Alan Crone Makes an Appearance On The Deep Wealth Podcast

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Deep Wealth

Lawyer Alan Crone Shares Strategies From The Trenches So You Can Thrive And Prosper on The Deep Wealth Podcast

Employment law attorney Alan Crone was featured on the Deep Wealth Podcast with Jeffrey Feldberg. They talk about a variety of topics that can get your business ready to sell. Check out the podcast appearance below, or check out the transcription!

Jeffrey Feldberg

Alan Crone is the founder and CEO of The Crone Law Firm, one of the few law firms in Memphis and the Mid-South to focus exclusively on Employment Law Matters. Alan has 30 plus years of experience in the legal industry and previously served as special counsel and senior policy advisor to the city of Memphis, Mayor Jim Strickland. He also served as the Chief Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Employment Security, a position he was appointed by the former Tennessee governor, Don Sunquist.

Alan is licensed to practice law in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas. He also represents hundreds of clients involved in employment disputes in courtrooms across the US and has received many awards, including being named a top 5% Super Lawyer for 12 consecutive years.

Welcome to the Deep Wealth podcast, and I am honored today. We I have a thought leader, an author, a really successful fellow in the areas of law who’s going to keep all of us out of trouble and keep us on the up and up. You heard it in the official introduction.

I’m going to put a pause on it there because we have Alan in the person with us here. So, Alan, welcome to the Deep Dive podcast. An absolute pleasure to have you with us. And, Alan, I’m really curious because there’s always a story behind the story. So what’s your story? What got you to where you are today?

Alan Crone

That story is a long one. Where I am today is a product in of a lot of decisions I made along the line. Early in my legal career, I fell in love with employment law for a lot of reasons.

One is it’s never boring. It’s like having a ringside seating the assistant principal’s office of a high school. All of the drama, all of the problems come through the HR office. And early on, it was just because it was so darn interesting.

And then it’s so darn important. Your job, your career, your career, your business. That’s what sustains you. In America, we are what we do. And helping people protect that has been a great honor and privilege for me. I know it sounds a little trite, but that’s our mission. That’s what we get up every day to do is to help people preserve their job, career, their business.

Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of cases. I’ve represented all kinds of folks all over the country. That’s the commonality of everything that we do is we’re standing up for people in situations where the stakes are pretty high, whether you can make a living or not, is maybe one of the most important legal questions that a lawyer can answer.

And that relationship is as important as your relationship with your spouse or significant other, your romantic relationship. That’s a general answer to that question. There probably are specific stories that at different points in my career that were tipping points one way or the other.

I’d love to be able to say that I had this overarching plan for world domination, but I really didn’t. I just kept heading in the same direction, and it got me to where I’m sitting here talking with you today.

Well, Alan, I’m really hearing from you what I hear from so many successful people. I didn’t necessarily plan it this way. When I look back now, it all falls into place. But back in the day, who knew? But here you are, and you’ve made such a difference out there. And for our listeners, if you come to the show notes, it’ll be a point and click.

We also have links to Alan, the firm, but also his book, The Law at Work, a legal playbook for executives and professionals. And I love what you did in that book. And perhaps this question can be a terrific segue into the book, but big picture-wise, as business owners, Type A personalities. And Alan, I put you right in there with your own practice, building your practice, your business. We’re all one in the same.

Business owners were a unique type because we tend to view the world for the most part glass half full. Let’s put that on pause for a moment because I bet dollars to donuts, you probably have more clients coming to you, new clients and business owners, after the fact that if they only would have spoken to you beforehand, you could have saved a lot of time, effort, money, worry, sleepless nights.

So let me ask you this. I’m going to rely on Pareto’s law for this one. And Pareto’s law are the 80/20 rule, I suspect 20 %, give or take, either side of that, 20 % of the same issues are probably causing 80 % the problems for a lot of the business owners, your clients that you’re seeing.

