Role Players

about this episode

"Everyone on your team is important...Importance knows no rank" - Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K)

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 1:12
Doing well, man, how are you?

Chris Braden 1:14
I'm doing awesome. So we talked about growing pains in the last episode. And one of your major ways you handle these growing pains or bottlenecks is finding the right people to put in charge of that or to fix it for you like you were talking about. Let's talk about some of the roles that you have people in here at Burnham Law.

Todd Burnham 1:33
Alright, so you figure we can talk about when we have multiple practice areas?

Chris Braden 1:39

Todd Burnham 1:40
So the first thing that comes to mind for me, is just like when I first started, the first hire is the person answering the phones, we're not just talking about the players that get the attention on the field.

Chris Braden 1:51

Todd Burnham 1:52
We're talking about the equipment manager, who's the person that's in charge of bringing the equipment, you need it. It's important. And so in that kind of vein, you're looking at developing your team is not just the ballers that you're hiring.

Chris Braden 2:08
And I think the good way to put it as teams that win the Super Bowl. Everybody from the lady at the front desk, to the President to the core, everybody gets a ring. Everyone gets a raise. It's a team effort.

Todd Burnham 2:21
It's Oprah you get a car, you get a car, you get a car, right? So for me, it's so important to understand that even if you have the best lawyers, or the best, whatever it is you do, there are people that are supporting you that are equally important. And I mean it equally. It's one thing to find excellent lawyers who buy in who want to be great, who work hard going to go the distance and that want to build something here as part of your team. Those people need support. Want to know how the fastest way to make a lawyer? Great. pair them up with a great paralegal.

Chris Braden 3:03
Yeah. And you have some good ones.

Todd Burnham 3:05
No, I don't have good ones. I have great ones. And there's a difference.

Chris Braden 3:10

Todd Burnham 3:10
And it's okay. It's alright. I'm not taking too much offense to you calling me good enough. But it's cool. So what I've learned over time, is that paralegals, make your law firm.

Chris Braden 3:22

Todd Burnham 3:23
You want to see a stressed out lawyer, I'll show you someone that's not delegating enough to a competent paralegal who is more than competent. That is a great paralegal. If I have a young attorney that comes in that has those attributes that we're looking for, and she doesn't know how to do X, Y, or Z. That's part of a paralegals job at Burnham Law, is to know you're where you're at in relation to the attorney you're assigned to.

Chris Braden 3:50

Todd Burnham 3:51
So if you have these role, players who are in the role can change depending on the lawyer. I have. Eric Amat y Leon, extremely knowledgeable in the tech center, I think probably is like organized like me, oh, heads on fire. And that person is probably going to need a paralegal that's going to be doing let's can be organizing him to write and you'll have paralegals like Donna Bystricky, who's can do everything. But it's the same concept that we talked about with Belichick before. It's like, don't tell me what they can't do. Tell me what they can do. And so if I have someone that is really good at organization, you don't necessarily have to pair that person. With someone that has a weakness with the organization, you can make a strength and do some impair with like a Stephanie who's super organized.

Chris Braden 4:39

Todd Burnham 4:39
But defining the relationship. It's a thing. And so if you pair someone with the wrong lawyer, you got a bottleneck.

Chris Braden 4:48

Todd Burnham 4:49
So the role players in this example are paralegals. It's so important to realize the value that you have to acknowledge it and to Bring it up, and to, like, bring attention to it. Equally important as the lawyer who is working and is in trial, equally important. At the same time, the person on the phones, the person at the front desk, the person that's doing it, they all have their jobs. And when the person at the front desk is telling someone I don't know, I can't think of an example. But they're not doing their job, right, they're worrying about someone else's job, then bottleneck. So it's all kind of comes back to culture, right comes back to the message that you're getting. I think that Karen and Charlotte right next door to me here that are literally on the phones with people that need someone to talk to, and sometimes just to get a little taste of hope is more important than someone that is in court that day. And it's not that they're more important, necessarily. They're equally important to the job. But a job is providing service,

Chris Braden 6:02
Right, and they might be more important at that moment in time.

Todd Burnham 6:06
Absolutely. But but if you have an attitude of I saw this thing on LinkedIn the other day, and it's just like, back and forth a bunch of people. And a lawyer said, I've been practicing for 30 years, I don't make my own copies. And all these people were like, Oh, , you know, just ripping on this guy. Why are you being a DBA? Right, totally. And so I made a comment, because I can't help it sometimes. So like, yeah, that's just not how the modern law is working. That's just not how it works anymore. That's not the hierarchy, the behind the doors, you know, making decisions about people's features in the walking on eggshells. And, you know, it's the old adage that I've heard this so many times, like solo practitioners or small firms, they'll walk through the office and say, I don't know how we're gonna make payroll this week. That's a bottleneck, man, because you just lost half of your crew.

Chris Braden 6:53

Todd Burnham 6:53
You never people need, they want to know that they're part of something that's stable, that they're appreciated, and that there's forward movement.

