NextGen Legal

Win Your Play With Chris Wilson of Taylor English

NextGen Legal Podcast Episode 1: Win Your Play With Chris Wilson of Taylor English

In this episode of the NextGen Legal Podcast, we speak with corporate and finance lawyer Chris Wilson from Taylor English, an Atlanta-based firm with 175+ attorneys that embraced the hybrid work model long before the pandemic. Chris shares lessons learned from Taylor English’s position as one of the largest remote law firms and how he helped build the practice. We discuss leadership, firm culture and the future of law with one of our favorite next gen legal leaders whose candor is refreshing.

Referenced in this episode: Good To Great by Jim Collins


This podcast was transcribed through a third-party application. Please disregard any misrepresentations.

Intro (00:02):

Welcome to the NextGen Legal podcast, candid conversations with next generation leaders in the legal industry about new ways of doing business in a rapidly evolving legal market. Now here’s your host, Marci Taylor.

Marci Taylor (00:18):

Welcome to the NextGen Legal podcast. I’m Marci Taylor from the law firm advisory team at Withum and today I’m so excited to have Chris Wilson from Taylor English joining us. How are you, Chris?

Chris Wilson (00:30):

Hey, doing well. Thanks for having me Marci. Appreciate it.

Marci Taylor (00:32):

Chris. You and I met a few years ago at a managing partner conference and gratefully we’ve kept in touch and I’ve enjoyed our conversations and your thoughts on leadership in the legal industry and the things that you have to say. And so really appreciate your time today. Do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about your background?

Chris Wilson (00:50):

Sure. I’m kind of a second career attorney, my first career, I was a banker and then I decided I didn’t enjoy that. So I went back to law school and then spent seven years at an AmLaw 200 firm. I was with the firm Troutman Sanders at the time. It’s now Troutman Pepper. After that, I spent a couple years in house and then I decided after not really enjoying my experience working in house, I decided to venture into the new world of virtual law firms. And so I was with originally a virtual firm and then spent eight years there. And after that, I came over and joined Taylor English, which at the time was a Atlanta based traditional firm with an office here in Atlanta and the attorneys here in Atlanta. But the reason I came over was to bring my experience in the virtual firm and to help grow and expand Taylor English around the country, developing a program that we referred to at the time as a remote partner program, where we would bring attorneys in and they would operate wherever they might live physically.

Chris Wilson (01:54):

And of course this was all pre COVID. So to some extent, this was new and different and scary for a lot of folks. Even though today, we kind of look back and maybe laugh and think, oh, well, you know, everybody’s doing it. So it’s not that big a deal. But five years ago, when I jumped over to Taylor English, that wasn’t the case. So that’s what we were trying to do at Taylor English was to be a market leader. Like I said, I’ve been there five years. I’m also a corporate attorney and I have a client list that kind of keeps me busy when I’m not out recruiting or managing. So those are kind of three different hats that I typically wear. And on any given day at any given time, I might be wearing a couple of those .

Marci Taylor (02:33):

So you were really ahead of the game. I mean, even before you came to Taylor English being part of a virtual law firm, when virtual law firms were, you know, very rare.

Chris Wilson (02:43):

Yeah. Yeah. We, you know, it appealed to me initially, gosh, now that probably would be 13 years ago. It appealed to me because at the time I was a newly divorced individual guy who had two really young daughters. They were, I guess, six and four at that time. And so I needed to be available. I had them 50% of the time and so I needed to be available to get in places. And, uh, at the time, gosh, I guess the oldest was doing ballet every day, I think. And then the younger one was doing gymnastics and then she got into cheerleading. And so there were responsibilities there as a parent that I live in the suburbs of Atlanta. And if I had gone back to working at big law, that would require easy an hour, each way commute, and that would not have been conducive to being an active parent in my girls’ lives. So that was really the excitement for me at the time was I had an opportunity to kind of set my own schedule, work wherever I wanted to. And I didn’t work from home. I got an office myself at a Regis office location near my house. So I could go to work and worked in that office space, but I, you know, I had a five minute commute, not an hour commute. So it really enabled me to I think be more active in my kids’ lives.

