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The Value of Running a Law Firm Like a Business With Jenni Brown

The Value of Running a Law Firm Like a Business With Jenni Brown

October 4, 2023   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Jenni Brown Jenni BrownJenni Brown is the Founding Partner of Brown Dutton & Crider Family Law Firm, a leading practice focused on family-related legal matters. Jenni has 11 years of litigation experience and specializes in divorce, modifications, and custody cases. She was nominated as a Georgia Super Lawyer for three consecutive years — an honor given to less than 2.5% of attorneys in the state — and Georgia’s Trend Legal Elite nominated her in 2018-2020 due to her expertise and dedication to the field. Jenni is an active member of the Cobb Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jenni Brown shares what Brown Dutton & Crider Family Law Firm specializes in
  • What makes Brown Dutton & Crider unique?
  • The catalyst for Jenni’s interest in family law
  • How did Brown Dutton & Crider come to fruition?
  • Why it’s crucial to run a law firm as a business rather than a traditional law firm
  • Providing exceptional client experiences in service industries
  • How Jenni and her team leverage social media to build relationships with clientele
  • The impact mentors have on emerging entrepreneurs

In this episode…

Law firms traditionally centered on legal expertise often overlook the advantages of embracing business principles. Could a business-driven approach be the key to a firm’s success? According to Jenni Brown, a seasoned family lawyer and founding partner, infusing business strategies into the legal domain has been a game-changer for her firm. Her firsthand experience illustrates how blending these two worlds enhances client relationships and boosts overall performance. In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen is joined by Jenni Brown, Founding Partner at Brown Dutton & Crider Family Law Firm, to talk about the value of running a law firm with a business-driven approach. Jenni discusses the significance of adopting a business mindset from the outset, the pivotal role coaching played in their early success, and how a client-centric strategy can enrich client experiences, differentiating a firm in today’s crowded legal field.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01   You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t. Chad Franzen  0:12   Hi, Chad Franzen here one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Jenni Brown has more than 11 years of litigation experience specializing in divorce modifications, custody cases and other family related law matters. She has a certificate specializing in family law and was nominated as a Georgia Super Lawyer in 2017, 2018, and 2019. That’s an accolade awarded to fewer than 2.5% of the lawyers in the state of Georgia. Additionally, in 2018, 2019, and 20. She was nominated by Georgia’s trend legal elite. She is a natural leader and clients describe her as compassionate, competent and aggressive when necessary. Hey, Jenni, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you? Jenni Brown  1:24   I’m great. Thanks for having me. Chad Franzen  1:26   Yeah, great to have you. Hey, so you are a partner at Brown Dutton & Crider. Tell me a little bit more about that firm and what you guys specialize in? Jenni Brown  1:36   Sure, yes, I am the Founding Partner of Brown Dutton & Crider Law Firm. We are in Marietta, Georgia. But we practice all around the metro Atlanta area. We focus primarily on family law cases, which encompass divorce modifications, custody cases, temporary protective orders, contempt cases, and then we do handle some criminal cases. Typically, when the criminal cases go hand in hand with the family law cases it might be Assault or Battery DUI stuff like that. Chad Franzen  2:07   What would you say separates Brown Dutton & Crider from other firms, other firms for similar serving a similar sector, or makes it unique, what would you say makes the firm unique? Jenni Brown  2:20   I would say as far as our office, our our culture, we have people who really love what they do and love to work in this area of the law. As far as our client experience, I think it is the ability to actually know the client, they don’t feel just like another person that’s going through a divorce, when they call our office, it doesn’t matter if they’re talking to me to our partner, you know, to their paralegal or the receptionist, the receptionist is going to be familiar with them. And when they’re going through such a scary situation, that’s really important for people and our ability to communicate with them and just let them know what’s coming next, what’s going to happen in this process, because it’s such an unknown area in your life. Chad Franzen  3:08   How and when did you know you wanted to become an attorney? Jenni Brown  3:13   That’s a really good question. So when I was in fifth grade, my parents went through a terrible divorce. And I am the only girl I have five brothers. And I knew way more than I should have known as a child. And so I’ve always had this ability to see a case and a situation from both parties perspectives. And I think it’s because I had to live it. And when I was with my mom, she had a very different perspective on why they were going through a divorce why we were in the situation we were in. And when I was with my dad, he had a very different perspective. So as a child, I really learned to live that and to navigate that reality. And I realized what a huge tool this is, as an adult is to be able to see a situation from both sides and to be able to try to help somebody resolve whatever situation they’re in. And family law is really the unique type of law that you get to do that continually. Because if you’re a criminal defense attorney, like you’re helping that person get out of trouble, right, you’re you’re representing that person, but really in family law. Yes, we’re advocating for a client, but ultimately, we’re advocating for a family unit and how do we help these people get past their situation and into a new reality where they’re not going to need us day in and day out? Because the reality