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Moving a Practice Across the Country with Rob Turner

Are you curious about the twists and turns of a legal career, from big law to solo practice? In the latest episode of The Founding Partner Podcast, we dive deep into the professional journey of Rob Turner, a seasoned attorney who has navigated the complexities of the legal field with agility and insight. Turner, once based out of Atlanta and now practicing in Seattle, brings a wealth of experience to the table, having worked in various legal settings, including big law, in-house positions, and ultimately, establishing his solo practice, InTown Legal.

### Starting Off on the Right Foot

Rob Turner’s story begins with his passion for history and the unexpected discovery of business law during his internships. His career path, marked by a series of strategic moves, showcases the importance of adaptability in the legal profession. From his early days in boutique firms to his eventual rise into big law, Turner’s trajectory is a testament to the notion that there are multiple ways to achieve one’s professional goals.

### The Big Law Experience

Turner’s experience in big law is particularly enlightening. He candidly discusses the allure of big law, the hard work required to climb the ranks, and the frustration of external factors affecting career progression. His reflections offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of large firms and the challenges faced by associates aspiring to partnership.

### The In-House Transition and Its Lessons

The conversation takes a turn as Turner recounts his move to an in-house legal position. His insights into the importance of knowing what you’re running from, as much as what you’re running to, are invaluable for any attorney considering a career shift. Turner’s in-house experience highlights the need for thorough research and self-awareness before making significant career moves.

### Embracing Entrepreneurship in Legal Practice

Turner’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through as he discusses his transition to a smaller firm environment and eventually to his own solo practice. The discussion delves into the operational side of running a law firm, the dynamics of partnership, and the considerations that led to the founding of InTown Legal. Turner’s choice of a trade name for his firm reflects a modern approach to branding in the legal industry.

### Conclusion

Rob Turner’s journey is a compelling narrative filled with practical wisdom for lawyers at any stage of their career. His experiences serve as a guide for navigating the legal landscape, from understanding the nuances of big law to embracing the challenges of solo practice. For those looking to gain insights into the legal profession’s many facets, this episode of The Founding Partner Podcast is a must-listen.

Don’t miss out on the full story of Rob Turner’s fascinating career. Tune in to Episode 020 of The Founding Partner Podcast and join host Jonathan Hawkins as he explores the highs and lows of life in the legal lane with his guest, solo attorney Rob Turner. [Listen to the episode now](#) and get inspired by Turner’s remarkable journey.

[00:00:00] Rob Turner: One of the things that I think is good about being a solo or having experience in a small firm is while it can be challenging, but learning all of the operational steps, what it takes to go out and identify clients, provide the services to them, invoice them for the services, collect the dollars.

[00:00:25] Rob Turner: Deposit that in your account, you know, pay your own bills, pay yourself from that. You’re a small business owner, and being a small business owner and understanding that, to me, makes you a better advisor, a better legal advisor to the type of clients that I work with. I mean, I have a couple that are large and are publicly traded, mostly working with their law firms and things like that.

[00:00:50] ​[00:01:00]

[00:01:19] Jonathan Hawkins: Welcome to Founding Partner Podcast. I’m Jonathan Hawkins, your host. I’m with the law firm GC. Very excited today about our guest, longtime friend of mine solo attorney, used to be based out of Atlanta, but now is in Seattle. Rob Turner, why don’t you introduce yourself, Rob, tell us about your firm and what kind of work you do.

[00:01:43] Rob Turner: Thank you, Jonathan. It’s great to talk with you. It’s awesome to see your success and what you’re building with the founding partners podcast and helping attorneys around the country and the world learn from other folks about how to grow their practice. So, the best way I describe my.

[00:01:59] Rob Turner: [00:02:00] Myself professionally now as an outside GC, outside general counsel, working with a lot of closely held businesses and close ownership groups, helping their businesses with a variety of business, commercial and commercial real estate matters. And in the past with some ebb and flow with the economy, I’ve also had a communications component to my practice as well.

[00:02:27] Rob Turner: But that’s what I do in a nutshell is serve closely held businesses is there outside GC.

[00:02:34] Jonathan Hawkins: Awesome. We’ll get into some of this, but you’re a true solo, correct? Do you have any staff or anybody with you?

[00:02:40] Rob Turner: I have one colleague who has been with me for a while and we use her services as a paralegal, but she does not sign anything or anything like that. She assists in initial drafting, and then I take it from there which is just a unique tangent because she’s [00:03:00] a, Primarily a mom, but a former practicing attorney who can help do some good quality base level work.

[00:03:07] Rob Turner: But as far as the, what I’m doing and the responsibilities, yes, I would say true solo,

[00:03:14] Jonathan Hawkins: Cool. So, so let’s start at the beginning. Take us through why did you become a lawyer? What sort of led you to the law?

[00:03:23] Rob Turner: the pregnant pause. When I was in college I was a history major and I enjoyed studying history and I had two concentrations, the United States Civil War. And then I wrote my senior thesis on a component of the United States space program. But I really did not know what I wanted to do when I finished.

[00:03:46] Rob Turner: And while in law school, I had some summer internships with several businesses. And during those internships had interacted with their attorneys. Up until that point, I basically [00:04:00] thought all lawyers were matlocks. You know, you wore a seersucker suits and went into court. I had no idea that there was this thing called a business attorney who did not go into court and who helped on more contractual matters.

[00:04:14] Rob Turner: I just didn’t know. What that was and that piqued my interest during some of those internships, my sophomore and junior year and really took me down the path of discovering, Hey, lawyers don’t all have to be courtroom litigators. You can be a business attorney, you can be trusting the state’s attorney, employment law, whatever.

[00:04:35] Rob Turner: And that, that helped set me on the course.

[00:04:39] Jonathan Hawkins: And so you’re from the Southeast, but you went to law school in Seattle, but then you came back to the Southeast for your first job. Is that, did I get that right?

[00:04:48] Rob Turner: Yeah. So, you’ve got it exactly right. And my wife now, we were dating in college and she went to a different school, also in the Southeast. And we had decided [00:05:00] relationship wise we wanted to be together. But where was that together? And in, in the mid nineties she was an engineer with a strong technology major, it happened.

