Robert Plotkin & Cynthia Gilbert: Specialization and Strategic Partnerships

In this episode, Steve Fretzin, Robert Plotkin, and Cynthia Gilbert discuss:

  • Relationships at the root of all business and networks.
  • Business development as a learned skill, regardless of personality.
  • Commitment and the art of the follow through.
  • From generalization to specialization.

Key Takeaways:

  • Different environments are better for different people. Know yourself and speak to people who are doing what you are thinking of doing.
  • Be cautious about being too transactional in any networking situation.
  • Connections allow you to offer your clients fuller service than you would be able to do otherwise with only your firm.
  • People are more likely to remember a specialist than they are to remember a generalist.

“Although we are small and highly specialized, what we want to do is to be able to provide the client with the effective equivalent of a fuller service firm by being able to connect them with the other services that they need.” —  Robert Plotkin

Connect with Robert Plotkin & Cynthia Gilbert:  

Website: www.robertplotkin.com.

Website: https://blueshiftip.com/

Show: https://blueshiftip.com/podcasts/

Blueshift IP LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/blueshift-ip-llc/

Robert’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertplotkin/

Cynthia’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiagilbert/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blueshiftip

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlueshiftIP/

Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.

Website: Fretzin.com

Email: [email protected]

Book: The Ambitious Attorney: Your Guide to Doubling or Even Tripling Your Book of Business and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

clients, people, lawyers, cynthia, business, software patents, important, specialize, meet, specialized, helping, patent attorney, refer, relationships, specialization, patents, robert, person, attorneys, thinking

SPEAKERS

Cynthia Gilbert, Robert Plotkin, Narrator, Steve Fretzin

 

Robert Plotkin  [00:00]

I think it’s a different attitude that whether it be on who you’re going to refer to or how you’re going to bill or what kind of other client arrangement you’re going to make, or even whether you’re going to offer a new service, you don’t have to commit to doing any of those things forever. You can test them out, see how they work, and then adapt.

 

Narrator  [00:23]

Your listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer, coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time, greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.

 

Steve Fretzin  [00:45]

Well, hello, everyone, I hope you’re having a great day appreciate you spending some time with me today on be that lawyer, where we are looking to help you to be a better lawyer, get more business, grow that practice and have more balance in your life. You know, every day, I try to think of new topics and new things that I’m working with my clients on. And the goal, again, is to just keep things interesting and moving for you. So whatever situation you’re in with a solo practice, or at a big firm, mid market, whatever the case might be a couple of things that are really important that you may have thought about, and maybe haven’t pulled the trigger on. And we’re gonna explore those two today. specialization is one of them. And the other one is how to really develop strong strategic partners referral sources that can refer you on a regular basis. And I’ve got two guests that I know are gonna just knock the cover off the ball, no pressure. But I’ve got Cynthia Gilbert and Robert Plotkin of Blue Shift IP. They’re also the hosts of the software patent podcast, and they also have a blog. So welcome to the show. How’s it going, Robert? And, Cynthia,

 

Cynthia Gilbert  [01:44]

it’s going great. Thanks for having us, Steve. Yeah,

 

Steve Fretzin  [01:47]

absolutely. My pleasure. And do me a solid and just give a little background on you know, sort of Robert, why don’t we start with you. And then Cynthia, you pick up you’ll be kind of the what’s it called when the last batter the clincher the pinch hitter, the pinch hitter or the you’re the fourth batter. What’s the fourth thing cleanup? The cleanup? Cleanup

 

[02:03]

clean? Yeah. So yeah, I’m Robert Plotkin, I’m a patent attorney specializing in software patents. I’ve been doing that for about 25 years have a background in computer science. And I don’t want to talk too much about myself, because I know we’re here to help your listeners be better lawyers to their clients. But I really enjoy talking about how I’ve run my practice, how run it internally marketed make decisions, because I enjoy helping other lawyers learn from, from the lessons I’ve learned from mistakes I’ve made and how I’ve how I’ve experimented over the years.

 

Steve Fretzin  [02:35]

Yeah, mistakes are a really important part of of any type of growth. And watching my 14 year old, he’s sort of an expert at making mistakes. So he’s going to be an expert at everything at some point with all those mistakes. But anyway, we want to talk about that further. Cynthia, give us a little taste. All right,

 

[02:49]

Cynthia Gilbert blueshift IP, I am a software patent attorney as well, I started life as a computer scientist and worked in network security and telecommunications and cell phone fraud. And naturally went on to find the geekiest area of law that I could specialize in and have been practicing software patent law for many years now running my own firm on my own or with with Robert, for over a decade. And I think, you know, I’m sure we’ll get to this. But there’s a there’s a lot of fear as lawyers of disclosing that we might be imperfect that we might have made a mistake. And I think one of the great things about being out there and and able to be honest about those is how much we can learn from from ourselves from each other from our experiences, and sharing that knowledge and learning is very rewarding.

 

Steve Fretzin  [03:35]

Yeah, and I think whether it’s COVID, or social media, or the combination of the two, it’s really brought out the okayness of being imperfect, and you know, you know, on Facebook, I see, oh, this perfect meal, or these perfect kids or this this and that’s perfect. And we know that that’s not we want to see the other side, you know, I think we need a different Facebook that shows us all the problems people have. But I think I think that’s part of growing up and part of of getting better is making those mistakes. And I talked about actually, in one of my books, the networking book, like I start off saying, no one’s made more, you know, blunders in networking that I that I have, I mean, I’ve been you know, I was like a perfectionist of mistakes. So, but you learn right, we keep going forward. So let’s talk a little bit about how you have developed your practice and how you got from where you were to where you are. And then I want to dive into specialization once we get that background.

 

[04:30]

So why don’t I start with diving into the piece on on relationships? I think this is, you know, a lot of lawyers are like, Oh, it’s the billable hour or it’s how we generate more work or it’s how what our standing is on some list of 100 law firms on the planet, right. But it’s all about relationships and and there is some part of it that’s requires us to be a little zen that requires us to say well, I’m just going to do what I can for this person today to help them out today and who knows what that will turn into but it’s been who you Want to work with going out there and meeting people that you genuinely want to support if there are corporate attorneys that I can help, if it’s my clients, you know, I’m a software patent attorney to talk about specialized, you cured cancer, I can’t help you. If you came up with some kind of awesome sailboat Master, I can’t help you. But I have to be able to say more to my clients, and I don’t know. And so being able to make the right introduction, and being able to know and have meaningful connections with people that specialize in other areas and be a resource for my clients is incredibly important. It’s at the heart of what we do at Blue Shift IP, we, we do software patents, and we have outstanding people in our network that we cultivate meaningful relationships with, it’s just vital to any practice area.

 

Steve Fretzin  [05:41]

Yeah, that’s the beginning of anything, if you don’t have relationships, then what are you really doing? I mean, you’re who you’re working with? How are you getting business? How is anything functioning. So Robert had some meat on that bone?

 

[05:51]

Yeah, I would say that, you know, the flip side of us being hyper specialized in software patents is that it’s even more essential because of that, that we have a strong network of relationships with a Cynthia said, corporate lawyers, trademark lawyers, accountants, all kinds of other service providers who can help our clients because that’s not what we do. But we want to be able to help our clients thrive in their businesses as a whole, we realized that although they’re coming to us, for software patents, their businesses are not just about software patents, right, they have a whole business out there. It’s about developing products, supporting their own employees, their vendors, their partners. And even though we don’t provide direct service in those other ways, we want to be connection maker for them. So there’s no inconsistency really, between being hyper specialized and having a broad network. In fact, those two things go hand in hand and complement each other. And let’s take it

 

Steve Fretzin  [06:50]

back to the very beginning, when you are meeting someone new that you believe could be a strategic partner, meaning someone that is valuable to you, potentially, as a referral source coming in, and some of that you would feel confident being able to bring in to help one of your clients without it backfiring on you. Okay, for example. So how do you vet or how do you meet people and then then realize, Oh, my God, this is someone like, how does that meeting go? What’s the language in that meeting?

 

[07:18]

I would say one, one thing I’m looking for is other focused attitude. Of course, when we meet with each other, all of us, we market ourselves, right? It’s nothing wrong with that, it’s essential that we have to do to to do that. But I’m looking for someone who’s not just going to spend their time talking about themselves, who’s going to be trying to find out about me, and what I need, who’s going to find out about my clients and be interested in I’m looking for that attitude. And I’m looking for a curiosity from them. I’m looking for those kinds of interpersonal skills, so that if I introduce that person to a client of mine, I know that they’ll get along. You notice, I’m not saying competency. It’s not because competency isn’t important. It’s that, you know, many people can be competent, and I still wouldn’t want to develop a relationship with them. If they don’t have the personal skills, if they don’t have this kind of other focused attitude. And if they don’t have a helping type of attitude that they’re there to help them be part of a team.

 

Steve Fretzin  [08:19]

So it sounds like you’re starting with people skills, and do they have an attitude of interest, which by the way, I think would make a t shirt attitude of interest, and then move into competency because if they don’t have the first two, then the second, the last one might not matter so much because they’re just not someone you can put in front of people, right?

 

[08:36]

Absolutely. This is an area in which it actually really helps that we are managing our own law firm. We have a very entrepreneurial mindset about running a firm, we are looking to learn about what is the right technical tool out there, we also have to deal with managing employment agreements or setting up a virtual server so that we can get QuickBooks hosted. And we have that mindset of how do we efficiently run a meaningful organization? So part of it is would I go to this person for help myself? Would I sit for an hour and a half, and listen to them drone on about something that I know is important, but I don’t really want to be doing because it’s not believable? Because if I wouldn’t, that I don’t know that I would submit my clients to that guy. I was talking to ourselves of the entrepreneurial business risk taking mindset is is very helpful.

 

Steve Fretzin  [09:25]

Yeah, I was talking to a client today who was telling me about a patent attorney who was the best patent attorney he’s ever met like nobody was more technically sound than this person they said but under no circumstances should this person ever talk to a client so I think he got out you got to see who’s you know, maybe it’s that’s better right on the bench than someone that that you’re gonna, you know, be client facing,

 

[09:46]

but it’s not theirs. I don’t think patent attorneys by and large. I don’t think we’re known for our outstanding social skills. It’s so you’ve taken us in from a large windowless computer science lab or off lab with a lot of fruit fly is and what isn’t in the PhD tracker advanced education, then you put us in law school for a couple years. And you tell us to sit in and try and build as much as we can. Having a mindset of business generation and have that relationship generation is rather rare. But we really believe believe that’s a unique thing to have, and that we encourage that and those around us be willing to connect.

 

Steve Fretzin  [10:23]

Yeah, I mean, if you know, I’m not, I hope I’m not speaking out of turn. But I mean, IP represents a fairly sizable chunk of my time during the year. And it’s a lot of introverted scientists and in nerds, and but the good news is business development. And if you’re listening to this pay attention, it’s a learned skill. So you can have the craziest wildest personality in the world. And that might be fine for some people for making it rain. But others, they if they just follow steps, right, if they follow structure and organization of interest in learning and executing, they actually find it quite engaging. It’s kind of like the fun part of their day. But they need to like get get it down, right? You have to have that skill to do it. Otherwise, it’s just scary as hell. Yeah, yeah,

 

[11:04]

you can absolutely learn these things. You know, as I mentioned, I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I’m still I still have a lot to learn, and you have to have an interest in doing it. I remember speaking with a friend, colleague of mine a number of years ago, he had been in house as a patent attorney for many years. And he was thinking about becoming a solo practitioner running his own practice. And I described to him, you know, what my day was, like, just meaning to say, this is what it’s like, you know, I was very excited about it. He said, That sounds like a nightmare.

 

Steve Fretzin  [11:34]

Circumstances do I

 

[11:35]

want any part of that, I thought I was describing something great. It just means there’s different types of people, different personalities, he didn’t like the idea of the uncertainty of where money was coming from uncertainty of whether clients are coming and having to deal with so many different clients, each with different preferences. And there’s nothing wrong with that, you know, different environments are better for different people. So I’d say for anyone who’s thinking about going into solo practice, or being a business owner, or manager anyway, just know yourself and speak to people who are doing it. Yeah, that’s

 

Steve Fretzin  [12:09]

really good advice. And again, it’s not a fit for everybody, not everybody’s fit to be an entrepreneur. That’s just that’s just the reality. And that’s okay. You know, there’s people that will do incredibly well working at a law firm or as a GC or, you know, whatever career they choose. That’s, that’s fine. But, Cynthia, anything to add to what you said, which is, you know, you want to work with people that you want to partner with people that you like, and people that you would you would want to work with? How do you find that out? What are some of the things that you’re trying to uncover in a meeting to identify? This is someone I could work with? So I think they’d be great in front of XYZ clients?

 

[12:45]

Yeah, I think that there are a lot of people that are in the practice of law, or, you know, any client service environment, who can easily pay lip service to certain ideals? Of course, we care about our clients, of course, we, you know, really, it really matters to us that our clients trust us or that they read all of our blogs or whatever. But that’s, that’s the real question is, do they mean it? Are they what can I find out about this person that would suggest to me that they are actually there, because there are plenty of people who think you know, what’s wrong with the pyramid is that I wasn’t at the top of it. So I’m gonna go out on my own and create my own pyramid. That’s Yeah, clearly any more client services than anyone else. And there’s also this idea of a fear, you can tell if someone is nervous or frightened, again, lawyers, patent lawyers, we’re not known for our risk taking are not known for being incredibly daring people. There is a mindset that says there is an ideal in my area of specialty, whether that’s accounting or PR, there’s a perfect way of doing things. And then there’s what’s real and what’s attainable for my clients, and they don’t live in an ivory tower. And I have to be able to advise them anyway. And I find that the attorneys that are able to help clients find that balance in that tension between the ideal and what’s available, often are the ones that are are really dedicated to going beyond that lip service and really putting themselves in their client’s shoes and sorting out, but what is my client supposed to do? What would I do if it was my money? How is it that I’m addressed this decision? So that’s what we’re trying to find is who’s really looking at at this from the client perspective, and is trying to give them advice that helps them with the issues that they’re really facing? Whether that ever shows up in a textbook or not.

 

Steve Fretzin  [14:31]

It’s just out of curiosity, is it important that you find other lawyers to partner with that you can feed business to and help them in their ambitions in their career, and also that they reciprocate in kind or is that not a factor? Is that not important? If you just find a good person to handle stuff? That’s enough and in order to like when it’s balanced when you find someone that sort of the perfect storm of, of hey, they, you know, we could send people you know, a number of our clients to this individual This this lawyer, but then they’re also coming across software IP needs with their clients that we can address. I think there

 

[15:06]

are there, both of those kinds of relationships are very important. And I derive a great deal of professional satisfaction over knowing that such and such a trademark attorney has worked with me and with my clients for over a decade. If you need a trademark attorney, this isn’t just somebody I have coffee with, but I have helped them on their matters. They have helped me on mine, we worked with each other consistently we meet up and really dig into things. And that’s very satisfying licensing attorneys. Same thing. It’s fantastic that we can collaborate in that way. Yeah. But I also have a friend who is an employment lawyer, and she is outstanding, I swear she’s like the the Ruth Bader Ginsburg of our generation. And I am constantly sending work to her because clients also have to face difficult situations, leaving their employers who owned the intellectual property for the invention that they made before they had officially quit. And she’s not as likely to find people that she can send me. But not only is she an outstanding individual who I really respect, my clients need that service. So I hope that although it would be lovely to have that reciprocal nature in everything, it’s not always very realistic. Right? And the important question is, are we helping out any clients here? And again, are these people we wouldn’t be willing to collaborate with?

