16. Seth Bader, Bader Scott Injury Attorneys Breaking Free of Plateaus and Scaling Up While Maintaining the Client Experience

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Seth Bader is the founder of Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, one of the leading workers compensation law firms in Georgia and the US. Seths expertise comes from his early days as a lawyer where he worked for the organizations he now fights against. With his insights, Seth now litigates on behalf of those who have been injured in the workplace and focuses on providing his clients outstanding results, personalized attention, and uncompromising integrity.

On todays show, Seth tells us what inspired him to leave behind insurance defense and he explains how he turned his small solo practice into a firm with over 140 staff in a little over a decade. We discuss what Seth did in the early days of his firm to secure clients, what Seth does to ensure continual growth for his firm, and who Seth looks to for inspiration and mentorship.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer:

Boxers will watch hours of footage of their opponents fighting just to get an insight into their style and where their weaknesses are. And in many ways, my guest today did exactly the same, only he went and worked for his perspective opponents in order to learn the secrets of their litigation techniques.

Seth Bader:

In 2008, after five years of working, uh, for insurance defense firms, uh, I finally took the leap of faith, uh, that, uh, that I feel like was my destiny and opened my own law firm, uh, because I wanted to help people. And so in 2008, I went out on my own, opened up Bader Law Firm. It was really exclusively a workers’ compensation law firm, which I opened up here in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris Dreyer:

My guest today is set Bader founder of Bader Scott Injury Lawyers. After leaving the work of insurance defense behind, Seth created his own workers’ compensation firm based on the pillars of providing outstanding results, personalized attention, and operating with uncompromising integrity. Join us as we discuss how Seth cultivated healthy referral sources from his blog. Why culture is key when bringing in new hires, and what the strategies are that Seth is employing to take his firm to the next level. 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. Whereas some new law firm owners set up a shop in the area of legal practice they’ve worked in previously, Seth decided to use his insider knowledge of the opposition to give himself a competitive edge and provide a higher value service to his clients.

Seth Bader:

While it was not, you know, the most exciting time and certainly not the most exciting time as a lawyer or in my professional career, uh, it was some of the, probably the most valuable experience I had in terms of learning the substance of the law so that I could take that and use that really now to benefit my clients, uh, who are in cases, you know, adverse to the insurance company. So yeah, the first five years from 2003, until 2008, like I said, I, I represented insurance companies, both in car accident cases, uh, and in workers’ compensation cases, again, primarily in terms of workers’ comp and as a result, I learned, you know, really all of the tricks and the secrets on how they manage their claims and how they try to reduce the value of claims. And I think that that’s been invaluable in, in, in terms of my ability to get my clients the best result.

Chris Dreyer:

Absolutely. So your firm, it’s really grown know what were some of the biggest turning points in your company? What kind of took it to that next level?

Seth Bader:

Throughout the last 12 years I’ve had many turning points and I’ve reached many plateaus and then I’ve kind of blasted through, uh, to get to another level. You know, when I think back probably, um, the first big turning point was initially, uh, I put a lot of time and effort into trying to figure out ways to market the firm. And so I don’t know that this is a turning point, but I guess it was. In 2009, um, I was approached by a law firm that, they asked me if I would be interested in taking referrals, which of course I was, because at the time I had about 25 cases, they didn’t know that. Uh, what’s, what’s interesting and what I learned, uh, as a result of that relationship and that connection is that a lot of times, if you, if you really go for it and you put your, your energy and your passion behind something, um, that you believe will work for you – it ultimately ends up working. And so, uh, specifically in 2008, I had very little mone, I didn’t have a marketing budget. And so all I could afford was a, was a $200, uh, I don’t even know if I’d call it a website. There’s a company you may be familiar with called LexBlog, and so I think it was like 200, $250. They basically built out what appeared to be a website, but I was responsible for a hundred percent of the content and I literally, day and night, just put a ton of content that, the website has gone now, it was Atlantaworkerscompblog.com. Um, and then there was a tagline that, that they told me I needed and it was dedicated to helping you get the maximum compensation and medical treatment that you deserve something, something to that effect. And, um, so, so I literally day and night, I mean, I must’ve put in 10 to 12 hours a day putting content on that site when I wasn’t working on my few cases that I had, hoping that the community, the consumer would find me and yeah, like no joke. I never had one client find me from that website, but I did have two lawyers the first in 2009 and the second two years later, in 2011 found me. And both of them send me uh, hundreds of cases. Um, so that was one, I think turning point was when I got that first, um, referral from, from, uh, from a large law firm. And then, then in 2013, when I, you know, when I realized that I did not want to be dependent upon one or two lawyers to generate my business, I started to invest a lot of time in, um, in, in finding, um, uh, mentors and mastermind groups that I could learn from. And so in 2013, I joined some groups and I was able to learn a lot about marketing and managing a firm. And then from there, um, you know, I’ve, I’ve put in a lot of time, money and effort into the marketing of the practice.

