Link To Guest Website: https://www.tbhr-law.com/
Title: “How The Business Landscape Has Changed For Leaders”
Guest: Mark Furman of Tarlow Breed Hart & Rodgers
Interviewer: Jeffrey Davis – MAGE LLC
Click here to read the transcript
Well, everybody, this is Jeffrey Davis. I am host of Radio Entrepreneurs and welcome back. And I want to remind them that through COVID into COVID out of COVID, we have been real time streaming stories about entrepreneurship, business leadership and how people have been adapting to this constantly changing economy. And right from the start of Radio Entrepreneurs, there has been a fixture and one of those fixtures has been mark Fermin, director of Tarlow, Breed, Hart, and Rogers. Welcome back, Mark.
Hi Jeffrey. Great to be with you today.
Thank you. You know, mark, there’s something that I’ve noticed as I’ve been talking to my clients and you know, I’m a management consultant and every time I speak to a law firm, they say to me, we’re busier than we’ve ever been before. And that I find that particularly interesting. You know, everybody’s wondering about the economy in the future and how busy it is. Can you explain to us what’s going on? That’s making law firms so busy?
Mark (1m 4s):
Well, I think there’s a lot of things going on in different practice areas. If you have, if you look at the mergers and acquisition world, you have an environment where there’s a lot of opportunities for people to sell their businesses, to, to raise money to it’s a time of transition, very low interest rate environment. And I think as a result of that M and a work it’s been pretty consistent really throughout the pandemic and as businesses, some businesses have been very adversely affected and that creates opportunities for folks who were interested in coming in and maybe being able to buy businesses at an attractive price.
Mark (2m 4s):
And so that’s one thing going on and in the real estate world, interest rates are near historical lows. And in the employment world, you have this event COVID, that’s just resulted in a tremendous number of changes in the employment world. People being laid off, peop employers, having to deal with all of the issues, you know, such as, you know, can you require vaccinations?
Mark (2m 47s):
Should you require vaccinations? How to deal with people who have been tested positive, whether to require people to be tested, who haven’t been vaccinated, folks who have concerns about vaccinations on religious grounds, folks who have concerns about vaccinations on non religious grounds, as well as the usual types of cases, claims of discrimination, wrongful termination, and then in the litigation world.
Mark (3m 28s):
As you know, I handle a lot of disputes between companies, between partners and in that world. You know, when, when COVID started, excuse me, the courts were effectively closed for several months. And then I think when they reopened, it was a slow start. So you have, you know, this five and a half month backlog. And, and then, so you had all the new cases being filed, as well as all the old cases that were kind of frozen and suspended during the beginning of COVID.
Mark (4m 18s):
And so I think that has meant that folks who do what I do are very busy. Then if you look at the, the state planning and the state and trust administration world, you have a presidential election where one of the issues that was being debated as it always is, is what should be the federal estate tax exemption. The exemption has been high, you know, at the present time, I think it’s about $11 million per person.
Mark (5m 0s):
And, and the democratic proposal was for a lower state tax exemption. So a lot of folks did estate planning in 2020 in anticipation of the possibility of that change. Then you add on top of that, the fact that there were unfortunately more people dying than typically because of COVID. And that created a state administration trust administration that increases the number of will contests where their disputes and which is, you know, something.
Mark (5m 52s):
I also get involved in those types of cases. And so now we’re in 2021, and there are proposals out there to change the estate tax laws proposals out there to change how capital gains rates are treated, how, what the corporate income tax rate is, all these things create a business activity that require legal services and not just legal services, you know, accountants are involved financial planners.
Mark (6m 32s):
So there’s, there’s a whole, it seems like in every area of the law, there has been reason for there to be a lot of activity. And, you know, I’ve had to, I, you know, I always hated having video depositions as opposed to in person I’m frankly, still not a fan of it, but they’re sanctioned by the courts. And so whether I like it or not, and I, I’m not sure, I love it. As far as major witnesses are concerned, you know, I think it’s here to stay.
