Entertainment Law with Michael Prywes



In this week’s episode of The Law Practice Doctor, Sam Gaylord interviews Michael Prywes, who is an attorney specializing in entertainment. Having started out as a film and internet producer, Michael deems himself as an ‘accidental attorney’ and is now a partner with Prywes and Swartz, which caters to artists and entrepreneurs. During this episode, Michael discuss starting a new firm, the benefit of co-working spaces, alternative billing, and avatar clients.

Main Questions Asked:

  • What are some of the systems you suggest a new firm think about?
  • Talk about how you decided to structure how you are getting paid and how to charge clients.
  • Who is your avatar client?
  • Talk about the struggles from a mindset point of view.

Key Lessons Learned:

  • Michael’s personal mission is to be an ongoing resource and mentor to artists and entrepreneurs.
  • He recognizes that his target clients don’t actually want to call lawyers.
  • The beauty of being an attorney is that it opens so many doors and you can do anything anywhere, which provides freedom within the industry.
  • The inherent drama of law is not so different from writing a screenplay,
  • Michael approached setting up his law firm from the blue ocean strategy.
  • The blue ocean strategy asks, ‘What are you going to give up to get what you want?’


Starting a New Firm

  • When you set up a law firm with someone, it’s important to completely understand the simplest philosophy such as ‘how is it you envision the spending of money?’
  • When starting up a firm, it’s not about spending money in the Yellow Pages; it’s about niche marketing.
  • A file management system is key and one of the first things to be set up.
  • The level of comfort with new technology and the relative integration of that technology is paramount.
  • Don’t get involved in long-term commitments.
  • Track your progress and schedule chunks of time with a contingency plan in mind.


Choosing Clients

  • Spend time drafting the retainer agreement/engagement letter.
  • When you are on your own, you get to choose who you have and don’t have as clients.
  • It is your right to reject toxic clients, and there is level of comfort in choosing not to take a case.


Regus Space

  • This is a company that supplies a physical virtual office.
  • Using a co-working space reduces the overheads of paying for a fully functioning office space annually.
  • There are options to have a certain amount of included office days per month, and then extra days are paid for hourly, half-day, or full-day use.


Alternative Billing

  • Prywes and Swartz turned the legal business model of charging on its head.
  • They don’t charge for time but rather by the page for documents they draft, read, or review.
  • The services are unbundles, and billing is essentially per project, or known as a la carte or concierge billing.
  • The rates are listed on the website, so if the price is too high, the client won’t call.


Prywes and Swartz

  • Most of the clients come to the firm via organic Google search or referrals.
  • There was little feeling of movement in the first six months of the firm.
  • The reason you are in business is to put you and your family first. Take the time to chunk out time for them first.
  • Set your priorities. When your values and priorities align, that is when you’re happiest.


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Links to Resources Mentioned


Prywess Swartz

Practical Law 

Regus Space

The Blue Ocean Strategy (book)

Returning Mickey Stern (movie)

The Miracle Morning (book)

The War of Art (book)


Click To Tweet

What is alternative billing? Meet the attorney who DOESN’T charge by the hr @NYStartupAttys @gaylordpoppllc http://www.gaylordpopp.com.com


Meet the ‘accidental attorney’ who is changing the legal game in NYC  @NYStartupAttys @gaylordpoppllc http://www.gaylordpopp.com.com







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