 

Steve Fretzin  [16:20]

Yeah. Robert, anything to add on? Yeah, I

 

[16:22]

would add to say that, of course, you know, if we can achieve that perfect storm, in certain cases, that’s great. But I would caution anyone against trying to be too focused on being transactional in that way, in every situation. And instead, you know, feel good about the fact that you’re helping someone out, whether it be your client, the person you’re referring to, or both whether or not it’s ever going to come back to you. I mean, I had a situation last year where a client happened to come to me, because he knew I was a lawyer, he needed an estate lawyer for his dying father, you know, and I referred him to someone I knew and trust to, in all likelihood, will never have a client to refer to me. But you know, that’s not going to stop me from referring to her. And it’s not going to stop me from continuing to make relationships with other service providers who have very low likelihood of ever sending business my way.

 

Steve Fretzin  [17:13]

You know, and one of the things that I I’m not saying this is mandatory by any stretch, however, one of the concerns that lawyers have in working with lawyers all over the country is that the people aren’t going to follow up, like, you know, that there’s some people that have the organizational skills and the follow up skills to take care of clients and take care of referrals that are passed and, and handle things and other incidents just don’t, they just don’t have those skills, or they just, you know, they’ll they’ll wait a week to do something instead of a day. And so one of the things I try to try to tell them, as you know, try to test them out in some way, give them something to do, I don’t care if that’s respond to an email, or meet meet up and try to see if they show up on time or see if they show up? Or if they keep rescheduling? You know, someone rescheduled with me three times, or somebody says they’re going to do something and then doesn’t, it’s a little like that Seinfeld with the reservation that the car reservation, like you took the reservation. Gotta keep the reservation. And that’s really the most important part, right, as they say, in Seinfeld. So is that something that you guys have found important to do? Or that you’ve sort of seen some people sort of fail at the very basic task of following through or, or committing and actually doing what they say?

 

[18:20]

Yeah, and I would say, it’s a good example of a more general principle of testing and measuring everything in the business, you know, seeing everything as an experiment. And, you know, for example, we talked a little bit about fear earlier, we offer a lot of fixed fees to our clients. And when I speak to other lawyers to this day about fixed fees, a lot of them are afraid, they think that while I have to do everything by the hour, what if I offered a fixed fee for X dollars for a client, and then it took me many, many hours, and then I ended up earning effectively a much lower hourly rate, I’d lose out and they’re afraid. And I say, Well, you know, why don’t you just try it on one matter? What’s the worst that could happen? I think there’s some fear that can become a kind of catastrophizing fear, where the mind spirals to, I’m going to lose my entire business. What because on one matter, you lost a few hours worth of dollars or something, you know. So I think it’s a different attitude that whether it be on who you’re going to refer to or how you’re going to bill or what kind of other client arrangement you’re going to make, or even whether you’re going to offer a new service. You don’t have to commit to doing any of those things forever. You can test them out, see how they work and then adapt.

 

Steve Fretzin  [19:38]

Yeah, really good.

 

[19:39]

Really good. thing I would add to this is that it’s a reason why we need that very broad network, because the ideal estate lawyer for client one, maybe someone completely different than the ideal estate lawyer for client two, both of them are great software clients. They’ve got a lot of patents fantastic. They both need to have their wills done up But unless I know that this client is going to be driven crazy by somebody who doesn’t respond within 12 hours to their email, and that clients doesn’t have a big deadline, they’re very relaxed about it. I’m not necessarily helping them if there’s a mismatch in terms of who I’m sending them to. So both getting to know the clients and the people in my network, my own colleagues and understanding how do they think I will often make two or three referrals to someone and say, Look, this person is outstanding, but she’s really slammed right now, you’re probably not going to hear from her for a week and a half, you’re gonna have to talk to her assistant and schedule a thing, and there’s going to be a form, and it’s going to be two and a half weeks before you hear from her. She’s one of the best minds in the country. So you got to make that call. And if you need someone that can get back to you today, here’s someone else. And equally qualified inspector, that point about competency being important, but not the only metric. And so knowing the different personality types that are going to have to work together and having a broad enough network to be able to provide them with meaningful connections is very important.

