Finding Purpose Through Partnership with Josh Fitch

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Episode Description

This week, we sit down with Josh Fitch, co-founder of Troxel Fitch, and discuss his blueprint for building a thriving law firm through partnership.

Join us as we explore why Josh chose to embark on this journey with a partner rather than going solo. Discover the qualities he looked for in the perfect business partner and how a strong friendship laid the foundation for success.

We don’t shy away from the tough topics here. Josh shares the biggest challenge he’s faced in his partnership and how he and his business partner effectively address disputes, giving you an inside look at the world of law firm owner collaboration. Find out how responsibilities are divided and the strategies they employ to maintain a harmonious working relationship.

But that’s not all – Josh reveals how his own experiences have shaped his counseling approach with clients, offering invaluable insights into the world of the business of law.

PLUS…listen to the end to hear the recent lesson Josh learned about running a law firm that you’ll never see coming.

Join us for this inspiring and energetic episode. It will leave you ready to change the world! 

Don’t miss out—listen now!

Episode Resources

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree

Troxel Fitch

Connect with Josh

Episode Transcript

JOSH: [00:00:00] If all you do is sell your time to solve problems, all your life will be is filled every minute with other people’s problems. And that will drive you into the ground.

LAUREN: Welcome to A different practice. We’re your host, Lauren Lester and Jess Bednarz, and we’re obsessed with all things, business, well being, and optimizing the practice of law for solo and Lauren started her solo practice right out of law school, built it from the ground up, and now works four days a week while earning well over six figures.

Jess approaches the profession as a whole to identify opportunities for growth and help implement systemic improvements. We’re here to share tangible, concrete tools and resources for ditching the legal profession’s antiquated approach and building a law practice optimized for growth. And enjoyment.

Think of this as grabbing coffee with your work besties, mixed with all the stuff they didn’t teach you in law school about how to run a business. Pull up a seat, grab a cup, and get ready to be encouraged and challenged. This is a different practice.

[00:01:00] Welcome everyone to another episode of a different practice.

Today we have a really fun. energetic, inspiring episode. Jess and I are talking with one of our most favorite folks that we’ve met in all of our years in the profession, Josh Fitch. We met Josh years ago as he was just starting his practice and from the jump, his energy is infectious. I think you will hear that on the episode today.

His story is really inspiring. He’s doing some really great work with his partner, Nick Troxell at their firm Troxell Fitch. And I just want to listen to this episode over and over again, because by the end of it, I really do feel like you’ll be inspired and ready to take on the world.

JESS: Oh, absolutely. It’s hard to, to listen to Josh talk and I have those feelings and I agree with everything you said ever since I met Josh, what I’ve liked about him and what I loved about him today is his energy, his [00:02:00] optimism, his mindset.

His thoughtfulness, and I think all of that combined just leads to really great advice, which is what you’re going to get in this episode. Yeah, and every time I talk with him, I, I love, I leave feeling energized. I don’t, I don’t even want to start a practice or have anything to do with it. But A, I would totally join his and B, it always gets you thinking, well, I don’t know, maybe I do, or he’s just, he’s just that type of person.

LAUREN: So I think y’all are really going to enjoy this episode. We’re super privileged to have him on and be able to share his story because he’s one of the people in the profession, and I’m sure there are many, but one that we’ve come across and gotten to know a little bit that really are making positive change and doing so in a way that is starting from him. He’s not just preaching about it, right? He’s in the trenches doing it. He knows what it’s like. And so you really get the sense that he’s authentic about it. And he really believes what he has to say. And [00:03:00] I just feel really honored that we get to help amplify his voice on our episode today.

So before we jump in here is a little bit more about Josh. Josh Fitch and his best friend, Nick Troxell, founded Troxell Fitch in 2017 as a multi faceted law firm built to support today’s business owners and entrepreneurs. The founders friendship began while they were in law school at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Bound by their entrepreneurial spirits and legal knowledge, they launched their firm shortly after graduation. With his vision to build a better law firm, Josh takes pride in serving clients needs, starting with business formation, continuing throughout their growth and beyond. Troxell Fitch provides high quality, affordable legal services to entrepreneurs in all walks of life.

All right, let’s jump in and hear from Josh Fitch.

I am super excited for our conversation today, not only because I get to talk to a fellow hometowner and a fellow Gator, which is [00:04:00] always super special, but our guest is someone that Jess and I met right when you were starting out and have watched your growth and trajectory with your business.

And we haven’t been able to touch base as frequently as we’ve liked and as recently as we’ve liked. So I’m excited. Super excited just to hear how things are going, how y’all are doing what you’re doing, because it’s amazing to watch, but welcome Josh to a different practice.

