Episode 175 – Building A Successful Law Practice (Interview With Jordan Ostraff Of Jordan Law Firm)

Episode 175 – Building A Successful Law Practice (Interview With Jordan Ostraff Of Jordan Law Firm)

Jordan Ostraff opened his law practice in late 2015, yet is doing phenomenally well.

Jordan talks about how he launched his own practice and, more importantly, how he was able to grow it in a matter of months using SEO, marketing and relationships to make it the juggernaut it is today. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast and post a review. Even if you’ve been practicing for 30 years, this interview is a must listen… why? Because if Jordan can do it in 1 year, so can you.


Tracy: Good morning. This is Tracy Merda with Speakeasy Authority Marketing and Secrets of Attorney Marketing. This morning, I am joined here with Attorney Jordan Ostraff of Jordan Firm in Orlando, Florida. Welcome and thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Jordan Ostraff: Happy to be here. It’s the Jordan Law Firm.

Tracy: Okay. Well, Jordan, I am very excited to have you here. I know a little bit about your firm and what you do and that you’ve started out on your own practice and it’s been a successful venture so far. So I am wondering if you could just tell me a little bit about the background of Jordan Law Firm and who are your partners and attorneys and a little bit about when and how it got started?

Jordan Ostraff: So, I started out when I graduated law school, I wanted to be a prosecutor so I worked in Orange County, Florida for 3 years, worked my way all the way up to trying DUI manslaughters, robbery with the firearm, attempted murders those kinds of cases. And one day, I decided I wanted to take what I learned onto the other side, so I jumpstarted a criminal defense and family law practice and then very early on, got joined by my first associate and wife Heather Trick and then now we have two more associates Jeff Lotter who spent 12 years as a DUI cop and a drug recognition expert before becoming an attorney, and then Luis Herrera who actually coached the trial team in law school who was a prosecutor for a little under a year and then since jumped over and joined us.

Tracy: So, what about those practice areas kind of got you started because you are talking about two very different areas of the law?

Jordan Ostraff: Well, in my experience, they are not — a lot of times, they are not that different. We see a lot of cases that start out as a divorce case and then become domestic violence or start out as a domestic violence case and then become a junction. So the way that I looked at it was I know I wanted to do criminal law, I like being in the courtroom, I like the speed and the pace of it as opposed to traditional civil law which takes a lot longer, so I tried to figure out what I could see that would be on the periphery of regular criminal defense because obviously criminal defense is a very saturated market I would assume across the country, certainly in Orlando, Florida. We have got a number of phenomenal criminal defense attorneys. So I thought that by doing family law and then we actually recently started doing some academic hearings over at the University of Central Florida and the other colleges. A lot of times those are attached to a criminal case, either the kid picks up a DUI and then have to go before the school for it or again, it’s a domestic violence injunction that gets violated with a domestic violence battery charge, something along those lines.

Tracy: Starting out a new practice on your own, that can be pretty risky venture. What made you decide that you wanted to go this route versus joining up with and sticking with a firm that’s already been around for a while?

Jordan Ostraff: Well, the thing for me is Orlando, Florida has a phenomenal criminal defense bar. So having been able to work with or work against a number of the local attorneys, when I was on the fence about if I wanted to stay, if I wanted to jump, if I wanted to open my own firm, I just went out to lunch with as many different people as I could, picked everybody’s brain, especially former prosecutors or solo practitioners, talk to them about what they like and then decided that I wanted the flexibility of having my own practice, I was willing to take the risk associated with having to bring everything in or not eat and knew that I have enough of the support system in place that there would be some people who would throw me a case here and there to help me get started and get my feet wet and that hopefully things would pan out quickly enough and thankfully they did.

Tracy: Jordan, what was your goal and vision when you were setting up your private practice? What did you really kind of have in your heart and mind that you wanted this practice to look like?

