Rachel L. D. Thompson, an immigration and adoption attorney, is the Managing Partner at Poarch Thompson in Virginia.
Rachel serves on the Federal Bar Association’s Advisory board, is a committee member of its Young Lawyers Division, is the Chair of their Law School Committee, and also speaks annually at its conferences.
She has been the recipient of the FBA-ILS Younger “Lawyer of the Year Award” (2018), DePaul Community Resources presented her with the “Alison Parker Young Woman of Achievement Award” (2016), and listed in Roanoker Magazine’s Class of 2020 for “40 Under 40.”
Alongside being one of Poarch Thompson Law’s managing attorney, she is also an adjunct professor at Liberty University School of Law.
Rachel first moved to Southwest Virginia when she attended Liberty University School of Law (Lynchburg, Virginia), graduating in May 2012.
The multiculturalism inherent in her native city (Philadelphia) and her family (Rachel’s mother was raised in South Africa during apartheid and her father was raised in Jamaica) instilled an early and profound love for diverse cultures, hope in the possibilities of immigration.
Learn from her expertise and what trends are helping grow her firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!
Kevin Daisey (00:02):
All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the managing partners podcast. My name’s Kevin Daisey, and I’ll be your host. Also the founder of Array digital. We also go by Array Digital. It’s our brand for working with law firms. I got a special guest there today, and who’s also a client of ours. We’re actually in the process right now of building their brand new website. Rachel Thompson. Welcome to the show.
Rachel Thompson (00:28):
Thank you so much, Kevin. Thanks for having me.
Kevin Daisey (00:31):
Absolutely. I’m I’m excited to have you on. And and of course we’ve spoken quite a bit and we’re working on a new website for you guys. And you have some changes over there at the firm that you’ve gone through. And I thought this would be a great time to have you on the show and, and discuss those things. So just for everyone tuning in, if you wanna check her out, their website is porch Thompson, law.com. It’s on the bottom of your screen. If you’re listening. Her last name is well it’s P O a R C H Thompson law.com. I can check that out if you were watching this now it’s probably her old website this up, but by the time you get to see this, her new one should be in place. So <laugh> take a look at that. Look into Rachel, look into her firm. They’re amazing at what they do. They’re based here in Virginia. So learn more about them there. And of course, we’ll learn a lot more about her right now. So Rachel, tell us at first, what made you become a attorney and get into this practice?
Rachel Thompson (01:34):
Yeah, so I’m kind of one of those people who always knew I was gonna be a lawyer. From second grade I went to Washington DC. My parents took us on a family trip and I just remember being taken around on tours and stuff and kept hurting, hearing the name lawyer. And I was like, dad, what is that? <Laugh> if you know, my dad, he’s very loquacious. He loves to just talk and, you know, I was like, you know what, it’s gonna be easier for me to just do it. <Laugh> than to try to understand what it is it’s just in, it was just in me at that point. And then fast forward 10th grade, my mom is from South Africa and my dad’s actually Jamaican, but my mom became a naturalized citizen. And so I went to her swearing in ceremony, her earth ceremony.
Rachel Thompson (02:19):
And I was just amazed. I, I just remember probably my jaw was dropped, like all these people crying and waving flags. And what does that mean for you mom? Like, are you no longer a south African, you know, so the whole thing, just the whole scene, I can even see it right now was just amazing. And so I said, I want to be able to do that. That’s awesome. I wanna help people. Yeah. and then fast forward again, I went to the Dr on a missions trip in high school and fell in love with Spanish, the, do the Dominican Republic so much. Yeah. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> yep. So much like Jamaica which is where my from. So, and I’ve been there several times, but they spoke Spanish. So I said, whatever I’m gonna be doing, I’ll be speaking Spanish as well. So it’s, it was kind of like building blocks, you know? And then I went to Liberty law school and graduated in 2011 or sorry, 2012. Okay. And in 2012, I started interning for Christine porch founder of port Thompson law, and all of that, that I’ve always wanted to do the first day in her office. I was like, this is it. This is what I, this is what I wanna do. And so later on, she offered me the job and I stayed in Virginia and here I am.
Kevin Daisey (03:38):
And, and she’s awesome too, if you get to meet her I, I got to go meet Rachel and, and her in Roanoke was actually on a family trip and I’m like, I’m popping in, I’m gonna meet with them for lunch. And just a, a fun office, great group of people. And you know, it was nice to go sit down with you guys. So and Roanoke is beautiful. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah, it is. Yeah. That whole area. And you actually, you’re in Salem, right?
Rachel Thompson (04:07):
We are in Salem. Yes. Yeah. Which right next, right? Yep. That the valley.
Kevin Daisey (04:13):
Yeah. But really nice, beautiful spot. And you think, oh, Virginia in the middle of nowhere in the mountains here’s this law firm that’s yeah. Very successful and, and is bustline and has a office full of folks and is, is doing a great job of serving a wide area around their location. So so cool. So ya with Rachel you’re there, you stayed there. I mean, I’m sorry with Christina. And so she’s now put you in charge if you will.
Rachel Thompson (04:47):
Yeah, yeah. Of January this year. Yeah. I’m I’m sole owner, so it’s exciting. Obviously Christina’s still on board with me and is there when I need her and has been such an encouragement through the whole process, but it is exciting to kind of take, take it under my wing and kind of make it my own, even though so much of my own is from her <laugh> so yeah, it’s just an exciting season for both of us.
Kevin Daisey (05:15):
Yeah. Yeah. It exciting for her to, you know, take her next challenge in life and to have you take ownership and take care of the firm. And so, but so just talking about that, you know, to other managing partners, tuning in, you know, going through that change and kinda like what’s the plan because you have existing customers and people that know the brand and the, and the firm, you know, how you have to tread lightly and how you’re gonna roll that out and, and make sure that’s done in a way that’s not disruptive, I guess mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and I know you guys are, are currently working on that too.
Rachel Thompson (05:53):
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s different if I didn’t work for her for 10 years before we made this change, you know, so there’s lots of times where partners come in and they’ve never worked with each other before, which is a fine way to do it as well, but, you know we’ve, I mean, we’ve worked together so well for 10 years that it’s all, it was almost seamless. It’s been seamless, you know, over the years it was incremental. So yeah, it’s, it’s fortunately not too drastic and, and not too much of a, of a huge change.
Kevin Daisey (06:22):
That’s good. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’m sure you’re pretty dialed in with, with all the clients and they know who you are, so, yeah. But yeah, but pulling her out of the line late a little bit and moving you more up into it. Yeah. you know, as, as time goes by, I assume that’s what you’re planning to do. So okay. So let’s talk a little bit more about exactly what you do at your firm, what you specialize in and what makes you unique you now, you got us a little hint of that with your, your mom and Dominican Republic and Spanish and stuff that, but tell us the, about the firm itself.
Rachel Thompson (06:56):
Yeah, so we do all immigration and some adoption as well. And the adoption piece we started off doing international adoptions and it was just a natural segue to also do domestic. But yeah, we do. The cool thing is we do all IIG immigration, I mean, from removal proceedings, victim, visas, family based employment based, everything in between. We do it. The really cool thing is we’re kind of, nozzled in this area in Southwestern Virginia. And we have a lot of immigrants in this area as well. So it just makes sense to offer services to people who live near us. They don’t need to be going to Richmond or Northern Virginia, you know, we are right here. And we, we pride ourselves in what we do and we pride ourselves in doing it well.
Kevin Daisey (07:44):
Yeah, that’s excellent. So, but I, you know, the cool thing, I think too, you’ve, you’ve kind of established what you want and where you wanna be and who you wanna help the boundaries, whether geographic but then also, you know, it’s, I know there’s a lot of firms out there that don’t offer you know, don’t have Spanish speaking or translated website. I know we’re rolling out some new translation for your new site, but you already have that in place now. So I just think some of the things you guys have done there is, is you know, really cool to see. But so you don’t do Richmond and if anyone knows Virginia, if you’re listening, <laugh> you guys kind of stay on the, you know, Richmond and, and I guess Southwest from there.
Rachel Thompson (08:30):
Yeah. Yeah. And we have lots of clients coming from Western west, West Virginia. Okay. Because we’re pretty close to the border. And then, excuse me also also North Carolina, because, you know, there’s lots of areas that border North Carolina with our clients living in Southern part of Virginia, so sure. Yeah. Our, our radius is pretty wide.
Kevin Daisey (08:54):
Excellent. Okay. So give us a little bit of makeup of the firm. How many folks you have there everyone working from the office there, anyone working from home, what’s the situation with that?
Rachel Thompson (09:06):
Yes. So we have oh my goodness. I always forget how many, but I would say 18, 19 full time, and then we have several of council attorneys. Okay. And of the 18, we have three full-time attorneys. And then about 10 paralegals and the rest support staff. Excellent. yeah. And obviously each of, each of our paralegals kind of specialize in one area of, of the law of, of immigration everyone right now is still, we’re still not remote, but we’re not fully remote. As of February, we went back to part-time remote which the cool thing about our firm and Christine and, and her husband Joey, is we’ve, we’re so technologically advanced that when COVID hit, we really didn’t flinch too much, which I’m so thankful for. You know, lots of, lots of, of of firms, you know, had issues at that point with, with how are we gonna do this remote? But the really cool thing is we were already built for that. And so I used to work remote from time to time before COVID, but the nice thing is we’re able to offer that. So we do part-time remote. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday mornings, everyone is in office. And then after that, and Thursdays and Fridays, they can determine their schedule as, as they see fit.
Kevin Daisey (10:32):
Excellent. yeah. So when I actually had Christine on the podcast back in November when she recorded. Yeah. And I remember her telling me all that and I got meet, you know, Joey, her husband and stuff like that as well. And yeah, she mentioned the same thing. Yeah. I didn’t miss the beat. You guys were set up for it. We were the same way too. I think a lot of people have those questions, what’d you do? How did you know, how’d it go? You know, for us, it was video calls and conference calls, like this were already established and most my employers are in different states. Yeah. But it, for a law firm, that’s not very typical. And I talked to a lot of law firms of course, and a lot had a lot of, you know, they’re still having challenges with it that they they’re trying to get people to come back in and, you know, they’re, they do have the technology set up now, but most of ’em gone hybrid or, or whatever, which is cool, but a lot of struggled with it cuz they had to kind of jump and try to figure it out pretty quickly.
Kevin Daisey (11:30):
Some too were just like, didn’t change anything, stayed in the office. Right. Just dealt with it. And they were so used to the traditional way of doing things that they just were not interested in changing.
Rachel Thompson (11:42):
Kevin Daisey (11:42):
So it’s a good one, your guys for, for doing that, especially being in the middle of Virginia <laugh>, you know, you’re high tech, so
Rachel Thompson (11:52):
Kevin Daisey (11:53):
So so tell me some of, what are you guys doing? Well, that’s worked for you with, with marketing and growing the firm you
Rachel Thompson (12:04):
Know, things like, yeah. So one thing we’ve always done and I just think it has worked the best is we just start to change hearts and minds and get our name out there by doing small small meetings, present chase presentations in Spanish we call them Charlas. So I, you know, six months in went to this little, little tiny church in Charlottesville. I met the pastor through a friend of someone who went to school at Liberty. So it was like a friend of a friend of a friend basically. And I went there and it is crazy yesterday. The client that I met there came in for their citizenship. And if you know this long story of how they even got there, it’s about a, it was a 10 year road for them. And so it just, from there, the word spread out, I came back, I did another Charla and this time instead of 25 people, there were 50 people.
Rachel Thompson (12:58):
Oh wow. And yeah, and then from there I had someone in that community have a work event. And so then I went to the work event and I did a char there. I did a presentation there, just explain immigration, what are the myths? What are the truths, you know, immigration in, in an, in 50 minutes, you know, what do people need to know? And so I was able to do that and yeah, it’s been, it’s been really cool to see how it has spread from there. So our marketing is word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth.
Kevin Daisey (13:29):
That is awesome. I love that. And, and it’s like a, that’s pretty unique, I think for what most would do. And I think maybe it’s unique to your practice area, but you couldn’t do that for some other law practices maybe, but if you’re estate planning or a divorce attorney or in, or a business attorney, I would assume that, you know, they could do something very similar to that educate. Yeah. Cause like let’s just say everyone needs estate planning. Right. Everyone needs a will. Everyone needs to trust. Yeah. So if you have an audience of folks that show up to wanna learn more, that’s a great way to get exposure. And and maybe those folks that showed up just didn’t know enough to take a next step or what to do. And then yeah. You gave them enough information to go. I need to reach out and yeah. And take care of this.
Rachel Thompson (14:23):
Yeah. And there’s so much, I mean you Google immigration, there’s just so much coming from every end and you wanna know, okay, what’s true. You know what, there’s so many taboo questions that people have, you know? And so it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s really cool to see faces light up after my presentation. They’re like, I just never knew, you know? And so they just wanna, they will have friends that say, Hey, you should have this girl. She should, you should you know, Rachel, you should come and do a presentation for them. So I, and that I I’m an extrovert. I love people. I love meeting people. I love people’s stories. So I, that’s also part of my job that I love.
Kevin Daisey (15:01):
That’s awesome. Yeah. That’s, that’s that helps to be able to get out and talk to people and get outta your comfort zone. And I think most people think all lawyers are just like these get up in front of a crowd and take over, but most are not. Yeah. And most don’t go to court and most don’t, you know, do that kind of stuff. So it’s actually pretty interesting how many introverted attorneys that I’ve met <laugh> so, yeah. So yeah. You have a superpower then this is, this is ran. I’m actually, I’m actually from the Eastern shore of Virginia. Have you guys done anything in that area?
Rachel Thompson (15:35):
Not as much.
Kevin Daisey (15:36):
There should, there would be a lot of opportunity there, I would think, but
Rachel Thompson (15:39):
For sure, for sure. Yeah.
Kevin Daisey (15:41):
A lot of farming and, and, and things like that. But most people don’t even know where that’s at, especially if you’re listening and you’re not from Virginia <laugh>
Rachel Thompson (15:49):
We need to get out that way. We need to get out that way. For sure. <Laugh>
Kevin Daisey (15:53):
Cool. So let’s change the subject a little bit. What, you know, now that you’ve taken ownership, I know you’re probably trying to settle in I know you’re working with my team and, and your you’re slam busy. But with that said, what’s your plans? What’s the growth plans look like what’s the next year, five year. Do you have any big goals that you’re working on?
Rachel Thompson (16:16):
Yeah, I mean the growth plan is to keep growing so long as people in our area, immigrants are in our area are being served. And so if that is growing, then we are gonna grow. We actually, I actually just hired it’s my first hire solo this, this week and I’m really excited to have her join the team. It’s another paralegal. But I saw one area particularly growing. And so I said, we need to have support there, you know? And so it’s exciting. It’s nerve wracking. It’s all of it in between. But the plan is yes to keep growing so long as there’s a need.
Kevin Daisey (16:54):
I love it. That’s awesome. And I think there probably will be, so mm-hmm <affirmative> you shouldn’t have a problem with that. <Laugh> yeah. Hiring man. Whew. We’re hiring some folks right now. We got, we’re almost 20, 25 I think. And you know, it’s always a, a challenge and, but it’s fun part of it <laugh>
Rachel Thompson (17:13):
Yeah, yeah, no it’s and, and especially these times 20, 22, you know, or kind of coming out of a pandemic, there’s what they call the great migration. You know, people are just realizing that they have different needs or they’re changing jobs. So we’ve, we’ve waited through the waters and I think we’re, we’re, we’re in a good position. Obviously almost every, every firm, every business has been hit in one way or another given, you know, what’s been thrown at us in the last year, but I’m really proud of, of port Thompson law and you know, what we’ve been able to, to manage in that time.
Kevin Daisey (17:46):
Yeah. That’s excellent. You guys are doing great. Second just a random question. This is not really on my list, but your hiring process, what, what does that look like for others that are listening in tuning in? I know we have a pretty defined long process for hiring and when you’re small, that’s really important, I think to every hiring matters so much. But what’s, what’s your process look like that, you know, from putting out a, a job ad to getting someone in the door?
Rachel Thompson (18:15):
Yeah. I mean, be we do a lot of word of mouth too through trying to get someone in the door. Obviously yes we do indeed. And also the, the more functional ways. But once someone comes in the door we’ve we used to, when we were smaller, had everyone interview this one person. And so in our small little conference room, there’s like nine of us huddled around <laugh> one person and it was kind of intimidating, but I think that says a lot. It’s not very top down, cuz I’m not usually the one that’s going to be working directly with this person that I’m hiring. So obviously yes, if I’m hiring an attorney, I’m gonna be super involved, but most of the positions we’re hiring now are kind of staff and paralegals. And I want someone in that room that knows the position that would be working well with this person.
Rachel Thompson (18:58):
And so for me, that’s really important. In fact, the last two hires, I wasn’t even in their first go round, you know, cuz I also think that people can get very nervous or, you know, they hear the word founder owner managing partner and, and they get nervous. But but the point is it’s important that there is input from all spheres in, in the business, not just me. And so I, I also give the work back to the people that, that that are under me to make sure that they have input as well, because this is ultimately going to be them who is trading them, teaching them, working with them. So yeah.
Kevin Daisey (19:37):
I love that. Yeah. So that’s very, almost exactly our process. So I’m glad to hear that that we’re doing, I think we’re doing it right, but I think you’re doing it right for sure too. But yeah, so we, we were the same way. We were like nine people or eight people. It was all hands on deck. Let’s go to take ’em to lunch and everything <laugh> and yeah, but now it’s a little bit more of a screening process and then if they get past that then the, the manager, the person that’s gonna actually work with them, they meet with them and then if they are like, Hey, this person’s awesome. Will they do a quick 15 and then a 45 minute? And then they, then they pass it on to me, my partner and say, Hey, this person’s yep.
Kevin Daisey (20:22):
Good to go. And so me and my partner meet with ’em called the founders meeting, which is maybe intimidating, but <laugh>, and we don’t care about what their skills are, cuz we, we assume that other person has done that. Right. We wanna know who they are and if they’re gonna be a cultural fit. Right. And if they’re aligning with what we want to, how we’re growing the company and where we’re going, so right. And then they get our blessing. What, you know, then it goes from there to, to do all the check the boxes and stuff. But yeah, so I like that process and and we try to make it fun when we’re talking to them versus you know, how to do this and you can do that. You know? So yeah. So it’s it’s been worked out very well for us and, and then that manager, whoever that might be has some ownership and it’s their decision more so than it is ours.
Rachel Thompson (21:14):
Kevin Daisey (21:15):
That’s right. Now if we’re like, Hey, that person, I’m not sure, you know here’s some red flags or something like that, but that usually doesn’t happen by the time it gets to us. So
Rachel Thompson (21:25):
Kevin Daisey (21:26):
Rachel Thompson (21:27):
I think that’s, that’s, there’s so much wisdom in doing it like that.
Kevin Daisey (21:30):
Yep. But yeah, a lot, a lot of places don’t do it that way at all. We got another thing where we actually we ask candidates to send a video of why they wanna work for our company. And that cuts out 95% of applicants that just won’t take the time cause they just wanna submit for jobs. And so the few that we do get, you know, they do, they have, they do who we are, they read about us. Do they know our core values? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> and so the ones that do submit videos are really actually like, I want to work here and they’ll talk about the podcast or things like that, that they see, and we’re looking for that kind of stuff. We don’t want them to just have a job,
Rachel Thompson (22:12):
You know? Right,
Kevin Daisey (22:14):
Right. So that’s worked out really well. Not a very popular topic on LinkedIn, by the way I I had posted about, Hey, you know, what, if you make candidates not make of them, but I asked them to send a video and I got people were like, you can’t do that. Like, you know, you should be interviewing or you should be asking why you, they should hire or work with you versus the other way around. I was like, no,
Rachel Thompson (22:39):
Yeah, no, mm-hmm
Kevin Daisey (22:41):
Not me get like 200 people submit for a social media position. So right.
Rachel Thompson (22:45):
Kevin Daisey (22:46):
So, well, I love what you guys are doing. I’m so excited for you and you know, happy to sh you know, I’m happier in here sharing this with us. And anything else big, you wanna share how, you know, with the firm, anything else that’s, that’s going on or coming up, anything we can promote for you,
Rachel Thompson (23:03):
Man. Just, we are your go-to immigration firm. If you’re in Virginia, even if you’re in surrounding areas, you know, give us a call. We’re a boutique unique firm. I love what we do. I’m so passionate about it. Many of the people that are here are passionate about it. So if you have, if you know, someone who is looking for immigration help, you know, give us a call.
Kevin Daisey (23:29):
I’ll second that, so yeah. Any other attorneys listening to this referral opportunities, if you have a client, maybe you’re in a different practice area, but you know, of a client that has a family member of a situation or whatever in a surrounding state, or maybe it’s not, maybe you just have questions connect with Rachel. And I encourage every attorney on this show, connect with each other, reach out to each other. Her website address is down below. Is there any other way people can connect with you on social media or by email media?
Rachel Thompson (24:03):
Yeah, we’re on Facebook. We’re on LinkedIn, Instagram my emails, Rachel porch, law.com or porch Thompson law, either one. And it’ll get to me and yeah, I, I love it. I mean, I, I think that it’s so good for just for managing those who are managing to huddle with other managers, it’s just so important because we’re all in this together. And it’s hard work, but it’s, I it’s worth it. It’s it’s in the end of the day, it’s worth it. So thanks so much, Kevin.
Kevin Daisey (24:37):
No, absolutely. Thanks for coming on to share and yeah, another good tip is as an entrepreneur, if you will you know, you might not be to go home or see your friends and they also are entrepreneurs, so yeah. Find other managing partners find other or just other entrepreneurs. There’s usually local groups or, or even national online groups that you can get part of, but yeah, seek answers from others that have probably already done it and and reach out to each other. So,
Rachel Thompson (25:04):
Yeah. Thanks for providing the space, Kevin.
Kevin Daisey (25:06):
Oh, absolutely. No problem. For everyone tuning in this will be available on our website, Ray law.com for slash podcast. You can sort by Virginia and or immigration, you’ll see Christine’s and you’ll see Rachel’s pop up there as soon as we get that released. We also have the managing partners newsletter that goes out every week with two episodes. That’ll be pushed out on social media, LinkedIn, Instagram on Facebook. So look for Rachel there. And then of course it’ll be on our YouTube channel and every platform for podcasting, you can imagine. So Rachel will be famous next time you see her. So watch that for paparazzi. <Laugh> for us Ray law, we help law firms grow their business. We help drive traffic leads, organic social media, tell their story, their brand their websites. Actually, we have a new Spanish translation offering that Rachel actually already has built in for her website.
Kevin Daisey (26:07):
And actually it’ll actually organically index on Google. So if you search in Spanish, you can come up for search results, which is a whole new frontier. And that’s a big push for us to go into Spanish. I have three full-time fluent in Spanish employees. And so that’s a, a big area that we’re going into that I think is underserved, especially in the digital marketing space. So law firms out there that, that wanna offer Spanish or are already due that need help with that. That’s, you know, a big area for us to, to focus on. So, and I might be pinging you Rachel, cause I don’t speak Spanish myself. <Laugh> please do. I’m gonna start learning though. So yes, yes. There you go. But yeah, everyone, thank you so much, Rachel, thank you so much for tuning in today and sharing your story. I love what you guys are doing best of luck and we’ll see you soon. Great. Thank you so much. Bye. All right guys, everyone. We’ll see you soon. Thank you.