JOSH: Thank you. And thank you for having me. Really excited to be here. And of course, it’s always great to reconnect. So I’m excited.

LAUREN: We’re really curious to learn as y’all started, which has been. Four years now, three years. How long has the practice been?

JOSH: Six. So it would have just been, we just crossed into the sixth year of being licensed.

LAUREN: God, time goes by fast. COVID really like threw off all of my timelines.

JESS: Yeah, you were right on Lauren.

LAUREN: Okay, six years. So we’re curious and wanted to start out [00:05:00] with asking you six years ago when you had this idea of starting your own law firm, what made you decide to do a partnership versus being solo? And was that always the goal?

You were always going to do a partnership, like you never thought about going. So like, what was that thought process that you had?

JOSH: It basically came down to, as I was preparing to graduate law school, and you know, you kind of network around and talk to different practitioners and ask, you know, the old adage, ask for advice, you’ll get a job, ask for a job, you’ll get advice.

So I would do that, and as I would, you know, contact attorneys and speak with them, I found people who were very successful in their profession. You know, very good lawyers, but it was very hard to find anyone who’s happy. Everyone had seemed to kind of subscribe to the traditional legal idea of that big firm lifestyle where you You just work super hard and you have a bunch of status, but you don’t really have free time there’s not much work life balance and it looked to me is kind of that golden handcuff trap of You you get this great job.

That’s really highly compensated and then you find that you’re trying to buy back your own [00:06:00] time And I thought that was just kind of the reverse order of how it should be. You know, if, if in our profession, we sell our time, we should have control over that. But in none of these kind of job prospects was that I was looking at, was that the case?

And I kind of realized that. That wasn’t a way that I wanted to live my life. Um, it was really the impetus was unfortunately the passing of my brother right before I graduated law school that kind of brought that really to the forefront and made me realize that it wasn’t just a gamble. It was really just a loss on its face to do that.

And it became harder and harder to get out of that type of lifestyle. The further you went into it. So I actually viewed being someone who had only ever lived on student loans and had been used to eating ramen noodles as a college student as like, that was an advantage, not a disadvantage, because it allowed me to enjoy every step of growth rather than ever having to take a massive step down.

So I kind of decided at that point that that was something that I wanted to do. And my business partner, Nick, has been my best friend since the beginning of law school, and we were roommates at the time. And kind of as I would think out loud, You know, nobody wants to do anything [00:07:00] alone because the practice of law could be isolating as it is.

And I thought to do it totally alone with no experience would be isolating and scary. So I was kind of in his ear talking about it, and hoping that, you know, he would maybe be considerate. And eventually, I think he went after taking the bar. He went to Greece for 10 days by himself. And I think that removal from Bar prep and bar stress and, and just the kind of group think that law school creates brought him to the same place of realizing that, you know, life is for living.

And luckily we have a skill that more or less sells itself. If you can just figure out a way to deliver that to the market, you can have a life of your own. So he then at that point was willing to jump on board and we decided to do the partnership, which was always what I had wanted and secretly was hoping would happen.

I was ready to do it on my own if necessary, but it was, it was definitely a huge relief and a victory to get his partnership.

LAUREN: Was there something about Nick? I mean, obviously, y’all are best friends since the beginning of law school, so you know him pretty well, but were there qualities in him that you identified to say, [00:08:00] you know, Hey, I’m really thinking about going out on my own and I’d like to do this with someone and sort of went, I think Nick is a great person.

Like, what was it about him that stood out to you that you would know that you would be able to take that risk and that leap together and hopefully be successful?

JOSH: On the professional front, Nick is an absolute unstoppable force. He has an incredible work ethic, is very intelligent, and is a fantastic lawyer.

So those things made me know that at least from the kind of practice perspective, he was a very competent attorney and someone that would be able to succeed. But it was more the personal aspect of Nick and I, uh, both kind of respected a sense of extreme accountability and Through our friendship, we had always seen that we’re not the type of guys that are going to make excuses or shirk from responsibility or shy away from a challenge.

And I think that was something that was the most telling as you think about starting a law firm from scratch is knowing that, you know, you’re going to have to go develop your own book of business and in doing so face a lot of rejection. So you’re going to have to have a thick skin to get through that and you’re going to have to have a great vision as to what we’re [00:09:00] seeking rather than what we’re running from and be willing to sacrifice for that.

And I think through the many years of our friendship, I’ve seen those qualities demonstrated in Nick the Friend, and I knew that that would translate to Nick the Business Partner. So it was really that, that kind of realization that we would be in it together through thick and thin, um, and would have the wherewithal to endure the defeats that we would inevitably take.

