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Why Community Involvement is Essential for Law Firm Success

Law Firm Innovator: Corey Trotz of NST Law

Nahon Saharovich & Trotz has grown into one of the largest personal injury law firms in the country. NST Law is active across multiple states, and engages with the various communities that their firm serves. They consider it to be their duty as citizens to contribute to our communities, which is the main reason they allot time for it. As a law firm, interacting with your local community can also be an impactful marketing tool.     

When you think about marketing strategies for your law firm, most people think about what the marketing strategy will do for you. Community involvement is a form of marketing known as service-driven marketing. Service-driven marketing is a game-changer, asking instead what you can do for others. In a sense, it “humanizes” your firm. It shows your firm is after a higher purpose than just profits.

The benefits of community involvement are endless. Engaging in community service and pro bono work can strengthen your law firm internally while building up the people you serve.  Giving back should be viewed as an important responsibility, not a burden.

By becoming a recognizable brand within the community, your firm has high visibility and free local publicity. Giving back solidifies your firm as a helpful local resource, which goes a long way when it comes to achieving word-of-mouth referrals. The networking opportunities alone will help to build your word-of-mouth referral network.

Aside from the benefits for your business, there are benefits for you and your employees on a personal level. Service-driven marketing builds firm loyalty, inside and out. People like to work with people who show that they care. By taking the extra effort to offer helpful services to other people, you’re showing that you care about people, along with their unique situations and environments. Everyone involved gains a sense of personal satisfaction from helping others. Your employees will feel empowered and welcomed by their community, as a representative of the firm. They will become proud(er) of their association with a firm that gives back.

According to the successful business builder and investing legend Warren Buffet, It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If reputation takes years to build, and possibly mere seconds to destroy, it’s even more important to ensure the reputation you are building stands on a variety of pillars. Community involvement is essential for a law firm’s success mainly because building a strong foundation for your reputation includes showing your firm as a valuable asset through contributions to your community. A firm’s charitable giving impacts how clients view you.

While there are mostly positives to community involvement, there are also negative aspects.

Time Commitment

Redirecting law firm time to service-driven marketing, aka community involvement, calls for playing a long game. It may be months or even years before your firm reaps the rewards of your service-driven marketing.

Costs and Marketing Attribution

Community involvement marketing can be very time-consuming compared to paid marketing strategies. It’s also much more difficult to track the benefits. When you are running a paid marketing campaign, you’re able to view impressions and conversion rates. When you are engaging in your community, the trackable factors are people you physically meet and any other positive interactions. Community members may even associate positively with your firm by seeing your name as a sponsor on a charity 5k run.

How can you track word of mouth and general positive associations? Marketers, as smart as they are, are still working on solutions for these numbers. While it’s difficult to know which specific community action brought in your new client, the general benefits of community involvement are what make it a worthy investment of law firm resources.

How can personal injury lawyers get started?

Ways attorneys can implement service-driven marketing include donating their time or finances toward a cause. This could be done via pro bono legal work, assisting community members with common legal issues, or by spearheading any one of these ideas: fundraising events, free legal nights, legal educational seminars.

Other ways you can get started are by engaging in local events that are already set up. Donate to a local food drive, sponsor a local scholarship, serve meals at a homeless shelter, sign up to sponsor a 5K. No action is too small.

How NST Law gives back

Nahon Saharovich & Trotz is a strong example of a personal injury firm being actively engaged in the communities they serve.  Aside from the personal satisfaction it gets from giving back to the community, NST Law has developed a lot of camaraderie among its attorneys and staff due the regular community events it holds. It also brings much goodwill to NST Law in the communities they serve. They contribute to their communities in the following ways:

Donating Time

NST Law attorneys volunteer for Memphis Area Legal Services, a local nonprofit which provides free legal services to people unable to afford attorneys in fields of law such as equal housing, landlord/tenant, and family law. Some of their attorneys assist charitable organizations with fundraising and even dedicate time to serve on the boards of these groups. For example, multiple NST Law attorneys have become deeply involved with Facing History and Ourselves, a group that promotes diversity, and uses lessons from history to empower teachers and students to stand up to bigotry and hate.

Financial Support

NST Law regularly donates to minority and low-income communities through organizations and charities. NST Law also awards scholarships to law students and gives college scholarships to high school students. Many of the charities and organizations NST Law donates to have strong missions of helping those in need, which is one way our impact gets multiplied. See this page for more information.

Full Interview Transcript

Jon Robinson: (00:07)
Hi everyone. Welcome. We are live from Mass Torts Made Perfect 2021. We’re going to be talking about community involvement and how it can benefit your firm. And I am joined by Corey Trotz of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, otherwise known as NST Law. A lot of offices across the Southeast of the United States in Tennessee and Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Illinois. We’re going to be talking really about how working within your community can benefit not only the community, but can benefit the firm. So if you wouldn’t mind just telling us a little bit about yourself and the firm before we get started on the specifics.

Corey Trotz: (00:47)
Sure thing. Well, thanks for having me. And I’m not going to bore you with a lot of details about me personally, but I’m happy to talk to you about the law firm of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, as you mentioned NST Law. Our law firm was formed in 1990. We were, at the time, three attorneys and two staff members. And at the time, we just practiced, it was a general practice. In about 1994, we started exclusively representing injured victims, everything from auto and truck wrecks to workers comp to social security disability, products liability, nursing home abuse, and mass torts. And so over the years, we have become a very large law firm of now with 175 staff people. And our reach really is across the United States now. So we’re very fortunate. We feel very good about being able to help out so many people.

Jon Robinson: (01:48)
Yeah. Well, congratulations for expanding the firm the way that you have. It really has been amazing to see. I think the crux of this conversation really is going to be about how you’ve been involved in the community and the benefits that that has had for the firm. How did you decide to get involved in the communities? It’s not just in Memphis where your headquarters is, right? It’s really across everywhere where you have an office. How did you make that conscious decision?

Corey Trotz: (02:16)
Sure. So giving back to the community has really been a culture of our law firm, really from the beginning. Individually at first, the attorneys in our office, the three of us had our own passions for certain charities. And so we supported those causes. Then as we started growing, a lot of people started reaching out to us and there’s so many incredible, worthwhile causes out there. So as we started getting contacted and realized there’s so many good causes out there, we started participating in a lot and first with donating money and then at the end, we started donating our time. And that really helped out our law firm immensely. And so it just became a no-brainer at that point to really make even a more concerted effort to give back to the community.

Jon Robinson: (03:18)
What are some of the activities that you do, aside from donating money? What are some of the activities that you do and how do you involve the team in those activities?

Corey Trotz: (03:25)
Sure, sure. So the great part is, is that the attorneys and staff now love to participate in these activities. We spend a lot of time at work and it can be a pressure cooker, but when we get a chance to do some good and be away from the office, we’re having as much fun as possible. So for instance, one weekend we went and cleaned up a park. We also donated or handed out food to impoverished people. And the team building that this really the effect of giving back together and bringing all of our attorneys and staff together, it was incredible team building that we see benefits literally every single day. I mean, they come back after an event like this, our attorneys and staff, and say, “Thanks so much. Can I bring my kids next time?” And it just keeps building and building and we’re having a blast doing it. And I really believe we get more out of it than the people that we’re helping.

Jon Robinson: (04:39)
The culture that you’ve built is impressive. And you’ve made this decision to really embody your community within your law practice. So you’ve come up with these six pillars of NST Law, the core values or guiding principles. Can you talk a little bit about those and how you embed them into your team?

Corey Trotz: (05:01)
Sure. So we have represented literally tens of thousands of injured victims over the course of our 30 years plus career. In doing that, you learn how to treat people, and we try to treat people the way we would want to be treated ourselves. So I guess subconsciously, we’ve always had some core values about letting clients know that we’re accessible to them, letting them know that they can trust us and that we’re going to be transparent and that we’re going to fight for them and we’re going to really seek the maximum compensation for them.

Corey Trotz: (05:46)
So after several years of doing just these types of ideas and putting into motion, we wanted to memorialize it so that we would be reminded every single day of what our job is to do. And it’s what, as personal injury lawyers, we all do to help out our clients. But it’s just a good reminder, not only for ourselves, but so our clients can see it. It’s on our website so that they can see that we’re conscious about this. We think about this every single day, and that’s how I think we’re able to really help out and get clients some good compensation.

Jon Robinson: (06:32)
So the effects on the community are obvious, right? The effects on your team now, everybody knows, right? What have the effects been on the community involvement on the business of the firm? Has it brought more business to you? And if so, how?

Corey Trotz: (06:49)
Yeah, so, I mean, we do it for the right reasons. We want to help people out. We want to take care of our community and have an impact on the community. So that in and of itself is a great benefit. But a side benefit of this is the increased business. We have served on boards. We have donated money. We actually go out into the community and people now recognize us as having and helping, continuing to help, the community. So if I sit on a board of the Exchange Club Family Center, now it’s known as Kindred Place, and it’s a great organization that helps end or tries to end the cycle of child abuse. But if I’m sitting on a board and I’m meeting some incredible people, some great leaders in our town, inevitably, if they have a need for a personal injury attorney or they want to recommend somebody, then it is such a great benefit of that.

Corey Trotz: (08:01)
And they already trust you because you’ve worked with them. And so you’re getting business that way, but also just the recognition that we get by giving back to the community. People, clients have told me that they’ve seen us or charitable giving and that we’ve helped people out by donating our time. So people truly recognize that, and I think it softens the edges for personal injury attorneys. We get knocked a little bit because I mean, of course, we’re helping people out. We’re helping injured victims. But in doing so, there’s going to be lawsuits and trials and things like that. But this is just a way, I think, to soften the edges and people appreciate it by and large in our cities across where we have offices. They truly appreciate our giving.

Jon Robinson: (09:04)
The marketing benefit may not be the easiest to quantify because not everyone always tells you where they found you. But I think this is an important point that those of you watching today who are looking to Corey and his firm as an example of how you should potentially look to grow your business. The benefits of someone else talking about your firm versus you talking about your firm. Personal injury attorneys, Corey’s firm, NST Law, is a great example of this. Corey’s face is everywhere in Memphis. He’s on billboards. He’s on TV all the time. But that’s NST Law talking about NST Law, and people only trust that to a certain extent. When you are involved in the community, now the rest of the community is talking about you in a light, as you mentioned, that you want to be talked about in. So having that third party validation could be extremely, extremely valuable to your firm. It’s been valuable to your firm.

Corey Trotz: (10:00)
Absolutely. When you have given back to the community, people want to help you out after that. And so people go out of their way to call me and say… They didn’t know me. Maybe they would’ve even called me from a TV advertisement, to be honest with you. But they might have known other attorneys, but as I’ve gotten to know them, I guess, by sitting on the boards or by going to certain functions or by handing out food to people, they will come back and seek you out and specifically say, “Oh, I know you from the y’all prepared a dinner at the Ronald McDonald house, which takes care of St. Jude patients.” And they are happy to refer somebody to us. And so it’s just, it’s a great benefit. It’s a win-win for everybody. I mean, it truly is.

Jon Robinson: (11:09)
For attorneys who are watching this and are skeptical or trepidacious, what advice would you give them?

Corey Trotz: (11:16)
Well, you first want to give back to the community, just out of the goodness of your heart. And I know that as personal injury attorneys, we are helping people. So I know you’ve got that in you by wanting to help and do good. But just find something you feel passionate about, give back to the community and you will get back so much more in return, whether it’s somebody just thanking you for helping them for cooking a meal for them or cleaning up a park or donating toys or giving a homeless shelter some coats at the wintertime. That’s thanks in and of itself. But the benefits of people recognizing that you’re helping out, especially for personal injury attorneys, I think really is invaluable.

Jon Robinson: (12:14)
Absolutely. So the advice there is do it. Do it, not just for your community, but do it to help out the brand of your firm. You will see the benefits of it.

Corey Trotz: (12:24)
Absolutely.

Jon Robinson: (12:27)
I think grassroots marketing, which is what this truly is, is a marketing tactic that should be in everybody’s Swiss army knife, right? You’re doing TV, doing billboards. You’re doing internet marketing. You need to be involved in your community and it will pay dividends.

Corey Trotz: (12:41)
I agree. Just put it into your arsenal and good things will happen.

Jon Robinson: (12:46)
Well, I think great advice. Really appreciate you sharing that with our audience today. I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference and thank you very much for joining us.

Corey Trotz: (12:55)
Sure. I’m looking forward to the conference and thanks, Jon, for having me.

Jon Robinson: (12:59)
My pleasure.

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