Managing partner Stephanie Randall talks about managing a growing firm and the importance of always focusing on her people.
She explains how she and Todd have effectively reversed roles within the firm and recalls some of Todd's past missteps, like that time when Todd wore WAY too much makeup.
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 0:20
Season One was about how Todd Burnham started Burnham Law in his basement and built it to one of the most prestigious law firms in Colorado by thinking outside of the box and surrounding himself with the best lawyers and staff in the industry. Now during a pandemic Burnham Law is still growing. How you ask? Walk toward the storm and face it head on and you empower the people that help get you there. It's time to execute. It's time to make some lemonade. It's time to burn the ships. This is Deep Bench with Todd Burnham. All right, this is the time of the show where I usually say, what is up Todd, and then he gives me some really cool quippy response. But we don't have that today. Today, we're joined by managing partner, Stephanie Randall, probably one of the most listened to podcasts. We had in season one.
Stephanie Randall 1:15
Really? I feel excited about that.
Chris Braden 1:17
It was good. So Stephanie, how are you doing?
Stephanie Randall 1:19
Doing good, doing really good. We're, we're thriving and growing through this whole pandemic.
Chris Braden 1:25
Yeah, you're growing, which is interesting. So I guess we're gonna go ahead and start there. Email came out, changes, Todd is going to step back a little bit from the firm, and you're going to take over, you've been kind of doing this job for a long time. So really, what's changing for you?
Stephanie Randall 1:45
Well, and I say, I've been doing Managing Partner stuff for Burnham Law for a little over two years. And over the last two years, Todd's been handing the reins to me more and more. And I would say that since about January, and then in overdrive since March, I've been managing the firm except for some marketing decisions and that kind of thing. So I think him stepping back to do some other things and pursue some other things is exciting. And it might feel like a really big change for everybody else. And I don't know that it feels like that big of a change to me.
Chris Braden 2:21
Yeah because you've been doing this stuff for a while. And we talked about that last time we had you on. So were you surprised at all, or you guys already talked about this kind of because the email came out. And the way the email is phrased, I think a lot of people were not shocked, but weren't ready for it or didn't realize that's how far he was gonna go. Right.
Stephanie Randall 2:42
So Todd, and I had definitely been having this conversation for a couple of years that he, his long term plan was to eventually step back. And I don't know that he had formulated what he was going to be doing. But he wanted me to be able to, to lead and handle everything. So and I think in March, when the pandemic hit, he started talking about, Hey, If this goes on long term, I want to take my family to Hawaii for two or three months. And, you know, what would that look like? And then during the summer, he reached out, and he said, I want to do that? What do you think? And I was like, Why are you even asking, just go because we've got this, we have this handled? And he's like, okay, really, okay, I'm gonna do it. And then I think once he really started thinking about putting that into place, he realized, why not really step back and just, you know, stay that way. And that would allow him to pursue other things and would also allow a vacuum of space for the partners of Burnham Law, and the the leadership and other attorneys here to step up and develop their own careers and to expand and to hone what they're doing. And I think that that is exciting. I don't know that that's scary. I just want everyone to get focused on what that means to them, and how they can get better.
Chris Braden 4:03
So did everybody kind of take it like that? Because the way Todd explained it, this is a great opportunity for all the partners to kind of lead the way.
Stephanie Randall 4:14
Chris Braden 4:14
And grow and stuff he talked about. I think you had said, you know, we can grow outside of Colorado. Now we have the ability and the infrastructure set up that we can we can grow this thing if we have to.
Stephanie Randall 4:27
Yeah, so and we had been considering expanding into other states. And I think that this has raised a lot of excitement for the partners in thinking about that, and what what potential is out there, and I don't know that any of them were thinking about it before. And I feel like there's been a door open for a lot of them and that they're excited about the potential and they're excited about, you know, dreaming and thinking in a way that they're not accustomed to doing. I think it's exciting stuff.
