she chose some firm that I’m guessing had hundreds. I was like, okay, these Google reviews are pretty important.
What I’ve been doing is every single client that we have, whether when we had 15 clients until when we have 275 clients. Me and my team, we work our butts off. We treat our clients like family. Our response time for text messages is two hours when most firms are 48 hours. I call them personally, even though I have 200 plus other cases to call. I text them, we send them thank you cards, handwritten notes.
We get them big settlements, we get them great settlements, we get them feeling better. We just do a good job. It becomes really easy when you do a good job for someone to just go to them and say, hey, it’ll really help our business out. Can you just leave us a five star review? If you don’t have the time, shoot, I’ll just write out this review and just copy, paste it in there for me. We’ll send you a $10 Starbucks card for your time.
I’ve even played around with the idea of doing a grand prize cash drawing or VIP access event tickets for leaving a review and putting people into a drawing, different things like that. But what I’ve figured out is when you do a good job for your clients, they’ll do anything for you. Asking for a simple Google review, that’s nothing when you’re getting clients better and you’re getting them the settlement that they want, expect and deserve.

Chris Dreyer:

That’s fantastic, and just really thinking about them and giving them great experience and they will want to leave a review.
As a side question of this, I’m just curious, just from this particular timing. We see a lot of reviews getting filtered out, so you can get a great review and it just doesn’t show up on Google. Are you having any experience with that or most of your reviews sticking? I’m just curious.

Brian Matlin:

To be honest, I don’t even check. I don’t really even look. I get a review, I screenshot it, I post it on my Instagram story. Say, hey guys, we’re a really good firm. Here’s another person writing an essay about how amazing we are. That’s the last time I’ll really look at them. I probably should be checking into Google a little bit more and seeing, but every once in a while, I guess I do pull it up.
We ask for pretty in-depth reviews from our clients, and so Google will show them, but they’re all pretty similar. They’re all three, four, five sentences, so I haven’t had that issue particularly. I think also, somebody told me that Google will filter out reviews if they’re kind of just BS reviews, so you have to have certain keywords in there that Google likes.
Like Matlin Injury Law is the best car accident attorney. Thank you for them. I was injured in a car crash in Denver, Colorado. They’re a great personal injury law firm. Different keywords like that help, number one with SEO, but also Google visibility when people are looking at the reviews.

Chris Dreyer:

I even heard a study, I think it was Joy Hawkins from Sterling Sky, wrote something recently about the length of the review. The longer the review, the more likely it is to stick. Yeah, the keywords certainly matter because it’s based upon relevance, distance and prominence, and relevance being the key thing. If they’re talking about relevance, see to your business about legal attorney car crash. It’s going to help you.

Brian Matlin:

Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Dreyer:

I really appreciate the transparency and the conversation. Hey, one final question, what’s next for Matlin Injury Law?

Brian Matlin:

I go through these waves where one day I want to be the biggest firm in the world and I want to be famous and fly private jets and just be an absolute baller. Then I have some days where I’m like, oh my gosh, 200 clients is overwhelming. I want 15 clients and I just want to be with me and one other person and have a really relaxing, easy life, not growing too much, and so it changes by the day.
But the way that we’re operating is we’re just getting clients. We’re signing clients, we’re doing the best we can for every single client, and we’re just growing, growing, growing, growing. I’m not stopping it, I’m not hindering it, and so I’m just kind of rolling with the punches, adapting, and growing and building from what we have without a vision, without a plan. I’m just working.

Chris Dreyer:

Matlin Injury Law is a perfect example of how remote firms can do big business. To replicate Brian’s success, nurture relationships. Give staff, clients and referral partners as much attention and care as you would a brick and mortar. To develop relationships, meet face-to-face, even if that means over FaceTime. Be responsive and get personal.
When considering your marketing strategy, don’t dabble. Invest in channels that complement each other. If you’re going to buy billboards, do radio and outdoor ads too.
I’d like to thank Brian Matlin from Matlin Injury Law for sharing his story with us, and I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to Personal Injury Mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer.
If you liked this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to master personal injury and marketing.

Get Our Best Personal Injury
Marketing Tips

Delivered straight to your inbox
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Comments Below

Let us know your thoughts

More Episodes