Jordan Ostraff: I guess initially I wanted something that was going to keep food on the table but thankfully once that was solved, the biggest thing was I wanted to be able to provide people with top level representation for a fair price and be able to kind of pick and choose the cases that I wanted, the counties that I wanted to go to etc., because you’ll see a lot of people unfortunately, especially solo practitioners who have to take whatever cases comes in the door and then next thing you know you’re driving around at four different courthouses at the exact same time trying to prep for the next hearing while you’re in the car on the way to it. I didn’t want to get stuck in that situation and I wanted to be able to sit down and put the right time and effort into each and every case that came out in the door so that hopefully not only would those clients be happy but then obviously you are building referral basis from those people so that when somebody calls them looking for an attorney, they can say, “Hey, I went with so and so, they were fantastic. They did a great job, they were easy to contact”, those sorts of things.

Tracy: So, surely there had to be some challenges in that first year. Tell me a little bit about some of those biggest challenges in the early months and how you and your team sort of overcame those?

Jordan Ostraff: Well, thankfully from my standpoint, the biggest challenge was before I had a team, and that was just going weeks without the phone ringing, no new calls, no new cases, nothing along those lines, that would be the most difficult part of it. The easiest way for me to overcome that stuff was buckle down, make sure you’re doing a 100% on all the cases that are there and then I tried to make a list of where I could go to potentially get cases for free, what groups could I go and speak to, could I call in favors with somebody etc. And so when it was flow, those were the best times to write an extra blog post for SEO, call a couple of people back, go and give a free speech over at one of the organizations in the local colleges, something along those lines just to try and get the business card out there, get the firm out there all of that stuff. And then thankfully, since we’ve brought people on, everybody kind of has that same mentality. So it might be a situation where if I’m slow for that month, somebody else is busier and then I can pick up whatever slack they need that they’re able to go do more consultations, do more court hearings, whatever it is that they are having the situation with.

Tracy: Jordan, what do you find or what did you find out I guess I should say where some of the dos and don’ts of starting a new practice?

Jordan Ostraff: I think it’s easier to learn the don’ts. Unfortunately, it’s usually the problems that blow up in our face faster than the successes that blossom slowly. I think the biggest problem that I see people making in that when I talk to people, the biggest problems they had made was taking on too much overhead too quickly. So I was able — when I made that decision to jump to find an office base with some people that I knew from being prosecutors in the office at a price I could afford, and that way I knew that as long as a couple of thousands dollars a month were coming in, all of the firm stuff would be covered and that was the easiest thing. And then obviously as we’ve done better and better, we’ve tried to slowly bring on more and more overhead without overextending ourselves. So we try and stay away from — I haven’t find a 3-year lease for office base somewhere, I know a lot of people do that within the first couple of months and then you’re on the hook for another 30/36 months of a lease at a place you can no longer afford.

Tracy: So you’ve kind of touched on this already but I think for anyone I am sure starting out, this is critical. How did you find good clients or how did they find you?

Jordan Ostraff: From the very beginning, the clients found me from a referral from somebody else, either another attorney that charged too much, didn’t do that kind of law, didn’t handle that specific county. So at the very beginning, I mean it wasn’t really a question of good clients; it was just the question of clients and being willing to drive, do the right thing on their case all of that stuff. As we have expanded our practice and as we have settled in to having a much more consistent income of cases, it’s been a lot easier to determine what kind of clients to bring in and what we did was we looked at it from their perspective. How is the client that I want to bring in going to find me? So we’ve found out that for the people over at UCF and Valencia, the colleges and universities in town, they are going to use the internet. So doing some targeted Google ads or going on campus and passing out coasters or pens, that’s how we’re going to bring in that sort of contact from those people. And then obviously from your normal criminal defense people, a lot of them are going to start out with the public defender or start out with an attorney, something bad is going to happen, they may want to go with the private attorney or go with somebody else, so we targeted a lot of the marketing there to somebody pulling out their phone on their way out of court and looking for an attorney, so doing ads through AVVO or something along those lines, targeted to the area around our courthouse.

