In this episode of the CEO Lawyer Podcast, attorney Ali Awad, discusses how he built a virtual law office from the trunk of his car into an eight-figure firm in just five years. The CEO Lawyer Summit will teach you how to automate and virtualize your practice, build infrastructure, hire the right people, and best practices for digital branding and social media marketing. If you want to live a life of leisure, take more vacations, and let your business work for you, come to the CEO Lawyer Summit on December 11 – 14, 2022.
What is the CEO Lawyer Summit?
What is the CEO Lawyer Summit? Why do we do it? How is it happening? What’s the point of trying to bring in hundreds and thousands of lawyers from all over the country to an event so that I can brag about how awesome I am? No, no, no, no, no. There’s some insane history that goes into the CEO Lawyer Summit, why I’m doing it, and the plans for the future. And today, on this episode of the CEO Lawyer Podcast, I’m going to share with you everything that’s going on behind the scenes of the CEO Lawyer Summit so you can know what to expect in the coming years, especially at this event in 2022. Let’s go. I’m attorney Ali Awad, The CEO Lawyer. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite events of the year: the CEO Lawyer Summit. The first summit I ever did was in 2019, but the idea of the summit happened in 2017.
How It All Started
In fact, the first summit that I wanted to do was on December 3-5, 2017. At that time, I was working as an of counsel attorney for one of my friends. And I was building my law firm from a back office suite. My first legal assistant was working in the kitchen, and the paralegal that I had at the time, now my director of personal injury, took over my office. And so I would just work wherever I could. If there was a couch, conference room, or on the road, wherever I needed to work, that’s how I built my law firm. Even in 2017, when I started my law firm, I knew that this social media thing was something special and that other lawyers and professionals would want it.
And so, at that time, I was thinking about this business that I wanted to create, and it was called The Professional Company. But in 2017, I was bringing in cases through social media, I was in the process of building a multimillion-dollar law practice. I had two going on three employees, and the business was moving along. It was just very slow. I had come from a background of instant gratification because I was selling car audio and wheels. And so when a customer would come in, I’d talk to them for 5, 10, 20 minutes, boom, I’d make a sale. I’d make my $5,000. And I got that instant gratification from the sale.
This business was completely different because you had to bring in the client, not get paid a dime. You had to work up the case, not get paid a dime. Print off letters, mail out correspondence, ensure that the client is getting all their necessary treatment, expend money on your employees, payroll, staff, overhead, everything. And then at the very end, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 months later, you get paid once the case settles, as long as the client is happy and they agree to the settlement, and you don’t get fired along the way. So very, very different business model. And I wanted to have something that was a quicker, more exciting business because I’m a salesman at heart. I always loved salesmanship and entrepreneurship, and being an attorney CEO or The CEO Lawyer, I guess, was very different for me.
So in 2017, I’m sitting in my office, and I’m thinking, okay, how do I create a business that satisfies that instant gratification itch that I have? And I drew out this entire business plan for The Professional Company. And the reason that I called it The Professional Company was initially I wanted to go after doctors, accountants, lawyers, all these professionals. And I actually wrote out the entire business plan and all of the prospective clients that I wanted to go after, all these different doctors, all these different lawyers, all these different professionals, and all the price points that I had. There was going to be a silver package, a gold package, a diamond package, a platinum package, VIP package. I would charge a monthly fee to handle their social media, put out the content for them, and do their videos. And that was the plan for the business. The CEO Lawyer Summit essentially started from this idea, The Professional Company.
Well, there was one problem in 2017, and this business plan had been so specific that I even wrote the date that I was going to have my first event for The Professional Company, December 3rd through the 5th, 2017. So after I wrote all of this stuff out and I did this entire plan, I realized there was one problem. I had no proof of concept. I wasn’t successful. There’s no reason for people to listen to me because I hadn’t accomplished anything yet. I had just started my firm. I was just bringing in clients. Yeah, I probably had a couple million dollars worth of cases, but that didn’t mean I had a couple million dollars in the bank account. It was very, very different. So I had to actually do the work and deliver results before people would actually want to pay attention to me.