In pursuit of something greater and and that something greater hasn’t always just been an income or business. It was the freedom and the ability to chase a life on our own terms in the way that we wanted to live it and not necessarily just an income that would allow us to try to buy that freedom, but a mindset that would allow us to kind of honor that freedom and kind of honor that goal through every step of the journey.

JESS: I see you two together. You look like you always look like you’re having fun. You always look like you’re doing exactly that living life on your own terms, which is really awesome. But I have to imagine it hasn’t always been rosy or maybe it’s not rosy every single day of the week. So [00:10:00] just curious what challenges have you two run in along the way, with respect to your partnership?

JOSH: I think the challenges have have really been kind of those parallel goals of trying to be friends as well as business partners. And sometimes those things conflict being as productive as you can as a lawyer isn’t necessarily in line with living the best life and having that work life balance and bumps in the road happen.

You know, there are things that happen in your life that take you away from wanting to work more, you know, whether that’s. health issues, breakups, um, just bad days. There are times when we really have to kind of strike that balance of today. Am I a friend or am I a business partner? And is my job today to call upon the most productive form of my business partner, or is it to be a friend and maybe sacrifice that production so that we can.

Make sure that we’re still happy and make sure that we’re still enjoying doing this. And I think it’s, it’s those moments of tension where the goals that you are striving for conflict with the life that you want to live or the friend that you want to be and trying to figure out how to strike [00:11:00] that balance so that you can just know that, you know, today isn’t going to be productive, but it will be productive from a friendship perspective.

And this is where we need to have each other’s back and support each other because. Both of us being resilient individuals, you know, everybody stumbles and we’re not impervious to that. And I think when you stumble, it’s about having faith in your friend and in your business partner to know that when this person gets back on their feet, they will continue to be that unstoppable force that I know, but it won’t be helpful now to say how many hours have you built or, you know, how many clients have you contacted?

What’s helpful today is to say, you know, Hey, my guy, how are you really doing today? Do we need to take a day off? Do we need to go just go to the golf course or go on a hike or do something and get away from it? And yeah, that might mean not hitting a certain target today or this month or, or what have you, but it’s, it’s about the kind of the long goal.

It’s about the longevity of the partnership and the friendship, and it’s not just about trying to be each other’s boss. That’s kind of the whole thing that we were rejecting, is needing to have a boss. You know, you go through law school, you work so hard through your own initiative, [00:12:00] you study for the bar through your own initiative, and you’ve proven beyond a doubt that you have that work ethic when necessary.

And I think it’s, it’s a recognition that that work ethic isn’t necessary every day. Uh, it’s necessary in the long run, but if you try to preserve it every single day, you might lose it in the long run.

LAUREN: Have you ever gotten it wrong where you thought Nick or he’s done this to you needed a business partner when they needed a friend or vice versa? How did you communicate around that? Or how did he communicate around that to say, Hey, man, like, I don’t need that side of Josh today. I need the friend side. Or no, I need a little bit of a push. How have you learned to navigate that with each other?

JOSH: So I think we’re very lucky in that not only being such good friends, we’re actually extremely similar people. We once had to take a personality profile in law school. And our results were so similar that our professor thought it was like a data error.

And he actually [00:13:00] had to go back and double check it and realize that no, we were So similar, we almost overlapped on the graph and we are also roommates for two years in law school before we started our law firm. And then for another four or five years after we started the firm. So we were together all the time.

And I don’t think it was as much said as felt where there’d be times that, you know, I know what his best looks like and he knows what mine looks like. And we start with the trust in each other that We’re always trying to strive to reach our goals and neither of us would ever try to basically let the other work for them or kind of shirk to the other one’s detriment.

So I think it’s it’s noticing that change in the vibe or that change in someone’s personality on the day to say like this isn’t. This isn’t who usually comes to play. So I know that that person, I know that who’s here today isn’t here because someone just took their foot off the gas. I know that there’s something else.

And we’ve always been very open and discussing emotions and discussing the difficulty of it, because I think it’s necessary. And unfortunately, too few people do it these days, but that’s something we’ve always tried to focus on is recognizing that, you know, when [00:14:00] you feel your best, you perform your best.

And that kind of just happens. So if you’re not performing your best, I can kind of guess that you don’t feel your best. And, and let’s address the root of the problem, not just the symptom.

JESS: You guys know each other so well. I think most people probably know each other less well when they’re having this idea or actually bring on a partner and I’m curious if you have tips for them when it comes to resolving disputes.

