44. Yehia Said, Weitz & Luxenberg People, Process & Law Firm Data Analytics

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Yehia Said wants to know how efficient your firm is! As Weitz & Luxenberg’s Director of Business Operations, Yehia’s spent the past 4 years digitally transforming the firm with agile process-led workflows and methodologies. Yehia honed his complex problem-solving capabilities during his 11 years in the marine corps, and his sights are set on revolutionizing the legal world and its attitude to data.

Whats in This Episode:
– Who is Yehia Said?
– Why your law firm might need a data analyst
– Marketing insights AKA how to know if you’re fishing in the right pond for leads
– Tools and tricks: which business intelligence tools pass the test
– How can law firms adopt strict process-led methodologies?
– Ways to manage all of your data in one robust system
– Who is the ultimate Shark Tank entrepreneur?

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

When you look back on your career so far, I bet you can pinpoint a defining moment where you chose the path you’re on now. Maybe it seemed insignificant at the time, but it had that butterfly flapping its wings effect on everything that came after. For today’s guest, Yehia Said, that moment came in college. He was working a bunch of jobs, he’d just met his future wife, but something wasn’t clicking right. Yehia was yearning for a challenge.

Yehia Said

I had a few friends that had gone into the Marine Corps, had gone into service as a whole. I saw the discipline, I saw that the leadership, and I saw the great things that they’re doing for themselves and for the country.

Chris Dreyer

Today, we hear how that one decision to join the Marine Corps ultimately led Yehia to head up the business operations at New York city’s biggest personal injury law firm. We talk about getting lean with your processes for maximum efficiency and just what in the world law firms can do with their huge amounts of data. 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.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like a lot of entrepreneurs and elite attorneys that I talk to have some kind of history with the armed forces. It makes sense. Right? There’s the training element, the hierarchy, the leadership, the organizational methodologies, all of these skills can be transferred perfectly to the professional world. For Yehia Said – part of the Marine Corps for 11 years and counting- the big takeaways are ruthless efficiency and an obsession with process.

Yehia Said

The Marine Corps to me, the way I saw it, it’s like any other organization. Obviously there’s a little bit of a difference because we’re trained warriors, right. But, at the end of the day, there’s an organization there that has a hierarchy, has structure, has command leadership. Now, when you have all of these things, there’s always room for improvement and efficiencies and process in moving this piece of paper from this spot to the next spot or accounting for all of your equipment or doing multimillion-dollar movements of personnel and equipment. There’s gotta be some strategy and efficiencies around that. So we’re doing, you know, working smarter, not harder. So I had the opportunity while I was in New York at one of my duty stations was go through Six Sigma training to really understand how to bring efficiencies to our world. But also I knew everything that I did in the Marine Corps, I knew in the back of my mind was, I’m taking all of this, soaking it in like a sponge, because I know I’m going to want to apply this in my life personally, professionally, whether it’s leadership, organization, efficiencies, and Six Sigma was a great tool for that.

Chris Dreyer

I always think of Jack Welch when I think of Six Sigma. I’ve read a few of his books and one of the things that stand out is, is not just the efficiencies, as the improvement, but also eliminating waste. You know, where is there unnecessary, um, effort or money or staff or just whatever, it could be applied to so many things. And you know where my next question is going to go – so then how did you go from the Marine Corps to Director of Operations at New York’s biggest personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxembourg?

Yehia Said

Great question. So, learned a lot of skills, worked my rank up through the Marine Corps. I’m actually still in the Marine Corps- I did eight years of active duty, I’m still doing the reserves. So, I took all of the things that I’ve learned – you know, when I was a private first class, all the way to my current rank of Staff Sergeant- I took all of these things as building blocks to figure out what do I want to do in life, right? I wanted to settle down, I wanted to start a family. My wife – who is amazing, she’s been through a lot with me, she was my high school sweethearts, and she’d been through training, me going away deployments, and it was time for me to just settle in. And I made the big leap of saying, alright, it’s time for me to move on and do something with all of the skillsets that I learned. So it was a huge leap. It’s scary. Right? In the Marine Corps you’re given food, shelter, you know, everything is provided for you. While I was in the Marine Corps for those eight years, I did college, I went through computer science through Park University – it’s a military-friendly school – and continued my, my inner nerd, you know, learning, coding and learning data and network security and so forth. I knew that I wanted to do that in the civilian sector, something nerdy, something data, something computer-wise. So, I interviewed for a couple of positions and I ended up landing an interview with Weitz & Luxembourg. I knew nothing about law firms, had no idea what I was walking into. I knew that it was a business analyst position and that, to me, it was a very lean Six Sigma type, you know, organization efficiencies, gathering requirements, analyzing requirements, and figuring out how to apply those requirements from a technical, people or process perspective. I went to the interview and I knew it was going to be a big challenge for me cause I did not know the lingo. I did not know what plaintiff law was. And it was interesting and I had other opportunities and I decided to go with that one because it was just to me, a big challenge and I would have learned a lot and I learned a tremendous amount in four years.

Chris Dreyer

Let’s dive in right in it. So let’s dive into your wheelhouse. Okay. So you’ve got the tech skill set, you’ve got the Lean Six Sigma, the efficiencies of the project management type of data skillset with so many attorneys across multiple departments. Let’s dive into just that area.

Yehia Said

When I first joined the organization, it was me and the guy that hired me, his name is Bill. He is a great mentor for me. He took me under his wing, he knows the legal space, the mass torts, the single vet practice, and really did a lot of knowledge transfer in my head to me. And it was just me and him trying to help all of the departments in the organization in various ways – whether it’s telephony projects, data, projects, efficiencies, case management systems, CRM, marketing, all of the above. So from there, we started growing our team out to include business analysts, data analysts, project managers, developers, and so forth. Now that we have this team and the structure my day and week looks a lot different back then than it does now. So now it’s more about keeping things moving forward, making sure that we are staying on task with the projects assigned where making sure that I am there to help our team solve some of the complex problems or bottlenecks that they’re facing. Now, we put our whole entire team through a rigorous training process because this is a unique space to be in. So they are well equipped to do their job with their previous experience and the train that we put them through. But there’s always the issues that you run across. So we do a lot of the sprint planning, the agile type methodology of planning for projects and getting down together in the nitty-gritty of like, how do you solve X and what are the issues or what have you guys tried and approached? And that’s internal with my team, that’s what I work on. But I also work with a lot of the department heads to understand what’s in division, right? What’s coming up in 3 months, in 6 months, in 12 months, so then we complain internally so we’re able to support.

Chris Dreyer

One of the things you mentioned that this really stands out when I talked to other successful law firms and the individuals associated with those law firms is there’s always a turning point from that eight to nine figures where data is like critical. It helps them make better decisions on their marketing spend, to eliminate waste, to get the best return on their money. We start talking about the CRM, the case management tools. The other thing I wanted to mention is, is it like a scrum master type methodology where you’re focusing on throughput? Or is it more like a pull method? Generally, law firms don’t have a structured – and I don’t mean this, like, I mean, this is as a complement – to have these very strict process-oriented methodologies to complete even task. You’re talking about agile. It’s not common.

Yehia Said

Yeah, absolutely. Right. And, and when I say agile, hybrid agile. I add the asterisk there, because like you said, right, not a lot of – and me just entering this, this vertical, right, this legal industry, – not a lot of law firms are that rigid and organized. Like, just business operations, right. Just having a business analyst and a team and a project manager. Like, a project manager more so in law firms you’ll see. But having a business operation is not the norm, right, for a lot of law firms. So definitely we try to not be so rigid in setting up, you know, the agile with scrums, with like, yeah, we’re still taking bits and pieces to make it work for us. But we also understand that we need to have a little bit of flexibility with who we’re working with. We’re working with attorneys and paralegals that are just not typically used in that type of environment. So it’s a slow roll. I mean, we started off with nothing agile and then we’re slowly where we are right now, where we have sprints, we do sprint planning, we execute in a, in a very organized fashion instead of just chaos, really.

Chris Dreyer

Yehia is a huge analytics guy. So he’s definitely talking my language. When it comes to attorney marketing, you’ve got your Google analytics, your case management tools, there’s certainly no shortage of data to work with. But that’s kind of the problem. You want to use all of that data to get a solid overall picture so you can make smarter decisions with your marketing spend. I always think of the saying 50% of your marketing’s working, you just don’t know which 50%. Weitz and Luxenberg is huge – they’re NYC’s largest personal injury and mass tort plaintiff’s law firm by far. So I asked Yehia to share what they do to draw real insight from the crazy amount of data they get to work with.

Yehia Said

There’s so much data so much, right. And especially when it comes to marketing and it comes to these different ad platforms, the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters, the Instagrams, all of these platforms have great reporting and analytics within their platforms. Now from, uh, getting a case and moving along the milestones of a case, there are CRM tools like the Litifies of the world, the Smart Advocates, and so forth. They have reporting built into their platform. Then you have that, you know, whether it’s CRM or case management system. So there’s definitely a gap for how to be able to pull all of this data together and be able to get actionable data like what’s my cost per lead? What’s my cost per retained? What’s my cost per web form submission versus a phone call, right? So you’re getting a hundred leads. The breakdown between those a hundred leads, where what happened or how did they get there? So I’ve worked very closely on that. That’s actually a big project that we’ve worked on internally in our organization of building a data warehouse to be able to do all of these things because as data is so fragmented and coming from so many different platforms now. Internally we have three proprietary case management systems that we built and four different practice areas. So we’re pulling data from those systems. Then we have our intake system. Then we have all of the ad platform systems. So we built a data warehouse using Domo. That’s one of the projects that my team was responsible for is – data analytics. I want to be able to tell data and answer very specific questions about our business from my phone. I don’t want to go ask Mark or Susie or whoever it may be for a report and take weeks to get that data. That’s not feasible for a business that’s spending a lot of money month over month. And also we need to be able to get reports to tell us – great, we can find out what’s happening within our organization, we need to find out what’s not happening. Exception reporting, you know, reporting on things that are, are issues or problem cases or things that we need to know and alert the right people about it so then they can take that actionable data and move those cases along or fix whatever the discrepancies are. And so we vetted a whole bunch of tools, we have two BI tools – business intelligence tools – internally. We have IBM Cognos and Domo, and yeah, use both of those tools, both have different use cases for them, but Domo is really where we’re plugging in all of our marketing data, along with our intake data and some our case management system data to be able to get reporting of cost per lead, cost per retained, AB testing for marketing, benchmarking the different ad platforms against each other, with our money spent and being able to see what comes out of those. You know, are you getting the right leads? You know, you might be getting a thousand leads, but are they the right leads? Are you fishing in the right pond?

Chris Dreyer

I think that’s incredible, even from an agency perspective, even if we’ve created something with like, let’s say Google data studio, where it pulls in the calls and the Google My Business data for direction requests and maybe even it’s contact form submissions… it’s difficult because it really doesn’t paint the best picture for ROI because ultimately what matters is the actual case acquisition. And so there’s kind of a disconnect there. I know a lot of agencies will say, Hey, we generated a hundred calls- well, if 99 of them were weren’t qualified, it doesn’t matter. So I think that’s a huge, competitive advantage. As we mentioned earlier, most law firms don’t have business analysts on board taking the time to refine processes and drive agility. But I think if something we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in the future. Lean Six Sigma and other methodologies are increasingly popular and if your bottom line matters- and I know it does – you’re always looking for new ways to become more efficient. Yehia spends his working life inundated with numbers, data, and analytics. I’m a big data guy too, but there’s only so much a human can handle before needing to unplug. So I wanted to know – what does Yehia do to decompress?

Yehia Said

So personally, A, I love to workout. I mean, I’m not the best at it, I’m not that great. You know, I’m not a crazy gym buff or anything, but I think stay in fit to an extent is great for the mind and the body too, right. So working out is a good way. I decompress by spending time with family, we actually have our first baby, my wife, and I, we have our daughter. Thank you very much. She’s nine months old. So, there comes a whole new set of new enjoyments out of life now, right. Things that I just, you know, never really thought of before. So now I spend a lot of time hanging out with my wife, my daughter, our family. So a lot of my, my work now is remote because of COVID but when I was working and going into the office, I was commuting two and a half hours each way. So, I was commuting five hours a day and, in my mind, I thought of it as just productivity time. So, I was reading a book or listening to a podcast or just doing research. My decompress and not thinking about work is really trying to learn more about other things. I’ve said it before, I think, I’m a nerd, but I, you know, I, I want to learn more things. And to me, it’s, I do constant research, whether it’s about tech, you know, to give you an example – I decided to one day I was reading up on radios and handheld radios and radio communication and everything. And I decided to go down the rabbit hole, learning about radios on my off time, free time. Right. That was my free time and decided to go get my license to be an amateur radio, a HAM radio operator. So I went down that rabbit hole and as corny as it sounds really is, is just reading up to learn more things. I’m just hungry to learn and I want to just keep grinding to learn new things.

Chris Dreyer

That’s I feel like we, I feel like we have a ton in common that’s that’s basically exactly what I do. And my wife’s like, you know, you need to, you need to chill out, you need to relax. I’m like, I am relaxing.

Yehia Said

My wife says the same thing and I’m big on productivity too, like, right, doing things efficient and productive in my own personal life. Right? So I’m big into reading productivity books and life hack books to figure out how to better myself as an individual personally, for me, and for my family.

Chris Dreyer

That’s wonderful. So, we’re going to go to our closing segment this is kind of new, we’re calling it our three for three. It’s basically a quickfire round. So just kind of go with your gut and you know, where this question is coming from, but what is your top search engine optimization tip?

Yehia Said

The first thing that comes to my head is data, right. Information and data. So if you’re trying to rank on Google, you’ve got to make sure that you have in that data, on your website somewhere within your website, so that Google can have something to rank off of that. Now I’m not a huge SEO guy, right? I know marketing, high-level marketing, but I think at the end of the day, we’re just using data to rank is going to be a huge advantage.

Chris Dreyer

I love that answer. So we actually hired a data scientist to scrape the web for some unique ranking capabilities. And I’ll have to share that with you later, but, okay. Second question. Which entrepreneur do you admire the most?

Yehia Said

I am big into Shark Tank, really big into Shark Tank. Watched all of the seasons, all of the episodes and it’s hard for me to pick just one individual, cause they all bring something unique to the table. And I think to me, if I were to have to pick one, I would be Mark Cuban.

Chris Dreyer

Great answer. And final question for the three for three. So what is the next thing on your bucket list?

Yehia Said

I want to learn more about different industries and bring something disruptive to industry, whether it’s legal or finance or something. And I’m not saying in disruptive because I want to be a multi-billionaire or anything like that. I want to bring good to an industry.

Chris Dreyer

Yehia Said is clearly process-driven. He’s been at Weitz & Luxenberg for just four years, but he’s already revolutionizing their business operations. So, legal world – watch this space. A new disruptor might be on the horizon. You’ve been listening to the rankings podcast, I’m Chris Dreyer. A huge thanks to Yehia Said for joining us today. You can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you! Are you a Six Sigma enthusiast like Yehia? Or perhaps you’ve got another kickass process methodology that’s making a world of difference in your firm. Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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