is, they’re going to have to parent with each other a long time afterwards in the case, and I think I just realized that I had that gift. And then I figured out how can that gift benefit me as as an adult. Chad Franzen  4:46   Sure. So I’m just like as an attorney, you know, you have to come up with an argument for one side. I guess you have the ability to argue against yourself and therefore coming up with the best argument possible. Jenni Brown  4:57   Yes, yep. And I always try to do that right like what are the holes in our argument? And what are they going to do? And how can we present a story different to the judge, and I’m mediate cases as well. So it really helps me because as I also get to be the neutral, I get to go from one side to the other and talk about that and, and actually be able to help people understand the other side’s perspective to get their case resolved between them. Chad Franzen  5:24   How did you get started in the legal industry? Jenni Brown  5:28   So I actually worked for Fox Sports for a little bit after law after college, and I was thought about doing legal correspondence. And I’ve gotten back into that actually, I do some correspondence work with poor TV again now. But after college, I was like, what’s the next step for me? And at that point, I was working for Fox Sports. And I really realized how can I use this gift that I had, and it was to go into law. So I went to law school in Florida, and I worked for a family law firm through law school, I have always had to work, I was never, I never had the ability to have parents that could pay for my education and not have to work. So I’ve always held a full time job and, and working. And so I did that through law school, I worked as a bartender and also as a law clerk. And I worked at a firm that did family law and death row appeals, which are very interesting mix of cases. But I really just connected with the family law. And I was like, you know, this is it. This is where I’m supposed to be. And this is what I’m supposed to do. Chad Franzen  6:37   What made that particularly appealing to you, as opposed to, you know, other kinds of law, like the other one you were exposed to there? Jenni Brown  6:45   Well, I don’t have the attention span for death row appeals, because so much of it is the legal research and sitting down and and you’re not you’re not interacting with people at that point. You know, you’re reading what happened at a trial court level, and you are making arguments on why, you know, what legal loophole should let this person out of their situation. And I really wanted to work with people, I really wanted to make a difference and felt like I made a difference in individual lives and that so much as a lot more possible and family law than than other areas because you’re you see people at their worst, and you get to help people through that to a much better point in their life. Chad Franzen  7:24   What did you do for Fox Sports? Jenni Brown  7:27   My job was to go and interview players and coaches after a game. So we would usually go to like Longhorns football games or basketball games and would interview the coaches or the staff right after the game and ask them about you know, how they felt about it, or particular plays or, or whatever. Chad Franzen  7:46   That is a job that a lot of people would love to have. What made law school and then becoming an attorney so much more appealing than that? Jenni Brown  7:57   You know, it, it was fun. But again, you’re not really helping people. It’s a fun job. It’s especially a job to have immediately after college. But I was thinking about what am I going to do long term for my career? And how am I going to make a successful life for myself? And I saw many more possibilities in law school versus trying that. Chad Franzen  8:22   Sure. How did your firm come about that Brown Dutton & Crider? Jenni Brown  8:26   We have a really interesting story. So I work at some of the bigger family law firms in Atlanta, when I started. I worked at one particular firm for five years. And it was great. It was a firm that is well known for numerous people coming in and out of the firm. And I have always really believed that you have to be a sponge and you soak up the good and you soak up the bad of wherever you are. And I was there for five years. And I learned so much. And what I ended up doing is I then went to a different big law firm downtown Atlanta, which was so different from where I had worked at for five years previously. And I soaked up everything I learned there for another year. And I learned very different things, but really important things that both of those firms. So then what happened is my brother actually graduate graduated from Vanderbilt law school, and he wanted to start his own law firm. And I had had my second child and I’m like, You know what, I’m gonna I’m gonna leave family law. I’m gonna go and help you start a law firm and it was a business immigration law firm. And we built his law firm from me and him two employees to and my sister in law three, I guess three employees to over 20 employees and a period of 24 months. And during that 24 month period when we were building up that practice, I just kept turning away family law referrals from prior clients from all over the years and I all that business opportunity. And at that point, my brother was fully up and he was running his law firm. It was very, you know, it’s very professional, and it’s profitable. And so my best friend who is Lance Dutton, my partner, and I met, and we talked about it, and I’m like, Look, I just keep turning the wrong way, these cases and family laws what I’m supposed to do. So we ended up coming back, and my brother took over the company at the other family law firm the business or not the family, the business immigration firm. And Lance and I opened up shop in 2020. Chad Franzen  10:33   Okay, great. I just talked to somebody who said, you know, he was a good seasoned lawyer and knew what he was doing. And then he opened up his own firm and kind of it was a bit of a debacle and a disaster. It doesn’t sound like that was the case for you? Jenni Brown  10:47   No, it wasn’t we did great with my with my brother and kind of the foundation that we were building there, we immediately got coaches to help us figure out what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong? And I think the most important thing is we really run it as a business and not as a law firm. And that has helped us leaps and bounds and compare comparison to our competition. Chad Franzen  11:15   What would you say, you know, is an example of that? Jenni Brown  11:22   There’s a few examples. When I’m training our staff, I always talk about Chick-Fil-A. And I’m like, why do people go back? Why do people go back to Chipotle? They go back to Chick-Fil-A, because the experience and the service that you get there, and people are going to Chick-Fil- A for a chicken sandwich, right? They’re coming to us for a life crisis. So we need to be Chick-Fil-A on steroids, right? We want to make this client feel every client feel like they’re they are our only client? And how can we do that? How can we provide them that service? How can we provide them that comfort, so that starts at our receptionist that ends at you know, our the person who closes their file and everybody in between? So I think a lot of it is we talk about client satisfaction. We also talk about, you know, our marketing and our strategy and our brand and making sure that across all platforms that we are sending that same message, we are here for you, and we want to walk through this process with you. And we’re really big on education on educating our clients on what’s next in the process. And and then being involved in the community has been huge for us as well. Chad Franzen  12:37   Are there some moments or or milestones in your journey as a firm so far, that you’re particularly proud of or that are particularly memorable? Jenni Brown  12:47   I mean, there’s always going to be huge, memorable cases, right? When we get a client. I have a client that’s mine, probably my all time favorite client, a dad that didn’t he was kept from his child for 18 months for no reason at all. Um, he fought numerous false allegations. So there’s those personal wins of getting that dad that opportunity to meet with his with his kids and reuniting that. But as far as our firm, you know, I think it’s huge that every quarter and annual goal that we’ve set as a firm we’ve met for as far as our revenue goes. And so what we do is we try to incentivize our staff, just like other companies do. So we have an annual goal that if we meet, we take our entire staff on the on a weekend, a two week, a two night trip. And our last our very first trip was last year, and we went to Mexico. And so for two nights, it took our entire 10 people, our staff. So this year, we’re all working together to do that again, and we’re looking at you know, we’re gonna either take them to Jamaica or to St Lucia or possibly another place in Mexico, but the ability to work together for the entire year and realize that it takes every single person to do that, but then to look forward to those big events as a team. Chad Franzen  14:10   I have one more question for you. But first, how can people find out more about Brown Dutton & Crider? Jenni Brown  14:18   So you can follow us online. Our website is gafamilylawyers.com Most of our hashtags or are no what are they called? The app? What’s that called? Not the hashtag. Handles. Yeah, our handles? Yeah, it’s like nothing more are @familylawga we’ve built up a really we’ve got about 90,000 followers on Tiktok so you can find us there. Instagram we’ve added a lot of followers there YouTube. We are all over the web. So you can Google me personally you’ll find us or gafamilylawyers or Brown Dutton & Crider. Chad Franzen  14:54   What kinds of things does a law firm do on Tiktok? Jenni Brown  15:00   Well, we do, I do all kinds of videos. So what I’ve really set up is all getting in the morning, and I’ll do 10 minutes of short videos. And then I will give them somebody on my staff to edit, but I just do really informational videos, something that people are going to want to know, I’ll do little tidbits about the law, and break it up in different videos so that they can be more content. Or if there’s anything going on in the news that relates to family law, I’ll talk about that and how our laws differ. Or maybe our laws are the exact same. And then of course, we find some comic relief in there too. If there’s a funny noise at you know, an audio clip going around that I can relate to family law or anything like that I’ll have I’ll tie that into because it’s huge ly important that if a client feels like they know you, before they meet you, they’re far more likely to hire you. And so what I try to do is make sure I’m putting out that content so that by the time the client walks in our door, they think they already know us, and that they are already comfortable with us and they’re far more likely then to hire us. Chad Franzen  16:03   Okay, yeah, very nice. Hey, last question. This is my last question. How valuable was it to hire a coach? You mentioned that you guys did that? Why did you guys think it was important? And how valuable was that and kind of starting things up? Jenni Brown  16:24   I think it’s hugely important. I think if you look at studies, the most successful people always have a coach or a mentor or someone else to be able to talk to, I think so often, we get entrenched in our own stuff that you can’t see, whatever you need to do from the outside. And it’s even when you have business partners, I have two wonderful partners. But we all have the same aligned interest. And so to be able to talk to someone outside about a situation and then have that person say, you know, like this situation is coming up a lot. Do you think there could be another problem, and to be able to problem solve and give you better ideas has been really important and really valuable for us. Chad Franzen  17:06   Okay, awesome. Hey, Jenni has been great to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time and for all of your insights. I really appreciate it. Jenni Brown  17:12   Of course. Great to talk to you too. Chad Franzen  17:14   So long, everybody. Outro  17:17   Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe, and we’ll see you next time.

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