It Takes a Village: How Community Can Help You Achieve Your Loftiest Goals
Allen Tittle loves serving his community — both inside and outside of the courtroom. He grew up in Ohio, went to law school in Ohio, and now serves the people of Ohio, both as an attorney and as a passionate volunteer.
Allen says “there’s no better feeling” than being able to positively impact the lives of people you grew up with. But why is community so important for Allen, and why should it be one of your core principles as a law firm?
Let’s start with the community inside your firm — your employees. When you invest in the people on your team, you’re building a strong culture and helping your firm (and your people) grow.
What about your greater community? Of course, giving back to your community helps build your firm’s image and reputation — but that shouldn’t be the main reason for your service. Partnering with local organizations can help you build empathy and connect with those around you.
One of the charities that Allen and his firm work with is called HansonHouse, which helps care for people with traumatic brain injuries…an area that hits close to home for a personal injury law firm. Through this work, Allen and his team are able to uplift people in their neighborhood. After all, it takes a village to create a strong community.
Listen to this episode of The Judd Shaw Way Podcast with Judd Shaw featuring Allen Tittle, Founding Partner of Tittle & Perlmuter. Allen talks about how his firm is rooted in community, why giving back is so important, and his tips for creating a culture of growth and constant improvement.
In this episode:
- [0:37] Judd Shaw introduces his guest, Allen Tittle
- [1:43] Allen talks about why he loves serving in Ohio
- [4:22] How Allen gives back to his community — and how he started his law firm
- [7:24] Allen explains their process for developing a culture of success
- [12:05] Why it’s important to invest in your employees
- [12:57] Allen discusses his passion for medical malpractice cases
- [15:03] Allen and Judd talk about the difference between empathy and sympathy and the importance of mindset shifts
- [18:42] What’s next for Tittle & Perlmuter?
Hi everybody, I’m your host Judd Shaw. I’m here with Allen Tittle, the Ohio personal injury law firm of Tittle and Tittle & Perlmuter. Allen, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
So how are the wife and kids?
Oh, they’re great.
They’re great. I’m sure they miss me as I’m here at this conference. But yeah, I missed their first karate practice. They both started karate. They’re six and four, but those are the things you got to do sometimes.
So from fishing and poker to Minecraft.
Have you ever played this Minecraft?
Of course I have. Yes, I played Minecraft.
You just walk around, you chop trees down with your hands. I’m like, “This is insane.” But that’s what I have to spend my time doing now.
Yeah, I have a joke. How do Minecraft players avoid sunburn?
I have no idea.
There you go. I get it. I get it. I get it. That’s good.
You are true Ohio, right? Born and raised in Ohio, undergrad in Ohio, law school in Ohio, serving the community with your company in Ohio. What’s so amazing about Ohio?
That’s right. I mean, look, I really sort of… That’s like my spirit animal is Northeast Ohio. It’s because hardworking blue collar type people are where I came from and that’s who I sort of relate with best. So that’s who I am as a person, I couldn’t see myself ever not being in Ohio. It’s just who I am. It’s who I am.
But you have so many who go to college in a state, a law school another state, may have grown up, probably moved around a couple times. I mean, you’re not only your roots, you’ve found that everything, the entire tree is stuck in Ohio. It must give you such great honor and pleasure to serve Buckeyes and really get help for these clients who live in your community.
There’s no doubt about it. They always say you want to go to law school where you want to practice. So when I went to Cleveland-Marshall, there was only one reason why, it’s because I wanted to practice in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio. So when I see that whole idea come full circle where I can then help the people that I grew up around, there’s no better feeling. I sort of had a unique upbringing in terms of how I was raised and the whole idea it takes a village, that’s true. So when I can give back to that village, it’s phenomenal.
We have attorney pods and attorney teams at my firm. We actually refer to them as villages. So we run on this medieval theme because our mascot is a knight in shining armor. We’ll have the wizards and the warriors and the dragons, but we’ll call them villages. The reason in NAF claims managers and support teams and attorneys, but it takes a village.
Yeah, that’s great.
Tell me about your unique background.
So I was basically dropped at my great great aunt and uncle’s doorstep when I was two weeks old. My biological parents, dad is an alcoholic, mom had all sorts of mental health issues. So they took me in and they didn’t have to. So they raised me as one of their own. Then sort of there was this period of time where I’m going back and forth between the two, meaning my biological parents and them. It was sort of crazy at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. There it is in your DNA some stepping up, right? Your great great aunt stepping up and that’s what you’ve done for your community, right?
You give back. You give back. Tell me about the charities that you’re involved in.
So one thing we really believe in as a business and just personally is giving back to the community. So across the street from our office building is a facility called May Dugan. That really works with folks who have mental health problems within Cuyahoga County. So we work a lot with them. We just did a food drive with them. I closed the entire office for the morning and we all went and volunteered while they did their food bank.
There’s a clubhouse called HansonHouse. It’s a traumatic brain injury clubhouse. So folks in our practice that we see, they get these brain injuries, right? They get hospitalized, they go to rehab, but at some point they get sent home and there’s a big need for that aftercare. What do you do once the acute care’s over? Well, they’re going to sit at home and they don’t know how to sort of regain their life and that’s what HansonHouse does. So those are two big charities that right now we’re involved with. We look forward to continuing our relationship with those two charities in the future.
It’s just great to pay it forward, give it back, a good feeling, but also good for our image and for our reputation. Tell me about Tittle & Perlmuter.
Yeah. So this is a law firm I started 2015. It started literally on my kitchen table. It was the worst time possible to probably start a law firm. I had six figures in student loan debt. My wife was pregnant with our first kid. We had just bought a house.
Let’s just add one more thing.
So I will never let my wife live this down, but when I made the decision, she just said, “Well, how are we going to pay our bills?” I said, “Well, we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out.” So now as each success grows, I keep jabbing her, “Molly, how am we going to pay our bills? I don’t know how we’re going to do this.” But so 2015, kitchen room table, then a sort of solo office by myself where I was sharing office space. Now our main office, we own the building. We got four offices throughout Northeast Ohio.
We’re always looking to grow. We keep adding people. We could hire a bunch more people if we could find the right people right now. But as I’m sure everyone knows who’s listening to this podcast, it’s tough right now finding good people. That’s our struggle is it’s not the growth, it’s just finding the right people.
Yeah. So the podcast focuses so much on client service. I have found that that is delivered through a culture, right? If you’re not working on culture, every company will have one, it just may not be the one you want. But you’re developing both with Perlmuter your culture of success, right?
That’s something we work really hard at, our firm culture, both with our employees and sort of how they interact with our customers, our clients.
So we do things like every Friday, right now we do a book club. We read some sort of book that has to do with, right now we’re reading Critical Conversations, before that it was Cy Wakeman’s book No Ego. We talk about it and we have those critical conversations about how we can improve as a firm and how that carries out. You always got to be thinking about culture.
The other thing is, in terms of culture, you’re absolutely right, it gets created if you don’t focus on it. On top of that, if you’re not focused on it, the things that you allow, conduct repeated is conduct rewarded, that’s how culture works.
Have you heard of the Better Book Club?
I have not.
So check that out. We use that at our firm. It’s a guy, Arnie Malham, who wrote a book called Worth Doing Wrong, and it’s about building company culture. Great book, great guy. The idea, the Better Book Club was to be able to efficiently manage a book club within a company. We use that. So now what we’re able to do is everybody can read their own books and so we’ll give points. Those points can be converted to dollars or Amazon gift cards or things of that nature. But we also have culture teams.
So the person who will read the most books that month, right? Reading is empowerment, knowledge, that thing. Then I can put out a book that I think would help in what we do. If you read that book, that’s extra points and there’s a little book report and it’s just a great way to have a book club within the office. Check that out.
I will. I appreciate that.
I love that, right? So you can be in California and know that the Ohioans and Buckeyes that you represent are taken care of because your team knows the Allen Tittle way, right? They know how you would talk to the client.
That’s right. I mean, look, is that perfect? No, we all have these same struggles. Sometimes you can get down on yourself because you listen to all these great podcasts and all these great law firm owners, you’re like, “Ah, they got it all figured out.”
Right. But they don’t.
The bottom line is each day you got to try to get a little better. Each day you got to try to tweak something, improve something. By doing that, you’re going to create a culture of constant improvement. When you do that, you know that the expectations that the lawyers have for the staff is you’re going to go that extra mile for the client. You’re going to make sure that if they have a question, you’re not going to get snippy with them because you’re having a bad day because you know that we will come down on you. So it’s important, and this is a little big brotherish, but it’s important to listen to phone calls.
Yeah, no, a thousand percent. A thousand percent. Because do you help your team? The babysitting part of it is I want to say that was really great how you said that, but have you thought about saying it this way?
Yeah. So what we do sometimes in our Friday meetings is we’ll break down phone calls.
Great. I love that.
We’ll be like, “All right. Yeah. Here’s the phone call, let’s break it down.” Then it’s not this suck sort of thing. It’s number one, sometimes we show really good call.
But if things sort of went not perfectly, you say, “Well how could you have done that better?” and let them coach themselves. It’s just like you’re a sports coach, a football coach, you practice, you review game film. It’s the same way with what we do. We just have to take the time to do it.
I love that. My team I know learn best on looking at the calls in which we didn’t retain the lead, right? Or on the claims management side when we had a client contact call, and at the end of it, the client was very frustrated with whatever, still frustrated with how long it may be taking. Okay, we’re not getting that message across. How do we deliver that message in a different way? But I love also highlighting the great ones that we signed up, that great case and that was a tough one and we really had to work to build that lead’s trust to hire us. Or look at this client contact call where at the end of it, a client was eager to go and give us a Google review right then and there. I love that. That’s great stuff.
Yeah. I mean, look, you have to invest in your employees. So I spend a lot of money sending them out state for trainings. I spend a lot of money and time thinking about how can I really invest in them and make them the best employee possible. Now, some people say, “Well, what if they leave?” I think the better question is what if they stay?
You got to take care of this stuff.
I would challenge the idea that they would leave with all of this amazing knowledge that you’re giving them to go somewhere else as opposed to thinking, look at the guy who invests in my development, right? I’m constantly growing. I’m constantly being challenged. Why would I go anywhere else?
Right. I totally agree.
So what is it about med mal that really just interests you?
Yeah, so look, some people, and I’m in this camp, would say these are the most challenging cases there are.
Scary. I know for me a lot of those cases, even the best trial lawyers are like, “Wow, this could cost a lot of money. It could be a big mistake if I’m wrong about this.” You’re going in.
Right. I think what it comes down to is, number one, I like a challenge obviously, but when the deck is stacked against you and you still succeed, that’s a little extra special. So that’s what these med mal cases are. If something goes wrong and medical malpractice occurs, a lot of these folks are catastrophically injured.
Or they’re dead.
So are we handling the stub toe malpractice cases? No way. we’re talking death, paralysis, brain injury, huge cases with life altering effects. When you’re able to recover money that helps care for them, there’s no better feeling.
That’s where the team needs to understand empathy more than ever, right? Or that emotional intelligence, as you said. You got to be aware. You’re coming in. You may have had a tough day, dropped your kid off, they’d spilled all over the car, late for… Now running into the… Then it’s like game face though. There is somebody on that other side who lost their legs at no fault of their own.
Yeah. I mean sometimes, and I’m sure you hear it, say you got a brain injured client, right? You’ll hear a staff member say, “Well, Bob keeps calling in. He’s called three times this week and he is asked the same question.” So one thing we stress is put yourself in their shoes.
They have a brain injury now. They can’t work. They can’t think. They might not remember what they did five minutes ago. So if they’re calling three times a week, that’s okay.
That’s what we’re here for.
There’s a great video that I have my team watch from Brené Brown on empathy and she talks about the difference between empathy and sympathy.
That’s such a big deal, right? That’s the distinction that I struggled with years ago and I still struggle with empathy because sometimes I’m just like a charging rhino, right?
I want to charge ahead. But you have to stop and just listen. So even with dealing with employees, right? Say they didn’t do something that’s up to par, right? You want to jump to you didn’t follow the system, you didn’t follow this, but you have to have a little empathy sometimes.
And ask yourself, well, why. Try to figure out the root cause of really what’s going on instead of just jumping to, ah, they don’t know what they’re doing. No one comes to work thinking, “Oh, I’m going to do a really bad job today.”
Right. Right. Right.
So it’s sort of like, “All right, let’s peel the…”
Right. Something went sideways. Let’s just talk about that.
There’s another book or an idea, the fish philosophy that comes out of Seattle at the fish market. These guys are fishing all night and they’re coming in and they smell like fish and they’re a mess and yet they’re joyous and they’re happy and tossing fish. Somebody said to him, “I don’t get it. You’re in the fish market. You smell like fish. You’ve been working all night. Here you are. What am I missing?” The whole concept was it can be bad. We can make it okay. We can think we smell like fish and we can think about how tired we are and we’ve been working and this sucks.
Or we could go, “Let’s make the best of it. Let’s make this fun. Let’s enjoy what we do and find passion and purpose in it.” Now, around the world, people go to Seattle, go to the marketplace there to see Pike’s fish market and watch these guys toss fish around. Attitude.
I think I follow him on TikTok. I mean, it’s great. It’s all about mindset.
Look, we all struggle with mindset. Look, when I’m getting ready for a trial and I’m there at the office on a Sunday afternoon, I’m not spending time with my family.
It gets to you. But you got to snap out of it. You have to think about instead of, “Boy, this sucks. Aren’t I lucky?”
So that just little bit of change of mindset can be all the difference in the world.
I have the honor and the privilege of being hired by a client whose life was turned upside down and who’s come to me to work on a Sunday to get them or their family the justice that they deserve.
That’s right. That’s right.
Big responsibility, huh?
Yeah, absolutely. The biggest mean, especially if it’s a death case or a paralysis case or one of these big catastrophic injuries. You are truly fighting for them and giving them an opportunity to move on or just survive. I mean, truly there’s been cases where if I don’t win this case, this client’s going to die because he’s not going to get the right treatment. Then to get the phone call from the mother six, seven years later, Max is doing great. All the things you really need.
What’s next for you Allen and the firm?
Well, you’re either growing or your dying. So we’re going to continue to grow and we’re going to continue to get better. I think in the direct future, we really want to continue to focus on our culture. So we’re trying to build this core team and it’s a battle, right? We’re trying to— the right people to hire and it is so hard right now. So we’re going to continue to grow. We’re going to continue to improve and we’re going to take one day at a time. But in the long term, the goal is to be the go-to catastrophic injury law firm in Ohio. We’re not going to stop until we’re there.
Well, you’re getting there, man. I mean, if not already. I know that many in the community have raved about the results about your firm. So at our firm, I built out a join us page. Check it out on the website, juddshawinjurylaw.com, specifically to begin to be able to attract top talent. In there, we talk about our core values and our culture and we show pictures. I don’t know how many personal injury law firms out there that have a page, forget dedicated to about us and the cases and the case results and testimonials, join us. Because I recognize that in order to continue to serve more the great people of New Jersey, I need to have great people to deliver that.
Right. That’s a great idea. I’ll check it out. I might even just copy it.
Allen, I’m telling you, R&D, rip off and duplicate.
That’s what you have to do. Anytime. Listen, Allen, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
🎙️ Meet Your Host 🎙️
Name: Judd B. Shaw
What he does: Judd founded Judd Shaw Injury Law (JSIL) and serves as the firm’s Brand Chief. He founded the firm on the premise that clients come first. Over the years, the success he attained for his clients helped JSIL grow significantly. Judd’s clients are not just another number to him or his law firm.
Company: Judd Shaw Injury Law
Words of wisdom: “At Judd Shaw Injury Law, it’s all about high-quality representation and excellence in client service. Our clients are counting on us to win and the stakes are high. Our endless pursuit for awesomeness through our core values, the ability to WOW our clients, is in our DNA.”
🎙️ Featured Guest 🎙️
Name: Allen Tittle
Short Bio: Allen is the Founding Partner of Tittle & Perlmuter, a Cleveland-based law firm that focuses on personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, and wage litigation. His passion for personal injury law stems from a deeply rooted belief in justice, and his work has led to many honors and recognitions. Allen has been named to Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list for six consecutive years and The National Trial Lawyers’ 40 under 40 list, among many other accomplishments.
Company: Tittle & Perlmuter
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