 

Steve Fretzin  [21:01]

Well, you two have really thought out and executed on developing these relationships, these strategic partnerships, these where you can send people and I think what that ends up doing for you more, you know, obviously, it brings in some business. But also what it does is it ends up helping you be sort of that go the go to lawyers for the clients to get other stuff done. Right. So you’re becoming very sticky. It’s not just a you’re providing a service for the client, you’re providing a value add that they’re not getting from other attorneys. So you become almost there can ciliary if you

 

[21:34]

will, right, yeah, one of you trusted business advisor. That’s it. And that is the highest goal for us. And that’s what we’re looking for in our colleagues as well, are they people that we would trust advising a business?

 

[21:48]

That’s right. And although we are small and highly specialized, what we want to do is to be able to provide the client with the effective equivalent of a fuller service firm by being able to connect them with the other services that they need. So although we may not We the people we refer our clients to may not all be under the same roof, we can provide them with a lot of the benefit, I hesitate to say perhaps even better than they’d be able to get at a larger firm.

 

[22:15]

And we’re not limited to oh, I have to refer you to the person down the hall because we’re stuck together in this partnership. It’s yeah, you’re able to make that that proper connection.

 

Steve Fretzin  [22:26]

Well, I’m enjoying this so much. And it’s funny, because as we’re talking and I can show you my notes, but I mean, I’m writing down names of people I want to introduce you to I mean, this, we’re going I don’t want to forget the patent attorney in Chicago who wants to build relationships in Boston, because that’s where he wants to end up. Yeah. And then I’ve got another one who does, like you mentioned, licensing and media and advertising. And okay, anyway, that’ll happen after the show, we’re not going to do that on air. But let’s go into sort of our final piece of our of our interview today and something that you had brought up to me prior to the show, and wow, this is really important for lawyers to sort of intake or to, you know, to kind of digest, okay, and that is the idea of of specialization, you two are highly specialized. And the other word that you shared with me earlier was fear, the fear to specialize. So let’s get into the weeds on that.

 

[23:17]

Yeah, I’d say the main fear. So we both individually and together in our firm, of course, are highly specialized. We’re within patent law, which is a specialization, and then we focus on software patents within that special specialization. And I when I speak to other lawyers about specializing, they often say they’re afraid that they will lose opportunities, that seems to be Oh, what if this licensing deal or a real estate transaction or something else were to come my way? And if I were specialized, I couldn’t take that on. So there’s so much I could say about that. That is not necessarily accurate. The one is you’re making the assumption that if you were broadly focused, you would have that opportunity. You probably you might not have it, we are in a world where clients and resources have referrals, attention is so divided, that people are being bombarded with so much information. I want to say to someone who’s thinks they could get that real estate transaction. When someone has a real estate transaction, what’s the likelihood they’re going to remember you? At that moment, if the last time they spoke to you, you said, Oh, I do everything. And you listed out 20 or 30 different things, and it’s now six months later, and they’re trying to think of a real someone who can handle a real estate transaction. Are they going to remember you? Are they going to remember the lawyer who said I am a real estate transaction specialist. I am the guy or woman for that they’re much more likely to remember the specialist because of how divided our attention is. And I mean, you there’s been statistics that you You may have to meet someone five or six times, and have them tell you their specialty before you’ll even remember them for that specialty at all. So the fact is, it’s in many cases, it’s actually true unless you have very substantial resources to throw at marketing, that narrowly being narrowly specialized, it’s what’s going to lead people to remember you and either come to you directly or refer to you for that specialty when an actual opportunity arises.

