As part of our series about the “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven A. Roseman, Esq. founder and managing partner in the law firm of Roseman Law, APC, which has offices in Southern California. He specializes in the practice of Business and Real Estate Law and instills a “client first mentality” in all of his work. In addition to his significant transactional experience, Roseman has great trial experience, including jury and bench trials and arbitration proceedings.
His representation includes all types of corporations and individuals. In addition, he represents commercial, retail, mixed-use, multi-family, and residential property owners in all aspects of business and real estate legal issues. Over the past 22 years, Mr. Roseman has represented hundreds of condominium and homeowners associations in dealing with both their transaction needs and litigation related issues. He lectures extensively to trade and industry groups on issues relating to real estate matters, condominium and homeowners associations and construction defect litigation. He has authored various articles and was a contributing author to the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Cumulative Supplements to the 3rd edition of the book “Handling Construction Defect Claims: Western States.”
Roseman is also actively involved in numerous organizations. He is a member of the California and Nevada State Bar Associations, and an active member of the two most prominent trade groups in the common interest development industry — California Association of Community Managers (CACM) and the Community Associations Institute (CAI). Roseman serves on the faculty of CACM and lectures on behalf of CAI and CACM, including CAI’s ABC Essentials Course and CACM’s C-CAM manager and high-rise manager certification. In addition, he serves on the Mediation Steering Committee for CAI Los Angeles, as a delegate for CAI’s Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) and serves on the CACM Legal Steering Committee. He is acknowledged for the time, energy and expertise he has dedicated to the Legislative Action Committee during the 2008 Legislative session to present.
Roseman has consecutively been selected as California “Super Lawyer” for the last 5 years. This outstanding lawyer achievement is only awarded to roughly 5% of lawyers in the state. He was also awarded the “Speaker of the Year” award by the CAI Channel Islands Chapter and nominated as “Speaker of the Year” by the CAI Orange County Chapter. Past nominations and recognitions include: 2012 nominated for “Speaker of the Year” by CAI Orange County, and in 2009 as “Speaker of the Year” by CAI Channel Islands Chapter and nominated for the “Excellence in Service” Award by CACM.
On a personal note, and in addition to the various charities he is involved with, Roseman serves on the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This organization strives to find a cure for children and adults suffering from Type 1 diabetes.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was born and raised in South Africa where I studied Business administration, majoring in economics, and received a law degree at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. I was a practicing lawyer in South Africa until I ultimately decided to leave my native country in my mid 20s because of my strong disagreement towards the government’s system of apartheid and my opposing beliefs. Before the peaceful transition in the 1990s, I traveled the world and finally came to America, touching down in Los Angeles. After experiencing “Hollywood” doing voice overs for movies, I decided to focus on my dream of becoming a lawyer in America. Throughout my young adult life, I always believed in the American Constitution, believing it is the only system of government that would work for South Africa. Coming to America was like coming home. I ultimately decided to apply to take the California bar exam. After providing information to the bar, I was notified that I could take the exam without going to school in the US. I was warned the odds were against me passing the first time, and I should prepare to retake it. That was all the motivation I needed. I studied for months and finally took the California bar exam. As my late dad always told me, “hard work is essential, but a little luck is fundamental.” I passed the first time! However, I was completely unaware of the recession the country was in. Mostly because my eyes had been glued to a book for 16-hours a day. I quickly realized no one was hiring and I needed to be creative. I sent my resume to hundreds of firms and started called managing partner’s assistants begging them to put my resume on top of the pile. I finally was blessed with a few interviews and was hired in a large firm. After a few years, and getting the opportunity to try my first case, an opposing law firm asked me to jump ship and join them. I took the offer simply because it more closely aligned to the type of law I wanted to practice. After a couple years at this firm, I realized it was time to start my own firm because the firm I was working for did not have the mindset or the mentality of focusing solely on the clients’ needs. My clients joined me, and my firm was born. I knew I needed to get trial experience so while working, I volunteered for a program through the bar association to try cases for the City Attorney’s office. I was fortunate to be trained by the DA’s office through the TAP program — Trial Advocacy Project and tried cases for the City attorney’s office. With jury trial experience, I was ready to take on the world. Fast-forward to today, Roseman Law has quickly expanded to 4 offices and we are now representing 1000s of clients in the business and real estate field. The client-centered mentality has undoubtedly paid off.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
We had just began working on one of our first big cases and were in the middle of setting up our office with all the PC’s, printers, and fax machines. We were a complete mixture of emotions; both excited to get working on this case and stressed out trying to make sure everything worked properly. I remember it was so cold that day and we were using little space heaters to keep the office warm. Those space heaters ended up blowing a fuse and shutting down all the electricity in that room. We had to scramble to get everything back up and it took time to figure out what to do to fix the situation- time we did not have. Computers back then also took much longer to start so you can imagine the chaotic aura that engulfed our space. Luckily, we got everything back up and were able to retrieve the documents we needed, but our lack of knowledge in the technical space hurt us during that time. Now I put an emphasis on education and train my staff to be better prepared for all of life’s curveballs.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I can honestly say that I have been blessed throughout my career and lifetime with many mentors that have each provided unique guidance to help me along my journey. One person in particular who made one of the greatest impacts and has helped build Roseman Law is Teresa Agnew, our current President of Operations. She believed in me and my vision for growing the firm. Her loyalty and commitment over the last ten years has taken our firm to new heights. I love being a lawyer and teaching. She loves marketing and HR. A great combination taking that responsibility away from me to focus on what I enjoy and love. I have always believed that surrounding myself with smart women and empowering them in my firm is the secret to success. I guess the secret is now out.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
I was taught by my dad, who was also an attorney and the senior partner of a large firm in South Africa, “to always do what is right for the client, not what is right for the firm.” With that belief, a firm will always grow and thrive. I wholeheartedly believe in doing what is best for our clients and wanted to open a firm that focused on just that. My vision was to educate everyone who came to Roseman Law so when it came to making a transactional or litigation decision, they had the tools to make well informed and knowledgeable decisions that would most benefit them. We have been fortunate enough to have clients give us a chance, even when there are much larger firms to choose from. Clients can sense the respect and care we have for them, and that we work hard and smart to get the best results.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Yes, we are. In the last four years we have become a completely cloud based, client-centered law firm. Being a California based company and in the earthquake hub of the nation, we wanted to ensure all our client’s files and data would be protected and accessible if any natural disasters were to happen. Roseman Law utilized various forms of technology, including CLIO and Google Business to streamline all documents, to become a cloud-based firm without the need for large servers in the office. All materials are easily and quickly accessible regardless of location. We use technology that not only helps us work “smarter, not harder” but gives clients an effortless experience from intake to close of their matter. We are able to keep up with communication in real-time with clients allowing them to access information though a client portal. We have always strived to utilize technology that provides our clients with accessibility, cost effective and timely legal services.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. As you know, Digital Transformation refers to the integration of technology to speed up processes, efficiency and productivity. Many CEOs have argued that Digital Transformation is not a choice, but a necessity to stay competitive. Do you agree? Can you explain what you mean?
Absolutely. Digital transformation is the way of the future. I truly believe companies that don’t integrate tech into their business are similar to dinosaurs; they will eventually become extinct. The decision to go cloud based has been our greatest evolvement to date. Video conferencing (i.e., Zoom and Google Meet) has added a huge value to tele-communication and exposure to potential clients as well as existing clients. We began video conferencing years ago and utilize Google Meet whenever we can because we know that virtual meetings can get the job done just as efficiently as in person meetings. Clients want to have an effortless experience and be able to communicate with their attorney easily and timely. Our updated internal systems allow for collaboration among attorneys, paralegals and support staff that make their jobs easier and significantly improve the overall performance of the firm. Whether its internal or external use of technology, it must include ongoing training. Technology should increase simplicity for our employees, and efficiency and ease of use by our clients.
We’d love to hear about your own experiences with Digital Transformation. How have you used Digital Transformation to improve customer experiences, and other aspects of your operations and processes?
What began as preparation for a natural disaster turned into preparation for an unforeseen pandemic. Our culmination from traditional servers and printed mail to cloud-based processors and virtual technology has exponentially improved our client’s overall experience. Our firm has always offered educational training to clients, but with COVID, we have moved our education to the virtual world. Our monthly Q&A sessions with partners from our firm has elevated our firm’s online presence and elevated our firm into one of the leading law firms in the way we utilize technology to service our client’s needs. We have continued our ongoing educational sessions and training internally and for anyone interested in attending.
How far along are you with the digital transformation of your company?
Though digital transformation is a constant, we can safely say we are in a good place and have evolved efficiently. I constantly research and educate myself to stay ahead of the curve. Then I share that knowledge with my team. Since technology is ever-changing and consistently improving, we must constantly learn to use the systems to service our internal processes as well as benefit our clients.
Are there specific areas that you are digitally transforming or are you doing it across your entire company?
We are transforming our entire company both internally and externally. Piece by piece we are using digital transformation to keep up with the ever-changing times. From HR, bookkeeping, marketing, case management, task-based software and client communication, we are doing our part to create a more efficient and coherent system.
How are things going with this new direction? Has your digital transformation enabled you to provide a better value for your customers? Can you share any stories or examples?
Our ability to harness technology and guide clients to see its efficiency has created a significant level of trust. We have fortunately been able to continue the momentum of signing on new clients by simply showcasing our communicative abilities and organization through digital transformations. The ability to communicate through various mediums has allowed us all to stay connected, especially in these tough times. While this technology has proven to be essential during the pandemic, this transformation is not going away: It is the way of the future. This digital transformation has helped reorganize all data and the use thereof and lead to efficiencies on all fronts in the practice of law; from research, to drafting, to client connections. As an example, instead of sifting through thousands of physical documents, we can find all we need, at the exact time we need them, all with a click of a finger.
Has integrating digital transformation been a challenging process. What are the challenges? How do you resolve them?
There has been a universal rule of thumb for law firms which was difficult to break through at first. Going digital was new and a first for many. We had to figure out the most secure and trusting digital software that protected our client’s privacy. We also understand that many people have extremely demanding schedules, so we wanted to figure out a way to still get the intimate face time, but without the commute. Our end goal was to find a system that was compatible with our needs.
The beginning challenges were definitely trial and error. We used mock-files and blank documents to test the systems while trying to figure out what worked seamlessly. After significant research and countless internal meetings for feedback, we landed on technology and systems that worked perfectly for Roseman Law. The internal perspective and use are key. It is important, and extremely crucial, that we train each team member to ensure everyone utilizes our technology to derive the most out of its use. There is little point in adding new technology unless people use its functionality and take advantage of the benefits it has to offer. That only happens with ongoing training and holding employees accountable to ensure they use the technology.
*Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take A Company To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Data accessibility. In a law firm, each single case includes thousands of pages of documents, so when you have over thousands of clients, it is nearly impossible to stay organized. It leaves room for error and mistakes. Since going cloud based and properly training our staff to navigate the technology correctly, all files have been permanently organized and easily accessible. Our instant access to information across all 4 of our offices keeps us aligned and well-oiled.
Client Communication. The point of our job is to represent the client and have a system that allows for open communication. Updating our clients is crucial. When you are in a state of urgency and the response rate is not timely, it is only natural to begin looking elsewhere for help. Being ahead of the game with the technology at our firm has significantly improved our client’s experience, resulting in very little client loss from matter to matter. We hope to have clients for life and have them refer their friends and family to our firm. We are not only able to have our clients contact us and receive a response in real time, but it simultaneously puts them at ease knowing we are consistently working to get the job done.
Productivity. Cutting time on our remedial tasks has allowed for better care and attention on matters that need it most. Instead of spending hours on administrative assignments, we can focus on the details of the case and communication with the client. The Roseman Law team can view which processes, business tools, and assets are working, and which are not. We are also able to see, in a matter of seconds, what is being worked on and the status of each assignment.
Occupancy time. Our day-to-day tasks should not be unnecessarily time consuming. Using digital transformation to create a smoother system helps every single person increase their chances of efficiently completing their work. All the software we currently use not only brings forward more efficiency in our daily tasks, but also ensures the work is being completed in a time efficient manner. They all act as good reminders, or what I call “good ticklers,” to make sure our work is done in a timely manner and each employee is held accountable for completion of the tasks. The systems also allow for reporting which helps to ensure our clients goals are always met.
Visibility. We are in a day and age where simply having a website is not enough. Our social media platforms and use of client-based technology reaches demographics that we could never have imagined. Not only are we tapping into an existing market, but we are also opening new markets for our firm with access to additional clients. Our goal was to create a consistent message that married all platforms. When someone looks for Roseman Law, our up-to-date website and social media channels create a media presence and highlight an established digitally advanced company.
Based on your experience would you recommend using custom software to digitally transform, or off-the-shelf software?
We have evolved into such a technologically advanced era with infinite options for software that can digitally transform your company. Personally speaking, I do not think custom software is necessary. As long as you are aware of the software’s complete capabilities and understand how to integrate the various systems, there is no need to customize.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad was both the funniest and most inspiring man I knew. He would send me quotes every single week to help keep me motivated and expose me to ideas and thoughts that would expand the world for me. This was back before text messages and email, so he would send them via fax. Some quotes were from famous individuals and others were made up by him. One he wrote really resonated with me and I use often. “When you want to peel a sack of potatoes, you need to take just one potato at a time and peel it”. Meaning when you have a million things to do, just start with one “potato” at a time. The practice of law is overwhelming with a plethora of tasks and legal matters that are sometimes tough to manage so this is the perfect advice. We use this quote in our office often and it still helps me to this day.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can check us out on our website at www.roseman.law, our Instagram @rosemanlaw and our Facebook @rosemanapc