Chris Braden 4:58
You know, the interesting thing I kind of want to go back to where Todd was thinking about maybe going to Hawaii for a few months. I've given you guys major credit on how you guys handled COVID. Right when it started, and I had gotten back, this was in February, and I had just gotten back from Disney World and people started going nuts. That's kind of when everyone was like, starting to freak out. And then I got back, and we were recording some episodes. And you guys kind of already had a plan in place or a plan developed. And I know you were instrumental in that. How did that change? Or how did that set up to where you are today? Because the the firm has been able to, I think Todd said that you're getting maybe less calls at the beginning until you tweaked some things, but you were getting the same amount of quality phone calls. Were you surprised that was all happening?
Stephanie Randall 5:52
Yeah. So I can't really take credit for our transition. First of all, we were already a cloud based system. And we already had every attorney equipped with laptops and the ability to work from home fluidly. Even paralegals had the ability to work from home pretty fluidly. And so when this transition came, and we really started having a conversation about what this was going to look like to protect our people, it was just a matter of coming up with a policy about what that looked like. But Todd was the one that saw it coming in February. And you know, because the the quarantine didn't happen until like mid March, right? But in, in early January, and in February, he started really pushing the idea that this was going to become very large. And I'm going to be transparent. I was just like, you know, let's wait and see. Let's wait and see we're ready if we need to, but we don't need to worry about it. And I did not grasp that it was going to be as globally large as it ended up being.
Chris Braden 6:52
It's everything now.
Stephanie Randall 6:53
Yeah, it's everything. And it's affecting everyone. You know, it's it's made these huge changes. And, you know, I had, I had phone calls with Todd and he just kept drilling that, you know, this is gonna be big. And I've learned in my experience with Todd, that when he really grabs onto something, he almost always is right. And so I just go with it, because I trust that intuition that he has. So I the only reason I acted as quickly as I did was because he kept drilling it. And so we put everything in place, we transitioned really smoothly, our workforce has been protected. And we are our business has grown during this time, we haven't stalled out at all. And I think that that seamless transition was, in part, because we had already made the technological advances in the firm, before COVID. But it just made it really easy to transition as far as we've always been people focused right or employee focused. So it's easy to say, you know, you have employees that are afraid to come to work. How do you figure out how to address that need? We don't want anyone terrified at work. Right?
Chris Braden 8:01
Stephanie Randall 8:01
And, and so, you know, the business has its needs and employees have their needs. And it's just about finding a marriage of what works for everybody and keeps everybody in good spirits so that they can be productive workers.
Chris Braden 8:15
And also it doesn't ever hurt to be ready.
Stephanie Randall 8:17
Chris Braden 8:18
You know what I mean? So you guys are ready to go. Did you ever think that like all the procedures with the courts would be where they're at right now? Because most of the stuff you do is like zoom calls, right?
Stephanie Randall 8:28
Yeah. No, not at all. I mean, I think for a lot of people, Zoom was a new concept. You know, obviously, everybody has Skype or video chat ability, but or FaceTime or whatever. For the courts. The courts, historically, from a technological standpoint, move extremely slow. But they, you know, to give them credit, they got they got things up and running very quickly. I think there was probably about a month of lag, which that's not, that sounds like a lot. It's not a lot, not when you're talking about a governmental entity figuring out how to move a bunch of parts. So they got they do WebEx is what they do. It's a more secure version of sort of Zoom.
Chris Braden 9:07
Stephanie Randall 9:08
It is a little bit yeah, but but hey, I've had hearing after hearing after hearing after hearing in WebEx, and it hasn't slowed down our practice. We did we I've had some cases that chose to go through arbitration, which is like a private judge to avoid any lag from the court docket. But honestly, like right now, you can set a hearing way faster than what you could before. And there you know, there are some cons to doing it through WebEx. And there are some learning curves. But it's it's really cheaper for the clients because, you know, we used to have to build a bunch of exhibit binders. Well, now I need one. And I don't even really have to have one because I can look at it on my computer. I just like to write and highlight and flag and stuff. But you know, you get one, two, they don't have to pay for us to make a bunch of them and they don't have to pay for us to drive back and forth to court. Which, you know, sometimes there's quite a distance. But I think all in all, it's been pretty positive. And I I can see this continuing in the future. I don't know why bodies really need to be in the courthouse for every single hearing based on the pros that that the WebEx hearings provide. So and mediations, you know, they can be held via video, I have had depositions in person, but you can also do those via video. So that that transition, I think, you know, as far as just everybody should give themselves a pat on the back, because it happened a lot better than what you would have anticipated.
Chris Braden 10:34
So have you had any court hearings where people like, Don't mute their mic or getting feedback?
Stephanie Randall 10:39
Chris Braden 10:39
Stuff like, does the judge get irritated?
Stephanie Randall 10:41
Yeah, that also has been a learning curve for people mute your mic when you're not using it, turn your volume down. So you don't have some kind of feed. Sometimes people will call in and log in on their laptop, and then there's a loop between the two. It's terrible. And then it sounds like in perpetuity, like whatever the person said, it keeps, like layering and layering. But I actually the last WebEx hearing that I had the judge, at the end said, I just want to thank counsel because this is the most seamless WebEx WebEx hearing that I've had today, because everyone muted their mics, and no one was, you know, doing anything they weren't supposed to be doing. And I'm like, well, we've had a lot of practice since March. I think we should have it down by now. You know?
Chris Braden 11:22
That's pretty funny, too. That'd be a good Saturday Night Live skit it would. So getting back to the transition a little bit. And I don't know if you've listened to some of the newer episodes.
Stephanie Randall 11:34
Chris Braden 11:34
But you're really busy.
Stephanie Randall 11:36
I'm really busy. I'm managing the firm, right?
Chris Braden 11:38
Stephanie Randall 11:39
I'm handling his job so that he can make podcasts. You can tell him I said that.
Chris Braden 11:43
So I interviewed Kristin, and she has only met Todd I think in passing or just short times.
Stephanie Randall 11:51
Chris Braden 11:52
And she was really impressed. And it was funny. She goes I heard about old Todd.
Stephanie Randall 11:57
Chris Braden 11:57
But I love New Todd.
Stephanie Randall 11:58
Chris Braden 11:59
With this new transition of him kind of stepping back a little bit. Have you seen a change?
Stephanie Randall 12:05
Yeah, so there's been a huge change. And I know, on my prior podcast, I talked a lot about his growth over the years that I've known him and how proud I am of him. But in the last two years, since I've been taking over the management of the firm more and more, and that meant the details, right? The people and the details, because I'm good at that. And, and that's not his strength, right. And he's always like Bill Belichick, you know, you got to focus on your strength, well, that's not his strength. And he recognized like, that's not my strength. So, you know, you do it, you do it way better than I do, or better than I can imagine doing it. And so in that transition, like I started handling people things and dealing with issues or employee issues and, and figuring out, you know, what's the best way to do this? And, and I'm just going by gut, you know, figuring out like, what's fair to people, that's what I'm focused on? Well, the interesting thing about that is we we've been shifting positions, so I used to be him coming down hard on people. And I would come in and try to soften the blow. And, and now I'm the one that's directly addressing issues, although not how he would have right? But but I'm sort of like the heavy. And he's the encourager, and we have entirely changed positions. And he, he thinks it's hilarious. And it'd be like, I love doing this, this is great. And then he'll laugh about how I'm the one that people are sort of like, you know, worried about hearing from.
Chris Braden 13:29
Stephanie Randall 13:29
And they love hearing from him because when they hear from him, he's just like, giving them kudos and rah, rah. And and that's great. But it's it's just ironic, because that's not what was going on before.
Chris Braden 13:40
Well, I think the cool thing to watching him or just talking to him about, like his personal life, and I've been there where he has the lacrosse club, he was coaching the girls lacrosse, and now he just wants to, like enjoy it, just watch them. And I remember me making that decision. Like my daughters played soccer. And I knew nothing about soccer. So the fact that I could sit there watch the development was so like, it was invaluable. It was invaluable, because my only thing was just to encourage,
Stephanie Randall 14:13
Chris Braden 14:13
direct things like that. And that's pretty cool to watch him go through right now.
Stephanie Randall 14:18
Yeah, that is cool. I remember back when I was first hired at the firm, you know, we're all crammed into this little office in Erie. And he had a very young family at the time. You had Noah and Oliver, they were you know, a little bit older. And then he had tiny little Mae and Clara, Archer wasn't even born yet. And they you know, they were just running around and kind of in and out and it was sort of chaotic. And he was really focused on building the business and I know that it was hard on his family. I know he didn't really talk to me about it, but I could just see it can see that he was spending nights at the office just trying thinking and dreaming and trying to create ate something from nothing. And over time, he has been able to become more and more involved with the kids and just be with them. And then especially since this year, and since March, he's been home with them constantly. He's, you know, rarely ever has any presence in the office. And if he does, it's just a blow through. But yeah, he's, you know, he's able to coach lacrosse and really spend quality time with them that's beyond, you know, them kind of just coming through the office. And it was funny, because before he would be working at the office, and his kids had school that wasn't too far away.
Chris Braden 15:36
Stephanie Randall 15:37
And they would, they would come in after school, and they'd be wearing their little school uniforms or whatever. And they would go down our hallway to the kitchen. And we always have snacks and drinks and stuff. And they would come walking back. So I see them go down the hall past my office, and then they come back down the other way. And they would look like they were robbing a 7/11. So they'd have like, five sodas stuffed in their jackets and pockets and they'd be carrying like an armful of each, each one of an armful of like bags of chips and granola bars and whatever they got there. And then they would make like hot chocolate and they'd be dripping it down the hallway. And whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, you know, like, we're being robbed. And anyway, and then as aside, Todd will be like, why are the carpets so filthy? Well, I wonder But anyway, but that's how it used to be, you know, just sort of chaos and touch and go. And now he's, you know, he's really engaged in our lives. And I'm happy about that, because his, his family is the only reason that he's done any of what he's done.
Chris Braden 16:35
Stephanie Randall 16:36
It's just to, to give them good lives and to provide for them. And that's, that's also my goal is to, to make sure that this business continues thriving so that his family's provided for because that's the primary goal of, of the function of this business.
Chris Braden 16:53
Sure. Well and it offers everybody that comes here that same opportunity.
Stephanie Randall 16:58
Yes, exactly. And, and that's like Todd's, he's always clear about that, that he's, he's looking to take care of people who it's a mutually beneficial thing, right, we're taking care of each other. And we were making that making sure that we're taking care of each other's families.
Chris Braden 17:14
So moving over to the marketing side, Todd's kind of always run this thing as a sports franchise. And as like a pro sports team, but also your guys, the marketing, I won't say it's edgy, but it's kind of in your face a little bit. What are your thoughts on that? Are you gonna, you're gonna keep that, like, is that the goal?
Stephanie Randall 17:36
Again, like I said, before, whenever Todd really hits hard on something, he's usually right.
Chris Braden 17:42
Stephanie Randall 17:42
And, you know, the, our website, it's bold, right? It basically is Nike.
Chris Braden 17:47
It's so awesome.
Stephanie Randall 17:47
It's very Nike.
Chris Braden 17:48
Stephanie Randall 17:49
Like, we just need a swoosh and, uh, just do it. That's, that's what our website looks like.
Chris Braden 17:54
Stephanie Randall 17:54
I I won't say that. You know, when I first saw it, I was like, Oh, this is the most amazing website ever. But when it hit it hit. He was right. He was totally right. And he's gonna be like, I'm glad this is recorded. Can I hear that again? But yeah, so that those kinds of things like I, my experience has been to learn and model from those things. So I have no intention of turning everything upside down. It that would not make any sense, right?
Chris Braden 18:20
Well, yeah, no. And I think honestly, you fit into that same type of a category. But I think the cool thing about the site, and it was funny, because I was messing around with it the other day, actually, I was looking up Kristin, to just kind of get some information, right. And when your guys's photos are, they're black and white, and when you move, move the cursor over, it's all color.