 

Steve Fretzin  [25:31]

Terrific, Cynthia, I

 

[25:32]

think that there’s a thing people forget, they themselves are probably very good at making referrals. They themselves like, Oh, I know exactly who to turn to, for an outstanding podcast on how to be a particular kind of lawyer, right? But when it comes to themselves, there’s that that fear mode of Well, I don’t want to turn anything away. And yet, if I go to refer someone, I’m going to look at an email from a client. And I’m going to say, Okay, I need someone who is going to be great at a commercial transaction, who’s in a certain geographic area, who’s an extrovert, who is okay with somebody that needs a little like hand holding has never done this before we actually keep records to show it’s got like five lists, you know, for for different kinds of real estate folks for corporate for transactions, how long have we known them? How long do we How have we ever worked with them? Those are very specific things extrovert, introvert, big, firm, little firm, flexible, not flexible, like all of that goes into it. So we’re trying to think not just have some lawyer, but have a specific person. And the more they can help us remember that they’re the one is, is going to be so useful. And they probably have that internal list for themselves, that they apply their own filters to their own referrals, but have forgotten that we need that too. So encouraging people to think through Well, what do you look for? When you go to make a referral? You probably aren’t looking for just any old IP attorney. Right? You’re looking for something specific. So don’t be afraid to claim that for yourself?

 

Steve Fretzin  [27:00]

Yeah. And so again, the other piece of it is not only being the branding and getting known, but how are you generating the referral business, as we talked about earlier, if you’re a specialist, and you have all these other people that can refer you that specialist speciality. If you’re doing everything, then who’s referring you, really not many people, because you’re doing everything, you’re not going to be able to reciprocate?

 

[27:22]

That’s right. And I do know, people who ended up developing a specialty by originally being a generalist, and then they sort of wandered towards a specialty because of the kinds of cases they happen to get over the years. And is that really how you want your career to be directed? You know, from external sources, just taking you along the way and falling into something, but not because it’s what you wanted to do or what you focused on. But because that’s where the case has happened to fall. But that’s often what happens with people who begin by generalizing the winds carry them along into a direction that they don’t intend or want to go in.

 

Steve Fretzin  [28:00]

So I want to I want alongside Cynthia Hugo, then I’ll finish up. I want

 

[28:04]

to recommend to a lot of junior attorneys to be very concrete think through if I met your ideal client today, what would they look like? If I was at a cocktail party or on a breakout room in a zoom session? How would I know I was talking to the person that you really want to be introduced to, because being very specific about it, they may not know themselves, they may not have gone through the exercise before. And that’s why they end up tossed along on the winds of opportunity. But if they can articulate that for themselves, then that can help everyone who wants to support them. So taking the time to really crystallize, well, who do I want to help? Why do I want to help that person? Why do I want to have that conversation? Being able to put that forward can be very empowering.

 

[28:49]

One more, one more thing on that is this may seem obvious, but once you know who that ideal client is, tell people, so has an exercise when someone says what do you do, instead of saying, I, here’s my degree, what law school I went to the field and I help clients who and talk about the client, and what kind of problems they have, that you solve it. One reason is the people who are going to be referring to you, what they’ll be on the lookout for, is clients who are in a certain situation who have a certain type of problem. That’s what they’re going to be seeing in their day to day life. And then if you’ve told them that that’s the type of situation you help with, there’ll be much more likely to remember you than if you said what law school you went to and what your degree was. But

 

Steve Fretzin  [29:37]

I think what we’re doing slowly as we’re having this dialogue is we’re coming up with what are sort of the main elements of specialization, and I’m just going to kind of recap some things you’ve said already, which is, you know, identify, you know, what, what the ideal client would be or that you want to work with. Well, that might be an area of special of why you’d want to specialize maybe it’s something that you enjoy, more than something House right? Like you guys enjoy software, maybe more than, you know, something, you know, mechanical, you know? Because that’s not your background. And so are there one or two more elements that you would say you’d want to include in that sort of pie? Of? How do you know when, like what to specialize in when to specialize, so that you can make that flip make that that turn?

