The Green Card Doctor is In: Creating Solutions to Every Immigration Problem
Updated: 2 days ago
Welcome to another edition of Solo2CEO Podcast, the show where we interview individuals who started as solo and are now CEOs of their businesses.
Today we are fortunate to have someone whose passion for his craft has led him to his success in the field of physical therapy. He is the founder of Goldman Physical Therapy, whose commitment is to provide the best services to its patients.
Let’s get to know David Goldman from the beginning of his journey to the continuous realization of his goals of giving his physical therapy patients the professional care they deserve.
Tell us what you do
I am the owner of Andres Mejer Law, an immigration law firm located in New Jersey, USA. Together with my wife, who is also a lawyer, and my partner, we help immigrants in a variety of ways, but the end goal is to achieve a green card or achieve citizenship and be able to take care of themselves, and hopefully file for the rest of their family if they have family abroad.
We do eight out of the nine principal paths to legal status to assist our immigrant clients. We also do the ninth principle, removal, but not permanently because of the complexity of the cases involved and the amount of time and effort involved.
Our major offices are in New Jersey, and we have clients in over 20 states.
How did you start your career in immigration?
When I went to law school, I did not have a single immigration course. I thought I would be a prosecutor against criminal defendants, or real estate development and finance. It was not until after ten years that I realized that my immigration story is not so different from the Hispanic community that I started focusing on.
The questions that always came up are: Can I get a green card? Can I get employment authorization? Can I be a US citizen? I had never done any type of immigration work that I was charged for. I always did it for friends and family only. However, I considered it and looked into possibilities. I started taking a couple of immigration cases, and I thoroughly liked the experience. So now that is all we do.
Tell me about your journey to being a lawyer.
I worked in college and I worked in law school. When I came back from Israel in 1998, I had a full-time job. I went back to college and graduated in two years. During the day, I worked full-time in law firms, and I took classes at night. I wanted to be a prosecutor but it did not work out.
My wife and I met in law school. We were both attorneys, but she graduated ahead of me. We found out we were expecting a month after we got married, and we agreed that we didn’t want to raise a family in New York City. We moved to New Jersey and grabbed the first opportunity that came my way in New Jersey for real estate development. I was there for two years.
After passing the bar, I worked for a law firm doing insurance coverage. From there, I went to big law, where I reviewed documents in a warehouse. After a year and a couple of months, I realized that my work was so grueling that I decided to move into small law.
Thereafter, I went to a medium-sized firm that handles insurance defense. Because of my interest in it, I did litigation for two years, and then I opened up my own firm.
I self-learned immigration laws through legal education and books, mentors, and people that helped me grow along. I did not work for someone that handled immigration cases. When I learned it; I looked at it from a different perspective.
Being an immigrant gave me the experience that motivated me to help people get their own green cards. I chose to stay in immigration because I feel that this is the most rewarding thing for me.
When I was in school, I always went back and forth between business and law. I was not sure what I wanted to choose to be, but now I have both.
How did your life change when you realized that you were unemployable?
I discovered that I can be unemployable because I have set a way of how things should be done.
I had been an attorney for five or six years in a mid-law firm where I was given tasks that I thought were abusive. I could not tolerate the kind of treatment they gave me, so when they told me to leave the firm, I thought of two things: will I work for somebody else, or will I go on my own?
I made a decision that many would think was selfish on my part because I only thought of myself rather than my family’s needs. At that time my decision was not the smartest one, but I just could not take the work that they were giving me.
So, twelve years ago, I decided to open up my own law firm, and today, I am happy that I did it. It gave me the freedom that I have. It was a relative freedom, a freedom of choice. Sometimes we can only do things a certain way and can only put up doing them differently.
Tell me about your passion.
It is funny how you change your outlook from what I would like to do to what I have to do. Ultimately, I got back to what I wanted to do. But as I get older, what I want changes. I love what I do now. I love the fact that I am able to help other people in doing what they love to do.