Building a Practice From the Ground Up
So I put the idea of The Professional Company to the side. And in 2018, I went full-on hustle mode. 2018 was the year that changed my entire life because that was when I left my of counsel position for the law firm. And I decided I will start taking on overhead and have my own law practice, which is still in the same place today, 200 Peachtree Street. And I’m going to have overhead, I’m going to rent out offices, I’m going to have my employees have their own offices, I’m going to give up this free ride of free office space, free rent, free parking, and go and take on this overhead. I’m going to get married, I’m going to go on an awesome honeymoon and vacation, and I’m going to build the practice that I know I was capable of doing.
So 2018, January 1st, 2018 to December 31st, 2018, I did all of that. I settled $3.2 million worth of cases, made over a million dollars in attorney’s fees, and in total I spent only about $6,000 boosting ads on my phone, Instagram, and Facebook. That’s what I did in 2018. It was my first full year in business. Now I’ve got proof of concept. Now people have a reason to pay attention to me. During that year, I also invested a lot in my personal development. So I joined this mastermind group where I actually got to speak about my business and the growth trajectory that I was experiencing.
So I was in front of about 40 or 50 entrepreneurs. And the very first thing that I did when I got on stage, I said, “Hey everyone, my name is Ali Awad. Before I get started, does anyone have their cell phone out or their cell phone recording? Because what I’m about to share with you, I cannot have out in public. I please ask that everyone put their cell phones down, do not record any of this because I could get in a lot of trouble. And I really, really want you to pay attention to this presentation because it’s not something that anyone is ever going to share with you. Can everyone promise me that you’re not going to record this? All right. Let’s get started.” And it was like, I don’t know why I said that because it’s not like I shared anything illegal, but I was talking about my business.
And in 2018, it was probably like August, September, I’m on this stage, I’m talking to all these entrepreneurs, and I could feel their minds opening up, and them paying attention to me, and just experiencing all of the knowledge that I was imparting on them right there in front of me. And there was nothing like it. I felt more alive during that presentation than ever. And I knew that I had a higher calling. So even though it was a small presentation with 30 or 40 entrepreneurs, none were lawyers. So they had no reason to pay attention to me. But I went through that presentation and taught them my entire business model and how my business was growing. And it was like everyone was just straight 20-20 vision, staring straight at me, eyes locked in, literally not having any sort of distractions whatsoever, undivided attention.
And for 30, 40 minutes, I spilled out my entire business model. And I knew this was something that people wanted. And if these non-lawyers who didn’t know who I was really enjoyed my presentation, I’ve got something special that lawyers will absolutely love. So The Professional Company that I initially decided to create in 2017, became CEO Media by 2019. Because I wanted my media company and the brand that I was going to build to be associated with the CEO Lawyer brand. And so, CEO Media became the company that was hosting my first ever CEO Lawyer Summit in 2019. And I decided to fine-tune my business model to do the video editing for my lawyers, who would be clients of my company. And I would only focus on lawyers, ideally those in the personal injury space, and maybe some of the doctors as well, because we’re very closely associated.
Lessons From the First CEO Lawyer Summit
So the very first CEO Lawyer Summit was in October 2019. And it was at Georgia State College of Law. They let me borrow one of their rooms. I think I paid $400 to rent out the room for a day and I got Panera Bread for lunch. And I still somehow sold about $100,000 worth of tickets to that event. And it was just literally the Ali Show. I went up there and had all these presentations lined up. And it was me in a room of maybe like 70 professionals in a classroom at Georgia State Law. There were so many issues that happened with logistics, and planning, and getting the food there on time.
But luckily, my family was there taking care of business. They were helping me so much. The team that was with me at the time, I probably had four or five employees at the time, helped me with everything. My video team, even though the first videographer that I ever hired actually quit on me, the first night of the summit. I luckily had a second intern that was a video editor that was on the team that had just started. And she’s now our primary content creator for our social media channels. So it was like all of these things were coming in at once, culminating to the CEO Lawyer Summit. And that presentation in 2019, those 2 days that I spent teaching everyone about Instagram, about Facebook, about social media, about ad spending, about creating content. And I brought in a couple of guest speakers. I knew that this was information that people needed.
And in 2019, I had some of the attendees that are still to this day members of my CEO Lawyer Academy, my CEO Lawyer Summit, and they’re so heavily involved, and I get to watch them grow every single day. It’s like one of the most incredible experiences. So all in, I spent about $1,300 on the first 2019 CEO Lawyer Summit. In 2020, because of COVID, I took a break, and we decided to postpone the CEO Lawyer Summit. And in 2021, CEO Lawyer Summit brought in over 400 lawyers. And we did it at the Westin Hotel in Sandy Springs, which was an awesome venue. It cost me probably like 300 grand to host that event. And it was one of the most unbelievable experiences I could ever have.
We had some of the best lineups of lawyers from all over the country. We had this billion-dollar panel where every lawyer on the panel made over a billion dollars. We had a social media mastery panel, five lawyers that were all killing it on social media. The guest speakers that I brought in, the same guest speakers that I had in 2019, and now their game was so much more refined. They were so much better. And honestly, I wouldn’t even be able to afford them right now if I hadn’t already recruited them in 2019 to be part of that journey. So it was like the early work I put in from 2017, planning, structuring my business, and forecasting how I wanted to create this new company. It all culminated in that CEO Lawyer Summit.
The CEO Lawyer Summit Today
Now for 2022, we’re planning on bringing in over 1,000 lawyers. This event’s going to cost me well over a million dollars to host. We’re not sparing any expenses whatsoever. The private dinner alone that we’re going to have just for our VIP members will probably cost 50 grand. And honestly, it’s so well worth it because what I’m doing is building the next generation of lawyers. And there’s something that’s really scary going on in our community as attorneys. And it’s all of the old head lawyers that have basically dominated the industry that are 50, 60, 70 years old that have been doing it for decades. They’re losing market share. They don’t have the same sort of aggressive, tenacious behavior or that can-do attitude like they used to. They’re not hungry anymore. And what’s happening is technology is severely disrupting their business model.
So the lawyers that used to do billboard ads, radio ads, TV ads, yellow pages, that same strategy doesn’t work as well in 2022. And so, the CEO Lawyer Summit is all about utilizing technology and social media to build a digital brand that lasts forever. And to build a multimillion-dollar law firm in a drastically shorter time than it took our counterparts decades ago. You used to need at least five years to build a million-dollar practice. Now you can do it in less than a year. I’m proof of that. Building an eight-figure law firm used to take at least a decade. I’ve done it in less than five. And it’s not just about the money.
It’s about the amount of impact that you have on your community and on your employees. Because the company makes a lot of money and the law firm makes a lot of money, I can actually pay my employees very, very well. We can have these awesome events. We’re going to talk about on the next podcast about how we have all these events and these engagement activities for our team members to keep them excited and keep them motivated and wanting to work. And it does involve you caring. So the summit has so much more value to my community and to me than just being another business.
In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a business, but now I realize it’s empowering other lawyers to start their own brands, motivating them to create a digital persona on social media, and figuring out how to serve their own communities. Because if I can duplicate the efforts that I’ve done in Atlanta, in Georgia, in my local communities, and I can help other lawyers do the same thing throughout the country, where do you think we’re going to be 10 years from now? We’re going to have CEO lawyers everywhere. And all of those people are going to be my colleagues. And over the next 10 years, you’re going to watch the legal landscape completely change from a small group of lawyers that owned the massive market share, the majority of the market share to thousands of many CEO lawyers and many entrepreneurs, and influencers that are built that have seven and eight figure law firms that own that entire space.
And that’s the change, and that’s what we’re pushing, that’s where we’re motivating and inspiring young lawyers and new lawyers to come to the CEO Lawyer Summit, learn how to use social media, learn how to use technology, understand all the software systems and processes that you could implement to build a virtual law firm from the trunk of your car exactly like I did and do it even better. Because now you have the benefit of all the mistakes that I’ve made, and you have the benefit of having access to all of my mentors, the guest speakers that are coming in. These people have built businesses and law firms way bigger and better than mine. But I get to learn from them as well just like they get to learn from me.
And so we’re bringing all of this action-packed value over 3 days at the CEO Lawyer Summit, October 2-5, in Atlanta, in the Westin Hotel, Downtown Atlanta on Peachtree Street. This year’s event, I don’t know how we’re going to do better than last year’s event, but I know somehow we’re going to figure it out. It’s not an event just showcasing a bunch of great speakers. We’re not paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for these speakers to attend. A lot of these speakers have nothing to sell you. Why would they? They’ve already become very successful in their business. They’re kind of coming as a favor to me.
“Hey, look, let me help you with your social media. I’m going to help your marketing team figure out how to dominate digital. And I would love for you to come and share your expertise. You’re an expert on building culture in the law firm. Okay. Well, I want you to come and speak. You’re an expert at hiring top talent lawyers. Okay, well come. I want you to come and speak. Oh, you’ve built a business that is the most profitable out of anyone in your sector. I’d like for you to come and speak. You’re an expert in mass torts. I want you to come and speak.”
So these are people that I’m binging in that I already have relationships with, but it’s not a pitch fest. It’s not an event where everyone is selling you stuff from the stage, and you feel forced to buy stuff. This is an event where you come and learn, and you come and network with like-minded attorneys. The energy is unmatched. The knowledge is unparalleled, and the experience is just amazing. So the CEO Lawyer Summit is definitely one of my favorite brands. Favorite brands. It is one of my favorite brands actually, CEO Lawyer Summit and Academy. Those are all brands, but it’s one of the favorite events that I have throughout the year.
And I highly advise that if you want to grow your brand on social media and figure out how to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and individuals, and you’re tired of doing business the same way over and over and over again. And you know you have more potential, and you just want to get it out of you, come to the CEO Lawyer Summit. We have a money-back guarantee. If you come and you’re not happy for any reason, I’ll give you your money back. I don’t need your money. I want your attention. That’s what I want. I want you to pay attention to what we’re offering and don’t miss the boat because if I can influence and inspire just one more lawyer, one more person, one more entrepreneur, one more professional, I know that that’s going to compound in the future. I know that as I give to the universe, it will reciprocate. I have no expectation of that reciprocity, but I know it will come because I know that’s just how karma works, and that’s how the universe works.
The CEO Lawyer Summit Future
So that’s the history of the CEO Lawyer Summit. That’s what we have planned for this year’s CEO Lawyer Summit 2022. We’ll probably do it again next year. We’ll probably do it in 2024 and 2025. But I think it’s going to change. So we’ve talked about the past, we’ve talked about the present, but let’s talk about the future. What do I think the CEO Lawyer Summit’s going to be like in 2025? I think it’s going to be smaller, not bigger. I don’t want to build the biggest conference in the world. I want to have the best conference in the world. And I’ve been to events where there are thousands of lawyers attending or thousands of people. And it just loses its flavor and loses its quality. The bigger a business gets, the harder it is to maintain that quality control. So I would rather do it slowly, the right way, and to make sure that everyone has an incredible experience, like with 300 or 400 lawyers like we had last year. It was a phenomenal experience. We’re going to test it out this year and open it up to a thousand lawyers.
The CEO Lawyer Summit in the future will become a more exclusive event, invite-only, and the prices of the tickets will be much, much higher than what we’re advertising now. And it will be a custom-tailored experience for you and your firm. So instead of making it an event that applies to everyone, it’s going to be an exclusive event, and we’ll probably have a few events throughout the year, but the CEO Lawyer Summit will be the highest and most exclusive event. We’ll probably cap it to just a couple hundred attorneys or a couple hundred firms. And we want the people that attend to have a custom-tailored experience. I could see the tickets being $25,000 to attend, and it being an entire package that you get, where you bring your firm, you bring your leadership team for 2 or 3 days, and we give you an unmatched experience, and we customize it to precisely the needs that you have.
And so it’ll be smaller, more separated, but it’ll be like a 1 to 3 ratio in terms of attendees and trainers compared to a 1 to 100 ratio where we have speakers and attendees. So that’s the direction I think the CEO Lawyer Summit will go. We have other companies and affiliates of the CEO Lawyer brand, like the CEO Lawyer Academy, which is our year-long program that basically goes deep into everything we cover in the summit. But then we actually handhold you and show you every step of the way. We also have the boot camp, the CEO Lawyer Boot Camp, which is just designed for the personal injury lawyers or people that aspire to be in personal injury. So we teach you how to build a personal injury business on autopilot that runs on its own. And then we’re also going to have other products throughout the year that are all around this idea of being a CEO Lawyer for your business, for your community, for your family, and for your friends.
So that’s the CEO Lawyer Summit. That’s the history of the CEO Lawyer brand, the past, the present, and the future. Time will only tell what direction we’re going to go, but I hope this at least gives you a little bit of insight. And if you’re in any way interested in coming to the CEO Lawyer Summit, then just check out the website, ceolawyersummit.com or shoot me a message and say, “Hey, I heard your podcast about the CEO Lawyer Summit. I’m doing X, Y, and Z. I’d love to attend. Or I’m not doing X, Y, and Z. I’d love to figure out a way to attend.” Shoot me a DM on Instagram. I’d love to have you.