Welcome to the first Q&A with a real life Arkansas attorney who has been around for a while. Today’s
unsuspecting victim guest is Phillip Wells.
Phillip Wells (“PW”) is a plaintiff’s attorney in Jonesboro and a partner at McDaniel & Wells, P.A. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas. He has been practicing since 1978 and has been named a Superlawyer (5 times), Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 lawyers in Arkansas, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Mr. Wells focuses his practice on personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security, products liability, and criminal defense.
Q & A
JW: What are the costs involved in starting a law practice?
You have to realize that there is overhead. If you are a solo practitioner, you will have a significant amount of expense: rent, utilities, malpractice, salaries, pleadings, payroll, taxes, accounting, and checks that have to go to medical providers.
JW: What type of business experience do you need to run a law business?
There’s a lot of accounting involved. You have to have somebody within your firm that can keep track of the accounting. There are payroll taxes that have to be paid. You have to ensure that when a check is written that goes into an IOLTA account and that every penny is accounted for. That type of accounting requires a lot of experience and can be a difficult thing for the attorney start up. You should have somebody trained in accounting that can help you.
JW: What about marketing?
Marketing is very important for attorneys. To become accomplished, you have to market yourself. If you can afford to hire someone in marketing, that can be very helpful. If you can’t, you can get a webpage, combine resources with other solo practitioners, and use Google and Facebook.
You have to analyze the cost-benefit analysis for marketing, but it’s important to get your name out so that clients will come in.
JW: How do you stay motivated about practicing law?
There is a lot stress involved in practicing law: clients, judges, deadlines, etc. You have to have a life outside of practicing law. Don’t just be a lawyer all of the time. Get balance in your life through learning to manage your time.
Motivation also comes through doing good work. That doesn’t mean that your clients are going to be happy or excited; they are going through a stressful situation. But, if you know people are helped by your services, then you can stay motivated to help other clients.
JW: How do you deal with difficult clients?
There’s an old adage that “the practice of law would be easy if it weren’t for the clients.” Clients can come to you with unrealistic expectations, they can be upset about your fees, and disappointed with how long the process takes.
From the first meeting, never give unrealistic expectations. It’s much better to downplay the likely outcome. Explain that the process will take a long time. Keep in contact with your clients. If you develop a relationship with them, when it comes time to make a decision, they will know that they can rely on your recommendations.
JW: What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve ever seen someone make?
Getting into a shouting match with the judge. Always say, “with all due respect” and then state your position. Don’t get argumentative.
JW: When I was getting ready for my first deposition against a seasoned attorney, you told me to go in there like I mean business and say, “Object to the form” every so often.
You don’t need to be intimidated. Everyone feels the same way.
JW: I noticed that your CV doesn’t mention that we are related. Do you want me to fix that for you?