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From Reluctant Solo to Mastering Value Based Pricing with Bradley Miller

Welcome back to another episode of The Founding Partner Podcast! In this week’s episode, host Jonathan Hawkins sits down with Bradley Miller, a solo practitioner with a unique background and a passion for helping small businesses and franchisees. Based in Ohio, Brad has carved out a niche for himself, focusing on the buying and selling of small businesses and assisting individuals in buying into franchises.

**The Reluctant Solo Lawyer**

Brad’s journey into law is as unconventional as it is inspiring. Initially, his sights were set on the bench, not the bar. His dream was to administer justice as a judge, not to argue cases as a lawyer. However, life had other plans, and upon graduating from law school without a job in hand, Brad faced the daunting task of starting his own practice to make ends meet. His candid recounting of the early days as a “reluctant solo” offers a raw look into the challenges and uncertainties of launching a solo law firm.

**Building a Practice from Scratch**

With no clear intention of practicing law, Brad found himself learning the ropes through trial and error, and a bit of mimicry from a law school classmate who had planned on going solo from the start. From sharing offices to figuring out practice management software, Brad’s initial steps into the legal world were filled with learning experiences that shaped his future practice.

**A Partnership That Taught Valuable Lessons**

Brad’s stint in a three-person law firm was a defining period in his career, teaching him about the importance of compatible practice areas and revenue models within a partnership. The differences in cash flow and client management among the partners eventually led to the dissolution of the firm, but it also provided Brad with invaluable insights that he would carry forward.

**Finding His Niche**

After leaving the partnership, Brad began the process of elimination, shedding practice areas that didn’t resonate with him, such as family law and criminal defense. Through this process, he discovered his affinity for working with business owners. The appreciation and tangible outcomes of helping someone buy or sell a business were far more rewarding than the thankless tasks he had encountered in other areas of law.

**Conclusion: A Lawyer Who Found His Calling**

Brad Miller’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and self-discovery. His evolution from a reluctant lawyer to a solo practitioner who genuinely enjoys his work is not only motivational but also packed with insights for anyone navigating their own professional journey. Whether you’re a law student, a new lawyer, or an established attorney looking to pivot in your career, this episode of The Founding Partner Podcast is a must-listen.

Don’t miss the full conversation with Bradley Miller, where he delves deeper into the highs and lows of his legal career and shares his wisdom on building a practice that aligns with your values and interests. Tune in to the episode now and join us on this enlightening journey.

[00:00:00] Bradley Miller: I had one class in law school that was kind of a general practice class, so I knew how to draft a simple will. I knew how to, you know, do some very simple, very uncontested divorce, like just very simple basic stuff that I were taught in there. So I was like, alright, I got some of the basics down.

[00:00:16] Bradley Miller: Luck, no, not luckily, but for me, there was a law school classmate of mine has, would going on out on his own at the same time. But he intended to do that. That was his plan. Like he’s like, I’m gonna graduate law school and I’m gonna start my own practice. So he was planning it like we passed, you know, we took the bar exam and while I was sitting here trying to figure out what I was gonna do with my life, he was getting stuff put together.

[00:00:40] Bradley Miller: So I hung out with him for a while. Like figuring out like, hey, he’s, you know, trying to figure out practice management software and finding an office and all these things.

[00:00:49] ​[00:01:00]

[00:01:18] Jonathan Hawkins: Alright, welcome to Founding Partner podcast. I’m Jonathan Hawkins excited about our guest today. We’ve got some cool stuff to talk about. We’ve got Bradley Miller, I think go by Brad. But why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about you and your law firm.

[00:01:35] Bradley Miller: So, my name is Brad Miller. I am a solo lawyer, true solo, me, myself, and I. And my practice is focused on working with small businesses, helping buy and sell the businesses, so owners of those businesses and people looking to buy them. And then I also work with franchisees, so people looking to buy into a franchise.

[00:01:55] Bradley Miller: And I’ve been doing those

[00:01:56] Jonathan Hawkins: Where are you located

[00:01:58] Bradley Miller: I’m located here in Ohio, [00:02:00] so the middle of Ohio.

[00:02:02] Jonathan Hawkins: And in terms of the businesses that are getting bought and sold, is it all types or do you have a specific industry or industries you sort of focus

[00:02:10] Bradley Miller: Primarily they’re smaller businesses, so people who are actually running the businesses themselves, those are the ones who I help them, the sell businesses or people buying it to get into it. So.

[00:02:21] Jonathan Hawkins: And so I think you said you’ve been doing this about 10 years. Is it in your solo? Is it, and you’re a solo. Is it just, do you have any help, any

[00:02:27] Bradley Miller: It is me, myself, and I do it all.

[00:02:30] Jonathan Hawkins: Nice. I’ve been there. I’ve been there. So you started your firm maybe 10 years ago. I believe you started it straight outta law school. Tell us about that.

[00:02:40] Bradley Miller: Yeah, so I started, I’ve been doing this kind of line of work for about maybe about 10 years, but I actually started my practice back in 2007. And I did, I started right out of law school on my own. That was never my intention because honestly, I never really, I never went to law school intending to be a lawyer.

[00:02:58] Jonathan Hawkins: Oh wow. What? What did you want to do?

[00:02:59] Bradley Miller: So [00:03:00] I went to law school, you know, when I was in high school, I would watch all the lawyer t show TV shows that were on at that time. And the big one that I remember was the practice with Dillard McNermott. I never wanted to be Dillard McNermott. I didn’t wanna be any other lawyers on his team.

[00:03:15] Bradley Miller: I wanted to be the judge. I thought that was a really cool role. I didn’t wanna be arguing and all that stuff and all the drama. I wanted to be the one here administering justice and kind of up there and maintaining stuff. So I’m like, that’s what I wanna do. Right? I want to be a judge. And so that’s why I went to law school ’cause I know, hey, to be a judge, you gotta be a lawyer first.

[00:03:35] Bradley Miller: So I went to law school thinking, Hey, gotta be a lawyer first. Gotta do that for a little bit and then I’ll be a judge. So that was kind of my impetus for law school.

[00:03:47] Jonathan Hawkins: And then so you started Straight Outta Law school. I, you know, I know others that have done it. That had to be a pretty scary proposition. What was sort of going through your mind as you ventured out and did [00:04:00] that?

[00:04:00] Bradley Miller: Well, I like to tell people that I was kind of a reluctant solo. I. Because I didn’t ever intend to be a solo again. I really never intended to be a, you know, I didn’t really wanna practice law. That’s not really why I went to law school in the first place. And so when I was faced with coming out of law school and didn’t have a job couldn’t find a job at that point.

[00:04:17] Bradley Miller: And so I’m like my my girlfriend at the time, who’s not my wife, was like, we’ve got bills. You’ve got, we need to pay. Right. You know, student loans are coming due. You gotta figure something out. You can’t just sit here waiting for the phone to ring by somebody to offer you a job. You need to do something to make some money.

[00:04:33] Bradley Miller: So it was either waiting tables or start my own practice. So I figured, you know, what the heck, let’s put this law license to use and see what we can come up with. So, so I jumped in and knowing absolutely no idea what I was doing.

[00:04:46] Jonathan Hawkins: yeah, how did you figure it out? How did you have mentors? Did you take,

[00:04:50] Bradley Miller: I had, I had one

[00:04:52] Jonathan Hawkins: those might be worth?

[00:04:52] Bradley Miller: I had one class in law school that was kind of a general practice class, so I knew how to draft a simple will. I knew how [00:05:00] to, you know, do some very simple, very uncontested divorce, like just very simple basic stuff that I were taught in there. So I was like, alright, I got some of the basics down.

[00:05:09] Bradley Miller: Luck, no, not luckily, but for me, there was a law school classmate of mine has, would going on out on his own at the same time. But he intended to do that. That was his plan. Like he’s like, I’m gonna graduate law school and I’m gonna start my own practice. So he was planning it like we passed, you know, we took the bar exam and while I was sitting here trying to figure out what I was gonna do with my life, he was getting stuff put together.

[00:05:33] Bradley Miller: So I hung out with him for a while. Like figuring out like, hey, he’s, you know, trying to figure out practice management software and finding an office and all these things. So I started hanging out with him and so kind of picked up on what he was doing so that when I started my practice, I pretty much just copied what he did and called it my own.

[00:05:52] Bradley Miller: ’cause if it worked for him, hey, you know, I figure it worked for me too. Right.

[00:05:57] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. So did you guys share an office or was it [00:06:00] sort of an informal following? Following him?

[00:06:02] Bradley Miller: Yeah, there was an office across the hall, so it was in a large building and he had a little office and right across the hall was another office that was open. So I took that one. And we did that. I did that for, I don’t know, a little over a year or so like that before I actually did join with him and another lawyer and a three-person firm for a little bit.

[00:06:19] Bradley Miller: But otherwise it was just me doing my own thing for a while.

[00:06:24] Jonathan Hawkins: So, so let’s talk, there’s a few things I wanna explore here, but, so you ended up joining them and you were in a firm with some folks and obviously you’re not anymore. I don’t know how much you want to dive into that, but you decided to go a different direction. What happened there?

[00:06:40] Bradley Miller: So the three of us had different. Practice areas. One of the my, my law school classmate there, his practice area was domestic. He loved domestic work and he also did some criminal defense. My other law partner was a hundred percent immigration law, so she had hundreds of clients [00:07:00] at one time.

[00:07:01] Bradley Miller: And was traveling back and forth to immigration court and dealing with that all the time. And then there was me who. Kind of took whatever walked in the door. And a lot of that was kind of little civil stuff. I did some juvenile defense work, some criminal defense work but just kind of whatever kind of stuff I could come up with.

[00:07:18] Bradley Miller: But we all had different practice areas and that also meant we had a different, money-making models, I guess. I mean, the immigration was very, here’s the set fee. You pay me a hundred bucks a month until it’s paid off. Right? So she was getting little chunks of money every month, but she had a lot of clients, so she made a decent amount every month coming in.

[00:07:41] Bradley Miller: My buddy doing domestic work would get a retainer that he’d bill against. He’d bid everything hourly, so he would say, Hey, I’m doing a divorce. It’s 15 grand. So he would have a big chunk of cash he would get and would bill against it, so he kinda had constant cash flow from that. I was not so lucky.

[00:07:58] Bradley Miller: I did not have the constant cash flow [00:08:00] like they did, and so it came down to all of us had distinct practice areas that didn’t really work together as well. We each had different revenue coming in and different revenue needs and things like that at the same time, and we realized it was more of a force fit than anything else.

[00:08:19] Bradley Miller: And so kind of at about a year or so into it, we’re like, you know what? It’s probably not a long-term thing at this point, so let’s kind of separate and go our separate ways at this point.

[00:08:30] Jonathan Hawkins: So it sounds like you guys, it was a pure one-third partnership. You were splitting everything three ways and then because of the different cash

[00:08:37] Bradley Miller: Sort of, yeah, I mean, part of it we tried to build in something so that you’d get at least a minimum every month, which was fine for like the domestic or for the immigration lawyer because she had plenty. She, I mean, she was coming all the time, but I had some really lean months during that time, and so at times where I was getting more money than I brought in for the firm, and so [00:09:00] like other people were bringing more money, you know, and so just, it didn’t work out really well, just the way everything worked out.

[00:09:05] Bradley Miller: So.

[00:09:06] Jonathan Hawkins: So you guys ended up going your separate ways and you’re back on your own. You said when you first started you were doing all sorts of different stuff. It sounds like you were doing a lot of litigation related work. Do you do any of that anymore or are you done with that? Okay,

[00:09:19] Bradley Miller: Nope. I if I have to if I’m in a courtroom for some reason, something’s going terribly wrong, like

[00:09:25] Jonathan Hawkins: So I guess you’ve given up on the judge thing ’cause you gotta litigate for a while to be a judge,

[00:09:29] Bradley Miller: no, I watched judges, like early on I started practicing. I would see judges in the courtroom and see what they actually did, and I was like, this is not what they show on television at all.

[00:09:39] Bradley Miller: Like, this is not what I wanna be doing. Like especially dealing with like criminal dockets and sitting up there and like sentencing people and dealing with repeat offenders, like I would nothing to do with all that. So I’m like, Nope, not for me.

[00:09:51] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. Okay. So you started out doing a lot of litigation. You eventually how did you get away from that? Take us through that evolution. And was it conscious [00:10:00] or did it just sort of happen? I’m curious about

[00:10:02] Bradley Miller: so like I said, I started out taking kind of whatever work came, walk in the doors, you know, all low level basic stuff, traffic offenses. I decided I did some juvenile appointed work. So that’s pretty low level work. I would, again, somebody comes in the door with something. You know, it’s probably low level stuff that I’ll handle, but over time I started to realize things that I didn’t like doing.

[00:10:23] Bradley Miller: Like I quickly realized after handling one domestic case that I had no interest in doing divorce work or anything, family law. So I kept that out. And I started doing that with different things. Like, you know, I did a will and I’m like, eh, it’s just, it didn’t really, it didn’t really work for me. You know, and I started peeling away things like that and started seeing like, what are the things that I do like.

[00:10:42] Bradley Miller: You know what, who do I like working with? Again, the juvenile work it was very thankless, a very low paying work ’cause it was all appointed stuff. And it was also very depressing seeing these 12, thirteen-year-old kids who were either, you know, a neglect situation where their parents weren’t taking [00:11:00] care of them properly or they were committing crimes and they needed defense.

[00:11:04] Bradley Miller: You know, and that was just very depressing to me and it’s something I didn’t really like the environment was with there. And I didn’t, like, I started realizing I didn’t like criminal law because the clients didn’t appreciate what I did. I could get them the best. The best outcome in the world for what they, for what happened, and they’d still be upset, you know, well, why didn’t you get this discharges dismissed against me?

[00:11:23] Bradley Miller: Well, because you did it like you confessed you, they caught you on camera. There were eyewitnesses. The getaway driver said that you did it like. All these things happened. You did it. So that’s why I could not get everything dismissed against you. We got you pled down. Like you should be happy, like you’re not spending time in prison.

[00:11:40] Bradley Miller: Like, but they just didn’t really appreciate the work that I did, and I’m like, it’s a thankless job. I don’t really have interest in it. And the last thing I didn’t like to do realize was I didn’t like dealing with insurance companies. I did a couple cases where insurance companies were on the other side and it was miserable because the people were not dealing with their own money, [00:12:00] so they didn’t really care.

[00:12:01] Bradley Miller: Like they, and I’m like, this is not something I wanna deal with. So I just slowly peeled by the things that I didn’t like doing and figured out what I did like doing. And I realized that I liked working with business owners. It started with some small business, you know, entrepreneur, startup stuff.

[00:12:16] Bradley Miller: Hey, can you set up an LLC for me? You know, primarily things like that. And I realized, hey, you know, I like this work is a lot less stressful. You know, it doesn’t have require me getting up and going to court. And the business owners tend to appreciate what I did more. You know, they say, Hey, this is an investment, this is, you know, I appreciate you helping me like an accountant or something like that would be.

[00:12:37] Bradley Miller: And so I started going towards those kind of clients and that kind of work.

[00:12:42] Jonathan Hawkins: So I like that. I’m a big believer in niche practice areas. I talk about it a lot. I. And you sort of did both things. One is you move towards, and it’s not a, Hey, I know what I’m gonna do and I’m there. It’s an incremental move towards the things you like, but then the flip side is you’re also [00:13:00] running away or shedding or turning away the things you don’t like.

[00:13:03] Jonathan Hawkins: And then eventually you do that long enough, little bit, a little. Eventually you end up in a place that hopefully is right for you. You know, I guess there are some attorneys out there, and we’ll get to some of this in a minute, that, you know, if it’s all about the money, they may be stuck in a. Practice area they really hate, but they’re just making too much money in their mind and they’re scared to start over.

[00:13:22] Jonathan Hawkins: So there, there is a trap you can get into, but luckily you didn’t. So let’s talk about how you bill clients. You’re pretty active on LinkedIn. You post a lot of about this and I really wanna dive into this ’cause you’ve got it. Interesting perspective and I want to know, you know, I wanna dive into this.

[00:13:38] Jonathan Hawkins: So how do you build your clients now and maybe how has that changed over time?

[00:13:43] Bradley Miller: so when I started practicing, the only thing that I knew was hourly billing. Like that’s what the guy across the hall did, you know, he was domestic lawyer, family law, so divorces, he did all on hourly stuff. That’s all I knew. So I’m like, all right, well, I’m gonna do hourly. And I based my rate off of what he bases off [00:14:00] of.

[00:14:00] Bradley Miller: He said his rate was, I don’t know, 1 75 an hour or something. Alright, cool. I’ll make my one 50 an hour or something. I mean, that that’s all it really was to it when I came up to setting up my rate when I started. And so the first stuff I did, it was all hour like that. I would check my time and I’d bill that way.

[00:14:17] Bradley Miller: When I did appointed work, I did the juvenile appointed work and some criminal appointed. That’s all Bill, that’s all hourly stuff. Like you gotta track your time and you submit it and they pay you based on the time that you spend on it. And I, so I did that for a little bit, but realized I. Yeah, I was terrible at it.

[00:14:36] Bradley Miller: I mean, that’s the big thing. I was just awful at keeping track of my time. ’cause I would go from one thing to the next and I’d forget to stop the clock and it would still be running like an hour later. And I was like, shit, I switched to something else. Like how long, when did I stop? How long was it? You know, like I, I, my mind tends to jump.

[00:14:51] Bradley Miller: To different things. And so I don’t always think to stop it when I’m going from one task to the next, or even when client to the next, like the phone rings and I pick it up, like I [00:15:00] didn’t think to stop it. Like, and it didn’t make sense to me that way. And so really that was kind of got me to start looking at other options.

[00:15:08] Bradley Miller: And honestly, it’s been, and it’s been 15 years since I, you know, almost since I started doing. Flat fee based stuff. So I don’t even remember how I got into it. And how I what was the first kind of cases, but I know when I started doing business work, that was all done on flat fees. So I started setting up new LLCs for clients and things.

[00:15:28] Bradley Miller: That was all done on a flat fee, and I think I realized. The clients really enjoy that. They appreciate that. They like knowing, hey, here’s the fee upfront. There’s no questions or concerns of what it’s gonna be. Am I gonna be paying X amount down the road? Like, what is it? Like they know, Hey it’s.

[00:15:46] Bradley Miller: 500 bucks, a thousand bucks, whatever it is, they know up front before the work started, they can plan for it. And I didn’t have to worry about tracking time. I didn’t have to worry about putting money in trust and billing against it and all that nonsense. Like I could just say, [00:16:00] here’s the fee, you know, and then I’d send ’em out the invoice.

[00:16:03] Bradley Miller: Early on, I set it out at the end when things were done. And so that’s kind of how things started and eventually I started thinking, how can I figure out pricing better? I. Because I knew I was terrible when I, at pricing, when I started flat fees, I knew I was undercharging. Like I would have some terribly slow months and I’d be charging, you know, $400 for doing something, $500 for doing something, you know, and I’d be spending hours working on it and I’m like, this is ridiculous.

[00:16:33] Bradley Miller: Like, I’m spending a lot of time, I need to figure out how to build this stuff properly, how to price it. And so I started and I don’t remember. Exactly how I got into it and found out about it, but started getting into value-based pricing. And that really was the beginning for me of of just how to come up with prices, how to be more fair when it comes to prices for clients and the work that I do.

[00:16:55] Bradley Miller: And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

[00:16:58] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay, so yeah, we’re gonna dive into that. [00:17:00] So. Currently you don’t do any hourly work. It’s all fixed fee.

[00:17:04] Bradley Miller: Correct.

[00:17:05] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. And so, you know, you call it value-based pricing or value-based billing however you wanna call it. So, you know, how do you define that? How do you, Brad, define that?

[00:17:18] Bradley Miller: So value-based pricing is simply pricing the client based on the value that they’re receiving from your services. So looking at the impact of what I do on them, on their lives, on their business, whatever it may be, and coming up with a fair price for that.

[00:17:41] Jonathan Hawkins: You know, a lot of lawyers out there, they’ve heard, you know, fixed fee, this, that and the other. I do some of that. I do a blend. You know, some folks, I guess most lawyers that have been on hourly, their first. Sort of experiment into this. They say, alright, how many hours do I think this is gonna take me?

[00:17:57] Jonathan Hawkins: They do some sort of conversion and that’s how they come [00:18:00] up with the price. Maybe that’s how you started. Why don’t you tell us how you did it in the beginning and maybe how you approach it now and how do you break free people that have that hourly mentality. How do you break free? How what can lawyers do to break

[00:18:14] Bradley Miller: I will say that it is very difficult the longer that you’ve been doing hourly billing, the harder it is because it starts getting ingrained in you. Like you start thinking of everything of how long did that take me? I know lawyers who have did it for 15, 20 years and then tried to switch and they couldn’t get their brain to stop thinking of hourly stuff.

[00:18:33] Bradley Miller: You know, they’d be all away from their desk on vacation or whatnot, and they’d be thinking, Ooh, this is 0.5. Like, they’re thinking all the time and things of time and how long they’re spending their time. And I don’t, I, I don’t remember. I, when I started doing value-based pricing. I don’t re because again, because this has been 12 to 15 years ago now I probably looked a little bit about what I would’ve charged if I did hourly, but I know I was still doing under, I [00:19:00] was still undercharging it, underpricing it because I try to think what would be fair to the client.

[00:19:05] Bradley Miller: You know, what would be fair to them for this work that I’m doing? And so that was, well, not maybe the exact right question. I think it kind of got me headed in the right way because I was starting to think about the price in terms of the client and not about me and the work that I did. And that’s really the big difference, is that value-based pricing looks at the client.

[00:19:29] Bradley Miller: So we’re looking at the value of what I’m doing, whatever it is. What is that value to their call to the client? What’s the impact on them? The work that I do is irrelevant. The motions the contracts, the conversations, the phone calls, all that kinda stuff is irrelevant to the price. It doesn’t matter if I take 10 hours to do something or if I take two hours to do something.

[00:19:53] Bradley Miller: All that matters is that impact, that value, that result to the client. And so [00:20:00] that’s the hardest thing for lawyers to do, is to switch from that. I’ve worked x amount of time, so I need to be able to co, you know, get reimbursed for that amount of time. Going from that mindset to it, I don’t matter at all.

[00:20:15] Bradley Miller: I’m merely a tool. You know, the work that I do is merely a tool to create this value for the client. What is the value of that client? And what a proportion of that value can then I get for myself, you know?

[00:20:28] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, for example, some of the things I do, I mean, I have spent thousands and thousands of hours learning some of the things I do and just some of that experience and research and just all of it. And I might be able to come in and do something in, you know, 30 minutes where someone who does not have all of that, it might take him a hundred hours to get sort of where I, you know.

[00:20:54] Jonathan Hawkins: Close to where I am on this distinct, you know, this discreet issue. You know, and if you’re doing it [00:21:00] hourly, you don’t capture that value at all.

[00:21:02] Bradley Miller: Yeah. And that’s something that jumped out at me was like, I’m getting better at what I’m doing. I’m learning more, I’m getting more experience. I’m doing it faster and I’m doing it better, but yet I’m actually charging less under an hourly billing model because it’s taking me less time to do, and that did make

[00:21:19] Jonathan Hawkins: then the other. And the other piece, you know, there, let’s say you do 10 tasks to deliver something to a client, some of those tasks are gonna be, you know, if you did an hourly, whatever, are just gonna be, there’s gonna be more value in that certain, you know, task number nine versus number three.

[00:21:37] Jonathan Hawkins: And if you do an hourly, you’re sort of charging the same for every single task, even though if you really dug down deep, the value being delivered per that, you know, subset or sub number of the task is just not valuable at all

[00:21:49] Bradley Miller: Right. Yeah. I mean, if you do an hourly, you know you are organizing the file, you’re charging the exact same price for every minute you organize the file just the same as you [00:22:00] would time that you were sitting in front of the client when having a one-on-one conversation explaining the situation or providing them with an answer.

[00:22:10] Bradley Miller: You know, diagnosing what’s going on. Like, those are two very different things when it comes to the value they provide to the client. But yet you’re building them exactly the same. Again, it didn’t make sense to me.

[00:22:21] ​

[00:22:52] Jonathan Hawkins: So how do you deal with scope creep? So you’ve defined the scope. This is gonna be the price. I don’t think clients do it on purpose. Maybe [00:23:00] some do, but they always ask for that one other thing. How do you deal with that when you’re doing your value

[00:23:06] Bradley Miller: That was an issue early on, especially when I worked with entrepreneurs because we’d say, Hey, I’ll set up your LLC for you, or whatever it might be, and then something else came up like, Hey, can you do this? Or, I have a question about this. And so it was very easy just to say, oh, okay, well yeah, here’s this real quick.

[00:23:21] Bradley Miller: You know, it takes me five minutes to do. But then there was another five minute something. Then there was a 20 minute thing after that or I had to look up to do some research on a question. And that was another hour and a half over here that I was doing. And I wasn’t charging for any of it because I gave them a set fee for starting up their business.

[00:23:38] Bradley Miller: Right. And so that was something I definitely struggled with. And part of what’s helped me is the fact that the work that I do now pretty much covers anything that comes up. So if I’m representing you in an, in the sale of your business, from the moment we, you know, you gauge me until the deal’s done, [00:24:00] pretty much anything that comes up there that’s regarding the deal I’m gonna handle for you, that’s building into the price.

[00:24:06] Bradley Miller: You know, and so part of it’s, I know I’ve been doing this enough now. I’ve experienced enough in it. I know what kind of things might come up. I know what to expect. Well, I know that there’s always gonna be surprises pop up. You know, I know that they are likely to happen in these type of areas. And so I’ve gone through it enough to know and feel comfortable that I can say, here’s what it’s likely look like.

[00:24:28] Bradley Miller: It could look like this. It could also look shorter than this, but it’s likely to look like this. And so based on that, this is what would be a fair price. This would be a fair, you know, for all that stuff. Knowing that things might vary a little bit here and there, but but by and large it’s gonna be a wash at the end.

[00:24:44] Bradley Miller: So some of it’s a factor of the fact just what I do, which helps,

[00:24:49] Jonathan Hawkins: and it sounds like. You’ve not been afraid to experiment and obviously you’ve lost on some and each time you try it, you get a little bit better probably [00:25:00] for the next

[00:25:00] Bradley Miller: Exactly, and that’s, and you can’t be afraid. I mean, a lot of lawyers are afraid to just try something like this because they’re like, well, what if I lose money on this? Right. What was that? Profitable? Well, not everything that you do is going to be profitable and everything you’re going to make a lot of money on, some matters you’re gonna make a lot of money on.

[00:25:19] Bradley Miller: You know, because maybe you say, Hey, I’m gonna bill you for this, where this thing’s gonna take 10 hours to do. Two hours later you’ve done it, you’ve got the solution, you know, so that’s kinda a windfall when you think of it that way. And then you’ve got the ones that are gonna take you 12 hours and you plan for 10.

[00:25:35] Bradley Miller: But at the end of the day, it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna even out. And the better you get at it the more you can plan for some of those ups and downs the easier it is to say. It’s all built in. It’s all part of it, and I know that, you know what? Win or lose at the end of the day, we’re all still gonna win.

[00:25:56] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. You know, for me I’ve done a good amount of flat fee work, and I still [00:26:00] do, and my attitude was, you know, I may lose money on this deal, but I’m gonna gain knowledge and experience for the next one. And part of it is you just gotta try it. You just gotta try it. And until you try it, I mean, you’re gonna.

[00:26:18] Jonathan Hawkins: You’re gonna mess up. That’s sort of my attitude, and I think that’s probably the way it is. It reminds me of, you know, my memory at least when Amazon launched Prime a long time ago I remember hearing, you know, they just picked a price they didn’t know. They just picked a number and part of it was they figured they would figure it out on the back end

[00:26:38] Bradley Miller: everybody does. I mean, that’s what everybody does. You know, any most products out there? There’s no, you know, what’s the value of an iPhone, right? I mean, apple didn’t say, well, let’s calculate, you know, all this stuff and let’s, like, they know what it costs ’em to build it, right?

[00:26:52] Bradley Miller: So they cover their cost for it, and then they’s like, what do we think people are gonna pay for it? And they threw something out there [00:27:00] and maybe they threw it out to a test, some test groups or something. But ultimately they just kind of threw it out there and said, what price? You know, would you pay X amount for this phone? And at some point they, they said, well, this seems to be the ultimate optimum price right now for this phone. And that’s what they went with. And then they tweaked it and all stuff like, it’s like it’s a

[00:27:25] Jonathan Hawkins: So at some point you, you decided you’re gonna go down, you or you fell down this rabbit hole and the value building. You know, where did you learn it? If I’m an attorney out there and I’m thinking, Hey, I wanna try this, do you have some resources? Where would they go to really try to learn this?

[00:27:39] Jonathan Hawkins: Or maybe get some of the theory behind it or whatever.

[00:27:42] Bradley Miller: The godfather of value-based billing value-based pricing. And there’s a difference ’cause pricing is done upfront. Billing is done in arrears after work’s done value-based pricing. The Godfather is Ron Baker. Ron is an accountant and he wrote kind of the Bible on value-based pricing and how to implement it into [00:28:00] a professional services firm, law firm, accounting firm you know, any kind of a professional firm like that.

[00:28:06] Bradley Miller: So that’s definitely a great resource. It goes through why you, A lot of reasons why you should do value-based pricing. Versus, versus hourly billing. And then it goes into, so a lot of the theory behind about it all in his book. Another good person to follow is a fellow Jonathan Stark.

[00:28:23] Bradley Miller: He has wrote, he wrote a book Hourly Hourly Pricing is Nuts, I think it’s called. And he is a software developer. And talks about, you know, why hourly billing and from a software standpoint is, doesn’t make sense and why it makes a lot more sense to do it. Va, you know, based on value.

[00:28:43] Bradley Miller: And even though it’s not a law firm, there’s still a lot you can take from his book that you can apply to law firms. And his is a little more practical-based a little bit more reachable I think for people. But if you really wanna get down the rabbit hole Ron Baker is a great place to go to, to check some stuff out there.

[00:28:59] Bradley Miller: [00:29:00] So those were the two first kinda things I looked at when I started.

[00:29:03] Jonathan Hawkins: so Ron Baker fairly recently, didn’t he come out with a new book about subscription based pricing? Do you do any subscription type pricing? Have you explored that?

[00:29:12] Bradley Miller: don’t I looked into it when I was doing startup work. The problem I ran into was that I had a hard time. Explaining or maybe having clients understand the value that I was providing. Why would they be paying me X amount of dollars every month? Like, what were they getting for that? And when they asked that question, I couldn’t really answer.

[00:29:33] Bradley Miller: I. Like, I was like, that’s a really good question. You’re a brand new business. You literally have no legal issues at this. You know, as day one, like we get you set up, you don’t have anything right now, like your money is better spent probably on, you know, product development or getting your services up or marketing really than it is, you know, to pay me, you know, every month.

[00:29:54] Bradley Miller: So, I couldn’t find. Reasons for it. I had a hard time explaining it to clients and they didn’t [00:30:00] really see reasons for it. I think it has a place, it can make sense in certain circumstances, practice areas but I’ve never been able to implement it myself successfully. I.

[00:30:11] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, that’s been my experience. I’ve explored it. I think in certain practices, I think even in mine, I think there’s probably a place for it. But it’s just finding the value proposition and having the clients realize that, ’cause I mean, that’s part of it. They gotta feel like they’re getting value back to the value pricing.

[00:30:27] Jonathan Hawkins: They gotta feel like they’re getting value. And if they don’t, then they’re not gonna buy it.

[00:30:30] Bradley Miller: Right. It’s not fair. Yeah, that’s not fair to them. If they’re just throwing you cash and they’re getting nothing for it, I.

[00:30:36] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. So, okay, so, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about the running of your law firm. It’s all you, so you’ve gotta do everything you gotta do marketing the service delivery, the admin. How do you balance your time between all the things you gotta do? Running the law firm.

[00:30:53] Bradley Miller: So it’s taken a while to, [00:31:00] to kind of get my practice down to, to kind of where it is today. I’m to the point though right now where the overhead stuff the admin sort of side of it is very minimal. I. Started out early on when I was in law school, when I clerked at a law firm, everything they had was still paper-based.

[00:31:21] Bradley Miller: So they had the big file cabinets and they had paper files. When I started my practice, I had paper files too, but I also started. Getting more digital stuff. So I would get, I got a printer, a multifunction printer that could scan, and so whenever someone would come in, I would scan it. And so this, you know, this was, law firms were just kind of starting to think about doing this stuff.

[00:31:46] Bradley Miller: I was getting stuff in right away, and because of that. And the fact that I’ve always tried to implement some technology in place. I’ve always had practice management software in place and things. It’s allowed me to keep the time [00:32:00] required a lot lower because I don’t have to worry about going through paper.

[00:32:05] Bradley Miller: I don’t have to do all that stuff. It’s all on my computer. I can type in, pull something up, send an invoice out you know,

[00:32:12] Jonathan Hawkins: Well, I’ll tell you the invoicing is a lot easier if you’re not having to. Track and input your time and review bills. If you just have a one-line invoice, it’s a lot easier there. Right. Saves you a lot of

[00:32:23] Bradley Miller: that is very true. Yeah, that was one of the things when I was hourly billing, I’d have to track it and then it’d have to be all out there and I’d have to check through it and yeah, not anymore.

[00:32:32] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. So, so switching gears again I know you have a side gig or a side hustle, a coaching gig. Tell us about that. Is it, what’s it called? New modern lawyer or.

[00:32:42] Bradley Miller: So, yeah, new modern lawyer is kind of where I talk about all this other stuff about lawyer life. You know, I talk about the hour the pricing, you know, how you practice your price, your services. We talk a lot about value-based pricing in there, but really it [00:33:00] kind of encompasses the whole.

[00:33:03] Bradley Miller: The whole practice for so, and small firm lawyers. When I started out, way back when, one of the first things that I tried I went to do was to find other lawyers that were in similar situations. Like, you know, I just started out in my own practice, I wanna meet and talk with other solo small firm lawyers.

[00:33:22] Bradley Miller: So I reached out to Local Bar Association and said, Hey, do you guys have a solo, small firm? Committee or group or something like that, that I can be a part of. Like I wanna meet these people or whatever. And the person I reached out to says, you know, it’s it’s kind of ironic that you reached out because we’re actually looking to get that group back going again after being dormant for a while.

[00:33:45] Bradley Miller: And we’re actually needing someone to chair that. Would you be interested? So here I am, like, you know, a first year, pretty much lawyer, new lawyer coming out and one acting to a chair of bar association committee of solo and small firm lawyers. [00:34:00] But ever since then and having to learn how to practice, how to learn how to be a lawyer, you know, ’cause I never had a firm to learn all these things from, I never had other lawyers to really learn how to do how to run a business.

[00:34:13] Bradley Miller: I have tried to help other lawyers have an easier go at it than I did. Like I, I know that I’ve struggled a lot to to be a lawyer, to get to where I am today. And so my, my, my hope is to help other lawyers so they don’t have to struggle as much to share some of the things that I have learned along the way, my experiences, my insights, so that they have a easier you know, a lot more resources nowadays for them than there was when I started.

[00:34:41] Bradley Miller: But you know, just to be able to kind of put things together and to be talk about not only what’s out there, but how do we move things forward, you know, because

[00:34:49] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah I do feel like, sorry to cut you off, but I do feel like, you know, back then when you started there, there wasn’t a whole lot out compared with what’s out there today. But even with all that’s out there today, [00:35:00] I. It’s hard to know what to do and it’s pretty lonely for those, starting a firm, you don’t know exactly, there’s a lot of information, but you don’t know where to go.

[00:35:07] Jonathan Hawkins: You don’t know what’s good, what’s bad, or even where to start. And, you know, bar associations, I think they try, but maybe they’re not as effective as folks out there like you and others that, that can sort of coach and

[00:35:21] Bradley Miller: Yeah. I mean, I mean it’s hard because bar associations are dealing with a lot of external things going on right now. You know, pandemic especially, you know, really put a crimp in a lot of their stuff though. And so like one of the things that I’ve been doing now for the last 12 or 13 years is actually putting a program together for the Bar Association to help people looking to get their solo, small firm practices off the ground.

[00:35:47] Bradley Miller: Because they’re, otherwise, there’s no one doing it. Like you said, there’s, there are more resources, but there’s still disparate out there. There’s still a lot of voice and always out there like, who do I listen to? What [00:36:00] do I go for? And a lot of it is still kind of outdated, you know, A lot of it’s based off of things that may be relevant five, 10 years, 15 years ago but are not taking consideration the changes in the law practice today.

[00:36:15] Jonathan Hawkins: So you also have a podcast, it’s called, is it the New Modern Lawyer podcast? Is that what it’s

[00:36:20] Bradley Miller: So there, there is a podcast and we’ll have a podcast. I’ve got about, I think about 50 episodes out on that one. I’m not current actively it’s kind of in hiatus right now. But definitely there’s topics out there to listen to and hopefully there’s some good information on the, I think it’s good information out there for

[00:36:39] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, there was one there’s one I want to dive on. There’s one that I came across and it was about. Success with your law firm. And you know, most people when they think about success, they think about money. You know, you or how many lawyers do you have or whatever. How do you define success with a law firm?

[00:36:58] Bradley Miller: So those are all [00:37:00] external things. Number of employees, number of attorneys, number of clients. Money that come in the door. Those are all external stuff. For me, success is an internal thing. So, and it’s personal to everybody. Like what I define as success is gonna be different than what you find as success in your practice.

[00:37:20] Bradley Miller: So for me is if I can make a difference in one person’s life, in a day that I’ve, I’m successful. Like that’s my goal is to just improve one person’s life. In whatever way, shape, or form that may be. It could be very small, it could be something huge. But if I can do that, then I am successful and everything else is just gravy. I

[00:37:47] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. That’s a great approach, great attitude. So shifting a little bit. So you were sort of, you went to law school ’cause you wanna be a judge. Obviously you’re not a judge. You didn’t plan on starting your firm. [00:38:00] You’re doing it, you’re doing a good job. So if you weren’t, were not practicing law.

[00:38:04] Jonathan Hawkins: What do you think you’d be doing?

[00:38:05] Bradley Miller: I would definitely be working it with lawyers. I would definitely be going full-time kind of in the coaching and helping lawyers with their practices. There is definitely a need for it. And helping lawyers is really what I get passionate about. Like, you know, I enjoy helping clients in the law practice, but at the end of the day, if I had to pick one or the other, if, you know, you can either help lawyers or you can help your clients in the law firm, I’d pick helping the lawyers every day of the week.

[00:38:35] Bradley Miller: Like, that’s what I enjoy doing. That’s where I really get can get going. Helping people like that.

[00:38:40] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay, so I’m a young lawyer or maybe an older lawyer who’s thinking about starting a firm or maybe I’ve just opened the doors. Do you have any advice that you would give to them in the early days to set themselves up for

[00:38:55] Jonathan Hawkins: A thriving

[00:38:56] Bradley Miller: all sort of advice that you could give. But I would say a [00:39:00] couple things would be, first of all, take things slow, but also keep them simple. I think, well, a lot of times we try, especially as lawyers, we like complexity. We like a lot of moving pieces, we like a lot of things.

[00:39:13] Bradley Miller: We like a, all the details. And that’s not very helpful when it comes to starting your practice. It’s a lot better, I think, to start simple, start basic, you know, what are the minimum things that you really need to get going and then build from there. Right. Which kind of leads into the second point, which is be intentional about what you want.

[00:39:33] Bradley Miller: I know when I started, again, because I didn’t really intend to be a lawyer or start my own practice, I just kind of jumped in with both feet and kind of took where it went, right? Like my first, my fir very first client was actually a law school buddy of mine. His sister got a DUI, so I represented her.

[00:39:50] Bradley Miller: That was my very first client. My second client was a law school classmate. His wedding venue canceled on him. A couple months [00:40:00] before their wedding. And so I helped him to try to get his deposit back for the venue. Like those are my favorite, my two my two first clients and it things that just kind of came to me.

[00:40:11] Bradley Miller: And that really stuff that I was ever looking for or I planned on doing either of those areas and eventually decided I didn’t have any interest in either of those things. But it’s really if I had to go back and make some different choices, I would be a lot more intentional about how I design my practice.

[00:40:28] Bradley Miller: I would start by thinking about who are the clients that I really like working with? Who are the people I work like working with? What are the kind of things I like to do? You know, do I like. Being in front of a judge, being in court and arguing do I like the stress? You know, the excitement, the adrenaline rush that you’d get, you know, in doing court and litigation work.

[00:40:48] Bradley Miller: Or would I much rather do something a lot more low-key, you know, so I, the thing about how I like to, how I like to work, do I like to work alone? Like I’ve worked basically from a home office for, you know, more than 10 years [00:41:00] now. I don’t need a office. The work that I do, because I don’t really most of the time meet with clients, or if I do, it was always at restaurants or you know, places like that.

[00:41:09] Bradley Miller: And so how do I want to work my practice? Do I want to have an office? Do I want to work from home? Those are things to think about and to consider. I. And then what are your values? What’s most important to you? And this is something that I don’t think that enough people think about, especially early on is what is really important.

[00:41:27] Bradley Miller: Like for me, my most important values are my personal and spiritual growth. My family and serving others. And so everything that I do goes or revolves around those three things. And so when I design my law practice, I wanna make sure that. I don’t do something or make a decision that’s going to impact any of those negatively, you know, it’s very important, you know, family is right, is important to me.

[00:41:54] Bradley Miller: It’s important that I’m here to get my daughter on and off the school bus every day. If I was [00:42:00] working in an office for a firm, I probably couldn’t do that. I mean, you know, you know, I’d be stuck in an office till at least five, six o’clock every night. Probably. She gets off the bus, you know, 4, 4 30. I wouldn’t be here for that.

[00:42:13] Bradley Miller: You know, she gets on the bus at eight o’clock. I would probably be at the office already by then or I wouldn’t be able to do both or something like that. Right. I wouldn’t be able to coach her teams like I coach your softball team. It’d be hard to do that if I was working till 10 o’clock at night at the office, you know, two, three nights a week, you know, if I had litigation deadlines that I had to meet, and so.

[00:42:37] Bradley Miller: It’s thinking about what I want my wife, my life to look like, what’s important to me. And so designing my law practice around that versus the other way around, which is what most lawyers do is say, here’s my law practice and then my life kinda has to fit that mold. And to me that’s a way that just leads to unhappiness, to burn out to all those negative things we talk about that lawyers face.[00:43:00]

[00:43:01] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, I think, you know, I think that’s huge and it’s very important. It, you know, vision, you know, being intentional, knowing what you want, where you want to go, and then having your values and using that as, you know, having the vision as your north star, your guiding light, and then the values is the filter along the way of what to push aside and what to let in.

[00:43:22] Jonathan Hawkins: So, so. Real quick. So, you know, you know, people that start in the firm sort of like you when you started yours you know, that sounds great and I’m a hundred percent in that camp, but you gotta pay the bills too. So how do you balance having to pay the bills with, Hey, no, I wanna go over here. So you get that Juvenile case and you’re like I just don’t wanna deal with this, but you need the money.

[00:43:42] Jonathan Hawkins: So how would you approach that?

[00:43:43] Bradley Miller: Yeah, so I’d say I, I would say have to. Maybe avenues. So I say start developing your firm. Start designing the firm about what you want. Like here’s what I want it to look like. Here’s the life that I want and what that needs to do. But you might need to [00:44:00] take some other things. In the meantime.

[00:44:01] Bradley Miller: You may need to take the juvenile appointed work or the criminal appointed work to get some cash flow going in so you could build up things. You may need to take some of the lower value. Kind of cases, that’s not really what you wanna be focusing on ultimately, but it’s a stepping stone and realizing that is, hey, this is merely a stepping stone to what I want.

[00:44:20] Bradley Miller: This is helping get things going. It’s helping bringing cash in. You know, it’s getting me to where I want to be. You know, you can’t it can be really hard starting out to jump from point to point B when you’re down here. And so you gotta take the steps up to get there. And sometimes that means doing some of the stuff that’s maybe not ideally what you want to be doing.

[00:44:41] Bradley Miller: But it’s okay doing, you know, you know, I don’t mind doing a, you know, a startup here now and then, let’s say, you know, so I’ll take some of those clients maybe, or you know, some contract reviews or something like, yeah, it’s not maybe exactly what I wanna be doing, but it’s heading that direction and it’s helping me.

[00:44:55] Bradley Miller: Develop relationships with contacts that might need that work. You know, the work that I [00:45:00] wanna do later on. It’s introducing me to referral sources potentially in the world. And so always trying to see, you know, what do we need to do to get there. But you know, at the end of the day, you know, obviously you gotta pay your bills.

[00:45:14] Bradley Miller: You know, and so I, I will never, you know, put anyone down for doing something because they have to, you know, because it’s either I take this and do this work, or I don’t pay my mortgage. Like

[00:45:26] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. And to your point, everything you do, you can learn from and it adds to everything else. So, yeah, I’m with you

[00:45:32] Bradley Miller: Everything’s lowering

[00:45:33] Jonathan Hawkins: So.

[00:45:33] Bradley Miller: Yeah.

[00:45:35] Jonathan Hawkins: So we’ve been going a while, so I want to thank you for joining us Brad. If anybody wants to find you to maybe, you know, ask your thoughts on, you know, value-based pricing or anything like that, how can they find you?

[00:45:46] Bradley Miller: Yeah, so as you mentioned earlier I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, so that’s the easiest probably place to find me learning all about. Value-based pricing and, you know, being a, you know, a lawyer dad, and, you [00:46:00] know, throw, we throw some marketing stuff in there and I’ll kind of, whatever really comes to mind I’ll throw out there, you know, who knows what it might be coming out there.

[00:46:07] Bradley Miller: So anything regarding the practice of law, especially for, you know, sole small firm lawyers I’ll talk about it there on LinkedIn. So that’s the easy place to find me. My, my law firm website is bradley miller So you can also find me there specifically about the law stuff. And then is kind of the coaching slash you know, whatever you wanna call it, side of things.

[00:46:30] Bradley Miller: And so there’s some information there as well. If somebody’s interested in learning more or maybe having me help them with their practices.

[00:46:38] Jonathan Hawkins: Awesome. Well, Brad I appreciate you coming on and people out there that are on LinkedIn, definitely go follow Brad and, you know, get into some debates on the value, price, value-based pricing. Tell him how it can’t how it can’t be done. I know that can bring out some of the trolls ’cause I’ve seen it.

[00:46:54] Jonathan Hawkins: But again, thank you for joining

[00:46:56] Bradley Miller: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.