Frank Ramos, Partner
Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Pamela: Hello. My name is Pamela DeNeuve and I’d like to welcome you to Lawyer of the Week. This week we’re very honored to have Francisco Ramos (Frank Ramos Jr.) and I’d like to tell you a little bit about Frank.
Frank is the administrative partner of the Miami litigation boutique firm of Clarke Silverglate, P.A., where he practices in the areas of personal injury defense, product liability, employment and commercial litigation.
He serves on the board of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), is a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC), where he served as co-chair of the Deposition Boot Camp and serves as co-chair of the Art of Marketing Seminar.
He is a Past President of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association and Past Chair of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Historical Society.
He has served on the boards of the Miami-Dade County Defense Bar Association, FIU Honors’ Alumni Association, FIU Alumni Association, Parent to Parent of Miami, Miami Legal Services and Florida Christian School.
He has written five books: Go Motivate Yourself, From Law School to Litigator, The Associates’ Handbook, Attorney Marketing 101 and Training Your Law Firm Associates. He has written over 150 articles and has edited four books – The Defense Speaks, The Trial Tactics Defense Manual, The Deposition Manual and Leadership for Lawyers. You can follow him on LinkedIn and we will have all of his links at the bottom of our post here.
So hello Frank, thank you for joining us for Lawyer of the Week.
Frank: Thanks so much for having me.
Pamela: How do you do all that writing? That’s really amazing. I’m so impressed.
Frank: I usually do it early in the morning or late in the evening.
Pamela: Wonderful, wonderful. Well, I’m gonna ask you the Lawyer of the Week questions. The first question is when and what made you decide to become a lawyer?
Frank: You know, I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. Early on, I had watched a lot of the old lawyer shows including Perry Mason and thought it’d be a lot of fun and had the lawyer bug ever since I was in elementary school and followed through with classes that sort of helped me, guide me along that path through high school and college.
I went to The University of Miami Law School here in Miami and I’ve been practicing now about 20 years. I’ve really always wanted to do it.
Pamela: Oh wonderful. Now have you lived in Florida most of your life?
Frank: No, actually I grew up in Chicago and went to elementary school there through 5th grade. And lived in Ravenswood actually and I was really into art and writing short stories and then my family moved to Miami in ’86 where I started high school and I’ve been here ever since.
Pamela: Oh, that’s really great. You know, I’m from a South suburb of Chicago myself.
Frank: Oh really? Which one?
Pamela: I grew up in a town outside of Chicago called Robbins, Illinois. I went to school in Midlothian and Blue Island and went to college in Park Forest South.
Frank: Oh, that’s great. I was actually in Chicago just last week.
Pamela: Oh, were you? I wasn’t there a couple of months ago, actually. So has much changed for you?
Frank: Well, it’s- South Florida and Chicago are two very different environments, let’s put it that way. What I love about Chicago, even going back last week- it’s sort of a small town in a big city.
Pamela: Yes yes, that’s good, that’s good. And did your family- did they always see your determination that you were going to be a lawyer as well?
Frank: Yeah, my dad was a meatpacker. My mom was a maid. They wanted more for me. I was the first individual for my family to go to college and they wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor. And so I picked the one- I picked one of the things they wanted, so it worked out pretty well. (rest of article)
Pamela: Oh, I’m sure you’ve made them so proud.
Frank: I appreciate that. Thank you.
Pamela: Yes, now tell me- what about your practice- what are your biggest wins and your biggest challenges?
Frank: Well, in our practice, we don’t really try that many cases anymore but we’ll go to trial occasionally. I went to trial just last year on a bench trial and we’re hoping to get a resolution from the court soon. We’re going to have our final closing argument another month or so.
I think the biggest challenge these days for trial lawyers is that we try so few cases that it’s hard to get the experience we need or want.
This is especially more difficult for younger lawyers who rarely try cases, if ever, because clients don’t want to entrust them with either an opening or closing or cross examination. So I think that the ever disappearing trials may be a challenge now and will be a challenge into the future for lawyers, whether they’re plaintiff or defense lawyers.
Pamela: Now one of the, I think, opportunities I noticed or I have observed… that you’ve really assumed more of a mentorship role to the younger lawyers. Can you talk a little bit about how that happened?
Frank: Sure, sure. I wrote a book back- well actually, it started back with writing a column for the Dade County Bar Association Bulletin, where they had a monthly column and I would provide my advice.
It was really sort of born on the fact that I had made my mistakes along the way and learned the hard way, in many respects, and didn’t want other people to do what I had done- in terms of the trips and falls and the obstacles, so I basically sort of thought through the issues that I had been challenged with and reduced them to about eight hundred, nine hundred articles.
Eventually there was enough material there to turn into a book which was the first book I wrote in 2007, From Law School to Litigator. I think in 2011, I blogged for a while and kind of stepped away from that.
Then in the last year or so, I really got active on LinkedIn and basically do posts every day. I’ve written several books for young lawyers. Most of my books are really directed toward young lawyers, whether it’s to help them with the practice itself, whether it’s to market themselves or the firm, to develop their leadership skills and most importantly, so that they can have forward thinking and pay it forward and help others who are coming behind them.
Pamela: That’s really admirable, Frank. You know, a lot of lawyers have learned or gone along the way and they don’t really think about that- their mind doesn’t work, as far as giving back, so I think it’s very admirable.
Is there something about you, your family, or your heritage or something that makes you, you know, really want to stop and help those who are coming up along the way?
Frank: Well, I mean again- our family was a very working-class family. We don’t really have that many professionals in our family. It’s a challenge for anybody who doesn’t have a foundation of either lawyers or doctors, other professionals that come before them.
They don’t know what to expect, they don’t know what to do, they don’t appreciate the politics involved. And I have learned a lot of things the hard way and if I can help others sort of avoid the mistakes I’ve made and have the vision I lacked, then that’s how I want to help.
And you know, and hopefully by just sharing what I’ve learned, other people will share what they’ve learned. And hopefully they’ll follow suit, as well.
Pamela: That’s really a good thought that, you know, people can help along the way. Made me think about a story I heard about someone that they went to- I think it was a drive through, a Starbucks or something and the person paid for the person behind them and then the next person paid for the person behind them and this just went on for like, half of the day.
And when you give- when people see you giving, you’re like setting an example that probably a lot of the people that you’re helping are going to help others along the way as well.
Frank: Yeah, I appreciate that. I think whenever someone asks how I can help, I just tell them just to help someone else.
Pamela: Oh that’s wonderful, that’s great. Now who or what is a perfect referral to your law practice?
Frank: Well, we do a mix of employment and commercial and a lot of the matters I’m handling, a lot of the matters our firm is handling, are commercial disputes between companies or individuals. Or we represent both companies and individuals employment suits, whether it’s discrimination or in terms of overtime and things like that. We have a fairly diverse practice but those are two of our main areas.
Pamela: And which one would you say you do more of?
Frank: Personally, right now I’m doing a lot more commercial litigation. We’re handling a lot of preliminary injunctions in a variety of settings, which are always fun because you- whether you’re filing one or you’re on the receiving end, things move very fast, very quickly and the case can start and end within three to four weeks, which is very unusual in our judicial system. So it’s not pass go and do not collect $200, you’re off the races.
Pamela: Well now, it’s one of the things that I notice that you write about a lot for the younger lawyers and for lawyers in general is how things are changing and you’ve alluded to that a couple of times. What do you see are the biggest changes in the way law is being practiced and the way the trends are heading?
Frank: You know, I think it’s going to become less personal. I think it’s going to become more of a commodity and you’re going to see the legal services being delivered more akin to the way Amazon or other large conglomerates are delivering, you know, retail products where people are going to go to some sort of large website and basically say, I need an attorney for X, and attorneys may bid on it, or attorneys may submit information.
You know, a lot of larger companies are doing that now- where they put out larger matters on bids and they see what quality and price they can get in return.
So I just see the practice sort of devolving into a much more impersonal process, which is unfortunate because by definition, what we do as attorney/client, it’s very personal. It’s very confidential.
And I kind of see that sort of devolving something very different. And I also see things like artificial intelligence and other items, especially outsourcing a lot of services we do abroad- sort of limiting what we’ll be doing.
In the future- will be a lot of the lower-level type of work that we do, will just simply be outsourced and we’re going to be limited to more high-level work.
It’s going to be hard to think that there’d be that much work to go around for the number of lawyers that are in this country and the state of Florida.
Pamela: Yeah, so that was my next question. What do you recommend for young lawyers who have gone to school, they have a debt and it’s not easy to find a job and the jobs are diminishing? What do you recommend?
Frank: Well, I think there’s a couple things. First, they need to develop a large network of individuals, both online and in person.
A lot of voluntary bar associations have reduced rates for young lawyers to attend their seminars or conferences. It’s difficult but people need to sort of go out there when they can, either to a reception or to a CLE and meet people. Contact them and follow up with them.
I think what we’re going to do as- our firm, when we hire people, is generally people we know, for people we’ve met- just getting a blind resume either through the email or by mail, doesn’t really carry much weight these days, so that’s one thing.
Two- young lawyers certainly have an advantage. They’re much more attuned to the technological changes that are happening all around us.
More senior lawyers are looking to them to sort of appreciate and better understand what’s happening, whether it’s on LinkedIn or Facebook or another social media, whether it’s blogging or changes that need to be made to the website, whether it’s on-demand programming through CLE.
There’s a lot of things that are going on that are being missed by more senior counsel that younger lawyers can certainly clue them in on and help them with.
Pamela: Okay, that’s good to know. Now, I want to ask you another question because you seem to be very attuned to social media and I’ve met and actually worked with a lot of lawyers who practice law as long as you have, who are not.
What made you more sensitive to the need to being astute, as far as social media is concerned?
Frank: I think the key for social media, which people don’t appreciate, is that if you want a case referral from an attorney, you need to be in his or her mind at the time the case crosses his or her desk.
And it’s really hard to do if you’re not on social media. If you’re not regularly posting, either on Facebook or LinkedIn and they’re not following you and reading about you and reading your ideas and your thoughts, they’re probably not thinking about you.
So when that case hits their desk, they may not think “Frank Ramos” because they haven’t heard from me in sort of a social media context, in months. Like obviously, we don’t have time to call all our contacts every month and ask them how they’re doing but social media provides us a shortcut to sort of stay in the forefront of their minds.
Pamela: So what made you realize that?
Frank: Well, we sat down a couple years ago as a firm and were trying to figure out- how do we stay in touch with our clients, or referral sources, our friends.
And, we made a list of the people we knew and it was a long list. And there is just no way, physically or timewise, to reach out to all of them or even most of them on a regular basis- other than friending them on Facebook or connecting with them on LinkedIn or sending them email blasts, or whatever it might be because the old way is just- you know, we still do that.
We still have lunches, we still have breakfasts, we still meet people, we still call people but as you can appreciate with busy practices, you can only do that so often.
Social media provides another layer of sort of being up front and center for the people who want to refer you matters. That’s very important.
Pamela: It is important. Now, what legacy would you like to leave in your law practice?
Frank: You know, I’d like to leave the legacy of people following my lead, in terms of understanding that we all have an obligation to those around, especially younger lawyers who are coming behind us.
You know, I’m Hispanic. Attorneys of color always have challenges that other attorneys don’t have- they don’t have the support a lot of their families, they don’t have the political know-how sometimes because they haven’t been in four or five generations of lawyers or doctors or whatever it might be.
And so for those of us who have those challenges, you know first- we actually have to do the best we can to advance our own careers but while we do that, we have an obligation for the younger lawyers coming behind us to do the same.
So I guess if I have a legacy and hopefully people- I can start seeing other people start posting, start sending articles and start having lunches with younger lawyers and following that.
Pamela: Well, that’s really great. That’s really great. So now, I always ask one last question and that is, could you name something that you like to do to manage your stress levels?
Frank: Sure, sure. We have a dog- a rescue dog- it’s a little Chihuahua/terrier mix. It’s a very spunky dog and so we take it for walks a long time and even though it’s small in size, she can walk for miles on end. Walking really helps us relieve a lot of stress. My wife and I take the dog for a walk.
Pamela: Oh great, great. I’m sure that’s really relaxing. I have two, myself. Two rescues and we start our day, you know, I go to the beach. I’m actually in Jacksonville.
Frank: Okay, what type of dogs are they?
Pamela: I have a Bichon-Poodle mix and a Maltese Westie. And yours is?
Frank: It’s a half Chihuahua, half terrier. About eight pounds.
Pamela: Oh wow. A little baby, yeah. Well yeah, you know- so anyone who’s a pet lover who’s watching or listening, knows that pets can really help you laugh and relax and there’s never a dull moment, right?
Frank: They’re always happy to see you when you get home.
Pamela: Yeah, that’s right. That’s really true.
Well Frank, I’m so glad that you took the time to be our Lawyer of the Week. It’s just, you know- I just have to say, I feel really honored. I’ve heard wonderful things about you and I read a lot of your posts on LinkedIn and I noticed that you have a lot of people that really look forward to hearing what you have to say on different subjects.
So you’ve really already, you know- building your legacy already and I’m sure- are your parents still both alive?
Frank: My mom passed away in 2013. My dad’s still alive. He’s 84. He lives in Hollandale, I live in Miami, so he lives about 30 minutes away.
Pamela: Oh great, so I’m sure he’s very proud of you and I’m sure your mother was very proud of you, as well.
Frank: Thank you, thank you so much.
Pamela: Okay, well thank you so much for being the Lawyer of the Week and I hope you to see you again next week.
Frank: Thank you. You have a great day!
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