Justin was born and raised in a small town in North Texas. After Texas A&M and Baylor Law School, he relocated to San Antonio to practice law. He has focused exclusively in the areas of plaintiff's personal injury litigation. Outside of work, he runs a successful podcast about San Antonio and practices beekeeping.
- CEO Hack: I am close with my staff
- CEO Nugget: Keep your overhead low in your businesses
- CEO Defined: Setting good examples
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Justin Hill of Hill Law Firm. Justin, It's awesome to have you on the show.
Justin Hill 0:38
Hey, man, thanks for having me.
Gresham Harkless 0:40
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Justin so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Justin was born and raised in a small town in North Texas. After Texas A&M and Baylor Law School, he relocated to San Antonio to practice law. He has focused exclusively in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury litigation. Outside of work, he runs a successful podcast about San Antonio and practices beekeeping.Justin Are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?
Justin Hill 1:09
Gresham Harkless 1:10
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So to kick everything off, I just wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and take us through what I call your CEO story when I started with your podcast, your business and of course your beekeeping.
Justin Hill 1:22
what those are three very distinct things.
Gresham Harkless 1:25
Justin Hill 1:26
I mean, so as it relates to my business, I started straight at a loss with one of the biggest personal injury law firms in the United States. I cold called the guy I wanted to work for him. He had never hired anybody straight out of law school. And I've always kind of lived with that idea of the worst he can say is no, he hired me as the first kid straight out of law school, I got just incredible experience that nobody my age was getting at that time. I left there after about six years, I wanted to kind of trauma, my hand doing it a little different, scaling it out a little different. And then five years ago, I started my own law firm. And you know, I've told everybody, it's it's hard work and a little bit of luck. And you know, I thought I had that on my side. And so here we are.
Gresham Harkless 2:09
Nice, absolutely love that. And I know that a kind of being able to kind of build your business and kind of see that you kind of have to have that mentality of the worst thing they can say is no, because a lot of times you just have to go for it and see what happens.
Justin Hill 2:21
Gresham Harkless 2:22
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So could you take us a little through through a little bit more about your practice and what exactly you do and how you serve the clients you work with?
Justin Hill 2:28
Sure. So we're a personal injury law firm. I mean, anywhere in America, there are personal injury law firms, it's a very uniquely American thing that we have decided that we're not going to let people with powdered wigs or bureaucrats decide what somebody's losses worth, we let juries decide. So I work in the area of representing injured people against almost exclusively corporations and insurance companies. And you know, that means we track cases to juries, and we ask juries to put numbers on really hard to quantify things. We have a little bit of a niche practice in a few ways in that we handle a lot of stuff that other firms won't. We have a big docket of sexual assault cases, some against churches and other big entities. Kind of some random, you know, the normal what you see about personal injury lawyers, car wrecks, and 18 wheelers, a lot of on the job work. And I've actually handled a few cases representing Eunice a polities or counties suing polluters, but it's a little bit different. Um, but I really like what I do. And I think we can provide a different quality of work. And we're pretty much San Antonio based, but we do stuff all over the state of Texas.
Gresham Harkless 3:36
Nice. I absolutely love that. And it was there. Was there anything that made you are kind of focused or drove you to kind of niche down on those specific aspects or that just something that emerged throughout the business?
Justin Hill 3:47
You know, everybody's fighting for the same sort of piece of the pie, it seems like, and I've realized that there is a lot of things that everybody misses. So you know, I've been referred cases, because a lawyer will call me and say, hey, you're the one that will take these weird cases. And we have done really well with some of those cases that nobody else would take. And so it really hasn't been that I've tried to focus on a niche, I've almost become a niche of we get referred cases and sent cases that nobody else will take. So there are cases that I find value in, I look at the client and tell him I go to fight for him, because I think we have a really valuable, viable claim. And usually when I take them I'm right. And, you know, to some extent, this has to do with a lot of lawyers not wanting to have to learn something new and me really enjoying learning new things.
