Eric Gang is the Managing Attorney and Founder of Gang & Associates, a law firm that serves veterans and their families across the country. With over 20 years of experience in law, Eric has litigated more than 1,000 appeals at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, winning some of the largest VA awards on record.
Eric is also the Co-author of two books and has been published in The Federal Lawyer. He lectures for the State Bar Association and is a Faculty Member at Lawline.com, where he teaches continuing legal education in the area of veteran disability law. His most recent accolades include National Law Journal’s 2021 Litigation Trailblazer Award and Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America in 2022.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Eric Gang talks about his firm’s practice and the resources they’re providing for veterans
- Why is Eric so passionate about serving veterans?
- How the Veterans Affairs system is flawed — and why it’s so difficult to change the culture
- Eric shares the personal experience that made him decide to become a lawyer
- Eric’s favorite stories and astounding wins from his practice
- The leadership lessons Eric learned from Luis Scott
- How Eric opened up his firm with no money, no clients, and no source of income
In this episode…
Many people return from war suffering PTSD, homelessness, and other physical and mental health issues. To make matters worse, veterans are often forced to fight the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits. How are law firms working to help veterans receive the compensation they deserve?
Numerous veterans come to Eric Gang and his team with the most difficult cases — many of which have been on appeal for decades. One veteran had been turned away from various firms because they argued his case wasn’t viable. The veteran suffered from schizophrenia and wasn’t able to work after being discharged from the military at a young age. The Department of Veterans Affairs refused benefits, stating that his schizophrenia was a pre-service condition. Against all odds, Eric took on the challenge and ended up winning the case.
In this episode of The Guts and Glory Show, Chad Franzen sits down with Eric Gang, Managing Attorney and Founder of Gang & Associates, to talk about how Eric is working to create a more equitable future for veterans. Eric explains why he is so passionate about serving veterans, exposes the flaws in the Veterans Affairs system, and shares remarkable stories from his practice.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Eric Gang on LinkedIn
- Veterans Disability Info
- Betrayal of Valor: An Exposé of a Horribly Flawed Veteran’s Administration by Eric Gang
- How to Start & Build a Law Practice by Jay G. Foonberg
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Luis Scott on LinkedIn
- 8 Figure Firm
- Bader Scott Injury Lawyers
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by 8 Figure Firm.
After their own law firm scaled from $3.5 million in revenues to $30 million per year in revenues in just two years, Luis and Seth started the 8 Figure Firm to share their strategies and help other law firms achieve exponential growth.
Visit www.8figurefirm.com to receive a consult call and start scaling your business today.
Luis Scott 0:00
I’m Luis Scott, Managing Partner of Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, one of the fastest growing law firms in the country. And I’m also the co founder of 8 Figure Firm Consulting. I’ve successfully built multiple companies by focusing on leadership, operations and culture. Using these principles, my companies have generated close to $100 million in revenue. But before any of this success, I started my legal career as a receptionist, and I worked my way up to becoming managing partner. And each episode of this podcast I sit down with leaders and entrepreneurs who have had the guts to step out on their own and the courage to face adversity. They share with us their tips for achievement, the challenges they have faced and the glory of success. I welcome you to The Guts and Glory Show.
Chad Franzen 0:46
Chad Franzen here one of the hosts of The Guts and Glory Show. We feature top leaders who share challenges of leadership, the guts it takes to succeed, see if success this up assisted by 8 Figure Firm Consulting. At 8 Figure Firm they help law firms to grow to eight figures. Luis Scott was telling me when he first started his career. He was working over 80 hours a week to make partner at finally started his own firm and wished he had someone walking through all this all. At 8 Figure Firm they show you how to develop a business that works for you instead of you working for it. Go to 8figurefirm.com to learn more. Eric Gang is the managing attorney and founder at Gang & Associates. He is an award winning attorney who represents disabled veterans worldwide. Eric is author of the soon to be released book Betrayal of Valor by Sutton Hart press, which is an expose on the flawed VA system and the issues facing disabling. He’s been featured on Fox News and other media outlets. And he speaks and lectures widely on veterans topics. Eric, thank you so much for joining me today.
Eric Gang 1:46
How are you today? Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you. I’m doing well today. Thank you, Chad. Pleasure to be here.
Chad Franzen 1:52
Hey, so tell me a little bit more about Gang & Associates. And what you guys do there?
Eric Gang 1:57
All right. Well, thank you. Gang & Associates is a specialty practice a boutique practice, as some people call it. We represent disabled veterans in their claims for compensation worldwide. Okay. Unlike a lot of practices that are limited by the geography of their licensure, you know, like a particular state or city, because our practice handles cases at the federal level, we represent people all over the world. Okay, that includes, you know, all the states of the continental United States plus the territories, and of course, those in the expatriate community living overseas as well. It’s a rewarding practice, having had occasion to practice in some other areas, a little here and there earlier in my career, I have to say that nothing, nothing quite beats the personal satisfaction of finally winning veteran benefits for disabilities that he suffered as a result of his service. It’s supremely rewarding. And it’s one of the things that keeps me excited about being in law actually, very rewarding.
Chad Franzen 3:03
I know you also have a website, it’s, I believe, it’s called Veterans Disability Info. Can you tell me, you know, what people can find out there?
Eric Gang 3:10
Sure. Yeah. You know, there are, you know, articles about, you know, evergreen topics and veterans benefits law, but also topics of emerging important importance that veterans are facing. For instance, we recently posted an article about the jet fuel leak into the water table out at Pearl Harbor, that contaminated the water table there and poisoning all the people that were obviously on base wet, as well as several 100,000 civilians most likely. So that’s going to be an emerging issue for people in the years to come. Because as you know, a lot of these toxic exposure situations do not cause medical problems right away. There’s certainly a lag time between exposure and the onset of disease. We also talk a lot about camp last June and the effects of the contaminated water at that base from the mid 50s, to the mid 80s. Everybody passed through there was exposed to the you know, the contaminated water there. So we also have a lot of examples of case studies where we’ve helped veterans when their cases, keep in mind, people don’t come to us unless they’ve got a difficult case unless they’ve been denied multiple times. on their own. Okay. So, you know, we don’t see the easy cases, like a shrapnel load. You know, people are saying the muscles, where’d you get the shrapnel wound, you know, it’s pretty obvious. You know, we’re dealing with chronic diseases that do not manifest right away. And hence the difficulty in getting them service connected. That’s why they need you know, a law firm like ours are sort of the only people in the space out there. But we we do believe we offer real value for our clients and helping them win these very difficult cases. So we thrive on the difficult cases, the really complicated medical ones, or the cases we really enjoy handling. So there’s just some resources out there that have veterans understand the topics that are, you know, facing them, as well as a lot of good examples of people who have gone down this road and have won their cases. You know, I often, you know, receive phone calls from clients that express a lot of frustration and discouragement over how long it takes. Now, these are guys that are fighting the system, sometimes for 10, 15 years or more. And they don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, you know, I do, because I’ve been down this road with lots and lots of clients over the years. And I know from experience, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. But from their perspective, their only perspective is their own case, they wake up every day wondering when the VA is going to grant their claim, every time they don’t have money to eat, or to pay for shelter, they’re reminded of how long this case is taking to win. And it’s frustrating for them. That, on the other hand, makes it so much more rewarding when we do finally win their cases. It’s that thrill of victory. And, you know, it’s um, you know, years ago, if you remember, the ABC World, World Wide World of Sports is to have an intro of a ski jumper crashing at the end of the ski jump. And they always talked about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, you know. And fortunately, we don’t experience a lot of agony of defeat in our practice. But certainly, the thrill of victory is an ever present motivator for us. And sometimes I say this clients who say, Look, I’ve been down this road with other clients before, you know, I’ve taken them safely to the other side, sometimes I’ll quote Psalms 23, you know, the way we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for that work with me. So I say, Look, I’ve taken people through the valley of the shadow of death and let them save for the other side. There is hope, and we can help you. And we do we get there. But it takes years. I have clients on my docket that have been my clients on active appeal for 10, 15 years. Same case. So that’s, that’s why when you finally win, it’s just phenomenal. It really is, you know,
Chad Franzen 7:06
so why are you so passionate about? Sure? Sure. Why are you so passionate about representing veterans?
Eric Gang 7:15
I recognize that they do something that a vast majority of our population does not do. Okay? The percentage of people that have served, this country represents a very small percentage of our overall population. It’s not like some European countries where there’s a certain amount of mandatory military service that every young man has to do when he gets to be a certain age, we have an all volunteer army. And because of that, oftentimes, the military does recruit from ranks of people that don’t have otherwise, opera, you know, don’t otherwise have opportunities to pursue higher education. So they joined the military as a way of getting their education funded. And they bear a disproportionate burden for our society. They deserve our help. And they’re doing something that the oftentimes frankly, to be honest with you, they’re doing things that sometimes individuals coming from wealthier classes are not doing. If you look at the data, the wealthiest families in our country have the smallest percentage of children being sent into the military. Conversely, the lower tier economic groups in our country, send the most individuals into the military. So it’s about it’s about, you know, disorder, it’s about equity. It’s about fairness, it’s about social justice in some way as well. And, you know, you see the class divide sometimes, and most of our I mean, a higher percentage of our veterans are represented in the homeless population. You know, the veterans suicide rates are higher than those that are that have not served, okay, as a percentage. So as you know, as a rate, okay. So there are a group of people that need our help. They need to know that our society stands behind them, and it’s popular to support veterans causes. But sometimes I don’t know if people really understand sometimes how difficult their lives can be when they come back from service with injuries or illnesses from their service. And how hard it is to reintegrate into society, especially if you’re suffering from some of the psychiatric residuals of service makes it extremely difficult. I spoke a couple years ago Princeton University had a conference on diversity. Right? So they invited me to speak and the topic was, you know, to what extent does University try to hire veterans in order to speak to that issue of diversity because we hear about diversity all the time in the hiring place, you know, you know, we certainly talk about hiring minorities and other groups to try to make our workforce more diverse. But we don’t typically talk about veterans. Because if you think about it, they are an extreme minority in our in our society, okay, in terms of a percentage of people that have actually served. But the challenges are a bit different. Because if you come back, if you’re if you’re a disabled person, let’s just say you’re in a wheelchair, it’s easy enough to build a ramp to access the employed place of employment or to have an elevator. But, you know, if somebody’s suffering from severe PTSD, with anger issues and lack of judgment, and they’re having hallucinations, it’s very hard to accommodate that in the workforce, no matter what type of job, okay? So it presents some real challenges. And our veterans do need our our focus or sympathy or help or support. And the general public needs an awareness of the issues they’re facing, and then a lot of health problems too many years after service, I deal with it I looking at their medical records, for 30 40 50 years, you know, it’s, it’s a life of challenge that they face. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate, as many, but that’s one of the main ones, I sure am a bit of a kiplyn social justice person, and I’m concerned about, you know, people that are not being treated equitably in our society. And there are a group that that fits that bill. And it gets veterans come from all walks of life to in my practice, I represent a Native Americans from the reservations out west, to a large practice in Puerto Rico, to just about, you know, all different ethnic groups. So it’s it is a is a cross section of society from that from that perspective. But as a group, they represent a tiny minority 20, maybe 20 to 23 million beds in the United States that have a population, what 300 million, something like that. It’s a very small percentage. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about it.
Chad Franzen 12:12
Yeah, I mentioned that you are, you’re the book, you’re the author of a book, soon to be released called Betrayal of Valor, which is an expose on the flawed VA system, and the issues facing disabled veterans. What are some ways in which the VA system is flawed?