[00:05:09] Rob Turner: That Seattle, Washington was just white hot for jobs in the early technology. com boom. So between that and law school we decided to make our way out to the west coast. So out here, finished law school. And we stayed here for about another seven or eight months post law school for May, so into early the following calendar year, and we decided to relocate back to the southeast from there.

[00:05:40] Jonathan Hawkins: And you basically went, I’ll call it big law, is that sort of correct in your mind?

[00:05:45] Rob Turner: I worked my way into big law. And I’m going to say this with a smile, but I was not top 10 percent of my law school class. So I did not have those opportunities based [00:06:00] purely on an academic resume. So, our interim stop between Seattle and working our way back to Atlanta was Nashville. We were in Nashville just under two years.

[00:06:13] Rob Turner: And I worked at a boutique business law firm that had a strong commercial real estate practice. And it, it ended up being that we found ourselves, my wife and I spending many weekends in Atlanta just to see friends and family. And that. Kind of helped drag us down to Atlanta professionally from a home base.

[00:06:35] Rob Turner: And I worked at a couple of local Atlanta firms that also had business and commercial real estate practice before stepping up, if you will, into Southeastern regional big law firms.

[00:06:49] Jonathan Hawkins: So a lot of opinions about big law good and bad. Was that something you aspire to? Is that something you wanted to do? Or you just sort of [00:07:00] found yourself there? And then we can talk about what you thought of it if you want. But,

[00:07:04] Rob Turner: I think that in, in law school. my law school experience, which was a good one, but it was what I would call a traditional one where it’s still, it seems like it catered to the litigators and those in the top five, top 10 percent that we’re going to go to big law firms and, you know, work there for 30 or 40 years, become partner.

[00:07:29] Rob Turner: And that’s going to be the end all be all. So at some level, whether consciously or unconsciously, it was ingrained into me. That, that was what we as attorneys were aspiring to. I had also seen from working in the smaller firms, I liked their nimbleness. That was something the, you know, using current terms you know, responsiveness efficiency.

[00:07:56] Rob Turner: But big law to me was something to aspire [00:08:00] to. And that’s what I was building towards in my mind, stepping stones with those earlier jobs. I called them stepping stone jobs. I knew I probably wasn’t going to be there. At most two or three years. And then ideally I was going to use that to, to leverage up into something broader.

[00:08:17] Jonathan Hawkins: And then eventually you left Big Law, what’d you do after that?

[00:08:20] Rob Turner: This is a, another good question. And what I think your listeners will find particularly those that are, you know, no hair or gray hair like me is that. We’ve all seen several economic cycles now, a boom and bust. You know, we had recessions coming out of the dot com bust. Then we had the 2008 great recession and, you know, we had some more recently coming out of COVID.

[00:08:47] Rob Turner: But what, and where I felt like the big law was important was. It provided a platform and it gave you the opportunity to get exposed to a lot of experts in [00:09:00] other areas of practice, litigation, environmental law just to name a few, employment law, whatever. But my frustrations at the time in leaving big law just my own personal ones was that the firm I was with at the time I had been there nearly, you know, 6 years, it felt like, you know, I was following the career trajectory that you’re supposed to keep graduating up.

[00:09:22] Rob Turner: You know, I was hitting all the marks with billable hours. My 1 time a year annual report or annual assessment was always good. And so we were checking all the boxes, but because of the 2008 9 recession, they just were not going to promote. Senior associates into partnership levels, even junior partner levels.

[00:09:45] Rob Turner: Part of my law school experience, dialing it back or interest and even back to when I was in college in the internships I mentioned was that I thought it would be really neat at some point to work in house with a larger [00:10:00] business’s legal department. To me the blend of practicing law with the business and whatever its objectives, that’s really where I want it to be and not, as I say with a smile on my face, just, Preaching law from, you know, the 50th floor downtown to clients.

[00:10:20] Rob Turner: I didn’t want to be that way. So during this great recession there was a local internet service provider and communications infrastructure business that approached me with a need in their in house position. So my frustrations with the firm that I was at the time. And it wasn’t significant, but just frustrations at not being promoted up.

[00:10:42] Rob Turner: And gosh, darn it, you know, where am I going to go from here? Coupled with interest and something to go to. And I had always had in the back of my mind, another like, Hey, I want to be an in house attorney. This seemed like the thing to do, and the in house position was in Atlanta. [00:11:00] But, I’ve written down right here on my notes prepping for this, because I want your listeners to hear it from someone else, more as a cautionary tale, and I’m pointing to myself. It’s important to know what you’re running from. Just as much as it is to know what you’re running to

[00:11:17] Jonathan Hawkins: Great point. Great point. Yeah, let’s hear

[00:11:20] Rob Turner: Let my desire the cloud and impatience to get away from big law. I think at the end of the day, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it. But, you know, I’m here today.

[00:11:35] Jonathan Hawkins: do what? Wouldn’t do

[00:11:36] Rob Turner: wouldn’t have taken the in house position. But I didn’t do my homework as thoroughly as I should have because I was so intrigued at the shiny object of what I was running to and just knew that I wanted to get away from those guys because I felt just burned or what have you. So, that, that was my step. That was the path of getting off this 1 rail and going down the more [00:12:00] entrepreneurial rail that I’ve been on since then.

[00:12:04] Jonathan Hawkins: So, let’s recap. There’s a few things in there that I think important to people out there. You know, number one The path to quote big law, there, there are many paths to get there. So just because you didn’t get it straight out of law school, if you really want it, there’s a way to get there.

[00:12:19] Jonathan Hawkins: Potentially the other piece is once you’re in it you can do everything right and forces outside of your control somewhat dictate whether you make partner or not. And it’s frustrating. You know, there are practice areas that if, you know, if you’re in real estate. And there are no deals going on.

[00:12:38] Jonathan Hawkins: It may be that you just, you’re just not going to make partner because of that or vice versa because it’s hot. You may make partners. So, you know, there’s some luck to it as well. And the other piece is, you know, you give all this time and work towards it and it just may not happen. And then the other piece, you know, it’s you’ve meandered at this point that we’ve talked about into a lot of different [00:13:00] positions, so you have you’ve done a lot and you’ve been a.

[00:13:02] Jonathan Hawkins: able to do a lot of different things with your law degree and you’re able to go in house. But so after that, so you were in house for a while and then you decided to leave that to go back to private practice, right? Tell us about

[00:13:16] Rob Turner: right. Yeah. So, when the in house opportunity presented itself, I had also started just background looking at other smaller firm options in Atlanta. And what I was particularly interested in my mind was I was Trying to find a law firm that replicated the very first law firm that I worked at in Seattle, Washington.

[00:13:46] Rob Turner: And what’s neat, just for you guys to hear, and even as mentors and parents, is people are always watching. And I didn’t realize at the time, how [00:14:00] influential that firm would be on me professionally throughout my life, my professional life. It is still the benchmark to which I compare every single place that I’ve worked at.

[00:14:11] Rob Turner: And what I aspire to. So I was looking for that firm or something close to it in Atlanta. And I found it and you know, had a couple of conversations with the partner over there and it, it made sense. He gave me a an opportunity. to join his team and and leave what I was in that just was not a fulfilling room. So I and part of it was, I also knew I did not want to go back to big law, you know, that we keep talking about that term, big law. I just didn’t want to go back at that point. I had been practicing about 10 ish years, a little bit more than that. And you know, had seen enough from the inside that [00:15:00] just didn’t feel like that’s where I wanted to be or where I would feel professionally fulfilled.

[00:15:05] Rob Turner: I wanted to roll my sleeves up and get out and find folks that were at or near contemporary age wise. And I’m saying that with a smile on my face, plus or minus 10 to 15 years, but folks that really wanted a relationship, a true trusted provider or trusted advisor. That I could work with and you know, deliver the kind of services that I felt that their businesses needed.

[00:15:29] Rob Turner: So that’s where I went to straight out of the in house position

[00:15:34] Jonathan Hawkins: And so, okay, so, so you leave in house and you join a firm. Is it just you and this other partner?

[00:15:40] Rob Turner: yeah, just close, very closely, yeah, just us two,

[00:15:44] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. And so what was it like? So you went from big firm as a, as an associate to in house to now, so do you have a partner? Was that, what was the, you know, is there a learning curve there? What was that like for

[00:15:57] Rob Turner: There was and that’s really, I [00:16:00] think, important to know. The learning curve was seeing so much of the operational side that I just did not have visibility into with Big Law. What does it mean when a check comes in? How do we record the dollars that have come into the firm’s account? How do we divide that up amongst ourselves?

[00:16:23] Rob Turner: And what percentage is, you know, what did our agreements say? But all of that what and how did that take place? What does our website say? How do we market our services? How do I get reimbursed? for what I’m investing with all of these business development meetings. I don’t have any dollars in the door.

[00:16:39] Rob Turner: Is it an advance? You know, all of those kinds of things, eye opening and eye opening that I just didn’t know. But again, in this case, it was a good, what I was running to. I knew I had to get the hell out of the in house position and wanted to get away from there.

[00:16:55] Jonathan Hawkins: Well, the other thing too is you probably came, you came from places that you [00:17:00] really probably had no decision making power to a place that hopefully you had at least some, but it was shared. And then how did you guys, you know, work through that sort of thing? How, you know, was it consensus? Was there, you know, how’d you do it?

[00:17:15] Rob Turner: A lot of it was consensus and the analogy I use. For this one is it’s almost like at the end of the day it’s renting for me, I describe it as renting a room from someone whose home was already furnished and we were very closely aligned in much of the decoration and.

[00:17:41] Rob Turner: And I could hang my pictures on the walls and things like that, continuing this analogy, but at the end of the day, if I wanted to do some painting or renovation or knock down a wall over here and really think about expanding or things like that, just the way our structure was, because I was coming [00:18:00] in as a junior partner.

[00:18:02] Rob Turner: Ultimately, it was my colleagues, it was his decision one way or the other. He had the check, you know, the, you know, I, I get, you know, to, to control what, what ultimately goes on the set. So it was after we had four or five years of that, again, good, really good working rapport that’s when I started to get the itch to, you know, say this has been good, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned how to do it entirely on my own.

[00:18:27] Rob Turner: And this, you know, I think will be a good springboard for me to go, you know, flip the switch and do it myself.

[00:18:35] Jonathan Hawkins: So at some point you decided to separate and do your own thing. So let, before we get into the, your own thing. How was the separation? You know, I’ve, we all know partners are breaking apart all the time.

[00:18:47] Rob Turner: And my

[00:18:48] Jonathan Hawkins: some are more amicable than others. And even the amicable ones are still strained sometimes.

[00:18:56] Jonathan Hawkins: And you know, you can talk as much as little as you’d like, but [00:19:00] how was that process sort of separating?

[00:19:04] Rob Turner: ultimately it was clean and professional and I’m still in touch in a good way with my former colleagues. So that should tell you what you need to know, but it was dollars. That drove the separation to and just the ebb and flow of the time that we work together. We had one agreement and then that was modified, you know, I’m doing the up and down to, you know, increase or reduce the percentages that Mr.

[00:19:30] Rob Turner: Turner received and It, I don’t want to say it was crammed down, but it just, that’s the way it was. So I, and then, you know, it looking at the dollars and cents, holy cow this one change made colleague X amount that would have been, you know, a lot of meaningful dollars to my family. And that wasn’t the only reason, but it helps spur.

[00:19:54] Rob Turner: But again, it was an amicable separation and you know, I, the, I [00:20:00] get the best vote of confidence I can say is I still, now I haven’t done so recently, but, you know, we were referring business back and forth to each other and, you know, still talk and all of that. So I think it was handled about as cleanly as could be

[00:20:15] Jonathan Hawkins: well, that’s good. That’s a somewhat happy ending. I would say it’s, you know, people ask me a lot what’s the number one cause of law firm breakups and, you know, certainly money is one of them, but control obviously is another some of the others are, you know, lack of a shared vision about whether to grow, whether to stay the same or whatever to do, but glad you guys were able to.

[00:20:38] Jonathan Hawkins: Remain friendly and refer each other business. So, all right. So you go out, you start your firm which is what you have now. So let’s start, what’s the name of your firm? Let’s start with that.

