The Financial Future of Your Law Firm: Why Selling Should Be on Your Radar with Victoria Collier

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Episode Description

Have you thought about life after law? In this thought-provoking episode, we sit down with Victoria Collier, a seasoned seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the legal industry. In addition to building and selling her own 7-figure law firm, she has been coaching lawyers since 2008 on how to add value to their law firms. 

We cover everything from preparing your law firm for a successful sale now – even if you’re nowhere near selling, navigating the treacherous cliffs of entrepreneurship, and understanding the one number that is key to accurately valuing your law firm.

Victoria shares invaluable insights into the crucial mindset required to set your business on the path to success. Her perspective will transform the way you approach your firm’s future, including Victoria’s #1 piece of advice for setting your business up to sell successfully in the future. It’s a game-changer for any legal professional with aspirations beyond the daily grind.

As the episode unfolds, you’ll hear Lauren’s personal reflections on her own firm’s future change. Her story will resonate with anyone who has contemplated taking the leap into the unknown, and you won’t want to miss her candid insights.

Join us for a conversation that doesn’t happen enough in the legal profession. Explore new ideas for law firm success, the art of selling, and the exhilarating prospect of leaping off the cliff into a world of limitless possibilities. Victoria’s wisdom will inflate your parachute – tune in now and get ready to soar!

Listen now!

Episode Resources 

Quid Pro Quo

Smart Lawyers Position to Transition podcast

Episode Transcript

VICTORIA: Even when you say I’m done, I’m ready, I need to sell, those people who cannot visualize their life after law, they will sabotage any efforts to sell it.

LAUREN: Welcome to a different practice. Where your hosts Lauren Lester, and Jess Bednarz, and we’re obsessed with all things business, well-being, and optimizing the practice of law for solo and small firm lawyers. 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 in joyment. 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.

LAUREN: Welcome everyone to another episode of a different practice. We’re so excited to share this time with you today. We’re gonna talk about something I don’t think a lot of us think about. I know I certainly haven’t really in-depth. And that is, what does life look like after law?

JESS: Such a great question. Something I thought about a little bit, but I agree with you, Lauren. I don’t think most lawyers think about that.

LAUREN: Yeah, it does kind of seem like the old school idea of we just work until we die, which is like saying that out loud, I’m like, I can’t believe that’s what we do, but I think that is sort of the subtext and the expectation of if you own your own law firm, especially There’s sometimes not a guaranteed retirement plan built in and you have to keep going to continue to generate revenue and bring in financial resources. So can there be another option? Because frankly, that kind of sucks. I don’t know if I if I wanna sign. Did I sign up for that? Can I can I change my mind, my pick?

JESS: It certainly creates a very visual. Stephanie. I mean, when I was a solo, that’s what I thought. I didn’t really have any plans beyond that and certainly didn’t anyone else talk about that. So I think that’s kind of where we’re at as a profession.

LAUREN: Yeah. And that’s why the conversation today is so exciting and interesting and health really inspiring and challenging for a lot of us. You’ll hear our guests certainly challenged me in just her discussion about some other ideas of what life could look like after law, what options are, what really viable options are, So I’m really excited to jump into this conversation today. But first, let me tell you a little bit about our guest, Victoria Collier. Is a seasoned entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the legal industry in addition to building and selling her own seven figure law firm.
She has been coaching lawyers since two thousand eight on how to add value to their firms. And if you’ve been around here for a minute, you know how much we love value. So Victoria’s already on our rockstar list. And she knows her stuff. She owned and operated her law firm for eighteen years.
Before she sold it in twenty twenty. And prior to that sale, she was maintaining an average gross revenue of between one and one point five million dollars for five consecutive years, which is really impressive. As the founder and CEO of quid pro quo, it is Victoria’s mission to guide others in finding their path to life after law. In addition, she currently co owns another eight figure business because she’s just a boss. She’s also a public speaker and the host of a weekly podcast called smart lawyers position to transition, which brings timely and valuable information to lawyers seeking to sell or buy a law firm.
Victoria also holds certifications and exit planning and business valuations.

JESS: Victoria’s definitely a rock star. She knows her stuff. And then there’s just so few people I feel like in the profession that have this particular expertise. And so what really resonated with me in this episode is learning about the different options, but in particular about sale option because that just sounds mysterious. But there are a lot of steps involved and it’s definitely something that can be done.
So I’d love hearing about that. I’d love hearing about transitioning to life after law and what that can look like. And I loved her piece of advice, which was, you know, it always starts with mindset. The mindset of treating this business as a business, treating this law firm as a business. It really does all start there.

LAUREN: Yeah. Being a business owner first and then a lawyer, which is really hard and definitely not how we’re trained. But is a really important mindset shift to make. My favorite piece of chatting with her was the underscore and expansion of something we talk about a lot, which is law firms in owning this business should be a tool to be able to create the life that we want. And that looks different for everybody.
It’s one of the main reasons why we ask every guest how they find success because we have a really limited, narrow view as a whole in the profession of what does it mean to be a successful lawyer. So we really want to offer all different kinds of options. And when we I think about how my law firm supports the life that I want? I often thought about it in the here and now. Like, while I owned the firm, how could I structure it in a way that for me, involved only working four days a week and being really involved in my kid’s lives and having weekends that I could relax and taking vacations when I wanted to.
Right? Those are all of the parts of the definition of success for me, but I never thought about it in a sense of how can the law firm help me build a life after the law? How can I still use it as a tool to support that life when I’m not in it all day every day in the trenches? And Victoria, really, in this conversation kind of expanded that idea for me of it can not only be a tool now, but it can be a tool that we use to grow and build a life into the future.

JESS: Absolutely. And help create a more sustainable firm in in life. And it really it was a really fun episode and left me feeling very excited and helpful.

LAUREN: Yeah. So we’re we’re pumped. We hope you are pumped. So let’s get into it. Here is our conversation with Victoria Collier.
Welcome, Victoria. We are so excited to talk to you today. You don’t understand Jess and I were, like, so pumped about this topic.

VICTORIA: Oh, thank you. Thanks. It’s nice to be here with you guys.

JESS: Yeah. I think I think one of the reasons we’re so pumped is because I’m not sure that we’ve come across someone with your expertise and business evaluation, access strategies, etcetera. Like, this is just not something We see often the profession, I can’t even recall a specific CLE on this topic, which is crazy given the amount of cea leaves I’ve been to over the years. So we’re super excited to dig into that. And we thought a really good starting place would be to start with your purpose and the mission for your company, which is to guide others in finding their path to life after a law.
And we love that but I think one of the biggest reasons they love it is that it really challenges this assumption that there is no life after law. I I just it’s not something we really hear anyone talk about for whatever reason, whether it be once you’re in law, you’re in law for life and or you own these firms and you’re gonna own them until the end or whatever that means because then there’s nothing else you could do with them. So I just I would love for you to just start look there. How did you come up with this perspective and why did you choose this as the purpose and the mission for your company?

VICTORIA: Sure. So, you know, I mean, historically, there wasn’t life after law. People did just die at their desk or those that decided to retire and had actually saved up money. They just closed their doors. And so how I came up with this as a business and my purpose is that I had a law firm for twenty years and I needed to exit.
And I couldn’t financially just walk away. I couldn’t financially just close the doors. And so I had to create a different solution and that solution was actually selling my law firm. For real money, cash in my pocket. And so it came out of need.
And this is such a new business within a very old industry. And the reason you haven’t seen CLEs on it is, I mean, if we look back, there was no language even in the ABA model rules until, like, nineteen ninety one as to how to even transition, a a business, and that was only upon death or disability. And even still today, which hasn’t been that long, but even still today, there’s no language really about if you just decide you don’t want to own your law firm anymore, how can you transition that? So it is a newer industry. There are just a smaller than one handful of people who focus on just helping lawyers transition out of law practice, and in my case, helping them actually find life after law.

JESS: Yeah. That totally makes sense. And it is crazy to me to think about it because you’re right when I think about the ethics rules related to this. There isn’t a lot of language. Do you Do you have any efforts to change that or have you been involved in those types of discussions?

VICTORIA: I have not yet, but they’re is certainly changed on the horizon with certain states like Arizona and Utah that are permitting non lawyers to own law firms in those states. And so that’s just the beginning to, I think, a bigger gateway of change in the legal industry. And once that has been mature enough to where other states see that the entire legal profession didn’t fall down flat because non lawyers own law firms, then I think we’re gonna start seeing a lot more opportunity and change in many other states as well.

JESS: I think you’re right about that. And just to be clear to all of our listeners, many of whom are lawyers and very concerned about the ethics rules, just to be clear there’s nothing saying that you can’t do the things that we’re going to be talking about today on this podcast. Right?

