Episode 273 — David Laborde & Digger Earles — Grit and Growth: The Laborde Earles Blueprint for Success

What if you could transform your small-town law practice into a legal powerhouse, dominating a highly competitive market and redefining client service standards?

David Laborde and Digger Earles have done just that.

By embracing relentless reinvestment, mastering the art of delegation, and leveraging innovative marketing strategies — including partnerships with NFL stars — they’ve built a legal empire from the ground up. Their journey from rural Louisiana roots to becoming legal titans is nothing short of inspiring.

In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, David and Digger join Michael Mogill to discuss:

  • How to scale your law firm while maintaining an unparalleled client experience
  • The importance of community-centric values
  • Why betting on yourself is the ultimate key to success
Episode 273 — David Laborde & Digger Earles — Grit and Growth: The Laborde Earles Blueprint for Success
Show Notes:

A family affair. “It wasn’t until we were both lawyers that we first worked together and I realized the value of working with someone who you like to work with, who you got along with, and who was similarly aligned in values and work ethic. We started by joining forces working on the BP oil spill litigation. We worked too well together and realized that we could build something really special as partners, so we did. The rest is history.”

Partner fundamentals. “A good partnership starts with a mutual respect for one another. We come from different backgrounds and have different opinions and very different personalities. While we’ve had disagreements on decisions and differences of opinion, we always work it out. Sometimes that’s behind closed doors, in private. I think that respect shows that we really care about one another and always doing the right thing.”

Bet on yourself. “We’ve always had a similar mindset when it comes to spending and investing. I drive an old pickup truck and will drive it until the wheels fall off. There’s no reason to go out and buy a bunch of nice things that, in the end, don’t bring you a lot of reward. Whether it’s through our upbringing, our nature, or both, we’ve just both realized the value of reinvesting in our business and the rewards that we can reap as a result. There’s no one I’d rather bet on than myself. I don’t want to put my money in the stock market on some CEO I’ve never met or doesn’t know how to make a decision that affects me financially. I’d rather put my money on me, on us, and on our firm. It seems to be the right plan of action so far.”

Necessary sacrifices. “I’ve worked some long, long hours. I have five kids, and when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t realize what’s going on. That said, I can remember many nights coming home, going to baseball games, going to horseback riding lessons, going to whatever the event may be, putting everyone to bed, and after dinner, helping my wife tidy up the house and then starting my work to get ready for the next day. I’d stay up until midnight or one o’clock in the morning to prepare for a deposition the next day or a trial that’s coming up the following week. That’s just the grind that you go through — conscious of what’s going on — but if you’re going to succeed, those are the sacrifices you have to make. I don’t really think of them as sacrifices though. I look back on them as really fun times, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.”

Happy clients = more referrals. “Far and away, our greatest referral sources are former clients and friends and family of former clients, so we looked for ways to enhance our customer experience to make sure we had a happy client base. We use this tool built into our case management system called the Happy Meter. It routinely sends out text messages to our clients and asks them to rate their experience on a scale of 1-10 for all sorts of things — the job their paralegal is doing, the job their attorney is doing, etc. — and if it’s anything less than a nine, red flags go up. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. That client gets a call immediately from the paralegal or the lawyer to learn more about exactly what the issue is. A lot of times the client will say, ‘Well, we gave you a nine,” but we’ll say, ‘We want a 10. We want to deliver a plus white glove service to you and nothing short of that.’”

Play to your market. “One of the things to our credit that we’ve done better than most in our industry is thinking outside the box and looking for ways to connect to our community. When we first started, it was just stuffy old lawyers and law libraries on TV talking about how they’re the greatest lawyers and that people should hire them. We prioritized client testimonials before that was really a thing, and it was a big deal for us and worked. Suddenly all of our competitors started doing client testimonials, so we asked ourselves what else we could do differently. As part of our networking throughout the country, we met some lawyers that partnered with an NFL athlete in Kansas City, and we thought about how we could do that locally. Football is king in Louisiana, and the Saints are very loved throughout our markets. We partnered with one of their rookies at the time, Alvin Kamara, who ended up winning Rookie of the Year and his career just exploded. That turned into other Saints legends and wonderful partnerships.”

Expand capacity and expertise. “Delegation has been a huge thing for us to really adapt and learn to let go of some things. We recently hired a COO to come in and take over some of the heavy lifting that the two of us were getting bogged down with, and he’s done a fantastic job. We built out our finance team with a CFO, bookkeepers, controllers, and more departments that make our firm operate more like a corporation or act like a finely tuned business, and that’s made a big difference for us to bring people in that excel at certain roles that were just average. For example: We were just average at finance, marketing, and operations, but then we brought in people who specialize in each of those areas of the business, and that has really been a game changing experience for us.”

Grow or die. “If you aren’t growing, you’re dying, and we certainly don’t want to die. We’ve built a pretty amazing thing here, and I want to see it continue to grow. We both have children who are lawyers, so maybe someday they’ll take over the reins and do great things even better than we could ever have dreamed of. We also just have this innate desire to do better and to excel, whether that results in growth or expanding the footprint we currently have. We’re not ones to sit by and not attempt to improve our business and ourselves. That drives us.”

What does being a game changer mean to Digger? “Seeing challenges as opportunities, embracing innovation, and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Never following the rules, but rather rewriting them to create a new playbook for success.”

What does being a game changer mean to David? “Never be complacent, always look for opportunities, always innovate, and never think that you’ve arrived because as soon as you think that you’ve arrived, you’re going to start failing. Always keep your eyes open to look for opportunities — and when you see them, jump on them.”

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