Chris Dreyer:

Well, that’s great. It seems like, you know, all that content that you wrote, maybe it didn’t, it didn’t attract the, the end consumer, but attorneys, when they needed to refer out a case, they want to see who the expert is, and I’m sure your content showed your expertise. And that’s how you establish those first relationships.

Seth Bader:

Yeah. Uh, no question about it. Not only, not only was it the content, but I also spent a lot of time using Google translate, which I think has since been radically improved. But at the time it was good enough just to put some Spanish content. I spoke Spanish, I speak and can converse in Spanish, but not fluent – certainly not enough to write – but using Google translate, I was able to take everything that I put in English and put it into Spanish. And I think as a result, I was one of the few lawyers that had any Spanish content. And so both of those firms reached out in part because of that.

Chris Dreyer:

Well, that’s awesome. Yeah. There’s a lot less competition even in ad-words, you know, it’s less per click and so there’s some big opportunities there and you mentioned some mentors and masterminds. Who, who are some of those mentors? I know on Facebook, you know, I follow you on Facebook and you’re commenting on Cameron Herold stuff, big fan of Cameron Herold, you know, who are some of those mentors that really helped, you know, helped you get past those plateaus that you’re referring to?

Seth Bader:

Yeah. So I’ve worked with in one way, shape or another I’ve worked, uh, with, with several mentors, a lot of the, a lot of the big mentors in the industry, you know. Uh, first was Ken Hardison, uh, who I think is amazing. And I joined his mastermind group and went to his conferences. Uh, the first one, I think it was 2013 in Chicago. Um, and it really just opened my eyes to a completely different world. Um, before then, uh, marketing and advertising was just a huge mystery. And what I learned from a lot of other attorneys and law firms around the country is that, um, while it still is a risk, um, there are ways to be a little bit more scientific about it, and there are ways to measure things. Um, and so you can take calculated risks. And so, um, so I joined Ken’s group. Uh, I’ve worked here locally with Alvaro Arauz. Um, I, uh, uh.

Chris Dreyer:

We’ve had Alvaro on. He’s great.

Seth Bader:

So, so I worked with Alvaro was actually, it was my first consultant. Um, so I worked with Alvaro. I’ve worked with Ken, uh, with, uh, you know, through Ken I I’ve met a lot of folks, uh, including Harlan Schillinger. Um, I don’t know that I would call him a mentor, but certainly a friend than a, in a, in a counselor, uh, Paul Faust, uh, who is in the phone number, business. Um, I’ve worked with, uh, again, I’ve met so many people in the SEO space like yourself that have been really helpful. Um, now of course, I’m a member of the CrispX Mastermind with Michael Mogill. Uh, so he’s a friend and also mentor as well. And, and most recently we started to work with Cameron Herold, uh, who I think is really been helpful in terms of the operations.

Chris Dreyer:

And that’s the CEO of Alliance.