VICTORIA: Correct. Everything. You know, I I am still a lawyer. I’m still bound by the ethics rules and I advise lawyers so everything we do is within the ethics rules.

JESS: Yeah. Just, you know, you always wanna get that out of the way.

LAUREN: I love the idea of life after law. And when that popped up, I realized that wasn’t as scary to me because I assumed, of course, I’m gonna have a life after the business. I don’t know when that will be, but what I realized is I didn’t then have the next step or the options, honestly, around it. I think I would probably, if you pushed me, have fallen into well, I guess I just closed the doors. And part of that is because I’m a solo and, you know, I don’t my business, I always talk to folks about this, like, doesn’t pass the bus test.
Which is if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, my firm is done. Like, I I’m the the revenue generator. So Talk to us about And me, personally, about Like, what what options do lawyers have? Selling is obviously one, just closing the doors is another. Are there other options that attorneys should be thinking about whether they’re just starting out and they’ve got a really long runway or they are getting to that point where they really are looking at the next chapter.

VICTORIA: Well, certainly, the options are varied and different based on what kind of law firm you have. You know, as solos, path may be very different than the path of someone who has a robust team, associate attorneys, and things like that. But, yes, short of buying it or closing down, those are the two ends of the two different ends of the spectrum. Is what many people have done in the past is just hand their files to a friend. Another is you hand your files to a friend or someone else and then now they’re paying you, you know, some commissions, if you will, off of the revenue that’s continuing to be generated off those files.
There’s also where you can sell what we would call your book of business. It’s not what I would call a business that you’re selling, but you’re selling your book of business. Where if you have a database, a phone number, a website that is regularly intended to buy prospects, then that has value. And so when you sell a book of business, sometimes that’s for an upfront monetary fee, which isn’t huge, but it’s something. But then also, you can negotiate to wear anything that comes off that phone number, anything comes off that website.
Anything that comes from that list of prior clients I had, then can continue to generate future income for you after you’ve left. What many people tend to do, especially solos, is that they tend to either merge with another firm, and then they continue working for several years, only doing things that they prefer to do. So for example, if somebody doesn’t want to hire people. They don’t want to, you know, do marketing. They just wanna be the rainmaker and have somebody else manage those other office type, business type aspects, then they’ll join another firm and then just kind of wind down within the other firm over a three, five, ten year period.
And then the other alternative to that is not merging with another firm, but acting as of counsel for the other firm. So that you’re essentially doing the same thing. You’re just not a technical member or partner of the firm. So those are all kinds of different options that I see.

LAUREN: How would someone know what might be right for them? Is that just a personal preference? Like, as you were going through, I was like, well, I don’t know if I wanna, like, wind down and work with someone else. Like, I like working on my own. So, like, is it just its part personal preference?
Or are there business or kind of monetary considerations to some of those options where some are gonna be on the higher end of some sort of payout whether that’s upfront or over time. And there’s a balance there to, you know, do you want the big check, or do you want to go out a little bit more on your own terms?

VICTORIA: Right. And so it’s all of that. It’s all of that. And I would certainly suggest that we do need to be in touch with our personal preference first. We should always lead with what is going to meet my needs.
And then what path helps me do that? Because, I mean, people we hear it. People are not always happy as lawyers, and they’re not happy in their jobs. And if they own their own firm, sometimes they’re not happy. But we stay there and we continue to do that no matter what because we don’t know that we have options and we certainly don’t put ourselves first.
This is the first time that we can put ourselves first. Instead of now blending with someone else and just continuing to be worse than unhappy. Now you’ve involved other people that are in that circle and in that fold. And then what happens many times in those cases is that you’re still not ready not to work anymore. You may need some financial means still and then you split back up again and that’s just emotionally traumatizing, you know, going back and forth and you’re like, then you just continue to feel like some people feel like a failure and then that doesn’t help them with that exit strategy.
And so they either continue just to be measurable and think that, well, I tried the one thing I know and there’s nothing else to do. Or they just completely get out at that point and just give up and just throw it all the way.

LAUREN: And I would imagine that’s pretty demoralizing. You must feel like, alright, I had this three to five year plan, my exit strategy, and then it doesn’t work out, and you kind of feel like, did I just lose those three to five years? Now I gotta start over, now it’s three to five years more. So, yeah, I can definitely see how that’s really demoralizing. It would force people to be like, benefit.
I’m like, I’m just gonna close shop. Right?

