Attorney Esther Labovick joins us for Personal Injury Marketing Minute #55 and discusses building an authentic, genuine community. She goes over what inspired it, how it’s helped the community, and how it’s helped Labovick Law Group.
She founded Hispanos Unidos (United Hispanics) to help educate Hispanics about free programs available to them in Palm Beach Count, Florida.
Her events are huge, with thousands of people showing up. They draw in volunteers, important organizations, key leaders from the Florida, the United States, and other countries.
Check out Hispanos Unidos here: https://hispanosunidos.labovick.com/.
Read more about Esther Labovick here: https://www.labovick.com/our-attorneys/esther-labovick/.
See all episodes or subscribe to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute here: https://optimizemyfirm.com/podcasts/.
Welcome to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute, where we quickly cover the hot topics in the legal marketing world. I’m your host, Lindsey Busfield.
At Optimize My Firm, we are fortunate enough to meet a lot of great lawyers who truly care about their clients. Some lawyers donate to amazing charitable organizations, others go the extra mile in providing pro bono legal services. No matter what they do, they are contributing to their communities in meaningful ways. I was recently introduced to Esther LaBovick of LaBovick Law Group, who is an exemplary model of how to go big or go home when creating community.
As a member of the Hispanic community, she identified a need for access to resources and a sense of unity within her area. As such, she organized a gigantic festival that brought people together as well as information and fun. Not only was this a great way to contribute, but it provided a great way to connect their law firm with the Hispanic demographic. Esther is joining us today to tell us all about this event. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Hi, Lindsey. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
Well, tell us a little bit about your background, about living in Florida as well as your law firm and all about you.
Oh, okay. That’s a lot.
It’s a lot.
About Esther Labovick
So basically, my background is that I am a Cuban-American, meaning I am a first generation. My parents came over from Cuba in the early ’60s as they immigrated here, fleeing communism. So I was born here and raised here in a very assimilated way. My parents really believed that if they came here, we were going to be United States citizens and be Americans. So my upbringing, I wasn’t really mixed that much with the Hispanic community. I did grow up in a pretty American area in Fort Lauderdale. But at home, we were completely Cuban. At school, I was American and whatever. So anyway, fast-forward, I went to college out of state, came back and I went to University of Miami, Law School where I was now reintroduced to my Hispanic roots because Miami is very Hispanic, as I think everybody knows.
And I started this law firm with my husband. And honestly, in the beginning, we didn’t target too much to the Hispanic community. We were just trying to make ends meet and be above ground and get clients in any which way. And our firm is not in a really Hispanic part of Palm Beach County. But as the years went by, I did start doing some things with chambers, Hispanic chambers, and I started meeting some of my fellow peers. Not only lawyers, but also just other professionals in the community that were Hispanic. And that was a long time ago. We also opened up an office in an area that was predominantly Hispanic with me being the main lawyer there, since I do speak fluent Spanish. We spoke it at home the whole time.
So we did that for a few years. And then, I don’t know, life got busy. We closed down that office and really concentrated on the growth here in Palm Beach Gardens. So I lost a little bit of track with the Hispanic community. Not with my culture because still, my whole family is Cuban and we still do the Cuban thing all the time. So fast-forward to kind of midlife, that’s where I am. And my passion, by the way, has always been the community, whether it’s Hispanic, any community, pretty much children and children’s welfare. Because I have three children and… Well, now, they’re not children. They’re adult actually.
They’ll always be your children.
Passion for Community
Yes, they’ll always be my children, but they’re adults. And really, my passion for the community came twofold. When I moved to Palm Beach County from Broward County, I didn’t know anybody and I was really young and I didn’t have kids. And getting involved in any organization is such a great way to meet people, to meet other women, especially because I like my women friends. But that really just brought on, it was with the Junior League of the Palm Beaches. It just brought on this sense of giving back to the community, and I’ve never stopped. And that really is my passion. So even though, I mean, when I work as a lawyer, I’m giving back to my individual clients. But giving back to the underserved, and like I said, especially children, has just been a passion because really, as corny as it sounds, I’ve been really blessed.