[00:20:48] Rob Turner: in town, legal

[00:20:49] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. So, I like that. So you chose a trade name. What was your thought process behind a trade name versus something else?

[00:20:58] Jonathan Hawkins: And how’d you come up with the name?[00:21:00]

[00:21:00] Rob Turner: couple of thoughts. Actually the firm that I was with, the one that I had just left following this chronologically, we also had a trade name and the experience that I had practicing in Seattle in the late nineties, that was when trade names were just. Just becoming in vogue, and I really liked it.

[00:21:19] Rob Turner: I liked it because it did not have a person or person’s names associated with the firm and my just own personal tag right or wrong has just been I did not want to have a legacy name. folks that no longer practice or no longer associated with it. I didn’t want to use that to build the brand. So when I was thinking about what I’m going to do, I just knew that I was going to use a trade name.

[00:21:50] Rob Turner: The why on the name that I chose itself in town legal to me, it. I hoped it would resonate with clients and [00:22:00] prospective clients. You know, it’s not, you know, ABC from Savannah, Georgia or wherever, or, you know, from Denver, Colorado, it’s just, here’s the firm. And in my mind it could give the flexibility to practice at different locations under that same name.

[00:22:18] Rob Turner: And excuse me, whether. It’s opening up different offices, you know, multiple law firms have multiple offices around the country. You can go and do it, do a drop down menu and see they’ve got all the major cities dot. Don’t know whether I’ll ever aspire to that, but I wanted to have the flexibility so that if we were.

[00:22:38] Rob Turner: In town legal Nashville, in town legal DC, in town legal New York City Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, whatever, we could do that. And that was you know, the reasoning behind it. And then, you know, good counsel was that, that was a domain that was available to, and I could get it across all the social media platforms as well.

[00:22:59] Jonathan Hawkins: [00:23:00] That’s, that is a good point. When you’re picking your name, check, check. It’s hard, I mean, all these domains are taken nowadays, so it’s hard to get it. But, I mean, he, obviously, I have a trade name that I use. Really like it. It’s interesting my sense was that it really was a west coast thing that has made its way east.

[00:23:19] Jonathan Hawkins: And it’s really becoming more and more common. But yeah I’m a big believer. I think that was a cool move and a good move.

[00:23:26] Rob Turner: Like it. So,

[00:23:29] Jonathan Hawkins: yeah, so, so you went out on your own you know, and you were in Atlanta, what same kind of law, I mean, what were you doing? Did you have staff with you? How did you handle it when you went out on your own?

[00:23:41] Rob Turner: well, I’ll dial it back. One of the things that I think is good about being a solo or having experience in a small firm is while it can be challenging, but learning all of the operational steps, what it takes to [00:24:00] go out and identify clients, provide the services to them, invoice them for the services, collect the dollars.

[00:24:08] Rob Turner: Deposit that in your account, you know, pay your own bills, pay yourself from that. You’re a small business owner, and being a small business owner and understanding that, to me, makes you a better advisor, a better legal advisor to the type of clients that I work with. I mean, I have a couple that are large and are publicly traded, mostly working with their law firms and things like that.

[00:24:33] Rob Turner: But those are the outliers the rest of them are more closely held. So, it’s like, you know, I can talk to them and say, Hey, I own a business just like you. And again, the example I used earlier, I’m not just preaching from on high. This is. This is practical legal advice blended with business perspective that, Hey, you really ought to consider this, that, and the other as part of your decision making process.

[00:24:58] Rob Turner: So that was to me [00:25:00] important with why and how to help build in town legal and my platform, but to Give you a long, I’ve given you a long lawyerly answer. It’s me it’s me doing it all. And I have used contract attorneys depending on the ebb and flow of where we are with, you know, client management and things like that, or brought in other attorneys who are of counsel to our firm or have just referred client matters directly to larger firms that, that might have the horsepower or the skill set to address, you know, a nuanced matter.

[00:25:35] Jonathan Hawkins: So to circle back and highlight a little bit what you were talking about there. You know, you go out on your own and it’s a huge learning curve. Cause you’re not just practicing law, you’re, you know, buying supplies, you got to get a desk, you got, you know, all the little things you got to do.

[00:25:50] Jonathan Hawkins: You got to open bank accounts and just the little things that take a lot of time and you got to figure it out. I mean, it’s not necessarily hard. It just takes a lot. And [00:26:00] you, so you learn along the way, but again, some of the advantages of being a solo. I mean, You get to decide who your clients are.

[00:26:07] Jonathan Hawkins: You get to decide how much you’re going to work that day. You get to decide what the website looks like. You don’t have to confer with anybody else. You get to decide. And you know, you can keep your overhead pretty low. That’s another advantage of, and be nimble. You know, a lot of lawyers that are at big firms or wherever sure you’ll probably work more and do more stuff, but.

[00:26:30] Jonathan Hawkins: But you get to keep more of it typically now there are limitations to it. I get that too, but you know, there are some advantages to sort of going out on your own. So let’s move forward a little bit. You know, you practice here in Atlanta for quite a while. I think we met before you started your firm.

[00:26:46] Jonathan Hawkins: But eventually you decided, I guess you and your family decided you wanted to move back to Seattle. And so that’s a big decision. I mean, you’d been in Atlanta, you’d practice in Atlanta for many years, all your contacts were here, all your [00:27:00] referral sources, you knew all these people here, you probably hadn’t been living in Seattle for a long time, maybe visiting, I don’t know.

[00:27:08] Jonathan Hawkins: And you just decide, Hey, I’m going to get up and move across the country over there, take me through that decision making process and, you know, how did you, in your mind, balance the risk reward for that?

[00:27:25] Rob Turner: See my smile.

[00:27:29] ​

[00:27:42] Jonathan Hawkins: And we’ll talk about, let’s tell me when you did it. Tell me, give me the date you did it. And then that’ll lead into some more stuff we’ll talk

[00:27:49] Rob Turner: Yeah I’ll peel it back. So we move, we used the, from our family side, we use the occasion of our oldest child graduating from high school. [00:28:00] And, you know, let that child finish up in Atlanta. And then we decided to move that summer. The summer of 2019 and the crystal ball that we were looking at was broke and it did not have global pandemic in the next six months as something that we were looking at as a, as returns, but the I’ll tell you the why.

[00:28:23] Rob Turner: So I have to wind it back and the flexibility of running your own practice or having your own shop is what enabled us to do this because we had. Just in the previous 10 years even when I was at big law, we started at a week and a half or so doing old school family road trips like we would go out to the Grand Canyon.

[00:28:46] Rob Turner: We drove from Seattle. We drove all the way up to Niagara Falls and through Canada, another road trip. But we would do these things and they were wonderful. But we had not brought our family out to the Pacific Northwest where my wife and I had [00:29:00] lived back in the nineties. So we wanted them to visit.

[00:29:03] Rob Turner: And at that point I had in town legal up and running and you know, felt like it was stable enough. So we rented you know, Airbnb type home out here for like three weeks. We’re like let’s stretch it and see what that was like and stretch it in the sense of. Hey, you know, we can get up early and keep East Coast or close to East Coast hours, do whatever work we need to do in the mornings and then still have most of the afternoon Pacific Coast time free.

[00:29:32] Rob Turner: So what that ended up being for us was a good trial run to say, Hey, I don’t have to be physically tethered to one location where much of my client base is located in order to provide services to them and keep the income going. You know, I can be somewhere else. It was something that. Came to be known as remote work, right?

[00:29:54] Rob Turner: We were doing it before. It was cool saying that with a smile. But we, that was one [00:30:00] summer. Then we repeated it two more summers coming out here as well to the Pacific Northwest. And at that point it was just, you know, we had been in the same place in Atlanta for 20 years, loved it, but felt like, you know, change is good.

[00:30:14] Rob Turner: Even with challenges that come with this change and growth can be good for you personally in the family. Wanted our children to live someplace else in the country. So that was, you know, at a high level, how we helped make the decision. And because we had success in this remote work several summers in a row, you know, we felt like we could make the jump.

[00:30:36] Rob Turner: Without too much attrition in our businesses. My wife is also self employed. So, that’s what we did.

[00:30:44] Jonathan Hawkins: So you move out there summer 2019 with the the, you know, you keep your client base here in Atlanta and your relationships, you’ll probably get more clients from Atlanta. And then the plan was to go and network and get to know all the [00:31:00] lawyers in Washington and take them to coffee and all that kind of

[00:31:03] Rob Turner: sure. Wash, rinse and repeat. Yeah.

[00:31:05] Jonathan Hawkins: then COVID hits. Oh my gosh. What did that do? I mean, I know it hit everybody, but what did it do to you and your plans? Yeah,

[00:31:17] Rob Turner: paused them and then hindsight it’s paused them about two and a half years. So I’m about two and a half years. At this date in March of 2024 is where we’re recording this, where I thought I would be if we had not had that. So, that’s what it’s done in the short level.

[00:31:36] Rob Turner: And I’ll talk about the COVID too. And just for your listeners Jonathan and your law firm, GC, they are counsel to in town legal and during the worst of the time with COVID, I can remember some very just strained, not like other than emotionally strained conversations with you, like, I don’t know how we’re going to get through this.

[00:31:58] Rob Turner: Like. A lot of [00:32:00] people, we’re certainly that wasn’t unique to us, but as a solo for your listeners, that’s one thing, you know, you are much more exposed to those kinds of risks and the decision making that we made to move out here. Yeah, it was a calculated risk, but I don’t have a gazillions of dollars in the bank to as a backstop.

[00:32:23] Rob Turner: I mean, it was a risk predicated upon recurring work with recurring clients who pay in good order and not delayed payments or just drying up and saying, we can’t pay you. So, You know, to give you the detail we also had a PPP loan and that, that helped us through the bottom of the worst of of it that, that helped.

[00:32:48] Rob Turner: I mean, that’s how my family made it through. So that’s a little more color for you.

[00:32:56] Jonathan Hawkins: that was tough for everybody. I remember those conversations and, [00:33:00] you know, I mean, we were all scared. I thought we were going to die. Everybody thought we were going to die. It’s crazy. And you know, I think you guys stayed shut down probably longer than we did here in Atlanta. But you know, there’s, it’s being a solo you know, Gave you the freedom to, to take this risk where if you had partners and all these other things, maybe you wouldn’t have been able to do it.

[00:33:21] Jonathan Hawkins: But like you said, it also sort of exposed you for the pandemic. But the other part too, I mean, you didn’t have a big staff that you had to support. So I guess all you had to worry about was you and your family. So maybe that was helpful too, I guess. All right. So, but you’ve made it through. You know, you’re still alive.

[00:33:39] Jonathan Hawkins: You’re still doing it. Your firm’s still around. How did you do it? And you know, any insights for people that may be struggling you know, as a solo with their own client base,

[00:33:51] Rob Turner: You have said this and you say it in many forms and fashions on your regular posts on LinkedIn, which is [00:34:00] some variation of keep moving and take action. And the take action can be as simple as. Pick up the phone, send the email, set up a zoom chat, go see your clients if you’re able to, but that’s what helped is so for the existing client base that I had built primarily in Georgia Keeping those relationships warm and then when we were able to travel again, you know, coming back, I mean, I come back to Atlanta pretty often and when I do beyond seeing friends and family it’s a business trip, you know, I’m meeting clients in person and if nothing else, it’s just, it’s the relationship because I want them to think of in town legal when they have their next need.

[00:34:44] Rob Turner: And, you know, if you’re not, yeah, At or near top of mind, then they’re just, they’re not going to call. So it takes work. So to answer your question, how did, how do we do it? I, just for myself, just making some kind of effort with clients and even [00:35:00] folks that could potentially be referral sources here that’s.

[00:35:03] Rob Turner: That’s something that I, and you know, don’t hesitate to ask existing people, you know, ask your referral networks, ask folks, particularly if you’re thinking about doing what we did and moving to another part of the company country, there are plenty of big corporations around. Let’s use some of the here locally.

[00:35:22] Rob Turner: You’ve got the Amazons, you’ve got a Starbucks, but you’ve also got all kinds of giant national real estate brokerages, for example. So for the real estate component of my practice, I asked friends in Atlanta who were with large national brokerages for referrals to their counterparts here in the Pacific Northwest.

[00:35:42] Rob Turner: And that has turned in through some effort really good local referral opportunities. For me. To help collaborate with them and assist their clients on some of their projects, but the how is taking action, man. It’s not going to fall on your lap. You gotta get up and do something.

[00:35:59] Jonathan Hawkins: Amen, [00:36:00] brother. But another thing you’ve done maybe on and off or, Whatever you’ve developed some what I call of council relationships, maybe with some other firms. And again, that’s probably a result of your relationships and your referral relationships. So tell us about that and how that help potentially bridge any gaps that, that you may have had.

[00:36:26] Rob Turner: I’ll say another way and you interrupt or ask questions, but one thing as a solo or maybe entrepreneurial minded is. I’ve always felt like I should at least have the conversation or I’m doing my family a disservice if I don’t at least listen to an outreach or an entreaty of interest in teaming up with someone else or recruiter calls or something like that.

[00:36:54] Rob Turner: And one of the of council relationships that I still have to this day and folks [00:37:00] that you know are, it came about when I was at the, my prior firm, the firm that I was at for several years before right after I’d come out of a back to private practice from the in house role. And they had a local recruiter in Atlanta who had contacted me And had some really good conversations with those guys.

[00:37:23] Rob Turner: And it’s about the relationship, which I was just talking about. It didn’t make sense to go to work with them, but I really liked the founding partner, like really liked him. Like Jonathan Hawkins level of liking him and kept in touch with him. We’d have coffees, we’d have lunches just professionally.

[00:37:38] Rob Turner: It was just a good. Good person for me. But we have segwayed slowly over the years to just assisting each other in our firms. His firm in this case has some deep bench strength on litigation and employment law matters, which have been pretty frequent that I’ve had the need to refer out and I’ve helped them on some of their communications [00:38:00] and commercial real estate matters.

[00:38:01] Rob Turner: So that’s one example that just. Came from a relationship.

[00:38:06] Jonathan Hawkins: Think the off council relationship, if it’s done right, and it’s with the right people and you structure it right, and you do the conflicts and all that, I think it can be a really good relationship for a win for both sides. It can give bench, it’s also a way to test out working together or relationship to potentially become partners or whatever later.

[00:38:28] Jonathan Hawkins: So, you know, I’m a big believer in that for some situations. So let’s change subjects a little bit. I’m gonna talk about you post on LinkedIn. We’ve talked about it. I see some of your photos. One advantage of moving out West is you’re in the mountains and maybe a better climate nature.

[00:38:47] Jonathan Hawkins: I don’t know, compared to the Southeast, but you do a lot of trail running and. Big time trail running, you know, a hundred plus mile type things, which is crazy to me. How did you get into that and how often are you out [00:39:00] there doing it?

[00:39:01] Rob Turner: I use it as what I call my me time. And what, whatever it is for the attorneys your founders that are going to be listening to this, I strongly encourage you to find something that keeps your personal interest, maybe it’s volunteering as well, I do some of that too. But the. The outdoor trail running is, I find it to be just very meditative and, you know, we are in stressful jobs.

[00:39:31] Rob Turner: And our role is to help clients sweat through the details and things like that. And it, to me, it’s just a trail running offers a good release in nature, a good physical release. So it’s like, you’re so in the moment. You can’t be thinking about well, what do we have to file next week and the deadlines and did we get this line item included, or are we gonna have to further whatever it is?

[00:39:58] Rob Turner: It’s a way to just [00:40:00] help take a break from that in a constructive way.

[00:40:03] Jonathan Hawkins: So, so,

[00:40:03] Rob Turner: that. Yeah, I don’t know.

[00:40:05] Jonathan Hawkins: So I want to cut you off real quick and ask you another question. You can keep riffing on it, but you know, exercise is huge for me. I think every lawyer should do it. You know, I lift weights just about every day, but I also do some running here and there longest run I’ve ever done, maybe, I don’t know, 10, 12 miles, maybe, and I got to tell you, If I was stressed before, I was too damn tired afterwards to be stressed about anything, but you know, I can’t, you know, 12 miles ish.

[00:40:33] Jonathan Hawkins: That took it out of me. What’s the longest race you’ve done?

[00:40:37] Rob Turner: finished one 100 miler.

[00:40:39] Jonathan Hawkins: I mean, I cannot

[00:40:41] Rob Turner: was a long time. Yeah, it

[00:40:43] Jonathan Hawkins: and it was in the mountains too. Wasn’t it? It wasn’t flat.

[00:40:45] Rob Turner: North Georgia mountains. It was not flat. It took a long time. But you know, whatever your personal challenges are, how you want to challenge yourself for me, that was like, I want to do this, you know, and it’s a kind of like the [00:41:00] move out here. I might not make it, you know, it’s like good to kind of get out on that edge sometime. Like I might fall flat on my face. I’ve had one of those too. And those aren’t fun, but you learn from them. But anyway, challenging yourself, how far can you go? That’s what I like to do.

[00:41:19] Jonathan Hawkins: So are you going to do another a hundred mile race or something longer? Or are you’ve done it. You’re you’ve got to check that box.

[00:41:27] Rob Turner: I would like to do more but I’ve actually signed up for a guided climb to one of Washington’s, the top of one of Washington’s volcanoes this summer. And That’s the shiny object for me right now is a goal to, you know, get up there and see what we can do. So hopefully that’ll happen, but that’s a different, that’s different, but it’s also an endurance sport.

[00:41:49] Rob Turner: So we’ll see.

[00:41:51] Jonathan Hawkins: Well, you’ll need to take lots of photos and make lots of posts about that. So, so let’s shift.

[00:41:56] Rob Turner: that’s one of them right there. That was a top of Mount St. Helen’s over my [00:42:00] shoulder. So there we go.

[00:42:01] Jonathan Hawkins: Nice. So, so shifting again. So, another advantage of sort of running your own shop is you get to pursue other interests, business interests, side hustles, whatever you would call it. So, I know over time you’ve done some of that, maybe you’re still doing some of that. So let’s talk about that a little bit.

[00:42:18] Jonathan Hawkins: I know you’ve got At some point, maybe some sort of communications type side hustle. And you’ve also got a family business. So tell us about those.

[00:42:28] Rob Turner: will tell you about this, but I want to come back to 1 point that 1, I think it’s really important with the flexibility of your own job is ultimately it’s up to you to deliver and meet the client’s needs when they need it. And it doesn’t matter whether, you know, what’s at 7 am today. Apologies guys.

[00:42:47] Rob Turner: 7 am. Or you know, at midnight, but as long as you’re meeting their needs, then you, the business owner practitioner have flexibility. Why I think it’s, I’m going to put on my dad hat, which is. [00:43:00] Take the time to go to your children’s school events and do those kinds of things. Man, you do not get that time back.

[00:43:08] Rob Turner: I can’t stress that enough. And one of my frustrations back to the in house position was I had and even private practice before that at Big Law had folks making big obscene gestures to look at their watch and do this to me, just like I’m doing right here. And shaking their head when I was leaving early to go to something for see my child, even though I had already in both instances arrived at 7 a.

[00:43:35] Rob Turner: m. and did not take lunch so that I could get all my work done so that I could go do this, at least, you know, with a clear conscience for me, and I still had that kind of pushback. So you can have this flexibility earlier this week. I’ve got one of my Children who’s on spring break from college. I managed my schedule so I could go do something with her all day.

[00:43:54] Rob Turner: I’m not going to get that time back. It was wonderful. I had a great experience. We’ll talk about this for a long time. So [00:44:00] that’s something you can do as a solo that big law will likely frown upon or frown upon if you’re doing it too often. So keep that in mind as you’re thinking about what and how you want to structure both your professional satisfaction, but your life.

[00:44:16] Rob Turner: You only got one life to live that we know of. So take the time to, to go do those trips or with friends or family too. Enough preaching there. I, I’ve had a couple of side opportunities and I’ve mentioned communications realist or infrastructure in the past, and even when I was in law school here in Seattle, I worked AT& T wireless services in their site acquisition department, and it, to me, I really liked the work it was.

[00:44:42] Rob Turner: It was in house type legal work. It was a subdivision of their law department. It was real estate and it was communications, mixing all those together. And it was helping them with their ground leases and rooftop leases for where they were building out their cellular network [00:45:00] around Seattle proper.

[00:45:01] Rob Turner: But in, in later years, up until about a year ago, I have done some consulting work with a cell tower lease consultant that has a national practice working primarily with property owners. And I had reached out to this person at one time when I was in my first in house, or not first in house.

[00:45:22] Rob Turner: My first private practice role after I left the in house opportunity, when I was thinking like outside the box, what are avenues where and how I can grow my own practice, I contacted this person about potentially being a just a source to, to help them with their lease work. So didn’t work out the way I’d originally planned, but it was a working relationship where I helped them in their business for a number of years Working on tower leases, I find it to be interesting work, especially helping folks not get taken advantage of.

[00:45:54] Rob Turner: And it was extra income for me and help smooth the flow, which you will have [00:46:00] the ebbs and flows of income. In private practice too.

[00:46:04] Jonathan Hawkins: So there was that. And then you’ve got your, what I’ll call your family business.

[00:46:07] Rob Turner: Yeah. Yeah. There’s that’s that’s another opportunity where myself and my brother in this case have been just active directors, but there was business in Columbia, South Carolina that our great grandfather founded in 1935. He was a farmer and sold his crops on the farmer’s market in Columbia, South Carolina.

[00:46:31] Rob Turner: So, It’s called Cromer’s Peanuts, and I did give Jonathan the shirt, full disclosure but what this business has morphed into in the intervening almost 90 years is it sells, produces and sells gourmet popcorn and peanut treats, both in, you know, retail form and gift boxes and gift packages.

[00:46:52] Rob Turner: So. We have my brother and I had, and with our team there in Columbia, work with them to [00:47:00] help manage, if you will a family business. So those, that’s another skill set that has also helped me like, for example, spend a lot of time on. paying receivables and how are we going to manage the vendors this week based on the cashflow that’s coming in?

[00:47:15] Rob Turner: And that’s another thing, you know, any other gazillion businesses in our country. had issues with coming out of COVID. And it’s taken us a long time to help get right with a lot of folks to keep that business going. But that’s, that is a passion project is I think the right way to describe that one.

[00:47:32] Rob Turner: But we enjoy sending popcorn and peanuts and I use it in my legal practice to send gift boxes to Clients and law departments saying, Hey, thinking of you, hope you guys hope things are popping over there with you today. And do that.

[00:47:46] Jonathan Hawkins: I’ll tell you, my kids love it. When you send the popcorn to us all the different flavors, you got all those different flavors. You know, I’m not a, I was not a huge popcorn fan, but. I find myself just munching on that, you know, get that big bag. I just, [00:48:00] so yeah, thank you for that. So, so we’ve been at it for a while here, but you know, we’ve talked about a lot of this stuff, but you know, if for others out there, as you look back on your career and you’ve, you know, you’ve both big law in house partner now solo moving across the country, you know, Yeah.

[00:48:23] Jonathan Hawkins: Are there any mistakes that you made that looking back you, you wish you could have told yourself or maybe tell a lawyer out there that’s about to embark on starting a firm?

[00:48:34] Rob Turner: There are I’m trying to say whether the transition is, but or however, I’m not sure what the right 1 is without those. I would not be here today though. That’s the thing is like. You’ve got some and you’re in the weeds and you’re just, you’re miserable or can be miserable at the time. The, that in house position was pivotal for me.

[00:48:56] Rob Turner: It was not good. It was just really challenging [00:49:00] interpersonally and there were just some really Challenging moments while I was there. So that was the one I said earlier about, be careful what you’re running from and what you’re running to. But without that that the skills that I gleaned with them had helped me with a number of clients and their types of agreements going forward.

[00:49:21] Rob Turner: And it. It also helps me to find the opportunity, motivate me to find the opportunity to leave them and and go do something like that. So the mistakes could be, I would say, some level of. Impatience like if you know you’re sitting there at the end of the year and the economy is not super strong.