JESS: So talk to us a little more about the sale pathway because this is just fascinating to me. And I would imagine it’s not something that you get to, you know, the end of your journey with your firm and you’re like, okay, great. I’m gonna try to sell this tomorrow and just hope it goes well. I’m I’m guessing there are a lot of pieces to it. So where do you even start with something like that?

VICTORIA: So there are a lot of pieces to it. And unfortunately, there are actually people who are like Okay. Now I want to get out and get this sold for me in the next three months. And it just it takes time and it takes strategy and it takes putting some things in place. You would never just list your house for sale and, you know, say, okay, sell it tomorrow.
Without, I don’t know, picking up the dirty clothes on the floor or maybe even renovating a bathroom or a kitchen. So the first thing is identify whether someone actually wants to sell or if they’re just burned out and they need a reframe of falling back in love with their business again. And so, you know, there’s an aspect of of mindset and psychology and where are you today? And is this truly what you want? And and part of that is, can they visualize what they’d be doing after they exit their law firm.
And like Laura, and you said, you know, you hadn’t even thought about, you know, you thought that there’s a life after law. But, you know, it’s surprising that number of people who actually have no concept of what they could possibly do when they’re not doing law because it’s been part of who they are forever. And if you can’t visualize that, then even when you say I’m done, I’m ready, I need to sell, those people who cannot visualize their life after law. They will sabotage any efforts to sell it because they’re not ready. Not on purpose, but subconsciously, they’re sabotaging it.
And I, unfortunately, consciously see it very clearly. And so so one is prep. It’s it’s where are you? Are you burned out? Are you ready to actually sell?
And are you ready to move on? Then we need to value the business. You know, we don’t know what to sell unless we know what it is and how much it’s worth. And that oftentimes then leads to who would be the right kind of buyer for this, for who you are, what your firm is, what its value is, and how you’re willing to receive the funds for that firm. Are you willing to self finance?
Are you willing to take a percentage over time? Is it lump sum only? You know, so we have to know what are your needs and expectations so that we can look for the right buyer. While we’re looking for the right buyer, depending on what someone’s time frame is, so that’s the other thing. It’s finding out what is your time frame.
Is it within three to six months? Is it three to five years? And so depending on the time frame, we’ll depend on do we renovate that bathroom in a kitchen? Do we just put the clothes away? And so do we put the lipstick on the pig as they say?
Or do we actually invest in maybe doing some pause in procedures, maybe hiring the right people for the bus, maybe automating some systems. So that things are more efficient and not as dependent on the owner. So we look at those strategies and depending on the timing we have, the mindset capacity of the person, because sometimes when someone makes the decision, I’m done, they don’t have the mental capacity to implement anything else. They just can’t. So we have to take all that into account before we then say, are we going to market or not going to market?
But let’s assume we do go to market, then there’s different ways to sell. Certainly, my office has our own way of finding buyers for our clients, and we’re very proactive in that. Some just list their law firms on selling business selling sites on the website, which can be helpful. But our approach is very we actually reach out and tap people on the shoulder and say, hey, we have a firm for sale. Are you interested in buying it?
Kinda like a recruiter would do when they’re looking for employees and things like that. So then the whole goal is to find someone who’s interested. They there’s synergy between the two. So once we have people raising their hand, signing non disclosure agreements, then we’re setting up appointments. And the first thing is, do we like each other?
Right? Is this someone I could work with? Because there’s always going to be a transition where there’s overlap between the outgoing person and the incoming person. And if you can’t be with that person on a day to day basis, then that would be challenging. So we have meetings on culture and core values and, you know, long term desires for both parties, then we start real due diligence, and that’s looking at the finances.
And does this make sense from a financial standpoint on both sides? But the ultimate goal is to get the letter of intent signed by both parties that have the key terms. And then once that’s signed, it goes to the lawyers. And then the lawyers draft all the documents. We have a closing and a celebration and then a transition.

JESS: Man, I have so many questions. So many pieces indeed. I’m not surprised at all. Well, one question I had. So as you’re reaching out to people, are there a lot of buyers?
And when you reach out to people, are they surprised? Are they kind of expecting it? Is it kind of just something very new to them? And then I guess on the flip side, If there are people who are looking to acquire law firms and be the types of people that you reach out to, is there are there ways for them to make themselves known?

VICTORIA: So there are a larger number of buyers than you would expect or than I would expect. And I don’t think that they sit there and think I would like to buy a law firm today, but I do think that the business minded lawyers who own law firms are thinking about how do we expand? Do we expand organically? Do we expand through having satellite offices? And if we’re gonna have settled offices, should we grow that from the ground up, or should we acquire other offices?
And so I do believe that that’s going on. And so that when we make a phone call, they’re like, you know, I am interested in exploring that opportunity. And so that’s what happens a lot. Then there’s some that are like, you know, I have acquired a few offices already, And essentially, those are the ones that it’s where the sellers were in dire straits like, you know, I mean, I have a colleague that acquired one and the lawyer was literally in a nursing home. There was no option.
I mean, he could have got this firm for nothing and almost did. And so there’s those kind of buyers that are looking for very low hanging fruit where the people have no option and they’re just willing, you know, just just happy to pitch their files to someone else. Those are not the kinds I want to find for my clients, but they’re out there. And sometimes, I do have a client like that that just needs to pitch it. To answer your last question, is there a way to know who these buyers are?
There’s not really a forum for that yet. But I can foresee one coming in the future.

LAUREN: I like that. I like that foreshadowing. I was super curious on the buyer’s side. What do buyers value? Like, you said some things about, like, automation and efficiency and possibly having staff to make the transition easier, so it’s not just on one person, but the knowledge is spread around.
Is it practice area? Like, some practice areas are more valuable than others just because of the nature of the practice area? Like, what are some of the things buyers are looking at that actually make a law firm valuable.

VICTORIA: So no doubt. The number one thing is just the profit profit margin? Is it a cash cow? Second would be practice area. And generally, buyers are looking for firms within their own practice area because it’s more comfortable that way.
Like for example, I am currently buying a law firm. And I could buy a number of different kinds of law firms, but for the first one I’m buying, I’m buying one in my own practice area that I did for twenty years. So if I had to step in and be the lawyer, then I could do it. Even though that’s not the goal, the goal is that I am just CEO, the visionary, the, you know, one who’s gonna lead the team. So practice area is important.
Geographic location is another consideration for some people. But beyond that, you know, we talk a lot and you’ll hear a lot on other people’s plot forms that people should have standard operating procedures and systems and, you know, all this kind of stuff. That is extremely first and all, first and foremost, beneficial to the one who currently owns the farm, you know, to to to have these things so that when you do bring someone on, the training curve is so much shorter. The profit is so much higher because you’re systematized and there’s fewer mistakes and also just you’re not recreating things all the time. So that’s a benefit that then flows over to a buyer because your profit margin is higher.
However, are the standard operating procedures that valuable to a buyer? It depends on the buyer. You’re gonna have some buyers that will say, I’ve got all of that and we’re just gonna replace it. Well, first and foremost, I’m gonna say anyone out there that’s listening, that’s a potential buyer, that’s a huge mistake to just have that attitude from the beginning. You want to keep everything as similar as possible for at least six to twelve months.
Otherwise, you’re going to lose all the employees if there are any employees. And then kind of wean your stuff into it. Right? Which then means that, yes, the policies and procedures that are there are still valuable. But there are some people that are like we’re gonna use ours.
That’s not valuable. But if you’ve got a buyer coming in who’s gonna be the lawyer, who’s gonna be the grinder, and they don’t already have a firm somewhere else, Those policies or procedures are very valuable. And as part of my job as the selling representative to show why that’s so valuable for that kind of buyer.

LAUREN: Interesting. And what is the, like, profit margin range? And how like, I’m super in the weeds right now, but I’m, like, eking out. Are we talking five to ten percent is a good ballpark to be in? Do buyers wanna see higher than that?
And then what how is the profit calculated? Is it like pretax profit? Are we looking at, like, EBITDA? Like, what are buyers looking at when we’re talking about that number?

VICTORIA: So, certainly, it’s pretax. I’ll start with the easy question first. It’s pretax. Secondarily, you know, we are looking at EBITDA, which is earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation, etcetera. But what’s more real now that people are looking at and should be looking at is what’s called seller’s discretionary earnings, SDE.
And that’s because we can really manipulate the EBITDA very easily by how much our owner pays themselves on w two. Which most of them don’t, and that’s also a problem. But how much, you know, the owner flows through from a tax perspective that’s inherently personal. All that affects a beta, but it doesn’t affect SDE, which is so as discretionary earnings. We pull all that back out.
And so then that obviously is the more real number of what’s going in the pocket of the new buyer. But we do have to equalize the fair market value salary for the seller. Some sellers don’t take any salary. Some take a salary. And then the question is, what would it cost to replace you as the outgoing person with someone else if the buyer doesn’t wanna be you.
Right? And so that has to come off the equation as well. And so and that’s not just, you know, I mean, we think of ourselves as a lawyer’s, but, like, when I sold my law firm, I wasn’t a lawyer anymore. I was the CEO. I wasn’t doing anything that had to do with clients in production.
So what would a CEO cost? Right? Or In many cases, a solo practitioner. You spend twenty percent of your time on marketing and networking, twenty percent of your time on admin, and maybe sixty percent doing lawyer stuff. So what does it cost for a marketing person?
What does it cost for an admin person? What does it cost for the lawyer? Then you get that blended rate as to what would it cost to replace you? So, you know, when people talk about doing a valuation, and it’s just, oh, it’s, you know, one times your gross revenue or three times your net. Which net?
You know, I mean, are you doing all this? Stuff that you should be doing if you want a real figure.

LAUREN: That’s super helpful. Because I totally agree. I you can manipulate those numbers depending on who you’re showing them to. So that’s really helpful to know kind of the the nitty gritty of what folks are actually looking at and what a accurate true number is that isn’t sort of manipulated to make the business look way better than it is or less than it is because they don’t wanna pay as much or whatever.

JESS: Taking a step way, way, way, way back, is there anything that people who are starting a law firm can do on day one to set them up for success in the event that they want to sell their firm in the future. They probably haven’t thought about it. They’re just trying to launch their firm and survive.


JESS: are there things we can do during that process?

VICTORIA: Absolutely. And I would say that day one can be the day they hear this podcast. It doesn’t have to be the day you start your law firm. Because I can tell you my day one was eighteen years into it, you know. So day one is, first and foremost, you have to think of yourself as a business person and not a lawyer.
You are a business person who provides legal services and you may be the one doing production, but think of yourself as a business person. That changes the way you make every decision related to your business today and in the future. And that’s the best I think recipe for success for if you want to sell in the future.

JESS: Great advice. I feel like we’ve we’ve shared that time and time again. It’s so important just putting that business hat on. Mhmm. And clearly, you you love business.
Like, I I can see that coming from you. You obviously know a lot about it. What is it that you love about being a business owner? And maybe what’s one lesson that you’ve learned along the way that you like to share with people?

VICTORIA: I do love being a business owner. And why I love it so much is I personally love the creation. I love the ability to build teams and in mentorship And I see I I love to see growth, and I love to see the results for the clients. We get whether that was me and my law firm or whether that’s me now at quid pro quo helping lawyers sell their firms. For me, it’s all about the results.
I’m very results driven. It’s one of my core values. And so that’s why I love it so much. And in business, it’s so easy. You know, you chart the data you see the results and then you see the glimmer in the eye and, you know, the fact that now, you know, my clients out there playing with her grandchild on the beach versus in the office, you know, handling one more file.
So that’s what I love it so much. The lesson that I think has had the most impact has been that in order to have an impact, you cannot, in my opinion, go it alone. You know, you’ve got to have support. Whether that’s outside support, like ten ninety nines, virtual employees, whatever, or inside support, in order for, again, for me to have an impact I needed to be bigger than me. And so for me, it was growth in staff and it was the lesson there is having that support sooner than what you feel like you can do it.
And so one of the differences between when I started my law firm and when I started this company at quid pro quo, I said, you know, I’m gonna take the lessons I learned in my law firm. The good ones and apply them to this so I can accelerate our success. And so in my law firm, I hired just the receptionist in the beginning, but it took me a long time to hire other staff, and I was doing everything. And then finally, I did hire a nice robust staff, which was great, and then I could really accelerate things. So in the beginning of quid pro quo, I immediately hired an executive assistant and a marketing person from the beginning.
And they were on my team. I had no income and, you know, no no thoughts of where this is going to come from. But I knew I needed those two people. One, so I could get the revenue, so we could start getting people in the door. And two, so that my executive assistant could manage all those calls so that I didn’t have to and I could just focus on why the client is hiring us.
So I could get those results for them.

LAUREN: Okay. So this is like, you’re you’re you’re challenging me because I I don’t wanna hire anyone. Like, it terrifies me to hire anyone. To be responsible for someone else’s income and salary and their livelihood. But you said, taking that leap before you think you’re ready.
I don’t think I’ll ever come around to feeling ready. So if someone like me is intrigued, maybe not tomorrow, but in the five to ten year plan of growing the business being more of a CEO, which I definitely resonate with that message. But the delegation and hiring is I find really challenging. I have to imagine I’m not the only one. Probably a lot of solos out there too, so is there something we can dip our toe in?
Like, how do we make that slightly easier? Or is it just it’s gonna be uncomfortable? You just gotta pull the trigger at some point.

VICTORIA: So again, I’m gonna go back to it has to be a shift in mindset first and foremost because what I heard you say without you saying it is, this is an expense to me that I am responsible for and and I’m not ready for all the emotions around that. And we have to look at it as an investment first and foremost, not an expense. And then when we are investing in something, when we make that mindset shift, investments give us a return on our investment. So how do I build that in before I hire the person? I can’t hire a person and know even what to offer them as a salary.
Unless I know what my return on there on them is going to be. And then I have to have a path of success for them. And that’s where I feel that many lawyers go wrong is they wait till they’re in crisis, they hire someone, they’re throwing money at people, and then they’re not giving the people the path to success. So we have to, for example, have a four week very clear onboarding plan as to what this person’s going to be learning and doing every single day so that at the end of each week for the four weeks, we know what should they have been able to learn and accomplish that takes off my plate because the sooner they can take things off my plate, the sooner we will be getting that return on investment. And so we have to step into a leadership role.
And that’s where I think many people again, it’s a mindset shift in that. It’s I have to manage people and I hate managing people when in fact you don’t have to manage people when you have processes and expectations and clear communication. Now you’re being a leader. And so I would say, if you said there’s one thing that you could do, learn how to be a leader. And then the other stuff can come more easily or naturally once you’ve learned to be a leader.

LAUREN: That is so helpful because until you said that I felt like hiring someone or putting that investment in was just, like, jumping off a cliff and, like, hope by land, but your point is that’s stupid and you need to have a parachute and the parachute is like you said the processes and being methodical? And what are they gonna learn every day? And how is that going to translate to take something getting taken off my plate? That makes so much more sense. And I already feel like it’s still a jump, but I’ve now got a parachute that I can maneuver and direct where I wanted to go.

VICTORIA: Absolutely. And even more than just the parachute is, before you ever go in that plan to begin with, is you have maps doubt. What does that jump look like? You have visualized it a hundred times as to what does it like to jump out of the plane? What does it feel like to pull that chord for the parachute?
And if I’m off course, if anything goes astray, what is plan b and c? You do that when you hire people as well.

LAUREN: That’s so smart. I I yeah. I already I personally feel better. So thank you, VICTORIA. I have nothing else.
I feel better.

VICTORIA: And I didn’t want to address. I do want to address the whole feeling responsible for other people because that is a big aspect. And I will tell you that when I was in my law firm, there was an employee that I hired and I I had her for a long time and then at some point I need to let her go. And and that, you know, it was difficult. I liked her as a person very much.
Then fast forward about ten years later, I hired her again, and she had just bought a house. After I hired her, she had bought a house, got a car, all these things and then it wasn’t working out and I had to get rid of her. And I knew I knew without a doubt. She was going to lose her house to foreclosure when she did not have this job. And what I had to continue to Tell myself, was first and foremost, this is always business.
It is not personal. And yes, there are people with personal lives. And they are adults, and they make choices. And if she couldn’t afford the house without having a job, then she shouldn’t have the house because we all have opportunities to lose our jobs. All of us, and that first and foremost, I have to do what’s right for the business.
And that’s the shift from going to being a lawyer, to being a business owner, is it encompasses all of that. It’s not just now I own a business and I’m the CEO and I’m gonna, you know, be a leader. A leader means you’ve gotta make hard decisions regardless of the personal attachments of lives based on, you know, the decisions other people make in their lives too. It’s not all your decision.

LAUREN: That’s really how full. And and I think your point of I’m gonna have to mentally ramp myself up to to because I fall into the trap of it’s a personal thing. Oh, I feel bad. She’s gonna lose her house, and that’s my fault. But you’re right.
It’s not my fault. She made decisions and coming to it from a little bit of a different insets and just reminding myself that it’s a business decision and clear communications expectations upfront is probably gonna help a lot with that. But at the same time, the other person, the employee, the contractor, whomever also has a high level of responsibility that we, as the business owner cannot affect or control no matter how much we want to.

VICTORIA: Exactly. Exactly. And I’ll just share one more step to that. And that’s when you are the right kind of leader and you do it right, those people will respect you for the decisions you’ve made even though it may be painful and hurtful. They will respect you.
And even this particular person that I just mentioned, she and I are still in contact today. It did not taint anything. And I think that’s you know, so many lawyers make decisions based on, but they’re not gonna like me. It’s not about that. And if you do it right, If they had any respect for you at all, they will continue to respect you.

JESS: So we spent a lot of time talking about how to get yourself in your firm to a place to transition. I’m just curious, do you have any sense of what some of the people you work with are now doing since I’ve transitioned, and have you thought about what life looks like after law for yourself?

VICTORIA: So, yes, to all of that, so the very first firm that I sold other than my own, the Individual, first and foremost, I’ll say that she had health issues before she transitioned and her health issues are completely gone. And she is the one that I referenced sitting on a beach with her grandchild. So she was able to move from where she lived to across the country so that she could spend time with her only grandchild. So she just love in life. Another one is a federal judge.
Doing exactly what she loves to do, what she had been wanting to do for five plus years prior to selling her firm. So she’s having a wonderful life. Another one is in transition right now and can’t get out fast enough. And ultimately, she has a passion for horses. And has horses.
And so she spends a lot of time riding horses, and she also has a, like, a mountain home, I think, or some sort of cabin. And so she spending a lot more time up there just take some self healing because she was burned out for many years before she actually sold. So, you know, those are the top three I can come up with for myself. So when I sold my practice, I had already bought a farm. And so I grew hip for two years and turned it into CBD product for seniors.
And so I still I sold the big farm, got a little farm, and now we have goats and chickens and horses. But I managed my farm, and I do quid pro quo, where I coach lawyers and how to have better businesses to sell, and then I also act as broker for that. So my life after law is just beginning and I’m an author. I’ll continue to write books. And so I’ve got, yeah, I’m fifty three years old.
I’ve had plenty of time for lots of life after my law. And I’m buying a law firm. So

LAUREN: Well, that’s amazing. I know Jess are gonna ask it, so I’m just gonna ask it for both of us. When can we come to the farm?

VICTORIA: Just anytime you want, anytime. It is fun, fun, fun.

LAUREN: Yes. That sounds amazing.

JESS: And then, of course, the second question is, do you have alpacas or llamas? And if not, are you gonna add them any signs soon?

VICTORIA: We don’t. And I need to be quiet. I can’t let my daughter hear that. No. We don’t have those and I have not planned on getting them.
I don’t know how long their lifespan is. I’m keeping I’m keeping what we have a lifespan of, like, ten years because when my kids graduate from high school, this is gonna be turned over to my daughter and I don’t know what she’s gonna be doing other than going to college. But I’m gonna be sitting in my penthouse condo on the beach, writing books, and so I’ve gotta make sure that these animals don’t far outlive me.

LAUREN: Mark, I can I can see the planning? And all things you do, there’s always the planning. I love it.

VICTORIA: Absolutely. Well, and I was a estate planning lawyer. I mean, it comes by me naturally.

JESS: Well, this is awesome. I hope this is inspired some folks to think about life after life. They haven’t already. I have to some degree, but this is inspired me to think about it even more.

LAUREN: Yeah. And we talked about it a little bit. I feel like we probably already know the answer, but we always end by asking every guest how do you defined success or what does success mean to you?

VICTORIA: No. I define it and what it means to me is really keying in on what are your personal goals? What satisfies you personally? And then building a way. And for me, that way is businesses.
Building a business that can then satisfy those personal goals without regard to what my colleagues are or aren’t doing. It doesn’t matter if my friends are making eight figure firms, if they’re netting XYZ, if they’ve got the big house, the big boat. What matters to me is, what are my personal goals? And does my business support that for me? And so that’s my definition of success.

LAUREN: That’s perfect. That aligns exactly what we try and have all of our listeners and all the folks who work with us do is doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It really just matters what’s important to you and how you define success. And as long as you’re meeting those marks, you are as successful as anyone.


LAUREN: Thank you so much, Victoria. I think you gave all of us, Jess and I, and all of our listeners so much to think about so much concrete information. And I know for me, I’m definitely gonna dig into this and see how I can put a plan together, put that parachute on before I take any leaps and continue to see where where I can take my law firm.

VICTORIA: Great. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for having me.

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