So big picture-wise, what would be some low-hanging fruit that you’d want us to know Where as business owners, we’re overlooking things, not doing things, or we just don’t know. And ignorance is no excuse, as you know, particularly with the law. What would you tell us on the one big mistake?

Well, I think the big mistake is viewing your employment relationships as transactional and not relationships. And if you’re trying to build a business, and the way you build a business is with relationships with people, whether it’s your customers or clients, your vendors, your employees, team members, whatever you want to and part of building a relationship is being honest.

You go out with your buddies and they’re going to call BS when you’re not being real. And employees do the same thing. They just don’t have the same relationship with you to do that to your face. And so I think communication is very, very important. And in order to communicate, you’ve got to understand what it is you want to say and why you’re saying it.

What do I mean by that? Let me take something that’s practical but has a lot of legal baggage associated with it, job descriptions. And someone may say, oh, Crone, I mean, job descriptions, really? You’re going to talk about job descriptions on a podcast?

Yeah. Because most people look at a Job description is completely transactional. I got to have it for the file, maybe. I got to give them something to show them what they’re going to be doing.

And let’s say I’m going to hire an accountant. Well, what accountant? What does it take to be successful in this particular position? Is that job description something that was written 10 years ago when the comptroller still had to help out in the warehouse, and so they had to be able to lift 50 pounds?

Even though now it’s an office job, it still says you got to lift 50 pounds. That has all kinds of employment law ramifications, but it also has real-world ramifications. I always say, HR compliance is good business, because here you need to understand what it is you’re hiring this person to do so that you can communicate to them how they can be successful, how they can help achieve the company’s mission.

If you don’t understand how this particular position fits into that, how in the world is your candidate or incumbent going to meet your expectations if you can’t even articulate them yourself? I think that’s the biggest single most important issue.

If every CEO out there, every business owner, every founder could say, I really want to understand how my business works and how my team members contribute and how this particular, what are the specific skills and experience that this person really needs to have to knock it out of the park, then they probably would never have to fire anybody if you’re hiring the right people to begin with.

I’m a big dévote of Gerber and the E-Myth Revisited. If you’re a CEO or an entrepreneur out there and you haven’t read that book, you need to read it. And he talks about, well, you got to get the right people on the bus. We all heard that. You got to get the right people on the bus in the right seat. A lot of business owners don’t know what bus they have.


They don’t know where this, how the seats are arranged. And they’re just putting people on the bus without really thinking about, okay, how do I know this is the right person? If you don’t even know what bus you got, you can’t recruit the right people to drive it, ride it, or repair it.

Alan, really like what you’re saying. And for our listeners, I hope you picked up on this because what Alan, I’m going to use different words that we have here at Deep Wealth. This is the same thing at our Deep Wealth, at our nine step roadmap, which Alan, it does two things. It helps as a business owner, it helps you grow the business. And while you’re growing the business, you’re also increasing the enterprise value for a future exit, whether that’s two years from now, 20 years from now, whenever.

But what you’re talking about, really that clarity, clarity in the job description, knowing what’s going on. We call that the four points of clarity. And each of the four different points, that’s one of the points. Okay, what’s the job specifically? What are some of the KPIs? And we just go on and on in the details.

So, Alan, from a legal side of things, let me ask you, when that clarity is missing outside of the business ramifications of, okay, maybe the wrong hire and that lost time and opportunity costs and money and having to rehire and all those other things that go along with that, where do things potentially go off the line if you perhaps don’t have that job description in the legal documents or it’s clear, or not clear, but rather fuzzy or outdated, whatever that case may be, where can it get us into trouble from a law side of things?

Well, a lot of places, but I’ll pick three. The first is under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The second would be some compensation issues, and the third is potential discrimination and harassment. Let’s talk about the first one, Americans with Disabilities Act. I had a client years ago who had MS. All this fellow wanted to do was show up in work. He had a great work ethic. He had some physical limitations. He worked on an assembly line at a tire manufacturing plant in the south.

His brother literally carried him to work some days. Wow. And put him on his machine. And the safety coordinator is walking through and says, who’s that guy? He says, oh, that’s so and so. Well, what’s wrong with him? Well, he has MS. He’s a safety hazard. We got to get rid of.


Oh, my goodness.

So, he looks at his job description and he says, Oh, this guy’s got to be able to lift 75 pounds. We can get him on that. Well, long story short, that job description was outdated. Seventy-five pounds was no longer a central element of the fellow’s job. The fact that he could perform his job the way he was with very little accommodation. Every now and then, his machine would jam up and the person on the next line would come over and unjam it, and off he went.

He had the highest production numbers on the floor. But because that job description was inaccurate, the company made a tremendous mistake in getting rid of a great employee, A, number one, and B, created a liability for themselves.

So if your job description isn’t tight, it can hurt you under the Americans with Disabilities Act and a number of other federal and state laws, because they’re going to look at the essential functions of the job. And if you’re looking it from 35,000 feet or even from feet away. All you know is what is in the document, what the job description says. You make a decision based on that, can have terrible ramifications that way.

Second way, I said was in compensation. The Fair Labor Standards Act is the way we enforce overtime and minimum wage. And again, if your job descriptions aren’t tight, if you don’t understand what a particular role is doing, and you have it classified as exempt from overtime, and the actual duties make it non-exempt.

In other words, if your job descriptions and your understanding is, oh, that person is… They’re an assistant manager, and they manage the restaurant. Let’s just say it’s a restaurant. But the reality is the general manager of the restaurant will not let that person exercise any independent judgment or control. And really all the person does is fill in for people who are absent.

Then that person may not be exempt from over time. And if you’ve got 200 of these people and they all act in a similar way, then you’ve got that problem times 200. And it’s one of the issues with scaling.  If you scale, and again, you’re not honest with yourself or you’re not right on the money with regard to what these folks do, you can fall backwards into a terrible compensation issue.

And that has ramifications sometimes for not just over time, maybe unemployment insurance, maybe workers comp, maybe health benefits, and other things that can come into that, particularly if you misclassify somebody as an independent contractor when they really are an employee.

And then lastly, discrimination and harassment. If you don’t clearly communicate how to be successful in a job and you don’t have objective measures for success. I love KPIs. You mentioned KPIs, key performance indicators. That’s a very bulletproof way to say, look, here you’ve got these three or four KPIs. That’s your job. You got to hit those numbers. If you’re not hitting the numbers, the organization has got to make a change.

As opposed to, man, I really need you to improve. I really need you to have a better attitude. And those are things you can hear any number of American managers saying any day. Somebody’s saying it right now. Somebody right this second is giving an unclear directive that’s going to result in somebody Everybody getting fired somewhere in America eventually.

When the reason that you state is not tight, does not check out, then the plaintiff can prove in court, perhaps, that your real reason was their inclusion in a protected category or they engaged in protected activity, their color, their sex, their age, their national origin. Maybe they’ve complained about some practice they think is illegal or discriminatory, and the timing works out that your basis that doesn’t fully flesh out has problems.

It coincidentally happens about the time all these other things happen. Well, now you may end up having to pay this person 2X, 3X their salaries, plus your legal fees to untangle that not. And so those are three ways that just off the top of my head, where not being able to communicate effectively, not understanding what it is to be successful, not understanding how your organization works can not only gum up your operations, but pose significant legal liability for you.

And Alan, with what you’re sharing, I mean, my goodness, each of those areas, we could have an episode in and of itself, and we’re barely scratching the surface. To put that in perspective for our listeners, because on the one hand, you’re saying, okay, it can cost you 2X, 3X the person’s salary or wage, whatever they’re getting. Back of the envelope numbers, if you had to give us a range, if a company is offside for any a number of reasons, probably most of which are innocent.

Let’s take the positive here. Dollar-wise, from a low end to a high end, what have you seen over the years of companies having to pay because they overlooked something as simple as a job description or whatever it may be in the offer with the wording there? What would that be?

The anti may be increased premiums on your unemployment insurance through the state. I mean, that’s the minimum. You get a lot of turnover, and that rate is going to go up. Most lawyers like me, if they represent an employer, they get hit with a discrimination or wrongful termination claim.

They’re going to say, look, it’s bogus. Pay them $30, $40, $40, $1,000 to make it go away. You’re going to pay a lot more than that down the road. Take it off the chest for it. Sure. $30, $40, $1,000. And that’s cheap to get out of one of those cases.

So that’s your ante to get in. Now, what’s the top end of that range? A, it depends on where you live, where your business is. A lot of states and the federal government have caps on all of that thing.

But I just settled a case within the past year for a million dollars. And it was an age discrimination case. The fellow was highly compensated. And so his wage numbers drove that. But even the federal law has capped it at $300,000 in non-economic damages. But the salaries figure into that.

But a lot of states like Illinois do not have caps. And we’ve seen there was a judgment in Texas not long ago against a Fortune 100 company for 343 million dollars that the appeals court upheld under Section 1981, which is an anti-race discrimination case. There are no limits on that.

So I don’t want to scare anybody unnecessarily. I mean, does that happen every day? No. I mean, that’s news when something like that happens. Sure. But the run of the mill is $30-4,000 will settle most cases against lower compensated folks. But if you settle two or three of those a year and that starts to add up, and you You can solve it so much easier just by being intentional and thoughtful about how you treat your employees and how you set up your workforce.

And what’s interesting about that, I’m jumping a little bit all over the place here. Alan, in your book, you’re talking about the Exit Chapter 10 and exit, obviously here at Deep Wealth, that’s what we’re all about. If you take that one incident, let’s say it happened recently and you’re now going into an exit or a liquidity event, you can imagine if you’re the buyer saying, well, Jeffrey, you had this issue over here, if it happened once, is it going to happen again?

Now we’re going to have to spend more time in diligence or we’re going to have to lower the enterprise value because you’re bringing additional risks to the table that we’re not prepared to take on. Or maybe we’ll even walk away because we don’t want to take that risk.

So, it’s amazing, Alan, how just that old saying of just the prevention and doing that up front and all the time and effort that we saved on the road of what a difference that can make. So, Allen, you’ve walked us through some of the dangers of not having our contracts, our wording, even our job descriptions up to date. And I suppose when a client comes to you, can you walk us through that process?

So, okay, Alan, heard you on the Deep Wealth podcast. I want to make sure we’re on the up and up. What does that look like, Allen? With you, the firm, what are you doing? How long does that take? What should we expect?

Sure. Again, I hate to give a typical lawyer’s answer that how long it takes depends on how many employees you have in locations and so forth. But let’s say you got 100 employees in one location. That’s pretty typical.

So, we’re going to spend some time. I’m going to spend some time with the CEO or with the owner, trying to get a real understanding about the mission of the company and how it works, real top-level stuff, where I also have some folks on my team dealing with the operations people to get copies of all the agreements and job descriptions and really get our handle on what your legal snapshot looks like. And then we’re going to marry those two things together.

And how quickly that takes really depends a lot on how much time at any given time the client has to devote to it? Because I don’t say it’s an intrusive process. To do it right is a very time-consuming process. We can do them in two weeks, but typically it’s more like 30 to 60 days because it’s going to take that much time for the client to gather the documents for us to have some interviews, to talk to some people, and then to turn that into deliverables for the client.

And I suspect, Alan, you can tell me if I’m not correct with this, once you get everything set up with the business owner and all the forms are right and the wording is exactly where it should be, at that point, you’re in maintenance mode going forward. I would suspect it’s a lot less effort and you’re just really filling in the blanks as you move forward. Would I be correct on that?

We have a subscription service or a retainer service that you pay us a little bit each month, and that gives you pretty much unlimited telephone and email access. Our The idea is we want it prepaid so that it eliminates the question in your mind, do I really want to spend a hundred bucks picking up the phone? We want to take that out of it so to encourage people to deal with us, to call us and get us involved in things Like you say, when there are small problem.

Over time, that leads to reduced litigation budgets. It results in happier employees, better production, all those kinds of things. So we think that really pays for itself over the long haul. And we do it like insurance in the sense that we price tomorrow’s price at your experience yesterday. And over time, that tends to go down unless you say, man, I want more service than what I’ve got.

So it’s a partnership. It’s one of those things we like to be in for the long term. And I say I represent people, and sometimes those people own businesses. And so we help the business legal situation. And that’s been a great model for us, and we love it.

Alan, I love that model and where you’re going in. Just to bring you up to speed, our listeners, the community knows all about that. In our nine-step roadmap, step number four, it’s an internal audit, due diligence, where we’re working with someone like yourself, Alan, well in advance.

Not for an exit or liquidity event, because let’s face it, when we have a skeleton in the closet, a blind spot that we don’t know, it can take us out of business. And that’s an issue. I know, Alan, in your book, you very eloquently, you put that into 12 chapters. Each chapter, big picture-wise, is a strategy on its own.

And then with each of the chapters, there’s many more strategies that are coming out of that. And so, again, the tip of the iceberg we spoke just about the job description and how the language can make a difference.

When you look at the 12 chapters that you have in those 12 different areas, is there another area that jumps off the page that you would want our listener to know, hey, we spoke about the job description. Now you know about that. You should also really know about this one other area because this is where a lot of our clients, they come to us, they’re making these mistakes, and It’s costly for them.

It’s time consuming for them. Another one that you can share that jumps off the page for you?

Absolutely. Intellectual Property. That’s another one where we could do two or three podcast on intellectual property. But here’s my Reader’s Digest condensed version of intellectual property.

If every entrepreneur I know wants to sell their business at some point, right? Maybe next year, maybe next decade, maybe at the end of their life, whatever. The thing that makes a business different and valuable is its intellectual property.

Call whatever you want to call it, right? Your processes, your systems, the way you scale, those sorts of things. And you’ve got to protect that. Well, the first thing you got to do to protect it is you got to know it. You got to understand what those things are.

And sometimes, they’re not what you would think. The secret formula for Coca-Cola, obviously, is a tremendously valuable piece of intellectual property. But that collection method that you and your team worked on for so long, that’s It’s important. It needs to be documented. It needs to be copyrighted. It needs to be understood that this is a proprietary system and that you can’t share this system with folks outside the circle. Again, we could talk about that a long time.

But if you don’t know that that’s important and you don’t tell people, Hey, this is an important proprietary confidential process, then it may be hard to protect it down the road. Second part of that is Is electronic documents. I don’t want to be this guy. But when I first started practicing law many, many years ago, back in the late ’50s, it seems like, although it was not that long ago.

If you wanted to steal 300,000 pages of documents, you literally had to back a truck up and take out bankers boxes. Now you can do it with a thumb drive. And so companies have got to understand how they use electronic data How they allow their employees in different levels of responsibility, use personal devices, not use personal devices.

I’m emailing myself this file so that I can work on it at home. All right? Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. So much intellectual property, so much proprietary and confidential trade secrets go out the door that way that it would boggle your mind. And if that’s a practice that’s accepted and condoned, maybe even encouraged, that’s going to be to protect.

It’s going to exponentially increase the cost of any litigation over those issues because now you’ve got all kinds of rabbit holes to go down to try to chase down your important document And I’ve been on both sides of that.

And the only person it’s fun for are the forensic computer people. And it’s a huge issue. It can be a huge problem. And it’s the thing that can rear its head during due diligence, just as an issue. I mean, somebody might say, hey, where is your electronic documents policy?

Well, we’re a small shop. We really don’t know. We don’t know what we don’t know now. And then they have a forensic person look at your system, and they see all of these holes in places where this stuff could be leaking out.

And they say, you want to charge us how much for goodwill? You want to charge us how much for these processes? You got them on the Internet. So no, we’re not paying top dollar for that. So, if nothing else, you got to have it tight. You got to have it locked down so that they look at it and say, oh, okay, this is tight. We don’t have an issue here. And then, you have a nasty piece of non-compete litigation going on with a former team that’s left and took all kinds of stuff with them.

Alan, let me ask you something in the world of mergers and acquisitions, liquidity events, are you working with both buyers and sellers? Are you on one side more than the other, or how does that work out for you?

We represent entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs buy things and they sell things. So, I can’t say that we’re more on one than the other. We’ve got a nice perch. We’re looking both sides of the deal.

And, Alan, where I’m going with this, just for our listeners to really take to heart what you’re saying, again, that ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure, that old saying, when you’re on the buy side, so an entrepreneur or private equity group or anyone else in between.

Okay, Alan, we want to buy this company. Why don’t you come on board? Help us from the legal side of things. Again, every deal is different. I get that. And it’s not going to take a life of its own.

But generally speaking, what are buyers asking you as a legal representative in terms of protecting them, of what they don’t want to have issues with that ultimately will either affect the deal, so deal, no deal, or lower the enterprise value because of what they’re asking you to look into? Are there some general areas that keep on popping up? What are you seeing with that?

Sure. I think the overarching issue is how scaled and autonomous is this business? How dependent is it on the founder, the entrepreneur, the CEO? Could that person take a three months sabbatical and the enterprise wouldn’t lose any value? That’s ultimately what when I’m asked the following question, I think that’s ultimately what the buyer is trying to find out.

So, they want to know how well-structured is the company from an employment law standpoint? How good are the reporting structures? How well is it scaled? Are there any red flags in their employment practices or claims that would indicate that they’ve told us that they have great systems? But is that true?

And I have found that I can’t prove that they have great systems, but I can certainly provide evidence that they don’t based on their unemployment claims history, their recruitment history, and all those other things.

That’s the first thing. The second thing they’re looking at is, okay, are there any hidden… Smart buyers will say, are there any hidden liabilities here that maybe we don’t know, particularly with regards to latent compensation issues, over time, minimum wage, independent contractor versus employee type issues.

And they want to know, is there a latent issue here? And I think the larger got a lot of one employee, maybe you’ve got a lot of accountants, or you got a lot of nurses, or whatever. And so, if you make one mistake with that class of people, it exponentially multiplies.

Is there any latent issues? And then depending upon the industry, again, they want to know, okay, are their agreements tight? Do they have good nondisclosure agreements? Do they have good non-compete and restrictive covenants related to keeping their intellectual property safe?

Do they have good employment contracts where they can keep the key employees for a year or two to make sure that there’s a good transition? That sort of thing. That’s something where we can add a lot of value and have added a lot of value to a lot of deals as due diligence, folks.

And Alan, what’s interesting, as you’re going through that, and for our listeners, again, I hope you’re picking up on this. I mean, Alan and I did not talk beforehand. There’s no check in the mail to Alan. I didn’t ask him to say this. One of the first things out of Alan’s mouth. We say this all the time here at Deep Wealth. Does the business run without you?

This is when than is representing buyers. And then, Alan, you didn’t quite say it this way. You can agree with me. You can say, Jeffrey, you’re way off base on this one. If as a business owner, look, no one’s perfect, there’s going to be things that happen. We bring someone on like yourself, you get us straightened out. And if the last incident was three or four years ago, five years ago, and now you’re representing the buyer.

Well, Jeffrey, I see that you had this incident. Talk to us about that. Well, yeah, we did, but we brought Alan on board. It’s been five years since that’s happened. You can see we have a clean slate. It hasn’t come up again. Learn the lesson. We not only have we done that in this area, we’ve done it across the board in all the areas I suspect.

Alan, I don’t know if you hear that often, but if and when you do, I suspect you’re going back to the buyer saying, you know what? These guys, they’ve learned they have a clean shop. I feel good about what they’re saying. We still got to investigate more, but I feel good about what they’re saying in terms of us continuing to explore this deal. What would you say to that in general?

I think you’re right. My follow up question would be, okay, I get it. What have you done to make sure this is going to happen again? Right? Because I know people that have been in the business their whole lives and never gotten sued. And they get sued once for something that they’ve been doing for 20 years. Alan, I’ve been asking out the receptionist for 20 years. I’ve never had any problem. I mean, seriously.

And so, you have a problem. Okay, what are you doing to change it? What is it about your culture that you have changed, that this will not happen again? And again, I think you got to have an answer to that question, because again, I can’t prove that you’re not going to have problem again. But again, I’m looking for risk.

Well, if that answer is a good answer and I can say, okay, look, they’re doing some training, they’ve got new policies, but here’s the change they made in their culture. They figured out they had a culture where they weren’t treating women with respect, and they were set in kind of an old school mentality. They’re in an industry that’s male dominated.

They weren’t intentional about treating their female employees with the same respect as men. But once they realized that was an issue, look, here are the things they’ve done in their culture to change that. Well, culture will be tactics each and every day. And if that’s evident, then two benefits you’re going to get from that.

One, a buyer is going to see that and say, okay, well, there are no guarantees, but I get it. They had the problem and they solved the problem, and now they’re doing everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Let’s say you’ve never had that problem, but you create that culture, will speak directly to jurors.

So, if you get into a tight situation and you find yourself in front of a jury, juries know bs when they see it. And if they see a culture that does not have the value that you’re trying to sell in the courtroom, then they’re not going to buy it.

But if they see that you made some mistakes, maybe this particular situation wasn’t handled the best way. But look, these guys aren’t misogynists. They’ve got women in good positions. They do X, Y and Z to create a culture of respect and empathy and advancement for everybody.

Not just women, but for everybody. You’re going to get the benefit of that doubt. But if there are lots of stories about inappropriate comments and sniggering over sexual things or innuendo and all that kind of stuff, juries are going to see through that and they’re going to make you pay for it.

Yeah, some terrific insights that you’re putting there. And again, for our listeners, this is straight from the trenches. This is not theory. We left that to the teachers and the classroom. This is what you need to know to not survive, but to thrive and prosper.

And I want to ask you something, Alan, as we begin to wrap things up here on everyone’s mind these days, it’s artificial intelligence, it headlines every single day, and it keeps on changing. I suspect by the time our interview comes out, it’ll be at an even next level with AI, that perhaps what we’re talking about now will become obsolete.

But that said, I mean, big picture wise, how do you see AI impacting the area of law? From a business side of things, of what you’re doing and the benefits for you, for your clients?

What we’ll stay away from all that fear mongering and all those other things, which more times than not doesn’t pan out anyways. What are you seeing, though? Someone in the trenches. You’re thinking about AI. What do you think? The next best guess? Six months, twelve months, holds out for us?

Well, I think you’re right. I remember when Chat GPT first came out. What was that? November? It seems like November of 1952 has been so long. It seems like it’s been long. And they were doing all of this stuff and I told our Marketing Director, we’re sitting there playing with it. I said, this thing’s only been out a week. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like in a year?

And I think it’s like anything else. It’s like any tool. Again, when I first started practicing law, I was a first-year associate, and I have this vivid memory of being in a little office. There was a desk, a chair and filing cabinets, and my job was to go through the filing cabinets. These were all documents in one case filled the room. And I was going through and I was filling out this form for each document that was then going to go into a database. Cutting edge technology at the time.

And the lawyer would be able to do a search on the database and find a particular document based on criteria in an excess database. Well, now you scan all of that in AI will slice and dice it any particular way you want.

