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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
The Blue Ocean Strategy (book)
Returning Mickey Stern (movie)
The Miracle Morning (book)
The War of Art (book)
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