70. Steven Gursten, Michigan Auto Law Knowing What Clients Want and Avoiding the Race To the Bottom

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Steven Gursten is managing partner at Michigan Auto Law. Over the past 28 years, Steven has catapulted his and his firms reputation to new heights thanks to his laser-like focus on becoming the best auto accident lawyer and legal practice in the country.

Join us on this episode of The Rankings Podcast as we discuss how Steven became the premier auto accident lawyer, what clients are looking for when they choose an attorney, and how you can position yourself as the best in your field without coming across as arrogant.

Transcript

Steven Gursten

One of the things that that really has troubled me is just how much of a race to the bottom the legal profession, especially the personal injury world, has been in lately.

Chris Dreyer

Whether you run an ice cream truck or a law firm, there’s one thing you have to remember. The business world can be a ruthless place. Competitions for clients is fierce in any profession and most business owners will do and spend just about anything to get them. But you don’t have to be so cutthroat to make it as a law firm owner. And my guest today is proof of that.

Steven Gursten

We want to be different. And it’s a shame, Chris, that, honestly, doing things like returning every phone call, you know, um, is one of the things that makes you different these days. But it is. And, and those little things add up.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to The Rankings Podcast, the show where top marketers and elite personal injury attorneys share their stories about getting to the top and what keeps them there. My guest today is Steven Gursten, managing partner at Michigan Auto Law, president of the AAJs Distracted Driving Litigation Group, and the youngest lawyer in Michigan history to win a $1 million verdict. Steven has built his firm, not on aggressive billboard and TV campaigns, but through providing a client experience that is second to none and developing an SEO strategy that allows social proof to do the bragging for him. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Ranking.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. SEO is all about the first page and that’s also where we like to start our show. Here’s Steven Gursten, managing partner at Michigan Auto Law.

Steven Gursten

It started when I was 28 years old and I got the million dollar verdict, which made me the youngest lawyer in Michigan and started turning heads.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. So, you know, tell me, like when you started, I read somewhere that you had a case within the first three days or three weeks. It was really quick.

Steven Gursten

So, you know, I got so lucky. I, uh, passed the bar in 1995 and started practicing. And that was when Allstate started their MIST program, which was minimal impact soft tissue, and they were making lawyers try cases. The, the problem, Chris, is lawyers hadn’t tried cases for like 20 years before that and everything got settled. You know, it’s settled in arbitrations they’re settled on the demand level. So, so lawyers, you know, Warren buffet says “when the tide goes out, you see who’s swimming naked.” You had a lot of naked lawyers and it wasn’t, it was not a pretty sight. Right? So, so, um, I had gone to law school in New York and I was actually working for a, a, um, a really great law firm. And my dad, who owned a law firm in Michigan, called me up and he said, so you want to be a trial lawyer, huh? I said, yes. And he said, what are the odds you’re going to get into trial at the firm that you’re at anytime soon? And I said, probably, uh, not for about 10 years. And he said, well, um, I don’t know if you’ve been following it, but you know, we have a lot of cases and we’re getting zero offers and we need someone to come in and try them. And. Um, I came home and, and tried my first case three weeks after I passed the bar. And, um, you know, and, and it really is, uh, an outliers type situation because honestly, if it hadn’t been in those circumstances at that time, I really don’t know if people would know who I am today. I’m so fortunate. I was able to get into trial. Um, Thank goodness I started getting results right away. Um, within a year and a half, I got my first million dollar verdict on a $10,000 offer. And, you know, next thing you know, I have all these lawyers in Michigan that are trying to refer me their soft tissue cases that they can’t settle with Allstate and State Farm. And that’s how I started building my career. And, um, a year and a half after that I got about a four and a half million dollar case on a, on a TBI. And she probably had, and her case had probably been turned down by every law firm in Michigan. And you know, my, my feeling was always from day one – I’m a young lawyer, there is an oversupply of lawyers and as long as I, I can put my ego in check and look at this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get great trial experience and differentiate myself from all the other lawyers, then, then with no ego, if I win I’m a hero and if I lose, I probably should’ve lost. So it was a great opportunity to get a ton of trial experience. And I tried that case. Got a great result in Oakland County, which is considered an extraordinarily conservative County. And then the next thing, you know, I had all these lawyers trying to refer me their brain injury cases. And then, you know, two years after that, I got a $9 million settlement on a very sad, trucking case. And from there lawyers started referring me their trucking cases and. Um, that’s kinda how my practice grew. And, fortunately that’s how my law firm grew because we literally went from four lawyers with no advertising, no TV, no yellow pages, no buses or billboards to now 20 lawyers. And I’m about to hire my 21st. So it’s all basically on those, those Seth Godin principles that I know you and I both, both love of just how can we differentiate ourselves in a oversaturated market? How can you stand out? How can you be the best possible choice for other lawyers so that if they have an auto case in Michigan, I’m the one they call because they know that we have, we will have great service, great communication, great results. And we’re going to guarantee an attorney referral fee. And that’s been my model. It’s very different from some of your other guests. You know, we don’t do TV, I don’t do anything like, you know, every phone call is $4,000. Um, we want to be the very, very best that we can be in our area of law and then have other lawyers and through the internet, have people find us and us. And that’s a very holistic, healthy way to grow in a very scary, competitive, legal world.

Chris Dreyer

Everything you say, there just resonates with me so much. You know being one of the youngest attorneys to receive that $1 million award and to become that expert in at a very young age that has tremendous benefits. And then, like you said, with Seth Goden being remarkable and different by the nature of being different, you automatically stand out. So now you’re not competing in this sea of sea of lawyers. Now you’re trying these cases and they’re like, who is this person? We need to work with him.

Steven Gursten

And again, it’s just, most lawyers do not try cases. You know, they talk a good game, but the insurance companies know they don’t try cases. And, you know, I think there’s a reason, honestly, why I can say I get bigger results and faster results than most competitors and us because they know that we try cases. So it makes a difference. And even if you lose a case, the insurance company now knows that you’re a serious threat, that you will take a case to trial and it increases the value of every other case you have in your office. So I, you know, I teach a lot of lawyers, trial skills, bootcamps, and you know, one of the things I always say is, look, you know, we don’t know what the future is going to hold, but we do know that, that you will have the most opportunity if you can be a trial lawyer, because that means you really can do anything. And, and it gives you. You know, in a world, that’s going to be very scary by the way, with theaters and AI and, you know, lawyers and Walmarts and, um, you know, these new law firms like in Utah and Arizona that are now owned by non-lawyers, you know, going to have a Comcast type, um, subscription service of $9 a month for unlimited legal fees. You know, people don’t realize how tough the world is going to get for us and how many lawyers are going to get wiped out. And you better be able to stand out. And I think being a trial lawyer, you know, that’s not something that a computer or, or an AI program can do. Rocket lawyer, legal zoom lawyers from India, um, lawyers at a Walmart. They can’t step into your local courtroom and go try a case. So it’s it’s, um, I really feel passionately about it that, especially as we’re going to see the, the pie shrinks, so to speak and things get a little bit tougher in our world. Um, it’s more important than ever before to be able to stand out. And one of the best ways to stand out is be a real trial lawyer.

Chris Dreyer

I can completely agree on everything you said there. And, you know, I work with a few clients that, that are, that don’t try a lot of cases and I always think. You know, the, the insurance companies have to have that data, right. They’re just going to low ball. They’re not going to hold your feet to the fire. It’s it’s, it’s, it’s incredible. And when you get so much volume, then you can be a little bit more selective to, to take the cases that you want to take to court. And it’s just, it’s always been, I see these like great divides where you have the, firm that, that will just try to settle everything or just, just take the cases to trial. And, for me, like, what you’re saying is it would seem like you would want to be a trial attorney to maximize the value you get for your, your client.

Steven Gursten

Absolutely. And you know, there’ve been studies. So for example, um, you know, I speak a lot on Colossus and, and the, the claim software programs that insurance companies use to evaluate auto cases, because this is all I do – it’s my world. And one of the things that lawyers don’t realize is there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do to change that, that claim software assessment of what that case is worth. There’s lots of little things you can do, but, but the one thing you have within your control is your reputation. And there are some insurance companies like Farmers that will pay up to four times more on the same case, just based on that lawyer’s reputation and a lawyer that, that they know is full of hot air and is not a credible trials yet. So, you know, just a quick, funny story. It’s not unusual that we’ll get a call from someone that, that, that says, you know, I want to retire and move to Scottsdale or Boca or wherever personal injury lawyers retire to, and, you know, I’ve got these 30 auto cases, Steve, do you want to take a look at them? And I’ll take some of them over and I’ll basically rewrite a demand package, but I’ll do it in my name instead of the lawyers name that referred it to me. And literally I’m getting two or three times more on the exact same case. It’s just because my name was on that case because the insurance adjuster is putting my name through the auto claims software and they recognize that again, like Seth Godin says, I stand out and I’m different from most of the lawyers they deal with. And that’s a lesson for your audience and it’s a lesson for lawyers everywhere.

Chris Dreyer

It’s incredible to think that just by attaching his name to the case that the value can increase so dramatically in the insurer’s eyes. But the algorithms don’t up their pricing for just any lawyer. You need to demonstrate again and again, that you can take a case all the way to build your reputation. We heard how Steven puts in the extra work on a case to get the best outcomes. But what about when it comes to running the business of his law firm and attracting new clients?

Steven Gursten

So it’s, it’s, uh, first, everything Seth Godin says I, I take to heart. And, and one of the things that that really has troubled me is just how much of a race to the bottom, um, the legal profession, especially the personal injury world, has been lately. And it’s, it’s troubling for a number of reasons. I think it’s bad for the profession, but we have tried to take the exact opposite approach. And, you know, we set out every single year to say we are going to get the very best auto accident and trucking settlement and the best auto accident and trucking verdict in Michigan. Um, but you know, the, the idea is like, if you look at our Google reviews, if you look at, um, how we try to conduct ourselves as a business, uh, cause it’s all inbound marketing, right? It’s not outbound interruption based marketing it’s people who are doing online research and trying to find the best lawyer for them. Or it’s lawyers all over the state of Michigan, that, that they get an auto case in and they say, who is aware, that’s going to get the best result, that’s going to treat this client great return, every phone call is going to be caring and empathetic and who I can trust to refer the case to, and I know it will be handled honorably, and I know I’ll get a referral fee at the end of the case? And that’s the exact opposite of what Seth Godin talks about when he talks about the race to the bottom, we want to be different. And it’s a shame, Chris, that honestly doing things like returning every phone call, you know, um, is one of the things that makes you different these days, but it is, and, and those little things add up. Um, so I’m actually an economics major from, um, at U of M and, um, I remember there was this economist I read about who really struck me, um, even before I knew I was going to be a lawyer, his name is Tibor Scitovsky, and this goes back decades. But one of the things he said is lay people, our clients as lawyers, cannot properly evaluate professional services. In other words, I tell them that I’ve got a hundred thousand dollars on a rotator cuff injury or a million dollars on a back surgery, they have nothing to compare that to. They have no idea if that’s a good settlement, a great settlement or a terrible settlement. They judge their entire perception of, of the value of our relationship or the value of the attorney-client relationship based upon service, how we made them feel. So it’s not always the money. And it’s, in fact, it’s almost disappointing because my settlements with like record breaking settlements for clients – they never mentioned the settlement amount when they do a review for me, but what they do talk about is how you know, Steve called me on a Sunday and Steve called me late at night. Or, you know, there was this one time where Steve wasn’t trial, but his secretary called me an hour after I left the voice message and set up a time the next day, when I would be available to give her a call back. Um, Steve sat next to me at the deposition and he made me feel so much more comfortable. And just those little things that, that stick with them, that they judge the entire basis of their relationship on. And, and that’s what makes them, frankly, looking at it as a successful attorney-client relationship. And it makes them want to go out and refer others. So lawyers who just think if I get great results, that’s all I need to do – no! That’s not. Because lawyers don’t understand that that lay people, they don’t no what a rotator cuff is worth or, or what their case is worth, but they do always remember how you made them feel. And that’s a great lesson for all of us.

Chris Dreyer

I love that. And I’ve got a few follow-up questions here. And the first one I’m going to throw at you is, having that awareness, which I totally agree with, do you now look for these other attorneys that you’re hiring, not only their skill set and the hard skills, their ability to try a case, but maybe their soft skills and how they’re approachable and how they’re interacting with their customers? Is that something you look at more seriously because you understand how important it is?

Steven Gursten

That’s, that’s a bright line and rule in my law firm. And, you know, there are very few ways that a lawyer in my law firm will ever get fired. Um, you know, I don’t care, for example, if they lose a case, I want them to go try a case, it happens, the law firm is better for it. You know, they got experience. They’re never going to get punished for things like hiring experts or spending a lot of money investing in cases. Where I have a bright line rule and where they will get in trouble is if they’re not returning phone calls that day, or at the very least having their secretary call, if they can’t get to it and let the client know that they’re aware of that person called and they will get a call back the next day. Um, I think it is inexcusable. And, you know, it’s, it’s funny because there’s, there’s such an, a paradigm shift between lawyers have been doing this for decades and, and maybe younger lawyers because there’s this really terrible, um, uh, yeah, feeling that a lot of old time lawyers have that they’re too good to call their own clients. That that’s what paralegals are for. That their time is too valuable and maybe that was true one day, but now we’re in the age of Yelp and Google reviews and Avvo, and… you’d better treat people with a Nordstrom’s, Disney-type level of customer service, because that’s what they expect. And, you know, and honestly that is the only thing that would make me, you know, tell a lawyer this is not the right place for them is if they don’t, um, really, really care and want to help people. I remember my dad, um, when he called me, when I was in New York, I was actually working for a law firm there that, uh, Forbes had said is one of the five most profitable law firms in the entire country. I kind of felt like my dad would be like, come home. Here’s a red carpet. And he wasn’t, but what he said to me, and I’ll never forget this, he said, um, you can only come home and work with me if you tell me you really like people and you really want to help them. And those words, really, and those words really struck with me, you know, so, and he’s right, because we are at the end of the day, people lawyers. We’re we’re shirtsleeve lawyers that help real people. And if you don’t really care, it’ll show through.

Chris Dreyer

Totally agree. And I think you, you shifted just to reputation. You know, it’s clearly, if not more important to you as in any other firm, but when you’re trying to communicate reputation, some firms come off a bit too braggadocious, which can be more damaging than beneficial. So, you know, how do you evidence your reputation without venturing into the realms of becoming too braggy and putting leads off?

Steven Gursten

Well, I mean, for, for lawyers, honestly, um, they’re a little simpler, you know. They just want to know that you’re going to get a really big, uh, result and they’re going to get a big referral check and they want to know it’s guaranteed. So, you know, I hate to say it, but, um, you know, where’s our easy to figure out like, I’m, I’m really, really good at writing, you know, one and two page emails, giving them status updates and letting them know, and, um, you know, they know that the case is locked in. It’s in good hands. Um, With clients, you know, it’s funny, there are so many different reasons why clients look to hire lawyers, right? You’ve got some where they only want the best and best is biggest results and settlements, and in that case, I’ve been fortunate. I have the largest ever trucking settlement in Michigan. I have a largest ever auto settlement in Michigan. I have a number of venues around the state where I have the largest jury verdict in that County ever. You know, my results are probably, I, I don’t want to be braggadocious, but they’re, they’re better than anyone else in the area, in my world of auto. And, there are clients where that’s, what matters. You have other clients where they want to know that they can be taken care of and someone’s going to, um, guide them and really be a trusted guide that they can rely upon through a very scary process. And, you know, it’s amazing to me, they will spend hours reading your reviews online. And they, you know, and they, I had clients call me and they’ll reference a specific review and say, I want you to treat me like you treated her. And, and it’s a tremendous compliment. So, you know, so, and, and honestly, there, there there’s a whole other group of lawyer or excuse me, of clients where. You know, the last thing they want is a TV lawyer. Um, especially in more conservative areas of my state, with the West side. Uh, we have an office in grand Rapids, Michigan, and one of the strengths of that office is that we don’t do TV, we don’t do billboards and, and people feel more comfortable hiring us. They, they have this. Um, mentality where they’re almost embarrassed, I think to hire a lawyer, you know. They’re, they’re like apologetic, like Steve, a truck took my left arm off. I don’t know if this is a serious injury, should I, should I Sue or not? You know? And, um, you know, in those cases not being a TV advertiser, not, um, but being someone that can answer all their questions and do things, I think in the most ethical, caring way is what they’re looking for. So. You know, there’s a way you can do it without being over the top. You don’t have to, um, have gaudy commercials or, or, you know, even over the top, um, internet web pages where you talk about all your verdicts and settlements. But I think, you know, as long as you, you say enough that cements your, your credibility, your authority, that you’re a trusted expert, that you understand the area, um, and that you make people feel comfortable. And, and honestly, I would say that last one, making people feel comfortable is the one that lawyers get wrong probably the most. You know, I look at all these websites and lawyers have their arms crossed and they’re not smiling or the other they’re even scowling in their pictures. And they don’t realize like normal people are afraid of lawyers. They, they’ve never talked to them in their entire life. And just being able to have a warm smile and, and, you know, have body language that is open and warm and caring, um, it matters. It matters a lot.

Chris Dreyer

It, it matters so much. And I’m always surprised when personal entry attorneys take heat. Now they call these ambulance chasers and he’s negative phrases. When they’re the ones trying to get maximum compensation for their clients would think they’d have a more favorable nickname. I myself get called an ambulance chaser, chaser, chaser. It’s kind of a creative approach. I’ve seen that rather run Facebook ads and I just kind of laugh, but…

Steven Gursten

That’s because you’re too good at your job. So…

Chris Dreyer

Uh, it’s, it’s amusing and, you know, reputation. I want to dive into this review conversation because we both know how important, how critical these reviews are to social proof, to relay the client experience, to, to kind of, you know, make, give it an opportunity to share their experience. And then. You know, a week ago, think it was a week ago, I’m reading in the news and I see this article pop up. It’s it’s Gursten versus Doe – court allows fake online Google My Business reviews to harm competition. And I literally was just infuriated being an SEO specialist myself. I Immediately went to read the Google terms of service and I just kind of wanted to talk to you about this particular case and, um, and just have a conversation about it in general.

Steven Gursten

It’s to me an incredibly troubling case that could, should concern everybody. Um, what it’s basically saying is, is that, um, a malicious competitor, who was deliberately out to hurt your reputation and and harm your livelihood to their benefit, actually has more first amendment protections than you do as an innocent business owner. And to me, the ramifications of this case, is basically that, you know, we live in a society where we’re supposedly, right, if you’re ethical, you do things the right way and you offer a better product or a better service then, then you will win. And that’s what business is predicated upon. And this case will do enormous harm to our society because what it basically says is a struggling, unscrupulous, unethical competitor can create fake accounts and give you a one-star review and it’s legal and it’s protected speech because it’s the opinion, even though it’s not your client, it’s a malicious competitor, but the courts decided to ignore Google’s own review policy in that decision. And instead, I think, you know, this is what happens when you have judges that are not owners of their own businesses, don’t really understand real life. And honestly, don’t understand just what a widespread problem this is for everybody out there. There’s this problem with fake reviews. So, you know, for me, I’ve been really fortunate. We’ve done very, very well with internet search. Um, I basically am showing up at, or near the top on most Google searches, because again, you know, if you, if you look at what Eric Schmidt was saying about how you do this the right way, you know, we have credibility, we have authority, we have trust. You know, I’ve given countless TV and media interviews. All those trust factors that would that help with search engine rankings – I 10X content. I, you know, my links are high cost quality, and they’re legitimate. Right? You do everything the right way and then you could have a starving and unethical competitor that tries to ruin it all and tear you down. So, you know, that case has been, it came out a week ago, like you said, and it’s already gone viral. Um, it’s showing up, you know, people writing about it all over the place, not just in legal services, but in the digital world as well in your world as well. And I think it’s, it’s incredibly troubling. Um, in my case it’s even worse because I proved that my suspicions were correct and I unmasked the lawyer who was using a fake name, who was giving me fake reviews and the court still said it’s protected speech. So it’s so troubling and the danger it holds for people who do things the right way is, um, really significant. So I’ve, I’ve already said I will be appealing this to the Supreme court. Um, I’m going to do everything I can to unearth the lawyer that did this to me, because I know it’s a lawyer and I can prove it’s a lawyer and it, you know, this is, this is the right thing to do. Um, you know, you don’t need to go to law school, Chris, to know the difference between right and wrong. And unfortunately, you know, your clients because of your good work, right. I mean, they’re targets. Because they’re probably going to be doing much better in the SERPs, and search engine results than their competitors and these days you have a lot of starving on ethical lawyers waiting for the phone to ring, and it’s very tempting to try and tear down your competitors that are ranking ahead of you so that you can try and get your phone to ring.

Chris Dreyer

I completely agree on all accounts and that’s why I was just so fired up. I read this, I sent it to a Google product expert, thought about contributing on the Google product forum, but I myself was a little chicken and didn’t want to be a target because I was going to talk about, you know, all the practical things, you know, these lead gen companies, creating businesses on a, a dumpster and, you know, manipulating Google maps. And even the algorithm itself, which I’m sure, you know, if your reputation starts to fall and you’re no longer a five star, let’s say you’re now a three star and a consumer types inc “best car accident, lawyer” there’s a very high likelihood that you’re not going to show up because you’re three-star rating. Just like if you were searching for restaurants and you type best restaurant near me, you wouldn’t expect to see the one-star restaurants. So it could have a negative impact for those supurlative searches: “best”, “top”… The other thing I was thinking about when I was reading the conflict of interest section on Google’s terms of service is I was like, well, what’s the stop a marketing agency just, you know, activating every single person that they know to just go leave five star reviews? So then it’s like the person acquiring these reviews the right way, like yourself, then has to go up against somebody that’s just shotgun approaching these reviews and doing it unethically. So it’s just a, it’s something that really bothered me. And, and I’m, I’m so pleased to hear that you’re appealing this. I think it’s, uh, It’s just, it’s just ridiculous. I can’t believe it. Uh, but I kind of want to take a U-turn here because we, we kind of briefly covered this, but I really wanted to highlight this because it’s different. You’ve mentioned that you didn’t actually do the intentional billboard in the TV and at the time, I’m sure you saw many attorneys getting a lot of cases like that. So what was your attitude towards choosing a different direction? For advertising, because it’s so hard to have that awareness to be different. Um, I just kind of wanted to hear your thoughts on that a bit.

Steven Gursten

You know, what I would say is the thing that probably scares me most would be to be going along with the herd and doing what everybody else is doing. Uh, I think you’re a lot safer when you’re, when you’re charting your own path. And, you know, for example, the Detroit market has 20 law firms that do TV. You know, we have a couple, you know, 800 pound gorillas, but you know, how do you break into that market? And how do you break into that market without saying, it’s gonna take me five years or 10 years, and I’m going to need to spend 5 million or $10 million to at least make sure I’m in the top three? And that, how do you do that now when in the next couple of years, we’re going to be seeing nationally, these mega firms, you know, the Morgan and Morgan. So the law firms that want to spend, you know, go into the market and dump millions and millions of dollars. How do you compete? And going back to Seth again, how do you stand out? How are you a remarkable? How can you be different? And I never could figure out how in a 20 or 30-second TV spot, I can make myself different and stand out from 20 other law firms. So I decided to go a different way and to be honest, the thing that I loved about the internet and SEO as a, as a young lawyer, as a baby lawyer was, um, you don’t have to have a huge budget. It’s, it’s more sweat equity and, and hard work than it is on just throwing, uh, a lot of money at something to get the double color spread, you know, yellow pages ad or, you know, the most TV spots during daytime soaps. So for me, um, you know, I decided what is going to be my niche? Because I didn’t want to do everything. And I decided my niche was going to be auto and trucking and I just focused. And when you drill deep, not wide is the expression. I changed the name of my law firm. Um, because nobody knows who Steve Gursten is. I don’t advertise. Right? There’s no, there’s no branding to Gursten. So I changed it to Michigan Auto Law. And, you know, I’ve, you know, I’ve been president of AAJs Trucking Litigation Group, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group. I’m the president now of the Distracted Driving Litigation Group. Um, I’ve spoken at well over 300 seminars all over the country to lawyers. Um, I do a three-day advanced auto accident seminar in Las Vegas that gets several hundred lawyers over year. Um, I want to be known and I want our law firm to be known as the very, very best in this area. We don’t have to be the biggest in 10 different areas of law. I don’t want to be advertising for mass torts and aviation wrongful death and you know, 20 other things on my website. I want to be very focused and I want to just be better than everybody else. And I want to do it the right way and treat people the right way. And that unfortunately in our world is unique. It’s very different from, from everybody else. So, you know, luckily, um, again, going back to Malcolm Gladwell, I was young enough that I saw the internet and I got it, maybe a little bit more than lawyers who were older. I understood the potential. Uh, but I was also successful enough and I had enough results and success behind my name that I was able to, to leverage that with a website. So it wasn’t just, you know, a brand new lawyer throwing out a website. And, um, again, I think it was just right time, right place. And then understanding, like I’m sure you advise all of your clients because you have a tremendous reputation, Chris, that, you know, you’re never done. It’s, it’s, it’s a marathon it’s like gardening. There’s always going to be more to do. And you just have to accept that. Um, I’m a huge, uh, James Clear fan, you know, I believe in systems and habits. So the question is for someone like me, who’s very busy. Um, how can I create a system? That will be successful. That will let me regularly, um, create high, valued 10X content, um, for my blog and my website. And how can I keep improving even when I’m super busy and, you know, I might be in trial for two weeks? So those are the things that people need to to think about. And, um, I think that’s where lawyers drop the ball, right? They, they, they look at this as a sprint. Where they look at this as something they could buy their way in. And it’s the long game – you can’t.

Chris Dreyer

Steven’s really cracked that secret formula for firm growth and client reputation. And as the firm grows, so does this list of responsibilities, president of the AAJ Distracted Driving Litigation Group, president of the Belli Society, regular speaking engagements, and he owns two other law firms. Well, the schedule that busy, I had to ask him what advice he has for lawyers who have a lot on their plates as well.

Steven Gursten

I would say you really have to create those systems like, like James Clear talks about. So for example, um, my mornings, when I feel like I’m sharpest, that’s when I work on my cases. And I do deep, deep dives on the cases. I do focus groups. I work with some of the top experts, um, because I know, you know, it’s funny, a good friend of mine said, you know, the differences between a $1 million case and a $5 million case. And I said, what? He goes, you. You’re the difference. So, you know, in a, in a perfect world where I don’t have, you know, a court saying, I have to be there, you know, X hour, um, mornings when I’m freshest, I work on my cases and then in the afternoons is when I try to focus on marketing and management and it’s just, it’s worked out very well for me. And then at the end of the day, when I’m really tired, that’s when I try to tackle my 300 emails that came in throughout the day. And, um, you know, and I do create, uh, two times throughout the day, once in the morning, before launch, once in the afternoon, before I leave, where I batch on my phone calls and I try to return as many of them as I can. Um, you know, like we talked about earlier, my secretary is really good that if I can’t reach anybody, she knows to call and schedule a time where I can talk to them the next day, because I always want people to know that they’re important to me and I’m not, um, you know, I’m taking their time and their, their phone call very seriously. And, um, yeah, but that’s, that’s just been a really good system for me.

Chris Dreyer

That’s, that’s such a phenomenal piece of advice and I love how you’re theming and your days, and you know what to expect. And, and so then you can go into it when you have a marketing activity, you can schedule it for the afternoon and, and it just makes a lot of sense. It can set your brain to focus on, on those activities that, you know, you’re going to be tackling. And uh…

Steven Gursten

Because the science says you can’t multitask. You really, you can’t multitask. You really have to focus. So when I’m doing my cases, I don’t want to think about anything, but that case that I’m working on and the same with when I’m working on management or marketing, you got to focus.

Chris Dreyer

That’s incredible, incredible Steven where can individuals listening, go to find out more.

Steven Gursten

Uh, well, um, my website is, uh, www.mIchiganautolaw.com. And that’s, that’s probably the easiest way to find me. And, um, yeah, that, um, I speak probably two or three seminars a month, so I’m always out there somewhere.

Chris Dreyer

I think Steven managed to cover just about everything we love to talk about on his show: SEO, marketing, growing your firm, keeping clients happy, even putting systems in place to manage your day to day activities. And clearly with the success he’s had for the last 28 years, it’s working. So you wouldn’t go wrong taking a leaf or two out of his book. I’d like to think Steven Gersten from Michigan Auto Law for sharing his story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you like this episode, or have an idea for a future guests, whose story you’d love to hear, leave me a review and tell me more. I’ll catch you next week with another inspiring story and some SEP tips and tricks all with page one in mind.

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