EPISODE 49 — Kyle Bachus — Embracing Change as the Catalyst to Growth
Kyle Bachus is a personal injury lawyer and founding partner of Bachus & Schanker in Denver, Colorado. Kyle has been standing up to authority and rooting for the underdogs since high school, when at 17 he successfully argued his case in front of the Florida Supreme Court in a mock trial.
Kyle’s passion for advocating for the little guy drove him to become a personal injury attorney, and he now represents victims and their families in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.
In this episode, Kyle tells us about his professional journey, why he left the familiarity of Florida behind to strike out on his own in Colorado, and how he and his partner built one of the most successful law firms in the country out of nothing.
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2:21 – Discovering a lifelong passion at 17. “Of course, I wasn’t a barred lawyer at 17. I was in high school in Gainesville, Florida, and there was an opportunity to spend a couple of days on a field trip up to Tallahassee to participate in Legislative Day. You got a choice of projects you could sign up for, and I signed up to participate in arguing before a mock Florida Supreme Court. To be honest, I was there because it was a chance to go up and spend a couple of days, there were going to be girls on the bus, and it was going to be an opportunity to spread my wings a little bit and get out of Gainesville. So I went up. I think that the topic we had to research was whether or not they should allow cigarette advertising on TV. Nobody in my family is a lawyer, I’d never been to a law firm, and never had spoken to a lawyer. I did the research, participated in a group, and ended up getting honors as one of the best arguers. I ended up going back, and on the ride home on the bus, I started thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I could do this for a living.”
12:04 – Finding the perfect partner. “What’s truly amazing is that we were two kids who knew each other for 20 months, and when we opened our law firm, it was just us. Most people are going to laugh, but through all the growth, through all the years, we have never had a falling out of any magnitude. We are very Type A personalities, but I don’t think that I’ve ever raised my voice at Darren, nor has he raised his voice at me. We have gone from just the two of us to a law firm with 27 lawyers and more than 100 staff. We are very different. I’m much more of an extrovert, and he’s much more of an introvert. We have very different styles, but it’s been so complimentary. It’s just been really a perfect match. I couldn’t have wished for a better partner. I would do anything for him, and I know he would do anything for me. We really have had each other’s backs forever.”
19:45 – Recognizing the need to advertise. “We really understood that without advertising, as a personal injury lawyer, the road was going to be much harder and much longer if we were just trying to organically grow our practice. We really had someplace we needed to be. What I mean by that is we wanted to go in a certain direction, and that direction was to put ourselves in a position where we could take on the biggest insurance companies in the world, we would have the money to not have to settle cases that should not be settled, and we could try the case that should be tried. We wanted to go in a direction that could get us there as quickly as we could, and organic growth in and of itself is not going to get us there.”
28:24 – Big risks lead to big rewards. “Investing in advertising was our willingness to participate in serious delayed gratification. In other words, it would consume the vast majority of net revenue of the entirety of the law practice. We made a commitment to earn nothing and to lose money during the implementation year. We were willing to go into the red, personally, for the opportunity. We also fundamentally believed that we had proven to ourselves, that we could earn money doing what we were doing, and that we were good at what we were doing. So it wasn’t without faith and belief. Yes, we could lose money doing this and that’s our income for that year, but we felt like we could rebuild it, even if that failed. We were not going to give up until we could find a path to success. If you take enough bad ideas and execute them thoroughly, something’s going to work out for you.”
31:05 – Staying committed to the future. “The stagecoach was a hell of an idea — until somebody invented the car. And if you stuck with the stagecoach, well, you’re not going anywhere, right? I think that all along the path of the history of our law firm, we have tried to stay on the front side of technology, the front side of the marketing curve, and to have tried to make sure that we are committed to change — not committed to the same, but committed to change — because if you’re only committed to the same, then you’re probably going to be Sears & Roebuck, right? That’s committed to the same, to death, and those that commit to change are committed to the future.”
40:28 – What does being a game changer mean to you? “To me it means never, ever being happy with where you are in this moment in time. In other words, you can enjoy today — I certainly enjoy the fruits of our labor, but I’m not content with where we are today. The words ‘game changer’ to me are important and sophisticated words. We’re really in this to make change in the industry in a positive fashion for those people who we are trying to help.”