And really, you never know how kids… You could be the best of parents. And by the grace of God, my kids right now, they haven’t gone to any terrible trouble. They have college degrees and they’re almost on the way out the door. I think two out of the three are self-sufficient, pretty much self-sufficient. And that feels really good. And I just have always been blessed that I want to give back. I know I’m being long-winded, but obviously, I’m a native Floridian. And what I did two years ago, so in 2023, like I said, I’m kind of slowing down a little bit legally, and I’m looking for other avenues, a little burnout, feeling that I need something to stir me up. So I started a foundation called Hispanos Unidos, which means United Hispanics. And my goal is to reach out to the Hispanic community and educate them in all the programs that Palm Beach County has here that are free.
A Need for Support Within the Hispanic Community
And a lot of Hispanics, honestly, they’re afraid. They’re afraid of lawyers. They’re afraid of the legal system. They’re afraid to even ask for anything because especially with our immigration laws, they’re afraid that they’re going to get hauled out if they ask for help. And there is help there, and it’s for them. These organizations are there to help, but the Hispanic community needs to be aware of them. And so not just the Cuban community. My goal was to reach out and to Colombians and Mexicans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Argentinians, everybody. So it’s really a Hispanic community that we do have. I tapped into in West Palm Beach. So what I did the first year was I still had remembered some of the names of the people who were community leaders and some of the organizations that I had joined back in the early 2000s. And I started reaching out to them.
They’re still around. The Hispanic chamber had fallen apart for some reason. I guess, there was some drama and cliqueiness and things that happened with organizations. So I kind of handpicked some of the people that I knew with the help of some of my other Spanish partners, and I formed this advisory board. And I don’t know what I was doing, but we sat around and we chatted, and my advisory board is comprised of about 10 people. And I’m the only lawyer, so it’s not a lawyer thing. This is all. I have someone in real estate, someone in banking. I have a Palm Beach Sheriff’s office involved. I’ve got media involved. Recreation like sports in the community. Soccer is really big in the Hispanic community. So we represent a lot of segments in your neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? And these are Hispanic leaders in these different fields.
And so we started chatting and coming up with ideas to see what were we going to do. So the first thing that I did in 2023 was we became the presenting sponsors of a big organization in West Palm Beach so that I could see and learn how these festivals look like or what it looks like. So that was great because it really gave me exposure, it got me to learn, and it gave me the idea for my first annual family festival, which I did last August. So before I get into the festivals, we also try and do little things along the year. So we do back-to-school things. We do toy drives during the holidays. I participate in workshops that are led by organizations here called Bridges to Teach since I’m a lawyer, to talk about whatever they want to talk.
Are they having problems with their landlord? Are they having trouble? If they have a problem that I can’t help them, then my board. So they want to buy a house, but they don’t know how to have access to get a mortgage, so then I can turn to my board. So we do little things along the year, but we culminated last year into my first family festival.
The First Unified Hispanic Family Festival
And what I did was obviously there was a lot of food and a lot of entertainment, a lot of Hispanic music to bring people in. And since I really didn’t know what I was doing, what I did was I set up one big tent with tables that represented each of the people, my advisory board and their friends. So then I got the Palm Beach County Library involved, and other people. People know people, the school board is involved. And so that was great because I noticed that even though the people were loving the music and the entertainment, they were really sticking around the tents.
I mean, my law firm had a tent, all, finance tent, real estate tent. It was great. Not even a tent, we were one tent with a bunch of tables underneath it. I saw what a hit that was. And so I learned from them, and I met a lot of people there who would join the next one. So then fast-forward and my second annual… Oh, that one, by the way, I did in the parking lot of my building, because I didn’t know how many people would come. I didn’t want to spend the money. So even so, we had over 300 people show up, which is great. So then this one that I just had, September 9th, I moved it to a park that is in Central Palm Beach County that is a very predominantly Hispanic area. And we had over a thousand people. And I really focused more on the meat of what I want to do, which is create awareness and education on what we have out there.
So yes, we had food and we had dance and all that yummy stuff, but we also, I had 30 tents, which basically I had tens educating on prostate and cervical cancer, brain health like autism, nutrition, finance and banking before, immigration, legal. And our focus was a lot on health, so we had these nutrition workshops. We had a yoga workshop. I had three mobile units there, one doing mammograms, one doing glucose and blood pressure testing. And another mobile unit that was teaching everybody about how to be safe in cars, like not leaving our kids or pets for that matter in a hot car here. Well, everywhere. The whole country is dying of heat right now, so doesn’t matter-
Especially, in Florida. That’s so important.
Yeah. So it was just great. I had community partner. I had partners like University of Miami came up. Humana. We have a big center here called the Caridad Center. That is a nice health… They provide a lot of health services for the Hispanic community for free. I had Bridges, which is another organization here that also, they help with… Not just, they also do a little bit of what I do, what I’m trying to do, but they also will do more food drives and clothing drives and things like that. And it was spectacular.
I was really happy. I had two consulates there, one, the consulate from Mexico and the consulate from Columbia. And next year, I hope to get more. I’ve been in contact with Argentina and Guatemala, and I had VIPs there. The Mayor of Greenacres, which is a little suburb, came. The head of the school board for that district came. And I also had a county commissioner come, and they all got to speak at a stage and abandon everything and gave everybody space to talk to everybody. So it was really fantastic. And I’m so excited about it. I can’t wait. I need to start planning next year already.
Yes, I’m sure it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time and a lot of logistics to put all of it together. But what an amazing opportunity to bring together, I mean different silos of communities all under the same umbrella and get everybody together having a great time and getting access to really important resources that are vitally important to being able to function in this society.
And with it being such a novel concept as well as a lot of fun, I’m sure you were able to get a lot of media coverage for this. So tell us a little bit about that, because really important, both from promoting next year’s event as well as getting exposure for you, your community, and your law firm.
Getting the Word Out About the Event
Yes. Well, I have a really great team at the law firm. I have a whole marketing department. And so we have a Hispanic marketing department who really helped me with the social media, the media, and getting the media out here. So on the level of Instagram, Facebook, and all that, I mean, they do just such a great job in the social media part. And then I also have partners with ESPN Deportes, which is big here in West Palm. And he, Julian sits on my advisory board. And I also have another advisory board member who’s also a narrator, or I don’t know how you say it. In Spanish, it’s [foreign language 00:13:10]. The host of Spanish Radio, [foreign language 00:13:13], and they’re on my board. So they gave us a lot of media and I did a bunch of radio interviews leading up to it, spots. And then they got more intense, I mean, more frequent as we got there.
So we did radio interviews, we did a TV spot, we have partners. I did piggyback off of the marketing that my firm does, and I was able to slip in some of the festival information under the auspices of, we were doing LaBovick Law Firm stuff, and I would just slip it in. So we had so much media that my contact at the park, Michelle was great, and she’s been doing this for over 20 years. And I’m a nervous Nelly. Every time I went there, I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” She’s like, “No, you’re going to have a lot of people. It’s going to be fine.” Well, guess what? A week before she calls me, she’s like, “You’ve got to stop the media.” “Are you kidding?” She’s like, “No, now I’m afraid too many people are going to come.” “You’re the one who’s been telling me it’s going to be okay that you’re used to having 9,000 people at the park.”
The park is really big. And now she’s telling me that we have to stop the media, I guess, because hearing it everywhere. And so that was great. I did not stop the media, by the way. And secondly, we were getting so many calls for people who wanted to set up tent, who wanted to help, who wanted to give money. And meanwhile, I had to say no. Can you believe I had to say no to money? Because at some level, I had my map and I had all the tents organized, and I had to say no to some people, and that made me feel terrible.
But now I have my work cut out for me because what I’ve been doing as I recap everything is, well, I, along with my team, have made a list of, first of all, obviously everybody that was there, the people that we met there. I had my little backpack just collecting cards and then the people that we said no to. So my job right now is to connect with these people, the ones that we said no to, and then figure out how they can participate. I would like to have one more event this year, not anything at that scale, just something small. And if not this year, how they can participate next year with plenty of time. So it was just so exciting. I couldn’t believe that we had such an outpour of people in the community reaching out to us. It was really great.
That’s fantastic. And what a great way to connect both with the people who are participating in the event, but as well as other organizations. And the more that you do, I’m sure the more it’s just going to build on itself. And you might even need to find a bigger venue than the park.
Getting Volunteers for the Festival
I know. And the thing is that when we’ve had, not just Hispanos Unidos festivals, but anytime that the law firm does anything, we’re always struggling for volunteers, and we open it up to our entire, all the employees here and give them, I don’t know, OT or whatever. But this time, I didn’t even… I was like, “Come and have fun.” Oh, by the way, it’s a free event. So that also is a big draw. Because I teamed up with one of the people on my advisory board is big into the education. He’s not on the school board, but he’s with a school district.
So I teamed up with this group called Latinos In Action who brought me 40 volunteers, all high school kids who need community service hours. So they were really helpful, and it was just great to not have to tap into the law firm and beg and plead for them to show up and help me pass out swag and build tents or do whatever it is that you had to do last minute. So it was great. And again, I also had other schools calling me the day before. “We have volunteers.” I’m like, “I don’t need anymore. I can’t.”
Have them show up and have them have a good time.
Yeah. That’s a really good problem to have because you always need an extra set of hands, and it’s just nice that we organized them all. They all had their tasks, we put them in shifts, and also they got to see what we do. So it was really good.
That’s great. What a great opportunity for your volunteers, for those kids to see, to get firsthand knowledge of how to put events together as well as the different volunteer posts. So it really is serving everybody who has their hands on this project. And from a community perspective, that’s just phenomenal. But also from a business perspective, it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there for your law firm as well as build those perspective client relationships. So what are your thoughts on this community building event as a business investment?
Business Benefits of Community Involvement
Well, marketing is all about name recognition. I mean, we track our marketing and how we get our clients, but that’s easier to do when you’re buying leads and when you’re doing other things. But you can never tell. I mean, unless someone tells you directly, I hired you because I saw you on TV. You never know. And what they do know is that the name keeps coming up, keeps coming up, keeps coming up. And my firm is an active advertiser. So we are on TV. We are that firm that’s on billboards.
And so the more that your name is out there and now it’s out there in the Hispanic community, the more visibility you get, and then hopefully when they’re going to choose a law firm, they’re going to recognize the name and come to us. So it’s a little loosey goosey, but it works. And otherwise, well, I won’t say otherwise, we wouldn’t invest in the community, but it’s a partnership between the investment money-wise and giving back to the community.
Right. It becomes a true grassroots marketing outreach. And beyond the name recognition, you’re getting goodwill within the community, which is something that you can’t just buy. You have to actually get involved and establish those relationships.
And you have to earn that. You have to earn that by… I mean, the law firm also does its own outreach, and we encourage everybody at the law firm. Not just the lawyers, but anybody who has a cause. Get involved, we will sponsor it, and we’re there. We sponsor a bunch of bowling. My paralegal is big into bowling. I’m like, “We’ll sponsor the team.” It’s like, why not? Or little league teams. Most people are involved in some type of kid’s sports or dance or stuff. So we encourage, and it doesn’t have to be that beach cleanups, whatever. We definitely encourage everybody to go and participate in what their causes and bring it to us. And more than likely, also, we help them out.
That’s great. And people that they’re surrounded by will know that it’s genuine and know that it’s authentic, that you want to be there. People can sniff out a fraud.
Yeah, I hope so.
How Lawyers Can Start Building Community Through Events
Yeah. So when you have people from your team going in with real passion for what they do and being represented by a great community that they work for, it speaks volumes for your firm, and I really applaud you for that. That’s a great way to make a great impact in your community.
If another law firm was wanting to do something similar in their city, what recommendations would you have for them to consider?
Well, other than what I just said is to encourage the people in their law firm to get involved in the community, because that’s one big way to meet people. You have to go out there and meet the people, meet who your neighbors are. And not just be stuck in your niche of the lawyers, because that’s really boring actually. But to go to chamber things and go to community events. In order to meet people and to see how it was going, we did sponsor that one, I told you last year, but we’ve also been going just as participants, just to check it out and meet people and see how it works.
So between me and my marketing team, we split up the year and if something was happening this month, we’d show up to see what it looked like so that we can see the scale of small to big. So I would encourage, that’s how you start is you have to be out in the community. You can’t be out behind your desk working all the time. Or even, I know, I mean, family is very important, but most people, if they have kids, their kids are involved at something. So take it to the next level and volunteer.
Absolutely. You have to just show up.
It’s hard to say volunteer when you work so much, but yeah, you’ve got to show up.
That’s great. I think that’s a great takeaway. Taking away nothing else from this podcast, you have to show up. Get out of the office.
You know what? Being a lawyer is a lot of… It’s hard. It’s hard mentally and emotionally, and sometimes you don’t feel like you’re doing enough for your clients, depending on the situation when it’s catastrophic or whatever. You can’t replace the life of kids or family members. But giving back is a really feel-good way of getting rid of some of that stress. At least it is for me.
I love that. That’s absolutely 100% true. Well, thank you so much, Esther, for joining us today, and thank you for sharing about your events, and we hope that other events that you planned this year and beyond are a huge success.
Thanks, Lindsey. Thanks for the opportunity. I really appreciated this.