Hunter Garnett is the Managing Partner at Garnett Patterson Injury Lawyers located in Huntsville, Alabama.
Hunter went to college at Mississippi State and law school at Samford. He worked hard to earn good grades and graduated law school at the top of his class with honors. He was also very involved in countless clubs in college and law school while also working part-time. He was elected to quite a few leadership roles, such as president of his fraternity at MSU, representative and treasurer of the student bar association in law school, a member of the mock trial team in law school, and a bunch of agricultural organizations like FFA, Ag Econ Club, etc.
Learn from his expertise and what trends are helping grow his firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!
Erik J. Olson (00:01):
Hey everybody. This is Erik J. Olson, your host for this episode of the managing partners podcast on this podcast series, we interview America’s top managing partners to find out how exactly they’re running their law firms, growing their law firms. And most importantly, how they’re getting cases today, what is working and what is not. And today I have the pleasure of having along with me, Hunter Garnett. Hey Hunter.
Hunter Garnett (00:30):
Erik J. Olson (00:31):
How you doing, man?
Hunter Garnett (00:32):
I’m doing well. How are you, Erik?
Erik J. Olson (00:34):
Good. Good. Well, I appreciate you making the time. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your firm?
Hunter Garnett (00:41):
Sure. So so I grew up in north Alabama. I’m the oldest of seven, and I’m gonna tell you a lot of personal things and try to hit high points because they have really shaped who I am today and, and the lawyer I am today. So I’m the oldest of seven. My four youngest siblings are adopted. I’ve got six sisters, right? I’m the only boy. I married a girl from my hometown, Hannah. She’s the fifth of seven. We met at my 14th birthday party. Been married seven years now, got married in law school. I grew up on a farm. My grandfather did a little bit of everything. Chicken houses, cows row crops started my first business at 14 they’re on the farm selling feed in a bag and looking back, that’s one I should have known. I would eventually have yeah, some, some type of my own business.
Hunter Garnett (01:29):
So did that all through school was real involved with FFA, future farmers of America, probably the most influential organization out there for me helped kind of fine tune my public speaking skills. My communication skills taught me how to talk to people younger than me older than me and everywhere in between. I went to college at Mississippi state and studied at agricultural economics and about 75% of the way through my undergraduate degree, didn’t know what I was gonna do. And a professor whose wife was a circuit judge told me, I think you should go to law school. So I kind of took that as a sign, took the LSAT, my wife and I were very, my girlfriend at the time were very serious. We wanted to get married soon. She was had another year of school left at Sanford university, which has a good law school. So the Lord just opened the right doors, did well in the L S a T went to law school, still thinking, probably not gonna be a lawyer and I’ll go to DC and do policy work. I’ll, you know, do something. My heart was still in, in farming and agricul. Yeah.
Hunter Garnett (02:28):
So got into law school. I thought trial work was the last thing I’d ever wanna do. Didn’t grow up watching law and order just that kinda stuff. Didn’t interest me. So I had a buddy who convinced me to do compete in the mock trial tournament as a freshman. And he was all gung-ho and I was dreading it and we got into the mock courtroom and went through our first round. And by the end of it, I was all fired up. I mean, I knew I was gonna be a trial lawyer, the opposite. He had totally changed gears. He’s writing wheels and probating estates now.
Erik J. Olson (02:58):
Is that right?
Hunter Garnett (02:59):
But that’s what gave me the bug. So all through law schools on the national trial team and knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer just didn’t know what area of law that would be in. Honestly, I thought personal injury would be the last thing I would get into grew up in a very conservative blue collar, you know, anti law type environment. But I got a job offer with some very, very talented attorney referral based lawyers up in Huntsville, Alabama close to my hometown, 45 minutes from home. And these guys were superstars two of the best trial lawyers in the Northern half of Alabama. So I spent four and a half years with them and it didn’t take me long at all to figure out, and God has prepared me every step of my life for, for this role that I’m in right now.
