42. Frank Ramos Jr. Side Hustles, LinkedIn & Attorney Mentorship

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Frank Ramos Jr. has got more Linked In connections than you! A prolific writer who has authored over 15 books for attorneys, Frank’s posts reach 50,000 people every day. The only college graduate in his family, Frank is now managing partner at Clarke Silvergate, Miami, Florida. He’s a mentor, a mediator, and was listed in Best Lawyers in America for his product liability defense work. So what’s his secret sauce?

Whats in This Episode:

– Who is Frank Ramos?
– The real secret to building a following on LinkedIn
– The link between employee retention and side-hustles
– Where you can still build an organic following online, and how to do it!
– How to address the huge mentorship chasm in law firms
– Why you’re never too old to retrain
– Why Frank Ramos gives away his secrets for free!

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Frank Ramos isn’t your typical lawyer. He grew up in Chicago in a family with precisely zero attorneys. In fact, none of his relatives had gone to college. His first perception of law and lawyers was formed from the couch on late nights in the mid eighties, watching cop show after cop show…

Frank Ramos Jr.

From an early age, I watched a lot of television because it was a very cold city, there wasn’t much to do. I watched the old Perry Mason episodes, watched other legal related shows… there was a show in particular, which was on PBS, where you had all these trial attorneys talk about their big cases. It was on Sunday nights and it kind of captivated me. So from an early age, I was inclined to pursue a career in law.

Chris Dreyer

Today, we hear how Frank Ramos went from inner city kid to one of LinkedIn’s most popular legal writers, which skillsets the JD will never teach you – and where you can go to get help, and why you’re never too old to give your dream side-hustle a shot. That’s coming up on The Rankings Podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there.
I’m Chris Dreyer, stay with us.

Frank’s family moved from Chicago down to Miami. There, during high school, he started to get an itch for writing and politics. However, being an attorney was something that was always in the back of his mind, particularly when he met the love of his life in college.

Frank Ramos Jr.

I majored in political science at Florida International here in Miami, and I had been interested in pursuing a career in campaigning or possibly fiction writing. But I was already engaged, actually. I got married between undergrad and law school, we’ve been married now, Anna Ramos and myself, about 26 years. I guess, you know, back then in 1990s, when I graduated from FIU a career in campaigning, wasn’t as established as it is now. Now, there are different courses and master programs join and pursue to get into politics and back then it was very much at its infancy. And then writing of course is very speculative career. Uh, so law actually seemed to be the safest pursuit and it was something I considered and thought about since I was a child. So it was natural to just stay here in Miami and go to university of Miami and graduate with a law degree.

Chris Dreyer

Pursuing law didn’t quench Frank’s insatiable appetite for the written word. He’s authored more than 15 books and he is the king of content on LinkedIn. Clark Silverglate, the firm has been a part of for an impressive 24 years, didn’t just allow Frank to work on his side hustle – they actively encouraged it. Now, there are some businesses that don’t want their employees to focus on external goals. However, Clark Silverglate had the foresight to know that allowing their attorneys to follow their passions is the secret to staff retention.

Frank Ramos Jr.

It’s actually an old joke between a CEO and a CFO, where the CFO asked the CEO, what if we invest in our people and they leave? And the CEO says, what if we don’t and they stay!
We’re a boutique litigation firm here in Miami, there’s just about 10 or so of us and it’s always been about that size for the time I’ve been here. It’s very focused on developing its attorneys and developing them not only inside, but outside the firm. And I’m involved in a number of organizations outside the firm. Firm’s always been very supportive of that. And I certainly appreciate that and appreciate everything that they’ve done to help me advance in those organizations. I think any firm that wants to keep its folks, and really any company, they want to sort of nurture and develop and mentor their people on their team and emphasize what they like and enjoy their passions, both in and outside of the firm. You know, if you have team members that love to write or read, engage them in those sort of aspects, if you have team members are really into athletics or sports or fitness, engage them in those aspects, you know, meet your team where they’re at and support them both inside and outside the organization and you’ll find that the remain very loyal.

Chris Dreyer

Because the team at Clark Silverglate actively encouraged him to pursue his passion, Frank found a way to use his writing to make him into a better lawyer. In fact, the way he puts it, he turned imposter syndrome into the ultimate growth trajectory.