Chris Braden 7:00

Todd Burnham 7:01
I could find an attorney that would fit in here. And it would be less stressful to me than if I had to find someone else who's answering the phones, right, that are talking to potential clients who are injured, who have litigation pending against them as children, or have been removed or relocated or something to that effect. That kind of person is special, every single one of the people here, they all have different roles. And each role is important to the entire team. If you have people that think that they are bigger than the team, if you have people that think that somebody else's job is less important than theirs, if you have people that think that this is just a waste of time, and that all we're trying to do is Bill beat it. Right? I don't want you here, I'm in charge of morale, right, I'm in charge of like, the theme that we're trying to get across is that we're just the best at what we're doing. And the best people are people that are patient, that are tolerant, that are understanding that can understand what people like put themselves in people's shoes. And the exceptional ones are the ones that can give people a sense of confidence that they're going to be heard and that their case matters. That's not what I get when I look at billboards. That's not what I get when I'm watching on TV, and all these multimillion dollar awards and all that. I want to compare apples to apples. And if you compare apples to apples, and not how much you spent to market, the apples, the people on the phones who know the truth, and know what we're about are the first impressions in the case of first impression of what is the message about this firm, the first thing it is is that we listen.

Chris Braden 8:50

Todd Burnham 8:50
Those people that are answering the phones are are so important in their roles. Because I've done it, I know what it takes. And it takes a special person to not bring that home every night. And then to slowly let it eat it you because you're dealing with raw emotions and really bad facts often. And that thing can crush a soul if you don't have the right person on it. And so it goes from Karen and Charlotte to Sabrina down the tech center to Joe and in the Springs. All of these people are part of a system that is focused on certain goals in a certain trajectory. And I'd like to think that nobody thinks that they're better than anybody else. It's just not going to happen.

Chris Braden 9:39
Sounds really cool.

Todd Burnham 9:40
Well, it's really cool,

Chris Braden 9:41
but it's important.

Todd Burnham 9:42
It's also true, right? That's the thing man I, in doing a podcast you you know you're exposing yourself to everyone. And so, it what it should be important is gotta be true otherwise, like what are you doing? So when I say these things, I absolutely mean if you pulled anybody here they would confirm it. And role players, just like the, you know, we're not talking about person in the kickoff, we're going to be talking about someone that is cleaning up the confetti.

Chris Braden 10:09
Yeah, the chef in the kitchen that, you know, there's all of the players.

Todd Burnham 10:14
There's plenty of players, but they all have a role. And they all have a place that they all see their futures, it's all part of something bigger than themselves. That's what you're looking for.

Chris Braden 10:23
You said bigger than themselves. And I think you pride yourself in spotting talent. And I've known that you've hired some good people here for certain positions, and you're like, you know what, I think you would be better served doing X job. When you hire a good person, and you're looking for the bottleneck or looking for the right place for them. How important is that for you? Because you seem to you care about people, you seem to want to make sure that you put them in a position for success?

Todd Burnham 10:53
Well, you have to otherwise, what are we doing here?

Chris Braden 10:56

Todd Burnham 10:56
This is my, this is like my vocation. This is, this is what I'm, you know, when when my kids are grown and, and I'm dead? They're gonna, people are gonna be like, What did what did your dad do? I don't know, I can either be a lawyer or I can inspire people to be better.

Chris Braden 11:12

Todd Burnham 11:12
So I think of these things. And I think of the people that come in here as committing to being part of something that we're doing things in a revolutionary way. And at the same time, you have a job to do.

Chris Braden 11:26

Todd Burnham 11:27
So we're trying to provide a service while I'm trying to, to look at things in a different, more innovative, more systematic and efficient way than law has been done forever, right. And so a great example of this is going to be Sarah, Sarah Doroff. She was initially hired to help out with our intakes department with Karen and Charlotte. I know Sarah, she's extremely intelligent. She has a background in customer service. And she has a background and I think just a talent of spotting things that are cool. I know, right? But she, she has a perspective in a sophistication level that I often don't have patience for, or wanting. I want to get things done faster. And she's gonna be the first one to say like, I hear you, Todd, which is great to hear.

Chris Braden 12:18
I hear you first. Yeah.

Todd Burnham 12:20
But understand this. And if you're just if you look at it from that perspective, but the always the goal is to get better. And if I can see that her ideas better than mine, I'm like, oh, yeah, we can definitely do that. Thank you. She's not someone that I want interacting with people on the phone, because she brings a different skill set. Sure. And so I think it's probably safer that she like, works with me and sees things from a big picture. And so you can temper my enthusiasm sometimes for positions I have or how I feel about certain businesses.

Chris Braden 12:53
Well, you got a lot of great employees and the role players here seem to really enjoy working here, which is a testament to what you've built here.

Todd Burnham 13:02
Well, I like to I mean, I think that's great to hear. I believe that that's true. And a lot of it just comes from being a little bit more self aware than it was yesterday. So just keep getting better, man. That's it.

Chris Braden 13:13
Good stuff, Todd.

Todd Burnham 13:16
Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe, and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai