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Description

In the last episode, Luke interviewed Susan Jones Knape, founder of A Case For Women. We heard about Susan’s life story and how A Case For Women came to be.

This week’s conversation highlights A Case For Women and what they’re all about. The goal of this conversation between Susan and Luke is to help listeners like you understand if what Susan’s company has to offer is something that would benefit you or someone you know.

Listen in to Luke and Susan’s conversation as they discuss who A Case For Women is best suited to help, who they really aren’t good for, and why a law firm may or may not want to hire them.

Transcription

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Luke W Russell:

Welcome to Lawful Good Powerful Partners. This is a series about interesting and caring folks that we know and trust whose journey has brought them to collaboration with the legal community. I’m your host, Luke W. Russell. I’m not a journalist. I’m not an attorney. I’m trained as a coach. I love human connection, and that’s what you are about to hear.

Today, I’m chatting with Susan Jones Knape, one of our Lawful Good Powerful Partners. The goal of this conversation between Susan and I is to help listeners like you understand if what Susan’s company, A Case for Women, if what they have to offer is something that would benefit you or someone you know. If you haven’t already listened to my interview with Susan about her life story and how A Case for Women came to be, you can hear that, and so much more in the previous episode.

As you can probably imagine, Lawful Good requires an enormous amount of resources. One way we’re making this show possible is by featuring people we know, like, and trust, many of whom we have a referral relationship with. In other words, if after listening to this, you think, “You know, I’d love to hire A Case for Women,” let them know you heard their Lawful Good interview, and A Case for Women will financially support our show for each listener that hires them. This way, no one has to spend anything extra to support Lawful Good, and we are able to do what we do best, telling and sharing peoples’ stories and helping other people connect to powerful partners like Susan.

Join me as we listen to our conversation where we are discussing who A Case for Women is well-suited to help, how they’re helping connect women with powerful legal advocates, and why a law firm may or may not want to hire them.

Susan, let’s say I’m a lawyer, and I’ve heard of A Case for Women, and I’m just wondering generally, like, what exactly is it that A Case for Women could do for me?

Susan Jones Knape:

Good question. What we do is we help law firms attract and sign qualified women plaintiffs. We work across a variety of mass tort areas, and also help law firm clients frequently find women for individual claims, as well.

Luke W Russell:

Could you, on the individual claims, is that more like on like sex abuse type claims? Is it also with like, even like personal injury?

Susan Jones Knape:

No. Personal injury is something that we really haven’t gotten into because that is generally a very geographically-focused campaign, and we tend to do more national campaigns. In terms of the individual cases, certainly sexual assault is a big part of our business. About 30% of the inquiries that come to A Case for Women are from sexual assault survivors.

We’ve worked with women in the Larry Nasser MSU cases, and in all the cases that you’ve heard about with various universities and doctors across the country, but we’ve also from time to time help law firms with mesothelioma and lung cancer cases, which you might not immediately put together with A Case for Women, because you’re probably thinking that is an older man who’s affected, but here’s the secret sauce, and I’ll tell you right now, this is our recipe for success.

Every older man in America, or almost every older man in America, has a woman in his life who really is helping him make decisions when it comes to his care, and that’s both medical care and legal care. Our whole platform is based on the fact that women are the chief medical officers in chief legal officers of the household. We’re reaching that woman so that can help her, but also help the men in her life.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, and how does it change the dynamics for a law firm pursuing a case or a law firm, who’s saying, “Hey, look, we have an advertising budget. We want to go get more clients,” and of course the law firm might be targeting men.

What difference does it make by targeting, and advertising, and messaging to women rather than to men?

Susan Jones Knape:

Well, there are a number of differences. First of all, the marketing, itself, has to be different, and that’s what we bring to the table. It’s not just that we target women specifically, but we know how to speak to women. I’m the Founder of the company. My daughters work in the company. Our executive team is all women, with the exception of one man we brought on last year, and we really know how to create images and language that women relate to, and they’re very different from the kinds of messages that men relate to when it comes to taking legal actions.

Step one, it’s a different form of marketing. Two, often, it’s a different place and vehicle for marketing, and then three, it’s a different conversation. At A Case for Women, we have a very large in-house intake group, and our conversations with women and are generally about how their involvement in a lawsuit will help their families, and their communities, and other women.

Very rarely are those conversations about the amount of money that they might get from a lawsuit, and that’s the real big distinguisher between how women decide on whether to pursue legal action versus men.

Luke W Russell:

Interesting. I think what I’ve heard a lot of people say over the years is that, “The two questions everybody has is, do I have a case, and how much is it worth?”

But you’re saying, that’s not really true of everyone.

Susan Jones Knape:

That’s not true. Most of the women we talk to, they typically worry that they don’t have a case because they think it was their fault. They blame themselves. So they say, “Do I have a case because I should have known better? I should have known not buy that product, or to ask my doctor a question, or to not walk down that dark alley.” That’s the first thing.

The second question that that woman will talk to us about is, “Is this going to hurt anybody else? Is it going to hurt my doctor? Is it going to hurt my friend? And how, how could this possibly help other women?” It’s a different measuring stick, and we use a measuring stick that women use to evaluate taking legal action.

Luke W Russell:

You mentioned you both have an advertising side of it, but then you also do intake. Well, for one, just logistically, do all your clients use you on the intake side too? Is that part of the process or do some people just use you for advertising?

Susan Jones Knape:

Every one currently uses us for the full spectrum of services, which includes our strategy, our campaign development, running the ads, and then also doing intake, because they in the end want a quality plaintiff with a full packet, so it’s the medical authorizations, the signed CFA, and a very detailed questionnaire. We do not do multiple choice questionnaires because we don’t feel like those give enough context for the law firm to really take hold and start their work on a case.

We do conversations that result in a real written-out questionnaire for the law firms. Most of the law firms or all of them now use us for full spectrum of services. I will tell you, in the past, we did offer some services, à la carte, but every single time that someone, a law firm thought, “Oh, it’ll be easier or more cost effective to use you to bring in the inquiries, and then we’ll follow up with them.” They came back and said afterwards, “You know what, it’s too much work. We want you to do the intake.”

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Talk to me about how your intake process connects with people in a way that maybe most intake teams just aren’t trained to do.

Susan Jones Knape:

Well, our intake is really pretty extraordinary, and a little story here is that I really hadn’t planned on developing an intake department. It’s a lot of work, and when I started A Case for Women, I felt sure that there would be someone who had already done this, that we could partner with, so we could do the advertising side and they could do the intake, but after searching, we couldn’t find anyone, and we decided we needed to build it ourselves.

The difference in A Case for Women and really everybody else out there is that we’re putting the plaintiff, the survivor, at the center of everything that we do, and creating an experience that makes them feel comfortable, and gives them hope, and empowers them. The plaintiff, the survivor, is always at the center of everything for A Case for Women, whether that’s how we compose the ads or whether that’s how we have developed our intake.

Therefore, we do it very differently. For example, our intake, people are trained to have conversations with folks who call us or who inquire via email. It’s not just a rote, yes, or no kind of answer, but we are trained to have a conversation with people, and then pull out from that conversation, the information that we need to supply our law firms with their facts.

We also are trauma-informed, and I believe we were the first group amongst our competition to actually go through trauma-informed training because we do so much sexual assault work. Everyone has been really trained to deal with very sensitive cases. We’re also trained to know when someone might be in imminent danger, and our team all knows what to do, how to keep that person on the line, but whatever it is, get the police department out to check on them, or whatever needs to be done in real time.

The other thing I would add here, though, I think it’s sort of a myth out there in our space that trauma-informed training really only matters if you’re dealing with a survivor of sexual assault, but I don’t think that true. Every single person who contacts us has been hurt in some way, and that hurt is very individual, and, of course, it’s horrible if you’ve been assaulted, but it’s equally horrible if you’re 25 years old, and you’ve had a hysterectomy, and can never have children because Paragard was such a horrible birth control device.

We don’t deal with people, unless they’ve had some horrible problem, and if they have, they need that extra dose of love and support from our side to be able to take the next step and empower themselves with legal action.

Luke W Russell:

Because of how you conduct the intake, I feel like I might be hearing a sense that your cases are maybe like by the time when you’ve collected the documentation, you’re sending this back to the law firm, that perhaps they have, whether backs are better collected, maybe the quality is a little more established.

Is there something to speak to there?