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think every lawyer at some point goes through a period of imposter syndrome and they’re wondering if they’re really equipped and qualified to do what we do. And I kind of faced that early on. My writing was sort of catapulted by that feeling where I was wondering, do I really know what I’m doing? Do I really appreciate the practice? Do I have the skillset? Do I understand how to take a deposition or argue at a hearing or clear a motion? And so that’s sort of started my side career, I guess, in writing where I basically wrote a lot of short articles, local legal publications about the practice and the process of law. And so I started writing articles about how to take a deposition or argue a motion in state court or how to interview a witness. And it was really more for me than anybody else that I wanted to convince myself that I actually knew what I was doing. And that sort of took off. I started doing that around 2002, which was about five years out, and it was really, sort of, I had a crisis of conscience about what I was doing and whether I was equipped to do it well. And ever since then, I’ve been writing. I’ve taken some periods off, I think around 2011 I took a couple of years away and I jumped back in in 2016 with a vengeance and been writing a lot ever since. I write every day on LinkedIn, which is my favorite platform, and I’ve been writing a number of books, just opened up a new website for young lawyers where I shared a lot of my experiences both good and bad. I take much better deposition now that I’ve sat down and thought through the process step by step of how to take a deposition, written it down and tried to teach it to younger lawyers. And in the process helped myself in terms of doing a much better taking depositions. That’s just one example, but I think that’s true. You know, if you want to make sure you’re doing something well, try teaching it to somebody else and you’ll see where the deficiencies are and will work on those.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. And earlier you mentioned LinkedIn. So I want to dig right in, because you have 50,000 followers as of today on LinkedIn, which is incredible. That’s, that’s substantially higher than the average, especially in the legal vertical, I don’t know of another attorney that has 50 thousand followers. And let’s just… the big overarching things, like what are the things that’s helped you achieve success on that platform?

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think consistency is the one word. I started posting daily, including weekends and holidays, back in the fall of 2016. So I’ve been doing it now for four years and I haven’t walked away from the platform. I’d been on the platform before I first joined, I think in 2007 or 8 when it was still in its infancy and people were trying to figure out how it worked. And quite frankly, I didn’t really get it or understand it. And I think even then most people didn’t really appreciate what they use it for. Uh, but in 2016, I wrote a book called the Associates Handbook for the Defense Research Institute, which is a free book for young lawyers and I thought, well, I want to promote it, I want to get it out. So I started including excerpts from it, very short ones, on LinkedIn. For folks who aren’t familiar, you’re limited to 1300 characters for your posts and so I would share just a few sentences from the book. And after a while I realized, well, I’m not going to do this forever. So I started doing more personal posts. I started doing other types of posts that were related to the practice, how tos, everything from hard and soft skills, and at some point committed – well, if I’m going to do this I’m going to definitely do this with both feet and jump in and decided I’m going to just do this daily. And I, and I honestly don’t think I’ve missed a day. I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t think I’ve missed a day in the last four years. Pick a topic that’s broad, that allows you to write on for months, if not years, and then you just post on it. And some posts will resonate, some won’t, some will be great, some will be not so great. But along the way, you’re gonna pick up a number of followers, people are really interested in what you have to say, and you develop a voice and develop a large footprint on platform and people are going to follow you and listen to you and you become a thought leader in whatever you’re writing on.

Chris Dreyer

That’s incredible. I think, I think the consistency there is definitely key. The one thing that I would love to ask though, is how do you consistently create a new topic every single day?

Frank Ramos Jr.

What happens is the more you write, the more you see opportunities for things to write about. And what I recommend for folks are starting to write daily, whether it’s blogging or writing on a platform, is that they keep a journal or they use the app on their phone that allows them to take notes and just keep track of things. And I would say it takes about a month, again, it’s the habit of just having it become second nature and posting regularly. So give yourself a few weeks, give yourself a month and say, for a month I’m going to purposely write something every day. The idea is the hardest part, coming up with the idea. Fleshing it out isn’t that difficult. So again, you’re not writing a full term article, you’re writing 1300 characters, which is just a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs and often what you find is you’re writing something and you have that little red marker come up saying, oh, you’ve already surpassed your limit, you have to now cut it down. So you have to think in a very concise and thoughtful way and be able to share your ideas in a not simplistic but a simple way. I think these days with all of us, with shorter attention spans, it really helps us be able to convey bigger thoughts and fewer words.

Chris Dreyer

And why did you choose LinkedIn? Because you know, Facebook, several years ago had a tremendous amount of organic growth and it’s went now to almost a pay to play type situation and Instagram’s came and gone. Why did, why did you choose to put all of your efforts or the majority of your efforts into LinkedIn?

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think it was my audience. The audience I was trying to reach are found primarily on LinkedIn. Facebook has gone through various permutations where it’s really hard to grow organically anymore and that’s true for Instagram and Twitter. Those are platforms that are very much geared toward paying to increase your following. And there’s certain ways, I guess you can manipulate the algorithms, but the folks on top have figured it out and they’ve really kind of put the kibosh on that. Uh, but LinkedIn is very much still an organic site is very much dependent on the content of its members. It very much needs its members to push out content and it actually kind of rewards folks. You know, you can do, various things on LinkedIn you can’t do it on other platforms and you can grow your following. If you have a post that is popular among a small group of followers, it gets pushed out to a larger group and then even to a larger group. And it’s not uncommon to have a post have 50,000 views, a hundred thousand views, a quarter million views or more, if it really resonates, uh, with a smaller group of people, because LinkedIn really wants to create thought leaders on their platform because that’ll attract other people. And at some point that may, I mean, I think it changed with Facebook and other platforms and, and LinkedIn, may be changing at some point, and if that’s the case it’d probably made sense to get in on it now and create a following now, before it does.

Chris Dreyer

Frank makes an excellent point that LinkedIn still has the benefit of growing a true organic following, which certainly means that consistency in content is king. Of course, anyone can fire out posts that are relevant to a certain niche. So why write for early career attorneys? Frank may have started out penning articles to hone his own skills, but his exponential following really took off when he started coaching and educating others, even those who could potentially become his future competitors.

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think in this age, especially in this COVID period, although it’s been true before, that a lot of young lawyers don’t have strong mentors at their firms. I think there’s such a focus on billable hours and generating revenue that firms are spending less and less time mentoring their lawyers. That’s not true for all firms, some firms do extraordinary job mentoring, but I think there are a lot of lawyers, and I know this is a lot of them because they reach out to me, who don’t have any metrics at all and are basically thrown in the deep end and have to figure out for themselves what to do and how to handle a case, how to deal with clients. That can be very stressful. I mean, our jobs as lawyers is stressful enough, but if you’re not given much guidance and if you make a mistake, then it’s on you, but that can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. That’s really not necessary. I try to the best as I can be sort of a virtual mentor and through my books and publications and audio and video provide some guidance, at least at the 30,000 foot level, and sometimes at a much more basic level, on how to do depositions and hearings, how to deal with clients, how to deal with opposing counsel, how to deal with judges, soft and hard skills. A lot of what we need to do as lawyers is to try to exude a certain level of confidence and that doesn’t come naturally, no one ever actually taught you that. And confidence and gravitas – those are actually skills you can learn, which I never realized until I actually got sat down and thought that through. I think a lot of young lawyers think, well, you know, some people are natural speakers are natural writers, and that may be true for a handful of folks. But I think most of us have to kind of learn that and, and take the time to process those skills.

Chris Dreyer

Frank has crafted a distinct voice for himself in the legal world, particularly for young lawyers who, like him, didn’t grow up with attorneys in their families to show them how it works. All of Frank’s books are available for free download on his site and he’s constantly adding new topics, although he says most lawyers he mentors come to him with the exact same questions. Frank’s two most popular books cover to entry-level themes. One is for the new lawyer about the practical, nuts and bolts of the industry. And the other is about working out if you’re in the right field in the first place!

Frank Ramos Jr.

For young lawyers, the Assosciate’s Handbook is a good book, sort of a soup to nuts about the practice, how to prepare and try a case. It’s very much geared towards basic skill sets, which I think young lawyers can appreciate. Go Motivate Yourself is a book that I really enjoyed writing, which was about trying to find and pursue your purpose. The website I’ve put together is basically very much a purpose driven website where I help folks try to figure out what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives and how to do it. And that book is largely for lawyers that to be used for other professionals and others as well, where. And you try to find where your dreams and your passions and your skills converge. At that point of convergence, that’s generally where you find your purpose. So the book walks you through a self evaluation process, hopefully by the end, you have a much better sense of who you are and what you want to do with your life.

Chris Dreyer

Staying there did have you read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl?

Frank Ramos Jr.

Yeah, it’s a great, powerful book. I think, you know, if we can figure out what our why is, we can put up with any type of what or how. And so I think a lot of folks flounder in their lives because they think they know what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives, but they really don’t because, you know, they pursued the career that their parents wanted them to pursue, or society or family or friends, and maybe they had a real passion for something else and never took the chance. And it’s never too late to pursue it even after, even if you want to, you know, pursue a different field in law or pursue something altogether different, you know, you only have so many days and months and years in this planet and it’s best to make the most of it.

Chris Dreyer

And Frank, when you’re not busy doing all your writing, your mentoring, you’re practicing the law when you’re not being an attorney. What’s what’s your day to day look like? What do you like to do when you take time out?

Frank Ramos Jr.

Um, I probably read more than I probably should I read on my phone. So I’m always attached to my phone one way or another. I download a lot of books. About a couple of years ago, I kind of transitioned from hardcover books to eBooks, and I didn’t do it very willingly! I forget which book it was, but some book was coming out and it wasn’t available on print, it was so popular. So I downloaded it and thought, Oh, this isn’t that bad. And so now I find myself reading a lot. I also have subscriptions to New York Times the Washington Post and some other publications. So, um, I probably shouldn’t say this- I probably read too much, but that’s probably my biggest hobby.

Chris Dreyer

I’m the same way. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Barnes and Noble and just kind of peruse, grab a few books. And I always end up taking a whole stack with me, but I need to get into the ebook, the audible, because it’s just kind of piling up all around me!
As the first graduate in his family, Frank’s achieved such a great level of success through his hard work and determination and his influence as a writer and thought leader is only going to continue to grow. Knowing he has two sons, I wondered if he’d been tempted to start the Ramos family firm and get his kids in on the action.

Frank Ramos Jr.

No, they were always interested in music from very early age. My oldest son, David, and is finishing up at Florida State University with a degree in music education, and he’s actually with us down now because of COVID. He’s interning at a local middle school through a band program. And my younger son who is a sophomore at the university of Miami is a Jazz Performance major and he’s been wanting to do jazz for quite a number of years now. So both of them, they’ve always been very musically inclined and very talented. They, certainly don’t get it for me – I have no musical inclination or skill set whatsoever. They’re both, you know, they love what they do and I think the boook Go Motivate Yourself was largely inspired by them. I think you have to find what really motivates you – what gets you up in the morning, what you dream about, what inspires you, and you’re passionate about, and pursue it wholeheartedly. And they love music and it’s easy to say, well, you know, there’s not much of a career in music, not much money in it, but you know, you only get to go around this world once. And if you don’t do what you like and you end up doing something it’s safe, you’re not really going to be happy. I mean, you’ll earn a living, but you won’t have a life.

Chris Dreyer

I couldn’t agree more that statement. And you mentioned earlier about mentorship, you know, a lot of times law firms that are trying to retain their talent would just increase their salary, increase their… it’s money, money, money, but I think one of the things that you really highlighted in you and highlighted in your son’s is they allowed you to pursue your passions and to continue to grow, and they’re passionate about this and that’s what led them to success.

Frank Ramos Jr.

No, absolutely. In terms of confluence, they obviously were very skilled at music they’re very passionate about it, they dreamt about it and they pursued it. And you know, if they had pursued my career, somebody else’s career, I don’t think they’d be very happy for now. And they’d be second guessing themselves and what they’re doing with their lives.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So you have a ton of accomplishments here, Frank, you know, you’ve been practicing attorney for many, many years. You’ve written several books, you’ve mentored young attorneys. What does success look like to you?

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think success is ultimately paying it forward. I think we get more value from what we give away than what we keep. And I think our legacies can be determined by our influence on others versus what we did for ourselves. And, you know, people talk about your mortality and living beyond the grave and I think people who accomplish that are those who thought about others first. And it’s easy to say that, but quite frankly, the stuff we buy ourselves, the fancy houses and cars and the big vacations, I guess they’re nice, but they’re not, they won’t make you really happy. And I think you see a lot of folks who are very wealthy, uh, but aren’t particularly happy.

Chris Dreyer
The pursuit of happiness and finding your true path in life has clearly been a defining theme throughout Frank’s career so far. And actually if truth be told, he’d like to see a lot more attorneys getting involved with mentorship.

Frank Ramos Jr.

I think no matter where you are in your career, you can always mentor others, even if you’re a young lawyer, someone who’s probably lost or that needs your help or something high school. And if you’re more senior and you’re kind of in the cloud of your career and you think, well, I’m kind of done with things, there are a lot of young lawyers who probably could need your direction and your wisdom. So no matter where you are, you know, whether it’s in the beginning or the twilight of your career, there’s somebody out there that’s looking for help. And you’re more than capable of helping them.

Chris Dreyer

I love that – wherever you are, you can pay it forward in some way. And particularly in our connected world, there are just so many ways to reach people and provide your expertise. So why not write a LinkedIn post this week? Or create a video for YouTube? Or even share a podcast episode with someone who needs to hear it?
You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast, I’m Chris Dreyer. A big thanks to Frank Ramos for joining us today. You can find all the links from today’s conversation in the show notes, and be sure to hit subscribe to get future episodes. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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