Stephanie Randall 18:40
Chris Braden 18:40
It's like you're getting introduced to the crowd and Madison Square Garden. It's so cool.
Stephanie Randall 18:44
Chris Braden 18:44
Just little things like that. That just, they mean something and it kind of sets you guys apart from the rest of the firms. And we've talked about a lot of the a lot of law firms they spend on big media, radio and television print. And the more you spend, the better you are, you guys have always been smart in how you spend, how you advertise. So you've done a lot of online and things like that, which, when you first got here, were you kind of were you on board with that? Or like was that something that you were a little bit sketched? About? Like, did you was that even a part of your thought process?
Stephanie Randall 19:21
I think Todd, he he's, he really has a mind for marketing. And, you know, not that he doesn't listen to other people's input, but not that he's never never had a terrible idea. He's had so many bad ideas. You know?
Chris Braden 19:36
You have to do the bad ones to find the good ones.
Stephanie Randall 19:38
Like I roasted him one Christmas party about all his terrible marketing ideas. And and he's just like, whatever whatever because he like one time he was in Mac makeup for a photoshoot or it was a video shoot. And and he had some makeup artist come and I'm serious like he was wearing like mascara. And and he I guess he thought that that's what he needed to do. And then we shot the thing and And then it comes back and we're playing a little too much blush.
Chris Braden 20:04
Like an 80s Rock Band.
Stephanie Randall 20:06
It was terrible. It was so terrible. I mean, at the time he like he was working out but not Not like now he's cut now but then he was like a little chunky. And he's wearing like all this makeup and and then it comes down and I have I still have on my phone like a screenshot of it because
Chris Braden 20:26
I need to see that.
Stephanie Randall 20:27
Hilarious. I'll text it to you and we're done. But anyway, so not that he's you know, he's he's definitely made his missteps but you know, that never went anywhere. Right? It was he was learning in process.
Chris Braden 20:38
It was vetoed in-house.
Stephanie Randall 20:39
Yeah, he figured it out. Like, I think Katy probably said something about like, you look beautiful.
Chris Braden 20:45
Oh, my wife roasts me too.
Stephanie Randall 20:47
It's awful. But anyway, he you know, as far as where it's going and what we're doing, I think that I intend to continue modeling what he's doing. And I'm, I'm really, at this point, just watching and learning. And we're lucky to have Sarah handling a lot of the marketing with Todd, she's been partnering with him to do that. So that's nice, cuz you have a familiar person in place that kind of knows what Todd would be doing and that kind of thing. So I think it's great. And I'm, I'm in a learning kind of mode about that right now.
Chris Braden 21:19
Well, in wrapping up, is there anything else you want to say about the transition or moving forward or growth or anything like that? That's exciting. I will tell you, I mean, I don't know if you're gonna do a virtual Christmas party, but I've been to your last few. And we're in October now. And I'm like, oh, man, that's probably not happening.
Stephanie Randall 21:38
I know. It's a super bummer. COVID sucks, right?
Chris Braden 21:40
Yeah. Amen to that.
Stephanie Randall 21:41
So your lawyer shouldn't Exactly. So our Christmas parties, I usually throw those in, I have a really great time making an awesome party. But I've already canceled it for this year. And instead, we're giving all of our employees an extra day off around the holiday. So they'll be able to have because Christmas falls on a Friday this year. Right? So yeah, so we're giving them Thursday. So they're gonna have a four day holiday weekend. And I think that that's, that's a nice treat. And, and it's, in my mind, not the same as a party, but it's just not wise to bring everybody together and all of their spouses and you know, have some kind of COVID outbreak. So we definitely will probably have some kind of virtual happy hour or something like that. It won't be the same. But we are we are hoping for Top Gun 2, to get together to have our red carpet movie extravaganza.
Chris Braden 22:28
I know I was stoked about that too. You guys do fun stuff.
Stephanie Randall 22:30
I know. Well, we were gonna have an Easter egg hunt at the Zoo.
Chris Braden 22:34
Okay. Yes I remember that.
Stephanie Randall 22:35
In March. I had to cancel that. Yeah, it was like in January, it sounds like you need to cancel that. I was like, I'm not canceling it.
