On this week's podcast, we sit down with David Scarborough. David co-owns ProLegal Discovery Solutions and specializes in a large variety of legal and corporate document solutions. Listen to this week's podcast to find out why you can't relax in the business world.
Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama
David Scarborough: I'm David Scarborough, one of the owners of ProLegal Discovery Solutions.
Marcus Neto: Awesome. Well, David it is nice to have you on the podcast.
David Scarborough: It's a pleasure and good company. I'm a big fan of the podcast.
Marcus Neto: Well, I think it's been something that we've talked about doing for a while. So full disclosure, we're working with ProLegal and ProLegal has definitely done some work for us. And so, we've been talking about this for a while and we're friends, so this should be interesting folks.
David Scarborough: When a plan comes together.
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
David Scarborough: Beautiful thing.
Marcus Neto: Exactly. So, well, you know the format here is to tell us the story of David, where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Did you graduate? I'm guessing no. Did you somehow manage to talk your way into college? I'm betting no. But, are you married? I know the answer to that one and then God bless her.
David Scarborough: No kidding. I did graduate from high school, graduated from Baker High School in 1990.
Marcus Neto: And you didn't have to give the year.
David Scarborough: Well, I think it's important to date myself. But, then I did ... I was in college, just a funny story. My father was a baptist minister. So the first year in a baptist school I got complete tuition. So, I spent my freshman year at the University of Mobile and then majored in art out there and then came to South Alabama and tried to get an art class and good luck with that back then.
Marcus Neto: Really we just didn't have that offering.
David Scarborough: When I was at school out there, it was very difficult to get an art class because they just had a very small art program. My 18 year old son's an art major out there now and it's amazing how they've expanded that program and he gets every class he wants. So I just gave up on art and switched my major to biology. My second one. My plans were to go into marine biology and move to the West Coast and steady sharks and-
Marcus Neto: Every young mans dream.
David Scarborough: ... every young mans dream. And ended up, that just wasn't in the cards.
Marcus Neto: What was your medium when you're wanting to be an art major?
David Scarborough: I didn't have really a specific medium. I did everything from charcoal and pencil to Prismacolor and acrylic paints.
Marcus Neto: That's cool. I didn't know that about you.
David Scarborough: It sounds fun.
Marcus Neto: Do you still doing any of that?
David Scarborough: If I have a few minutes I'll sit down and sketch something, but it's nothing I really do actively.
Marcus Neto: Right. Well, I mean you're dealing with art quite a bit and maybe not, I know big portion of your job is legal stuff, but I get the impression that you all deal with some level of graphic design and stuff-
David Scarborough: Well, art in the respect of how can we tinker with a trial exhibit to make it look conveyor of more powerful message to a jury. Kind of putting the artist's side of work in what I do for a living.
Marcus Neto: That's very cool. So you graduated from South?
David Scarborough: No, I did not. I did not, I still got probably about a year and a half or two years to get-
Marcus Neto: It might be a little late for you, there.
David Scarborough: I think I'm pretty entrenched in my career right now at this point.
Marcus Neto: You might have a career now. I'm just saying.
David Scarborough: Exactly.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. So, what's the story there? Didn't you just-
David Scarborough: My sister, was a paralegal law firm downtown. She's been a paralegal in downtown mobile since I was a very tiny child. And I went to work at her law firm, just working summers. Working in the copy room, running and getting people coffee and that kind of stuff. My two business partners, Michael Cannon and Kelly Penny had just opened, a company on the 17th floor of what is now the, what is that? Is it the Trustmark building this week?
Marcus Neto: Yeah, this week.
David Scarborough: They were up on the 17th floor and they were going around and marketing their services to the law firms. And one of the things that we're going to do, they're going to take all the paralegals at secretaries at the law firm that I was working at work and one of them cut out, she had something else going on. So I took their place and met the guys and started talking with them and went downstairs and saw the shop and the operation and went back upstairs and quit and started working for them the next day.
Marcus Neto: Wow.
David Scarborough: Standing at a copy machine, making copies for five bucks an hour. And that was in 1994.
Marcus Neto: Which was probably about minimum wage.
David Scarborough: Yeah, it was right at minimum wage and it was funny because when we got down here ... When I started to work with them, I started marketing. All of these printing companies and other companies that we were going around and saying, "Let them know what we were doing." They were like, "You're never going to succeed." Because you're a print shop, but you're on the 17th floor of an office tower. No retail, you have no storefront, you have no sign.
Marcus Neto: Right.
David Scarborough: And that was just not what we were about. We were a confidential service that catered strictly to law firms. And man, we proved them wrong. Within six months we were running 24\7.
Marcus Neto: Dang dude. So I want to go back, because you said you went upstairs, quit your job, came downstairs and you were standing at the copy machine making $5 an hour because I think it's a very important story to tell that you started literally at minimum wage and are now part owner of this business. I mean, how did that happen?
David Scarborough: The company that we worked for it was a company called American Legal and they were based out of Birmingham. Birmingham office, Atlanta office Mobile. And they opened one in Louisville, Kentucky. At one point, in the late nineties they asked me to move to Kentucky and that was the only time I'd ever lived away from home. I moved to Kentucky for a couple of years and ran that shop and they ended up selling the shop to a big corporation. How these big companies do, they don't see the forest for the trees. They came in and tried to, really relegate how we did business with these law firms and with our customers and really kind of ran the company into the ground. So I moved back down here and as luck may have it, when I moved to Kentucky, my noncompete down here, it became null and void.
Marcus Neto: Okay.
David Scarborough: So Michael and Kelly said there non competes out for a year and then I moved back down here and we opened up what does now ProLegal. Which is our baby. We opened up in 700 square foot space on Saint Francis Street with the listening room is now. Man, people were chomping at the bit to send us their business as soon as we opened the doors and turned the lights on.
Marcus Neto: There's no shortage of lawyers in this town, that's for sure. I can personally attest to the amount of paperwork that a law firm needs for certain aspects of trials and stuff like that. I mean, it can be quite considerable. So yeah, I get why you guys would be very busy. Now, what was your first job though? I mean, you obviously had jobs knowing you, I know that you're a hard worker, you've had jobs before, well before paralegal. Well you weren't a paralegal at your sister's law office?
David Scarborough: No. I was basically just a runner.
Marcus Neto: Okay. So before that though, you obviously had other jobs. Your first shit job, crap job. What was that?
David Scarborough: Well, my first official job, where I pay taxes to the government was a grocery bagger at food world. Just before that, when I was 14 or 15 years old, I sold Christmas trees at a treeline owned by a friend of my father's.
Marcus Neto: Well, I'll give you the choice there. I mean, of those two is there some life lessons that you learned from those jobs that you still carry with you to this day? Speaker 1: Food World, no. Absolutely not. I learned how to double bag but no. When I worked at the treeline, I mean that was forming sales, 14 year old kid having to go out and sell Christmas trees to make money for Christmas. It was a little bit of pressure going on there. So I had to actually wanted to be personable and learn to be-
Marcus Neto: How to talk to people, how to engage,
David Scarborough: ... how to talk to people and how to persuade people.
Marcus Neto: Which I'm sure is, your position now is part owner but also I know as the face for the company down here talking to people about the services that you offer and stuff like that. I'm sure is really helped.
David Scarborough: Yeah. That absolutely it has. And then after that I went to work, I helped her on a surf shop for a couple of years in high school and worked at a gym for a couple of years.
Marcus Neto: Very Cool. So those of you that don't know David, we bonded because I walked into ProLegal one day with an electric skateboard.
David Scarborough: That's right.
Marcus Neto: And learned that he's an avid skateboarder as well. Still Rides.
David Scarborough: Yup.
Marcus Neto: Hasn't broken his hip yet. He's an old man. I can say that because he's a couple years older than I am.
David Scarborough: Trashed two elbows a couple of years a little bit you know.
Marcus Neto: Because you don't wear some elbow pads, next time-
David Scarborough: That's exactly right. Lesson learned.
Marcus Neto: But I didn't know that you ran a surf shop, but that's really interesting stuff too. So it just goes to show you can be in your own and still be a skater. There's no age limit to skateboarding.
David Scarborough: Yes you're right.
Marcus Neto: Now do you remember the first ... I mean you talked about the fact that you all were part of this other company. Then you moved up to Kentucky and set out your noncompete and came back. But starting a new business, there's still this question in your mind of well, is this gonna work or not? Right? I mean, it's kind of weird because you had experience running that business prior, but do you remember that first moment when you were like, "Hey, there might be something to this?"
David Scarborough: Well, when we came back down and started a ProLegal, that was right about the time that technology was starting to really infiltrate our business. There was never any apprehension, is this going to work? My big thing was am I going to be able to learn all of this new technology and all of these new rules fast enough to keep up right with the industry and not become obsolete. Thinking back to when we first opened our business, in a lawsuit and you go to the president of the company's office and he's being sued, there's four file cabinets worth of paper, that covers his tenure as president. It used to be easy for us just to grab a file cabinet, take it back to our office and make copies of it and then send boxes of paper, to the people that wanted it. But, nowadays with technology, emails and electronically stored information is taking over. You know what used to be a paper business. The problem with that is trying to find the needle in the haystack. Now instead of dealing with four or five cabinet drawer, full paper, now you're dealing with anywhere from 100,000 to 2-3 million emails. And having to keep up with the technology and having to learn the processes and learn things that you need to know to be able to help these law firms, call through all that stuff and do what they have to do with all this electronic information. It's challenging and scary.
Marcus Neto: I can't imagine. Trying to figure out what's a valid email versus what spam. But then also at some level, you're not just having to deal with email, but I mean most corporations have large amount of documentation and it could be stored on any number of servers and getting access to that and making sure that everything's accounted for.
David Scarborough: Well. Yeah. One thing that I've really had to learn is everything was pretty linear. You've got this guy's documents, this lady's documents, so let's make copies of them. But with the electronic information now, you have to have a keen eye, because it creates really almost a spiderweb. You've got this guy's email and-
Marcus Neto: That he send it to three people.
David Scarborough: ... that he send is to three people. Do you want to go out and investigate those three people? And those three people forwarded it to these five people. So it really is almost like a spider web or matrix. And trying to educate law firms how to deal with that and providing them with the technology to be able to do that, it's been fun, but it's been challenging.
Marcus Neto: Well, and we're talking around what it is that you all do, but go ahead and why don't you give your spiel for what ProLegal is, what you all offer.
David Scarborough: We do everything related to litigation support. That includes everything from photocopies to scanning, trial presentation graphics and presentation graphics, electronic discovery where we go out and we'll actually harvest all of the electronic information in the emails from a client's office and then set it up in a way that a law firm can very easily-
Marcus Neto: Process it and make sure that-
David Scarborough: ... just to process it out and give it to them in a viewable format that, that they can produce, they can review but is defensible in court?
Marcus Neto: Right. Well, that is your niche. Right?
David Scarborough: Yes.
Marcus Neto: But just because that's your niece doesn't necessarily mean that that's all you do. Because I know that as a design studio, we've used you for posters and for printouts and stuff like that.
David Scarborough: Yeah. It's funny because I love downtown and I love the downtown businesses. So part of what I do just it's good business but, I enjoy doing it for the ... Is providing our print services for all the businesses downtown, the restaurants, the bars, the ad agencies and the PR firms.
Marcus Neto: Ad Agency.
David Scarborough: The Ad Agency.
Marcus Neto: There aren't any of those-
David Scarborough: Is there any other place ... But I-
Marcus Neto: I mean, I even use you for blueprints for the building-
David Scarborough: The building.
Marcus Neto: ... when we were renovating this space.
David Scarborough: But, if you go downtown and you drive down Dolphin Street, you'll see our posters hanging in, music venues in the bars and the restaurants. And I love doing that because those businesses are helping to support me and in turn I support them.
Marcus Neto: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one that wisdom that you would impart to them?
David Scarborough: Don't be afraid to change. Don't be afraid to evolve. It's okay to be scared, but you've got to be willing to put your neck out there.
Marcus Neto: Keep moving.
David Scarborough: Everything that we did to advance our business and to evolve our business. We didn't do it by design. We did it because we were forced to. We did it because we had Susan from Birmingham call and say, "I need this done in 48 hours." We didn't know what she was talking about. So, and you've got to go out and be willing to do research and to change and to like I said, stick your neck out there. Our businesses is so different than it was when we first opened. And had we not been willing to just throw it up against the wall and go with the market, we would've been out of business 10 years ago.
Marcus Neto: Wow.
David Scarborough: Because we used to be 100% paper.
Marcus Neto: Right.
David Scarborough: Now paper, maybe 35% or 40% of what we did and the rest of it is technology driven. I've had to learn that on the fly, which is interesting.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, it's interesting. Well, even in our own industry like the way that we build websites, the technologies and things like that, that we use when we're building websites is completely changed in the last 10 years as well. So, I mean, it's the same thing. I think most folks, except for maybe with the exception of certain industries, there's a learning curve of where things just change over a period of time. And if you don't keep up with it, then yeah, you're going to be the dinosaur that gets put out of business.
David Scarborough: Exactly. And we have on top of that, the added pressure of having to adhere to the ever evolving change in the rules put forth by the court.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. And I'm sure where security becomes an issue and stuff like that too. I get it, it's not just paper is not just copies, right?
David Scarborough: No. The way that it's evolved and we've actually been able to take advantage of that and spin off some different businesses from that. One of the things we used to do back in the early nineties, a lot of people would send us videotapes and just have us duplicate videotapes. Well that evolved into taking a video tape and making a DVD out of it. You know what? We ended up eventually doing this as we bought, what turns out to be the oldest audio/video company in the city. And we bought that company out and moved it downtown and that little subsidiary handles all of our audio and video stuff. The presentation graphics and the posters and the things that we've printed spawned off a sound company that we opened in Loxley. Because of the demand, for that kind of stuff now we're doing. We've got a full operational sign company in Loxley. We've got a subsidiary company that does T-shirts. So I mean, it's just crazy, how these things spin off of each other. My big thing, I'm in the legal end of the business and my big thing was, and still is my role has evolved from just helping people, put together a presentation, graphics, take on an easel to put in front of a jury. Now one of the services that we've spun off that offer is actually going to court and managing the electronic presentation of your exhibits to a jury. So we'll actually go in and sit in trial and manage all the computers and manage the laptops and the projectors and all that. So, the lawyers don't have to worry about that kind of stuff. They can focus on the facts of the case.
Marcus Neto: It's amazing to me how you've seen problems over the years and come up with solutions for them. You know what I mean? Because that is business, right?
David Scarborough: Yeah.
Marcus Neto: There is a problem. I'm going to help solve it and hopefully there's enough exchange of currency, whether it's bartering or whether it's actual money that makes sense for both people to engage in that exchange.
David Scarborough: Yeah. And you find a need and you try everything you can, not to say no to your customer. We've got great customers and it's really kind of need because we've always had the sales mindset, you're not going to really earn a customer, but going to make a friend.
Marcus Neto: Right.
David Scarborough: Because your friends are always going to support you and they're always going to support your business. We've been in this business downtown for 25 years.
Marcus Neto: Wow.
David Scarborough: And, some of the friends ... The customers that have become friends and then they'll call you for everything. And that's the kind of loyalty that makes the business sustainable.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's really cool. If you were to look to the business world, is there a person that you look up to as an inspiration or that motivates you? And I don't mean local. I'm not ... Don't get my mom or my dad or you know, whatever or like.
David Scarborough: I knew you were going to say that, because you said that to Matt Goldman.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly.
David Scarborough: I just listened to that yesterday yesterday-
Marcus Neto: Oh, welcome.
David Scarborough: ... and that tickled me to death.
Marcus Neto: You pick up Entrepreneur Magazine or Ink Magazine or something that, is there somebody, if you're in the grocery store and you see their picture on the magazine that you're like, "Yeah, I'm getting that copy."
David Scarborough: My absolute inspiration in the business world is Yvon Chouinard he is the founder of Patagonia.
Marcus Neto: Okay.
David Scarborough: He's got a fantastic book called, 'Let My People Go Surfing.'
Marcus Neto: I'll add that on my to do into read list.
David Scarborough: It's a highly recommend that one of the best books I've ever written. But the way that he built that business and the way that he keeps his hands on that business. Everything from the programs and the policies he has in place for its employees. They've got daycares set up. If you want to bring your child to work, if your work takes you out of town, they'll front the bill to have a nanny go with you to take care of your child while you're doing your work. I think new mothers get like four months of paid leave.
Marcus Neto: I may have to delete this whole section out because if my employees listened to this, then I'm screwed. So, but I can't.
David Scarborough: But everything from that, his sustainability policies. They've got a website where they just sell used clothes and gear.
Marcus Neto: Oh really?
David Scarborough: Because it cuts down on consumption and it cuts down on their footprint. I've read and his book goes into where they take 1% of their gross or 10% of their net and give it out to grassroots environmental organizations every year.
Marcus Neto: Wow.
David Scarborough: I mean, it's a business model that has ... If other companies would follow that business model, I think the world would be a lot nicer place. And he is absolutely as far as business and as far as the way they treat people and the way to treat your surroundings. He's absolutely an inspiration.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's really cool. I'll have to pick that up and read it. Because I'm certainly. I want to provide and as I think ... Well, I can't say that most business owners do. But I mean I want to provide a working environment where people are happy and encouraged and that they're working on work that at least for most of the time that they feel is interesting to them and stuff like that. I mean I get it. Like it's still a job we still have things that we have to do that aren't necessarily top of our list or anything like that. But, I think I don't like the idea of losing people. If I hire somebody, I want them to stick around for a while for a number of different reasons. Right? And I don't take it lightly when we bring somebody on. So I'm always looking for ideas on how to make it a healthier, more interesting work environment.
David Scarborough: We're very lucky, our employees have been there for good grief, I think the youngest employee we have has been there for 10 years.
Marcus Neto: Oh Wow.
David Scarborough: The last person that quit, quit to pursue a career in golf instructor and that was six or seven years ago. And that provides a great deal of stability to a business because they know what they're doing. They've got a lot of experience and when the curve balls thrown at them, they know exactly how to hit him.
Marcus Neto: Yeah that's cool. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?
David Scarborough: Like I said Yvon book, 'Let My People Go Surfing' is a great read. On a personal level, Laird Hamilton, the pro surfer, he's got a book called 'Force Of Nature' it's a fantastic book. That's a little more along the lines of personal growth. I listen to podcasts for entertainment purposes. But those two books have really kind of helped me both in business and personal growth.
Marcus Neto: Really cool. Yeah, it's good. I'll have to pick those up. What's the most important thing you've learned about running a business?
David Scarborough: You're asking the hard questions for last man?
Marcus Neto: Oh, it gets worse now.
David Scarborough: Oh great. Give me something to look forward to. You can't sit on your laurels. You can't relax. Because the minute that you relax, you get content and you get lazy and when that happens, you start dropping them ball. And when you drop the ball somebody else is going to be there to pick it up.
Marcus Neto: Yup.
David Scarborough: So, I mean that's probably the most important thing is you can't get lazy.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Hustle.
David Scarborough: All the time.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. How do you like to unwind?
David Scarborough: My son, my 16 year old doppelganger hanging out. We'll go skateboarding. Love to go spend as much time at the beach as possible.
Marcus Neto: Let's give a shout out because you pointed out that there's a shop and Foley that has a skate park inside of it, right?
David Scarborough: In Gulf Shores.
Marcus Neto: Gulf Shores?
David Scarborough: Mike Tamborello. He was a good buddy of mine, has got a shop in Gulf Shores and man, that is one guy. I will tell you, let me get back into one of my answers that's a guy that I look to for inspiration. He had a shop that was about half the size of this room in Orange beach and moved it to Gulf Shores and he has built it. He's got a coffee shop and a cafe that sits right behind an indoor skate board. In his surf shop.
Marcus Neto: Nice.
David Scarborough: So instead of just having a little place since you go to, to buy a pair of surf trunks or buy Mara Wax or whatever, now you've got a place to go and spend-
Marcus Neto: All the hours.
David Scarborough: ... eight hours a day. And man is-
Marcus Neto: What's the name of the-
David Scarborough: It's called Tambo Surf Shack and then I'm glad to give that guy a plug. Men, I love that guy and I love his shop and I love what he's done for the community down there.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. I just think it's cool because you and I were talking about that in a couple of weeks ago or something and I very much want to get down there, although I'm a little bit, I mean-
David Scarborough: Come on men.
Marcus Neto: ... I was never a Bolton skater or so, you know what I mean? We're really a ramp guy, was always more to street. And as I've gotten older, I've just progressed along boards and just carving and stuff like that. But, I think it'd be fun just to go and see the kids doing, their stuff because they're much more resilient and easier to ... When they fall they bounced back a lot easier than this old man.
David Scarborough: I tell you, that's one thing I've found out in the years that I've gotten older, they've started making concrete harder.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. I'd have to wear a foam-
David Scarborough: Yeah hurts more.
Marcus Neto: ... body suit Yeah. We have to wear a foam body suit in order to go skating and a half piper, a bowl or something. You fall once and there you go, now I need a new hip.
David Scarborough: That's exactly right. But yeah I love to skate. Love go to the beach. I haven't competed in a while. I'm giving myself a couple of months to repair some injuries, but-
Marcus Neto: Compete in?
David Scarborough: Competitive power lifting.
Marcus Neto: Oh really I did not know that.
David Scarborough: Yeah. Learn something new every day.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. So, I mean competitive in power lifting or I mean, do you have any stats that are worth a mention? because that's a really-
David Scarborough: When I was 39, I set the Alabama state record for the master's division in the dead lift.
Marcus Neto: How much?
David Scarborough: 560.
Marcus Neto: Cow holy. That's insane dude.
David Scarborough: 560. No, what's insane is I broke the state record with a 560 pound dead lift and came in fifth.
Marcus Neto: Oh my God.
David Scarborough: That's what scary.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. I mean because you're not a big guy. You're, probably a little bit bigger than I am right now.
David Scarborough: Yeah.
Marcus Neto: But yeah, I can't imagine 560 pounds with my spleen would come shooting out of my eyeball if I tried to pull that much weight.
David Scarborough: Yeah. It was just one of those things and I found out I was good at for some reason.
Marcus Neto: That's too funny.
David Scarborough: I love that man-
Marcus Neto: Put on some disturbed and channel your inner demons and lift the weight up off the floor. Right?
David Scarborough: Exactly. Exactly.
Marcus Neto: I hear that. Well, why don't you tell people where they can find out more information about your services and stuff?
David Scarborough: Well, think that more than anybody else that we're working on getting our new website.
Marcus Neto: Sure.
David Scarborough: Tool together and launch. But, ProLegal Discovery Solutions can be found very easily on the corner of Royal Street and Saint Francis Street.
Marcus Neto: Very good.
David Scarborough: Right next to Hancock Bank, right next to the Battle House. And we're down there all the time.
Marcus Neto: Phone number?
David Scarborough: 2-514-338-777.
Marcus Neto: Awesome.
David Scarborough: So we're down there all the time.
Marcus Neto: Well, David, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share? Something full of wisdom and-
David Scarborough: Probably the wisest thing I've ever heard I actually heard it said by ... I don't know if you've ever heard of a musician named Frank Turner.
Marcus Neto: Mm-mm (negative).
David Scarborough: Frank Turner I saw him at the Soul Kitchen a while back. And I have to get props to my wife Christina, because she's the one that turned me on to Frank Carney. He's got punk rock folk. You know, he's like he's like Bob Dylan meats Johnny Rotten.
Marcus Neto: Okay. That's just an insane mix.
David Scarborough: But he's a great songwriter. He's a great songwriter and he's got an album out and it's got three words that I think are the three most powerful words, that you can say together. It's 'be more kind.'
Marcus Neto: Very good. Yeah that's good stuff man. I was fully expecting you need to pull out some of that 80's punk rock from within. So, that's awesome.
David Scarborough: There's plenty of that.
Marcus Neto: Well, man, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
David Scarborough: Thanks man. Appreciate it.