JOSH: Yeah, I think it first has to start with accountability. Something I’ve always tried to keep in mind is that nobody’s Nobody’s against you, they’re just for themselves. And to what looks like a nine to me, maybe a six to you, and neither of us are wrong. So it always starts with understanding. Uh, give a person the benefit of the doubt.

No, I know they’re not doing this for, you know, nefarious reasons or manipulative reasons, but they probably just have a different perspective. So I think when, when there is a dispute or when there’s a challenge, I think it’s important to kind of sit down and recognize, like, hey, what’s going on from your perspective?

And seek first to understand. And one of the ways that we’ve done that is basically kind of set out a set of kind of objective [00:15:00] promises of this is who I will be, this is what I want to achieve, and this is how I view the route to get there. So when there is a dispute, I’m not, you know, it’s not like, oh, you’ve strayed from the path or, or you’re quitting.

It’s now that I understand what drives you and how you think about these things. Let’s talk about that. Like, walk me down the road with you. And what does this look like from your perspective? And seek to understand the other person’s perspective in a way that is reasonable and loyal. And, and still honors the best of them and just allows you to understand what’s going on from their perspective, rather than how it’s affecting you from your perspective.

And I think when you do that and you kind of start with, with the love and trust that you feel for someone, that’s your friend and business partner, it’s easier to put yourself in their shoes and recognize that, you know, this is not someone who’s kind of trying to make a dollar off my sweat. This is someone who’s found their own stumbles or speed bumps in the road, even if I don’t see them.

And what would be best for us is to identify that and get over it together, rather than just crack the whip or, you know, cast judgment or something like that. [00:16:00] And maybe even also like you and Nick did, although not necessarily for this partnership, taking personality tests to aid in that understanding and helping people understand where people are coming from.

I think that’s, that would be really, really helpful. Absolutely. I think him and I are lucky in that we’re both kind of some rub some dirt on it type of people. Just grit your teeth and get through things, but that wouldn’t work well if we were both weren’t that way because we we understand each other and both seek to attack problems from the same way.

But if I was partnered with someone who is potentially more emotionally sensitive or just viewed things in a different way, it would be very difficult for my mentality to understand their perspective. But I think if you understand kind of the different hand someone might be playing or the different way they operate.

You can empathize with that, but if you think that they are, if you’re trying to plug their actions into your formula, the answer won’t make sense to you. So I think personality tests are extremely helpful in understanding, you know, how does this person operate? And if I can put myself in their shoes and understand their actions through the formula under which they [00:17:00] operate.

Then it makes sense where if I just try to say, you know, you got a wound and you didn’t rub dirt on it, what’s going on to me, that would look like weakness or it would look like someone not doing what’s necessary, but to them, it may be something entirely different. So I think understanding who you’re working with and how they operate is, is critical.

LAUREN: And given personalities just across the board, but especially for the two of you, how have you divided the responsibilities for the firm? Like in the nitty gritty, how do y’all run the firm every day? Is it sort of two parallel partners who check in with each other, but you guys kind of do your own thing or have you divided responsibilities pretty clearly where Nick handles marketing and you handle? I don’t know, finance where it’s a pretty clear delineation. How did y’all set up the firm to work together as a partnership so well?

JOSH: So for many years, it was just two parallel partners, both with our own books of business, both kind of hitting our own targets and just kind of being attorneys. And that’s been [00:18:00] one of the challenging pieces of growth is realizing there’s a difference between being a business owner and being self employed.

And I think for a long time, we were very simply self employed to essentially solo practicing attorneys who shared a brand, but we’re each doing our own thing. And one of the more recent challenges has been figuring out how do we build a business that does require. One of us to take certain functions, and I think because we know each other so well, we’ve been able to identify skill sets.

And I think Nick is better at kind of that executive level decision making and operational type things. He’s better with the numbers where I’m kind of more of the people person. So when it comes to hiring or training interns or trying to define what the firm culture will be, how we want to operate with the internal world, uh, and sometimes the external world, that’s kind of more my purview where his is more kind of steering the ship.

So, you know, if he steers the ship, I keep the crew in check. And that’s been really helpful because it’s. Both what we like to do more. And I think when you do what you like, you’re better at it. So I think it’s recognizing that while we’re very similar, [00:19:00] there will always be differences and differing strengths and weaknesses and recognizing that.

And I think a huge part through all of it is taking your ego out of it and realizing that what you want might not always be what’s best, but what is best will ultimately get you what you want. And having to respond to that in a way that it just keeps the greater goal in mind. Yeah. So your firm, you.

Among other things, help businesses of all sizes launch and grow. And so how has your partnership with Nick launched me and growing a business together? How has that influenced how you counsel clients? I think we recognize when you’re trying to start up, you know, when we were first starting up, we would drive Lyft when we didn’t have enough legal work.

And when you’re trying to make your dollar stretch as far as possible and you need for us, you know, we could do our own legal, but for other things like marketing, you realize you really have to stretch every dollar as far as you can and you have to triage it. And everything you have to decide what’s the best way to market.

What’s the best way to, should we do our own accounting or should we hire a bookkeeper, but you have to figure out the [00:20:00] most efficient allocation of your dollars in a way that’s going to create the most benefit. And I think in legal, that can be a slippery slope because you have to deal with the differing risk tolerances of your client, which is in the startup community, almost always going to be a more risk tolerant kind of slant than an attorney’s, which is going to be very risk averse.

And I think in trying to figure that out with clients, we realized that many attorneys will practice in a way that satisfies their risk tolerance without regard to how much that costs. Like, I would love to spend 10 hours reviewing every single document to make sure that I’m never at risk of making a mistake.

But your client doesn’t have that money. They can’t afford, you know, that 10 hours on a single contract, and maybe they can only afford two. And you have to kind of make those judgment calls to say, you know, where can I use my time most efficiently to To mitigate the risk that is most likely to materialize.

And I think that requires insight as to how people act as, as people. You know, what is a practical risk versus what is a theoretical risk? And being up front with our clients to say, Hey, look, you know, this is [00:21:00] everything I’d love to do, but this is what that would cost. And I know that is not how you want to spend your dollars.

That wouldn’t be the most efficient usage. So these are the things that I’ve identified as probably the most pressing and practical risks that you’re going to face. And these are the ones that I could, that I could help you mitigate. And we may not be able to address others. And I think that openness and willingness to kind of sacrifice a little bit of my risk tolerance for theirs, as long as it’s, as long as they’re fully informed as to that, and it’s a collaborative decision, has allowed us to effectively practice with startups because it allows us to get more real life protection that they can afford, while not making certain projects or certain, certain things prohibitive.

Because, you know, we do take a little bit of risk in saying, you know, this part we, you may not be protected from, and I would love to be able to do that. But if you don’t, if you can’t afford it, and the alternative would be you just reject legal representation at all, then, you know, you would have lost something because I couldn’t have given you everything.

So I think in recognizing how that affected us, we try to bring that to our practice and discuss with our entrepreneurs to [00:22:00] say, Hey, these are the things that are really going to bite you. These are the things that in some theoretical world might, but if you’re okay with accepting that risk, then we actually can mitigate this more important risk.

And I think it’s being in that startup community and having had to, to really stretch our dollars as far as possible, have shown us how important that is, where it’s, it’s very important to get someone at least be able to stay alive long enough to grow that maybe they can face those risks. And at that time, we can mitigate them.

But if you try to, you know, sell some a battleship to cross a river. They’re just not going to do it. But if you can say, Hey, as long as you understand this dingy, you can’t go on the ocean, but we’ll get you across this river. It really helps and I think our clients appreciate that because they know when we do tell them that something, something is necessary and you know, this is protection that you can’t go without, they trust us because they know we’re not just trying to pad our bills.

We’re really looking out for something and that’s when your expertise and your strategic advice becomes more valuable because we can explain the legal concepts in a way that say you might not understand what this paragraph means, but in the real world, this is [00:23:00] how it materializes and this is how the consequence it could create for you.

And I think that willingness to kind of speak on the same level as our clients generates that trust that that pays dividends down the road in the way that they’re more forthcoming with us, and it continues to build a collaborative relationship. I’ve always tried to operate with kind of the mentality that we’re not smarter than our clients.

We don’t need to talk over their heads. We’ve just spent three years reading fine print that no one in their right mind would want to do. So we have a specialized knowledge base. We don’t have a higher level of intelligence and given enough time, our clients are fully capable of understanding what legal provisions mean when you strip out the legalese, uh, and taking the time to sit down with them and explain, you know, this is why it’s important and this is how it’s going to protect you. And this is why it’s worth your money.

LAUREN: Y’all are obviously experts when it comes to the business side of things and the, the, the marriage of legal and business. But I’m curious, have you ever had to wade into the waters of the human side? Like when you’re working with these [00:24:00] business partners as your clients, have you ever identified, there might be some rockiness in In this partnership because of personalities or the approach of the partners as they’re talking to you. And do y’all draw a line there where you’re like, that’s for them to figure out? Or do you use your experience with Nick to say, Hey, y’all might want to think about delegating responsibilities differently or bringing someone on who has this skillset because you recognize it’s not there now, like, do you go into that more kind of human side of the partnership and the interaction between business folks.

JOSH: Absolutely. I think that’s not something we can do on the first meeting because it requires that trust. But once we’ve developed it, you know, there are certain times that people get just very kind of self righteous on principle. Um, and they start to lose the force through the trees and start to kind of disconnect.

What, what we’re doing from a transactional legal perspective, from how it’s going to affect their lives. And in those [00:25:00] instances, we’ll call it out because, you know, we try to be a trusted advisor, not just like a legal salesperson, I’m not just interested in selling you every single hour that I can sell you, I’m interested in actually.

Providing advice and counsel in a way that’s going to create the most net benefit to your company. So there have been times that we’ve seen partner disputes where as we’re drafting the documents and kind of seeing the sticking points and why people are negotiating and it just disconnects and you think like, you know, this doesn’t make sense anymore.

And you start to think about someone’s retirement plans or their kids and how this money that they’re going to spend on my bill could be spent on their family or the things that matter and you realize. This is where it’s time to be that truthful advisor, not someone who just pats them on the back and tells them the right and you know, write another check and I’ll do whatever you want, but tells them like, Hey, you need a reality check moment right now and you are going to spend thousands of dollars on legal to avoid addressing a personal issue.

So there have been times in my, in my practice where I’ve been dealing with partners and I said, Hey, I’m, you know, I’m not going to draft this document until you sit down with your partner for lunch. [00:26:00] And I want you to recognize that as what you’ve told me, this is how I would feel if you were, if I was your partner.

I would feel like X and Y were things that weren’t fair, the way you responded to this communication was in bad faith, and of course I would dig my heels in, and I suspect that’s what your partner’s doing. So what I want you guys to do is go and have lunch and talk about this. And if you do, and you still need that document drafted, Then come back to me and I know that you will live in good faith, try to actually resolve that dispute.

And many times that’s been the end of it. You know, we’ll get a call the next day. It says like, actually, I don’t need that separation document or I don’t need that redemption agreement. We figured it out. Turns out a few beers and a good steak solved all the problems. But I think in, in trying to run our practice in a way that isn’t just draining legal resources for our own benefit, but it’s seeking our clients real best interest.

There are times when the legal X and O’s don’t make sense anymore. They no longer reflect the situation that you’re seeing with your eyes and ears. And I think at that time, our role as advisors is to kind of interject and call out the blind spot and say, Hey, I’m not going to let you run down this road, which I know will be to everyone’s detriment, go sit down [00:27:00] with this person and be a human being before you’re a business partner.

JESS: What’s next for y’all? Like what’s next for you, Josh and Nick? What’s next for Troxel Fitch?

JOSH: We have recently been taking more classes on how to actually run a business and in a very humbling way have realized that we really have been self employed. So many just business fundamentals we haven’t done right.

We’ve been, we’ve been wasteful. We just probably enjoyed our own success a little bit too much. And I think part of growing up, you know, I was 26 and he was 25 when we started. And I think there was a lot of maturity that just a lot of growing that needed to be done. And it’s difficult when you’re 26 years old and you start to have success on your own terms and you say, Oh, I’m going to go enjoy it.

But enjoying it means taking from your business to do so. So now that we’re learning more business fundamentals, I think what we would ultimately like to do is. Build our business in a way that is strong from a fundamental perspective so that we can hire and have more wherewithal to take the ups and downs and the, you know, the economic road and [00:28:00] the unexpected circumstances.

And ideally what we would like to do is try to grow the firm and hire attorneys in a way that conveys our view of practicing law. I think we’d like to hire attorneys in a way that says, hey, as much as I want you to have a billable hour requirement and a plan for your productivity, I want to plan for your hobbies.

And if you don’t have hobbies, let’s start there because you need to have hobbies because we sell our time. And what we do is we solve problems. So if all you do is sell your time to solve problems, all your life will be is filled every minute with other people’s problems, and that will drive you into the ground.

And I think every attorney needs to have an exhaust vent from this lifestyle. And if someone has spent so much time in law school or studying for the bar and has let those things fall by the wayside, I don’t want someone who’s going to be in my office miserable and billing a ton of hours, because then that’s, that person’s going to drain on my life and my happiness because I’ll have to work with them.

So I think we’d like to run a firm that begins to convey that to our attorneys. And even if that means less billable hours, even if that means less revenue, I [00:29:00] want happy people. And I want to work with people who recognize that our skill set is one that allows you. To run your own life very well and to be the master of your own time.

So I think that’s the type of firm that we’re seeking to grow into, is one that can hire people and help create a holistic life. Not just a good professional life, but one that provides the freedom and the income for someone to pursue their passions that aren’t log. Because if you sit here and tell me that every day you get out of bed because you just love to see the clock run up, you’re not going to work with us.