What happened when you went solo?
I grew up in New Jersey, but I had been gone for 15 years. I did not have close relatives, except for my aunt and uncle, and I did not really keep in touch with people. So I had to learn how to market. I could be the best attorney in the world, but if nobody knows I exist, it doesn’t do any good.
What I did was I enrolled in an entrepreneurial program at Brookdale Community College. This happened after I opened up my law firm, and it taught me the important basics of entrepreneurship. From there I learned very quickly.
I learned an important lesson when I was handling traffic violation cases, and that is to get paid in advance.
Another important thing I realized was that being bilingual meant that there was potential for business. I became a translator for some clients who were in court for traffic violations.
To bring in more clients, I decided to purchase leads. A variety of companies reached out to me to sell leads. For four months I printed, folded, and mailed letters until I started recognizing the names and realized that I was using a lot of money because the company was charging me for the same names multiple times.
One good thing that came from my lead purchase was immigration cases.
Aside from accepting traffic violation cases, I also became a DUI attorney. We added divorce, child support, child custody, and immigration. In the year 2020, we assigned all of our criminal and family law cases to councils that we worked with – people that we knew and trusted.
Last year we decided that we will only retain immigration cases. We also thought of not doing removals anymore, because of its reactive nature. As a law firm, we want to be proactive.
In the past two years, we made innovations to our practice. We have staff in different parts of the world with about half of them in the US.
Tell us about the time when you transitioned from being solo to having additional staff or employees.
An attorney who I don’t really know reached out to me and recommended an intern. Since I thought that an intern doesn’t have to be paid for their services, I agreed to interview her. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, and a bit of Greek and has been working with me for 11 years now – the first and longest employee in my firm.
As the business progressed, we started building processes. We also needed more people to get the work done. So we hired and set up different departments to make the job easier for us. Each department has a role; they have the metrics that they live by. Every employee knows what success means in their role.
In hiring people, I would rather have somebody with two years of work experience than with a high degree who knows nothing. Experience is much more valuable to me.
How do you deal with clients who ask for discounted rates on your fees for services?
The clients who you give discounted rates are usually the neediest, most difficult clients you could ever have. So I don’t negotiate my rate, and if they ask for the lowest price, I would tell them that I am not the one they need. There’s this quote that says, you can have the best service, you can get the best results, and you can get the lowest price. You can never find anyone that could do all three.
A lot of attorneys don’t believe that they are in business. It is a practice, not a business. That does not hold true these days. But I found out that the biggest impediment to charging a fair amount is what we believe our clients are going to pay, not what they are actually going to do or not.
We get to choose the work that we do, and we can set the prices that we believe we are entitled to.
How do you handle the bookkeeping and accounting of your business?
In the beginning, I tried to do it myself, even taking up QuickBooks online courses. I also hired a personal bookkeeper for a while, but I realized I was not good at it. So I have a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a tax planner who work together for me. I am only involved in reviewing and making strategic decisions.
What were some challenges that you encountered across this journey as a lawyer/business owner?
There are different challenges at different times, depending on where I was.
When I hire people, I always consider when to hire, who to hire, how I determine the right people, who is the best candidate, and who is most likely to succeed. We all learned the hard way.
There was also a time when the New Jersey Bar Association conducted a random audit and found out my books were not compliant with the generally accepted accounting principles. We paid fines for the violations that we had.
In the hiring process, we get good people and we have to trust them, but everyone makes mistakes. It is a challenge when we ensure that we get quality things done at the same time that we are growing and scaling. That’s where the help of middle management comes in.
I don’t like firing people because it is never pleasant for the person and for us also. I am not willing to hire a lot of people and then risk letting them go.
Have you ever fired a client?
Yes, I have done that. In our business, we do not tolerate rudeness. If a client abuses my staff, we cannot tolerate that, no matter how much they paid. We give them a warning and if they still do not change their behavior, we let go.
Our offices are equipped with video cameras and all consultations, and phone calls are recorded. We can go back and review what really transpired. I could hear both sides of the story, and I make a decision after that. There are times when we are wrong, and we fix it by apologizing and making things right. If they do not accept it, then we walk away.
Less than 5% of our clients are actually jerks, and 95% are not. Of those who complain, 95% of these just want to be heard, have not been heard for whatever reason, or something happened to them wrongfully.
How do we set up expectations in our business?
If you hire us to do something and we don’t tell you how it is done; if we don’t tell you that your idea is different from our reality, disagreement between us is unavoidable. At the end of the day, it is I, the business owner, who will be at fault because we did a poor job of informing you of how we get the work done.
We make sure that every department understands what they are doing, and every team member understands what his role is in the overall design of the firm. We decide who we can serve because we cannot serve everyone.
We want to set things proactively, We proactively call our clients every sixty days, and we plan to shorten the period to thirty days. This is primarily just to keep in touch with them, not for anything in particular. Our goal is to provide a better client experience.
What things have you learned that you could share as tips with someone starting out in the industry?
You need to spend more time building a business than running a business. You also need to be good at marketing or have a trusted colleague to do that for you. When you speak with a vendor, you have to determine what is useful information and what is not. Understand that if it doesn’t make you money, then it is not important.
Everyone makes mistakes, but not many people take responsibility for their mistakes. For me, if I want to go into a new practice of law, I would learn it first. I would not just hire someone to do it. You don’t need to be doing everything in marketing, you just need to understand.
Whether it is a service or a commodity, if you don’t know how to sell or how to market then you had better find someone that does the job for you, or you had better find a job.
What do you suggest to someone who wants to learn about marketing in order to start a business?
I could suggest that he go back to school, but that is a very expensive way to go about it. But he could try reading – a lot of information is out there like business books, podcasts, and videos.
You don’t need to be the best marketer in the world, you just have to be better than your competitors. But if you don’t know the difference between good and bad marketing, then every website vendor is going to tell you that your website sucks so they can get you as their client.
What are some things that are not taught in schools that you would advise someone who is starting out in the service industry?
First, you have to love what you do. Make sure that you like what you are doing and be passionate about it.
Number two, become a really good marketer. If you need to improve at what you are doing, you can learn. Spend some time marketing and building your own business.
Number three, understand that by becoming a good marketer, you will get more business so you better be good at it.
It starts with getting business, then delivering business and ensuring consistency – you provide good quality and good outcomes. This is where management comes in, but you can always hire someone to help you with that or get someone from your team to do that. I think you cannot truly outsource sales and marketing,
How do you find work-life balance?
For me, working tirelessly is okay as long as you are constantly looking at what your goals are and your family is willing to walk that journey with you.
Before, I was driving up to 500 miles a week to go to court, jails, and other offices. But now, I am no longer willing to travel an hour each way just to accommodate them. Everyone comes here to the office and everyone is okay with it.
Work-life balance? For me, I would work for seven days a week, if not for the Sabbath. For a while, I worked after the Sabbath was over. I told everyone that I was unavailable for a period of 25 hours.
I don’t know what balance is, I don’t know if there is such a thing as balance. What I know is that it is an evolving thing. It is continually a work in progress.
For me now, I have dinner with my family every night at six o’clock. I also train in martial arts with my kids twice a week. We earned our black belt in November 2021, and our first motto is, “We’re going to beat you in a courtroom or in a parking lot, but you are going down either way.”
It’s been a very interesting interview where we learned a lot from you. Now that we have come to the end of our podcast, can you provide us with details on how you can be reached for immigration services.
My website is at https://www.andresmejerlaw.com/, and our contact number is (888) 695-6169. We have a YouTube channel https://m.youtube.com/user/andresmejerlaw and we create weekly content that gets streamed every Monday and Friday.