Jordan Peagler, Esq. co-founded MKP Law Group, LLP, and is one of its partners. A trial attorney, he often handles “complex civil litigation matters in personal injury, medical malpractice and insurance bad faith.” He has extensive experience handling cases, including all parts of litigation, from “pre-litigation through mediation, arbitration, and trial.” While working with his clients, Jordan shows intense focus and dedication in helping his clients win their cases, and he also takes care of their cases “with organization and purpose.”
Before starting MKP Law Group, Jordan Peagler earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arizona. While at the University, he was also a member of the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, where he published an article on cyberwarfare. Jordan also completed a “judicial externship” for the Honorable Christopher Coury in Maricopa County Superior Court. Later, he clerked at Martin & Bonnett, PLLC.
Currently, Jordan Peagler is an active member of the California State Bar, the Los Angeles Bar Association, and Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. He is also a member of the Intertribal Court of Southern California.
In his spare time, Jordan Peagler also volunteers at the Veteran’s Clinic of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. At the clinic, he gives United States military veterans free legal advice. He has also given lectures to attorneys out of state regarding the “nuances of California personal injury law.” Jordan Peagler also enjoys a rating of 10.0 at Justia, and a rating of 9.4 at Avvo.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Jordan Peagler: I always knew I’d become an attorney. My mom says she first knew I’d be a lawyer when I was about two years old. I was digging in the garden with my hands one afternoon and she came out and told me to stop. The next day I was back digging in the same garden, but this time I was using a spoon to dig. When she came out to stop me I looked at the spoon as if to say “it’s not me digging, it’s the spoon,” a critical distinction.
In high school, I participated in mock trials and took law school type courses as in undergrad at the University of San Diego. After getting my undergraduate degree, I moved back to Arizona where I was born and got my law degree from the University of Arizona. After passing the California bar and moving to Los Angeles with my wife, my first job was at a personal injury firm.
I quickly realized I enjoyed representing injured plaintiffs against million-dollar insurance companies. Fighting for the “little guy” in this day and age of corporate greed just felt right. After gaining practical experience for several years as an associate attorney, I met my two partners and we decided to open our own firm. We felt we could improve several areas that large to mid-sized law firms often neglect, like client communication and using technology to streamline inefficiencies.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Jordan Peagler: Due to the nature of personal injury cases, they often take at least six months to resolve and many times can take years to finally settle. Even after cases resolve, there are post-settlement issues that need to be resolved before the firm is ever paid a dime. Also, personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee, meaning that we are only compensated if the client receives a monetary award or settlement, with our firm advancing all costs prior to resolution.
This means that it takes a long time to see any return on my time. Plus, there are even situations where we don’t make any money at all.
These financial realities made the first couple of months after opening our firm the hardest. We didn’t have any money coming in and had no guarantees that the money we expected to receive in the future would be enough to keep the firm open. Not to mention, we were doing that while still trying to pay ourselves a liveable wage.
The uncertainty in those first months, about whether our business would be profitable and whether the risk I took leaving a salaried position would pay off, often led me to question my decision to start MKP Law Group.
During those initial months where the firm wasn’t yet profitable, I received a job offer from another firm and thought about accepting the position. However, I knew I could never live with myself if I gave up before giving it a full shot. Had I taken the position, I would have been left to wonder what could have been and that was not something I was prepared to do. Opening the firm was a bet on myself and one I had to see through to the end.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Jordan Peagler: As a plaintiff’s attorney, representing the interests of injured people, any mistake you make usually is not funny. Mistakes can have serious consequences for the case and the client. However, dealing with individual clients, who come from very diverse backgrounds, can require finesse and often provide learning experiences.
When we first opened the firm, there was a potential client who contacted us looking for a new attorney; her current attorney was lazy and not doing anything to move her case forward. After speaking on the phone several times, she decided she wanted to retain my firm as her new counsel. As a courtesy, I said I would drive to her house so that it would be convenient for her to sign all of the paperwork. A few days later, on the morning of the meeting, I drove to her house and knocked on her door. There was no response. I heard loud music playing and could hear the client singing, but no matter how loud I knocked she would not come to the door. After waiting for about 15 minutes on her front porch, I finally decided to leave with the music still blaring.
At the time I didn’t think it was very funny. I had driven all the way out to her house after all! However, I think we can all appreciate that she was certainly enjoying her time.
This experience taught me not only to be more organized with my calendar but to always confirm appointments with clients! We never know what they might be doing in their free time or how they might be managing the stressful time they are going through.
Clients are often dealing with the fallout of their injuries, trying to juggle doctors appointments and figure out how to pay off medical bills. Plus, they are still human and trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, like singing free-spirited ballads with the music turned up.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Organizational Structures
Good companies have basic structures in place to carry out routine tasks, but oftentimes more detailed structures and higher-level organization is required to take a company from good to great.
Things like ensuring all clients or files are handled in a uniform manner, having contingency plans in place to deal with novel or complex problems, and having regular team meetings to ensure progress are all organizational structures that can help a company become even more profitable.
2. Streamline Inefficiencies
Streamlining inefficiencies should be a priority of every company. The first law firm I worked at was a traditional law firm that used paper files. The files could become so voluminous that it required multiple boxes to store all the documents and pleadings. Furthermore, there was no uniformity in how the files were stored and prepared (see lack of organization structure above) so the organization of the files varied. This led to confusion as to where certain documents were located and a lot of wasted time for the attorneys who had to search through the files. These sorts of inefficiencies cost companies time and money.
When we opened our firm we decided to go paperless, where every document is scanned and uploaded to the file on a cloud system, and each file is set up in a uniform manner. This allows us to not only access every file on-the-go but to know where the desired document is within the file without wasting time searching for individual documents.
3. Highlighting Strengths & Minimizing Weaknesses
Great companies should know their strengths and weaknesses and look to highlight their strengths while addressing their weaknesses.
When we opened our firm, we were small fish in a very big pond. We understood that one of our weaknesses was our inability to advertise on the same scale and with the same results as our competitors. We had to find a cost-effective solution to obtaining new cases and clients without putting our firm in financial jeopardy.
We realized that one of our strengths was that we are skilled litigators, a field most law firms try to avoid because it is labor-intensive and time-consuming. So we focused on increasing our networking efforts and then building upon that network to obtain referrals from other attorneys looking to avoid litigation. Because we are skilled at litigation, we were able to deliver great results which helped earn the trust of the referring attorneys and led to even more referrals.
4. Implement Client Feedback
Great companies ask for and then listen to their client feedback to improve their company.
Clients are the lifeblood of any company, so CEOs should value client feedback to make sure clients will return in the future and/or refer new clients.
If a certain policy or procedure consistently produces negative feedback, then that policy or procedure needs to be fixed, altered, or scrapped altogether. For example, if a company’s return policy makes it difficult for the customer to print a return label or properly package the product for shipping, it makes life more difficult for the customer and reduces the likelihood the customer will become a repeat customer. Improving the client experience allows a great company to deliver great results for the client.
5. Planning for Growth
Great companies have a strategic plan for growth and take the steps to accomplish that growth in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. Good companies can become and remain profitable without expanding from the initial location, office, or market, but great companies are always looking to grow and become bigger.
Growth should come at a metered and reasonable pace so as to not overextend and put the company in a risky position financially. This makes planning for growth crucial in making a good company great. For example, a restaurant looking to open a second location needs to budget for food costs, furniture, and other operational costs as well as doing plenty of due diligence in researching the estimated foot traffic and available parking at the new location when considering secondary locations.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Jordan Peagler: As a law firm that exclusively focuses on representing injury victims against huge insurance companies, having a purpose in what you do can mean all the difference. Having something that motivates your company and your employees to give their all in order to produce the best results for your clientele can only help propel your business. Having an overarching goal or social cause makes your employees more dedicated to the task at hand.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Jordan Peagler: Investing in your website to make it as user-friendly and appealing as possible is a great way to boost conversion rates.
If a visitor to the website finds it difficult to navigate or find what they are looking for there is a low likelihood of them choosing your company. The same goes for aesthetics. Looks matter to clients so if photos are old or the layout of the site is not interactive or appealing then it can look cheap.
Prompt responses are another key to boosting conversion rates. It seems obvious but delays in responding to inquiries or messages drastically reduce conversion rates.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Jordan Peagler: I think a great way to boost your reputation and brand is through client testimonials and reviews.
Clients often rely on internet reviews like Yelp! and Google reviews when selecting a business. Proactively asking satisfied customers to leave reviews helps others trust your company.
In addition to branding all correspondence and paperwork clients receive from our firm, we stay in contact with clients after their case has settled. Things like sending holiday cards with your brand on it, or sending branded promotional emails all help to keep your company on the minds of your existing clientele.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!