Earning 7 Figures a Year Serving Lower Income Families by Delivering Unbundled Legal Services
Welcome to the Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Podcast. Below is the transcription of this episode from our Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Podcast. You can listen to the entire episode by clicking here.
We are very excited to do this as a video podcast, so if you’re listening to this on your podcast app on your phone, you’re also welcome to join us on YouTube on the Unbundled Attorney YouTube channel and watch the full interview. Today we’re going to be having an interview with my man, Ardy Pirnia, from Los Angeles County and John Ibrahim from Riverside and Orange County, right?
Yes, indeed. Both of these gentlemen, we’ve worked with for a very long time and just excited to have this opportunity to meet them in person, and to talk about the saga of their massive growth and also just the way that they’ve been really creative in the way they’re working with clients and serving folks. Really glad you guys were able to take the time, and really glad to be here in person with you guys.
Ardy Pirnia: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Dave Aarons: So, a good place to start. For those that don’t know yet, just give a brief background on how you guys got the start in the practice of law and maybe why you focus in on the areas of law you do.
Ardy Pirnia: Yeah, I’m Ardy Pirnia. I basically used to once upon a time want to be an actor, a director, and I was in film school. After a few tryouts and auditions, I realized that maybe I’d better make some secure money before I get into film, so I decided the closest thing to it was to be an attorney and to be in court and to be in front of judges. So I eventually got to law school. I went to Pepperdine.
When I graduated, I started working for a medium-sized firm who did all civil litigation, mainly personal injury, asbestos, different torts, wrongful death. I learned everything I could and after a few years, I decided to go out on my own. I found that personal injury was not two things that I wanted. One, it wasn’t very fulfilling in terms of feeling like I’m really helping my clients in the sense of giving back, in the sense that creating a bond, in the sense that we even communicate very much. A personal injury case can be done in five to ten hours with very little communication, or even you can do it remotely without meeting a client ever.
So, long story short, one day I’m driving on the old 110 freeway, and I got a call from Graham Scott from Unbundled Attorney. We just really had a bromance and hit it off immediately. But really what I felt was, he had a passion for whatever he was doing, which was sourcing leads, and I had a passion for what I was doing, which was in the legal field. And he said, “Why don’t you try out a couple family cases?” And I literally said, “Why not?” The fee was reasonable for the leads. I thought it had a lot of value if it worked, and I had no idea.
Eventually, now we’re sitting in my office in Beverly Hills, and I have about 300 active clients, civil and different kinds of areas. I’ve had over 1000 Unbundled Attorney leads, and it’s really grown my practice into a full-fledged family and civil litigation firm.
Dave Aarons: Awesome. John.
John Ibrahim: My name’s John Ibrahim, and I went to UCLA for undergrad and then NYU for law school. At first, when I went to law school I didn’t really know what it was that I wanted to practice in law. So initially when I got out I thought maybe I wanted to go into the entertainment legal field. When I got out, I interned over at MiraLax. I worked over in the legal department. Then I got an opportunity to do a business overseas and was doing that. I left the legal field completely and did that business. That was over in Turkey for a while.
I did that. It was very interesting.
Dave Aarons: Is that your family connected to that?
John Ibrahim: No. It wasn’t family. I had some friends from here. We just said, “Hey. Let’s try this out. See how it works.” It was a good learning experience, didn’t go too well. But the one thing that it did do, is it led me to the firm that I was with. Then I just started practicing family law. And I actually had a deep passion for family law because what I enjoyed about it was dealing with the clients, seeing what it was that they had problems with and helping them with those problems. I actually felt like I could actually do something with their lives.
It actually gave me perspective as well because when I would go home at night, the smallest things were not so bothersome anymore. Then I finally got-
Dave Aarons: Gave you some perspective.
John Ibrahim: Yeah, exactly. It does give you complete perspective. Then just like with Ardy, spoke with Graham one day. My life-
Ardy Pirnia: That Graham will get you.
John Ibrahim: And my life changed.
Ardy Pirnia: (singing)
John Ibrahim: Life changed. He told me, “Try it out”, see if I like it. I said, “Okay.” Then got my sister in it, got my brother-in-law, and now here I am, making crazy moves and-
Dave Aarons: Crazy moves.
John Ibrahim: It’s great.
Dave Aarons: One of the things that I appreciate about both you guys is that there are many practices of the law where you can make a lot of money. Anyone can. Personal injury is one of them, right? It’s big settlements, and you get a percentage and so forth. But, the same thing brought you both to family law. That is that you wanted to serve, and you wanted to have something that you could have fulfillment and feel good about contribution. I think that’s one of the things that I find really unique about both of you.
Here we are in Los Angeles, in Beverly Hills, and everyone has this perception that Beverly Hills attorneys are big shots and aren’t going to necessarily look out for the common … they’re the white shoe guys. But here you guys are doing really well, but also serving just the average folks, blue collar workers, people working paycheck to paycheck, just like anyone else, yet here we are in Los Angeles. What is it about working with folks, whether it be the Unbundled services or the ways in which you’ve worked with them that you enjoy the most? Or what is it that … why is it that you’ve embraced this model so openly given the environment?
Ardy Pirnia: Also, to just go off what you just said. The first thing that really made me angry after getting out of law school and specifically with family law, I have realized in this county and this state, you literally cannot get family law quality legal help if you don’t have $3000 to $5000 to put down as a retainer. You can go on Google and if you don’t hit the Unbundled, the amazing SCO work, but if you go Google LA family attorney, I can guarantee that nine out of ten won’t even speak to you without saying, “Come to the office, give us $3500 and then we’ll talk.”
I just didn’t feel like it was right because a lot of people can afford to pay that, but the idea of a retainer is not a concept that every person in every walk of life either has dealt with or understands. For some people, $3000 is all they have in an account. To say, “Hey, come here. Give me this and then I’ll tell you what I can do for you”, is not a good business model. It’s not a good business practice, and it wasn’t fair.
When I heard about this Unbundled concept, this light went off in my head where I said, “Hey, if I know what I can do for someone, and I can get them started for $500 or $1000, then I can prove my worth to them, I know that they’ll be able to come up with the money to eventually pay.” Yes, some will not pay down the line. Some will pay a lot more than you think, but it all evens out in the long run.
So I think a lot of attorneys that have this mentality where, “Oh, unbundled services won’t make money.” They’re not thinking big picture. You’re never going to be the type of successful and respected firm that one wants to be if you’re pinching pennies and in the sense of what you’re collecting. It’s not just what you’re putting out.
John Ibrahim: I think that’s the biggest thing is, just to piggyback off Ardy, is that access. That’s what Unbundled does. It provides access to those that wouldn’t be able to by allowing them to give that little bit first to start off, and then, all of a sudden, they’re in. They need the legal help to get into the court to give themselves a fighting chance because normally they’re going in pro-se. They’re going to have to go in by themselves. I can’t tell you how many clients call me and they say, “The other side had an attorney, and that’s why I lost. I need to go in or I need to get some papers done. Can you help me, please? I need some legal help.”
Even if it’s just for one portion of their case, even if it’s for the entire case, the fact for them is that you do one part, they like it, well, hey, guess what? They’re going to want you to continue. Not just that, but the unbundled, the whole idea of the unbundled service is it brings so much to the table as far as volume because you have so many clients that instead of counting for that one large golden goose during the month or during the year, you just get little bits. And all of a sudden it adds up to a lot more than you expect.
There’s a keyword that I have in my office and my staff and everyone always thinking about, which is monetizing, monetize, monetize. Every lead, look at it and say, “What does this person want? What do they need, and how can we monetize on it in a way that’s fair, but also worth it for us?” A lot of people will say, “Oh, this guy, he has a divorce with custody with alimony with a restraining order, and he can only afford to pay $1000. We can’t take this. It’s ridiculous.” But, if you break it down-
Ardy Pirnia: They can’t see the [crosstalk 00:11:21]
John Ibrahim: Right. So if you break it down, one thing that you can offer them with this $1000 when you say, “Hey, what can you afford? We can help you out.” He says, “I got $1000.” “Hey, you have a hearing. That’s really important. Go to the Self-help Center. Have them help file all the documents and responses that are necessary. Call me. Tell me when your hearing is, and for $1000, I will prepare. I will be on top of all the documents you’ve filed. I’ll look them over. I’ll make sure they look good, and I’ll be there at the hearing with you.”
Then, it’s the second word that’s important to me, which is value. For young guys especially like us starting, I see value in $1000 that’s only two or three hours of work for me. Maybe it’s not $400 an hour, but we’re still making a high hourly rate and we’re helping a guy out, who after this hearing when we knock it out of the park for him, anything he needs down the line, he’s going to call us. And not just for me, it’s for his uncle, his dog, his cousin, whoever it might be. Whoever needs help, he’s going say, “Hey, this guy stepped in for me when I had nothing to offer really, and he helped.” That’s marketing. That’s advertising, and you’re getting paid for it all in one.
And I think that’s the benefit to … that’s what unbundled services, that’s what you guys bring. You bring the advertising. You also with the lead, for example, today I had somebody contact me from December 29. So I spoke with her December 29, and then she contacted me back today and then she said, “You know what? I need you for an ex parte hearing, an emergency hearing that came up, and I need you on April 20. I need you in a month. Can you do that for me? I’m going to do the papers. Can you do that for me?” I said, “Absolutely, no problem.”
Ardy Pirnia: Music to our ears.
John Ibrahim: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’d love to do. Just do the paperwork, send it to me. I’ll prepare. I’ll get you ready, and I’ll be there. There it is. You get 1000, 1500, whatever for the hearing. And it’s great.
Dave Aarons: It’s funny because I think a lot of attorneys, they think of the retainer because it’s a big number. They go, “Oh $10,000. $15,000.” But in reality, it’s just a representation of work over time, but just getting it all paid upfront. Also, it’s almost like an announcement of, to the client, “I don’t trust you.” Because why do they need the money upfront? Because I think I’m not going to get paid. There are circumstances, obviously, when if they have a deadline or some things like that, or maybe you can’t provide a ton of services, or can’t space things out. But for the majority of the cases, doing things one phase at a time, the hourly rate, roughly still the same, as far as time you’re putting in. The effective hourly rate could actually be better if it’s a flat rate.
It’s almost like it’s a fly to honey. “Ooh, it’s a big number. Therefore, I want to go for the big number.” When in reality, if you just break down each individual segment, you might only be billing $500 segments or $1000, $1500 in each phase, but at the end of the day, it’s the same amount. It’s not a big shiny object up front. It feels like it’s an old story or an old paradigm that everyone tries to go for the big upfront.
John Ibrahim: Right. And I think that for me, I prefer a flat fee. I prefer to get multiple flat fees, small flat fees and get that at high volume. Then that ends up actually ending up to be better than the hourly rate fee.
Dave Aarons: When you’re talking about flat fees, do you do it one task at a time?
John Ibrahim: Yeah, I’ll do it like, for example, if I’ll do, let’s say, one appearance. I’ll do 1500 for the appearance. Even just to make it even more enticing, just give me half now, half at the time of the hearing. At that point, they’re like, “So I have to give only 750 now, and then … Hey, I like that. I can do that.” And then it that hearing’s in a month, that gives you breathing room to get that next 750.
Dave Aarons: That’s right.
John Ibrahim: And that works. They love that.
Dave Aarons: Well, 90 out of a 100 lawyers would never offer that-
John Ibrahim: Exactly.
Dave Aarons: … in the region, right?
John Ibrahim: Which is a shame.
Dave Aarons: They should be, right?
John Ibrahim: The next day, guess what? Another lead comes with the same thing. If you’re don’t that every single day, seven days a week, you’re making more than a partner at a firm, at a large firm.
Ardy Pirnia: I have a client who, his case is closed, and he couldn’t come up with what he needed to by the time it closed. But we built such a relationship, and I trusted him, that he’s literally still depositing $200 every two weeks into my account. If you read the review that he left, if you google the website or the reviews, it’ll literally bring tears to your eyes. That, for me, I would have done for free for that review because now, at this point, when Unbundled Attorney clients call me, I tell them what I can do. I hear out what they have to say, and I’m like, “Listen, this is the best I could charge you. I promise you that I’m not trying to make money on you. Just google the name and go look at the reviews for all the Unbundled Attorney clients, and it’ll say enough.” And every single one of them says, “I already did. That’s why I’m calling you.”
Dave Aarons: Cool. That’s probably right there on the profile page. If it isn’t, we need to get it there. The flat fees, we’re talking about breaking things up into segments. I think this is something we’ve talked before with a couple of lawyers, but it’s really important, I think, that you start to look at how each phase of a case can unfold, and how each phase can be done as an individual, unbundled segment, whether it be unlimited appearance like you described, or if they need to respond to a petition. That can be done at a flat rate.
Or, because I think a lot of attorneys, when they think of flat rates, they go, “Okay, contested divorce case, I can charge $10,000 as a flat rate, and I know it’s probably not going to last that long.” Some of them do, but then it’s a loss leader. Sometimes they lose, sometimes they win because it’s a big gamble. It’s a big number, I’ll do your flat rate. Whereas when you start to break it up into tasks, your account receivables disappear because you’re getting work done as it’s getting done. It’s a pay-as-you-go.
Can you guys help maybe just draw that distinction so that we don’t confuse the whole case flat rate versus doing unbundled, limited scope work one phase at a time and how that looks different?
Ardy Pirnia: I think … Are we talking about family law specifically?
Dave Aarons: Sure.
Ardy Pirnia: So for example-
Dave Aarons: And it does apply in immigration and some other areas of law as well but-
Ardy Pirnia: You know, really, it can apply in every area of the law, which is what’s amazing. The majority of my practice was personal injury, now with family law, it’s probably about 70/30 but still, 70% is civil litigation. I’ve started to adopt these unbundled principles into different parts of civil litigation as well. But for family law, for example, if you take that, appearance at the hearing is very, very important in family law. It’s almost as important as responding to the documents and the filing. Even more so, if you’re the initial person filing for family law, that’s a whole nother ballgame, too. So there’s kind of three tiers.
The best case scenario is where someone … you say, “Okay, here’s how much I’m going to charge you for the appearance. Here’s how much I’ll charge for filing the actual documents to get the appearance. Or am I charging them to respond and there’s already a hearing on the calendar?” Those are three different tiered prices because they’re all three different types of work. When you break that down for a client and you give them options, they’re much more likely to at least do one, if not all three.
The beautiful part of that formula as well as after the hearing in family law, 90% of the time in any litigation there’s going to be another hearing, and the judge is asking you for something else to be filed for the next hearing. At that point, I could tell you honestly that I’ve literally never had one Unbundled client not continue to have me retained. They will come up with the money because they’re happy with what they’re getting. And they know that if they hadn’t by the grace of Graham Scott and Dave Aarons and the Unbundled team, googled and somehow found us, a lot of them have been turned away because Unbundled doesn’t exist in the mentality of a lot of older attorneys.
I’ll say one more thing. I think this is a concept that a younger generation of attorneys is embracing. What’s beautiful about this company and what we’re doing is, we’re young people who have a passion to give back, and it’s not all about the money. That mentality and concept are lost in the older generation because it’s a generation of retainers. That’s how they think, and they can’t get with the times in a sense.
I don’t know many people who graduate anymore and want to do family law. There’s almost a void in the marketplace for this. I mean I can tell you I already know John and I have too many leads. We want more people to jump in. That shows you what a void there is, and what a demand there is for what you guys are giving us and what we’re providing.
John Ibrahim: I think just to, again, piggyback off what Ardy said. For me, what I do if somebody comes in and says, “Hey, I’d like to do a custody modification. How much are you going to charge me?” Because they always come up, “Bottom line, how much you charging me?”
Dave Aarons: Especially in LA, right?
Ardy Pirnia: What’s it going to cost?
John Ibrahim: Especially in Riverside and San Bern, that’s like they need to know. I will-
Dave Aarons: It’s like I gotta know.
John Ibrahim: I will tell them, “Well, look, you can have one of three … I can do it for you one of three ways. Either I can do the paperwork for you, and you can go attend the hearing. Or option two, you can do the paperwork, and I’ll attend the hearing. Or option three, I’ll do all of the above. The budget is obviously different for each one. It depends on your budget.” So they say, “Okay, well, how much?” And I say, “1500 for the first. 1500 for the second, and if you want me to do all of the above right now, 2800.” I give them a little bit of a discount to do all of it right now. But I say, “If you want to try me out on the paperwork first? 1500.”
What I’ve really realized also is really crucial in making these calls, is in that two to five minutes, you need to be a fact finder. You can’t just take the call like, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s unbelievable to me how many attorneys don’t ask this. The first thing that you need to know about this person, what do you do? Anyone can sound anyway on the phone. Like I was telling you guys earlier before we were on camera, I won’t say the name of the client but, I got a call from a guy who sounded really destitute. He sounded like a drug addict really. He was like, “My baby mama, she won’t pay enough. I need to get child support. I take care of the kid.” I said, “God, this guy probably going to pay me $10 an hour.” He turned out eventually to be someone who’s married to a B-list celebrity who eventually is probably going to get us attorney’s fees in $10,000 to $20,000 range.
I messed up and didn’t ask him, “Who is this person that you’re” … If I would have just said, “Who is this mother of your child? What does she do?” And he would have said, “Oh, she’s a celebrity.” I would have charged him way differently than I did. Before the fact, thinking this guy doesn’t have anything, I charged him $500 for that first hearing. Imagine I roll up in there and I see a team of 12 lawyers on the other side. That’s so crucial-
Dave Aarons: Because you would have to charge more, given what the firepower is coming at you.
John Ibrahim: Of course. He could have paid, and he would have accepted it. He happened to be a DJ in The Bungalow, one of these clubs in LA.
I think that fact-finding in the first five minutes is really important, too, because you need to … You’re a salesman, too. You’re a Graham Scott 2.0. You’ve got to say, “What can this person afford, and what’s not going to scare them off?”
Ardy Pirnia: Essentially, at the end of the day, you are a salesman. You gotta sell yourself. You gotta sell the service, and in that fact-finding, I usually, myself I ask to find out the situation. I ask, “What does the other side do?” As far as work, then they’ll tell me, “What do you do?” And then this way I’ll kind of have an idea where I am socioeconomically because at that point if I’m saying, “I’m going to charge you 2000”, at that point that might not work. At that point, If they’re a lower level socioeconomically, Okay, $500 or something. Well, hey, guess what? That might work.
Dave Aarons: Like many of you have said, the big hurdle that a lot of people have to overcome is the big upfront retainer. When they get started with something less, 500,000, we can fit in their budget that isn’t being offered by anyone else. They can get an opportunity to start working with the two of you, either one of you, and get an experience of what it is that you’re able to provide for them experientially. Such that they know, “Man, there’s no way I could have handled any of this myself.” Then they will transition to additional services from there.
There’s a misconception because unbundled service, that specific service is 500. That specific service is 1000. Lawyers will look at it and go, “I can’t make a living making $500. I can’t make a living with 1000”, because they only see that front end money. Again, it’s the same front end. The front end is lower. The retainer’s lower, so it means less. When in reality, the average client value, I would guess, of a lot of the clients is probably pretty similar. But you’re getting maybe three times as many clients actually retaining you because the starting point is less.
Maybe paying 500 to start or 1000, but then they’re transitioning for additional services. So you’re getting the 500 again and 1000 again and 1000 again. That’s what I think a lot of attorneys don’t see. These guys found that to be true that start with the one, and they just continue with more services.
John Ibrahim: I have a client that it started out as attending a hearing. She liked the work I did so much, it turned into a full-blown representation divorce. Now it’s a situation. The divorce at this point and time, the representation went well over 30k, and it’s still going.
Dave Aarons: But how much would you charge for that first initial service?
John Ibrahim: $1000.
Dave Aarons: $1000, right? So a lawyer would say, “I can’t make money making $1000. It’s not going to work. This unbundled thing?” This is part of what I shared with you guys. I appreciate you guys coming here to dispel some of these myths because the marketplace is not the same as it was even 15 years ago. 40 years ago, we had 1% of people representing themselves in court. Nowadays, it’s about 67% to about 70%, depending on the court. California court is divorce court, right?
John Ibrahim: That’s correct.
Dave Aarons: 70% have at least one self-represented litigant in every single case. 50% across the country, at least one self-representing litigant. That’s just in the last 15, 20 years, 30 years. That trend has completely shifted. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but there’s an army of people that would love to be able to have the opportunity to work with attorneys. It seems like if we can just dispel the myth that somehow by working with these folks, that they do have the resources to invest for at least a little bit of service. And that you can actually make a really great living doing that, perhaps you wouldn’t have so many attorneys reluctant to provide unbundled legal services to their clients.
Ardy Pirnia: But the thing is that especially attorneys who do more than one practice area, it’s hard enough. There are so many attorneys in the country. Every county is saturated. Everyone’s competing against each other. Yet, there are so many people that don’t have attorneys. It’s like, if you do this one thing even if you’re discounting yourself or cutting your rate, these people will be loyal to you forever because you’re helping them when they didn’t even expect they could get an attorney, much less someone who has a Beverly Hills office or who’s in Orange County or in San Bernardino, Riverside.
All these people, they didn’t think they’d ever be able to get a quality attorney for what they could afford. When they do, they’re loyal to you for life, and the referral fees is also something that all attorneys, all you people there, referral fees are a big business. Some attorneys are just lazy. They don’t want to investigate, what does this person need? They just get their credit on the site, and they move on. But, hey, find a network. Find one attorney for each area that you keep seeing come up, children’s court, immigration, bankruptcy, probate, whatever it might be. You can get a nice referral fee that’s still 10 times what you’re paying for this lead.
I’m considering hiring someone full-time just to sit there on these unbundled leads that don’t fall within our jurisdiction or within our practice area to see, hey, can we find a way to monetize this into a referral fee. And you know, if you refer, for example, I had one case that was a probate case. It’s a guy who called in. He said, “I got seven brothers and sisters in Oklahoma and our daddy left us an oil well. He’s deceased. What do we do?” I said, “I don’t know, but I’ll call you back.” I tried my best. Oklahoma is just such a disaster statutorily with this stuff, but if we could have found a way to monetize on that, the referral fee on that even if it’s 10% could have been 100k.
There are so many ways to make money. The last thing attorneys in America should be worried about is making money. If you find a way that you have someone who can do this really good grassroots advertising, it’s a steal.
John Ibrahim: I agree. I think that’s what Unbundled does. It allows that well-oiled machine to begin, as long as you know how to approach it. I talked with Graham about this, too, before. I’ll get these probate cases and I can’t do anything about it, and it really hurts that I have to give it away. I can’t do this. It’s not my jurisdiction, I mean, not my service area.
Dave Aarons: Specialty.
John Ibrahim: Yeah. It hurts, but Ardy’s right. You could make a lot. You could probably make even more money than what your practice, what you’re doing, on the referrals.
Dave Aarons: But in order to even have the opportunity to do that, you have to give the people the opportunity to work with you and not turn them away in the very first phone call because you’re requiring something that is 5000, most people can’t afford. It’s almost like they’re not taking into consideration the long-term value of each relationship. They’re not taking a holistic approach.
You’ve talked briefly about the kind of referrals that you get, not only referring them for other types of matters but the referrals that they give you to their friends and family and the neighbors and so forth. That, “Hey, man, this was the guy that was willing to do, this to start for me for this amount and really made the difference for me.” That’s a whole nother income stream.
Ardy Pirnia: I told this story on … what number podcast are you on now? 50?
Dave Aarons: 50? 51?
Ardy Pirnia: This is 51?
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Think so.
Ardy Pirnia: I was number eight. And back then, I told this story were my first ever family law client, and I always advertise him so I can say his name. His name is Jesse Vasquez. He called me and he said, and this is before you were in the picture to do these San Bernardino/Riverside leads. He said, “I have a custody case in Riverside County, and I haven’t seen my daughter in a year. I love her so much, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t have enough money, but I can pay you $500. I have this modification hearing. Can you come for me?” I said, “You know what? I’m going to come for you.” We hit it off on the phone.
I came to Indio courthouse, which I found out later. Spent $100 in gas. Spent $200 at the Marriott in Palm Springs to stay there. By the time I got there, I’d spent $500 but, anyway, long story short, the judge was just disgusted with his ex and gave him 50/50 custody. We’re hugging and his little girl was there in the parking lot. She hugged my leg. It was just such an amazing moment for me. I was so happy. That’s what got me started with Unbundled.
But a year later he calls me. “He goes, Ardy, I need you again.” I said, “What happened? She’s not letting you see her?” He’s like, “No, my brother broke his back in an accident getting run off the road by a truck. Do you know what to do?” I said, “Jesse, you tell your brother not to move. I’m calling him right now because this is my specialty.” And that case ended up settling for six figures on a 40% contingency fee.
That good deed that I did on my first Unbundled Attorney lead, led to the representation of his brother for a case against a big company. That led to a six-figure settlement where I made in that, how much I’ve spent on my Unbundled Attorney leads in two years.
Dave Aarons: That was your first lead?
Ardy Pirnia: That was my first lead ever.
John Ibrahim: You can’t make that stuff up.
Ardy Pirnia: You can’t make it up.
Dave Aarons: It’s real. Leslie Charles, lead actress. He’s like, is this person even real because there’s an actress-
Ardy Pirnia: You know, the Vasquez brothers are my dear friends now. We hang out. They come to my events sometimes if I have a law event, and they speak. This stuff means something to people. And it means something to me that this family trusts me, relies on me because I was there in a low point where he had such a bond with his daughter that I saw with my own eyes. I still get worked up about it because I really saw at that moment that this is something that you can’t get from all avenues of the law. Your practice will only become more successful when you do good deeds like this.
When you do things and you don’t expect anything back, it comes back tenfold. It’s a secret of the universe. You guys have learned it at such a young age by creating this company. We had it in us, too, that it’s just such a good synergy. That’s the key.
John Ibrahim: Absolutely.
Dave Aarons: It’s a real honor to hear some of the stories that come out from just the connections and the services you guys are offering. It’s one of the things that we’re really committed to being getting to be personally in touch with the impact and sharing the stories because there are so many people out there that have no idea that unbundled services are available. And yeah, we’ve got great NCO. Yeah, we generate a lot of clients, but there’s such a huge, massive potential for attorneys like yourself to be able to serve people, to make great resources, do very well financially doing that, and also to rid this country of the need to have people going unrepresented, that don’t want to be. Or going without the assistance they need.
John Ibrahim: Yeah, because I find myself a lot of times going to court and the line for self-help and whatnot that is just out the door. There are people looking at the forms and they’re scratching their head. Just the other day I was in court. I just filed some forms, and as I was walking out I had to put my briefcase down. Then as I was going through a couple of items in my folder, the guy looks over to me. He says, “Are you an attorney?” I said, “Yeah.” He’s like, “Can I get your card?” I was like, “Sure. How can I help you?” He’s like, “I’m looking at this, and I just don’t get it. I don’t understand it. How do they expect me to fill this out?” I was like, “Give me a call. I’d be happy to help you.” Turned into a client. Right there.
Because most of the time they don’t understand how to get through the process, and that’s a big problem. That puts them at a disadvantage. It’s a lot of times economically they feel that they can’t get the attorney, number one, and number two, a lot of its ignorance, too, because they can’t find out or navigate through the web or something of that nature to find somebody. It’s a lot of ego within the legal field, too. That’s a big deal.
A lot of attorneys will say, I’m not going to charge $1000 for a retainer. I have to charge $5000. I’ve been in the legal profession for so long.
Ardy Pirnia: I’m a certified family law specialist. What does that even mean? You took the bar again.
John Ibrahim: I’m not going to take your case. All of a sudden, what happens? All these people just get pushed to the side. I think, Graham, you know, dispelling the notion … Dave, I’m sorry. I’m looking at Graham. Stop looking at me.
Dispelling the notion that unbundled won’t make money and for attorneys, it’s also the notion that needs to be dispelled, is for the ordinary folks in America who think that they can’t get an attorney without $3000 or $5000.
Dave Aarons: That’s right.
John Ibrahim: So many people are afraid to even type in attorney because they think that it doesn’t exist. I think you’re right. That it’s a real big task ahead of you guys to dispel that notion because it’s not just the people in our field, but it’s the public that doesn’t know about it as much yet.
Dave Aarons: Yes. This is why we’re doing this, right, is to have these conversations and to get new information out there. Get new perspectives. Share the facts, what’s really going on. Then also, we love to get to know some of the clients you guys are serving and share their stories and bring that on the public eye because it really isn’t known that there is a way. There is another way you can retain an attorney and still get the help you need to get through the process and not be completely confused about what to do.
John Ibrahim: I remember the first time I talked with Graham. I think it was in September, maybe late August. Then the unbundled services started. First, I did Riverside before, including San Bernardino. But, Labor Day hit and my wife and my kids we all went to San Diego for Labor Day. That whole weekend, I was on the phone. It was just hitting, hitting, hitting. My wife was like, “Wow, business is so good for you.” I was shocked myself because it was just within the first couple of weeks and, all of a sudden, I had brand-new clients within days.
Ardy Pirnia: Those holidays.
John Ibrahim: I gotta tell you, within days, I had more clients than I did within months. It was amazing.
Ardy Pirnia: If you go in my iPhone and you put search and you put U-A. It’s half my phone book at this point. It’s crazy.
John Ibrahim: I’ve realized I have to get another phone now.
Dave Aarons: We’re happy to hear that because that just means that a lot of people are getting helped. I’m really stoked on that. I appreciate the fact that it’s just worked so well. We’ve definitely been doing this for a really long time, over a decade myself, almost my entire adult life. I appreciate the fact that it’s really paying off, and that more people are finding out. More people are seeing the ads. More people are getting connected with attorneys like yourself that offer these options. And hopefully, through these podcasts, we’re going to have a lot more lawyers start to rethink how it is they’re working with the clients in their practice and start to be more creative and find these ways to work with people that seriously need the services.
Ardy Pirnia: You know, another thing I encourage all you people out there is sometimes you find yourself busy, and a client gets on the line, and they have a quick question. You already know once they get to what they’re asking, that you can’t do anything for them. I had this one guy call me, and he said, “Hey, I’m in Herndon, Nevada.” Herndon County. I had … is it a county? I don’t know, but he was in Herndon, and he said to me, “I have an appearance here so and so. Can you help me?”
I’m like, “Listen, unfortunately, I’m not licensed to go to court in Nevada so I can’t really do anything for you.” He said, “Hey, do you know anyone.” I said, “No, I don’t know anyone.” He said, “Hey, can I just ask you one question?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Can my child’s grandmother, my mother have rights to see … I’ll fill out all the papers. I just want to know the answer to that question.” He said, “I’ve called 17 lawyers in Nevada, and not one of them will just answer that question for me.” I said, “Yes. Grandparents, in certain circumstances, can have the rights to visitation.” That wasn’t legal advice, by the way.
Dave Aarons: Consult with your attorney.
Ardy Pirnia: He said, “You know what? Thank you so much. Why don’t you give me your number in case I ever know anyone that needs an attorney.” Sure enough, last month he texted me. He’s like, “Hey. It’s your guy in Herndon. My friend got bit by a dog walking in Venice Beach.” Even if you can’t help the person, just on that five minutes you can make such an impression that it can turn into a lead. There’s no one to turn away with these leads.
It’s business. It’s marketing. You’re getting so much for what you’re paying so little for.
John Ibrahim: Absolutely. That’s very true. My favorite quote is from Henry Ford. And what Henry Fords says, “If I had a product that was worth $100, I would spend $1 on the product and $99 on the marketing.” Lo and behold, there’s where Ford is.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, no doubt. Right?
John Ibrahim: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Dave Aarons: Okay. It reminds me so much of probably what I think is one of the most under listened-to podcast interviews we’ve done, which was with Brian Picarello. The title’s something like Empathetic Listening. The experienced social worker becomes a practicing attorney, empathetic listening, and the actual long-term value of each client, something like that. We’ll link it in the show notes so that you guys can listen to that episode.
But one of the things that’s unique about Brian is he’s a numbers guy, a self-proclaimed numbers geek. “I’m a numbers geek”, is what he said. He’s been tracking every single lead since the day he started with us three years ago.
John Ibrahim: I really wished I’d been doing that.
Dave Aarons: He’s got spreadsheets. The numbers and like-
John Ibrahim: My wife’s telling me to do that and I’m like, “I am not a numbers guy.”
Dave Aarons: I am a numbers guy. [crosstalk 00:44:35]
Ardy Pirnia: You’re going to give up within three months.
Dave Aarons: You need to hire it because I’m the same way, too. I have to have a CPA or someone else that run our numbers and analyzes our account, even our company, too. Because it’s just not a good use of our minds because we work differently.
But it was just each one of these clients, the amount of referral business that I’ve gotten just from each lead, just because I talked to them or helped them. A lot of times I helped them. He says, “Now that I know what those numbers are, every single person I talk to, I put in a bunch of time, even if they have zero case.” Because he knows that by doing right by each individual he talks to, and making sure that they walk away more informed and in a better position to do what they need to do, whatever it might be. Trying to get them a referral, trying to help whenever they can, those people are going to refer cases and, obviously, in the future turn into a lot of different things as well.
It’s understanding that long-term value. It’s seeing these people as long-term relationships. And looking at them from that perspective.
John Ibrahim: That’s the one thing that when I first take the call, I make sure to give that person the time that they deserve. Usually, the people that I do talk to, they always have a backstory behind it. They want to tell you that backstory. They want to tell you why they’re in that position. They want to tell you why now they’re in the position that is pretty much a low point in their life and see what you can do to help them out of that low point. So I give them that time and make sure to respect that because they deserve respect.
Dave Aarons: Sometimes just 10 minutes.
John Ibrahim: They deserve that respect. Generally, they appreciate that. They generally appreciate that.
Dave Aarons: Like you said, just being willing to answer a couple questions can make a difference, can make a big difference for people.
Ardy Pirnia: I have an idea for a new podcast, by the way, in the future. We tape all of our leads when we call because what I do is, whenever I finish and we’re about to hang up, I put it on mute and I listen because a lot of people don’t hang up right away. Their reactions are the best part. It’s like, “Praise the Lord. I’ve found a lawyer.” Or, “Oh my God, that guy was great.” It’s so you really see what you’re doing for people because when they first make that call, half the time, these leads they call us.
They’re like, “Hello?” I’m like, “Hello.” “Is this a lawyer?” “Why, yes, it is.” “Is this the lawyer, Ardy?” I’m like, “This is Ardy.” She’s like, “It’s you?” I’m like, “It’s me.” They’re shocked.
Dave Aarons: I could just get a call from a lawyer right away?
Ardy Pirnia: And they’re like, “I’m talking to you?” I’m like, “Yes. Go ahead.” She’s like, “Consultation right now?” I’m like, “Right now. Tell me what you need.” “Oh my God. I found a … ” And it’s just being nice, being kind. It goes such a long way. The SCO work that you guys do-
John Ibrahim: It’s great. That’s great.
Ardy Pirnia: What you guys do, you could be charging so much more, and you could also be doing other areas of the law that some people would like, but you won’t because it’s not giving back and giving service to the community. I respect that though, and that’s why you’re doing so well. My kudos to you guys.
John Ibrahim: Definitely.
Dave Aarons: Cool.
John Ibrahim: Absolutely.
Dave Aarons: One thing that keeps coming up for me when we’re talking about this is I recognize that we’ve always worked together, I think, three years. We’ve got a good history. You’ve also been taking a high volume of clients. Over that process, there are things that you guys have learned in the initial consultation and some of the service options you’ve tried out. I’d really love to get just whatever comes to mind as far as practical tips for either the initial consultation or for the types of service options you’ve offered, whether it be you used to do hourly, now you do flat rates. You offer a suite of options and let them choose. There are so many things you’ve learned just by working with so many clients that we’ve sent you guys, in your case for years, and your case just hundreds of clients. I think we’re getting close to 1000.
John Ibrahim: For me, at least, I have to somewhat be a little unique in the way I approach it. At the same time, like I said, respect the client. By respecting the client, I tell them … I don’t tell them, but I want them also to respect my time as well. So I say, “Look. Are you available?” I will text them if they don’t call me on my cell phone. I’ll text them if they’re available for a free 30-minute consultation. But I’ll indicate that it’s 30 minutes, so they know in their mind that it’s a timeframe.
During that timeframe, I make sure to get the right information. I talk to them. I get the background. They’ll tell me what’s going on. Then, that consultation right there, I will know at that point if we are going to meet up if that is going to be to sign up or not. Because at that point, I will close the conversation, “Do you plan on paying cash, check, or credit card?” If they indicate that they’re going to think about it a little bit, contact me back. I say, “No problem. Take your time. Let me know.” If they say, “Okay, well, yeah, I’m going to pay cash or we’re going to pay with a credit card.” I’ll say, “Okay, let’s meet on at such and such a date.” So then I know that it’s a done deal.
Dave Aarons: Was this part of a learning process for you, where you would just have them come it-
John Ibrahim: It was a total learning process because at first, I would have them come in-
Ardy Pirnia: I remember those days.
John Ibrahim: At first, I’d have them come in and then I’d be like, Well. Then I’d sit for an hour with them and then they’d be like, “Well, let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” Then I was like, “There goes an hour of my life.” You learn. But the process is you learn through this, and then you also know how to deal with the clients, how to get as much knowledge from them as well as they get knowledge from you, and how to maximize your time because that’s really important.
Dave Aarons: As important as it is to be able to take the time with each client, give them good feedback, ask you questions, learn what’s really going on. You also have to have a boundary as far as ensuring that if they’re going to take the next step, at least, for you that next step is, “Hey if we’re going to move forward, you’re going into the office. We’re moving forward with some services. We can get things started.”
Obviously, you offer such a suite of affordable different options for them that they can select from. It’s not like it’s a huge investment for them. But just making sure that you’re there to give them advice and support but also you have boundaries in place to make sure that they also have to invest and put the same skin on the line.
John Ibrahim: Sure. And actually a lot of times I’ll end up closing. The client will be so comfortable that they’ll say, “Can I pay right now?” Over the phone. The idea, it’s carefully striking the balance between all of the leads as well as your duty to your current clients. That is important. That’s why when you get so many leads, you gotta strike that balance and make sure that you’re still taking care of the clients that you have right now because you don’t want them ever to feel like you’re not giving them that personal attention.
Dave Aarons: That’s right.
Ardy Pirnia: It’s interesting. As I’m sitting here listening to you, it sounds just like me in my first year with you guys. I think your question is probably the only question that you’ve asked that really differs from firm to firm and where the attorney is in the process of where they’re at.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Every time I’ve asked that question, generally speaking, from all the podcasts, there’s always a different approach. It’s always a different strategy, and that’s cool because it can be unique to the attorney, the unique approach that makes them comfortable.
Ardy Pirnia: Where I’m at in the firm at this point is, that I’ll basically set a block in one day out of the week where I’m going to dedicate to meeting the Unbundled clients because there are so many depositions and hearings and things that I have now that I can’t just, on a whim, call each one and then see when they can come. So now what I do is, there are so many leads that I can’t even call them.
I have my paralegal that just became an attorney, she will call them, do the initial screening, send me a text or an email saying, “New lead. This is what they need. This is what we can do. This is how much I think it will cost.” Then, I will schedule them in and be like, “Hi. It’s Attorney Ardy Pirnia. I’ve got five minutes for you right now. I know this is what you need. I’m available to meet with you on this day. This is what we’re charging. Go look at the reviews.” Not to be short with them and not to be rude at all, but we’re so busy now. At the end of the day, what I was told always we have to remember that at the same time, it is a privilege, what we’re offering. It is a privilege to go online, fill out a form, and then call an attorney on his cell phone 10 minutes later and have a free consult, and then be able to meet him right away and be able to pay 10 cents on the dollar.
In a sense, you get to a point where it’s not me being cocky or being an asshole, but I’m saying, “Hey. This is the time that I have, and this is what I’m charging you, which is not a negotiation.” Again, not in a rude way, in the nicest way. I’m like, “If you’re interested, this is the day I’m meeting people. Let me know if you can come.” They all, 99%, will come. 99% want to sign up. Then they meet us, and they see us, and you move forward.
I think it’s an evolution. In the beginning, I had the time to do the 30-minute consult, and I gave everyone the option of how you want to duh, duh. But you get to a point where you have so many clients and so many leads that you can’t even get to all of them. You can’t. At one point when I took his territory before he was there, I told you guys, “Shut it off.” Because I just … that what shows you, again, going back to the whole notion that you can make money with this unbundled concept.
There is so much money to be made out there, more with the unbundled concept because the volume of clients who can afford unbundled services is five or ten times more than those that are going to walk in and give you five grand off the bat. And to be honest with you, I like the clients more who can’t pay that full retainer. Those clients that can pay that full retainer, I don’t trust them. That means they have attorneys that’ll sue you for malpractice if anything goes wrong. That means that they have the means to find other attorneys. They’ll play you off other ones. They’re almost too sophisticated for their own good.
John Ibrahim: They’re high maintenance.
Ardy Pirnia: Yes. High maintenance.
John Ibrahim: They don’t trust you. They come in with a lack of trust. Absolutely.
Dave Aarons: It’s interesting to hear that perspective of the other side because everyone’s going after these geese but the goose is also can be a pretty tough goose to manage as far as the type of person.
John Ibrahim: They’re high maintenance.
Dave Aarons: Whereas the other people that don’t expect necessarily to be able to get any help at all, and they’re just doing their best to try to find someone, they’re all, “Thank you so much.” And they just appreciate it. It’s a completely different mentality.
Ardy Pirnia: It all goes back to the monetizing. If I have a case that’s a divorce and a custody case and there’s no property involved, no pension to QDRO, no big assets. It’s just simple custody and modification or a simple divorce and alimony. That’s going to take us 10 times, 20 times less than that big case that yeah, they’ll put down 20 grand for a retainer but at the end of the day when you calculate the hours you’ve spent on that case, and all the liability that you have-
John Ibrahim: You made minimum wage.
Ardy Pirnia: You better up your Arizona missions insurance, I’ll tell you that. Because really, you have so much more liability in those big cases with these big goose egg clients.
Dave Aarons: That’s right. Well, and also it represents such a much greater percentage of your income. You guys are so diversified where if one client decided he didn’t want to pay or decided to come something. You don’t have to cow tail to someone that’s mistreating you anymore because you have so many other clients you’re working with.
John Ibrahim: It’s the idea of diversifying. My father’s always said, “Diversify your portfolio.”
Ardy Pirnia: That’s right.
John Ibrahim: Diversify. You don’t put it all on- [crosstalk 00:57:06]
Ardy Pirnia: Amen.
John Ibrahim: You don’t put it all on that. Otherwise, one company goes off, you’re done.
Ardy Pirnia: That’s the beauty of Unbundled leads. If you are an attorney and you already have some business, and you’ve started your own firm, and you have some kind of lead generation, whether it’s referrals or word-of-mouth. Unbundled Attorney just became such an incredible addition to that. If you’re not relying on that to survive and you add that on, there is no way that you’re not going to expand and blow up. No way.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, no. I appreciate this because, rightfully so, there’s been a misconception or a lot of hesitation towards using lead generation services because of some practices of some other companies in this industry. It’s understandable. But for the right agency, when you have a good source of leads, you have good people behind it, and they align with what it is that you’re offering, it can be extremely powerful.
John Ibrahim: There’s no stopping. I’ve tried other lead services, and I gotta tell you they were not good. I cannot tell you the difference it makes with the Unbundled service. It is just night and day.
Ardy Pirnia: And it gives you energy.
John Ibrahim: Yeah, it does.
Ardy Pirnia: I drove here after a nine-hour deposition to do this with you guys because we’re all … I get excited. We’re all like-minded. We have really good synergy. When you combine people like that, good things happen.
John Ibrahim: I drove in of traffic, Friday night traffic from OC to LA to get over here to talk about this.
Ardy Pirnia: For you East Coasters, that’s like going from the Tri-State area, one to the other.
Dave Aarons: That’s right, man. 30 miles here could take you three hours if it’s the wrong time of day.
John Ibrahim: Exactly.
Dave Aarons: I appreciate that, you guys. This is a lot of what this video podcast … Obviously, we’ve had the podcast for a long time. A lot of lawyers got a lot of value out of it, but just doing it in a video, doing it in person, meeting you and meeting the rest of the lawyers with the retreat we have coming up.
Ardy Pirnia: Seeing our beards.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. In full form, in full flight.
John Ibrahim: Plaid Jackets.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. No, it’s awesome.
Ardy Pirnia: That’s the great thing about the retreat in Denver. You put all of us in a room together, only good things can happen.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. That’s why we always call it the Mastermind Podcast. It’s a mastermind, which is a culmination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony between two or more people for the attainment of a definite purpose. Because when people’s minds come together, there’s a third invisible or intangible force that’s like this third mind that literally is the basis of everything that’s ever been accomplished in our country and our history and every great fortune.
These are some of the words of Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. He wrote that book, and wrote The Power of The Mastermind, which a lot of this comes from, is that when we put our minds together we share ideas and we come up with this. We connect as a community. I think the affordability of legal services and the inaccessibility is going to be the thing of the past.
I really feel like when we all work together on this mission together and share in such a way just like we are right now, transparently, vulnerable, in person, and also thread in the stories of the clients you guys are serving, which I appreciate you sharing today. Also, the practicality and the profitability of serving this market in the way you guys are, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t make a huge dent in a few million people that are going unrepresented right now.
There’s a finite, quantifiable number of people in this country that are being unrepresented, and I feel like we can make a huge impact on that number in just a few years to come.
John Ibrahim: I’m very glad to be a part of it.
Ardy Pirnia: Yeah. Me too.
Dave Aarons: Cool. Well, thank you guys for taking the time today. It’s going to be a lot of fun to hang out with you guys in Denver as well.
John Ibrahim: Can’t wait.
Dave Aarons: Just appreciate everything you’re doing for all the clients we’re sending. I know it’s a lot. I know you guys are working as hard as you can to serve all of them. I’m glad to hear that things are working well for you as a result.
Ardy Pirnia: Thank you so much.
John Ibrahim: Thank you.
Dave Aarons: It’s making money. Making a difference. I really appreciate it. Thanks, Ardy.
John Ibrahim: It’s good to meet you finally.
Dave Aarons: Thank you, John.
Ardy Pirnia: Where’s my close-up?
Dave Aarons: It’s in there somewhere. For all of you that are listening and participating in these podcasts, just like Ardy and John, and applying these services in your practice, we all really appreciate it. This is definitely a movement. You’re not alone, and this is what the purpose is behind this podcast, the community we’re building, is to connect yourselves with attorneys like these guys.
They’re doing such great work, just like we know you are, and really start to move the needle as far as the amount of people we can serve and just right the injustice that is currently in our country right now as far as the number of people that are just going unrepresented without the help they need to be there with their kids, without the help they need to get access to becoming a resident of this country. There are so many different applications of this. Thank you for being part of this community and this movement. We certainly look forward to seeing you on our next podcast episode and video podcast as well.
For more information about how our exclusive Unbundled leads can help you grow your practice, visit our website at unbundledattorney.com. You can watch each new episode of the podcast on The Unbundled Attorney YouTube channel or if you prefer to listen, you can find us on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. And be sure to subscribe so you get each new episode as soon as it’s available, and remember to leave us your review on iTunes. We read each and every one of them and really appreciate your support of the show. Once again, thanks for listening.
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