Seth Bader:

Yeah, so working with him and then we also, um, we do also work with How To Manage A Small Law Firm. So I think, you know, I think we just… I think at each plateau or at each level of the business, you know, you, you encounter new challenges. Um, and the reality is I didn’t go to school to, to get an MBA and, uh, even if I did, you know, to grow a business from zero, uh, employees to 150, um, is, is you, you naturally are going to encounter all kinds of new challenges. And so. You don’t know what you don’t know. And so, as a result, I find that investing in education and mentorship and masterminds has been probably the, sort of the secret sauce, you know, for me, because, um, through it, I’ve been able to expedite my learning curve and, and, uh, avoid making a lot of the various mess of mistakes that people often make when they don’t know what they’re doing.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. And that makes sense. And when you talk to these individuals it just elevates you, right? So you start congregating and hanging out with people, like-minded people, you’ll, you, you brainstorm, you get ideas, you know, you mentioned you’re at, you said 150 plus employees around there?

Seth Bader:

You know, to be honest, I’ve lost track, but I think it was about 140?

Chris Dreyer:

Gotcha. With so many employees now working for him at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, I wanted to find out how Seth has been able to expand so quickly and still provide the highest level of service to his clients.

Seth Bader:

We’ve implemented, um, a hiring funnel. Um, in many respects, uh, based on what we’ve learned from Michael over at Crisp and the CrispX, uh, mastermind groups. So they introduced a hiring funnel to us. And so we use that as sort of the foundation to filter in the people that we want. Um, you know, we’re really big on culture and by culture, I just mean, you know, connecting with our core values and people that really believe in, in what our vision is and, and, and that are willing to kind of embody, uh, either all of our core values or, or many of them. And so, um, I think that that’s really the objective. Uh, we, we, the hiring process is, um, I won’t say it’s complicated, but there are, there are different levels. And so, you know, in addition to being able to demonstrate your subject matter expertise, uh, whether you’re a lawyer or a receptionist or whatever it is, you know, being able to actually do the work. We also want to make sure that the person is a good culture fit and in terms of their values. And so they go through an interview process, not only with like the, the HR team, but with, with members of our firm and members of our leadership team, just to make sure that they’re a good fit, both for them and for us.

Chris Dreyer:

And see we’ve got some specialized individuals that really just have harness best practices, and it’s really, really been effective for your, for your firm. Now, so you’ve, you’ve hit these plateaus, you’ve grown, you’ve got some mentors, you know, how are you positioning your firm for growth now? Because you know, back in the day, you said you were cranking out articles on your Lex blog, and now you’ve got the resources, you know, what are some of the strategies that you’re taking to take your firm to the next level now?

Seth Bader:

There are certainly the obvious, right? So we do spend a lot of money on advertising. Uh, we spend money, uh, in the digital space. Um, we spent both online and on social media. Uh, we spend money on traditional media, like a TV and radio. Um, but I think now our, our focus really is on the client experience. So, so we’re in the process of investing a lot of time, money and effort in creating the optimal client journey. Because ultimately when we look at our statistics in terms of our sign-ups, um, time and time again, the greatest source of business is, is the referral. It’s client referrals. It’s former clients, it’s friends and family. And so, um, and, and frankly, there, I don’t want to say that they’re the best clients, but those clients tend to, to, to, to be more patient. They tend to just by the numbers, the cases are a little bit bigger. Um, and so, so. You know, those are sort of the ideal clients for us. So we treat every client the same. And I think that as a result of, as result of our recognition, that those are the, that, that is the best source of business. We are investing a lot of effort into building out the best, uh, client experience from the beginning, from the time that they first contact the firm until the time that they become a former client.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah and, and externally, when I’m prepping for our interview, I see that firsthand. You know, a lot of times firms will just focus on the acquisition, acquiring the client, and then they hand over the check and it’s kind of done, but, but you’ve turned your clients into evangelists. And then, like you said, referrals, you know, over 750 Google reviews – I mean, that’s handling your clients, you know, keeping them close and sharing the love and making sure they’re treated right. And I really applaud you for that. And, and that’s, that’s a different type of approach. I expected you were going to say something like a word we’re doing this, this new brand initiative, but, but I really like that, that you’re really focused on the customer.

Seth Bader:

You know, um, I believe that when I was, you know, the only attorney in the firm that I was giving all the clients a great experience and I feel very confident that I was. Everybody had my cell phone. Uh, I was available 24/7 and I literally took calls 24/7. Uh, it didn’t matter whether it was a holiday. It was, uh, you know, it didn’t matter. I was available. 24/7, 365. And I always had a dream that you could scale that. Um, but I didn’t know… I had not figured that out and I, I don’t know that we’ve totally figured that yet. But we have a team dedicated to it right now and we’ve got a plan in place and I, I feel very confident that over the next year we’re going to build out, um, that like that ideal client, um, journey and experience. And, um, and I’m excited. Not only because we’re going to be able to give it to the clients, but we’re going to be able to give it to them at scale. Um, and so, you know, I’ll have to report back to you, you know, next year, but I mean, it’s, it is our primary focus right now.

Chris Dreyer:

Well, that’s amazing. And yeah, we’ll definitely have to follow up, maybe do a second interview and talk about that. So, you know, your role has changed, you know, you went from, you know, whether it’s the E-Myth revisited, where you’re talking about manager, maker, owner, and you kind of evolve at these different steps and, you know, you were writing blogs and, and hustling and answering every call. As of today, what are your high value activities? What actions do you take that bring the most impact for your firm?

Seth Bader:

Sure. So, uh, you know, I think that the first thing is just vision casting. Um, you know, setting the vision, um, and, and, and, and sort of sharing that vision with my partner, uh, who is the active managing partner, you know, on the day-to-day basis. Uh, so I think that’s the primary thing. Um, but in addition to, to vision casting and setting the vision, um, I think it’s just leadership. Uh, communication with, with my, with my leadership team. Um, and just trying to, you know, create, I guess, create the right energy and the right atmosphere, uh, for the firm. And so I, I, what I, what I’ve come to find out is as a leader, you know, I, I have an obligation to have an exponential impact. And I can’t really do that, uh, managing individual cases. Now I do still get involved in cases. Um, I have my own select set of cases, but I’m also, um, regularly talking to lawyers, associates about their cases. And you know, if I need to get involved, I certainly do. But I think, I think as a leader and as an owner, I have a responsibility to impact 150 people. And in the process impact literally the thousands of clients, um, you know, that we represented. So I, I can do that more again, through vision casting, through leadership. Um, and I think that that’s, that’s my primary function at this point.

Chris Dreyer:

Setting his firm’s vision, prioritizing client experience, optimizing the hiring funnel. Seth has nailed the art of running and growing next successful practice. And as we start to wrap up, I want to set the shares advice for law firm owners, looking to push through their own plateaus and level up their practice.

Seth Bader:

I think the main thing is to, to grow as a person, uh, and as a professional. I think that when I look at my experience and my success, it, it is directly tied to the investments that I’ve made, uh, to grow myself as you know, personally and professionally, uh, to surround yourself with other folks that have experienced the kind of success that, that you want to, uh, experience because they’ve been there, they’ve done that. And in most cases they’re willing to share. I mean, I think as all of us that have had reached a certain level, um, at one point we’re looking to other mentors, um, to, for advice. And so I think most of us are, are generally very uh, open to sharing and helping other people. So I think that’s the main piece of advice. And I think the other thing is if you, if you, if you have a passion, um, just dive into it and go all in, because if you really have that passion, you’re going to find ways to achieve your goals. Again, they may not, you may not achieve those goals the way you expect but as long as you kind of stick to it and you remain persistent, um, and patient, then eventually you will figure things out.

Chris Dreyer:

I couldn’t agree more with Seth. It’s so important to continuously seek self-improvement and to surround yourself with people that encourage you to elevate your thinking and practices. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. A huge thank you to today’s guest Seth Bader for joining us. You can find all the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. What do you do to push through those periods of plateau? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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