Marci Taylor (04:04):

Well, that’s a great reason to do it. And so you came over to Taylor English and you started running this, this national program really, it’s now it’s a national partner program. Can you tell us how the firm has grown since you’ve kind of led that effort?

Chris Wilson (04:19):

Yeah, it’s interesting. I think initially, there was some skepticism by some of our partners, because again, they came from traditional law firms. They were working at a, you know, an Atlanta based firm that had, I don’t even know a hundred thousand square feet or whatever we have, here in Atlanta. And so they like most attorneys around the country believed that in order to be a lawyer, you had to do lawyer things. And one of those was go into an office every day and you had to work from the office because that’s how they did it. And so there was maybe a little bit of skepticism initially. Now, Mark Taylor didn’t have that skepticism. And that’s the reason I was over there was because Mark did see the future and he, and I agreed that the future wasn’t in adding more attorneys in more offices and growing the footprint, the physical footprint in Atlanta, the future really was in, embracing technology and going to where the talent is, and then bringing that talent together inside of one law firm, where you can create an ecosystem that rewards attorneys, regardless of what level they might be.

Chris Wilson (05:32):

And, and it allows them to sort of bring the clients in and, and meet those clients legal needs. However, they might be wherever they might be by having folks all around the country, doing all different kinds of things. And that was kind of, you know, Mark’s vision. And so he, and I really match well in that regard and notwithstanding the fact that there were some folks that maybe didn’t. And so for the first couple of years, we grew, we grew quietly, but we grew and we added attorneys. And then what people found was that as we added attorneys and good attorneys and attorneys that had AmLaw 200 experience, we, they would bring their clients into the mix. And then suddenly they would be a resource for our clients who might have a need. Maybe it was because they were in a different state, or it was because they had a different specialty and could bring something to our clients. And you just could see the growth and you could see, you know, there’s that term a rising tide lifts all boats. And that really did happen in our environment because as we brought more attorneys in, who had more clients, sort of everybody got busier, everybody was able to benefit from that. And I think that ultimately won over the folks that maybe weren’t quite as positive about it initially.

Marci Taylor (06:54):

So the industry is sort of catching up to you now, thanks to a global pandemic. I love following you on social media. I follow you on LinkedIn. And I always think you have very insightful things to say. So I know you have thoughts on, you know, where the industry is and how they have, or have not embraced remote work. I mean, are we getting there finally? Do we have to accept it now that there’s gonna be some version of remote work or hybrid work going forward, or you think we’re gonna go back to the old ways?

Chris Wilson (07:26):

That’s a really good question. And my view on that, I think changes, or at least has changed in the past. I think if you asked me that question a year ago, I would’ve said unequivocally that every law firm out there is going to embrace this and they’re going to morph into something like we are, where they no longer would care about having the expensive real estate in the expensive part of town and would embrace creating different office environments or limited office environments for their attorneys. And I would’ve thought again, about a year ago, I probably would’ve said everybody would be doing that. , I’m probably less now positive that that’s going to occur. It seems as if on a somewhat regular basis, you read articles in the legal press that talk about firms, trying to get everyone back to the office. We’re all gonna come back to the office and work.

Chris Wilson (08:29):

And you know, we’re gonna create these environments that attorneys want to come back and work in because we’re gonna do your dry cleaning and we’re gonna have the child care and we’ll feed you. We’ll feed you, come on back. We’re gonna, and oh, by the way, one day a week, maybe you can wear jeans. And you know, all these kinds of things that you read about and I just scratch my head. I simply don’t understand from a business perspective, why law firms feel the need to do that we’ve had by every measure, two of the most successful years law firms have ever had in, you know, the history of keeping track and why they feel the need to force everyone to come back from a highly successful environment. I don’t understand. I understand there’s value to having firm paid for real estate.

Chris Wilson (09:23):

I absolutely believe in that, Taylor English believes in that. What I think we don’t believe in is these crazy expensive office environments that these big firms continue to pay for. I don’t even want to say invest in because I don’t really think it’s an investment. I think it’s just, it’s an expense. And I don’t understand exactly why, I’ll buy that there’s value again, there’s a lot of value to have firm paid for real estate. I think there’s value for creating opportunities for attorneys to interact with each other. I think there’s value to when you do have to meet with clients, if there’s space available and maybe that’s, you know, dealing with a mediation session, or you’ve gotta do depositions, or you’ve gotta have a client meeting because of a new new client or a serious issue, or, you know, there’s lots of reasons to have conference rooms and meeting spaces.

Chris Wilson (10:21):

Maybe it’s an educational type of situation where you’re doing an in-house CLE or things like that, or even social events, cause there’s lots of positives about doing that. In fact, we just, our firm just finished two day leadership classes. The past two days I’ve been in leadership classes where we brought a number of our folks together. And so there’s value to have firm paid for real estate to do those kinds of things. But firms seem to kind of are doubling down on having those, those offices that we’ve seen in the past, which are just huge expense items. And I know they’ll make sort of, oh, well, everybody now has the same size office article I read yesterday. We’re gonna have every office be the same size and well, some of these people are gonna hotel and we’re gonna share offices and it’s like, they’re dabbling around the margins instead of really attacking the main issue, which is that just most big firms spend an inordinate amount of money on office space, in expensive parts of town, usually the top floors of tall buildings, inexpensive parts of town.

Chris Wilson (11:26):

And it just, there’s no benefit to their clients to do that at all. And so I don’t know why they’re continuing to do that. So my view on it is change. I, I think a year ago, I would’ve thought that, uh, all the firms out there, the, you know, most of the AmLaw 200 would be modeling after what we are doing. I’m less inclined to think that now I think they’ll try to, again, dabble around the margins. I just don’t think they’re gonna attack and embrace it like we do where we’re out there, you know, telling everybody look, we’re a hybrid law firm, we have office space. We’re gonna continue to have office space, but it’s not an office with everybody’s name on the door. Instead, it’s gonna be reduced footprint where if you want to hotel, that’s great. If you want to come in and use the meeting spaces and the conference rooms, that’s fine. The firm will have events and things like that. But, if you really want to have your name on an office door, if we have space for that and can accommodate that, then you’ll probably have to pay for that because our model is a little bit different than the traditional firms. So if you’re gonna use that resource, then you know, that’s gonna be a pass through cost to you.

Marci Taylor (12:38):

It’s interesting. We did a webinar last fall that included the woman from Gensler who’s head nationally of professional services design. So they design law firm office space and she showed us some really cool stuff that some firms are doing. And you mentioned working at a Regis back back in the day, you know, a lot of the law firm space redesign, resembles coworking spaces, quite a bit to me with, you know, collaboration, floors and foosball tables and all that stuff. It’s like 20 years later, law firms caught up to co-working spaces. Right.

Chris Wilson (13:12):

Although I’m not sure why there’s a foosball table in there, but you know, I guess it depends on the law firm and the culture, but I would imagine if you find a couple of associates playing foosball at 11 in the morning, there might be some questions asked.

Marci Taylor (13:26):

Might be some problems with that. Yeah. But they’re there, in the offices anyway. Yeah. So having built a successful national partner program for a hybrid firm, do you have any lessons learned about how you’ve done it successfully and how to make lawyers successful in a remote working environment or a hybrid culture without giving away the Taylor English secret sauce?

Chris Wilson (13:52):

Well, I’m not sure there’s a secret sauce necessarily. I think quite frankly, what it comes down to is communication. I really believe that that is the most important thing. I mean, look that’s probably the most important thing in personal relationships and professional relationships, it’s communication. And you have to communicate with your folks on a regular basis on a clear basis and you’ve gotta sell, you’ve gotta make sure that they understand the message. You’ve gotta make sure that they know what’s going on. You’ve gotta make sure that they feel seen that they feel valued and the way you do that is by interacting with them and communicating with them. And then we have lots of technology nowadays that allows us to do that. Maybe, you know, 30 years ago, we were a little limited. You know, before cell phones, you communicated in person, or you had to have a phone with a line attached to it.