Tracy: It’s a sort of little grassroots marketing.

Jordan Ostraff: Well, I mean you have to do at least some grassroots at the beginning. There are plenty of things that we looked into to do SEO, to rank on the first page for Orlando Criminal Defense, that’s going to be a 15, $20,000 a month outlay and if I was bringing that in every month, I would be very, very happy.

Tracy: That is true. It takes a little time and takes a little work. What about ethics? I mean that’s important in any business obviously but how specifically — how important is that when it comes to running a law firm?

Jordan Ostraff: To me, it’s very important. The benefit the Florida Bar dues for lawyers are some of the highest across the entire country. We’re paying over $250 a year for our dues. As part of that, we have a 24×7 ethics line. So there are certainly especially when the practice is very new, having that line on speed dial to be, “Hey, this is how I’d like to market. Is that ethical?” And of course there are a number of rules that say that certain things are and certain things aren’t and the unfortunate reality is I’ll find that things that I wanted to do that I was unable to, there are other people doing those things.

Tracy: How have you seen maybe some of your competitors who perhaps don’t practice such ethical behavior or uncivil behavior? How does that seem to affect someone’s business?

Jordan Ostraff: I mean I would say on the — the quick answer is we have an ethical obligation to tell the Florida Bar when we see an ethics violation. So people that do that stuff, that go over that line, normally I would think that they get caught pretty quickly especially when it comes to any of the black hat SEO in violating Google’s terms, those organizations spend so much time and effort that something somebody does to pay someone in China to put a $100,000 back length on their page, it’s going to get caught pretty quickly and flagged and any short term success is going to be outweighed by the long term punishment anyway.

Tracy: Okay. What do you find are some of the characteristics of successful leaders and law firms that sort of shaped the way that you practice law?

Jordan Ostraff: That’s a very good question. It was actually funny, a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were sitting down talking about all the attorneys that have helped us get where we are now and all the attorneys running practice that we’d like to see ours growing to as it continues to get larger. I think the big thing for us that people that we really look up to, they are the ones that are running a successful practice, making a good amount of money but really, they are the ones that are known for being fantastic attorneys. There are a lot of really good businessmen who are also attorneys or businesspeople that are also attorneys, that’s not what I want to fall into. Obviously I want to make money to keep the firm open and to be able to afford nice things but for us, the big thing was continuing to build a reputation as a fantastic attorney in the courtroom in motions at depositions, all of those things. That was the big thing that we try everyday not to lose sight of.

Tracy: What do you see are some of the biggest mistakes that some of the leading law firms or other law firm leaders have made that you are now able to caution yourself again?

Jordan Ostraff: From the standpoint of running a practice or from the standpoint of just being a lawyer?

Tracy: On both, I guess.

Jordan Ostraff: From running a practice, I think the biggest thing is biting off more than you can chew, taking too many cases, getting too much overhead. At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. There is no guarantee that my phone will ever ring again, there is no guarantee that anybody will walk in the door, so building a good reputation in town and having a word that people know, my word is my bond, that gets other attorneys sending you cases that gets clients coming back, those kinds of things. I think the biggest thing that I’m seeing with, you know, a lot of the people I went to law school with, they are year behind me or a year ahead of me coming up to — I am just passing my 5-year mark as an attorney. So somewhere in there, those people are looking at their second or for some of them, their third job and the focus is I want to make more money and they may end up going from a job that they like that doesn’t pay so well to a job they really hate that does pay well but then they have no time and no inclination to actually enjoy life. So I think that’s the biggest mistake that I see from attorneys in general, unfortunately.

Tracy: Tell me do law schools, when you were in law school, do they at all cover anything about law firm, business management or anything like that?

Jordan Ostraff: So I went to Barry University here in Orlando. So the way that Barry is set up, obviously it’s a not tier 1 law school, it’s not a Harvard or anything like that. So they do have a couple of different classes that are designed, law office management, law office practice, those kinds of things, one or two classes. The best thing that I think Barry does that other schools don’t necessarily do or don’t do as much is Barry University has a lot of hands-on skills type classes. So I was able to take motions and depositions in school, we would do fake motion argument to the professor, we would do fake motion practice, trial advocacy and all of those things so that by the time I got into my third year, my last semester, I was at the state attorney’s office 35 hours a week as a certified legal intern trying my own cases, doing my own motions all of that stuff. So my exit interview as an intern for them became my job interview as an attorney for them and then once the bar was over, I started working as an attorney doing basically the same work I had been doing for them 3 or 4 months earlier.

Tracy: What do you think are the factors that really sort of made your firm a success in its first year? I mean that’s definitely something to ride home about.

Jordan Ostraff: I think the best thing that I have is the ability to know what I don’t know. A lot of people — to be an attorney, you have to be arrogant, you have to be confident in your own abilities. I have to be able to genuinely tell a client or a potential client, convince them I am the best attorney for them. So knowing I have no idea about taxes, I found an accountant who I could send all of that stuff to to make sure there wasn’t an issue there. I didn’t know that much about online marketing or pay per click ads and all of that stuff, I’ve found people that did, that I could sit down and talk to and hire them or at least pick their brain and figured out what I wanted to do going forward. And then the best thing was we just didn’t and we still haven’t gotten into any long term serious contracts. So if any mistake was made, it was easy to fix 30 days later, “okay, let’s not do these sort of ads, let’s do this “, “Okay, let’s not take these types of cases; let’s focus over here”, “Okay, let’s not take cases this far away”, we weren’t locked into anything too serious that we’re able to kind of continually reassess where the firm is at, where the firm needs to go, what is working, what isn’t working and that ability to change so quickly has really helped us as other opportunities had presented themselves.

Tracy: And just lastly, are there any final words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other attorneys who might be just fresh out of law school starting out or those who may be — who have been around a while and are just looking at opening their own law firms?

Jordan Ostraff: The best piece of advice that I would have for anybody is understand that it’s a community. You are going to need other people; they are going to need you, build that relationship with people. It helps not just from the standpoint of so and so will send me cases, there are 35 year experienced attorney, they are charging thousands of dollars more for the same case than I would, a client can’t afford them, they send those to me. But also it’s that benefit of, “Hey, I don’t know what to do on this case. I haven’t been in front of this judge who is new to the bench for me but they were on the criminal bench 4 years ago. How are they? What was the experience with them”, all of those things. And then the other thing for me, I don’t know how many other attorneys do this but I always try to give back when I can. So I coach, I still coach trial team over at Barry, I make myself available to a number of law students and talk to them about all of this advice and what I wish I had done differently going through law school and being a young attorney and then I hope that those people look to me if they have questions, just like I look to the people that are at the 15-year mark, the 20-year mark as an attorney. But also many of those people are not going to go into the kind of law that I am going to go into and so hopefully, they’ll send me cases, I’ll send them cases for kinds of law that they don’t go into. I just looked at it as one giant community of relationships. And the more good relationships you have with people the better it’s going to be for you as an attorney, as a businessperson, as a mentor, as a mentee, as a person.

Tracy: I want to send a special thanks to my guest Attorney Jordon Ostraff of the Jordan Law Firm in Orlando, Florida. Now, Jordan, if someone would like to reach out to you with their legal matters or for some advice, what is the best way to reach you?

Jordan Ostraff: The best way to reach me is probably email. It’s jordan@jordanlawfl.com but they can call at the office 24×7 407-906-5529 and that number will ring. And then when the office is closed, that number will ring all the attorney’s cell phones as well. So 407-906-5529.

Tracy: And what’s your website again, Jordan?

Jordan Ostraff: The website is jordanlawfl.com.

Tracy: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time today and thanks for sharing your insight into your experience in starting your own law firm. I appreciate it, Jordan.

Jordan Ostraff: Thank you very much for having me.


Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)