[00:49:43] Rob Turner: You’ve got glowing reports, but gosh, darn it. The managing partner says, hey, Rob, I hate to tell you this, but you’re not going to make partner this year. Well, that’s a frustrating conversation. Why? My hours are better than half the people that you’re about to promote up. Well, I’m sorry, son. You’ve [00:50:00] got different metrics in Atlanta than we do here in Kentucky.

[00:50:03] Rob Turner: You know, it’s just the way it is. And you know, that’s, but that’s where patients can come in and and give you maybe if you are more patient, you might be less less hasty decisions. What I would also say is find yourself a Jonathan Hawkins and you know, have a friend like him, a professional friend and advisor that can offer you independent peer guidance and counsel because your perspective is very much relied upon and it’s been really helpful and valuable for me.

[00:50:35] Rob Turner: So.

[00:50:36] Jonathan Hawkins: Well, I appreciate that. It’s feelings mutual. So, you know, looking back on your career, you’ve done all sorts of crazy things. Stuff. And it’s led you to where you are. You’ve, you know, again, small law, big law small partnership, in house solo you know, I guess the only thing you haven’t done is maybe work for the government.

[00:50:55] Jonathan Hawkins: But as you look forward what do you think’s next? Is there anything you’re [00:51:00] looking to do next or you’re just waiting to see what opportunity comes next?

[00:51:06] Rob Turner: some level of, you know, trust trust, trust the lines that you have in the water. But I have since I’ve been out here, 1 of the things I missed. In Atlanta, like I was always envious of you and some of our other friends that went to law school locally, and I did not feel like I had just, I didn’t have local law school graduates.

[00:51:27] Rob Turner: It wasn’t where I attended law school at Seattle University. They just didn’t have any attorneys in Atlanta. So I missed that. And in being back in this part of the country. I’ve had the opportunity and I wanted the opportunity to get reengaged in some level volunteering or working with the law school.

[00:51:47] Rob Turner: So I’ve taught a class about 2 years ago, and I’m likely going to teach it again, either this fall or this coming spring. But it’s a survey type class really again, mixing this. [00:52:00] technology infrastructure and our built environment, real estate, and how they blend together. And I’ve looked at both when I hold my phone up, you know, wireless technology.

[00:52:12] Rob Turner: What have we used? How has that connected to our local grid? And also importantly, climate impacts, you know, this area, for example seeing more and more forest fires, how our local building codes and things like that. Reacting to them or our coastlines in the Southeast the tides are getting higher, you know, that there are obvious risks with the climate change impacts that we will all, all face for the rest of our lives.

[00:52:43] Rob Turner: But there are opportunities in that as well. I see opportunities in that. And, you know, one, one other example is the is very analogous. The lease skill set that I have with tower leases and EV charging stations, you know, [00:53:00] where does the EV company locate their charging station on a third party’s property.

[00:53:06] Rob Turner: There are a lot of opportunities with that and with the infrastructure bill that’s our infrastructure act. Now that there are a lot of dollars flowing to the state that are then going to flow to private businesses. So as. As an attorney who’s looking for opportunities, those are some areas that both interest me and where I feel like I can you know, move my skills to it.

[00:53:27] Rob Turner: And of course the family business, the goal is to have that knock it out of the park too. And at least get a good solid triple with that too.

[00:53:34] Jonathan Hawkins: At a state? University.

[00:53:37] Rob Turner: no, I’m teaching at Seattle university.

[00:53:39] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay. So it’s private. I was going to say maybe you could check the box of working for the government. So,

[00:53:43] Rob Turner: you go. Yeah.

[00:53:44] Jonathan Hawkins: almost

[00:53:45] Rob Turner: Almost.

[00:53:46] Jonathan Hawkins: so. So, Rob, awesome. Thank you for joining me today. It’s been fun. You know, how can folks get in touch with you? Is there anything you want to plug?

[00:53:56] Jonathan Hawkins: Now’s your chance.

[00:53:57] Rob Turner: All right. Well, thank you. Thanks for the opportunity to be [00:54:00] on here in any way I can help. You know, I give freely to Jonathan Hawkins and your law firm GC. So thank you for that opportunity. If you ever want to chat with me our website is in town, legal. com. That’s pretty static. My LinkedIn feed is a lot more current and updated.

[00:54:17] Rob Turner: That’s at R H T. And then the roman numeral three. So I’m there. And then back to the family business. If any attorneys are looking to send a unique gift to your clients, I would ask that you please consider Cromer’s peanuts. And you know, we’ve got gift boxes. and gift tens and things like that, that you can send.

[00:54:38] Rob Turner: And we set up a discount code for all the listeners of the founding partners podcast, F P founding partners podcast 20 FPP 20, we’ll get you a 20 percent discount on your order. So, try it out and see if you can Have a good impression with your clients. And what’s neat about the family business, last point is its [00:55:00] slogan is guaranteed worst in town.

[00:55:02] Rob Turner: It’s negative slogan, but it’s a pretty neat story behind that. And you can find out more about that on our website. I thank you for your time. This is a really good chat.

[00:55:12] Jonathan Hawkins: Well, I love that slogan and I’ll say that we really enjoy the popcorn and other goodies you’ve sent us that’s good stuff. And the last thing I’d say is I like on LinkedIn, you’ve got some pretty unique posts that you make where you blend in some of your outdoors trail running and other activities and sort of connect it to areas and, or concepts in the law.

[00:55:33] Jonathan Hawkins: So that it’s pretty entertaining. So keep doing that. And I encourage folks to. Find, you connect, follow, whatever. So again, thanks Rob, been real fun.

[00:55:41] Rob Turner: Yeah. It’s been fun. And I would just encourage you if you’re the listeners, make the leap, be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid and comfort. Don’t sit on the sidelines 20 years down the road, a big law saying, I hate myself and I’m miserable. There are people that are fine there, but if you’ve got the [00:56:00] entrepreneurial bug, make the leap and the net will appear.

[00:56:04] Jonathan Hawkins: Well said. Thanks Rob.

[00:56:07] Rob Turner: Thanks guys. Take care. Talk to you soon.

[00:56:10] ​