Law Talk with the Flock

Law Firm Behind The Scenes With Joel Carney

July 06, 2020 Jeana Goosmann, Joel Carney Season 1 Episode 19
Law Talk with the Flock
Law Firm Behind The Scenes With Joel Carney
Chapters
Law Talk with the Flock
Law Firm Behind The Scenes With Joel Carney
Jul 06, 2020 Season 1 Episode 19
Jeana Goosmann, Joel Carney

Host Jeana Goosmann and guest Joel Carney, Goosmann Law Firm Omaha Managing Partner, talk about the American BAR Association, the Counsel for Discipline Board, and Goosmann Law Firm. In this episode you will learn: 

  1. How the BAR Association works
  2. What the Counsel For Discipline Board does
  3. How Goosmann Law Firm Responded to COVID-19

Become a flock fan and subscribe to our Podcast for weekly episodes! Learn more at www.goosmannlaw.com.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this podcast episode “episode” is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. By listening to our episode, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Goosmann Law Firm “GLF” attorneys and podcast publisher. No information contained in this episode should be construed as legal advice from GLF or the individual author, hosts, or guests, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. Please read our full Podcast Disclaimer.

Show Notes Transcript

Host Jeana Goosmann and guest Joel Carney, Goosmann Law Firm Omaha Managing Partner, talk about the American BAR Association, the Counsel for Discipline Board, and Goosmann Law Firm. In this episode you will learn: 

  1. How the BAR Association works
  2. What the Counsel For Discipline Board does
  3. How Goosmann Law Firm Responded to COVID-19

Become a flock fan and subscribe to our Podcast for weekly episodes! Learn more at www.goosmannlaw.com.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this podcast episode “episode” is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. By listening to our episode, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Goosmann Law Firm “GLF” attorneys and podcast publisher. No information contained in this episode should be construed as legal advice from GLF or the individual author, hosts, or guests, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. Please read our full Podcast Disclaimer.

Goosmann Law Firm:

Do complex legal issues hold you back? Let's get energized and bring clarity to your top legal questions. This is Law Talk with the Flock by Goosmann Law Firm.

Jeana Goosmann:

Welcome to Law Talk with the Flock! I'm your host, Jeana Goosmann, CEO, author, and business leader here to help navigate you and your way through your life and the law and how you're a business leader today in 2020. And I'm so excited to have with me, my Managing Partner, Joel Carney, who manages our Omaha operations and team. And he's just been a really key partner in the growth of Goosmann Law Firm. And Joel and I are going to talk with you a little bit today about what we've been doing at Goosmann and what we're thinking as far as how to practice law in 2020 and what the firm is up to in order to navigate these uncertain and unprecedented times that we've all been dealing with Joel, welcome to the podcast.

Joel Carney:

Hey , it's great to be here, Jeana, we've done this a few times now, but it's every time we do it, it's a little bit more natural. It feels like just something we do

Jeana Goosmann:

Well, exactly you and I talk a lot, pretty much every day, multiple times on all kinds of different issues, because there's a lot that goes into leading a law firm . Isn't there, Joel?

Joel Carney:

You couldn't make this stuff up. It's amazing. Just day to day, the things you get to deal with. It's also exciting and the client problems and c hallenges are always g oing t o be there. Managing this many people and working with a team t his size that we do there's just a lot going on and a lot of moving parts because there are a lot of m oving people we're moving a nd shaking. We are movers and shakers here.

Jeana Goosmann:

That's right. One of your favorite things that you've adopted that you say frequently is people problems are my problems. And I love that. I think that is all encompassing of what it means to be the managing partner of a law firm.

Joel Carney:

Yeah, they are, and it cuts both ways. Sometimes it's great to be the person, right. That makes those decisions, but then sometimes like, oh gosh, I have to deal with that right now. But it comes with the territory and it's what you do when you're a leader. And you know, it's why we get out of bed in the morning. Cause we're like, well, you got to go do it, let's go do it.

Jeana Goosmann:

And Joel, you're also not only a leader of the law firm, but you're a very active leader in the National Bar Association, as well as in the Nebraska Bar Association. Can you share with everyone a little bit about what are some of those roles and hats that you also wear ?