Susan Jones Knape:

Absolutely. Our goal on the side of the plaintiffs is to create a safe space where they’ll give us the information that we need, but on the law firm side of the equation, the goal is to really give them a very complete intake. We not only are able to give them more information about what happened, but we’re giving them information about where it happened, we’re fact-checking to make sure that if they said it was Dr. Smith at so and so hospital in Miami, Florida, that indeed that doctor is at that hospital, we’ve got the right contact information, et cetera.

It’s much more than a quick intake. It’s a very thorough intake. That means two things. That means that the plaintiff is more likely to stay with the lawsuit because they’ve already been through a pretty thorough interview process ,and they understand what that’s like, and it also means that the law firm just has a leg up then on ordering medical records, and taking their next steps on the campaign.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, I was going to ask about the retention, because I know different processes can result in pretty substantial like people will sign and then just fall out of contact eight to 12 months later.

How does this process both set up the law firm for like we like on the surface, the law firm has a more complete, the person is more likely to stay because they understand? Does that also result in perhaps either those people sending increased referrals, or are those people maybe even just, I hate to call them better clients because it sounds like I’m almost belittling them, but they’re people who are just engaged in the process throughout, and at the end of the day, lawyers are also having, lawyers have to make money off of this, or else it doesn’t work.

Have you seen other ways that this has trickles out and impacts the law firm and the client at the same time?

Susan Jones Knape:

Absolutely. I think there’s a big distinction here. First of all, the law firms that we have worked with over the years, we always ask them at various points in the case what the attrition rate is, and our attrition rate has always been in the single digits for our cases. We really pride ourselves in that, and there again, that’s a matter of the fact that we do a thorough, real intake process at the beginning.

Not only do we have more information at the beginning, but the person we’re talking to has a greater understanding and expectation of what’s going to come, but we do another thing, and I think this is important to bring up because we are the only marketing company out there that has a personal brand. A Case for Women is their place. We’re not just a marketing company, and I’m not belittling marketing companies, it’s a different business model, but we’re not changing and becoming something different for different campaigns.

For example, someone might become Paraquatlawyer.com today, right, because that’s a hot area. We don’t become that. We are A Case for Women. We are A Case for Justice. I have to tell you about our brother, but we’re one of those brands and everything we do is under our brand name. What that means at the end of the day, if you do have someone who’s gone MIA, because on a case that’s gone for four or five years, trust me, no matter what you do, you’re going to have clients that move, and have things happen in their lives, and they’re hard to reach.

The law firms can always come back to us and have us reach out again to people, and we have a great response rate because people remember our name. It’s just very memorable, and most law firm names, although they’re very important, and they’re the names of the partners, they’re darn hard to remember, right.

The women are in the A Case for Justice, and we need to talk about that, who may not remember the law firm string of names will remember, “Oh, yeah. A Case for Women, and they had that pink logo,” and they’ll look us up and call us. So that’s been a real plus for making sure that we can keep in touch with folks who might have had life changes.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Before we get to A Case for Justice, earlier you said something I wanted to go back to. You said how you really put the plaintiff at the center of everything, and I wanted poke at that just a little bit because I would imagine that there aren’t many people who would say the plaintiff isn’t at the center of their process.

How do you kind of differentiate what maybe is a standard in the industry from how you all are operating?

Susan Jones Knape:

Oh, okay. That’s a great question. Well, I think everyone has good intentions, but I think what a lot of law firms don’t realize is just the way they communicate, sometimes leaves people wondering what just happened. A real tangible example. Many law firms were standard 9:00 to 5:00, 9:00 to 6:00 hours, and we dealt. The most of our intake work is at night and on weekends because that’s when women want to be contacted. That’s just one little example.

Another example is the kind of wording we use. Most law firms, use for good reason, very legal kind of language, but we break that down for women, and so when we’re sending them communication, we put it in terms that they understand, not in the terms that are necessarily what come out of the lawyer’s mouth, and that just helps them to feel comfortable with things.

One of the real offerings that we have in the space is that we’re a safe place for women to go, or men to go. If they feel like they have a case, but they’re not quite ready to make that call to a law firm, because making a call to a law firm can be very intimidating. It’s kind of like calling your CPA and saying, “I didn’t file my tax yet.” That’s how people feel a lot of times, because there’s usually this feeling that they did something wrong. They’re calling and they’re not ready to talk to a lawyer, that feels a little bit too serious, but they’ll talk to us because we’re just like them, and we can relate, and we do it on their timetable. We do it in their language, and make it very comfortable.

We, I like to say are, are really the virtual living room for legal action. We’re not like going to a law firm office, but we’re like sitting in a living room, or sitting on a back porch, and having a cup of tea, and talking things over, and that’s a nice first step before going to that step of actually going through the law firm doors and making it all official.

Luke W Russell:

So can we talk about A Case for Justice now?

Susan Jones Knape:

Yes.

Luke W Russell:

Tell me about this project. I actually wasn’t aware of this before now.

Susan Jones Knape:

Well, not many people are because it’s very new. A Case for Women, of course, is our parent company, and that’s our big brand. What we discovered at the beginning of this year is, even though a third of our inquiries to A Case for Women are men, which surprises everyone, but it’s true. There are just times when that branding of A Case for Women and our big bright pink logo just didn’t work as effectively as we wanted it to.

A Case for Women had a brother who showed up and that brother is called A Case for Justice, and we use the same methods. We have the same intake, all the same protocols of putting the plaintiff at the center of things, but it’s very much male-focused, and we are using that currently for our Paraquat campaign because you know that those are many of those are men who are farmers, salt of the earth, who have been hurt horribly by Paraquat, and actually we use both A Case for Women and A Case for Justice on our Paraquat campaign. That just happened this year, and it’s been a great addition into kind of our growing family of brands.

Luke W Russell:

What type of plaintiffs lawyers, like so if you think about, we’re talking about plaintiff’s attorneys who might be doing some of, whether it’s master litigation or the single events, what kinds of firms are you really not great for? Who’s the person that you’re like, “Like save yourself some time. Don’t give us a call.”

Susan Jones Knape:

I think there’s two kinds of law firms that we’re not really right for. One would be personal injury attorneys who want cases in a specific geographic area. There’s a real method for getting those cases, and that’s not our sweet spot, so that’s not right for us.

The other thing would be anyone who wants to get into sexual assault cases, but is not ready to handle those cases on a real handholding, individual basis. That’s not right.

We spend a great deal of time earning the trust of those survivors, and when we hand them over then to a law firm, we work hard with our law firms to make sure that that handoff is seamless and that those people feel as safe with them as they did with us. If it’s just a numbers game for you on sexual assault, we’re not the right spot.

Luke W Russell:

What are some different ways that you help the law firms that you work with take care of and show up because they’ve come made on this different sort of intake, one, the marketing’s different, the intake’s different, and now they’re getting to the law firm.

How do you help the law firm show up powerfully for those people?

Susan Jones Knape:

One of the things that we do that I think is unique in this space is that we set expectations with plaintiffs, because at the end of the day, if they’re not happy with what happens in the case and their law firm, then they’re not going to be happy with us, and we don’t have a sustainable business.

We set expectations. What does that look like? First of all, expectations around time. Everybody asks us, “How long is this case going to be?” They’re expecting we’re going to say six months. We always say, “We can’t tell you, but we’re talking years, not months.”

Second of all, we set expectations around what they’re going to have to do. A lot of people think it’s going to be like TV, where you’re going to show up, and there’s going to be a courtroom, and there’s going to be a lot of excitement. We set the expectation at the beginning that this is going to be like watching paint dry. They’re going to sit at their house. They’re going to answer some emails and phone calls, and it’s not going to be very glamorous and exciting, but they need to hear that because we don’t want them to be disappointed down the road.

The third thing is we set expectations around money, and it’s not that we’re setting expectations that they’re going to get a big chunk of money. We set the expectation around the fact that that really isn’t a known number and something that we can’t comment on, and that means that then when they go to the law firm, they’re not expecting to get a check in the mail for $20,000.00 in a week. They know it’s a long-haul situation, and it’s something where they can do the work that the law firm asks. Otherwise, kind of sit this on the back burner and hopefully be surprised in a few years when a settlement does come down the road.

Another little benefit here we can add for some law firms is if they don’t have the capacity to keep in touch with plaintiffs over a period of time, we will take that role on for them, and call, email, text about every four to six weeks just to get plaintiffs, keep them in the loop, make sure they don’t go MIA, and to let them know that things are still progressing.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, one of the things, perhaps, let me not put words in your mouth, but one thing I’ve just kind of heard through this theme is, one, there’s a very intentional diligence to the plaintiff, and there’s also something like a lot of times when we’re in the marketing space at the end of the day, the lawyers have to figure out how much we are going to spend on a case, and they have to put metrics because they’re spending, and they have no idea what they’re going to convert into, if they’re going to convert. We see a lot of what’ll be a, “How much is it cost per lead, or a qualified, how much is it cost per case?”

One of the things, thinking back to what you said earlier, is really you believe there’s an even more important question is what’s the cost per case on the long run because I know, and I know like on the Paraquat example, there’s also going to be a large attrition rate just to not for people falling off, but to have a case criteria that plays out over time, but that’s really a different in conversation.

Thinking about this holistically, why does someone, and maybe what do your clients tell you why they come and work with you, rather than spending that money with maybe on TV?

Susan Jones Knape:

Our law firm clients come to work with us because over the long haul of the last five years, we’ve consistently delivered qualified quality plaintiffs, and they’ve had a very low attrition rate.

It’s a low attrition rate because we are really vetting that criteria very tough at the beginning, and also, we are making that connection with the plaintiffs so that they understand what they’re signing up for, and they’re in it for the long haul, and that’s the really beginning of the end why law firms use us.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, and then from a like tracking the investment and sorts, are you all helping law firms like identify and assess like the actual, the staff breakdown of what they’re paying to acquire clients?

Susan Jones Knape:

Absolutely. We do that. I don’t think any law firm would hire us, unless we gave them metrics on what the cost is, and there are a lot of different KPIs, right, thrown out around there. The one that really is important is what is the cost of the case for the long haul?

The cost of the lead is meaningless. The cost of a qualified lead is meaningless, because there’s so many ways you could twist and turn what a qualified lead is, but what’s the cost of a real quality case that I’m going to be able to file? Of course, you won’t know that for months or even years down the road, but you do have a good sense of it if you’re watching what comes in as it comes in from your marketing companies, and I would just encourage the law firms out there to be on top of what the marketing companies are sending to you.

If they’re assigning cases to you, don’t let them pile up for a year and then take a look and find out, “Oh, well, no one, it’s tout case, but she wasn’t diagnosed with ovarian cancer.” Go ahead and look at those intakes right away as they’re coming in and push back with your marketing partner if you’re not getting what you’ve paid for.

With every law firm that we work with, we have very specific criteria. We do vary it law firm to law firm, and we let them guide our criteria. But at the end of the day, if we haven’t delivered something that is what we agreed to at the beginning, then we are more than happy to replace that case.

Luke W Russell:

I love that for the person who is maybe on the fence, they work with lots of vendors, and, for one, you’re not one of those vendors who popped up overnight because there’s a lot of those that come and go. I think it’s you’ve been in this space of advertising for decades. You’ve been in the legal space for many, many years, and then a case for women. For the person who’s listening and they’re like, “I’m interested, but I’m not sure.”

What would you say to the person who’s interested, but like maybe they’re sitting on the fence?

Susan Jones Knape:

Well, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not true. I would just be really cautious of anybody who is going to provide really cases that are markedly less expensive than the sort of key established marketing companies that are out there like A Case for Women.

We tend to be am full disclosure here. We’re a little bit more expensive, generally, than others in this space, and that’s because of the quality control over the intake. We’re only expensive on that initial marketing fee. When you look at our cost over a period of time, and our lack of attrition, our very low attrition, we’re actually less expensive.

You have to be smart enough to look at this as a long-term investment and not just what you’re paying out on day one, but I would be very cautious of who you work with because, A, you could get burned very easily on a lot of signed cases that really have no value, and therefore, have not only have you paid for them and that’s money out of pocket, but now you’re having to go through the work of declining them all, and that’s money out of pocket, so that’s a bad move.

The second thing I would say to the law firms is do a test campaign with whoever you’re going to work with. I would never suggest anyone to come in and work with us on day one and plop down half a million dollars. I don’t want to do that. I want to start a working relationship with someone, and I think people have different minimums, but $50,000.00 is a really good price point to have a solid test, and you can do that with any one of the credible marketing companies out there, and if you’re not happy with what’s happened with that $50,000.00, then you’re able to get out then without spending a great deal more.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, Susan, there is a lot of vendors, and there’s a lot of like ways to generate cases and leads with ease through a lot of very unethical tactics. I’ve witnessed this myself. I’ve seen how sometimes lawyers don’t even really review stuff, even though their own like state bar rules demand that or require them to.

For lawyers coming into this, how does a lawyer know that they’re not going to get a letter in the mail, saying that either, one, people are calling them when they’re not supposed to be called, or, two, that the ads actually said, “Click here for your cash settlement on a tout case.”

Susan Jones Knape:

Yes, I have seen all of the above, and it’s very unfortunate that that happens in this industry, but it does. For any attorney out there looking to jump into the space, be wary, not only of deals that look too good to be true. It may just not be good financial moves for you, but look for someone who isn’t discussing ethics with you and probe the ethics question. Ask how they are going to protect you, your law firm.

At A Case for Women, we have a staff attorney, first of all, and so she is looking over our advertising, our landing pages, our intake conversations, everything, and we also retain outside counsel of an attorney in Austin whose total business is focused on ethics for law firm, and we provide both of those resources upfront to any new law firm, doing business with us so that we’re able to answer their questions. If they are in a state that we haven’t worked in before, we can deal with whatever we need to deal with, and be sure we’re incredibly buttoned up.

The other thing that we do for anyone is we show them exactly what we’re running. I’m always surprised that about when law firms will say, “We’ll start the campaign” and I’ll say, “Don’t you want to look at it?” We really insist that our law firm partners look at what we’re running, and everything that we do is by the book, and every kind of protocol that the state bar requires, we are very careful about.

The way it works is that the law firms are actually sponsoring our messages that we put out on A Case for Women or A Case for Justice digital platforms, and therefore, we have to disclose the law firm, the responsible lawyer, the address, all of those things.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, and just one other clarifying question, you’re doing all of this in house. You’re not having like an outside vendor placing ads?

Susan Jones Knape:

Oh, my. No. No. Every thing we do is in-house. I’m pretty much like a control freak. We all are. We’re all Type A control freaks. So no, we do everything in-house, everything about our ads. I mean the colors, the photos that we use, the exact wording that we use, everything really matters, and we watch it intensely.

Luke W Russell:

Then for someone who is interested, should they go to your website to learn more? And then I also know there’s a link in the menu that says “Attorneys only.”

Is that where people should be heading if they want to inquire with you?

Susan Jones Knape:

That would be wonderful. They can do that. Or, they can very easily just go to me directly. It’s easy susan@acaseforwomen.com.

Luke W Russell:

Awesome.

Susan Jones Knape:

I am happy to talk to any law firm, not just about using A Case for Women, but about what they could be doing themselves with their own digital presence. I’m happy to talk to any law firm or any lawyer and just give them the benefit of my experience. I’m just glad there are lawyers in this world doing the work that plaintiff lawyers do, because it makes the world a better place for everyone.

Luke W Russell:

I completely agree. Any other thoughts?

Susan Jones Knape:

Just very much appreciate this time, Luke, and I love what we do. I hope that comes across.

Luke W Russell:

Yes.

Susan Jones Knape:

In the conversation, and I can’t believe that 30 years ago, I didn’t know what a plaintiff lawyer was, and now I can’t imagine the world without them.

Luke W Russell:

If you were thinking, “Yeah. You know what? I’d like to speak with this team at A Case for Women,” or maybe you just want more information on the work that they do, head over to ACaseforWomen.com.

If you do reach out to A Case for Women, let them know that you decided to contact them after listening to the Lawful Good interviews. By doing so, you are helping support the podcast and the work we are doing in the world. Thanks so much for listening to us this week.

This podcast is produced by Kirsten Stock, edited by John Kerr, and mastered by Kito Bertolini. A special thanks to the companies that make this project possible, Russell Media, and the SEO Police. You can learn more about these groups by visiting our website, LawfulGoodpodcast.com. I’m your host, Luke W. Russell, and you’ve been listening to Lawful Good.