Chris Wilson (14:57):

So you were sort of limited, but nowadays obviously with cell phones and zoom and all this other stuff, there are multiple ways to communicate. And that’s what it, in my mind, that’s what it’s always been about. You have to do that intentionally. And if you do that intentionally, you create an environment that people want to work in. They feel attached to, they feel a part of, and that’s so important in law firms. I mean, our industry doesn’t have non-compete agreements, right? So what keeps lawyers together, is there’s gotta be an attachment, a feeling of you belong. You’re part of, and to create that, it has to be intentional from folks at the top on down. And so I go back to communication. That’s the most important thing. Unfortunately, most law firms, aren’t good at communicating. And part of that is because quite frankly, lawyers aren’t necessarily very good at communicating.

Chris Wilson (16:00):

Most law firms are run by lawyers. Most lawyers have zero business background before they become lawyers. And it’s not like they suddenly are gifted with this knowledge that they become a practice group leader, or they become some other leader in their firm that they suddenly are gifted knowledge that teaches them how to manage and how to communicate. And so that’s mainly why law firms are terrible at communication is because lawyers are because they’ve never been trained. They’ve never learned it’s really different in the business world because usually people that run businesses have a background in that sort of thing. Again, I mentioned the past two days, we’ve had some leadership seminars and what was really interesting was the consultants that were running that and how much better they are at communication. Now, I get it, they’re at the top of their field.

Chris Wilson (16:53):

That’s what they do. They get paid to do that. But quite frankly, those folks are way better at it. And you can see how much better they are. And when they talk about sort of their, uh, inside their consulting firm, how they communicate and the way they interact with their folks, I mean, it’s night and day. It’s not even remotely close to the way law firms interact with people. So that would be my number one suggestion to law firms is get the lawyers out of a lot of it and get people who understand, have the background and give them the opportunity to do what they do best, which is on the management side and the communication side. That’s the most important thing. I think if law firms could improve their communication, they’d improve their stickiness, they’d improve the culture, they’d improve their client interactions in relationships. That’s the most important thing. So I don’t know that there’s a secret sauce. It’s just that lawyers are just not good at it.

Marci Taylor (17:51):

I’m going to ask you about your leadership retreat in a few minutes. But the one other question I had was in terms of firm culture, I think you and I have the same kind of snarky response to how firms are talking about culture and, they talk about the pizza parties and the free lunches as you were saying. And all those other things as being firm culture, I define culture in a completely different way. And I feel like it’s a lot deeper and you need to be a lot more intentional about your firm culture than most firms think. And in fact, the calls that we’re getting from firms to help with their retention because they’re bleeding lawyers, honestly, were the firms that didn’t focus on firm culture before the pandemic. And now they’re saying, well, why are people leaving? And so it’s been very interesting, but do you have any thoughts other than communications about how to maintain firm culture in a hybrid work environment?

Chris Wilson (18:53):

Well, I think so. So again, I go back to the communication, but then what does that mean? And how do you do that? I think there’s, especially in a hybrid environment, you need to have opportunities for the attorneys to interact with one another and get to know each other. So, as management, you need to create those opportunities, because they’re not going to necessarily happen spontaneously. So you have to be intentional when you create these opportunities. Some of the stuff that we do, and we’re not the only ones that do this, but you know, we’ll have firm gatherings meetings, whatever you want to call it, where we bring attorneys. And for us, the vast number of our attorneys is in Atlanta. So we bring everybody around the country to Atlanta and we have a couple of days of interaction with folks.

Chris Wilson (19:46):

So maybe those are gonna include some educational opportunities. Maybe they’re gonna include some personal growth business development type of opportunities. But we also try to build in social time and we give our attorneys the opportunity to interact with other people, get to know them, go to lunch, have a cup of coffee, grab a drink, whatever it might be. I think it’s very important to do that on a very regular basis and to make sure that you don’t have an attorney out there who doesn’t come and join these things. Now everybody has schedules or family vacations and things like that. So it’s not that everyone has to attend each event, but I do think it’s important for the attorneys to attend most of the events because that’s where those friendships, those personal relationships develop and begin, and that’s the beginnings of stickiness.

Chris Wilson (20:35):

And so if you talk about culture, a lot of it comes through in these kinds of events. So what type of events do you have? What are they, are they formal? Are they semi, you know, or they a little loosey goosey? Those are the kinds of situations that allow folks to interact with each other. So firms have to do that on a regular basis. Of course, obviously all of this is COVID permitting. So obviously that’s inhibited lots of firms over the past couple of years from doing these in-person events. But ideally at some point, as we move back to whatever the new normal might look like, including these types of opportunities is very important. And then as you get larger, like for us right now, they’re in Atlanta because that’s where the majority of our attorneys are, but they shouldn’t always be in Atlanta.

Chris Wilson (21:23):

You need to move them around the country. So that folks who might be in San Francisco for example, are able to have something in their backyard because they probably are proud of San Francisco and want to show it off a little bit. So we, as a firm would want to go there. So you want to move those events around that I think is so important. You need to have multiple events a year and do those sorts of things. And then on top of that, you need to have active practice groups or subgroups, or sections. However your firm might be divided. You need to make sure you have active groups where regularly scheduled zoom meetings now are kind of what everyone has gone to phone conferences before. Now we’re doing the zoom calls, but you need to have regular ones there where your practice group leaders are actively out there talking to folks, checking in with people, how’s your workload?

Chris Wilson (22:11):

Do you, do you need some help? What can we do? You’ve gotta have the management actively asking their folks in their groups, what’s going on? What do you need help with? Do you need an introduction to so and so, so you have to have an active group there. And then I also think you also have to have some sort of active internal marketing team that is working with the attorneys to help them grow from that perspective. So whether that’s trying to set up opportunities to do cross selling and building a team to maybe be industry specific or whatever it might be, but you need to have an active group there because attorneys need to feel like their firm cares about them and is vested in their future. And one of the best ways of doing that is business development, including people on different teams.

Chris Wilson (23:02):

So they feel like they’re valued and therefore, Hey, my firm wants me to be on this team to do a pitch in this industry. You gotta have that as well. So those are just some examples of ways that firms ought to be very specific about getting all of their attorneys involved, to then try to help them. And again, it creates that stickiness. And again, we’re an entrepreneurial law firm. We appeal to attorneys who have that personality who might have that attribute, and as such, that’s kind of maybe why the biz dev types of environments really work for our folks, but I would argue that that probably oughta work in most law firms to. That’s how you create stickiness. That’s how you create culture. In my opinion, it’s gotta be participatory. It can’t be you just sit back and listen and talk for an hour every week on a zoom call. And I tell you all the great things the firm’s doing. That’s people tune out because they’re doing their emails and what have you. You gotta have some sort of participatory events.

Marci Taylor (24:06):

There’s a lot of golden nuggets in here. So thank you for that. So my last few questions are about leadership, cuz fundamentally that’s what this podcast is about. It’s about helping to cultivate the next generation of law firm leaders and have them learn from people who have been doing it really well. Do you have any particular insights from your program that you could share or views about how law firm leaders are doing and what they could do better?

Chris Wilson (24:32):

Yeah, so it was a very interesting seminar and it did bring up a couple of things that I hadn’t thought about before. So I guess that’s the good thing about doing some of these things is none of us know everything and it’s good to always be learning. So maybe that’s one, maybe that’s your first little nugget always be open to learning new things because as soon as you think you know everything, you’re gonna stop growing and you know, life is just a journey and we should all try to grow each day a little bit, learn something new. That’s probably a good way of looking at life. One of the things that we did, which I sort of found interesting was a DiSC assessment, which I think a lot of folks probably have done before. And I don’t remember how many questions we answered, but you answer a bunch of questions and effectively it kind of pinpoints your personality into a different type or a couple different types.

Chris Wilson (25:25):

And usually they’re fairly accurate. I forget what scientifically what the percentage of accuracy is, but it’s pretty accurate. But one of the things it brought up was how different we all are and how everybody has a different style and a different way of hearing things. And so being cognizant of that as sort of a leader and recognizing that when you’re talking to other folks, they might not be coming at things the same way that you are. And it’s so easy, you know, you just kind of go through life and you think everybody sees things or gets things the same way I do. I mean, we’re all lawyers let’s say, or we all have the same maybe viewpoint or socioeconomic status or whatever it might be. And we all sort of think the same, but in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Chris Wilson (26:09):

It was fascinating to see that of all the, I think we had 30 people in the class and we were all dispersed across. I mean, it was like, none of us were the same and yeah, there were groups that were kind of similar, but it was just sort of funny to see who was in my group versus who I might have thought was in my group. And so I think it’s important to remember that everybody’s a little bit different. And so when you’re trying to lead lawyers, which is incredibly difficult to begin with, right, that’s the proverbial herding cats. You need to remember, everybody’s a little bit different. And so you should approach things differently with people. And maybe just because your style’s one way doesn’t mean they’re gonna hear it that way.

