Alright, welcome back from prospecting show. Today is July 15th, wednesday, hump day in the middle of the week here, and we have Jennifer dies on the call. How are you?
On or you.
I am doing fantastic, thank you so much for coming on the show. And we’re both here locally, we’re just talking about covid stats and Allegany County and everything that’s going on, so it’s always fun to have some locals on the podcast to start things off, maybe kind of introduce yourself and give us the background of where you started and how you got to where you’re at today.
Yeah, so I grew up in Upstate New York. I basically tell people, it’s almost to Canada, it’s almost Canada randomly Ontario. In a wiggle, New York, most people haven’t heard of that.
And I went to LA Morin College up there in Syracuse, and then came down and went to Japan for law school back in 2010. now, this is my 10th anniversary of being in Pittsburgh. And following law school, I clerked for a judge, I worked at a law firm. And then in 2017, I decided to go out on my own and start my own firm and see where it takes me and have been trudging along doing it ever since, so I just… I’m about to celebrate my third anniversary, so it’s been really good. It’s exciting.
And so do you… You made this transition to work for yourself and kinda go through that process, what was that like? Was that a big jump, ’cause that when I was on the line as night, I’m working with myself basically anyways to just have a brand around me, like… How was that transition?
So it was abrupt. So my last boss and I didn’t really see eye to eye on how one should practice law, I have a little bit different perspective, I guess, that a lot of people… And so when I left, I didn’t take any clients, I literally had nobody… My dad gave me a couple of thousand dollars to basically just buy a good computer and rent a small office downtown, and it’s been all me ever since… I do my own marketing. I do all my own phone calls and you called my phone number… You get me on the phone. When I first started out, I completely forgot to order my own office supplies because I forgot that was part of my job now, so it’s been me from the ground up, and it’s been really good… It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy.
Yeah, and so what do you think the biggest thing is that’s different right now, and in terms of you work for somebody out, you made this transition, you start on your own, what do you notice day-to-day that is just given the biggest thing… Of course, besides doing everything myself, which not having a support staff, which that doesn’t bother me, is I get to really be the attorney I wanna be, and everyone has this kind of picture of attorneys is out there, money hungry, trying to grab as much money as they can, but I’ve kind of stepped back and taken a different approach and really have been trying to offer basically the most reasonable price legal services that I have…
I’ve noticed when I was at another firm that there are so many people who sink their whole life savings into paying a retainer for an attorney only for that attorney to was all that money and not move their case anywhere or not in… Anything done for that.
And I just really, when I went out on my own, I decided that was not the way I was gonna do things. I really wanna be someone that a client feels like cares about them and isn’t just there to take their money and not help them… Yeah, and that’s probably really needed now more than ever, right, with everything going on with covid, there’s a lot of different people that are in stressful situations, businesses closing people… I’ve got… All times I know you specialize in a different kind of law than maybe what’s primarily affected by covid here, but at the same time, I’m sure you’re seeing the level of stress and the level of anxiety and people have probably gone through the roof in the last little bit.
Yeah, definitely, especially here in Pittsburgh and March, when we went into our lockdown order and we were staying at home, it was a big transition between the courts, not knowing how to proceed and how to handle this, but also on a personal level, a lot of parents didn’t wanna send their kids to their ex-spouse because they didn’t know who that person was exposed to, or who their new spouse is exposed to, and there were a lot of issues regarding custody of… People just being scared, and I can’t say that I blame people. If you can’t account for everyone that someone is coming in contact with, why do you wanna send your child there, you would hope that they would be able to trust the other parent and trust that the other parent can make good judgment, but as we’ve seen… So many people have been exposed through things they didn’t even think could expose them, so it’s been a rough transition, especially for my custody clients.
Yeah, and I think that that’s one of the things that with the market falling, the Dow Jones is way down there, and there’s all these other financial problems, you start to see something, legal problems go up right at the end of it. We probably haven’t even seen the legal battles yet, it still… We’re still kinda get… Trying to stay alive, it… Everyone’s just trying to get to the finish line of everything with covid, I think there’s gonna be a lot of Business Law, I’m sure it’ll be custody law, there’ll be a bunch of this family and overarching law there that have additional problems ’cause people are more stressed, money is an issue, there’s all these different pieces that are at play, so in your mind, but do you… What do you think that’s gonna look like? What do you think is gonna be the outcome here?
So the court, at least in Allen County, and I don’t wanna speak to any other area, but the ones I know, they’ve transitioned to a lot of online Port, which is very weird and bizarre and it’s its own new type of thing, but a lot of the litigation that I’m seeing come forward is a for support, people can’t pay their child support and… It’s that domino effect. The one parent doesn’t pay their child support, then the parent that receives can’t pay their bills, and here we go, it’s all down the school line of potentially leading to evictions, to lawsuits for credit cards, it’s a big spiraling ball and I don’t know if there’s a good way to get it under control, except for staying healthy and getting people back to work.
I know I have received a lot of clients recently on landlord tenant issues, and I know Governor Wolf just extended the eviction stay, but that doesn’t really solve the litigation aspect of it, because when the eviction stay is lifted, we’re gonna see landlord filing for people, they’ve wanted out for months now. And there may not be a good remedy for that.
Yeah, it’s gonna be kind of delayed, I think if you look on the eviction side, there’s gonna be definitely people that, to your point, they’ve wanted to for six months or three months or whatever it’s been, and now it’s like, okay, well, the hammer is coming down and you’re gonna see a lot of legal costs go up in here can be a lot more litigation, there’s gonna be a lot more attorneys that are involved with the process, and then there’s also gonna be a lot of people displaced, I think, especially when you’re looking at multi-family, right? When you look at… That’s probably where most of this is happening, right?
Yeah, I mean, the hardest part I’ve seen is the people who are affected the most aren’t the people who receive assistance through the government or through programs, Pittsburgh has a lot of really great housing programs, and those people that receive assistance, they’ve been able to maintain the rank they have the assistance coming in, they have a reliable support system, so they’ve been able to pay… It’s the people that make 25000 to 50000 that we’re doing okay. living paycheck to paycheck before this, but now they’re a restaurant worker, they are… Maybe they work out of the airport and all these people get laid off and now they have no way to pay, and there’s no protection for that.
So when the evictions had, they might be being asked to come up with three, four, five months of run, and they’re still not… Maybe back to work full-time.
So it’s just… It’s all coming to a head, and I think this fall is definitely gonna be a difficult legal time, but also a difficult financial time for… For sure, and I think to your point of it, the way that the funds flow, I mean, if you have these tenants that are in there that haven’t been paying for three months ’cause they can’t afford to pay, and now you have the landlord who’s got 10 of those people, now there’s 30 payments they haven’t received, but they still have a mortgage to pay on their building, so it’s like now that person’s got difficulty with the bank, and it’s like, this is all because of this flow down issue. And I think the other thing that’s really interesting, you talked about that 25000 to 50000 range, which is probably about average… I think the average household income, us is like 59000, something like that, maybe 6000 it, two incomes that… That’s kind of the average there, which ones… Just on that, like 50% of those people, 30% of the households are making that or less, which is crazy because at the end of the day, when you’re talking about about 25, 50000, you go rent pretty much anywhere in Pittsburgh, non-subsidized. It’s gotta be at least a $1000 for one bedroom. Probably 1500 for two bedroom. So you add that up right there, that’s what’s… Let’s call it 15, 16, 20000 a year, right there.
So it’s absolutely incredible to see what’s happened is is not good.
Yeah, it’s that segment of the population, and I see it in family law too, that is the hardest hit, they can’t… That segment can’t get government assistance because they make too much, and I’m not saying that’s the solution for everything, but when you’re making 30000 to 50000, you’re likely spending most of your paycheck on bills and on your necessities, and you’re not getting ahead, so you can’t pay for extras, like if the court needs you to go engage in co-parenting counseling or therapy with your child, you may be paying for health insurance that you can afford, and you can’t afford the copays either. And it all spirals. And that’s why I’ve taken a different approach to how I build people, how I approach their legal issues because for me, it’s not a sound business practice to just take as much as I can from someone, especially when that person may only have a couple of thousand dollars, so for me, I really believe that karma comes back to you, and so maybe if I give someone a break on a retainer, do a little bit more for a little less, they refer two or three other people to me, and I can keep moving forward that way, without having to devastate someone and their banking help.
Yeah, and that kinda gets into that not-for-profit, good karma style, a pro tray, where you’re saying, listen, I understand you need this, but you might have built a board it so we can structure a deal in a way that it is affordable, and like you said, put the good juju there, and that kinda comes back over time, you have to be willing, you have to give without expecting, but at the same time, when you do give, do you get… It’s just the way it is, you know what I mean?
Absolutely, and I definitely am for-profit for sure, but at the end of the day, it does nothing for me if I take every penny from someone and leave them with no results, they will be mad, they will put negative reviews online, they’ll tell people not to use me, so I’d rather make a payment plan with someone or on my website, I have a very clear chart that shows income-based payments, I have it very clearly labeled, different areas of law and what the starting amount would be, so that people know what they’re getting when they come in, there’s so many…
I haven’t found another law firm that is open and honest like that, and I’m not saying that they’re trying to hide the ball or anything, but it’s just the way it’s been done for decades, and people don’t know another way, and I’m just trying to create a different way, that’s better for everyone.