Gresham Harkless 4:32
Yeah, absolutely. And I think again, kind of going back to that entrepreneurial age I feel like that's at the heart of it and that curiosity the desire to kind of try and to see and obviously you can have a lot of you know, great success with your clients and you find like your your podcast as that kind of go in and delve into you getting your footprint in San Antonio area, even though I know you you started the greater Texas area.
Justin Hill 4:55
Yeah, no, I think that's a great point because I you know, to some extent, I've been thinking how's it Everything going to go when people just start talking to their their Alexa on the counter and saying, Alexa, find me an injury lawyer or Alexa, find me a restaurant, people are either going to be ahead of that or they're not I have a weird passion for this city. I love San Antonio, I have met some fascinating people. And I thought what a better way to brand my law firm and myself when they start asking Alexa to get them a lawyer than to share my love of the city through a podcast. So when the shutdown happened, I found myself with a little bit of idle time, and I took advantage and our podcast is, you know, we've had the mayor of San Antonio on and health professionals and musicians and athletes and artists. So we're trying to have a big broad range of San Antonio to expose people to it, because they really want that here. Um, and I think I'm, I'm a pretty good person to tell that story.
Gresham Harkless 5:46
Yeah, absolutely love that he kind of get that opportunity to be the kind of podcast mayor of the location to know about all the things that are going on. In addition to having the mayor on there, it gives you that opportunity to kind of be that person that go to person, I've always felt like, you know, having that opportunity to do content is a great way to do that.
Justin Hill 6:04
And Santa has kind of been a slow adopter on technology. So if I was doing this in Austin, like you and I were talking about the city of Austin right before this, you know, I would be the fifth person to do this, probably. But San Antonio is kind of a, we are our own pace, we do things a little bit slower. And so, you know, we're kind of the first San Antonio based podcast that is trying to tell stories about the people and the places and the backstories of San Antonio.
Gresham Harkless 6:29
Yeah, I say, yeah, absolutely love that you get that definitely get that first mover's advantage. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce, and this could be for you personally, or your business or a combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
Justin Hill 6:44
We have like an almost laser, intense focus on our cases. So we don't treat cases like a mill. I think a lot of lawyers have created processes that run their firm, we probably aren't the most efficient because of that. But at the end of the day, I've always thought and what put me into this was my own family story and sort of scenes, a family go through tragedy. And I've just always thought that I do not want ever be a lawyer that treat my clients like a widget. So maybe sometimes it's a little less efficient. But I think it leads to clients who feel like they got a real advocate in a scary situation. And I think it leads to better results. So we say we're a boutique personal injury law firm. And to me, that means that we're intensely laser focused on our clients, we are very big on communication with our clients, we do not take a big docket of cases. So we have a small docket. Everybody's fully staffed, our cases are fully worked. And our clients are always informed about what's going on.
Gresham Harkless 7:41
Nice, absolutely love that and appreciate that. And I think so many times I'll say that, when we look at business, when we look at entrepreneurship, we sometimes get into the numbers, we can get into the wages and things that were being created. But that people aspect is huge. And I think that as you kind of spoke to the service that you provide for your clients, when we lose sight of that to me, you lose sight of the business. So to really understand the nuances of especially, you know, in the legal industry of you know, the frustrations, the fear, probably the excitement, all those go kind of go up and down around around, but to be attuned to that and actually treat that and care for that and serve that is something that's huge.
Justin Hill 8:16
Yeah, and I think it's unfortunate in the legal industry that too many of the firms that are big players have created a situation where it feels like clients are widget, and they are a number and there is a way to move those cases efficiently. And everything kind of has a set value in those firms and in our firms. I always tell the clients from the get go cases, what a jury says it's worth or what you finally tell me to take. So we don't go into this telling them, hey, we've done this a million times, we've got an idea of what your case is worth, we tell them we're going to get your case ready for trial. And that's going to make the other side give us our best offer.
