We Are A Multi-Million Dollar Legal Service Business, Giving A Voice To The Bullied

Published: May 21st, 2023
Brandon Henderson
Founder, HMW Law
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Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?

I am Brandon Henderson, founder and managing partner of Henderson, Mokhtari & Weatherly (HMW Law). We are a Personal Injury and Criminal Defense law firm that represents individuals throughout the State of Ohio.

We help people confronting life-changing legal issues - people who have had their lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Our Personal Injury division helps folks who have suffered serious injuries from trucking or auto accidents.

Our Criminal Defense division helps people accused of serious crimes and are looking at the rest of their natural lives behind bars. The stakes are high. Our job as a team in either division is to embrace those challenges with our experience, passion, and unwavering devotion to our clients.

I started this business out of my apartment in 2002 with no money. I licked envelopes, got paper cuts, and sent letters to get my name out in the market.

My partners, our team, and I have grown HMW Law into a multi-million dollar-a-year business. Next stop, eight figures.


What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?

I was an accounting major. I learned that accounting was not my true calling. Being very passionate, I couldn’t move forward with a position in accounting. Many of my friends at college were taking the LSAT (law school admissions test). I borrowed their books, studied, and took the LSAT. I was accepted into Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Growing up, I was bullied. I was small in stature and had red hair. I also had a few unpleasant experiences with law enforcement and witnessed firsthand how authority could be abused.

I chose to pursue a career in criminal law, fighting for those who did not have a voice or were bullied. In 2009, I partnered with Justin Weatherly, who shares my passion for criminal defense and constitutional values.

We later partnered up with a friend from law school, Al Mokhtari, and he heads our Personal Injury Division. No team member works in both divisions. Each team member solely devotes their time to their specific field. We have found passionate folks enthralled by their particular area of law. This formed the basis of HMW Law.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

Coming out of law school, I was broke. Back then, you could go to police departments and get arrest records from the previous days, weeks, etc.

I would drive around to get these lists and send out letters to the arrested.

I received interest from these letters and began representing individuals for various crimes. This helped me get a little money together. It was long days driving to different courts and long nights licking stamps and stuffing envelopes.

I was 25 years old. I also read many books on Sales and Marketing at that time. Individuals charged with crimes, looking at significant time, don’t want a fresh-faced kid representing them.

I had to rely on sales skills, marketing, reasonable pricing, and conveying my passion for their case to get clients. I read many books on negotiation and trial skills to achieve great results.

“Client First” is one of our Core Values that our entire team lives and breathes.

This work allowed me to build a strong reputation and retain lifetime clients who referred me to family, friends, and loved ones. After some time, I could afford low-priced office space to help with credibility.

I continued to rely on my direct mail campaign for several years. However, I could also scratch together funds to innovate and adapt to the times. I began to create a digital presence to get the word out to the market. I outsourced to create the best website I could afford at the time and began utilizing search engine optimization and PPC advertising. This allowed me to gain precious real estate on page 1 of Google for valuable keywords projected at my target audience. This certainly helped propel my business and attract prospective clients.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Customer service.

Individuals must feel comfortable with us when going through such intimate and life-changing cases. We spent much time analyzing how to serve the best people facing these complexities.

Step-by-step from the initial call into our office until the case is complete.

The client journey and world-class service begin when that phone rings. We have found no substitute for compassion, for simply caring.

People sense that. “Client First” is one of our Core Values that our entire team lives and breathes. Finally, our reputation for results has retained our customers and created lifetime friends and clientele.

As far as attracting business, we have tried many forms of marketing – SEO, PPC, direct mail, social media, billboards, and commercials. We have also engaged in B2B marketing, relying on our network of colleagues and other key referral sources.

We have relied on strategic partnerships with unique vendors to facilitate the implementation of all of these advertising outlets. Initially, I did take the time to learn some of these skills by myself. However, as our practice grew, we realized outsourcing to true experts in each area freed up my time to do what I do best and achieve better results.

Some of these have proven a strong ROI, others not. We dip our toes in these pools and monitor the response. If it works, we pour fuel on the fire. Ultimately, it comes down to expressing the right message to your targeted audience in the correct marketing arena.

Regarding longer-term branding, differentiating yourself and going in with the mentality of sticking with it is vital. You can’t slap billboards up and expect a return tomorrow.

Many of these marketing channels don’t work overnight. We still rely heavily on our digital presence for most of our leads. We occupy many top spots on page 1 of Google for our Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Divisions.

This is done through PPC, SEO, and, more recently, LSA advertising. Additionally, due to our long-term commitment to creating great content for our site and authentic 5-star Google reviews, we are always well positioned in Google's “Maps” section.

TwoI’d be happy to update anyone who would like to email me! Months ago, we began branding through Radio ads, Billboards, and a much more focused effort on our social media presence. We don’t have enough data samples to explain how these advertising forms will work for us accurately.

So, patience is imperative in building our brand. Our marketing strategy also involves analyzing the competition. If a market leader runs television commercials 24/7, you can’t run 3-5% of their budget and expect to compete on TV. But nothing will work if your message does not resonate with your target audience.

How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?

Our firm is doing great today and is headed in the right direction. We came out of the pandemic stronger, and our team has adapted better than anticipated.

We’ve maintained a healthy balance between face-to-face meetings and virtual communication channels with our clients to accommodate their evolving needs and preferences.

Our future will continue to be about innovating the customer service we deliver to our clients. My team’s top priority will always be ensuring our clients receive top-notch legal services. In the legal industry, the future is about utilizing cutting-edge technology to ensure our client’s cases are handled with the highest standards.

Play with PASSION and learn lessons from your failures. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you also need to get used to taking a loss occasionally.

The legal industry is being revolutionized by technology, and this transformation shows no signs of slowing down. This demands more we look for more efficient ways to process information and deliver services to clients cost-effectively.

By leveraging technology, we will continue to increase our team’s productivity, save time and money, and provide high-quality service.

Our goal in years to come is to be an 8 figure firm by the end of 2025. We are well on our way, having created a viable “blueprint” for success out of our Cleveland office. We plan on extrapolating this blueprint to our Columbus office and then expanding to other cities in Ohio.

Another goal to increase success is building a robust co-counsel referral program to continue nurturing great relationships from a B2B standpoint. Additionally, we are always aware of the necessity to innovate, automate and improve our systems and processes for a more efficient workflow that makes us more profitable and directly impacts the results we achieve for our Clients.

Finally, we will focus on getting 100% of the right people in the right seats and continued enrichment of our Culture. Our competitive advantage is our team, we could not make any advancements without them.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Give your team clarified expectations, give them the tools they need, and get out of their way. I believe people enjoy autonomy and being challenged and fulfilled. We do not want them on our team if they do not enjoy those things.

Hire intentionally and with a specific hiring funnel. Hire leaders who, rather than just the addition of one person, can multiply their effect on others. The cost of hiring the wrong people is staggering.

I’ve also learned that culture is everything. The saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is true. The culture is the personality and character of our firm. It is living and breathing. Anytime someone interrupts that culture with negative energy or drama, they must be removed for the good of the organization and all the other A players on the team.

I’ve learned that tolerating poor behavior or work ethic will make actual performers resentful as they watch you allow others to engage in mediocrity.

Another thing I’ve learned is that teaming with the right partners and team members is crucial if you want to succeed in the business world. The things that your partners and team enjoy and excel at allow you to be weak. You can then focus on areas where you are talented and find meaning.

Both of my partners have significant strengths that I could never possess. And we have the right team members. We have parted ways with many people along the way.

This has helped us get the right team, individuals in the right seats are motivated and believe in our culture and vision. Simply put, it couldn’t be done without any of these people.

I can’t tell you how amazing my partners, Justin Weatherly and Al Mokhtari, are. It’s inspiring to see how much they care about people and each other – and how much they put their hearts into our clients’ cases. I can’t tell you how excellent the rest of our team is.

Everyone at HMW Law wants to be part of something greater than themselves and build something alongside us!

I could blab about my lessons, mostly because I have made so many mistakes. When you learn the hard way, the classes are never forgotten. So don’t fear failures, the knowledge you gain will be priceless over the long run.


What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use various platforms and tools for automation, CRM, etc. However, we have recently embraced one piece of software: Bonusly. It helps create a better culture, incentivizes our team, and recognizes people for their excellent work.

To me, it’s the software of gratitude. It shows our team how much we appreciate them, how talented they are, and how much we believe in them. The software allows team members to be given points in recognition for a job well done or productivity that can be turned into gift cards and other incentives.

This helps everyone’s productivity at HMW Law, being recognized for talent, hustle, and hard work.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Regarding Podcasts, I must give a shout-out to the founder and CEO of Crisp, Michael Mogill, along with the rest of his fantastic team. HMW Law is a member of this organization.

The Podcast is “The Game Changing Attorney.” I love this Podcast, as Michael hosts excellent legal minds and thought leaders in various aspects of the business. He hosts a diverse group of folks that all inspire.

Michael is an inspiration as a European immigrant who started Crisp with just 500$ and no investors. It’s a great podcast and organization. Michael and the entire Crisp team deliver world-class excellence in their field.

Regarding books, that is like asking about my favorite song or movie!! I have embraced 'Traction' by Gino Wickman. The Operating System for businesses he promotes is called EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System).

HMW Law is rolling out the final tools of this system to our team. It’s filled with many actionable ideas, which can add value if implemented. The tools this system promotes make sense, which helps make “buy-in” from the rest of your team easier. EOS and this book have already dramatically improved efficiency and organization for HMW Law.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Begin your day early, it helps with planning and deep thought when it's quiet. Focus on building a team that trusts and holds each other accountable. Your goal should be to foster a team over an individual mentality. Build your organization on foundational Core Values that you hire, fire, train, and reward. These Core Values remind everyone of your vision and what you are fighting for.

Look for ways to automate and put systems and processes in place to reduce human error, save time, increase productivity, and eliminate inefficiencies. Relentlessly hunt down inefficiencies in your business.

Rely on your team members to provide insight into inefficiencies, they will see things you won’t. Ensure each team member is in the right seat, understands their roles and responsibilities, and is held accountable for those roles.

I love the pursuit of knowledge and try to read daily. Call your loved ones more often and tell them how they are loved. These individuals have been and will continue to be a massive part of your success.

Be good to your significant other, and do nice things “just cause” if they’re having a rough day. This relationship will help define your success and push you when times get tough more than any other.

Stop worrying so much about other folks' thoughts and make your mark. Though a more challenging road to be unique, it is more fulfilling and meaningful. Continue learning and studying the changing environments so you have the vision to look to the future and evolve - or get left behind.

Everyone should have a voice based on merit, not on position. Focus on creating a better culture and recognizing team members' excellent work. Show gratitude and appreciation. Show the team how much they are believed in.

Play with PASSION and learn lessons from your failures. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you also need to get used to taking a loss occasionally.

Most entrepreneurs hate to talk about their losses and only want to show off their victories. But if you’re going to succeed in the business world, then you’re going to have to deal with losing more often than you might think. That’s why you need to see a loss as an opportunity to take away valuable lessons that will help improve your skills and prepare you for the next time.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Yes, we are looking to hire a criminal litigation manager, a criminal paralegal, a bookkeeper, and a social media manager. Please contact us if you or anyone you know is interested! We have offices in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio!

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!