Chris Braden 22:41
Stephanie Randall 22:41
It's fine. There's like two cases in Washington.
Chris Braden 22:43
Stephanie Randall 22:44
Yeah. And then next thing, you know, it's like spreading across the country like wildfire. Anyway, he was right. But I had to cancel that. And then we had a summer thing. And then, you know, that got ruined, and it's all been ruined. Let's just take, let's take a rain check on this year.
Chris Braden 22:58
It's funny, I'm ready for 2021. And I feel you know what I feel good about it. Like when people say this is the new normal. I'm not willing to accept that.
Stephanie Randall 23:06
Chris Braden 23:07
But I'm willing to accept the good stuff we were doing, like working from home.
Stephanie Randall 23:12
Chris Braden 23:12
We've really done a great job just with the processes of getting things done quicker. And I think that's good for that. That's, if we can take anything out of all of this it's something that we've learned how we can get things done in a different way, and have time to like spend with our families.
Stephanie Randall 23:31
Chris Braden 23:31
Do things like that, which is good.
Stephanie Randall 23:33
Definitely. The flexibility I think that it's shown us is is a good thing. But we've also learned that people being away from their teams too much breaks down the team. Totally. So we have some new learning to do too.
Chris Braden 23:46
No, you're absolutely right. Well, awesome. Stephanie. Well, congratulations. I think are in order.
Stephanie Randall 23:51
Chris Braden 23:51
And you know, you've been doing this for a while, it's gonna be fine.
Stephanie Randall 23:53
It's gonna fine. And you're here. So that's fine.
Chris Braden 23:55
I know. I'm excited. It's funny. I wish I could do this more often. Because meeting with Todd and hanging out with you guys, there's, there's a lot of synergy and energy. And I enjoy that. And I know you guys are going to be moving to a new building. Todd's talked about that. So I might just have to like, give me a little office in there.
Stephanie Randall 24:14
Well we have room for you.
Chris Braden 24:15
I know. That's what he said. He said I could be the first tenant.
Stephanie Randall 24:18
You could be the first tenant.
Chris Braden 24:19
Well, I am. Put me down.
Stephanie Randall 24:20
You have special privileges because you're the first.
Chris Braden 24:23
He said you had a really good idea on what to do with it too. And I'm kind of excited about it, to be honest with you.
Stephanie Randall 24:28
Yep. We're, I'm excited about it. We've been getting the drawings from the architect. And it's, I think it's gonna be really exciting. It's very forward thinking and the space is going to be efficient. And it's going to support the idea that people have the flexibility to work from home but also have a place to like meet with their clients and, you know, have group meeting spaces and that kind of thing.
Chris Braden 24:49
So I've been in a lot of those. So if you need any feedback, I can give it to you because there's goods and bads.
Stephanie Randall 24:56
Okay. You just signed yourself up to be a console.
Chris Braden 25:01
Some people use it as a Panera Bread but just saying. Just saying that's the only plug where you sit in here every day from 6am to noon, bro. Come on now.
Stephanie Randall 25:12
Panera. Well, because it's unlimited coffee, right?
Chris Braden 25:15
Yeah. My buddies the manager this one over here.
Stephanie Randall 25:18
Chris Braden 25:18
He's such a nice guy.
Stephanie Randall 25:19
He probably doesn't kick anybody out then.
Chris Braden 25:21
Stephanie Randall 25:22
Chris Braden 25:23
No. He wouldn't if you're buying stuff.
Stephanie Randall 25:25
Yeah, just I need I need a cookie now.
Chris Braden 25:27
Yeah, exactly. Come on. Go spend some money.
Stephanie Randall 25:29
Chris Braden 25:30
Alright Steph, good stuff. Nice talking to you as always.
Stephanie Randall 25:33
Thank you. You too!
Chris Braden 25:33
And then we'll do this again. I'm sure.
Stephanie Randall 25:35
Chris Braden 25:35
All right. Take it easy.
Todd Burnham 25:39
Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe and until next time, keep getting better.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai