136. Ilya Frangos, Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos – Systems and Checklists: Level Up The Client Journey

subscribe NOW

With over 75 years of combined experience in personal injury settlements, arbitrations awards, and trial verdicts the California-based Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos has customer success down to a science. Partner Ilya Frangos has successfully tried cases to verdict and obtained multiple six and seven-figure settlements. But for Ilya – it’s not about the money. He knows that what his clients really want is to feel a little more whole again. It is his commitment to the well-being of his clients that guides his decisions. Today we discuss his time as a JAG officer and what the military taught him about running a firm, establishing trust with clients and employees, and how to replicate an excellent client journey. We also discuss getting ahead by giving back.

Whats in This Episode?

  • Who is Ilya Frangos?
  • What did he learn as a JAG officer for 5 years in the California state military reserve?
  • How can firm owners best establish trust with their employees?
  • Why is it important to keep in touch with clients even when there is nothing to report?
  • How can checklists help replicate a successful client journey?
  • How can firms better integrate with the communities they serve?
  • What values drive the firm?

Transcript

Ilya Frangos

And if enough people know you as a person, then they’ll trust you as their lawyer.

Chris Dreyer

A successful client journey is maintaining the trust that took so long to build.

Ilya Frangos

The most important aspect of the client experience is education and communication.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to Personal Injury Mastermind, where we give you the tools you need to take your personal injury practice to the next level. With over 75 years of combined experience in personal injury settlements, arbitrations awards, and trial verdicts the California-based Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos has customer success down to a science. Partner Ilya Frangos has successfully tried cases to verdict and obtained multiple six and seven-figure settlements. But for Ilya – it’s not about the money. He knows that what his clients really want is to feel a little more whole again. It is his commitment to the well-being of his clients that guides his decisions. Today we discuss his time as a JAG officer and what the military taught him about running a firm, establishing trust with clients and employees, and how to replicate an excellent client journey. We also discuss getting ahead by giving back. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people. So let’s get to know our guest. Ilya wanted to be a lawyer from the ripe age of five. his father – a positive force in the community for almost 40 years inspired him to help others. He explains how his father guided his career. I wanted to be just like my dad. And that started me probably being annoying, going to his office trying to pick up calls and make copies and write letters. And it just continued on throughout high school and college and then law school. So that was really my ultimate goal was to just be like my.

Chris Dreyer

I love to hear these stories about how you had like a direction where you knew where you wanted to go. There’s so many of us can I go to college? You don’t know what you’re gonna do. You change majors you have all these different trajectories, but when you get, when you know what you want to do, you can be really intentional and capture all these moments around you and absorb them in.

Ilya Frangos

I went into law school and had an internship with San Francisco county and San Mateo county DA’s office. And I loved doing the criminal work. And so I really wanted. Pursue that path. That’s what my training was in. And when I passed the bar, They weren’t really hiring. And so I went back to my dad who does more real estate wills and trusts, and I loved. Kind of what he did, but I wanted to do more litigation work and I want to get into court and do those types of things. Down the hall for my dad is Don Galen, and this is the firm I’m with now. And he’s well, he was well known in, in, in this industry. And so I said to them, Hey, do you guys have any cases that are difficult or that have issues. You’re too busy to work on. And so that’s how it started. I started with five cases, then 10, then 15 and then 20. And I was working full time for my dad and I had more than the associate that they had at the time. And so they said, Hey, do you wanna work with us? And my dad is wonderful. And he gave me his blessing. He said, I want you to be happy. If that’s what you want to do go for it. And so that’s how I ended up here.

Chris Dreyer

What a great opportunity. And I love that you went right in and you, the classic statement of do the thing that other people aren’t willing to do. And so do you remember a couple of those cases? Were they just oddball cases? Do you remember those?

Ilya Frangos

Yeah, I do. There were, they were mostly soft tissue cases where the case was more about the story than it was about the medical bills or the injury. And. I worked on a lot of those cases early in my career, and really trying to create value where sometimes there’s not these firm numbers that the insurance company can grab a hold of. They would enter, they would pull out a calculator and say, oh, this is the value. And ice would say hold on a second. No, that’s not the whole story. And because I really liked my clients, I’d really get to know them and find out how their life was affect. And I was getting really good recoveries on cases because I would tell the other side, this is the story that a, jury’s going to hear 12 strangers that don’t know my client, and they’re gonna sympathize with them. They’re gonna understand what they went through. So if you’re looking at this case, just as a numbers, and sense, and using a calculator, you’re gonna have a hard time. But what those cases allowed me to do is I didn’t have much to work with, so I had to be creative. So then as I graduated to bigger and bigger cases and do more of the life changing injury cases that we do now, I had really good foundation because now I had stuff to work with and I could tell the same story, but with more bills and wage loss and other things. And I really appreciate my now partners than mentors, cuz they really gave me the freedom to work on a lot of different types of cases. And I think that a lot of firms what they do you come in as a young associate, you do all the stuff that no one else wants to do. And maybe that you don’t want to do. And I think I had a mix. I wanna help you guys in any way that I can, but I also wanna have my own cases and grow as my own attorney as my own brand. And they really allowed me to do that. So it was really cool. Really grateful for that.
That, that is really cool because so many people just don’t get the reps in court and we had. We’ve had John Gomez on a a few previous episodes and he just talked about, you’re like, you gotta get in the ring, you gotta get in the ring. And that’s what it’s, but that’s where you learn. And then you can, watch the game film. You can talk about it, do the retrospectives to learn and get better.You were a JAG officer for five years in the California state, military reserve. What drew you to the military? And what were some of those key lessons that you learned? I’d been a lawyer for, I wanna say about five or six years. And I was always looking for opportunities to give back. One of the things that we do in our firm and that we’ve grown to do is we’re community firm. If I run into a client on the street, I want them to be thrilled to see me and gimme a big hug And so I had some family members that were, had been in the military or having these conversations. And one of them in particular said, there’s an opportunity for you. It’s a volunteer group called the California state military reserve. They supplement the national guard. They train internally. You have opportunities there to use your training and experience to help. Would you be interested? And I said, would be. And so I, I joined and I joined as a JAG. So I really had the opportunity to get to learn a lot about the military, but also get a lot to, and also be able to help. And so I have a unique insight. The sacrifices our soldiers make and really what they do for us that most people especially in, in, in our area are just not aware of. And I got to do some pretty cool stuff. We had a couple cases that popped to mind. One soldier was stationed in Afghanistan and the bank was right in forececlose on his home. And they can’t do that. They’re not allowed to do that. So we filed a motion in court. I went and appeared in court as as a JAG. On his behalf. And of course the court ruled in our favor. They halted the foreclosing proceedings. And what ended up happening is I did it for five years. I really enjoyed my time. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people, make great friends and and then it got to a point where. I was growing within our practice. I was working weekends as it was, and then I was drilling and it just got to be to a point where I said, I have to pick and choose. And I felt like I had made a difference and I, I felt comfortable moving on.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And thank you for that. Thank you for your service. And, I it’s interesting because you just, you don’t know what you don’t know until you have those experiences and you it’s. It’s great that you got this well rounded. Look at the law too. And I’m sure that’s applied in some ways to, to what you’re doing now. Just different types of experience and being on either side

Ilya Frangos

The biggest thing that I, the biggest takeaway was the military is a big machine. Everybody plays a role and if one cog of that machine is missing, then the machine breaks down. And one of the dis one of the takeaways I’ve had from my experience there is I’ve been able to go to our office and have this conversation. We are like a family here. We all love each other which makes it, and we all work really hard. So we have the opportunity to have fun, but also do what we need to do to get the job done. And we really have, there’s no hierarchy. We’ve have this culture of everyone’s important because if EV, if someone doesn’t. Do their job or is not supported to do their job. Then we can’t do our job and the machine breaks down and doesn’t work. The other takeaway lesson I learned from a Sergeant friend of mine who has since passed away. I miss him cuz he was rough around the edges and gave me all sorts of lessons is he said, you need to lead from the front, need to check in on your people. Always make sure know what’s going on in their lives. And with outside of the office and be willing to do whatever it is that you need to do. And I think we’ve accomplished that and that’s why we have a wonderful culture. I’m really lucky to get to work with such amazing people. I think there’s a lot to be said about that. People like to be led or mentored and may not necessarily like being managed. And when people, when you can get people excited and they understand why they need to do the thing, it’s much more powerful than, managing telling this, there needs to be management too, but I think that word itself is just not as powerful as like leading what you have to trust. You have to have trust and established trust. And the way you establish trust is by giving. People the confidence that they need to do their job, giving them the guidance, but also being able to take a step back and let them learn and do on their own. And I think it starts really Chris from their attitude if someone has a positive attitude and they wanna learn and they wanna work hard, they will succeed. And I, we talk with a lot of. Younger lawyers. I have a younger brother who’s 10 years younger than me. So I talk with his friends and a lot of times they say, what is your advice? And my advice is always work hard. Do what you can to learn, whatever it is that you’re working on to be the best possible whatever career path it is best possible worker and make sure you’re in an environment that allows you to grow and that you have a good mentor. So if you have those four things. You will succeed, but if one of those things is missing, if you don’t have a good mentor or you don’t wanna put in the time and effort and energy it is gonna be more difficult for you that.

Chris Dreyer

That’s some great advice there. Next I want, I wanna talk about the client experience machine at your firm. You really put a lot of emphasis on this. I wanna just talk, what are the elements of a successful client journey? How has that evolved over time at your firm?

Ilya Frangos

The most important aspect of the client experience at our firm is education and communication. I’d say if I had give one to be education, if I could, if you would give me two, I’d say education and communication starting. We really think it’s important that our clients understand what to expect in the whole process. So in our very first meeting we let them know this is what is gonna happen. These are the steps that we need to take to work on your case. And we are going to be checking in with you throughout the process so that, at all times what’s going on. And I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But the number one complaint at the state bar is attorneys who don’t respond to their clients and don’t get back to them. And it was instilled in me really early. You need to get back to your clients. And having that open com lines of communication through text messaging through emails, we can get in touch with anybody anywhere at, in this day. So if you’re not getting back to your clients they get upset. They say, Hey, what’s going on? They get concerned. And our whole goal here. Is to shoulder the responsibility of their case so that they don’t have to worry so that they can get back to delivering their life and getting better and going getting back to what’s important. So we start with the first initial meeting, of breaking down the whole process, and then the subsequent communications are, could be as E simple as an email. Hi, we just filed a lawsuit. The defendant has 30 days to answer Discover’s coming up next. Here’s what to expect. And what we’ve seen is that it builds credibility with the client. And by the time we get to a settlement conference or when it comes time to crucial decision, should we. Resolve the case. Should we go forward to trial? The client already has the confidence in us and the education to know what direction to take and what I have heard. And I hear the second hand because we have a lot of clients that come to us from other lawyers and the client comes in and says, I didn’t really talk to a lawyer. I, I didn’t really understand what was going on. I wasn’t prepared for my deposition. The worst. I’ve heard this many times we get to a settlement conference and the number that I’m gonna end up with, whether it’s the first time that I’m hearing about it or that I have to pay my health insurance. And so I think having all those those steps in place and having meetings before settlement conferences, preparing a client for deposition all for all those. They do what they accomplish is a few things. One, it establishes a rapport with your client. I, as the lawyer wanna work harder for someone that I like and I care about, and I believe in the client that has a rapport with you, that they trust you to make the best decisions for them. And that you have their interest above your own, which is another thing I’m seeing is a lot of lawyers have the opposite. They want their interest above the interest of their clients. And that’s. Really unfortunate. Having that communication throughout the life of the case and being available for the clients and their questions that’s really, I think what is key for having a good client attorney, client relationship?

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. I’d imagine. And we all know how critical those reviews are and referrals and. The name of the game. If they trust you, they feel like the experience was good. They’re gonna tell other individuals about their experience, but if they didn’t have a good experience they’re not going to leave that review or tell other people. About your firm.

Ilya Frangos

You know, we’ve had a lot of clients come in and I say, how did you get to us? And they said, you know what? We read your reviews. And they were real. And we could tell that they were palpable. We felt from the review itself that we experienced what your client experienced, which is always surprising to me. And it’s happened many times. And I think it’s because when we have clients that sign up with us and give us the responsibility to represent them, because it is a huge responsibility. We feel that they become a part of our, we call it our G. Family that they become part of us. And I always tell them, this is a long term relationship. It’s not a short term one. And we have clients come back to visit us. We have clients that check in with us just to let us know how they’re doing. And I think if you establish those real relationships you will be successful. And that’s something going back to my dad. He taught me that if you take care of your clients and you care about them and you put in the time, energy and effort to do the best possible job that you can do for them, and you do it for them and not for you, the money will come and the work will be there. And my dad has been doing it for a long time. He doesn’t advertise really on, on Google. He doesn’t advertise on Yelp. He just has that as an experience. I think it’s been an invaluable lesson for.

Chris Dreyer

That’s the thing that no one talks about is the compounding of relationships and that relationship equity and how it comes into play just over time, it builds and it becomes an actual force. And that’s where you get those extremely low case acquisition costs or zero case acquisition costs. And that’s what it’s all about. I wanna talk about some boots on the ground type of tactics that you guys do, but before we do that, do you guys use any tools just rapid fire tools or software that kind of facilitates this user experience?

Ilya Frangos

Yeah, so we recently joined we recently took on a. A case management software called file vine. And we were using another program for a long time and it just was antiquated and it wasn’t really doing everything we wanted to do. You’ll be shocked to hear this, but I could not check my outlook calendar. For example I never knew what was going on. I have a printed paper calendar communicating with our clients through texting and through other means we didn’t really do that. And keeping track of. Of just communications going in and out was pretty cumbersome. And we relied heavily on paper and paper folders and paper files. And we decided during the pandemic, like a lot of firms, We had the great opportunity to think about what it is, why we do what we do and what we can do to do things better. And one of the ways that we realize that we need to be better is by making things more efficient file by also allows you to automate a lot of the discovery that, and temp and create templates that you can send out. my partner and I Chantel who’s wonderful. She’s the brains behind our systems. We really had systems in place for pre litigation. Automating certain things. Like we said, communications to our clients and having a procedure so that we did it on every case so that we didn’t have a different procedure on different cases. It was the same procedure consistency. And the reason that’s important is if you don’t have a checklist, or if you don’t have a procedure, things get lost Zoom obviously has. Incredibly crucial. And has allowed us to do a lot of meetings and mediations and depositions. And now we have a case going to trial in the fall and it’s gonna be via zoom. So it’s a different world we live in. But but I think all these changes are good ones.

Chris Dreyer

Community connection and boots-on-the-round marketing is a cornerstone of Ilya’s success. He shares with us the creative ways he is connecting with the community.

Ilya Frangos

I think it’s important to give back. And so one of the things that we do is we’re heavily involved in our local bar association. We’re part of a a lawyer referral program where you can pay $30 and you get to talk to a lawyer and you get to talk with them and you get allotted a half an hour, but, we will talk with them as long as we need to talk with them. And I will tell you, I’ve had some of the best cases and stories from those cases, not the six set, six figure seven figure recovery it’s a case in particular, if you don’t mind, I’d like to share it with you. Just give you an example. A really nice lady came into our office. She’d been involved in a rear end car accident. The insurance company would not. Would not admit liability. They said, Hey, you’re at fault, which was crazy. And the body shop that had the car would not release it to her because the insurance company wouldn’t approve the repairs and she didn’t have insurance. She came to us. She didn’t speak English. I met with her and I knew that if I turned her down, cuz there’s no money involved in this case that she would not be able to find anyone to help her and take on her case. So we took on her case without doing anything, she’d start crying. And within, I’d say 24 hours, I called. The insurance company said, what are you guys doing? Are you just trying to take advantage of her? Because she does, she’s not educated and doesn’t speak the language. This is clear what happened. So you guys need to, need to compensate her. And within 24 hours of having that conversation, I get a phone call saying, Hey, we’re gonna. Pay for the property damage. I then called the body shop. The, I asked the body shop, can you waive the storage fee and just get this car repaired for her? He’s the buy shop said, yes. I asked for some money for pain and suffering because she had gone to the ER and had some residual issues. So I’d say probably within a week, she comes back in and I say, Hey, I’ve got some good news for you. Your car is gonna be fixed. We’re gonna put $3,500 in your pocket. Of course we didn’t take a fee and you should be good to go. And she just broke down in tears. And I was really proud of that. So we, so that’s one way this community outreach. We started a program during COVID. One of our employees has a parents who own a restaurant and she wanted to be more involved in doing and providing meals to farm workers. And we found out about it and we thought, gosh, that is really cool that you want to do this. Can we help? Can we help sponsor? And it was just gonna be something that that the restaurant did. And we got involved and it was only supposed to be a COVID situation, but. We decided to extend it and we’ve maintained the program. And we’ve also been able to serve as an outreach to people who just don’t have again, the education or the language to, to help them out with little things. And then there’s of course another local charity group, the Samaritan house that do toy drives and clothing drives and deliver meals. And to us. It’s really important. I think if you’re gonna have credibility and call yourself a community firm, you actually have to be involved in the community. And if enough people know you as a person, then they’ll trust you as their lawyer. we feel not only good to help but it it also helps others. So it’s a win-win for everybody.

Chris Dreyer

And the thing that I think about on the grassroots marketing and community, it’s like, you’re building up this. Good karma equity. Yeah. You just, you never know this individual that you helped in this dire situation, where she wasn’t gonna have a vehicle, had no money, had no car. What happens if any of her family or friends are in a bad situation?

Ilya Frangos

The first person she’s gonna think of is you. And I imagine it’s through that over time and she may never, it may never happen, but you never know when it will. The benefit of being a plaintiff’s lawyer is you get to choose your clients, right? If you don’t feel that something, a situation is right, or you feel that there’s something fishy, then you don’t accept the case. And we are lucky that we’re able to take on cases that we really believe in it. We believe in our clients and what they’re going through. And once you, like you said, you help someone, especially in their time of me, most people that go to a lawyer when they’re completely stressed out and they have no other options available to them. And the, if you’re able to help them. They instantly become a review platform for you whether they refer you another case or not, you’ve accomplished two things. You’ve done something to help someone else, which I think we should be doing anyway. And two, if anything happens, like you said, Hey, I have someone who was able to help me my time of need that treated me fairly. And with respect and I highly recommend them in, we have cases and people come in and I tell ’em, do you want to talk about anything else? And they just say, no, I trust you. I have. Firm recommendation from a family member and we wanna sign up with you. And that makes my job a lot easier.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. what other values guide your firm? Is there any particular value that you really put a lot of emphasis on?

Ilya Frangos

I think that the greatest value is just treat others like you would wanna be treated. It’s a very basic six, seven year old value, but it gets lost in a lot of businesses. And we believe that when we’re representing someone we’re not just, they’re not just a number. They’re not just a case file. They are a person. And every person that walks into our office believes their case is worth a million dollars because. A million dollars would be what our health is, our health is there’s no amount of money that could compensate us for our health. When we’re having health issues. I’ve never had a client who has said, oh, I’d rather take, I’d rather take this amount of money, this X amount of money and have all these horrible things happen to me. That’s never happened. Everyone always just wants their health. Treat people like like a family member show, compassion, show empathy. When we have initial intake calls we’ve had conversations and we’ve had meetings as a firm that this is someone who’s calling in their time of need. And they don’t know, they don’t know whether they have a case or not. Whether they do or not, that doesn’t change the way you talk with them. And we hear about it. You are the first firm to spend time with us on the phone. We really appreciate it. You were the first firm to take time, to hear my story, to answer my questions. So I think that is a mantra that is that everyone follows and selfishly at the end of the day, it allows all to sleep better at night because we know we’ve done everything we can to treat people well and fairly. And one of the other things, Chris, that I tell people. I’ve had the pushy sales calls and the sales people trying to make me do something I don’t really necessarily wanna do. And we put zero pressure. And we’ve had clients who are talking five, six different lawyers and they come back to us and say, we came back to you because you seem to care about my, our life and how we were doing and how we were gonna try to get better. And then at the end, you talked to us a little bit about whether we should hire you or not. And then you didn’t put pressure. You said, whatever you, whatever feels. And if you, so if you treat people like you wanna be treated, and if you’re pure in the way that you approach the turning client relationship you will succeed that’s just how we feel about it.

Chris Dreyer

I imagine your employees too, seeing that you treat individuals that you don’t even know in this manner probably makes them feel very well and comforted and heard, and just just like a fill feeling of a great piece of the team.

Ilya Frangos

No, they do. And we’ve had referrals of course, of friends and family from our, from my coworkers. I think it also ha they’re also proud to work here. Unfortunately, Chris, I know this is gonna be shocking to hear, but lawyers and personal injury lawyers don’t always have this greatest reputation. And unfortunately that’s because there’s a stereotype out there about how lawyers. And I’ve always said, especially because I didn’t see this necessarily as my career specialty. I wanna change that, that perspective. And I wanna change that, that kind of notion of who personal injury attorneys are. So I think if you’re in a firm and you’re seeing that you’re people are being treated fairly and respectfully, regardless of background, education experience, whatever it is, and everyone’s being treated equally and. It makes you wanna to work there and it gives you pride in your work. And that’s really what we try to have here.

Chris Dreyer

I couldn’t agree more an a couple final questions here. One, on a personal note, my team wanted me to ask you this, what instruments do you play?

Ilya Frangos

I so I play the guitar and I’m laughing because I posted something recently about me singing Elvis Presley. So I don’t know if that’s something that your team. Nice. I found that music has really helps me relax and uh, my dad. Amazing musician. He can pick up a guitar and listen to song on the radio and play it. I am nowhere near that. But I try to do it just for fun on the side and occasionally perform.

Chris Dreyer

Amazing. I can’t wait to check out that video. One last question here, you know what’s next for the firm? What are your big goals what’s coming up?

Ilya Frangos

Our goal for the firm is we wanted to continue to grow and to be able to impact our community in areas more than just personal injuries. So one of the things you we talked about was this lawyer referral service program. A young lady came into our office, had some negligent dental work perform that left her with permanent issues. She had talked to a bunch of lawyers. They turned down her case. I had never handled any kind of malpractice case before, but I was really moved by her story. She was young, she had these issues and we took on the case. And I really worked hard to understand the medicine and of understand the process and the standard of care and all those things. And we got a great result for her and the mediator at the time said to us, Hey, you did a fantastic job. How long have you been doing this? I said, this is my first one. And he said, we need lawyers who can approach those types of cases like you, who spend the time, energy, and effort. And so our practice went from Jeff’s personal injury to doing more malpractice work, which is really difficult. Although there have been some changes in the law, which are gonna help us. And then we were getting a lot of employment calls that we were re referring to other attorneys. Not always getting the greatest feedback. Oh, they didn’t call me back. They didn’t really communicate with me. They didn’t explain the process. And we have a wonderful of council that is managing our employment part of the practice that I’m partially involved in as well. And it allows us to expand our reach. To reach more people because we feel like we really do good work and we really make a difference in helping people. And we wanna be able to expand on that. So I think that’s that’s been our goal and we’re continuing to grow and just make a difference in our community.

Chris Dreyer

The key to replicating a successful client journey is consistency. Set up a checklist and routine procedure of managing a case. Check-in with your clients regularly. Communicate the stages of the case. Even when there is nothing to report. Develop a rapport and put client interests above your own. And remember – over the money – everyone wants their peace, health, family back happy and whole. I’d like to thank Ilya Frangos from The Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos 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 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 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