Joel Carney:

You bet. So I'm a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates. I've been doing that for a few years now. It was kind of born out of my leaderships positions and the Nebraska State Bar Association. All the way back to being a leader in the young lawyers section, until I wasn't young and kind of from that point, went into the general practice and solo smaller firms section division of the ABA. And through that, now I'm on the American Bar Association GP Solo Council. So that's the leadership division. And we meet a few times a year to talk about problems for all kinds of practitioners from small firms, peer firms, our size, and just what lawyers are seeing. A nd it's great to be in t he leadership position on all these different boards, because I get to see what's going on the c oast and as lawyers in the center of America, sometimes these trends get to us a little bit later, but we can kind of be on the front edge. Be ready for things once they get here.

Jeana Goosmann:

And I've always thought of the House of Delegates for the American Bar Association kind of like Congress, is that a similar analogy that people could relate to when you say House of Delegates? What does that mean?

Joel Carney:

Yeah, so that ABA House of Delegates is basically the policy making group of the American Bar Association. And it does feel like Congress in that it's very formal , Robert's Rules of Order , people approaching the microphone and rising for this cause or to speak against the certain bill or for a policy that the group is debating. It's fun, but it's also all kinds of people who want to know what lawyers think. And the ABA is really the leading operation that is on the forefront of all things that are affecting lawyers today. So it's fun to be part of that. I've been doing it for, like I said, going on five years now, I think. And it's been a real challenge, but also very rewarding in terms of the things I've learned about that's helped me be a better leader and a better thinker.

Jeana Goosmann:

And each state only gets so many delegates to the House of Delegates, right?

Joel Carney:

That's correct. And obviously it's very much like Congress in that regard based on population. So Nebraska has currently five delegates. So we have a young lawyer and four others that have been for various terms going from 20, 30 years down to me. I'm kind of one of the newer ones and I've been at it for five years. And then the young lawyer kind of rotates through as he or she is a member of the Young Lawyers Section in Nebraska.

Jeana Goosmann:

Well, the firm is really proud of you, Joel, for serving in that role and in that capacity and representing us in the American Bar Association. And I think that that's one of your many awesome leadership positions you have in addition, you also serve in the Nebraska Council for Discipline Board.

Joel Carney:

Yeah. I'm the Chair of the Disciplinary Review Board, which is appointed by the Supreme Court. And what we do is we serve as kind of the appellate option after their cases run through the Nebraska council for Discipline office. They make recommendations for certain action or discipline. And depending on, who's not happy with that decision, they can appeal it to my board. And we appointed a three person panel to look at the evidence, decided we agree, we affirm, or if we're going to send it back for more research, more information and more action. So yeah, that's been doing that for 13 years or so since 2013, I would say. And then also kind of related to that, I've also been doing the Nebraska Unauthorized Practice, the block commission now for work two years also pointed by the Nebraska Supreme Court. It's just like the name sounds. We deal with complaints of alleged unauthorized practice of law throughout the State of Nebraska, often the complaining parties or judges or lawyers bring those people to our attention and we deal with it. We send them a Cease and Desist or Consent Order. And they either cooperate. And if they don't cooperate, we send them to the Attorney General for some action. So it's interesting. It's amazing what people try to do. There's a lot of want to be lawyers out there or people that don't think they need a lawyer, but they do, and our rules are there to protect the public. And that's how we serve with that in mind.

Jeana Goosmann:

So with you having all these great leadership experiences with the bar, it was only natural that you lead up the firm's Internal Professional Responsibility Committee that we just formed as we've grown in size. We found that we have issues arise within the firms. So we have a committee that helps address those. So maybe share a little bit about what that is.

Joel Carney:

Yeah. So we've got a leader from each one of our communities myself here for Omaha. Barry Sackett is kind of at large cause he goes to all of our offices, but Sioux City and Sioux Falls and along with and the three of us are kind of the point people on the ground in the offices, but also the people know they've got a question or something they just want to run past our committee, they can email us. And then we meet once a month to look at those issues. And we decide if it needs more action by the firm, or if we want to get an advisory opinion from the Nebraska, Iowa or South Dakota Council for Discipline Professional Responsibilities offices, we can do that if it rises to that level. But usually, we can as a collective brain trust, kind of sit down and decide, usually it's something that doesn't require more action, but it's good for our lawyers to know that they've had kind of our little internal group look at it and say that whether it needs more attention or it's something that they can handle without formal action by escalating.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely, which is great because we take our rules very seriously and our ethics, our obligations, and want to make sure that all of our attorneys in the firm have the resources that they need to follow those rules. And there's a lot of going on there. Isn't there, Joel?

Joel Carney:

Yeah. The rules are meant to be pretty clear, but you know, unfortunately we deal with people's problems and crazy situations and scenarios, and there's not a cookie cutter rule that exists for a lot of these scenarios. So you've got to kind of really look at these things creatively from a experienced point of view, obviously the more you deal with these things, the more it kind of makes sense, and you can find a rule that can at least give you some guidance, but then invariably, there are tough decisions and tougher scenarios that we kind of, we escalate to either the Nebraska, Iowa or South Dakota folks just for more information or more guidance, because we all want to sleep well at night and it's tough being a lawyer and you know, it's tough enough just doing it and practicing it, but also when it's a gray area. You want to keep your law license. We got it . We want to make sure that everybody knows what's going on.

Jeana Goosmann:

Awesome. Well we've certainly had a bunch of new scenarios that have come up in the world of COVID-19 and dealing with a worldwide pandemic. And so with regard to that, let's talk a little bit about what we did as a law firm to help keep our team safe and our clients safe and also ethically and responsibly practice law and make sure that we were attending to things. Joel, are you back? Okay. You're on frozen. Great. Okay . I'm going to have a frozen conversation with Joel.

Joel Carney:

I was standing still, I guess.

Jeana Goosmann:

You have good dance moves. Maybe you were doing the robot.

Joel Carney:

Yeah, that's right. This is part of the repertoire. Okay .

Jeana Goosmann:

Yeah. So we were working remotely, which was great because we were able to do so quickly and have our team work remote, but then we brought everybody back on June 1. What are your thoughts on how we handled that and kind of give everybody an overview?

Joel Carney:

Yeah. Well we were lucky in that we kind of have the technology in place. Some things we hadn't had to use before, but we got the opportunity to use including Microsoft teams, which we're talking on right now. Some of the technology tools that we just had never really had to or thought to utilize like Microsoft Teams really allowed us to stay close and connected as a team and basically allowed us to collaborate as if we were in this sitting across the table , as opposed to sitting across it a screen from each other, but it really helped us. Our software was such that we could work from home. And still take care of clients timely and make sure that we were responding quickly to things that our clients had never seen. But it made it easy to act like we were meeting across the table from them and make them feel that connection to feel that they were getting the attention they needed. We have a great group of people that were on the forefront of a lot of these COVID questions about what you needed to do when it came to PPP loans and other employment issues. We had a nice kind of action team of folks. They were on the forefront. People wanted to find this and wanted to get opinions, and we could give it. Then that's why we're here, we're here to serve. And our clients obviously we're seeing new things every day and we were making sure we can go get a quick answer for them .

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. And I think that we had that taskforce to look at those new laws and get things out and put them up in our toolkit . And we're fortunate to have a marketing team that was able to help get those emails out to clients and that they had them and get it in the newsletter and posted it online. And that engine really came in handy for us during the time. I've never seen that much a law that affected business come out so quickly.

Joel Carney:

Yeah, 2020 has been the year that you can't make up. It's a truth is stranger than fiction type of year. And it's really been fun to be with such a diverse , talented team that knows so much in so many areas that it's kind of like we were really made for a situation like this, and hopefully we're getting over the hump, but you never know each day, heck could , this could be just the beginning of the next wave. So we're okay . Happy to be here and happy to serve. And I'm glad to be here on a team that's kind of on the cutting edge of a lot of these areas.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. And you've talked about remotely we're doing this remotely right now. Aren't we? So you're sitting in the Omaha office and I'm sitting up in our Sioux Falls office right now.

Joel Carney:

Yeah, it is. I mean I think what technology has opened our eyes and all of our client's eyes to the fact that you can still be very effective and connected despite to being 300 miles apart from each other or more. There's a connection that's actually, when you can look somebody in the eye here and we can smile at each other it's just not that a phone call isn't often effective, but sometimes it's really nice to be able to share your screen and show somebody a legal document and put a highlighter over it. And you know, just the technology, the visual connection is something that you can't really put a price on it. And I think it makes people feel like they are heard. That their problem is being understood and solved.

Jeana Goosmann:

And we really do work together as a team within the firm, across our three offices. And we're really conscious to make sure that we always have the right state attorney on the team. But then if there is a lawyer that has a special skill set that we think would benefit a client in a different state or in a different matter, we ensure that we partner together and bring them in and just be really collaborative in that regard, which I think is unique to Goosmann.

Joel Carney:

It's good for everybody, right? I mean, we all want the superstar, the superstar team we always call it. Let's assemble the Avengers, but you know, you don't, you want to send the right superstars, right? Talent group to tackle that specific problem because you know, our estate planning lawyers don't want to go to deal with bankruptcy matters. Although there's so much overlap and the business centric type of law that we do. It's nice to be able to see things through another practitioner's eyes and their expertise.

Jeana Goosmann:

And I know that's another thing that you and I spend a lot of our time doing is making sure we do have the right team on the matters and coordinating people within the team to make sure that not everybody might know that this attorney at our office, they were a FinTech lawyer and they have this deep knowledge of experience. And so then when a matter comes up, you and I can say, oh, we should put that particular attorney with that FinTech background on this contractor on this deal. And so just getting the right team assembled and all the moving parts, is it big role for the managing partner?

Joel Carney:

It definitely is. And we also know like we're always looking for, we've been growing since we met, you know, I mean, this firm has been the rocket ship that we keep on adding to our practice areas and I think it's allowed us to be also strategic and the folks that we've kind of wanted to go recruit and bring into the firm and bring onto the team. We're always thinking about that. That's always kind of changing, and I'm growing based on what we're seeing as far as trends and what the needs are for our clients and our firm. And so that's allowed us to kind of grow the group strategically and the practice areas that make the most sense for what our clients need today. And hopefully tomorrow.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. You talked about recruiting. You've been one of our top recruiters, Joel, obviously growing the whole Omaha office and beyond. When we talk to attorneys about what makes Goosmann different , what are some of the main things that you discuss with them?

Joel Carney:

You know, the first thing I always says is that we do run this like a business. I'm not to say that, I mean, all firms run as a business, but some don't run on business principles. I think we really think of it from things that they don't teach us in law school. We think about it and run it like a fortune 500 company. We stay in connection. We don't just have by monthly partner meetings, we talk all the time. We set goals., We follow up on goals, we meet one on one. We want to understand all of our folks and we don't want to just say two months from now, how'd that go? We know we're all in it as we go. And I think that it was really the fact that we're so connected, so in touch , and we also have weekly, what we call our Kick Ass Accomplishments. You know, it's basically a synopsis of what people did this week and what they're going to do next week. That's a unique communication tool that allows us to really be in tune with each other and our clients and what's going on. We've grown so big. You might see something on somebody's weekly synopsis that they didn't know that we have a FinTech expertise since suit balls or something like that. And we'd be like, hey, wouldn't you like some more help over here. It just allows us to kind of move on the fly, a pivot when needed and or when it's appropriate to kind of anticipate those client's needs. So I think that's why I say we're different now . Obviously the other things that we see in terms of marketing you're going to find us, you're going to see us, but we're also, we grow business organically from a grassroots level because we do good work. That's going to happen naturally, but we also are at the forefront . I think we're probably in the top, whatever percent of the world in terms of marketing strategically. Gtting the right message to the right people. We've listened to what lawyers want to do because we're, strength-based , we want them to work in their strengths zones. So we build a marketing plan around that business plan that lets that lawyer grow into that and all of a sudden they're like, man, I said it and you helped me get there. I think I know that we've talked about it. I know that's very gratifying to you and that's the kind of thing that makes it worth it to all of us.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. When we can help both our clients and then internally our team grow and accomplish their goals. I think that's, to me, the most gratifying component of the whole firm is what makes it worth it. And we just, we have different testimonials about that from people that come up in unique ways. I know just recently we had our all team meeting and one of our lawyers shared on how we gave him a chance to do something that really was meaningful to him. And I credited the firm to help him grow in that regard. And I never thought that way, right. To me, I was recruiting an outstanding, talented attorney and he was saying, I gave him a chance. And so that is really exciting when you get to help people accomplish their dreams and work as a team to get there. For sure. Yeah. I think people grow here as professionals. Um, obviously all lawyers get continuing legal education, but we give them some kind of a marketing push, a mindset, a wellness mindset.

Joel Carney:

Yeah . It puts them in a place where they can be their best version of themselves and the best lawyer they can be. That's what is pretty great at the end of the day or the end of each year to kind of see the growth t hat all of our folks do or have gone through in terms of t he growing their legal practice, their capability and finding out how great they can be.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. Well, Joel , thank you so much for half an hour before we go. Anything that you want to say about the ethical practice of law right now? Cause I know you just did another webinar on that and you're kind of the foremost speaker.

Joel Carney:

So I do want to touch upon that a little bit more, you know, I think it's just making sure you're staying up with the current challenges. In terms of protecting your clients , data is a big ethical concern right now because the scammers are after everybody more than ever because they're not going to waste a good crisis this because everybody's not quite where they would be normally there more apt to click on something that they shouldn't. I think right now is what I'm seeing is some of our older lawyers are not tech savvy lawyers, make sure you're relying on somebody that is that person that does know their way around and making sure that you've got your computer updated, all the patches installed because there's a new patch every week. And if your computer is stuck, you're just a sitting duck. It's just, unfortunately, the way of the world right now. So I think that's the biggest thing. Yeah. We're going to be using more technology, but if you don't understand it, associate yourself with somebody who does and you'llgo far and make sure that you go a long way towards putting yourself out there where you don't want to be, which is, where you either get hacked, you lose c lients data and you have to call a nd make that call to the c lient saying, sorry we've lost some data and that's a call nobody wants to make.

Jeana Goosmann:

Absolutely. And I think that is a risk that everyday changes. Right. I know just yesterday I got one that I thought looked really clever. It was an invitation to a zoom meeting and we're doing so many Skype and zoom and team meetings. It's not uncommon to get an invitation like that. And then I looked at it a little closer. I'm like, well, that doesn't look like a email address, especially when you're on your phone. Right. And we work from our phones so much that those email addresses look hidden behind there. And it can be so easy to click on something that you shouldn't. And I know that's part of why we've started doing penetration testing too , within our team where our IT team sends out bogus emails to the team just to make sure they're staying on it. And then they get the phone call from me saying why'd you click on that. You shouldn't be clicking on it. And then that escalates, do you know who that is? Yes . And then in their one on one we can be like, so you could have done that.

Joel Carney:

Yeah. Yeah. A little bit of shaming across the tables, always effective. And to make them think twice before they click it next time. Yeah. It's important. You know we've all had these business continuity plans, certain disasters that we thought, you know, if we had a fire, or tornado , or this is kind of the COVID disaster that our business continuity plans didn't maybe anticipate that a penetration test. Going through your call list, making sure that everybody's still connected. That we have a snapshot of what files that every lawyer has in the backup, or if that person is down for a couple of weeks or can't come to the office or can't practice law, we've got somebody in the wings that can swoop in and pick up and we know where everything's at. So we've kind of got a backup plan in that regard. So these are all things that are okay. They were somewhat theoretical before, but we're kind of living it right now and having to make sure that these plans are in place and now that they contemplate new things, we never thought were possible.

Jeana Goosmann:

And some of that has also led us to having discussions on succession planning for some of the older attorneys or with smaller firms that perhaps they don't want to take on these new tech challenges. And so they're looking for other options to phase out of their career and we've loved having those discussions with them. And I think that those will be more to come.

Joel Carney:

Yeah. I think that's going to be a growth area. Our firm has successfully brought in some older lawyers who had obviously been very successful solo practitioners, but as they have gotten more senior in their careers, they've been looking for options. We've kind of got a few people that can talk to that success and that basically seamless transition. They were able to make into our office and make their practice fly, but also have somebody to take the reins over to when they decide, I'm going to walk into the sunset. I've got somebody to take over my practice. And so that's been a nice option and I think a huge growth potential for us in the future just because we do it right.

Jeana Goosmann:

Awesome. Well, thanks, Joel. I absolutely love working with you, and I appreciate you sharing your insights with everyone. And this was a little bit of us just giving a sneak peek into some of the things that we get to talk about on a regular basis.

Joel Carney:

It is. Yeah. We call this, you know , Tuesday or Wednesday every week, we talk often in the same way and it's, it's kinda nice to , you know, share a little bit of , by the way we talk and the way we think about things, but , uh , I'm sure we'll do it again very soon. It's always fun to talk. And obviously you're , you're full of great ideas and processes systems that we've been able to make this thing just work. And make it a nice place to work. And that's the goal. That's what we want people to feel every day .

Jeana Goosmann:

Awesome. Well, thanks for tuning in and listening to us and go make it worth it.

Goosmann Law Firm:

Thanks for joining us for Law Talk with the Flock by Goosmann Law Firm. We hope you feel energized and ready to soar past your goals. Become a flock fan and subscribe to our podcast for weekly episodes. Learn more at goosmannlawfirm.com.