 

[30:21]

So there’s a few things there’s, I think Cynthia alluded to this, which is what kind of environment do you want to be practicing in it? So it’s not just the field of law necessarily, again, what type of clients? You know, I know some people who just love working as patent attorneys with individual inventors or very, very early stage startups. That in itself is a kind of specialization, although it’s not by technical field or by area of law necessarily. So you know, think about what the best way. One way to do this is not by thinking so much. But just by paying attention throughout your day, and past experiences you’ve had what have you liked or not like excelled at? Or not? Where do you want to grow? And your actual experience? And that will help you identify the elements of the specialty?

 

Steve Fretzin  [31:09]

Yeah, great. Cynthia,

 

[31:11]

Robert and I both are very interested in mindfulness and in sort of thinking creatively, and not necessarily out of the law school, one to one. So maybe this is coming up. But it might sound a little cheesy, but just be mindful. What do you what would you do? If money was not an issue? If prestige was not an issue, if like in some fairy tale land, where you just did what you were really thriving at doing? What would that be, because that is very often going to be clear to you it is or isn’t working at midnight on a diligence that’s got to go through before midnight for all these tax implications that could give you a huge rush, or it could be a nightmare. It could be working with someone who is very litigious and eager to get in the ring and fight or not. So really being honest and doing and we you know, we tell our clients this to what kind of company? Aren’t you do some soul searching? Are you an open source, give it all away kind of company, you just want to make the world better? Because you probably don’t need patents, right? If it wants to get acquired by any major organization in the planet, then you might want to think about patents and really mindful about what is it that you want to be doing really, every day in and out even when it’s annoying, you’ve got to miss a birthday party and not be able to make it to a play or miss the big game you are going to what would you miss it for? Is this what you would miss it for?

 

Steve Fretzin  [32:29]

Wow, just so many great ideas and takeaways. And I really appreciate you to coming on the show and sharing your wisdom and your experience and the mistakes you’ve made and the solutions you’ve come up with. If people want to reach out to you to connect for your services or to connect as these potential strategic partners, etc. How did they get in touch with you? What are some of the digits?

 

[32:48]

Yeah, go to Blue Shift ip.com. So blue shift ip.com. That’s our website. We are on Twitter and LinkedIn. But we pumped you know, we publish blog postings pretty frequently. podcast episodes at the software patent podcast. And one thing I’ll say about all of that content is it’s very focused at business owners. From a business perspective, we try to avoid legal jargon, talking about the most recent court decision and delving into legal doctrine. You know, our audience is inventors and patent owners. And we helping them to make strategic business decisions.

 

Steve Fretzin  [33:27]

Wonderful, Cynthia, anything that kind of wrap things up with

 

[33:30]

that. I think that’s everything. And I think to anybody who’s out there and trying to decide what the next step is for them really thinking through who do they want to be? Who do they want to be working with? What do they want to accomplish and not being afraid to reach out and make those connections?

 

Steve Fretzin  [33:45]

Yeah, really wonderful stuff. I just appreciate you too, and coming on the show and having this great dialogue with me. So thanks again.

 

[33:52]

Thanks so much for having us. Thanks for everything you’re doing to help out lawyers be better.

 

Steve Fretzin  [33:56]

I’m trying I’m trying every day it’s an uphill battle but we’re getting there we’re getting there slowly but surely. And hey, listen, everybody thanks for spending your valuable billable hour time with me and Robert and Cynthia today. You know, the goal is always to help you be that lawyer someone who’s confident organized in a skilled Rainmaker. Take care be well be safe, talk soon.

 

Narrator  [34:21]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for grilling a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website fretzin.com. For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes