Attorney Journals, San Diego, Volume 206

Page 1


Volume 206, 2020 $6.95

Excellence in Client Service in the New Normal

Jeff Wolf

5 Ways to Evaluate, Measure and Increase ROI

Julie Savarino

31 Ways to Dramatically Increase Trust

Trey Ryder

6 Facebook Features for Business Pages

Adrian Dayton

Law Firm of the Month

Coughlan & Vinel LLP, San Diego

A Shared Vision: Bringing a Personal Touch to Injury Law

3 Ways to Raise Your Fees and Still Keep Your Clients

Tom Trush

CREATING ECOMMERCE PRODUCT LIABILITY IN CALIFORNIA The Attorneys Behind the Groundbreaking Win in Bolger v.

Thomas D. Luneau Partner, CaseyGerry

Jeremy K. Robinson

Partner, CaseyGerry

Jillian F. Hayes Attorney, CaseyGerry


Dedicated to the Pursuit of Justice Since 1947. As one of San Diego’s most established plaintiffs’ law firms, we have successfully represented thousands of individuals and recovered billions of dollars for our clients. Most recently, we set groundbreaking precedent in ecommerce liability, holding online retail giants accountable to consumers. Above all, we remain dedicated to our civil justice system, and to our community.






2020 EDITION—NO.206

TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 Five Ways to Evaluate, Measure and Increase ROI of Your Firm’s Marketing and Business Development Julie Savarino

8 Thirty-One Ways to Dramatically Increase Trust



12 Six Facebook Features for Business Pages You Didn’t Know About


Adrian Dayton


14 Community News

PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths


STAFF WRITERS Dan Baldwin Jennifer Hadley


CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Adrian Dayton Trey Ryder Julie Savarino Tom Trush Jeff Wolf WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES SUBMIT AN ARTICLE OFFICE 30211 Avenida De Las Banderas Suite 200 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.

16 Coughlan & Vinel LLP, San Diego A Shared Vision: Bringing a Personal Touch to Injury Law by Dan Baldwin

24 Excellence in Client Service in the New Normal Jeff Wolf

28 Three Ways to Raise Your Fees and Still Keep Your Clients Tom Trush


Editorial material appears in Attorney Journals as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journals. Attorney Journals makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journals is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2020 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA



“Rick is one of the best lawyers in the country. I call him every time I have any issue in Nevada and would not hesitate to refer him any type of case of any size.” ~ C. Michael Alder, Esq., Alder Law, Los Angeles, California, CAALA Past President and Former Trial Lawyer of the Year


5 Ways to Evaluate, Measure and Increase ROI of Your Firm’s Marketing and Business Development by Julie Savarino

“To survive and thrive, all lawyers, firms, and other professionals must continue to invest in strategic marketing, selling, and related communications. Few firms or individual professionals without an effective marketing and sales program ever survive economic disruptions.” —Ralph Baxter


mid the current uncertainty, many professional services firms and providers are questioning the value of their marketing, business development, client development/ sales, client service, and communications (MBDCS) function, investments, and efforts. Most firms need to save expenses and resources, and they are taking active steps to do so. Yet it should not take a pandemic to assess and evaluate the value of all MBDCS. They should be regularly assessed, reviewed, and evaluated for effectiveness, and not just once a year at budget time. Without strategic efforts to go to market and develop new clients, no law firm or other professional services firm will be around for long. It is impossible to calculate a precise return on investment (ROI) for anything that is not tracked using metrics. In addition, the ROI of many MBDCS investments is notoriously hard to measure because many marketing and communications investments are designed to build the firm’s image and increase goodwill with clients and contacts. Yet image and goodwill are amorphous, hard-to-assign metrics. As a result, it is hard to measure their ROI with precision. Guesstimates and subjective judgments about ROI are often made but should not be the only way to determine the value and ROI of MBDCS. Below are some ways to evaluate, measure, and increase the ROI from your MBDCS investments and efforts.

aving money on MBDCS time and effort already  Sinvested is a commonly overlooked strategy. How can existing MBDCS efforts be reused to increase utilization, maximize results, avoid reinventing the wheel, and increase leverage and ROI? By using the “res,” i.e., reusing and repurposing, an underutilized strategy for reducing time, effort, costs, and expenses. Even firms that utilize repurposing often do it only on a reactive basis, i.e., only when someone thinks of doing it or has the time. Repurposing existing content can be accomplished by


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

educating all fee earners on how repurposing can benefit them and ways to do so. For example, • Review—Check your document management system and old files to find relevant content that can be repurposed, refreshed, reused, and distributed in other ways for alerts, social media posts, checklists, etc. • Recycle—For example, popular or existing blog posts or alerts can be refreshed and reused for webinars or social media posts. • Refocus—Ask yourself, “What existing content do I/we have that can be reused and sent to other clients, markets, or referral sources?” • Reprocess and Refine—For example, record all remarks fee earners make during nonconfidential presentations and transcribe and convert them into written assets to post and distribute. • Renegotiate—For example, review high MBDCS costs and expenses, such as listings, rankings, and awards. Reconsider what you pay for and what is mission critical. Survey and assess how valuable decision-makers think each expense is and eliminate those that are not mission critical. effective approach to measure ROI on MBDCS  Ais nother to determine the most important growth drivers for your firm or practice. Commonly used measures are: • Changes in revenue, with the goal of all MBDCS being to increase revenues for the firm, practice areas, and offices. • Changes in work in process, with the goal to keep it growing consistently.

• Changes in realization and collections, with the goal to consistently increase the percentage and speed. Yet these commonly used metrics do not provide precise ROI for the range of MBDCS investments. It is a good time to assess and upgrade the metrics used to measure the ROI of (at least) the most strategically important or highest MBDCS cost centers. For example, if a large percentage of your annual amount of work comes from existing clients (in the form of more and other types of work), create a procedure to measure the approximate percentage of work you/your firm does from the total available from that client. Most firms and practitioners do not have a system or procedure to regularly measure this critical statistic, and those that do measure it only for their best or key clients. This is a mistake because there is a lot of opportunity with clients who may use you or your firm for one or a few types of work. Having an ongoing and robust pipeline of organic new  business opportunities and qualified leads is critical to the continued success of every firm and practitioner. Most firms do not quantify, track, or measure leads, qualified leads, or the cost of sales, i.e., the time and money spent on non-qualified opportunities. A qualified lead is defined as one in which an existing client, prospective client, or referral source communicates an interest in a legal or other area or topic. Most often, qualified leads come in the form of questions a client or prospective client asks, such as, “Does your firm have a written cybersecurity policy it recommends?” “Does your firm do FCPA work?” “Are any of your partners experienced in oil and gas?” Clients or prospects ask these kinds of questions because they have (or someone they know has) a need for outside counsel, advice, or representation. Consider creating a formal client development/sales pipeline that centralizes and tracks all or most opportunities ... Once a need is identified, it needs to be qualified, which consists of an internal review or assessment of the lead, which answers these (and other) questions in the affirmative: “Are there any conflicts?” “Is this the type of client our firm wants?” “Is this the type of legal work our firm wants and does well?” Then, the only way any qualified lead is converted into new legal work for the firm is if someone in the firm communicates directly with the person(s) who expressed the need. A firm lawyer, fee earner, or another firm representative needs to get in touch, stay in touch, respond appropriately and in a timely manner, follow up, and follow through to develop the lead and relationship into new work or a new client.

Lead qualification and relationship development are jobs and responsibilities that, in the past, were traditionally handled by firm lawyers and fee earners, but this is changing due to the time, effort, skill, and discipline these processes take. Consider creating a formal client development/sales pipeline that centralizes and tracks all or most opportunities. This can be accomplished using modern technologies that tie to the firm’s existing time and billing, conflicts, email platforms, and new matter intake systems. nother example is to measure the ROI from the highest  AMBDCS cost centers. For many firms and practitioners, the highest cost center (after salaries) is the total amount spent on producing hosting and attending seminars, conferences, and other events. To ensure an ROI from attendance, before approving funding, more firms are requiring fee earners to plan ahead for any conference or seminar they want to attend and to report back in an automated manner on opportunities, leads, and results after attending. Measuring the ROI from websites, blogs, and social  media posts is much easier because they live and are implemented online, and the data is already there. But improvements can be made by creating measurable objectives for any online MBDCS effort in the future. What can be measured? • Qualified traffic • Conversion of visitors/readers into prospects • Engagement: What percentage of the visitors/readers are active in any given period? • Qualified marketing leads (MQLs): How many MQLs were generated? • Qualified sales leads (SQLs): How many SQLs and MQLs were distributed or sent to fee earners, lawyers, or others to qualify and follow up on? • Conversion: How many MQLs and SQLs resulted in new business/sales? How long did conversion take? n Julie Savarino is a Best-selling author, award-winning producer and innovator, diversity champion, nontraditional rainmaker, and highly rated and results-producing developer. Measurably increases organic revenue, client and market share, and client satisfaction and value—and improves client experience. Has been called a “secret weapon” by a major buyer of outside legal services. Helps firms, and supports lawyers and other professionals to generate hundreds in new business by using a tenacious and hands-on work ethic to initiate, scope, scale, price, lead, develop, manage, implement, and follow up on strategic initiatives and projects. The above is excerpted from the new book Survive & Thrive Post-Pandemic: A Guidebook for Legal & Professional Services Providers by Julie Savarino. Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020


31 Ways to Dramatically Increase Trust by Trey Ryder


redibility is everything. If prospects don’t trust you, they won’t hire your services (except in extreme cases). Everything you do either helps or hurts your credibility. Make sure your actions build your credibility, ideally, to the point where your clients trust you without question. Here are 31 steps you can take—and facts you can provide—to increase your credibility.

STEP #1 Treat every prospect as if he’s the most important person in the world. When you give your prospect your undivided attention, you build a stronger relationship because your prospect knows you sincerely want to help them.

STEP #2 Ask your prospect what problem he wants to solve or what goal he wants to achieve. The sooner you focus on your prospect’s needs, the sooner he trusts you—and the sooner he concludes the two of you are working toward a common goal.

STEP #3 Listen carefully so you can determine which points are most important to your prospect. One of the biggest complaints about lawyers is that they offer boilerplate solutions before they have listened to their prospect’s problem. Even if their stories are nearly the same, prospects want to tell you their story so you appreciate the weight they carry on their shoulders.

STEP #4 Offer information about your prospect’s problem and the solution you recommend. The more you educate your prospect, the more your prospect believes that you understand his problem and have the qualifications and skills to solve it.


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STEP #5 Explain how your prospect will benefit from your solution. First, your prospect needs to understand the solution you recommend. Second, your prospect needs to know how he will benefit from that solution.

STEP #6 Admit a negative to vastly increase your credibility. When you make a statement that seems to be against your interest, your credibility soars. In fact, this method is so powerful that one highly successful copywriter uses the technique in almost every print ad he writes. Near the beginning of the ad, he admits a weakness in his product. Consumers know that no product is perfect, so this writer’s admission immediately increases his credibility.

STEP #7 Swim upstream and your marketing message will rise above the rest. If you’re in a practice area where most lawyers recommend the same solutions, write, and offer an educational article that identifies problems with the oftensuggested solution. Within your document, you can explain how to avoid those problems. But on first impression, your materials appear to argue against your own self-interest, which dramatically increases your credibility. And when you explain how to avoid those problems, you reassure your reader that you have the skill and experience to make sure those problems don’t affect your client.

STEP #8 Give your prospect a copy of your biography because it proves that you have the education, background and qualifications to solve your prospect’s problem or help him achieve his goal. Your prospect wants to trust you, but most prospects don’t have much, if any, information about your education and qualifications. When you provide biographical information, your credibility increases immediately.


STEP #15

Add power to your biography with a good marketing photograph. In the photo, you should be looking directly into the camera and have a warm, engaging smile. An attractive photo—closely cropped for strong eye contact— serves as proof that you are kind, pleasant and friendly.

Show your prospect comments from clients who have provided written testimonials about you and your services. Prospects attach more credibility to comments from third parties than on comments from you. To emphasize the importance of testimonials, I tell lawyers that each testimonial from a consumer client is worth $30,000 in legal fees; each testimonial from a business client is worth $50,000 in fees. (A few jurisdictions do not allow lawyers to use testimonials, so make sure you check your bar’s rules of professional conduct.)

STEP #10 Tell your prospect how you have helped other clients in similar situations. Every time you explain a case history, your prospect sees that his is not the first case of this type that you have handled. The more case histories you describe that are similar to your prospect’s, the more your credibility increases in his eyes.

STEP #11 Offer information and advice in plain English. Your prospect finds it hard to trust a lawyer who uses words he doesn’t understand. When you talk with your prospect, speak in simple terms. The more your prospect understands, the higher your level of credibility.

STEP #12 Package your solution so it is attractive to your prospect. When you offer your prospect a solution he likes, you increase your credibility and make it easy for your prospect to accept your offer.

STEP #13 Allow your prospect to make his own decision without pressure from you. All of us have learned to distrust the salesperson who tries to pressure us into making a decision. To increase your credibility, tell your prospect that you will provide information and recommend the solution you believe is in his best interests. At the same time, make sure your prospect knows that you will never try to pressure him into making a decision.

STEP #14 Make sure your prospect knows that you are happy to answer his questions now and in the future. The way to build trust and respect is to keep the lines of communication open. If your prospect isn’t ready to make a decision, invite your prospect to call you any time he has a question or when he is ready to move forward.

STEP #16 Show your prospect letters of recommendation from colleagues and professionals. These letters attest to the depth of your knowledge, skill, judgment, and experience—and prove that your colleagues trust you. The more letters you have, the more they persuade. (As with testimonials, check your rules of professional conduct to see if you are allowed to use letters of recommendation in your jurisdiction.)

STEP #17 Provide your prospect with a list of references. Testimonials and letters of recommendation are better than references because the comments are already on paper. Even so, references increase credibility—and the more, the better. Include the person’s name, profession, phone number and email address. Often, prospects won’t actually call your references. The mere fact that you list them increases your credibility.

STEP #18 Provide your prospect with copies of articles that support the depth of his problem, reinforce the solution you recommend, or both. Generic articles—which you did not write and in which you are not quoted—prove that the problems and solutions you discuss are true. The more respected the publication, the more credibility he attaches to what you say.

STEP #19 Give your prospect copies of published articles you’ve written. Even if the article’s subject is not directly on point, a published article proves that editors respect and trust you as a reliable source of information. Published articles build instant credibility and reinforce that you are an authority in your field of law. The more well-known and respected the publications, the more positively they reflect on you. The more articles you have, the better.

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STEP #20

STEP #26

Give your prospect a list of results you have achieved or transactions you have completed for your clients. This list serves as proof that you are good at what you do. Whatever service you offer, create a list of 10 to 20 results and describe each case or transaction in two or three sentences. You don’t need to include clients’ names, but the results are more believable when you do.

Consider buying engraved stationery. When professionally designed, engraved stationery is clean, neat, elegant, and high-end. When a lawyer sends me a letter on engraved stationery, I immediately conclude that he is an experienced, skilled attorney.

STEP #21 Before your first meeting, send your prospect a short letter (1) offering information about the service you want to market, (2) answering frequently asked questions, (3) discussing what takes place during your initial meeting, and (4) outlining your fees. When you put your prospect’s mind at ease, he is more willing to meet with you. What’s more, you can quickly get down to specifics because you don’t have to explain your services to each prospect.

STEP #22 Provide your prospect with a list of your competitive advantages—the many positive ways you differ from other lawyers. This list usually relates to the depth of your knowledge, skill, qualifications, and experience.

STEP #23 Give your prospect a written schedule of services and fees. Prospects trust what they see in print more than what they hear. When you talk about fees, you leave room for misunderstanding. But when you give your prospect a written schedule of services and fees, prospects grow more comfortable and you increase your credibility because prospects have your information in writing.

STEP #24 Make sure your documents look attractive and contain NO typos. Even before your prospect reads your words, your lines, borders, white space, fonts, and photographs create the document’s first impression on his brain. And when your prospect starts reading your words, make sure your documents do not contain typos. Few things hurt your credibility as much as typing mistakes, allowing your reader to conclude that you don’t pay attention to detail.

STEP #25 Use understated graphics. I’ve seen lawyers’ documents that looked as if the lawyer bought a new graphics program, then used one of everything: A star—a lightning bolt—an arrow. Before long, the document looked like a bad newspaper ad. Graphics should support your message, not interfere with it.


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

STEP #27 Make sure your address label and envelope look clean and crisp. Prospects instantly and subconsciously evaluate what they see, even before they open the envelope.

STEP #28 Make sure your fees seem fair and reasonable. In practice areas where contingent fees are common, they are generally accepted by clients. Now, lawyers in other areas of law are offering to work on contingency. Watch how prospects respond to your discussion of fees. You must be able to explain how you charge so it makes sense and seems fair to your prospect.

STEP #29 Get powerful phone numbers. When the phone company opened a new exchange in Payson, I quickly secured 928-4681000 and 928-468-2000. You look more stable, important, and influential when you have good phone numbers.

STEP #30 Set up a website. Today, if you don’t have a website, prospects and clients wonder what’s wrong with you. If you still haven’t built a website, choose a provider, hire a marketing person, and get busy.

STEP #31 Get your own law firm domain name for your website and email addresses. Lawyers who do not have their own domain names appear to be lightweights. Often, prospects and clients infer that the lawyer is “between assignments” and will get his own domain name when he gets a job. n Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for Lawyers. He designs dignified marketing programs for lawyers and law firms in the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Trey works from his offices in Payson, Arizona and Juneau, Alaska. To read more of Trey’s articles, visit the Lawyer Marketing Advisor at

6 Facebook Features for Business Pages You Didn’t Know About by Adrian Dayton


acebook is one of the most useful and versatile social media platforms out there; it has 2.23 billion monthly users, making it the most widely used platform available. Being as popular as it is, Facebook provides business pages with some fantastic tools that you may not have heard of before. Let’s take a look at six business page Facebook features you may not be leveraging. 1. Interact with Posts from the Brand Page The first feature is the ability to like other pages AS A BRAND. Facebook allows you to like other pages through your brand page, allowing you to give support to partners and other companies you support. On your brand page, you can also feature five pages that you have liked. You can let Facebook randomly choose what these are, or you can hand-select them through the Like As Your Page button. 2. Know Who Has Liked the Page Another great feature is the People and Other Pages option. This gives you a comprehensive list of every single person and business that has liked your page. Its use is incredibly intuitive, allowing you to select parameters, such as date or profile settings, and view the people that fit those parameters. The People and Other Pages option is a great page to check in on weekly to give you the data of how you performed during the previous week. 3. Leverage Facebook Response Assistant Up next is the Facebook Response Assistant. This tool helps save time for teams that don’t have a 24-hour social marketing team. A recent study, by, stated that 44% of consumers that message a Facebook page expect to get a response. And the Response Assistant allows you to do that. It has three options: • Stay responsive when you can’t get to your computer or phone • Show a messenger greeting • Send instant replies to anyone who messages your page. Examples of how the Response Assistant can reply include: ‘Hi Jane, thanks for your message. We are not here right now, but we will get back to you soon!’ ‘Hi Jane! Thanks for getting in touch with us on Messenger. Please send us any questions you may have,’


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

‘Thanks for messaging us. We try to be as responsive as possible. We’ll get back to you soon.’ 4. Saved Replies The next tool is very similar to the Response Assistant, it’s called Saved Replies. This feature allows you to write, save, and re-use messages. While this is a great time-saver, you’ll want to be careful about how often you use it. It’s easy to use the instant saved messages to respond to your customers, but your customers may catch on that they are receiving an automated response. If they do catch on, your company may appear too automated and less personable. To combat this, you can do some research on chatbot best practices. 5. Customize Your Feed with Save Post Did you know that the content you like on Facebook can impact what you see on your News Feed? Another way to tell Facebook what content you like to see is by utilizing the Save Post button. This button allows you to store content you may want to view later or perhaps feature on your business page. Facebook will also remind you periodically of the items you have saved. The Save Post button helps you save time and view interesting content at your leisure. 6. Keep an Eye on Competitors with Page to Watch Finally, we have the Pages to Watch feed. If you’ve been using Facebook for a while, you likely know of Facebook Insights, the Pages to Watch feed is found under Facebook Insights. If you have more than 100 likes on your business page you get access to this feature. This feature allows you to track the page likes and activity of other pages on Facebook. Beware though, whoever manages a page that you add to your watchlist will get a notification when you add them. n Adrian Dayton has made a career inspiring risk-averse professionals to leverage social and digital media to bring in more business. Mr. Dayton has personally trained over 30,000 professionals in 12 countries and is the founder and CEO of Clearview Social, a tool that helps marketers get employees sharing on social media. If you want more firepower to help you convince your lawyers to embrace social media, email Mr. Dayton to receive his latest whitepaper, 10 Ways to Get Risk-Averse Professionals Sharing to Social Media, email your request to dayton@clearviewsocial. com. Originally published on Forbes and reprinted with permission.

COMMUNITY news n Johnson Fistel is pleased to announce the addition of attorney John J. O’Brien to its San Diego office. Mr. O’Brien brings over a decade of trial experience in complex commercial litigation matters including business fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, trade secret theft, JOHN J. O’BRIEN misappropriation of likeness, breach of contract, business defamation, and real estate fraud litigation. Prior to joining Johnson Fistel, Mr. O’Brien successfully operated his own private law practice in San Diego for more than 10 years, representing individuals and businesses harmed by the wrongful and fraudulent conduct of others. With his aggressive, trustworthy, and creative approach to litigation, Mr. O’Brien has managed hundreds of cases and his clients have prevailed in several trials and arbitrations.“John O’Brien is a welcomed addition to Johnson Fistel, particularly in the firm’s consumer fraud and trial practice,” managing partner, Frank Johnson, stated. “Mr. O’Brien’s exceptional litigation and trial abilities were highlighted earlier this year in the GirlsDoPorn trial.” n Noonan Lance Boyer & Banach LLP (NoonanLance) announced that partner James R. Lance has received the 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” in San Diego for Real Estate Litigation— Construction from Best Lawyers, the legal profession’s most respected peer-review publication. Lance, JAMES R. LANCE David J. Noonan, Ethan T. Boyer and Genevieve M. Ruch have all received “Best Lawyers” honors. Since it was founded in 2016, Best Lawyers has recognized NoonanLance every year as one of the nation’s leading law firms. James R. Lance’s recognition as “Lawyer of the Year” for Real Estate Litigation—Construction is based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the peer review assessments. Lance has continuously been honored in the Commercial Litigation and Real Estate Litigation categories and has also received the Best Lawyers distinction for Legal Malpractice Law. In addition to his Best Lawyers’ recognitions, Lance was recently selected to America’s Top 100 Bet-the-Company Litigators for 2020.