I, you know, I want someone who’s going to be, you know, I’m willing, I’m in the office to get my work done, help these people because I want. I want to help other people achieve that freedom that I’m striving for. And when you’re off the clock, I want you off the clock and out of town doing something that really refills your tank and makes you feel that zest for life because I think everyone’s hit a point in the practice of law where you’re burnt out, and it starts to reflect your quality of work. You know, it’s hard to get through 40 pages of fine print and actually care what’s in there when you’re absolutely miserable. But when you’re happy, and you [00:30:00] recognize that your client has taken all this risk because they’re chasing their own form of happiness, and you are a catalyst to that, and yes, maybe those 40 pages of fine print are necessary, but when you recognize the purpose behind the work, I think you do better work, but I don’t think you can ever keep that purpose in focus if you yourself don’t have purpose to your own life.

LAUREN: One of the things that has always impressed me, I think from the moment we first met and just probably feels the same way is you have been so clear on. vision, mission, purpose, whatever word you want to put on it. And I think that that comes through in your business, which is really hard for a lot of businesses to be able to articulate.

But I also love that you are honest and said, we had no idea how to run a business, which most of us didn’t because no one in law school. Or, you know, unless you went to business school and law school, which most lawyers didn’t do, we didn’t learn that. So I’m just curious as a quick follow up question, because you said that, and you’re like, [00:31:00] we’re essentially going to business school now, what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned? And you don’t have to go through all the details. But I’m just curious, is it in finance in like the books of the business? Is it in marketing? Is it in Communications, like what did you learn in those classes that you’re like, well, we have, we need to step up our game here?

JOSH: I think it was recognizing that basically billing hours is a treadmill.

And I thought that basically, Oh, well, we’ll work harder. We’ll make more and then we’ll have a business. And I realized like, no, I work harder. I make more and I spend more and I’m still just working harder to maintain my own spending and I’m spending because I’m working harder and just recognizing that, yeah, we’re growing, but that’s really just speeding up the treadmill.

And I, as I think we’ve kind of learned more about business and the importance of retained earnings and the importance of, you know, having that kind of nest egg in your business so that you can respond to opportunity or endure difficulty has made me realize like, yeah, I might see a certain revenue number, but I shouldn’t take it all.

Um, I should leave some there. I pay the taxes on it, [00:32:00] but yes, it hurts a little bit to demote your own income when you’re working harder, but recognizing that’s the only way you ever get off the treadmill. And I think Nick and I, as you start making just the nothing that you make when you come out of law school and you have a couple clients, you need all of it because you need to pay your bills.

And then you get a little excess and you start to live a little better and then you get more excess and you start to be a little Hollywood. And then you one day look at your life and say, I’ve been behind this desk for 14 hours straight and filled eight hours today and I’m no closer to financial freedom.

I’m just have nicer things. I do cooler stuff. I eat better food, but I’m no. I’m no further to the freedom that I’m chasing. And I think it was that part of that maturity and the discipline of recognizing that building a business is different from just being a self employed attorney. But that’s very scary.

You know, you say like you, they tell that to a lawyer, you’re like, I don’t know, I can do the math, my billable rate and, and how many hours I build. And I think that’s how much I make. And you kind of have to have the discipline to realize, no, if that’s, if that’s what you make, that’s all you’ll ever make is, is, and you’re truly trading time for money in a way that will never stop.

So [00:33:00] I think some of the discipline of recognizing that, you know, you have to make a sacrifice so that something you can build something greater, and then maybe you’ll get off the treadmill. Has been a real growing moment for us and in getting a financial education, like there’s an easy book to read. I think it’s probably a hundred pages called simple numbers that really illuminates that for people who aren’t necessarily financially well versed.

It demystified it and it made it less scary. It’s difficult to have such an expertise in something like law. And acknowledge how much of a novice you are in something as critical as finance. But I think that intimidation and that mysticism can draw you away from it. Because you say, that doesn’t make me feel good when I think about it.

So I’m just going to go over here and keep doing what I’ve been doing. But I think learning to kind of face those things head on and kind of recognizing that if you’re an attorney and you pass the bar, you’ve got the brainpower to learn that. It may not be pleasant, but you’ve got the brainpower to learn it.

And the sooner you face that, the sooner you kind of shine light on that blind spot, the more approachable those concepts become, the more willing you become to engage in those [00:34:00] practices. And then you start to feel the excitement of, Oh, now I can see the path off the treadmill. Now it’s not just some gray idea of maybe one day I won’t bill forever.