Doesn’t make the lawyer’s role any less crucial in that. Go back to what I said at the beginning. It’s about relationships and any tool that can decrease the amount of time I spend on transactions, that frees me up to work on my relationships.

And so I think the smart lawyers are going to look at it and say, okay, how can I amplify the talents of my team members using AI? And I didn’t come up with this phrase, but I think it’s pretty good. You’re not going to be replaced by AI, you’re going to be replaced with the human using AI.

And so the larger issue I think, for the workforce is how does automation just in general, how is it going to affect the overall workforce, and how can I as a human stay relevant in the equation? And it’s the same thing as when agriculture got automated, when industry got automated, those workers had to go somewhere else, and people are going to have to adapt to it.

But it certainly, I think, will make things like complex cases with lots of documents. It’s going to make it easier for people to deal with the route or the routine tasks will get done a little bit better than they were because there won’t be as much human error. But you’re still going to need, in order to get a good result, you got to form a good query. And ultimately a person still has to make those connections that AI still cannot make to get there.

Covid, AI, automation of all kinds, one thing I think that is underlined is that the human-to-human connection is essential. We are created as a community, and I don’t think we’re ever going to get away from that.

So, I would just say what makes you relevant is your experiences, your unique position and perspective in the world as a person, as an employee. And I would just look at AI as just one other tool to make me a better lawyer. But it certainly is going to be, I think, practicing law five years from now is not going to look anything remotely like what it was five years ago.

It’s interesting, Alan, as you’re sharing that, I’ve had conversations, very privileged here at deep wealth to speak with thought leaders like yourself across different areas, from the creative to the scientists to the programmers, and they’re all saying the same things. If you want to be smart about AI, look at how it can automate, remove the backlog from what you’re doing right now that we probably shouldn’t be doing anyways if we’re really honest about it.

And so the freed up time that you get allows you to go into other areas and really do what you do best. Well, Alan, let me ask you this. As we begin to wrap things up, I have a really fun question. I have the privilege and the honor to ask every guest on the Deep Wealth podcast. Let me set this question up for you and then I’ll throw it your way.

So, if you think about the movie back to the future, in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car that can take you to any point in time. So, Alan, the fun part is tomorrow morning, you look outside your window. Not only is the DeLorean car there, the door is open, it’s waiting for you to hop on in.

So you hop in, and you’re now going to go back to any point in your life, Alan, as a young child, a teenager, whatever point in time that would be, what would you tell your younger self in terms of, hey, Alan, here’s some life lessons or life wisdom, or do this, but don’t do that. What would that sound like? What would you be saying?

I know exactly what my answer to that question. I would go back and I would tell my 20 year old self networking is not BS, all right? Because let me explain that I found that the folks, men and women, who were the big networkers, yes. I always thought it was a scam or angle. And I think of the reason I thought that is it always appeared very transactional to me. I didn’t call it that at the time.

But what good networking is building good relationships, and that’s 99% of success, is the relationships that you have. It’s the old allegory. If you see a turtle on top of a post, he didn’t get there by himself. And none of us get where we’re going. There’s no such thing as a self-made person.

Other people help that person get there, even if it’s just customers giving them money. You can’t be successful by yourself. And so, I would go back and tell myself, look, cultivate those relationships. Give those relationships freely and abundantly. Success is not a limited commodity.

The more success you breed in other people, the more success that you get. And life is not a zero-sum game. And I think if I knew that when I was 20, I’d be even more successful than I am now. That’s what I tell my kids and hopefully my grandkids.

It’s all about relationships. So, cultivate those relationships and guard those relationships. Guard your word. Guard all the things that make you a valuable person intrinsically. And don’t worry about the short term. Somebody cuts you a little bit on a deal, you may want to watch them the next time, but still be generous with them.

Being generous will always feel better, and b it will always come back to benefit you down the road.

Terrific advice, and for our listeners, I really hope you take to heart what Alan is sharing again from the trenches and a life well lived and well learned.

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