Have a Press Release you would like to submit for our Community News? Email it to


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

n Antonyan Miranda is celebrating its first major milestone, the firm’s fifth anniversary. Founded in 2015 by Certified Family Law Specialists Ilona Antonyan and Timothy Miranda, the firm has since grown to become one of California’s largest family law firms. The firm handles complex family ILONA ANTONYAN & law matters, and now provides estate TIMOTHY MIRANDA planning and probate litigation services. The Antonyan Miranda team is comprised of Certified Family Law Specialists and other attorneys who have been recognized locally and nationally as some of the best in the country and represents clients in all phases of family law litigation and appeals. “When we decided to merge our individual practices, we had hoped that we would be able to help more families in San Diego in need of legal services,” said Antonyan. “Our growth and success are a testament to the outstanding attorneys and staff that comprise Antonyan Miranda, and we know together, they will continue to expand and evolve.” n Wilson Turner Kosmo, the largest certified women‐owned law firm in San Diego, continues to bolster its team of accomplished attorneys practicing employment and warranty law with the additions of Aimee Axelrod Parker, Simone M. Leonard, Rita M. Leong, David M. Middleton, Naomi C. Pontious and Morgan D. Stewart to its Employment, Class Actions and Warranties practice groups. Wilson Turner Kosmo serves as California trial counsel for local and national companies and public institutions. The firm’s 41 lawyers provide litigation expertise in the areas of product liability, employment law, class actions and general business litigation. Established in 1991, Wilson Turner Kosmo’s attorneys are frequently honored for their commitment to the legal profession and the San Diego community. The firm is one of the largest women‐owned law firms in California and is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms and The Supplier Clearinghouse for the Utility Supplier Diversity Program of the California Public Utilities Commission.


n Hughes Marino, a market leader in the commercial real estate space specializing in tenant advisory services, announced today the strategic addition of Jennifer Hale as the company’s Senior Vice President and PLA Director of the Portfolio Lease Administration and Advisory Service division. Hale will oversee the company’s global JENNIFER HALE portfolio lease administration services, advising clients with multiple locations around the country and globally with their lease administration, as well as other portfolio services including lease accounting, lease audit and advisory for complex real estate scenarios. Hale joins Hughes Marino from the Washington D.C. metro region, where she spent 15 years as the top lease administration expert, leading a lease administration team for one of the largest real estate enterprises in the area where she was responsible for the lease administration and oversight of thousands of companies consisting of millions of square feet of space. n Higgs Fletcher & Mack (HFM) welcomes attorney Robert K. Peck to its Business Litigation practice group. Peck’s experience includes working with clients in complex business disputes and professional liability litigation. He has established an exceptional track record of success in court, obtaining significant jury verdicts and arbitration awards ROBERT K. PECK in favor of his clients. “We are proud to welcome Robert to Higgs Fletcher & Mack,” said Steve Cologne, HFM Managing Partner. “I am confident Robert will contribute to the success of our business litigation practice.” Peck earned his law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law cum laude and Order of the Coif. In law school, Peck was a member of the San Diego Law Review and served as a judicial extern to the Honorable William Q. Hayes, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. n Jennifer Keller has again been named to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals’ list of “The Top 100 Lawyers in California.” This is Keller’s thirteenth appearance on the list. Over the last 12 months, Ms. Keller has received a plethora of awards and honors, statewide and nationally, including: ranked the #1 attorney in Southern California by Southern JENNIFER KELLER California Super Lawyers for 2020; Chambers USA and Chambers Global ranking of lawyers, recommended in General Commercial Litigation and Trials; 2020 Benchmark Litigation “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America”; California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) award for 2019; the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals’ list of “The Top 100 Lawyers in California”; Lawdragon’s “The 500 Leading Lawyers in America”; and Best Lawyers 2020-21.

n Hartley LLP was appointed as co-lead counsel in its class action complaint against the country’s largest meat suppliers for conspiring to constrain beef supplies and for artificially inflating domestic beef prices. Cargill, Inc., JBS USA Food JASON HARTLEY Company Holdings, National Beef Packing Company, and Tyson Foods, Inc. conspired to limit the supply and fix the prices of beef sold to grocers and wholesalers. Collectively, the companies supply approximately 80 percent of the $100 billion fresh and frozen beef in the U.S. market. Through a concerted effort of beef price and supply manipulation, the prices paid by direct purchasers were substantially higher than they would have paid in a competitive market. “The country’s largest meat processing and packing companies colluded to reduce the supply of beef and did so at a particularly vulnerable time for buyers,” said Jason Hartley, Founder of Hartley LLP. Hartley LLP filed the class action on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased beef in the United States between January of 2015 and the present. n We are pleased to announce that partners Erwin Shustak and Paul Reynolds have been selected by a nationwide survey of their peers for inclusion in the 2021 27th Edition of Best Lawyers in America©, Erwin for the sixth consecutive year in ERWIN SHUSTAK AND the area of Financial Services PAUL REYNOLDS Regulation Law, and Paul for the first time in the area of Commercial Litigation. Best Lawyers© is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession and being selected is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor and achievement, conferred on less than 5% of all legal professionals in the U.S. Inclusion in Best Lawyers© has the respect of the legal profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal professionals anywhere and is considered the most credible measure of legal integrity and distinction in the United States.

Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020






A Shared Vision Bringing a Personal Touch to Injury Law Partners Obtain Best Results for Clients by Treating Them Like Family


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

© Bauman Photographers

by Dan Baldwin


en Coughlan and Kacie Vinel have achieved impressive results in some of the largest cases in a challenging and emotionally charged area of the law—personal injury. Coughlan & Vinel, LLP is the vision they’ve longshared finally come to fruition: a small firm prioritizing compassion toward their clients—individuals who have suffered orthopedic, traumatic brain injuries, and other catastrophic injuries. Their approach is to provide focused advocacy to a small portfolio of clients, enabling them to create a close relationship with each. “Having that close relationship with a case and client—spending day and night thinking, working, and discovering every nook and cranny—allows us to get maximum value for our clients,” Vinel says. Coughlan feels fortunate to earn his living by helping people. “Kacie and I get very close with our clients because it’s what feels right. We want each client to feel valued and cared for, because we do care.”

“Compassionate treatment. Relentless pursuit of justice. Results-driven.” Without fail, Coughlan and Vinel have found that the best results come when they have been able to communicate their client’s story, put the harm they’ve suffered into context and fully share the impact it has had on their client’s life. Getting to that story requires empathy, patience, and a lot of time. Generally speaking, their clients face some of the worst moments of their lives. One of the first cases Coughlan and Vinel worked on together was a wrongful death case on behalf of the family of an elderly man who took his daughter and granddaughter car shopping. They were locked in the dealership, which required the man to step up a large, dangerous ledge to get help. He fell backward and cracked his head open in front of his daughter and granddaughter. He ultimately died of the brain injury he suffered after spending months in medical care. The team spent countless hours throughout a couple of years getting to know the man’s family during the litigation process. “Listening to them tell stories about their dad and how he shaped their lives made me realize very early that I loved helping people going through difficult times, but even more I loved that people would share their stories with me,” Coughlan says. Moments before the opening statement at trial, the defense decided to pay the full demand. Another aspect of Coughlan and Vinel’s compassionate

approach is helping clients understand their symptoms and medical diagnoses in order to cope with them. They routinely deal with clients whose ability to work, to interact with their loved ones, to participate in their day-to-day lives have been affected by a traumatic event. Sometimes, clients aren’t even able to recognize their own symptoms, and it takes talking to loved ones to help them understand the full picture. Coughlan is skilled at explaining the medicine in a way that is easy to digest. This helps the client and family process what they are going through, develop expectations about the possibilities for the future, and alleviate some of the feelings of isolation. “I cannot count the number of times a client has said, ‘I’ve not even had a doctor explain it to me that way. Now I get it.’ Our representation goes beyond just providing legal advice, but building a connection with the client, their family, and helping them navigate their treatment and their ‘new normal,’” Vinel says. Vinel recalls a case that was referred to them after the defense refused to pay the insurance policy limits. A young IT professional suffered a neck injury and severe concussion after being struck by a wrong-way driver on the freeway. He dealt with mood fluctuation and struggled with focus and concentration. It prevented him from participating in his favorite hobby, Lindy hop dancing. The defense and their doctors claimed his issues came from anything but the collision—simply calling him a liar. “It was clear to him, us, and his loved ones that his struggles all started with the collision,” Vinel says. “So we talked to his friends, his dance partner, and even his ex-girlfriend to find how he had changed since the incident. Doing this gave us personal insight into who he was, a vivid image of what his life was like before and after,” she says. The change they demonstrated was compelling enough that they ultimately recovered an amount many multiples of the policy limits. Coughlan and Vinel particularly enjoy celebrating recovery milestones with their clients. Last year, they resolved a hard-fought case after two years of contentious litigation. Their client, a teenage girl, suffered a catastrophic brain injury. When the attorneys first met her, she could barely speak and couldn’t walk. “We celebrated with her incredible parents as she took her first steps, began to swim, learned to express herself through drawing. At the end of the case, not only did the young woman walk on her own into the courtroom for the minor’s compromise hearing, but she spoke eloquently about how much we cared for her and what we did to ensure she had a future. I was crying like a baby right there in open Court,” he says. Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020


© Bauman Photographers

it to simple situations is second to none,” Coughlan says. Coughlan’s parents are lawyers, including his father, Jerry Coughlan, who is a wellrespected trial lawyer. Initially he resisted the career path, pursuing journalism instead. He worked in the Media Relations department of the San Diego Padres and returned to law school, aspiring to further his career in sports. “In law school, a friend asked me to compete in a mock trial with her. I fell in love with trial work right then and there,” he said. He found personal injury work while still in law school and found it fulfilling to represent real people. “I loved that. I was hooked right from the get-go and have never looked back,” he says.

From InstructorStudent Relationship to Partnership

Ben Coughlan, Co-Founder/Partner

From Writing Copy to Righting Wrongs The art of telling compelling stories, and the drive to help others are traits both Coughlan and Vinel share. Vinel grew up watching her father, a Pulitzer Prizewinning investigative journalist, expose wrongs, uncover the truth, and shed light on critical issues facing the public. “He positively impacted the world by uncovering and reporting everything from a corrupt sheriff to the hidden failings of healthcare for veterans. I wanted to do something that felt like that and was drawn to a career that would actually help people,” she says. Her father’s journalistic influence shines through in her work. “Kacie’s ability to research complex law and apply


Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

The partners met six years ago through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA). Coughlan was an instructor in the deposition skills program, and Vinel, a USD law student at the time, served on the administrative team. “I was impressed with Kacie’s organization and attention to detail, her ability to connect quickly with both the faculty and students, and her efficiency.” Vinel appreciated the time Coughlan took to entertain all of her questions about his practice and his clients. “Ultimately, his description of personal injury practice got me really interested, and I ended up seeking a clerkship with his firm,” she says. They have worked together ever since. Coughlan remembers how Vinel immediately showed maturity beyond her years and an amazing ability to instantly connect with clients and distill detailed information into a cogent story. “We have become so close over the years that she knows my weaknesses. I know hers. She knows my strengths, and I know hers,” he says. Opening their own firm is a long-held dream. They are grateful for the experiences and know-how developed working for and with other phenomenal lawyers, but they want to evolve as attorneys and as people and to build something in their own image. “It has been my view that the most productive work

environments truly revolve around people who enjoy spending time together, who want to work hard for and with each other, and who want to lift each other up. Kacie is my best friend and there is no one I would rather practice law with, and she is the best lawyer I know. It really is that simple,” Coughlan says.

Serving the Community Coughlan and Vinel’s care about the work they do extends beyond their own clients through their participation in the community as volunteers. Both have served on the board of the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving the quality of life for brain injury survivors and their families by connecting them to resources, social activities, and group meetings. The organization also supports Howard House, a 24-hour residential facility for typically between six and eight survivors. Vinel is the acting vice president and Coughlan is the immediate past vice president. Coughlan is also a coauthor/editor of a book for brain injury survivors and their families called A Journey Toward Recovery: A Brain Injury Guide for Survivors. The pair has handled some of the biggest brain injury

cases in the state and are regularly asked to step in to advise, consult on and litigate cases. Through working with SDBIF and their clients, they have learned that working on a TBI case is simply not the same as any other type of case. It requires a specialized understanding of the medicine and unique issues the client faces. “Our work dealing with brain injury survivors outside of the firm has helped us to identify with our clients in a way that gives them confidence with us. It is our job to help our clients, to be patient, to do this for the right reason. It’s more than just running a business and that frustrates a lot of lawyers. You are also a therapist and in many circumstances a member of the family. That’s really where we excel,” Coughlan says. Coughlan and Vinel recognize they have been fortunate to learn from phenomenal mentors who shaped their approach to the law. They are committed to paying it forward by sharing their expertise with others. They both serve on the Board of Directors for Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD) (Coughlan is the Treasurer), and as instructors for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) where they first met. Vinel also serves as a team leader in the Wallace Inn of Court and has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star two years in a row.

© Bauman Photographers

Kacie Venel, Co-Founder/Partner


Kacie is my best friend and there is no one I would rather practice law with, and she is the best lawyer I know. It really is that simple.”

Coughlan is an adjunct professor for the University of San Diego School of Law where he is also a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has been named Outstanding Trial Lawyer by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, A Top 10 Attorney across all practice areas in San Diego by San Diego Metro Magazine, 40 under 40 by San Diego Metro Magazine, one of “America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys,” and a SuperLawyers Rising Star five years in a row. Coughlan met his wife, Kathleen, while working for the San Diego Padres. They have a three-year-old son named Jack and an eight-month-old daughter named Mackenzie. In his spare time, he can be found rooting on the Padres or in the kitchen cooking with his son. 20

Vinel and her husband, Nico, met as Division I tennis players at Santa Clara University. Tennis plays and has played a large role in their lives—Nico is the associate head tennis coach at SDSU. They enjoy hiking and are very excited to announce the birth of their first baby on September 22, 2020. A little girl they named Luna Anne Vinel. n Contact Coughlan and Vinel LLP 4660 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 575 San Diego, CA (618) 436-1990

Jan M. Eckermann MD, FAANS Diplomate, American Board of Neurological Surgery Brain and Spine Surgeon

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Back pain Back injuries Back spasm Neck pain Shooting pain in the arm (cervical radiculopathy) Shooting pain in the legs (lumbar radiculopathy) Sciatica Herniated discs Pinched nerves Chronic pain syndrome Failed back and failed fusion syndrome Traumatic brain injury Concussions Carpal tunnel syndrome Lumbar fusions Spinal stenosis

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Excellence in Client Service in the New Normal by Jeff Wolf



fter several months of sheltering at home, staggering business losses, and unemployment, we’re slowly and cautiously reopening the country. In my coaching and consulting sessions with law firms during the pandemic, we’ve discussed critical issues such as speed, agility, resilience, pivoting, adaptability, prioritizing, change, strategy, scenario planning, transformation, rebuilding, rethinking and much more.

imperative means that we must pay increasing attention to whatever it takes, one-on-one and one-by-one, to earn the love, loyalty, and respect of our clients. Effective client service starts with a comprehensive definition of client service. Current definitions are based on meeting or exceeding client expectations, satisfying or delighting clients, or delivering on time. While these are necessary conditions, they are insufficient to guarantee success.

Excellence in Client Service

Client Trust

As we enter the new normal, excellence in client service will be an imperative! In an era where clients demand high-speed information, the role of the client service function and the attorneys and staff who deliver this service are pivotal. Client service is communication central for day-to-day information on client satisfaction, client relations, and client intentions. The client service frontline is both your first line of defense and, increasingly, your vital early-warning system. Today’s law firms must be experts not only in client relations, problem-solving, and core services, but also experts in gathering, synthesizing, assessing, and distributing data. Every client contact is a critical data point, a chance to learn something important about a valued client. It’s safe to say the pandemic has taught us many lessons. For law firms, a major lesson is that today’s client service function is a profit center, with a huge impact on client retention and future plans. We all need to learn new ways to listen to our clients and expand the parameters of what we listen for. Clients with strong feelings—positive or negative—are the clients who are most likely and least likely to do business with us again. Service quality is recognized as the marketing edge that can differentiate one commodity from another. The service

I define client service in our new world as the process of building client trust in the delivery of selected services. Trust forms a partnership. Satisfaction at a transactional level is insufficient. Trustworthiness is needed in order to become a partner and remain a partner. Without trust, no client would enter into such a relationship. I view client service as a series of well-defined tasks that focus on building the client’s trust. To execute this process, every person needs to be trained until behavior that builds trust becomes habitual. There needs to be a reward system in place that is directed toward developing and reinforcing the habit to ensure that it is sustained over time. The psychology of buying is the psychology of trust. So, use every opportunity to build trust. Fine-tune the client service process to build trust. Do this continually to ensure success. Trust is a function of competence and character. Competence is understanding needs and arriving at solutions that work in the client’s context and constraints. Character is using the competence to propose a solution that is in the client’s best interest. Clients need to believe that you have the character to use your competence while keeping their best interests at the forefront of your mind. While initial perceptions of character and competence

Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

help land new clients, keeping clients is a function of their expectations. A critical element in retaining today’s client is actual service delivery performance, and what firms do to close gaps between expectations and outcomes. Train your people to use the gaps as a way to build trust. The question to ask is, “Where can I invest the next dollar to build the most trust?” The most effective way to build trust is to focus on delivering those services where there is vibrant synergy between the firm’s core competencies and the clients’ needs.

An Exercise to Evaluate Trust—How Well Do You Know Your Clients? Select one of your major clients. List all of the major services you provide to maintain the trust of that client. Include benefits you consider over and above the norm. Include pricing, quality, quantity discounts, delivery of services, problem-solving …list everything. In a column adjoining the services you’ve described, write how well or how poorly your main competitor provides the same services for that client.

If you’re unaware of what services your chief competitor offers, especially extra benefits over and above the norm, you’re at a decided competitive disadvantage. When times get rough like they are now, and the client cuts back legal services, yours may be the first to go or get cut. Add to the list, services your main competitor has that you don’t. You shouldn’t be surprised at what they are, but you might be. Now, rethink what you need to stay or become that client’s favored law firm. Think in terms of reinvigorating the relationship. Always remember that trust is the keyword. When your client trusts you, they have faith in you, and that’s the most crucial benefit you can provide. n Jeff Wolf is one of the most highly sought-after legal coaches and consultants in the country. He is an international bestselling author and was named one of America’s Top 100 thought leaders. He has been featured on NBC, CBS, CNBC, and FOX TV and is a commentator for the Legal Broadcasting Network. As founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC, he has built a valued practice that addresses the critical problems confronting lawyers and law firms t oday. H e m ay b e reached at or in his San Diego office 858-638-8260.

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3 Ways to Raise Your Fees and Still Keep Your Clients by Tom Trush

Here are 3 ways you can raise your fees, instantly increase your revenue, and still get your clients’ buy-in: 1. Eliminate frequent or predictable discounts. While it’s tempting to discount your products or services to increase your client base, doing so can bring big risk. Discounting trains clients to normalize your products or services at a lower rate. So when you raise prices back to normal, the increase seems unfair. After all, your clients know it’s possible to purchase your products or services at a lower rate. Discounting also deters brand loyalty because it attracts buyers who only make decisions based on price. So they vanish the moment better pricing becomes available elsewhere. Look at J.C. Penney ... The retailer focuses so much on discounting (even eliminating sales and coupons) that the brand can’t keep customers these days. Also, understand that numerous studies prove people perceive their purchases as higher value when they pay more. So why cheapen what you offer? Instead, consider adding bonuses to attract new customers and counter objections that might prevent new buyers from trying your product or service.

2. Rebrand to increase perceived value. It’s only natural that a used car dealership’s perception is different than a luxury brand such as Bentley or BMW. So why not use a disparity like this to your advantage? In the mid-1980s, Apple faced near bankruptcy before undergoing one of the most well-known rebranding campaigns in business history. The iMac combined high performance with a new, sleek design that paved the way for what is now a collection of premium-brand products. Your product design, website and social media accounts are all possible places to start rebranding. In 2013, Birchbox, a subscription ecommerce company for beauty samples, overhauled its website and packaging for their premium rebranding campaign. The logo was updated with a simpler, more modern look, while an interior “gift” box was added to the packaging with color-coded tissue paper (based on items purchased). Last year’s revenues reached an estimated $125 million. Keep in mind, as a premium brand, you must also create an experience. Le Labo, a luxury perfume brand, handles this task like a pro. Each perfume is hand-blended in front of the customer the moment it’s purchased. The bottle is then dated, and the customer’s name is added. Once brought home, the bottle must be refrigerated for a week before you can use it. This process 28

Attorney Journals San Diego | Volume 206, 2020

doesn’t just create an exclusive product—it creates an experience. So what experience can you work into your product or service— and could a rebranding effort bring you big benefits?

3. Add your anchor. A price is only considered cheap or expensive if you have at least one other option for comparison. For example, walk the medicine aisle in Walgreens and you’ll notice their own medicines look like a better deal because they’re priced lower than the major brands. The additional options create relativity, which is a key component to price anchoring. Basically, the idea is to offer higher (and, in some cases, lower) pricing to make your ideal option look more appealing. Even better if the higher priced item is seen first. Let’s say you offer a $3,000 watch. Compared to your run-of-the-mill Timex, that’s a pricey timepiece. However, what if you display it next to a similar one priced at $12,000? All of the sudden $3,000 looks like a bargain. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini tells how a billiard-table dealer nearly doubled his average table sales by using decoy pricing. Here’s the excerpt: If you were a billiard-table dealer, which would you advertise— the $329 model or the $3,000 model? The chances are you would promote the low-priced item and hope to trade the customer up when he comes to buy. But G. Warren Kelley, new business promotion manager at Brunswick, says you could be wrong ... To prove his point, Kelley has actual sales figures from a representative store ... During the first week, customers ... were shown the low end of the line ... and then encouraged to consider more expensive models—the traditional trading-up approach ... The average table sale that week was $550 ... However, during the second week, customers ... were led instantly to a $3,000 table, regardless of what they wanted to see ... and then allowed to shop the rest of the line, in declining order of price and quality. The result of selling down was an average sale of over $1,000. Again, you simply condition your prospects to higher prices from the start, which then psychologically makes them more responsive to your lower-priced products and services. Try one or two of the ideas shared here—or combine them all—and you’re almost certain to increase your average sales and overall profitability. n Tom Trush a Phoenix, AZ-based direct-response copywriter who helps entrepreneurs and executives craft lead-generating marketing materials. Pick up his latest book, Escape the Expected: The Secret Psychology of Selling to Today's Skeptical Consumers, for free (just cover shipping) at


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