Shop’s Open

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in 1993, Attorney, author, Business, Entertainment Law, fashion designer, filmmaker, Law Practice, Lawyer, motorcycle shops, Music, Music Business, restaurants

My sister likes to use this phrase to describe her side business selling used merchandise on eBay.  But, not enough attorneys think of themselves as a shop.  Some lawyers limit the scope of their practice to eliminate too much of what they’re capable of doing, or to find that their interests don’t really reflect the marketplace.  While other attorneys take on every case that comes through the front door and do not put much thought into how to build a practice with this scattered approach.  The former focusses only on what you want to do to the exclusion of what areas of law the locality can support, and the latter can end up getting a lawyer into a lot of trouble as they find that they cannot possibly adequately represent all clients and/or all client’s needs.

I worked for many years in the music business, both locally in Burlington, VT, and in New York City and Boston.  I knew that I was going to always be interested in helping clients in the entertainment world when I moved to Vermont.  But, I also knew that there was no way to that I was going to be able to cover my expenses, let alone make a living, by focussing entirely on entertainment law.  I truly enjoyed the trademarks, copyright, and trade secret classes that I took at Seton Hall.  So, I knew that I would also be able to help some clients in those areas.  But, I would also be competing with some accomplished firms in the process.  That’s when I realized that I could bridge the gap between the startups and established companies by meeting with the IP groups at some of those firms and asking for referrals for those that couldn’t afford the fees those firms charge.  After I opened shop, however, it became clear that these practice areas were not going to be sufficient for a small firm to survive.

Since my junior year at the University of Vermont, I have owned a few of my own small businesses.  The first business was a DJ outfit, doing weddings and parties.  Then Club Toast opened in 1993, during which time I also managed a couple local bands, Wide Wail and the Pants.  After those bands broke up, and Toast closed, I continued working with recording artists, briefly managing Ryan Leslie, Shaggy, Maxi Priest, and Billy Ocean.  So, I have always been aware of the trials of starting and operating a small business, and have used those experiences to advise clients in small business practices from startup to insurance, and in contract negotiating and drafting.

My small business practice has been a nice addition to the intellectual property and entertainment practice, because all of these areas have a great deal of crossover as to what skills are implicated.  Musicians, filmmakers, and authors have to be able to operate their small businesses in order to be successful, just the same as motorcycle shops, restaurants, and fashion designers.

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