Chris Wilson (26:53):

And so you need to be open to other ways. And so part of the training was giving us some tools to do that. And there’s gonna be follow up training after this. I think I forget how many weeks we have a follow up training to make sure that we sort of begin to absorb and retain and then follow through with some of that training, because it’s one thing to hear it for, you know, an eight hour day, but you gotta live it over the next few weeks to make it a habit and to sort of bring it into your every day of operating with others. And so anyway, that’s what I think I found really interesting and I would suggest to younger lawyers out there.

Marci Taylor (27:33):

That’s great. Do you have any particular leadership books that you love that you would recommend to new leaders? It’s okay if you don’t.

Chris Wilson (27:43):

I probably don’t have any specific books. But what was interesting is the, the consulting firm that did our training, the guy who ran it, holy cow, he was rattling off books left and right. And I was trying to scribble some down and I gave up cuz he was very much a motivator in addition to sort of helping train. And so he had a ton of books that were key to his philosophy on how to do things. And so I just found, it was just sort of interesting. He’s supposed to be sending us, there was a booklet he gave us in at the back of the booklet were a number of his resources he used. So I’ll be perusing that. So if you ask me that question, maybe in a couple of months, I’ll be able to give you, but one of the things, there’s a book out there and I’ll butcher the name now, but it has to do with, you know, good is the enemy of great.

Marci Taylor (28:38):

Good to Great. Jim Collins.

Chris Wilson (28:40):

Yeah. And he talked a lot about that book and, and how, especially right now in the legal industry, everything’s good. Right? Two years of unprecedented demand, expenses drop for every law firm out there because they stopped doing the silly stuff that they shouldn’t have been doing to begin with. And so all that money is just flowing in to the attorneys, but that’s, and everybody’s doing good, but that’s gonna stop. And you know, how many firms have just been coasting for the past few years and not planning for doing something after that? And that’s where he said, good is the enemy of great because everything’s good. You don’t really then try to continue to improve and get to that next level where we really should all be aspiring to get.

Chris Wilson (29:30):

And I’m gonna really embrace this philosophy, but he used a Nick Saban quote and I’m not an Alabama football fan. I’m a Georgia football fan. But, he did use a good quote from Nick Saban, which was win your play. And that really resonated with me for some reason, maybe it’s just cuz I like college football, but win your play is so important. And that really ought to be everybody’s view every single day, win your play, whatever your play might be. Maybe it’s just providing customer service to a client. Maybe it’s making sure your partner gets that brief in time. Maybe it’s helping the accounting folks with something, getting your bills done on time, right? Fraternity, whatever your play is for that day, win it. And if everybody has that philosophy, then the firm as a team will improve just like a football team. If the offensive line win, each of them win their play. Well then the running back is gonna have room to make that first down. And that really sort of resonated with me. And I think too many people don’t, too many lawyers I think don’t always recognize that. So as leaders, if you can get your folks to win their play, then you, as a leader are gonna win and your firm ultimately is gonna win.

Marci Taylor (30:52):

I love that catch phrase. We need to have a whole separate discussion on good to great too, the level four level five leadership stuff is something that every law firm leader needs to know, I think.

Chris Wilson (31:03):

And that goes back again. Lawyers need to embrace more of the business side of things. And too many of them don’t. I mean, you know this, too many leaders of law firms are leaders simply because they had the biggest books of business. And somehow by being a great salesperson and having great books of business, they now suddenly are thrust into leadership. And that doesn’t make any sense cause that’s two separate skills, but unfortunately that’s how lawyers and many, many law firms operate and they just shouldn’t,

Marci Taylor (31:35):

Or, the opposite happens. And they find the people who aren’t very busy and say, well, they’re not very busy. Let’s make them a practice group leader or let’s put them on the executive committee or let’s give them that committee to run. And, it’s the opposite, but it’s equally as ineffective. So that’s right. Yeah. Good lesson. Any final words of wisdom?

Chris Wilson (31:55):

Well, I would say, you know, if you’re a young attorney out there right now, there’s a ton of opportunity for you. And, and one of the things that I think the younger generations of attorneys have to look forward to is diversity of opportunity. I think historically you sort of had to go work at a traditional law firm and you could go in house, but you were sort of boxed into traditional law firms, but the market has really exploded over the past few years. You’ve got lots of law firms out there that are different. You’ve got an AmLaw 200 firm that is a virtual firm. You’ve got a couple of firms that are up and coming that will be AmLaw 200 firms before, you know it who might also be virtual firms or a hybrid firm such as ours. And there are others that are growing that are out there.

Chris Wilson (32:49):

I’m aware of a number of firms that have started, whether it was just before COVID or during COVID that are rapidly growing. And they’re different types of businesses, which allow these younger attorneys to maybe figure out, well, where would I be happier? What might be a better fit for my personality or my skillset? And you don’t have to work at a traditional firm where you are expected to work X number of hours and in turn you get paid Y dollars, maybe that’s okay, but maybe that’s not for everyone. And so I just think there’s gonna be a lot of opportunity out there. And I would encourage the younger attorneys to look into that, explore that. I think too many lawyers worry what other lawyers think about them. And so therefore they get scared to maybe try something different because they’re going to be perceived as less than a real attorney or whatever.

Chris Wilson (33:46):

And I’ve heard this from recruits. So I would encourage the younger folks to get out from under that and explore. And don’t be held back by your tradition of, wow, you always have to go into an office and put on a tie and you know, do lawyer things inside of a law office. Cause that’s simply not true. There are so many opportunities out there with so many great firms, whether it’s us or somebody else that will allow you to really enjoy being a lawyer. I hear that from a lot of folks that join us. I’m going to use an analogy and I tell this to most of our folks, but I would tell younger attorneys to think this way as well, traditional law firms are much like, probably many that are listening to this, have seen the movie The Matrix, and while you’re in the matrix, that’s all you know, and so big law firms or traditional law firms are the matrix because that’s all you know, and everybody toodles along in there and maybe you’re happy, maybe you’re unhappy.

Chris Wilson (34:48):

Maybe you’re restless, whatever. You just don’t really enjoy it. But if you have an opportunity to unplug from the matrix and you have an opportunity to get inside a different environment, you’ll recognize what the matrix was. And you’ll never want to go back to working inside the matrix again, because the freedom, the flexibility, the opportunity outside the matrix is so much better. Life is better. The sky’s a little bluer. The grass is a little greener. It’s just a better way to operate. Now, I say all that, I recognize that’s not always the case. I’m speaking in generalities here, but I do think for a large subset of attorneys trying something different is better than trying your traditional firms, because I just think you’re gonna be happier, more fulfilled. You’re gonna be given a lot more flexibility, whether that’s because you can work in a remote capacity, or you have more flexibility with your billing rates or, fill in the blank, whatever it might be. And so for younger attorneys out there listening to this, that’s what I’d encourage, embrace that diversity of opportunity, don’t get pigeonholed or scared into thinking that, oh, I have to work at a traditional firm because somebody’s gonna think less of me or that’s all I have as an option, cuz it’s not.

Marci Taylor (36:06):

Sage words from Chris Wilson.

Chris Wilson (36:09):

Marci Taylor (36:11):

Chris, I so appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today. I always enjoy our conversations. I look forward to the conversation continuing. I applaud the continued success of Taylor English. Thanks for being on NextGen. Legal.

Chris Wilson (36:24):

Thanks Marci. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Marci Taylor (36:26):

Talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Closing (36:29):

Thank you for joining us for NextGen Legal podcast. Are you ready to implement the ideas discussed in this podcast and become a next generation leader in your firm or company, please visit To learn more about rhythms law firm advisory services and schedule a time to speak with us today.