Mark (7m 19s):
Now, there have been great efficiencies through that have manifested themselves as a result of COVID. You know, all the court hearings I have are zoom hearings, mediations are zoom, clients, meetings are down, zoom meetings are up, you know, it’s, it’s, I think going to be a little different now because of the fact that so many people have been vaccinated, but you know, we have a court hearing this afternoon, just another zoom court hearing, and it has such an efficiency to it.
Mark (8m 10s):
You know, if I have a two o’clock hearing say in fall river, I need to leave my office by noon. I may be the eighth case scheduled for two o’clock. Then I have to get in my car and drive back to Boston during zoom court hearings that put on my suit a half hour before log on 10 minutes before the hearing, I typically have an assigned time just for my hair. And so the amount of time that’s spent, not the amount of time spent commuting is saved.
Mark (8m 53s):
And I think it’s for things that don’t involve taking testimony, actual witness under oath, being subject to direct exam, cross exam, I think it’s great. And you don’t lose much if anything, in my view, by having these hearings, non evidentiary hearings remotely, but you lose, you know, I’m not a fan of having a zoom trial, although non-jury cases are being tried. Now, I haven’t had one and of course, jury chases, and I would like to see live depositions of the key witnesses in cases so that you can see more than kind of the body language, the body language is important.
Mark (9m 57s):
And plus you want to see what’s happening in the room. You get to see the whole room, facial expressions in the room to S it’s a control issue. So, but I think, you know, in now, of course, I mean, this is this whole subject, you know, we could go on for multiple shows to have, because the whole what’s going to happen to the workplace in light of the increase, you know, how busy law firms are. And, but not just law firms, it’s going to be, you know, what a companies to what all types of businesses to, with the world after COVID, as we resume the world in the new normal, what does that look like?
Mark (10m 53s):
How much space does people need? You know, that’s going to create issues in real estate. I mean, it’s just on and on and on. It’s truly fascinating to see and try to predict what the world will look like a year from now three years from now, five years from now, in terms of businesses of all types, including law firms. Well,
2 (11m 20s):
You know, you’ve, you’ve really been more thorough than I thought you would. You listed about nine market factors that are affecting law firms. And those market factors are not only affecting law firms. They’re affecting all of us. I also think that they’re not just external drivers coming into the firm, but you as a owner of a company are dealing with cultural issues and cultural change within your own firm as well. Millennials don’t necessarily want to be back five days a week and either do baby boomers and we’re all looking for our proper. So I think you’re also dealing with your own firm’s issues of how do we run a law firm in the future, you know, based upon the new conditions that we’ve learned over the last year as well.
2 (12m 3s):
Isn’t that correct? Exactly.
Mark (12m 6s):
It’s exactly right. And you know, and it’s not going to be the same, but you know, there’s certain tasks that I’ll call them solo tasks that people do that, you know, speaking for myself, not my firm, but you know, it seems like those tests can be done wherever you think you can do them most productively. And you know, if that’s from the mountains in Maine or the shore on Cape Cod, it really doesn’t matter.
Mark (12m 46s):
It’s when you get into issues like mentoring, younger people, training and group tasks that I think it gets trickier, but I think, you know, and, and not all, you’re absolutely right. Jeffrey, it’s not all age groups thinking the same.
2 (13m 8s):
Oh, it’s different. And you know, it, it’s definitely a crisis of identity and how people relate themselves personally to work. And since law firms, aren’t in a competitive environment, you have to think about that as well. I know you do because we need to keep the senior partners, the junior partners, the associates, all happy and working productively, and we want to recruit in this world. And I think that that’s a big issue. I love talking to you always, there has never been a shortage of time to find you, but if someone else is interested in any of those topics that you listen listed because they affect businesses as well, how could they find you?
Mark (13m 51s):
I can be reached at 6 1 7 2 1 8 2 0 2 5. That’s my direct line or at M Ferman, F U R M a N at T B, hr-law.com.
2 (14m 8s):
And that’s mark Furhman at Darla Greenheart and Rogers. And my name is Jeffrey Davis and I’m at <inaudible> LLC. Thank you, mark again. And thank you to all our listeners on radio entrepreneurs.
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