Gresham Harkless 8:52
Yeah, and I absolutely love that because you kind of spoke on that in the beginning, because I think he said unquantifiable. Sometimes decisions that people the jury, you know, has to make on these situations. And again, you know, losing sight of the human aspect, understanding that it's really sometimes honestly hard to quantify those things, even if you have, you know, 100,000 cases, because you have that human aspect. So I appreciate your you and your firm kind of focusing on that.
Justin Hill 9:15
Yeah, there's so many certainties in our world that if anybody steps up and tells the client, I know what your case is worth, they don't know what they're doing.
Gresham Harkless 9:22
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely
Justin Hill 9:24
Gresham Harkless 9:25
Yeah. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a co hack. So this could be like an APA book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective, efficient?
Justin Hill 9:38
Ooh, what makes me more effective and efficient. You know, I'm very, very close with my staff, close to the extent of you know, we celebrate birthdays, we text on the weekends. You know, I get to know them personally, they get to know me personally, because I think it's really important at the end of the day, and to be fair, I have a small staff and I have a small office. But I think at the end of the day, it's a very different experience working with people that share your passion because they're your friend, and they know how important it is to you. And working with people to think they're stamping a widget out every day. So I know some people on HR world would say, That's not good, but it served me well. And I'm gonna keep doing it. And I think my staff appreciates it. My clients appreciate it. And I can tell you, I appreciate it makes me better.
Gresham Harkless 10:24
Yeah, absolutely. It's so funny that, you know, as we transition, we talked about, you know, having that human aspect with clients, but I think sometimes we forget that the people that work with us, sometimes are extensions of us. And you know, we have to kind of March the beat of that drum. And to have that caring, and connection in that relationship with the people that you work with that are on your team extends into the quality, and the connection that you have with your clients. So it's kind of, we kind of forget it, it starts with us.
Justin Hill 10:50
Yeah, and and our staff is the first stop for anybody come in the office, whether it's the FedEx guy, or a lady who just lost a family member, and how they are treated is going to be a reflection on me, and my farm. So it's, it's anybody that who thinks that staff are replaceable, and that you're the guy who runs the show, and you're the only one that's a replaceable, I think they just missed the boat on all this added value you can have by surrounding yourself with good people.
Gresham Harkless 11:17
Yeah, and I think, at the end of the day, sometimes we forget why we're doing what we're doing. And you know, having an impact on the people you work with having an impact, obviously, on the clients we work with, when we have that widget mentality, as you kind of spoke to earlier, we kind of lose sight of that. And one of the quotes that I always remember is people don't care how much you know, so they know how much you care. And when they know that then that starts to extend and everything.
Justin Hill 11:39
I think that's right. And you know, I was I was joke whenever, I mean, I still get pissed off. And I still get angry when I don't think my clients are treated fair. And when that goes away, it's time for me to stop doing this. And that's my barometer.
Gresham Harkless 11:51
Yeah, there you go, you hang up your jersey, so to speak, and then retire. That's right. So now I would have asked you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, and might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.
Justin Hill 12:09
My, I get calls from a lot of young lawyers who are trying to start a law firm who want to do their own thing. And my always go to with them is keep your overhead low. So we are in a very big cash flow heavy business. I mean, you you live and die by cash flow in an industry like mine, where we have to fund our cases and wait for the cases to resolve. So I'm real big on keeping your overhead low. And you know, flash doesn't get you very far. But having a sustainable business that becomes profitable, that will get you a lot further for a lot longer.
Gresham Harkless 12:41
Yeah, and so that's a huge thing. I feel like obviously in the legal industry as you spoke on, but I think in most industries, that sometimes we can, a lot of people will invest in a flash invest in the things that are the bells and whistles, but not take care of that foundation. And that foundation that we kind of talked about, you know, is really caring for people is showcasing that being in quality, because that's the service that they're looking for. And when you lose sight of that, and you invest in the bells and whistles, a lot of times, you know, the the house of cars can come crashing down.