Yeah, and I think the transparency part is really important, ’cause if you go to buy gas, you know what the price is, you see it written up there and it’s like a gas is 2 35 or whatever it is with the attorneys and really any professional service financial people in the CPA bookkeepers and bad, there’s not always the transparency of, this is the cost, especially with legal, there’s a huge like, Hey… You’ll find that at some point, how much it cost… You know what I mean? Whereas you’re taking that approach of like, This is my menu. cost, this is that these are the kinds of things we do. This is kind of what it costs to start working with us, and yeah, that’s gonna go up over time, or the bigger the project, the more cost, but there’s some transparency in that, so my question to you is, do you see more attorneys doing that in the future, you see more business to take that approach in the future, to be a little bit more kind in that way, you know, I really wish more attorneys would, for the simple reason that I don’t do a lot of… I don’t have to chase a lot of people down for money from a business perspective, I almost… I have only probably had maybe 20 to 30000 worth of unpaid bills over three years, and it’s because I am open and honest, and I make payment plans, and I don’t ask people to put 5000 down upfront, so people stay with me long-term. I’ve had many clients who hired me back in 2018 and have used me not only for family law, but for drafting their will or going to a small claim sport issue, and they stay with me and keep coming back and refer their friends because they trust that my billing is sound in that I’m not gonna over-charge that, and I don’t have to do the back work of doing the collections and going after people and wondering if they’re ever gonna pay, so… Yeah, that’s true, 100%. The transparency leads to a lower barrier, people understand, they appreciate it, they pay their bills, they’re relaxed, they’re easy people, easier people to work with, and I think that approach is gonna be… It’s gonna pay back dividends somehow, I don’t know exactly how it will. But I think at the end of the day, it’s gonna come back to you. You probably just are seeing the tip of the iceberg right now with the way that people talk to you and the way that people are are… Yeah, and being a sole proprietor of my law firm and not having a sports down, I don’t have time to sit around and change people down for money. Last week, I did 10 court hearings. I don’t have time to spend all this time on the phone trying to get people to pay, and then having a person be like, well, I can only pay 100… Let’s just cut to the chase and have you pay me 100 a week, get it on an auto-pay, and it’s set up and it’s going and I don’t ever have to worry about it again. And even some people that I have on AutoNation ally, issues crop up, maybe they had a car repair or something, and they ask, Can you pause it for two weeks and start it back in this state… Sure, no problem, because you’ve built up that good will of making those payments, and I can be flexible, it gives them flexibility and they feel like I care about them as a…
Ethan’s exactly it, that’s exactly… And we actually recently had this or for the people is in the show, they know that we do business to business prospecting and service, which is lead generation for other small businesses, and some of our audience has had difficulty with cash flow.
So what we’ve done in some of the instances is taken our three-month agreements that we start with, and we’ve said this and we’re gonna render three months of services, but we’ll give you six months to pay for it. Right, so it’s like finance and 00%, we’re gonna put our money into it, basically to make sure that all your costs are covered for working with us, and you just pay it, just make six payments and don’t be late. You know what I mean? Just make sure you get it done. And so for those people, they can work with us, we can help drive revenue for them, and if they want, they can pay it ear, they have enough cash and four month in paid early, but I tell them lessees is not good advice for me, but it’s gonna buy Street for them.
Don’t batter, the reason I gave you the Pan Pan A, so you can take six payments to pay it, pay it in sex… You know what I mean?
If you wanna, if you’re really good, do you wanna pay it on three, knock yourself out, and at the end of the day, from a solvency standpoint, we’re comfortable enough to do that, and that’s kind of our way of giving forward, so my last kind of piece to I know, I keep these pretty short. How would people find out about you? Tell us a little bit about your ideal customer and the people you’re helping, and then how they can reach, whether that’s Instagram, Facebook, email website, whatever it is.
Yeah, so you could find me pretty much anywhere with JD-a PA…
That’s my Instagram hashtag. It’s my Twitter account. My website is JD LAPA-do, and then my email is Jennifer at JD lobed dot com, so that’s pretty much… If you search that, you could find me anywhere with that, I always welcome new people, unless it’s truly out of my wheel house, I take pretty much as many clients as I can, I try to help them all… And if it is out of my wheelhouse, I will find you someone, I’m not gonna just dismiss you, I will make sure that I find an attorney who can cover it and take care of you, and I just love working with the Pittsburgh community and hopefully other firms are willing to take this approach and show a little more compassion sometimes… Yeah, no, absolutely, and thank you so much for coming on the show, and this is your first attorney that’s been on the show, we’ve had a ton of small business owners for about 75 episodes deep at the prospecting show, and it’s really cool to see everyone’s background, it everyone comes from a different walk of life, has a different mindset, a different process they go through, and it’s really cool to start seeing people like yourself in this position of authority, in this position of a very specialized skill set to still be able to step back and say, Yeah, well, we could do a payment plan, we could have some compassion. We could help other people. So I really appreciate that, and thank you so much.
Absolutely, thank you for having me.
To listen to the previous episode 70- Ian Reith Entrepreneurial Highlight;
To listen to the next episode 72- Getting Started In Real Estate with Jeremy Taggart;