Choose Your Path

about this episode

“I do not look back at what might have been. If I did that, playing golf would drive me crazy.” - Tiger Woods

Introduction music by the up-and-coming band The Beeves! Thanks boys!

episode transcribed

Todd Burnham 0:00
Hi, this is Todd Burnham. I am a licensed practicing attorney. But just because you're listening to me doesn't mean that I represent you. This is for informational purposes only if you're good with that, then let's roll.

Chris Braden 0:23
What do you do when you move to a new state during a recession with no contacts, no job, no money, little experience and a family to support? You lean on what you know, you continue to learn, grind every day and you keep getting better. Join Todd Burnham as he outlines how he started Burnham Law in his basement grew to seven offices relying only on his experiences and inspirations from being a college athlete. His unique style of motivation and raw sense of humor are a welcome change from the business advice you're used to hearing. Whether you're a new or seasoned attorney trying to grow your practice or an entrepreneur in any service industry, Todd's story is sure to inspire you to take action and follow your instincts. This is Deep Bench with Todd Burnham.

Hey, Todd, how's it going, buddy?

Todd Burnham 1:10
Good, man. How are you?

Chris Braden 1:11
Good. So, in the last podcast, we learned a lot about your upbringing, Syracuse, New York lacrosse player we never really got into why did you decide to become an attorney? What prompted you to go to law school and become an attorney?

Todd Burnham 1:26
I got in trouble a lot as a kid. That's pretty much it. And I have a debt of gratitude to Jeff Ghosh in Syracuse, New York, who's still a good friend of mine, and he got me out of trouble many times. And that was again, male influence. That's my exposure. And the exposure to the positive male influence was an attorney who drove fancy car and dressed nicely in looked like he was put together, whereas I didn't have that experience. So I got in trouble a lot. I had exposure to the criminal justice system. I was borderline juvenile delinquent, being raised by social worker mother, who during the day was dealing with juvenile delinquents. And thankfully, I tapped into my competitive nature and I just wanted to Eminem it, just wanted to crush this shit.

Chris Braden 2:17
So you say juvenile delinquent and like me, I got in trouble. But it was like Leave It to Beaver type of trouble. Nothing like major.

Todd Burnham 2:26
Yeah, that was like, that wasn't my thing. I broke into the middle school when I was in eighth grade and sprayed the fire extinguishers everywhere with a bunch of people.

Chris Braden 2:33
And is that against the law?

Todd Burnham 2:35
Yeah, I think that's frowned upon. So that was my exposure. But I mean, as I kept going through life and through college, and that was the one thing I knew that like looking back, it's obvious why I became an attorney, because that's the only thing I was really exposed to that and being a social worker. Like, that's really it, right. And today, the traits that I think are valuable that I can give to our clients is, I have the compassion, I understand it. I have a psychology background, and I'm an attorney. I'm Nancy Burnham with Paul Chapman and Chris Canali. And Tom Hall and Jeff Ghosh, and Cecil Walker and all these people combined. In you add to that a little bit of burning desire to be the best at what you're doing. And you end up with Burnham Law.

Chris Braden 2:37
Your mom sounds like a really sweet person back in the day when you were getting that kind of trouble, like, how did she handle it?

Todd Burnham 3:24
She was freaking out. I mean, she was calling every resource available. My uncle, my grandmother, she threatened and unfortunately, she was also a typical mom from a divorce situation. She was regularly angry at my father, I'd hear a lot of times when I go live with your father, that kind of stuff. And I'm grateful for that as well. Because we tell our clients all the time, like that is not in the best interest of your children. And my mom was human going through this alone survival mode, and you're not going to do everything right. And that's just life. And through that we succeed.

Chris Braden 3:58
So you were going through that early on, you end up with lacrosse that helps get you through.

Todd Burnham 4:03
That got me through that didn't just help me through like that was the focus. That was the motivation. That was the burning desire to be excellent at something. And I was on a shorter learning curve because whereas other kids had 10 years I had three. So I still to this day have a chip on my shoulder about that. I think I could have been with me like this is regret, but I could have been a great lacrosse player. I have the competitive drive for it. I just never tapped into it until my 40s.

Chris Braden 4:33
Most athletes when they go to college, they go to college, but they're really there for their sport.

Todd Burnham 4:39
Yeah, I went there for the sport. And pretty much..

Chris Braden 4:43
What did you study in undergrad?

Todd Burnham 4:44
I honed my ability to consume alcohol. I studied but

Chris Braden 4:47
I have a master's in that. It's like took me two years.

Todd Burnham 4:50
Yeah, I mean, and I think the thing that I think of most about that is it's so funny when I look back I like why was I like a psychology major? Because man I think all the time like I can't turn it off, I think constantly and that gave me a basis to do this. This is a natural progression. This thing is organic who I've become. And that just made sense to me. It called to me a little bit. And so I was a psychology major.

Chris Braden 5:11
So how did you pick a law school? What's that process?

Todd Burnham 5:15
Getting into law schools, the hardest part about law school, I didn't study much for it. I had pretty average grades because I was working during law school. I was bartending most of the time. Okay, you can see where the alcohol just kind of permeates through the story, right?

Chris Braden 5:28
A running theme.

Todd Burnham 5:29
Yeah. So I got into Whittier law school in LA, they gave me money to go there. I transferred to Albany Law, graduated, took the New York bar, passed it first time, really proud of that, and went to work for a municipality. Then after that, I went to work for another construction company. And at that point, I just said, I can do this better than these people. I started my own firm.

Chris Braden 5:51
So that's when Burnham Law became an idea and eventually became a reality.

Todd Burnham 5:55
Yeah, but that was in New York. And the thing that was missing the the thing that I was always looking for was my soulmate. I'm a feeler, I am deeply passionate about life. And I really don't have many regrets in my life, except at the time was the one that got away was my college girlfriend. She moved out to Colorado. I had one more year at college because I was on the five year plan.

Chris Braden 6:22
And me too.

Todd Burnham 6:23

Chris Braden 6:23
And it was a good one.

Todd Burnham 6:24
Yeah, I don't know if it was a good one for me, but it made me think a lot. So when it comes to that kind of focus, yeah. made sense to me.

Chris Braden 6:33
Alright, so Burnham Law? Can I just ask you this? Why did you go to LA and then go back to New York? How does that happen?

Todd Burnham 6:41
Well, it's a law school that is now no longer around. Okay. So it was a newer law school. That was if you had an average LSAT score, then they would give you some money. They were just trying to promote it.

Chris Braden 6:53
They needed some butts and seats.

Todd Burnham 6:55
Totally. And I realized that and afterwards, I said, Okay, well, we're going to go back to a legit like, legitimate law school and praise. My grades were good enough to get into Albany Law as a second year. And think about this, Chris, this is my life. If people are listening in, they're like, Oh, my God, this guy's a train wreck. That's true. Anybody can do these things. If you just get your mind. Right.

Chris Braden 7:15
You know, you say train wreck. I totally disagree. I have a theory about life. Everybody has their bullshit. Yeah, everybody's going through their story. And if everybody laid every single card out on the table, we man we would we would know that person.

Todd Burnham 7:33
Well, this is me doing that. And it's pretty ballsy. It is I feel in there's fear with it. And there's trepidation and fear of being exposed as a fraud is what I've always felt, I've always felt like oh, my God, I don't hurt people are gonna come and work for me. Like, I don't know what I'm doing. And in reality is I knew exactly what I was doing. Right? Just and once you start believing in yourself, and you take that baggage away from your story and your things that you think define you, and it comes through fire, man, it's not through, oh, this is great. I have such a great story. And it was so easy. It's, I appreciate the hell out of my life now, right? Only because I've experienced the outhouse and the penthouse.

Chris Braden 8:18
It's good way to put it. Right. So we learned about how you got into law school. And the next few shows, we're going to talk about inspirations and then we're going to find out how really Burnham Law came into existence. We'll get into all that.

Todd Burnham 8:30
It sounds good. The ending piece to this is that I have people that believe in what I'm doing. And I equally believe in them. And together, we have built a law firm and a business that I think could be a model for law firms in the future.

Chris Braden 8:45
All right, we're gonna get into that good stuff.

Todd Burnham 8:47
Can't wait. Catch you later.

Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai