Lessons from Market Leaders: Joe Fried

10 minutes to read

In our quest to provide the best advice for law firm owners across the nation, we recently aired another episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast. A quick Google search for Joe Fried will tell you the obvious — he is one of the most experienced and specialized trucking attorneys in the country. He’s dominated the niche and re-written the entire playbook on it.

Recently, Joe joined Michael Mogill on the show, where they discussed everything from the passion and drive behind what he does, to where it all began, to how he got to where he is now.

It’s no doubt that Joe is a leading voice in his industry. His results are uncommon to say the least. He and his team boast over 100 seven-figure verdicts in the last 10 years, cases in over 30 states, and results totaling over a billion dollars. While these aren’t the accomplishments Joe holds to be the most important, it surely proves that what he’s doing is successful.

In his episode of the podcast, we learned that Joe’s work is much more than just cases won and money made. He takes pride in standing up for the little guy, as he’s always hated bullies. Joe’s insight packs a punch, and there’s so much insightful advice for law firm owners that we decided to put together the most valuable takeaways for you to keep in your back pocket. Dive in, and get ready to be inspired.

Five Key Takeaways from Joe Fried:

  1. Leave a positive mark.
  2. It’s essential to find a niche.
  3. Follow your passion.
  4. How you do anything is how you do everything.
  5. Don’t shy away from fear. Let it drive you.

1. Leave a Positive Mark

Before starting his career as a lawyer, Joe worked as a police officer for 5 years. He expressed that his work as a lawyer is really just a continuation of his police work, but with better resources. He treats his duty to the law as a police officer would — still going after some entity that has done wrong and needs to be held accountable

Originally, Joe joined the police force because he lost several friends to accidents involving drugs and alcohol. At just 19 years old, he joined one of the first DUI task forces in the country. His personal mission was to discover what the world was really doing to keep people safe. After spending time in courtrooms, seeing important events happening there, and realizing that justice is not truly equal or blind, he decided that was where he could make a difference. It has now become the focus of his life.

After attending law school and doing his clerkship, Joe took the personal injury route. This is where he found he was able to really sink his teeth into the bullies’ cases and defend the voiceless.

At the end of the day, Joe is just trying to leave a positive mark where he can. His internal sense of duty comes out in everything he does. He stays highly involved in the safety of trucking, building coalitions and making changes in safety culture, and change motivations in the industry.

His advice to law firm owners is to make decisions based on the universally moral thing to do. Not only is he defending those who need his help, but he is now teaching the lessons he’s learned in seminars and giving away the knowledge he possesses for free — to help others following in his footsteps.

“My measure of success for myself now is helping other people become successful — people that work with me and my firm, my younger partners and associates, my paraprofessionals who have been awesome and now are able to live a better socioeconomic existence because they’ve been with us for a long time, and they’ve helped us succeed and we’ve helped them succeed. But then even beyond and way outside of our firm, I mean, everybody I think who has success owes a debt of gratitude to somebody, and the way you pay that debt of gratitude is to pass on what you’ve learned and build the next generation. This thing may be my internal sense of duty, but it’s one that I think is righteous and correct.”

When Joe goes to teach his advice for law firm owners, he doesn’t hold back. His knowledge becomes the student’s knowledge. Anything he has, he gives away — and it’s not just a marketing ploy. It comes from a place of altruism.

“I do my best to train my competitors. Every now and then, I catch myself by the throat and say, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and then I turn right around and say, ‘I’m training my competitors,’ because what’s more important is that we leave this place better than we found it. You know, I think what happens on the defense side is they come up with some new thing or some new idea or whatever, they hoard it, and then they won’t share it, and they think that as soon as they share it, that their value goes down. That’s just not the mentality I have.”

2. It’s Essential to Find a Niche

Joe describes his journey to where he is in his career now as “a long road, but a great ride.” Although he is now widely known as the trucking lawyer, that’s not where he started out.

He began with medical malpractice law, and after about eight years of that, he happened into a case involving a car that was hit from behind and caught fire. He didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of a roughly nine-year-long focus into post-rear impact fuel-fed fire cases.

He became the go-to hyper-specialist in the field for a defect in Ford Mustangs that were leading to people getting hurt and even dying.

His police work helped here when it came to investigations and forensics. As the subject matter expert on this topic, he told Ford that if they would fix the problem, he could stop suing them. They disregarded him until he became a major force to be reckoned with.

“As my practice narrowed in its scope, my geography grew and it truly became national. I was handling cases all over the United States. This little punk from Georgia was handling major fire cases all over the place and working with really great lawyers who, frankly, probably could have done it themselves — but they didn’t want to spend the hundreds and thousands of hours that I spent becoming a subject matter expert.”

Joe played a large part in Ford eventually changing the production of the Mustang to make it safer. He achieved what he set out to in this specialty, and it essentially took that type of case off the map once and for all. This meant that he was left wondering what to do next.

He always knew that hyper-specialization would happen for him again. Joe lives by the law firm advice that it’s better to choose one subject matter to be an expert in, rather than being an expert in everything.

“Once I decided to focus on it, I made it my life,” he said.

How he found his way into trucking — or rather — how trucking found him, is an amazing story.

Everywhere Joe turned, he found trucking. He describes the way he constantly saw it on TV, in the newspaper — even in a magazine that was left open right in front of his seat on an airplane. Something was telling him to work in trucking.

It really struck him early one morning when he received a call in his office that turned out to be his first trucking case.

“This lady with a far-off voice started to talk to me and said, ‘Is this Joe Fried?’ I said, ‘Yes ma’am. Hello. Can I help you?’ And she said, ‘At three o’clock this morning, my husband was killed. I don’t know what happened, but I know that he got hit by a truck.’ I thought, really — I mean, this seems like weird stuff, man. Did I cause this? So I asked how she knew to call me, and she said, ‘I don’t really know how I have your name,’ but she called me. I mean, I don’t know if somebody in law enforcement gave her my name. I probably had a website, but it certainly wasn’t a trucking website. And of course, I said, ‘Well, don’t talk to anybody else. I’m on my way to come see you.’ And right about that time my one staff person came in and I said, ‘We’re now a trucking firm.’”

Joe describes the following time period as the first time that he had been energized in a long time. Even though he had no trucking cases when he made the decision to become a trucking lawyer, he went for it.

When you hyper-specialize, it empowers you to become the best at whatever it is you’re doing.

When Joe and his eventual partners moved into the trucking realm, they had to first teach the world that what they were doing really was a sub-specialty, not just a marketing ploy. There was enough substance and enough of a difference between auto cases and trucking cases that experts in the field were necessary.

“The world needed people who were specialists in this area, and while we were doing that, we were branding ourselves into the leadership of that new space, if you will.”

3. Follow Your Passion

To hyper-specialize, you have to have a degree of passion toward the area that you’re specializing in. If all you’re doing is trying to make money, that’s a tough place to be. Joe tells his children that it doesn’t matter what they do, just as long as they do it from a place of passion.

When Joe started in trucking without having any cases, he was scared to death — but it was more of a calling for him than just a job. His passion for his work has led him now to mentor people, to help others find their passion and do what lights them up.

His advice to law firm owners is to get out there and find the story that needs to be told.

Showcasing his passion makes him stand out from competitors. Joe’s true passion is finding the truth and truly helping people. Digging deep into every one of his cases and finding the real, human, compelling story. That’s his “why.”

He suggests finding the “big problem” in a case — and making that the new narrative. When you hit on that, there is a level of credibility that comes with it that’s hard to argue against. Show that jury why they should care about that case.

Advice for Law Firm Owners

4. How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

Day in and day out, whether you’re working or at home, what you do matters. When you’re in the courtroom, how hard you work the case matters.

“The case is important, not because you say it’s important, but because you act like it’s important. That drives value.”

Every lawyer knows that the cases that matter to you the most will get your attention. The others lag behind, because your energy goes toward what you think is the most important.

But Joe’s advice for law firm owners is that it’s essential for you to act like every case is important — because then you will treat it as if it is important. None of your cases should lag behind if you want the reputation of someone who is strong in the courtroom, because there’s always someone watching.

So put the effort in. Drive the results you want home.

5. Don’t Shy Away from Fear. Let It Drive You.

Joe has experienced plenty of fear in his life. It is the backbone of everything he does. In fact, it drives him.

“It drives some people to drugs, alcohol, reclusiveness, and failure. But it drives others to be a different kind of addict. One that goes to work every day, sometimes 15 hours a day, and on weekends.”

Joe harnesses this fear and uses it. He suggests that mankind’s constant struggle is a struggle to keep fear, self-doubt and worthiness at bay. But he welcomes the challenge.

When he goes into a case, he knows there are always high expectations, because of his reputation. He fears what the repercussions will be if he doesn’t work his magic. What will happen if he doesn’t live up to the expectations?

This fear propels him every day.

Currently, Joe has a more global fear, a different kind of fear, for the world we live in. Society these days devalues life and devalues pain frequently. He refuses to accept that.

Law Firm Advice

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, Joe is trying to do his small piece on a case-by-case basis to remind people, one by one, that every human being is valuable. Every human being’s experience is valuable.

If you want to hear Joe Fried’s advice for law firm owners yourself, or if you’d like to hear from other experts we’ve featured on the show, you can listen and download this episode and many more of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast for FREE on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and the official podcast website.