Hunter Garnett (03:47):
And I had no idea that that’s what I wanted to do. Didn’t take me long to figure out I loved representing real people. I loved standing up in the courtroom and next to my client and being able to display to a member of 12 members of my community that I care about my client. Yeah. And I’m here. So that’s what I did for four and a half years as an associate at a very good firm learned ins and outs. I described it as like a residency. And then I got, I settled a big case last year, kind of had the seed money to do my own thing. I don’t have children yet. And so
Hunter Garnett (04:26):
Down to do it now or maybe miss out on the chance to ever do it. So I started my law firm in December of 2021. I came in and was renting space from an older lawyer in his late sixties with a good, good personal injury practice. Our offices were two doors down from each other and we found ourselves spending an hour a day talking about cases and Hey, here’s what I’m doing. Here’s what, here’s what you should do on your cases. And it was going both ways. And eventually we decided why don’t we just partner up? And so that’s how Garnet Anderson street lawyers came to be.
Erik J. Olson (05:03):
Yeah. It seems like he was a mentor to you at the right time.
Hunter Garnett (05:07):
Yeah. He’s a great great business owner. I mean, he is a good marketer. He speaks fluent Spanish, which that was a big draw to me. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> been speaking Spanish 45 years. It’s an underserved market up here and it was a way for me to diversify my practice. And so now about probably between 30 and 40% of our clients are Spanish speaking individuals.
Erik J. Olson (05:33):
That’s really interesting that you say that because yeah, we’ve been working with our law firm clients to implement Spanish translations on their website. Not only so that it can be read easier by the Spanish population and their state, but also it could be found easier because when someone searches a Spanish phrase, like auto accident lawyer near me, when they search for that, using these Spanish words, only the Spanish translation websites come up. So it’s, it’s a real, it’s really interesting that you have that many CA that’s a lot, that’s a lot of Spanish cases you’re really servicing the, the Hispanic community quite well.
Hunter Garnett (06:10):
Yeah. And that’s where I know, I know we’re gonna get into these questions, but I haven’t had a whole lot of success through paid digital marketing. So mm-hmm <affirmative> so I haven’t tried PPC since I went out on my own. It did not work at my last firm for us Facebook ads, you know, they didn’t get any traction at my last firm mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so right now my only digital marketing is, is organic social. Media’s mostly my personal Facebook page. And then my paralegal it’s she’s a native Spanish speaker through her personal Facebook page. And, but we get a lot of cases that way.
Erik J. Olson (06:49):
Hunter Garnett (06:49):
But I’ve found right now, the best use of, of my time is a grassroots effort. So, you know, go into medical providers that cater towards the Hispanic community Hispanic community events. This is
Erik J. Olson (07:03):
Past weekend. Absolutely.
Hunter Garnett (07:05):
Like a backpack drive, 500 kids, you know, 200 parents. And so we sponsored it, but I, it was only $250 we could have given that money hung a banner, probably never gotten any return on it, but rather than do that I haven’t covered this, but I identify as a cowboy. Okay. so I’ve got some horses and all weekends, I try to ride ’em and my wife has a couple of ponies, little mini Shela ponies. And so we took one of Em’s bombproof she’s 20 years old general has a dog. And so we took her to this backpack drive and she was the star of the show. I mean, every kid there had to put their hands on her, we let ’em all sit on her, take their pictures. And I think you get a lot more out of community involvement if you’re actually involved and given a little bit of resources and money as well.
Erik J. Olson (07:53):
I think that’s a really fantastic suggestion and story. I, I love it. You need to tap the network right away. Right. So when you’re new in business and you just start a firm or any kind of business. Yeah. We all, we all have a network that we bring into our businesses and it seems like sometimes people are hesitant to let their network know that they just started a firm. And I think that’s a mistake they should be shouting and from the rooftops. And I, and I think it’s almost like when they, when they kind of try to do it on the down low it’s almost like they’re hedging against possible failure or the shame of the failure that could come. But if you don’t tell your own network, what you’re doing, then you’re just more likely to fail, right. So you might as well go all in, tell everybody exactly what you’re doing. Show up at the community events, make it incredibly clear what you’re doing so that there’s no doubt when someone needs your help and you are in their network that they should be contacting you.
Hunter Garnett (08:50):
Absolutely. That’s a, a thousand percent in my experience, I thought leaving, lemme back up in my old firm, we were all relationship networks, referral based. Okay. Mostly lawyers referring cases to us. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I was getting a lot of cases direct from clients just because I’m from a blue collar community. And I was only lawyer. A lot of these people knew. So when I went out on my own, I was vocal about it. And what I found yeah. Is that people root for you whenever you’re on your own. I mean, there’s, there’s nothing more American than starting your own business. And I saw my referrals from regular people and, and from lawyers to lesser extent take up overnight.
Erik J. Olson (09:30):
That’s great. That’s great. Yeah, by the way, I did the exact same thing when I started my business, which eventually transformed into array. Digital is I, I gathered and, and for anyone who’s thinking about starting their own business, or just recently did, this is a tip that you could use. I went through all of my contacts in, in, in the, you know, a paper based address book, the online version of that. And I found every single person that I knew that I had a physical address for. And I sent them a piece in the mail that it was like a, almost like a wedding announcement that quality, if you will. But it was me announcing my business, what I’m doing now. And if they know anyone, I wasn’t soliciting them directly. But if they know anyone who needed my services, please send ’em my way.
Erik J. Olson (10:17):
So yeah, you gotta do exactly what, what I did, what hunter did. You gotta get out there and let people know. You know, I, I, I do wanna come back a little bit to what you were talking about with advertising and, and I, I think what you have found is not uncommon even for a lot of our clients, we work with several law firms and personal injury lawyers are pretty notorious for spending a lot of money on advertising, offline, online. One of our clients was spending a, a tremendous amount of money in their state when they came to us, we picked it up. We continued to do it. But as we did that and worked on their website and their SEO, the leads from the website and SEO just overtook advertising to the point where they cut a significant budget for their advertising. I took it down to zero and put it all into SEO. And you talked about referrals and a lot of people feel like the leads that come from organic results from Google non-paid are very similar quality to the referrals that, that they get. Are, are you, are you finding the same thing? I know you’re doing a little bit of, it sounded like maybe Google organic, but also like social media, organic.
Hunter Garnett (11:36):
Yeah. My stuff’s mostly dark social is my, I mean, I get a lot of cases from dark social from Facebook groups. Okay.
Erik J. Olson (11:44):
Dark, okay. Say, say can you explain dark social?
Hunter Garnett (11:47):
So dark social is like, what you really can never see your trace. And I mean, I’m this my definition. I don’t know if this is accurate to basically people taking screenshots, you know, people looking back in the archives, finding things deep in Facebook groups. That’s what I define dark
Erik J. Olson (12:03):
Facebook groups that I, and, and so I, I haven’t heard that phrase before. I, I, I knew I, I thought I knew what you were talking about, but it’s not open to everybody. That’s the point, right?
Hunter Garnett (12:12):
Yeah. And also, so, so I, I, I’m in a lot of local Facebook groups, dozens, and if somebody I’ve kind of trained my network, you, you need hundreds of advocates. In my opinion, as a personal injury lawyer who are willing to step outta their comfort zone and recommend you anytime they hear the word accident or injury. Okay. And I spend more time more of my network marketing time, building those relationships than anything else. Just influential teachers, pastors, insurance agents, small business owners, mortgage lenders, is just, is people that have a similar networking mindset that I have. And so I’ve talked to ’em and now when somebody posts personal injury, lawyer recommendations in any local Facebook group within, you know, a hundred miles of my business or my hometown, there’s, there’s gonna be somebody in there that says you should hire hunter Garett. Okay. And it’s, and it’s becoming where you post, like in Huntsville here, there will be in 1520 of my former clients, friends say Hunter’s the best.
Erik J. Olson (13:14):
Hunter Garnett (13:16):
And I get some direct cases from that, but I’ve been working on this for years, and now I’m getting cases where it’s the, for every one person that comments or posts on Facebook, there’s nine or 10 just watching. Okay. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, they’re, they’re not, they’re, they’re,
Erik J. Olson (13:32):
It’s a spectator sport.
Hunter Garnett (13:33):
Yeah. They’re just checking it out. But they’re finding lawyers the same way that these folks that post in these groups do, they’re going to the groups of searching. And so I get a case every month where somebody’s done research and they found, you know, posts where I was recommended 20 times. I consider that to be dark social, because it’s nothing, you know, there’s no way to track it other than asking the person.
Erik J. Olson (13:55):
Hunter Garnett (13:56):
Another way I’m getting some mass tort leads where people take screenshots in my post and send it people off of Facebook. That’s I consider that dark social that person’s not even on Facebook, but they’re finding me through my efforts on
Erik J. Olson (14:08):
Facebook. That’s great. So let, let’s talk about your social media posts with the dark social in particular. Are you when you, when you post? So actually there’s a couple different scenarios. Let’s talk first about when you post, right. So you’re not responding to something you’re just posting something original. Well, what is your strategy for what you post or don’t post?
Hunter Garnett (14:30):
So through my personal page, I try to be as engaging as possible. Okay. And, and in my opinion, to be a good marketer, what you have to understand is, is what the platform wants. Okay. And so for Google, for example, they wanna answer questions. Okay. So you gotta be answering questions. Facebook wants time on the app or the websites. Okay. Yep. And so I post a lot of just fun, engaging stuff, you know, tell me your I try to not make it corny. I try to make it personal, but I, I wanna elicit comments like shares. Okay. And that sends a signal to Facebook that, Hey, Hunter’s interesting. His personal page is interesting. That’s 75, 80, 90%. And it’s always personal. It’s pictures of me and my family, me and my horses, me and my dogs, things like that. And then one outta 10 I’ll post something like just a reminder, Hey, this is what I do. Okay. Here’s who I’ve helped. Here’s what I’m looking for. Here’s the type of cases I handle. That’s been my, in my strategy for, for my personal page on the business page. It’s similar, but it’s like two thirds fun and engaging one third actual business post.
Erik J. Olson (15:41):
Okay. Now, did you start off on your own in December or is this when you became a partnership? Okay.
Hunter Garnett (15:49):
We partnered up in February of 20, 22.
Erik J. Olson (15:52):
Good for you. That’s really that, that this is a great, a great success story. And especially, I really like the part about mining Facebook and in particular Facebook is what it sounds like. I mean, I’m sure you’re active on other social media as well, but as Facebook, the, the real place, that’s getting you some engagement results.
Hunter Garnett (16:10):
Yeah. I mean, I really, and I think it depends on your target audience, my, who I market towards there on Facebook. I mean, they’re just not, you know, they’re not on Instagram or, well, they probably are, but they, Facebook just seems to be where my folks that I connect with are,
Erik J. Olson (16:27):
And that that’s a really good point as well. And I think it’s something that we could all learn from is that there’s so many different social media platforms, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn it list goes on and on and on, and we all have a preference or prefer to not even interact on social media. Like for me, like if, if I went down the route that you were going down hunter before and became a farmer, which I probably will be one day, I’ll say, oh, screw all this. I’m gonna go buy the farm. And at, at that moment, I, I, I probably won’t ever use social media again, you know? Oh yeah. So for me, like, I, I, I, of course just like everyone else, I find myself going down like a rabbit hole every once in a while and wasting 20 or 30 minutes, but I try to not do that. And, and I really would prefer to not do that, but I have to separate my own personal feelings about social media from what it does for my company and for our clients, that’s where people are hanging out. So I need to go there regardless of how I feel, which it sounds like it’s kind of the same conclusion you came to, like, Facebook’s where your clientele are hanging out. You need to be there as well.
Hunter Garnett (17:38):
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, I, I don’t know if I would use social media, but for being an entrepreneur. But if you’re not using it as a lawyer, I mean, I just, I think, I think, I think you’re missing out.
Erik J. Olson (17:51):
I agree. And you know, you mentioned TikTok initially there are some lawyers on TikTok that are, that are really doing very, very well on TikTok. Yeah. So there’s, there’s one that I follow while by Mike. I have you seen his mm-hmm, <affirmative> really good, very high production, quality, expensive video, clearly with a crew coming in and shooting and sets and props. But he, he has last time I checked, it was over a million, I think it was 1.2 million followers. This is a lawyer, right? Yeah. And, and I mean like, Hey you know, like the media loves lawyers, right? There’s a whole lot of movies, way more movies about lawyers than digital marketers. But, but, you know, in real life, like it, it could be kind of hard. Sometimes I would imagine to, to talk about something or to, to figure out what to talk about.
Erik J. Olson (18:41):
That’s related to something exciting in the law, cuz like, you know, in, in any, in any job, any industry there’s, we all get buried by minutia. Right. So but if you can find an interesting way of discussing like a case, a case that’s in the public eye at the time like the Johnny de case, like a lot of lawyers like kind of rallied around that and they were talking about that for weeks and weeks and weeks during the trial and deconstructing it. Like if you can find something that’s of interest to the public to talk about, has to do with the case or the law, you’re gonna get a following and you’re gonna get leads out of it. For sure.
Hunter Garnett (19:14):
Sports are a good one too, you know, every time a football player’s arrested, you know, you can get, I mean, everybody wants to talk about it. But I do think so. I think there’s two different approaches to social media and, and the approach that you’re describing is a little different than what I’m doing. Because I’m from a very rural blue collar community where that just don’t know a lot of lawyers I’m competing against two or three lawyers that from my hometown and the neighborhood communities. Okay. And so really my purpose is to stay top of mind rather than, rather than grow my audience. It’s to stay top of mind with my existing audience. I mean, with my wife and I both been one of seven, like just our, I mean just the people that know me, my siblings, my in-laws, my parents. I mean that’s 10,000 people or more, if I can stay top of mind with 10,000 where, when they hear the words, accident injury, they think of me. I mean, I don’t have to spend any money on advertising. I don’t have to grow my audience at all.
Erik J. Olson (20:11):
That’s great. Good for you. Good for you. That’s awesome. So speaking of growth, what are your growth plans for the future?
Hunter Garnett (20:17):
Well, so that’s a constant trouble, you know, every, I think everybody’s got the same kind of staffing issues. I’ve got two superstar paralegals. I mean, they are workhorses. They’ve both been sick the last couple weeks on and off. And I was just, I, one of ’em just came, she had coronavirus and she just came back Tuesday. And when I saw her, I told her, I said do you remember when Hannah, my wife went on her two week trip to Italy and Lily was like, yeah, I remember that. And I said, when I saw her get off the plane, that was just one of the best feelings in the world. You know, I haven’t seen your wife for two weeks. Okay. And I told Lily, I said, that’s how I feel right now after you missing a week and a half of work with the coronavirus. Yeah. so I got two superstar paralegals. I’ve got some I’ve got a legal secretary that works full time for, I’ve got three part-time legal secretaries that just kind of come and go they’re in school, they’re starting their businesses and they were already trained. So that’s worked out well. One of them’s remote and then I have a virtual assistant in the Philippines. Who’s great newest member of our team. Looking to expand there for sure.
Erik J. Olson (21:26):
That’s great. Well, good for you. Sounds like things are really clicking for you and you’ve only been in business for seven, eight months. Good for
Hunter Garnett (21:34):
You. Yeah. You said something earlier. You said it’s great to have a success story. I think you’re, it’s a little premature, you know? Yeah. I’m, it’s gonna be a success. I have no doubt about that, but it’s still, still very much a full time project trying.
Erik J. Olson (21:46):
Yeah. Systems. I’ll say success in the making. I, I know the feeling though. Like certainly as as, as the CEO of our company, I I, I, I know where all the skeletons are hidden and all the problems. And so no matter what it looks like on the outside, I always know there’s so much more work to be done. And I always wanna ration up the quality and the speed and it, and I I’m sure no matter where a business goes, the business owner is always gonna feel that way. Right. But from the outside, I would say, it looks like you guys are doing real well. So congratulations.
Hunter Garnett (22:24):
Yeah. Thank you, Eric.
Erik J. Olson (22:26):
You got it. Well, if someone would I to get in touch with you, if they have questions or maybe they have a case for you, maybe they know someone around you that’s been in an accident. What’s a good way for them to contact you.
Hunter Garnett (22:36):
So I’d like to share my cell phone number. It’s, you know, it’s basically attached to my body. And, and then of course my website’s a good way. It’s still a work in progress. And then of course my personal Facebook page, you’re welcome to connect with me. I love connecting with other lawyers out there. Just hunter Garett. I think you’ll find me. It’s all public. I, I make all my posts public because you don’t want people to see what’s out there.
Erik J. Olson (22:59):
Yeah. If you let me, let me read this off for the people that are just listening. Not everyone watches the video. So it’s Huntsville injury lawyers, plural injury lawyers.com. And the phone number is (256) 221-8967. Great. All right, hunter, I appreciate your time. That was really enjoyable. Thank you.
Hunter Garnett (23:23):
Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for having me, Erik.
Erik J. Olson (23:25):
All right. Take care.