Justin Hill 13:10
That's right, I you know, the bells and whistles to me really are never an investment. Either they're or they're flashing their show, often. When I was a young lawyer, and I'd had a good year or two, I reached out to an older lawyer I respected and thought real highly of and I asked him I said, Well, you know, what do you do? Just try to set up your retirement, things like that. And he said, you know, invest in your business, like if you think you're a good asset, if you think you're gonna be profitable, put your money back into your business. And so that's kind of what I've done.
Gresham Harkless 13:34
Absolutely, it's, it's a great thing to do. And when you are confident in the service that you provided, you can invest in that and provide so many valuable interactions and opportunities. And so I wanted to ask you now for my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different, quote unquote, CEOs on this show. So Justin, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Justin Hill 13:58
You know, honestly, to me, it means set a good example. I don't really think I've got any great shakes, I legally can practice law. And I think I'm pretty good at it. Because I think I care about it. I'm a be a good example. And, and that is everything. I try to work hard. And if my staffs working hard, I do this time, if they're staying late, I do the same. And that kind of permeates everything. They hear how you talk to clients, they hear how you talk to co counsel. And you know, if you set a good example, then your whole business is going to be what you've said.
Gresham Harkless 14:30
Absolutely. And I think so many times we forget that the the culture and how we even see the world and what we see in the world a lot of times starts with us. And if we want to see something in the world, we have to see it and act on it within ourselves. And sometimes we forget and gloss over that that important factor.
Justin Hill 14:47
That's right. Yep, that's right. And, you know, I loved the fact that I've had staff members who and co counsel and lawyers and people that have interned with me, who feel comfortable enough to give me advice as well and say, you know, you did that Or did you really need to tell that guy this thing? And, you know, it's, it's, it's touchy, I think when people are talking to their boss and giving them advice, but it's been really invaluable to me.
Gresham Harkless 15:10
Yeah. But again, going back to that culture, I think it all depends on that culture that you create, because so many times people can bite people's head off, you know, when you hear that from somebody working with, but I think if you have the mentality that you always want to try to improve and get better, then you welcome that and probably even encouraged that so that you can kind of take things to the next level.
Justin Hill 15:29
Oh, that's right. That's right. And that's what we try to do here.
Gresham Harkless 15:31
Nice. Well, I absolutely appreciate that I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is passionate, that mic so to speak, just see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you subscribe to the podcast and hear about all the awesome things that you're working on.
Justin Hill 15:46
Well, I mean, if I get a chance, I want people to inform themselves about what type of work we do, I think we have been given a bad name by insurance companies who spend millions of dollars trying to downplay the work that we do. But when you put on your seatbelt, or you have an airbag in your car, or your tires don't fall apart while you're driving down the road, I want I hope your listeners understand that, that we serve a really valuable purpose in our community and our society. Because Europe in some of those, they let the government you know, regulate safe products. And in America, we've decided we're going to let 12 jurors do it. So we help uphold the Seventh Amendment. And I hope people will understand that or at least try to educate themselves. If you want to know more about our law firm websites, jahlawfirm.com And if you want to reach out to me, it's firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gresham Harkless 16:39
Awesome, awesome, awesome, we will definitely have the links and information in the show notes. And I definitely you know, appreciate all the work you do, obviously the time that you spend with us today. But I think so many times when those unfortunate situations happen to you, you don't know where to turn. And I appreciate you for you know, fighting for those clients final for those people that feel like they don't have anywhere to turn or sometimes even feel hopeless. And I think it's so important, because, you know, it just makes the world a better place and hopefully those products safer. And just everything everybody more conscious about that human aspect.
Justin Hill 17:07
I hope I hope so. And I think so. So I appreciate your time and let me talk with you.
Gresham Harkless 17:12
Absolutely Have a great rest of the day.
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