James Helm, the founder of TopDog Law, defines himself more as a marketing expert than a lawyer. He often explains that he had to sharpen his lawyer hard skills to run and operate his Philadelphia-based injury law firm.
Nonetheless, after this Philadelphia-native attorney opened TopDog Law, he also faced the challenge of learning how to become a business leader.
“I feel that I’m just starting to study and understand leadership now in 2022, which is remarkable considering that I started [TopDog Law] in 2019,” said Helm in a recent interview. “The thing with leadership is that it’s something that is never taught.”
Philadelphia residents better recognize Helm for the entertaining law-related videos he creates for the social media platform Instagram. In recent years, he has built one of the fastest-growing and most recognizable injury law brands in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Today, with two offices in Philadelphia and one in Baltimore, Helm and his team at TopDog Law provide top-quality representation to hundreds of accident victims across Pennsylvania, helping them obtain the maximum compensation.
Helm’s beginnings as a law entrepreneur were somewhat atypical for industry standards.
Helm worked as a sales closer for a branding company that offered marketing services to law firms as he earned his Juris Doctor. In 2019, just a year after completing his joint graduate degree in law and business from Rutgers University, he decided to open TopDog Law.
Not having worked at another firm before establishing his own represented a test for Helm, who had to refine his skills as a lawyer and, most importantly, as a business leader.
In a video interview back in May, Helm connected via Zoom to discuss his personal development journey to become a leader. During this interview, the owner of TopDog Law shared the definition of servant leadership that he has developed in recent years.
Helm laments that the notions of leadership and success have been utterly distorted in today’s society. Most people’s perception of the idyllic life of a business leader is a life filled with luxury and pleasure.
“Many people today are sold this mirage of four-hour-work weeks, total freedom, living on a beachside somewhere, but that’s not true leadership,” said Helm.
Helm has come to recognize that leadership must be based on a genuine sense of service and a desire to impact the lives of others. Through his work at the head of TopDog Law, Helm has developed a more well-rounded understanding of the true meaning of being a business leader. This realization motivated him to redefine his mission and cultivate the skills of a servant leader.
“I realized that seeing my team live the lives of their dreams and achieve their personal goals through this vision called TopDog Law is actually the greatest gift,” reflected Helm. “I needed to understand how fulfilling leadership is for me to prioritize learning it and intentionally practicing it.”
In his personal leadership journey, Helm stumbled upon authors like John Maxwell, who have been critical to reshaping his notion of leadership. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” and other of his books have given Helm practical insights into how to inspire others and lead by example.
Now, “I’m really going into my meetings with my team and consciously trying to lead by example and implement many strategies that [Maxwell] talks about in his books,” said Helm.
Helm has taken to heart his call to be a servant leader for his team. He wants TopDog Law to become a vehicle for impacting the lives not just of his clients but also of every member of his firm.
Helm encourages other law entrepreneurs and business owners to take a step back and appreciate the inextricable service component implicated with being a leader. Today, as TopDog Law continues to rise into one of the preeminent injury law firms in Philadelphia, he is grateful for the possibility of helping his employees grow personally along with his firm.
“I feel fortunate for having the possibility to help facilitate [my team] in achieving their lives’ mission,” concluded Helm. “That gives me much deeper fulfillment than my own financial gain or the ego of expanding my law firm.”