Jeffrey M. Kimmel is the Managing Partner and CEO of Salenger, Sack, Kimmel, and Bavaro LLP, one of the most progressive personal injury law firms in the state of New York. As a graduate of Wharton Business School and Brooklyn Law School, Jeff has meticulously combined his entrepreneurial business background with his keen analytical legal sense to cultivate not just a dynamic law firm, but an effective, client-oriented business that supports and promotes lawyer development, firm efficiency processes, case value maximization protocols, staffing diversity, and community outreach programs Jeff prides himself in developing a trusted firm, widely respected by the industry and clients. To Jeff, the firm’s reputation is paramount to the success of the ever-growing list of satisfied clients. This has led to consistent referrals, not just from those in need of legal representation, but also by referring attorneys who appreciate the wealth of experience and extraordinary efforts put forth to ensure that the value of each case is maximized. Along with running a successful law firm, Jeff is also the author of the top-rated book “What Lawyers Don’t Know: How to Run a Business and Start Loving Life” and an expert legal source for top media outlets such as CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My day mostly consists of answering questions, addressing issues, and solving problems that arise in my firm. For the lawyers and staff, my door is always open for questions concerning every aspect of a case, which include: Should we take this case? How much is this case worth? How can we prove our case? What should we demand from the defendants? Should we make a motion? What’s our strategy going forward? At the same time, I deal with financial issues involving settlement check distributions, evaluation of our efficiency metrics, tax planning, etc. I also oversee personnel and employee relations. All these issues take me in a different direction every day!
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring ideas to life, I prefer to start by thoroughly researching and validating my concepts. This involves conducting research, seeking feedback, and assessing the feasibility and demand for my ideas. Once my idea is validated, I like to create a detailed plan outlining my goals, strategies, and implementation steps. This plan serves as a roadmap that guides my actions and helps secure any needed resources. Next, I assemble a capable team with diverse skills and expertise, aligning their strengths with the needs of the project. As these individuals collaborate with each other they create a collective effort that turns my ideas into a reality. Lastly, I apply persistent execution to my formulated plans and make timely adjustments whenever necessary. By combining strategic planning, effective team-building, and persistent execution, I’ve been able to make my ideas a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in the legal field. AI-powered tools and automation are revolutionizing legal processes, allowing lawyers to streamline repetitive tasks, conduct more efficient legal research, and analyze vast amounts of data. This trend enhances productivity, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness, enabling lawyers to focus on higher-value tasks that require critical thinking and creativity. Additionally, technology is facilitating greater access to legal services, particularly for under-served populations, through online platforms and virtual consultations. The integration of AI and technology in the legal profession is transforming the way lawyers work, opening up new opportunities for innovation and expanding the scope of legal services.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Practicing effective time management is one habit that has significantly benefited my productivity. As I’ve prioritized planning tasks out in advance, I’ve been able to optimize my time and increase my ability to get more tasks done. By utilizing time management techniques such as time-blocking, I can maintain focus and avoid distractions. This technique also regularly evaluates my progress and allows me to make adjustments to my schedule to ensure I stay on track. This habit enables me to make the most of my time, accomplish more tasks, and maintain a productive and efficient workflow.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice to my younger self would be to not care so much about what other people think of you. From an early age, we’re all programmed to please everyone but ourselves: our parents, teachers, friends, bosses, etc. In reality, the only person that really matters is you. Get in touch with what makes you happy and where your passions lie and follow those paths. With that kind of confidence and self-love, you’ll find true happiness in your life – at work and at home!
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
Losing trials plays an important role in the success of a trial lawyer. While courtroom losses are often seen as negative outcomes, they are actually inevitable (if you really try cases) and valuable learning experiences, providing stepping stones toward future wins. Losing is an inherent part of trial work and provides valuable insights, resilience, and growth. Importantly, trying any case to verdict shows your adversaries that you have the ability, and confidence, to go the distance, even at the risk of losing. This contributes to your reputation and helps you in the next case. Embracing losses, learning from them, and using them as catalysts for improvement ultimately leads to greater success in the courtroom.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
One thing entrepreneurs should do over and over again is continuous learning and self-improvement. The business landscape is constantly evolving, and entrepreneurs need to stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive. By dedicating time and effort to continuous learning, entrepreneurs can acquire new knowledge, skills, and insights that are relevant to their industry. This can be done through reading books, attending industry conferences, participating in workshops, or enrolling in online courses. By staying updated on market trends, technological advancements, and best practices, entrepreneurs can adapt their strategies, innovate, and make informed decisions. Continuous learning enables entrepreneurs to refine their expertise, identify opportunities, and navigate challenges with greater confidence and effectiveness.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Whenever I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I like to take a break and recharge. Usually, I’ll find a quiet and comfortable space where I can temporarily disconnect from work and distractions; whether that’s somewhere in the office or stepping outside. During my break, I’ll engage in a calming activity that I enjoy and helps me unwind, such as reading a book, practicing mindfulness, or working on a hobby. By taking a deliberate break, I am always able to come back to my work with a clearer mind and renewed focus.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
The strategy of “less is more” has worked for my firm. Years ago, we believed that scaling the business and getting more cases would lead to increased revenue. We were wrong. So we shifted our philosophy and did the opposite: reduced our caseload by being more selective in the cases we accept. By choosing only high-value cases and rejecting the low-to-average value cases, we’ve increased our efficiency as well as the bottom line.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I really don’t see any event as a failure. There’s always a reason, or a silver lining, for every “unwanted outcome.” A lost trial may be a truly just outcome. If a potential client chooses to sign up with a competitor to handle their case, it might just be a blessing (perhaps the client would have been extremely difficult or the case is really not that good). The unexpected departure of a seemingly good associate attorney can pave the way for a more productive associate with a brighter future. A pandemic can open your eyes to a more productive and efficient way to run a business. To me, these events are not something to “overcome.” They are opportunities that take me in a different, and oftentimes better, direction.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We’re a law firm that tries cases. As such, we spend a lot of time strategizing about the different case theories and approaches to every trial. At some point, I realized that one thing we didn’t prepare well for was anticipating how the defendants (our adversaries) would defend the cases we brought. So what did we do? We hired retired defense attorneys (really good ones!) to consult with us on cases that were close to trial. These experienced attorneys helped us better prepare and anticipate how the cases would be defended. It’s an investment that has returned outstanding dividends.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Project management software like Asana and Trello provides a centralized platform for planning, organizing, and executing various aspects of a business project. It has allowed my firm and countless other businesses to create and manage tasks, set deadlines, assign responsibilities, and track progress. With features like task management, collaboration tools, file sharing, and communication channels, project management software enhances team coordination and facilitates efficient project execution. These tools help entrepreneurs streamline workflows, improve productivity, and ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I recently bought an automatic cat feeder for about $100. My wife and I took in 4 kittens about a year ago. We came home from vacation and found a mother cat feeding 4 newborn kittens on our outdoor patio furniture. We started feeding them, but ultimately brought them all into our house (the mom didn’t want to come inside, but we still feed her). We never thought we’d be cat people (we have a dog), but these adorable little rascals changed our lives! They are very different from dogs in almost every way. Each one has a different personality, but their confidence and independence are what I love most. This new automatic feeder has made our lives a bit easier, but we still feed many of the “community” cats that visit us daily. Yes, we are that house!
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
Everyone can benefit from reading Start Loving Life, a book that teaches you how to love life, starting with loving yourself. With the right mindset, and the most effective self-talk (the way you speak to yourself in your mind), you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do. This philosophy shows you how to see the good in everything – even so-called failures! Full disclosure: it’s written by my wife, Connie Henriquez Kimmel. But I’ve seen firsthand how her methods can actually change lives for the better.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
These days, I rarely have time to watch movies or series. However, if I were to watch something, I would be interested in something that inspired me or taught me something new.
There’s really no such thing as “failure.” Every unwanted result happens for a reason. Find that reason, make it a lesson, turn it into a positive, and move on.
Continuous learning enables entrepreneurs to refine their expertise, identify opportunities, and navigate challenges with greater confidence and effectiveness.
There’s no need to please anyone but yourself. Parents, teachers, co-workers, and naysayers may question your decisions and methods. That criticism is their problem. Be confident in who you are and what you want. That’s the only path to true happiness.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.