Eric Gang 12:28
Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s, you know, in the book, I talked about a number of different topics. Okay. The overarching theme is that veterans are falling through the cracks. And they’re being left behind, so to speak. Okay. We talk a lot about the issues of posttraumatic stress disorder, and all the problems that that causes. We talk about military sexual trauma, okay, how that is a very widespread problem in the military, and how difficult is prove those cases, particularly the male on male sexual assaults are extremely difficult to prove, because those victims are the most unlikely to ever report it. Okay. And we talked about the crisis with VA health care and medical malpractice in the system in the healthcare system. We talk about the suicide problems, we talk about the health problems in general and the lack of good preventative medicine and, you know, the type of medicine that’s actually gonna help them get better rather than continue to nurse them long term and their symptoms are actually helping them get better. We touched on the issues of the appeal system and how the system tends to churn cases for years and years and years before they can finally get relief. Dealing with the VA administrative appeal system is a very soul crushing experience. That’s the term I remember one author using to discuss just how frustrating the process can be. I had a case one time, this is absolute truth. The case was on appeal, non stop for 54 years. Okay. You file in the mid 60s. And it took us 54 years to get the claim granted, okay. I had another case that I want maybe year and a half ago, two years ago, 44 years on appeal. And I’ve had many that have been, you know, 15 16 17 years on appeal. A funny story, I had a veteran Navy veteran who participated. Or he observed, I should say the atomic testing in the South Pacific, you know, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands. And he was standing on the deck of a Navy vessel and watching the mushroom cloud go up and he talks of, you know, experiencing radioactive fallout and so forth. He developed some health problems later on. He filed his claim when he was in his mid 50s. And I finally helped him get his claim granted by the time he was in his mid 80s. And this is the funny part, he says, he says, thanked me and he says, Finally, I will have some money to help my four year old daughter go through college. So he had some poor health problems, but he was still had a child at the age of 81. So it was good for him. But it that’s not an out. It’s not, I wouldn’t say it was the majority of cases. But it’s certainly not uncommon. For every attorney that does what I do to have a handful of cases that have been on appeal for decades,
Chad Franzen 15:42
would you say the flaws of the system are, are easily fixed or have clear solutions, and they’re just not being they’re just
Eric Gang 15:54
they recently tried to make some changes. In 2019, they began applying a new rule or new law that was enacted a few years ago, the Veterans Appeals improvement Modernization Act, we call it ama or appeals Modernization Act was a system that was designed to, you know, try to make things more streamlined. It changed the way we did things, you know, since before World War Two, practically. And the jury’s still out on whether that’s really going to change a whole lot. I think the difficulties that the system faces are institutional, it’s hard to change the institutional culture of an organization. As large as the VA is the second largest cabinet agency after the Department of Defence, as its own culture, its own has its own way of doing things, it’s just ingrained in the culture of the organization. It’s bigger than one person, know, the, the Secretary of the VA, whoever might, that might be, depending on his president, you know, has the ability to hire and fire maybe a few top people, okay, but to change the institutional culture of a huge bureaucracy like VA is next to impossible. And I think we’re, you know, big bureaucracies on their own are, they take actions to preserve themselves, okay. And it’s not something any one person’s doing. It’s not a, a mandate coming down from the top, it’s not even probably even spoken of. It’s just, it’s just like one of those things, it’s just part of the culture. And, you know, they are going to scrutinize every claim. Because there’s a fear that somebody is faking it and trying to get away with getting money for nothing. And there’s just also a lack of understanding of the circumstances, a big issue is a young veteran will serve get out of service in his early 20s, he may feel some minor aches and pains, he is not going to say anything, because he wants to go home, he doesn’t want to be held over for medical reasons. Well, he goes along with his life, he’s young enough, he still has some Strength of Youth, and that allows him to power through. And as he gets older, those problems become more significant. Then the effects of age combined with the advancing progression of degenerative health problems. He finally makes a claim, but he’s got 25 years of no medical complaints. He was experiencing them, but he never went to the doctor. Okay, so that creates a huge challenge. The VA sees this and says, you know, there was nothing wrong with him, all of his problems came as a result of something that happened decades later, as a civilian. It also happens in the service where the culture is a certainly the culture of machismo, you know, you’re not going to complain, you know, don’t be considered a Mullingar or a complainer. And so if you do suffer an injury or have a problem, you’re very unlikely to complain about it. It’s very particularly the case. If it’s a mental disability, you’re not going to complain about, you know, not being able to handle the stress or something like that. So, you know, they start to develop these symptoms in service, but they don’t say anything. The VA turns around 20 years later and says your service medical records are negative for any complaints regarding this condition, therefore, it didn’t happen during service. But that’s naive. It’s, you know, it’s it demonstrates a lack of understanding of reality, okay? The dynamics in the military that militate against people coming forward to complain. So those are, those are just some dynamics are at play. Sure.
Chad Franzen 19:44
When did you what originally attracted you to becoming an attorney? And when did you kind of know that that was what you wanted
Eric Gang 19:50
to do? Well, this is an interesting story. I don’t know if you want to hear this on the podcast, but I’ll do my best, most definitely. It’s a good story. Um, I, when I was a teenager, I, I was I got into a little bit of trouble with the law, so to speak nothing, put it this way, I had a pension for practical jokes on time, a practical joke got kind of out of hand. And the authorities recalled and, you know, all of a sudden, you know, I was being threatened with lengthy prison term, you know, so I hired a lawyer, my parents aren’t aware, I’m happened to be the father of a friend of mine, wasn’t even a criminal lawyer, he was a corporate lawyer, it was kind of like that motion picture my cousin anyway, we don’t know why, let’s just hire my cousin, you know, it was that kind of deal. So, and I was in high school at the time, and the wire came in, and he made everything go away. Okay, everything was dismissed, it worked out fantastically. But at that moment, as a 1718 year old kid, whatever it was, you don’t really have a good perspective on things. And I really thought I was going to prison, I thought my life was over, you know. And I really started to see that the law, practice by people of moral integrity is a noble profession, that can really make a difference in people’s lives. And it was that spark that changed everything for me. And I was never a bad kid, I never was intentionally getting in trouble. The law I just was poor judgment as a kid, you know. But the, I’m leaving some details out, of course. But the bottom line is, is that the my involvement in firsthand of seeing a lawyer change my life was a watershed moment for me, and really motivated me to go to law school. And it also helped determine my practice, as well. Because, you know, throughout all my years in practice, now, I think I’m 24 years of practice now. I’ve always represented people with problems, you know, real people with problems. I have, you know, aside from maybe, once I represented a doctor, the sale of medical practice ones, but aside from that, I’ve always represented individuals with real real problems that needed help. And the lawyer was kind of like the life preserver for them. And so, you know, you know, granted, there’s, there’s, you know, we’ve all heard high profile stories of rotten lawyers gone bad and losing their law licenses for different things. But that’s why I always preface it to say that, you know, there are in a free society, one of the reasons why we are phrase we have lawyers that are regulated by state bars and so forth, that practice this profession. And oftentimes, we are that, that last stop between the population and tyranny, you know, granted at it’s more the case, I think, if you’re a criminal lawyer or things like that, but, you know, think about I’m sure, you may have interviewed many personal injury lawyers in this podcast before but think about, you know, the safety of products being what they are, because lawyers are the ones to bring lawsuits. If there was no threat of that, you know, would be corporations and big, you know, entities take the safety precautions that they do, probably not. Okay. So lawyers serve as a as a, as a as a bulwark against, you know, either out of control corporations or I control government. So, that’s kind of the, you know, my take on it.
Chad Franzen 24:02
Sure. Sure. What’s, what’s the favorite story? He said, You’ve been practicing for 24 years. What’s maybe a favorite story from your practice?
Eric Gang 24:10
Oh, yeah. Well, um, I’ll tell you a couple. I’ll tell you a couple funny stories. I, you know, I represent veterans, of course, it’ll tell you a few veterans stories, and I’ll tell you some stories and I really practice. Um, I had a veteran once, who he got into a lot of fights during service and had a lot of head injuries. He’s a big guy. And he had his penchant for getting in fights wherever he went with the police, everybody. Yeah, post traumatic stress disorder and he wasn’t working. But when I found out how much money he was making, I questioned you know, what was he doing earn this money? He was a professional panhandler okay. He actually made a six figure income essentially begging, and he had a laptop and he kept the spreadsheet and knew which quarters to go to. He had it all mapped out. And he was making a tremendous living. You know, sitting on the sidewalk with a with a with a, well, I don’t know, whatever he had a tin can to collect donations in or whatever he says he had a good day, seven 800 bucks a day, he says. So I thought that was really interesting. But I’ll tell you one of the stories that I think was most meaningful to me, in this practice, I had a representative a young, while he wasn’t young anymore, but Tony came to me. It was a veteran who has never been able to work. He was from Brooklyn, New York. Before the service, he was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn, while talking to himself, and he was picked up and taken to the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Now, it’s very rare for us to have pre service medical records in the file. But this particular case had preserved his medical records in the file. So he tried to serve in the military and went in, during Jimmy Carter’s administration. And he was denied benefits on the grounds that his schizophrenia was pre existing, which all evidence suggests that it may have been okay. So, you know, obviously, you got discharged early, and since the time he was probably 19, or 20, he’s never been able to work. So, that was in 77. Right? So he came to us, maybe a dozen years ago, after another law firm had rejected him and told him his case was unwinnable. I even had one of my psychiatric experts take a look at it, who expressed grave concerns about the viability of the case. And I didn’t know what to do this guy really needed. He was living on a couple 100 bucks a month and SSI, you know, income. So I, I discovered a notation in the file and he had experimented with LSD. As a teenager, I was able to successfully argue at what was diagnosed as schizophrenic before service was actually just a LSD hallucination. Anyway, long story short, we got a grant of benefits for him after 44 years. And he was awarded over $900,000 in back pain, okay. And I called him up to share the story with him. And I said, and this is the honest truth. That argument I came up with was nothing more than a, you know, Hail Mary at the end of a football game, okay. And I knew, you know, if I felt bad for my son, let me try even though other law firms that rejected him for good reason, okay, anything to cases when I knew that I, you know, and I called him up and I said, you know, I said, I said, you know, this is a miracle that you won this case, you know, you understand that right? I said, No, this is legitimately is just an amazing result in a situation that you should not have been granted these benefits. So he says to me, says, you know, Mr. Gang, he says, I’ve been praying every single day for 4544 years, he said, and finally God has answered my prayer. And he was able to buy an apartment. He then got married, and it changed his life. Okay. But had we been like everybody else and just given up on him? You know, who knows where he’d be rusher? No, same place. You know, it’s it’s one of those things that keeps us going in this practice. And I’ve had others as well. Another example, it represents a young man from North Carolina, who volunteered to go to Vietnam. Right after he turned 18. He got there and he could not handle the combat, okay. There was no rockets going off in a way he just couldn’t handle it. So he turned to heroin, to try to cope, and he got caught with the heroin. He was discharged from the service under other than honourable conditions, which means you’re barred from VA benefits. And he came home had a lot of problems. He ended up killing his brother and was not able to kind of live independently lived with his mother and ended up having another homicide later on. During the appeal period, actually, we representing for I think there’s about 17 years. And we were able to argue that the drug use in service was was his way of self medicating from the stress of the early the early onset of PC PTSD. And took us a long time, we fought the case a couple times the US Court of Appeals, multiple experts. And finally regard the VA to rule that is, you know, character discharge should not bar has benefits, you should get the benefits not withstanding, which we finally did, after many, many years in service. And I remember speaking to his mother, you know, his mother was, is one of those situations, the mother was only about 15 years old. And he was, and he, she always talked to me on the phone, he was in his 60s, she was probably 80. And she was grateful, because she felt bad for all these years that maybe her son could finally live independently, and have enough money to have his own place and live by himself after 66 years of living with his mother. So it was just a rewarding experience to Oh, the other thing about him was he was a project 100,000 Veteran, which was the McNamara idea in the late 60s to get more men from Vietnam. You know, the idea here is that they needed more men, but the idea of drafting college men would have been politically unpopular. So what they did was they lowered the standards of admission into the military, to pick up people that do not meet the physical or mental standards, okay. So, you know, again, I want to be sensitive, and I’ll only use the pylons that was used at the time was retarded, okay, I know that we might have a more progressive term for that now. But then, in the parlance of the day, that’s what these people refer to. They’re often mistreated in the service, a lot of bad things happen to them, they were typically put on the front lines, they were typically, they typically suffer higher rates of casualties than than others, and this particular client was in that category. So it was, you know, a doubly rewarding for us to finally help him to win that claim, given what he had been through in the tragedies of his life, have you experienced, you know, as Brother as my other brother, the surviving brother, as mother would tell me just how he came back from Vietnam, just not the same person just destroyed him. And so at the end of his life, we were able to finally get him something. And I think the thing that makes a big difference in these cases, Chad, is that these guys feel like the best years of their life were taken. Okay. And then when the VA comes back and continues to deny them, they feel like their service didn’t matter. Like they gave up their youth or their strength or life. And VA doesn’t want to recognize it and grant the claim. So when we finally win these claims, it is in a way, a statement that their service mattered, you know, that’s, that’s meaningful. And that’s, again, kind of someone feels like their man has been taken from them, you know, and we do our best to give that back to them and give them a sense of vindication.
Chad Franzen 33:10
Sure, sure. Hey, I’d love to talk about some lessons learned in your practice journey. But first, first, how did you discover 8 Figure Firm and Luis Scott?
Eric Gang 33:21
Oh, I think I met Luis at a conference in Utah. And he spoke, and I came up to him afterward to discuss practice issues with him. There was a conference that a lot of business oriented wires, and people that are really on the business side of law, and he was one of the featured speakers. And I met him afterwards, and we spoke and he gave me his card, and we connected later on. And so, you know, the business side of the practice of law has been always been a big interest of mine. And, you know, being able to connect with Luis is really just given me a lot of great ideas, and has really affirmed a lot of things that I’ve been been studying and but some of his insights are profound.
Chad Franzen 34:11
What are some of the insights he shared with you are some lessons you’ve learned from him? Yeah, let
Eric Gang 34:15
me give you an example. Um, he kind of alludes to this concept about thinking, you know, like a wire in terms of your case selection versus thinking about, you know, building a business, it has residual capacity continue to present come. For instance, we were having a conversation the other day where he was talking about this idea of conversion rate, okay for your clients. And I said, No, no, we only accept a very tiny percentage of people that come to us, right. And he says, Look, we accept everybody and I said, why? He says, Because accepting everybody widens your footprint in the community. Every person you represent as a person that can go through your client journey and experience and good service, that person then in turn it is I’m not quoting him, I’m kind of giving you the gist of saying, in turn becomes an ambassador for your firm to send you referrals that don’t cost anything. And that over time will drive down your cost of acquisition, okay for the business. So the concept of of, of not running this very low volume practice, you know, some guys have really low volume practice with, you know, high ticket cases. But that is a very small group of people that you’re having interactions with. So is a little bit of a paradigm shift in thinking that he was presenting. And that is to think about, you know, your idea of being able, the idea of being able to spread out your influence in the community, through happy and a larger army of happy clients, versus you know, a handful of clients means only a handful of additional contacts that could potentially bring inbound referrals to your business. So that was, that was, that was quite an interesting concept that cut against the notion of, you know, trying to have fewer cases where you charge more money, therefore, you know, the thinking would be higher profit margins. So it’s interesting concept. But the other concept that he really emphasizes is the, the leadership moments and the opportunities where, you know, you’re, you’re directing, you’re developing, you’re supporting your key people, and they in turn are teaching that to their people under them. And, you know, it’s about shifting your focus from, you know, working in your practice, to work under practice. And his focus is really the idea to grow is really moving into that role of leader and to be the primary person who’s, you know, speaking to the values of the organization, and then teaching that down the line to people underneath you. That’s, you know, I’ll tell you this, just from a practical standpoint, you know, these ideas and concepts are out there in the business press, okay, and so forth. But he teaches it in a way that gives you just the material you need to know. And he kind of breaks it down and simplifies it and condenses everything that’s out there into what you need to know, to make your practice work. Okay. That’s kind of an important thing. Because there’s a lot of books out there and all have great ideas. But to be able to distill down just what you need, into bite sized pieces that can be implemented in a very short time span that are applicable to law firms. That’s invaluable. Sure.
Chad Franzen 37:56
Sure. That’s, that’s great advice. Very good to hear. I have one more question for you. But first, how can people find out about, you know, Veterans Disability Info and more about Gang & Associates?
Eric Gang 38:07
Sure. Well, um, www.veteransdisabilityinfo.com is our website where you can go and I think, find out information on my upcoming book at Suttonhart.com. I believe that publishers website, but those are the websites you can go to to find out about the book about our firm, and what we do to help veterans.
Chad Franzen 38:29
One more question for you. You’ve shared some great stories already. But do you have one? This is The Guts and Glory Show. So we like to focus or tell a story that, you know, really took a lot of guts and kind of resulted in some glory for you? Do you have like a story that you can think back on where it’s like, you know, it was probably against all odds. But I did it and it took a lot of
Eric Gang 38:50
well, that that’s that’s that’s pretty easy to answer. I was one of those guys that got out of law school, and I started working at a firm in New York City. You know, I hated it. I may have been there maybe nine months, is it this isn’t for me. So I at the time was married at the time, I think my wife that was pregnant with my first child was in I think she had stopped working. And so there was no second income in the family. I had no money, zero money, no source of income because I didn’t have a working spouse. And I decided I’m going to start my own firm. So I opened up my own shop with no money, no clients, and no source of income. And I it was crazy, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. I think Jay foon Berg’s book on how to start to build a law practice published by ABA was a big motivator in my doing it his theory was you’re used to living the student lifestyle not having any money. Why not start the practice now? Sounds like great advice. So that’s what he did. So I was able to start the practice by convincing a banker to lend me some money. And then I got a bunch of credit cards and maxed them out and started this practice on borrowed money and credit cards. And I’ll go into the office every day and you know, hope for the phone to ring. And I ended up taking everything that came in the door, and everything from criminal cases, to bankruptcy cases, real estate closings, everything. And I got my first big break with a personal injury case that I settled pre suit like $300,000. Now, this was like 20, some years ago, 2324 years ago, was a lot of money back then. And I said, this is great that carried me for all year, you know, with a little bit of overhead on the practice and, and that kind of gotten going. And I look back on that now and I I can see how foolish that was from many perspectives. But I say that you learn something in that experience. You learn something from those experiences, that people that don’t make that move just can’t understand. Okay, there was a certain degree of of youthful confidence that I had back then. That was in part because of my own ignorance. But I think starting a practice months out of law school with no money no income, no sources, no plan or even having any clients was was crazy under most circumstances, most people would have given it a little bit of a shot for a year or two and then figured I can’t do is going to go work for somebody I never did that really. I just kept going in different formats there over the years and battled my way to where I am now. You know we have a multimillion dollar law practice that started with no with nothing you know, really started with nothing and I shared office space with other lawyers I did per diem debt cover depositions for them to get you know a little bit of cash you know, I did just about everything that I possibly could. And little by little took a long time. But we finally we finally got to where we are today. So it’s it does take a bit of guts to do that and mix a little bit of foolishness I have to say, but it’s really the persistence. I think that that paid off in different Taggable persistence. Yeah, we are today.
Chad Franzen 42:36
That’s a that’s an amazing story. Congratulations on sticking through it and and all your success. And thank you so much for all your all the work you’re doing for veterans. And also, also I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
Eric Gang 42:47
Thanks a lot. Take care.
Chad Franzen 42:49
Bye you too. So everybody.
You’ve been listening to The Guts and Glory Show with Luis Scott. If you enjoyed the show, be sure to share. For more information on this episode, please see the show notes at www.GutsandGlory show.com And join us next time as we talk to another leader in business that had the guts to overcome all odds for the glory of success.