It’s like, Oh, it’s. Those are the first two steps. And when I take them, I’ll see three and four. And that actually becomes invigorating and exciting because you really begin to feel like, okay, now I’m thinking like a business owner. And now I can not only use that skill to develop my business and create more freedom in my own life, I can then use that to hire, hire other associates and, and allow others to benefit from this kind of eureka moment that we’ve experienced.

JESS: You have the brain power. I love it. So much gold in this episode. Well, we always like to ask our guests at the very end, the same question, which is Josh, how do you define success?

I define success as Living your life in a way that is your own, whether that’s working a couple hours a day and living in a tent and in our beautiful Rocky Mountains or, or whether that’s working your butt off and [00:35:00] driving the nicest Mercedes there is, whatever that looks like to you.

I think we work so hard. And have learned so much and have so much skill that lawyers deserve to be able to use that for their own benefit in whatever way that looks like, and it is empowering to recognize that you don’t need anyone else to do that when you kind of take a step back and look at what we are as lawyers and what the law is on the one hand as lawyers.

Primary skill that we have above anything else is the ability to learn. We know how to basically find the question, find the authority, read what we know, find the next question. And law might be one of the most complicated questions to answer. So if you can do that, while you may not have done it before, you can do that for marketing.

You can do that for accounting, you can do that for networking, and every skill that you need is there for you to learn, and you have the skill to learn it. So just because we come out of law school not knowing those things, I don’t think that means that we have any reason or detriment to actually go learn those things.

And a lot of times it’s very fun and empowering. And then when you think about the law itself, this is a licensed profession, [00:36:00] and a very kind of lucrative service. So, it sells itself. Most businesses at their most basic sense is creating a product that the market wants and creating a mechanism to deliver it.

Those are the two functions. Function one is already solved. Just by the nature of having a law license, you have the ability to create a product that the market wants. All you have to do is figure it out and how to deliver that product to the market. And that’s where you can choose, turn your skill in learning.

So I think when we look at the terrible mental health kind of statistics, the terrible substance abuse statistics in our profession, and we treat that as almost if it’s a necessary evil, I really don’t think it is. I really think we have been kind of trained in a way to fear that which we don’t know because we know so much about the law.

And I think When you can train attorneys to embrace that unknown in a confident and enthusiastic and curious way, you have some really powerful and capable people who have the great foundation to start their own business and all the skillsets necessary to make that a success. [00:37:00] And sometimes they just need encouragement and someone who’s been on the other side of it to tell them if I could do it, you could do it.

And it’s not that miserable. It’s actually really fun. And when you get to that point where you have that freedom, and you feel that pride in yourself, and you get to help the people that you want to help, and you get to make what you want to make, and live your life on your own terms while practicing law, I think it flips the paradigm from being law as this soul-crushing, meat grinding profession, into being law as a platform for the whatever life you want to live, and a platform to enrich your own life and create your own happiness.

And if you do that well enough, You can do that for others around you. You can do it for your community, for your employees, for your friends and family, and for everybody else who could benefit from your skill set and your drive. So I, I love to basically make sure that everybody kind of knows that it is possible and encourage them to do so.

If you do it with humility, with a good heart, and with a real desire to help, I think the universe has a way of making things fall into place, and I, I think it is a very worthy and virtuous pursuit. Man, Josh, every time I talk to you, I’m even more [00:38:00] impressed and even more inspired. I literally feel like let’s go change the world.

LAUREN: That is so great. It has been so fun and amazing to watch your and Nick’s trajectory. I can’t wait to see what’s next for y’all. You really are making waves and changing the profession in more ways than one. So if anyone listening wants to connect with you, what is the best way for them to reach you?

JOSH: Feel free to shoot me an email. You can visit our website troxelfitch.com. I’m happy to connect with anybody who is curious or would like to brainstorm or just needs a pep talk. I always like to help any other attorney who’s considering this path and I love to see their lives, the way their lives change when they go down this path. So I’m available to anyone who would like to chat further.

LAUREN: Well, thanks, Josh. I feel like this whole episode was kind of a pep talk. So if you need to go back and hit play again, if you need a little inspiration, this definitely does it. So thank you so much, Josh, for, for spending your time with us today. We really do appreciate it.

JOSH: Thank you, Lauren and Jess. Always great to catch up [00:39:00] with you guys. I really appreciate you having me on and this was fun. So thanks again.

LAUREN: We’re over here giving you a virtual high five because you just finished another episode of A Different Practice. For more from this episode, head over to adifferentpractice.com/podcast for our show notes. If you found this episode helpful, we’d love it if you’d share it with someone. Be sure to rate the show wherever you listen to podcasts.

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