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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hey, good afternoon, everybody. I’m J.D. Houvener, and welcome to the Bold Lawyers Show. I’m here with this new format for attorneys or anyone who may be aspiring to be an attorney. The show is going to feature live interviews with founders of bold lawyers from around the country. They’re oftentimes solo or small firms, just getting started, or maybe they’re well on their way, but they have figured something out, and they want to share that with you, the audience. So, we want this to be interactive. If you happen to watch this live on Facebook, on Instagram, or YouTube, I’ll be prioritizing any live questions and asking that of myself, who I’m the owner here at Bold Patents Law Firm. Which way am I pointing? And I’m the guest as well, I welcome to ask her any questions.

So, as you probably saw from the title, we’re going to have a special guest. Her name is Isaro Carter, owner at the Carter Law Firm, and we’ll be doing an interview with her. So, let’s bring her onto the show. Isaro, welcome. Thank you, JD. Hello, everyone. Oh, you got the wind blowing your hair and everything. It’s looking good. It’s just really hot in New York right now, and the way my AC is set up, you know, all good. Very good. Well, and this is going to go to the podcast listeners too, so they’re missing out. And they’re missing out. So, if you’re listening on the podcast and you want to catch our show live, we’re here Tuesday afternoons 2:30 on the West Coast and 5:30 on the East Coast. So, Isaro, you are the owner at the Carter Law Firm, and you said New York, that’s where you’re based out of. Yeah, New York City. Awesome. And I didn’t give you much prep time at all. I just emailed you today. I was like, hey, I had a cancellation. Can you please be on the show today? So, thank you so much for being a good sport and being willing to share some time. I know it’s precious. So, we can go lots of different directions with this show. We keep pretty general. If we do get any live questions, we will answer those as we go. But I love starting with a founder story, kind of having you explain, walk us through why you set up the firm, maybe what was the initial spark that got you thinking about owning your practice. And everyone out there that might be thinking about hanging their own shingle, what are some things you can share? So, give us that founder story first.

Okay, no problem. So, pretty much like I’ve always known that eventually, at some point in my career, I’d be working for myself. I just never knew what capacity that would, I guess, take form in. But around 2020, I was working for a firm. I was doing actually family law, matrimonial, and criminal law at another small firm. And stuff was drying up because in around March in New York, that’s when the lockdowns and everything were happening because of the pandemic. And so, I was looking around at the little bit of work that was coming in. And then I was looking at my boss, who had also been my mentor since before I got to law school. Her name was Midwin Charles. And I was looking at her, she was looking at me, and I was like, “What are we gonna do?” And she was like, “You know, whatever it is that you decide to do, if you want to do business development and have some clients come in, if you want to start something on your own, you are more than welcome to.” She was really great. She pretty much supported me in everything that I did. She was kind of like my legal mom, my legal fairy godmother. And eventually, I decided, okay, well, now is as good a time as any to start my own law firm if that’s what I want to do and if that’s how self-employment is going to take shape in my life. So, I did it, and I told her, and she supported me through and through. She kicked me some clients. She gave me every single resource under the sun that she had used to start her own firm after leaving big law. And it’s incredible. Yeah. What’s her name again? Her name was Midwin Charles. So, unfortunately, she passed away in 2021. Right, you know, she was truly like the catalyst to getting that done at the time that I decided to get it done.

Okay, got it. And so, it was actually a family law practice, yeah. Okay, yeah. Got it. And that is not what you’re doing now, is it? No, I do entertainment now. How did you make that change? Okay, I didn’t know that, actually. By the way, is there, you are in a mastermind together. We get to talk about all kinds of things. That is one of the reasons why I started the show is I want to get some of that learning, some of the things that everyday founders, owners of firms, they don’t get to talk about or learn about. It seems like it’s all hidden and behind closed doors. So, thank you again for being here, for sharing that story. But let’s first go there. How did you go from family law to entertainment law? Got it. So, to be honest, entertainment was where I started. So, before law school, I just always knew I was going to work in the entertainment industry. In fact, the way that I met Midwin was through an entertainment boot camp that I had done in undergrad. It was like the year 2015, and I was a part of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network’s summer boot camp, just for college-age young women who were never exposed to the entertainment world before but wanted to get their foot in the door. So, she was a guest professor at one point, and this is before law school. Oh, yeah. This is before law school. I wasn’t necessarily legal-related. You’re just entertainment. Just entertainment. Entertainment, down because even before then, right, I thought that I was going to be a doctor. I was going to med school until orgo came in and told me that I would not be going to med school. So, I just changed courses, and I was like, “Okay, I might as well just follow my dreams, my passions.” I come from a family that is very, very entertainment-oriented and very much in the performing arts and the visual arts. We have musicians, we have dancers, we have painters. We just have everybody. Everybody’s doing something. I was not blessed with the talent, but I could read it really well, you know. I can make a hell of an argument, you know. So, I was like, “Okay, let’s try our hand at a different profession. Let’s see where I could find my footing in the law behind these things.” Because even at the time, growing up, I would see my family members going through things, and I would even see some of my favorite entertainers going through transactions where they were getting the short end of the stick. Their ideas were getting taken from them. Their intellectual property was getting taken from them. And I was like, “This is your bread and butter. How are you supposed to make a living and sustain yourself off of this if there are all these pitfalls that are kind of designed for you to fall into because you don’t understand the legal jargon? You don’t understand the business aspect of things?” So, that’s where I found my niche. That’s where I found where I can fit in. And so, once orgo wasn’t… Once the med school stuff wasn’t going to work for me, I was like, “Okay, the law I can definitely do.” And so, yeah, that’s how I got into that. And every single internship and every single job that I had in undergrad was just entertainment-oriented and it was in different facets of the entertainment industry. And then even in law school, when I was doing my externships and internships, entertainment straight, except for one time, right? Try to make sure that entertainment was exactly what I wanted to do, and so I did crimmigration at a non-profit. Crimmigration. Yeah. So, like the intersection of criminal law and immigration. And it was very fulfilling and very impactful work, but for the same reason why I left family law and matrimony and stuff is why I decided not to go down that route, right? It’s very emotional. And there are a lot of really huge and heavy issues that go on. Some of the ugliest parts of humanity, you’ll see play out in these spaces. And it was really hard for me to not take that home with me. So, I was like, “Yeah, let me just go back to what my passions are and do something, you know, it’s not as light but, you know, a little lighter.” Quite a bit, yeah.

Yeah, I guess that’s something I sort of almost take for granted, you know, the type of work that we now do in intellectual property. It’s all opportunistic, it’s happy, there’s no one mad when we are. So, we got a randomly LinkedIn user, ‘I’m impressed with your level of knowledge, wow, amazing, very nice.’ Well, I assume you’re talking about our guests today. Well, if they’re talking about both of us, they would be accurate in the level of knowledge, so thank you. Very good. Okay, so let’s see, when back to your roots in entertainment. Some of the people out there, maybe they’re still at a big firm, they’re like, ‘How would I even land my first client?’ You mentioned there were some introductions you got from your previous firm, but how did you kind of get those first or won their first client in entertainment?

So, I think that everybody in entertainment will kind of say the same thing, whether you’re a lawyer or even if you’re an A&R at a company or just an agent, right? It’s always going to be somebody that you know; your connections are going to be everything; your network is going to be everything. Like I said, growing up, I was just kind of entrenched in the Performing Arts and the visual arts. So there were a lot of people around me who were creating things but didn’t necessarily know a lawyer or have an entertainment account or anything like that. They were just doing it out of the love of these things and not even realizing that they really could have a sustainable career in this. So, my first client, who’s actually a family friend, she’s still my client today. She’s one of the union members for WGA, so she’s on strike now.

Oh, okay. Yeah, catch me up to speed. What’s going on with this? How is that affecting her or all your clients, I guess?

So pretty much, the way that these strikes work is all these different unions that exist in Hollywood, they come to an agreement every set amount of years with the studios. It sets the standard agreement for how much people are paid, how many hours they’re going to be working, the parameters of this employment, and the parameters of payment. This year, The Writers Guild of America had greater demands, rightfully so. They would like to be paid more, their rates haven’t raised for a very long time, inflation is kind of killing what they are being paid now, and AI is a huge issue right now. They want to make sure that their jobs are going to be safe, and that they’re going to have security in the future with these moving issues. Unfortunately, we’re kind of at a stalemate right now because a lot of studios haven’t come to an agreement with them yet. The writers are still striking in the streets since May; the actors just went on strike a couple of weeks ago, and there are talks now even as recently as today that it’s going to continue on until 2024. So, studios would be, for example, Paramount, would that be?

Yeah, like Paramount, and you know, 20th Century Fox, Disney, like all these big-name production studios. Why don’t they just go direct to individual writers or maybe they do?

Well, in Hollywood, if you are a working writer and you’re making a specific amount of money, you’re eligible to be a part of the union. The union is where you want to be because that’s where people get their health insurance, benefits, etc. You have more protection in the union going up against these big studios than you do as an individual, for sure. I remember at Boeing, before I became a lawyer, there was an engineering union, and they had all the research and negotiating power. An individual is not going to get as good benefits or pay, so being in the union gives you that advantage.

Awesome. Thank you for going deep on that. Let’s pull back and go back into law firm a little bit. So, let’s say, in your year one or year two, what are some big golden nuggets, big lessons learned that you could pass along to our audience looking back as you started out?

I know that a lot of people who are thinking of making that plunge and jump, there’s a little bit of fear mixed up into that. The scary part really isn’t starting it; it’s really easy to just start. The mechanics of starting it really are just getting clients in the door. One of my biggest tips, I would say, is it doesn’t matter if all you have is a website and a business card. You might not even have a real working functional office space. Go network; go tell people that you’re out there; go start building up your network, start building up your contacts; let people know that you’re around and that you’re available and that you can help. Who did you network with? I mean, this is, go if you don’t mind because I have a little block in my calendar for networking, and I end up kind of the same kind of folks. What do you, for you, what did you, who do you network with?

No problem. I networked with, I would say, two primary groups: other attorneys and then also people who are the people that I would be working with, potential clients. So when we’re talking about attorneys, I joined the executive committee of some of these different bar associations. I am the secretary of the Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, and I’ve been there since 2019. So now we’re talking before I even started the firm. I was laying that foundation, and that is one of the best places, I think, especially if you’re just starting out, to network with others. What you’re going to miss from being at a firm and then now working on your own is the collaboration aspect of things. Being able to just walk into someone’s office and ask a quick question. You’re going to have to know other attorneys that you’re going to be able to pick up the phone, ask a question, send an email and get a response. Build those relationships and allow them to share with you the knowledge that they have about what it is that they’re doing. For example, the mastermind that you started that I’m a member of, do that too because there are plenty of attorneys that have walked this road before, and I’m a very firm believer that you don’t have to learn everything firsthand through personal experience. You can learn from the experiences of others. Well, that’s what people are listening here, hopefully, maybe watching after the fact, are hoping to get from you.

So okay, that’s good. That’s really good. You actually networked with potential clients, and I was always scared to do some of that because of these, the special you can’t go solicit or post. So, I kind of hid behind this digital advertising marketing content. But I imagine entertainment law, it’s in person, you know, a lot of that times events. What are some things, did you sponsor events or just go hang out at certain places? How do you work with potential clients?

Right, right, about that soliciting thing. I don’t do any of that. I’m in the room around people who essentially are my peers, but I’m also a geek for the entertainment industry. So, I’m actually very interested in what these people do. I’m going into these rooms and asking them about what it is that they do, how they got started, why do they love the facet of the entertainment industry that they love? Because of regular conversation, people ask me questions about what I do, and I just tell them. If they’re interested in what I do, then I’m like, ‘Okay, well, this is where you can go and find that. We don’t have to talk about this today, and I’m not hounding you.’ Then I walk away. That’s very good; there’s no hard stuff, that’s perfect. So, it’s just you being curious and interested in the area of law that you’re in, I guess it seems of it. I guess that’s kind of like me; I used to go to the CES Consumer Electronics Show just to go have fun, go see what all the new gadgets and stuff are out there. Yeah, I did have my business cards, but you’re right; that was the easiest way to go if they do happen to ask me what I do. ‘Oh yeah, I’m doing this, by the way.’ So, it’s after truly being interested and caring about what they’re doing.

And to be honest, I’m in rooms that directly affect the clients that I already have. I go to these educational networking events where they’re talking about developments, the new movies that are coming out; they’re just talking about everything that’s happening in entertainment. I want to know because if I’m worth my hourly rate, I better know. Not just continuing legal education, but continuing education within your industry and niche. That’s a big point right there. Okay, so you mentioned because that’s kind of the big lessons learned, what are some of the ways that you are trying to grow your practice? I know that can be something some people want to do. As you kind of chart the course, what are some things you’re trying to do now? Maybe you’re struggling with or maybe they’re having some success when you’re trying to grow.

So, for me personally, it’s how I tackle my marketing because again, I never want to fall into the realm of solicitation. But I also want people to know that I’m here and I’m available. I’m taking new clients and also positioning myself as somebody who knows what they’re talking about without giving legal advice and going into that realm of the attorney-client relationship when I am doing things. One of the things that I’m figuring out right now is my digital marketing, mapping that out, and what that’s going to look like. For a long time, I was doing it by myself, and I guess two years really isn’t a long time, but it felt like a long time. Can I show your website?

Yeah, of course. Let me share a screen, and I’ll flash it up here so people can see it. I’ll put that in the link as well. But this was recently redone, right?

Yeah, this was redone in 2023. The first two iterations of this website were not great, but it worked okay. The links worked, and all the information was there. I was proud of it because I had done it myself, and I would let people know, ‘Hey, this is who I am, this is what I do.’ I think that it was endearing, at least for the first couple of people that were working with me because they signed up for consultations, and they’re still my clients today. It works. No, I think it’s clean, and I love it. You’re not hiding with your specialty, creatives. I like that a lot. You’re looking for, hey, creative. So, I’d like to speak directly to the people that I want to work with because I think specifically when it comes to creatives and just people who make things because of their love for the things that they are creating in the space that they’re in, they can be very emotionally attached to it. I think that sometimes being a lawyer, there’s a disconnect with that empathetic side of things and then also the business side of things. I think that I do, at least my clients tell me, that I do a really good job of taking care of their ideas and their creations as if they were my own or if they were my own family members. Because at the end of the day, they have poured their hearts and souls into these things. So, I always try to make that come across in what my marketing is, and if you want the kind of lawyer who doesn’t care about that, I’m not your girl. But yeah.

Okay, so it is just you for now?

Yeah.

Okay, and that keeps it really simple. My social media manager, who I just got. So, whatever you see on Instagram and on TikTok, she put it together in that pretty package, and she did the strategy on it. I saw a couple of your TikToks; it was pretty cool, very informal style. You’re just laying it out for people. This is your TikTok, right?

Yeah, that’s me.

Awesome. I’ve started to do some of those as well. I think it’s fun; you have to try to be where your clients are exactly. Those newer platforms. Let’s say the last few minutes and talk about that. Even though it is a social media manager, as a contractor, how did you go about hiring that? How was that process? What are some lessons learned if someone’s looking to do that, and they’re solo, they’ve been doing the social media on their own? Why did you choose to hire someone, and has it paid off? What do you like about it?

I’ll start by answering the question that you said, why hire somebody so early on. I think that when it comes to my business, but really any business, the person who starts it, they started because they’re really good at this one thing. But I think that what makes a business succeed, and what makes it live, is being able to, as quickly as possible, hire experts at the different factors that go into operating the business and bringing in new business. The lawyering thing, I have my credentials; I’m saying that I’m pretty good at that. But social media strategy, not so much, graphic design, not so much, video editing, no. I’m not good at that. I think that in the early iterations of my social media, that showed. Anytime I put my name to something, I just want it to be the best version of it. I knew that I wasn’t the person to be able to give the best version of that. So, I had to hire somebody. How I chose the social media manager that I work with now, a lot of research went into looking for this person. I wanted somebody who would understand.

First and foremost, my voice and what I’m trying to communicate to my target demographic. Second, understand who my target demographic is. Of course, I have that information, and I give that to them. We talk it out. But I also wanted them to understand how to do research on that target market and understand how they interact with social media, and which platforms they are really on. Someone who really understands social media. And then, someone who would really understand that, specifically when you’re working with a law firm, there are a lot of red tapes that we kind of have to work around. A lot of disclaimers, a lot of disclosures. There are certain things that I can’t say, and certain things that I can’t do. But then, how do we get creative enough in this creative economy to still get the message out and still have the right strategy so that people understand that I do know what I’m talking about? But I can’t just say something that is specific to people’s situations.

Yeah, well, thank you. That’s awesome, and I know it’s been a stroke. Do you think it’s working, having someone else take it? Sounds like that’s the big advice. The bottom line is if you found something you’re not necessarily good at or don’t enjoy, look to delegate, right? Look to hire someone. What would you say? Is it so far so good? Is it a match made in heaven?

I would say it really is, and I am so grateful for her. She went on vacation for a week, and I was flailing. I was like, ‘I need you back, please come back.’ So, she’s back now. It’s all systems go. But it’s great; she really gets it. She also is a Gen Z Millennial cusp, so she also understands the online speak that I’m trying to communicate, and it just works out all across the board. It’s really great. It’s a great time.

Good, good. Okay, we’re gonna wrap up the show. Unfortunately, the half-hour has come to a close. Who wants to get a hold of you? We have a few live viewers here; anyone that might watch this afterward, can I give out your email address?

Absolutely. Okay, so I’ve got isara@CarterLawFirm.com. All right, I’ll share that. So, you guys are welcome to reach out to her via email if you have any questions about maybe the social media contractor she’s working with or anything with respect to Writer’s Guild or the strikes going on or just starting up your practice. I’d be available as well. So, you’re welcome to email me. Here’s my email. And Isara, I’m so glad you’re part of my Mastermind. This, I don’t have to stop here; you know, we get to continue on. If you’re out there, an attorney practicing, you want to know more about this Mastermind, send me an email. Maybe I’ll do an interview, see if you got what it takes to be a part. Anyway, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been great. Thank you for having me, JD. I appreciate it. All right, you take care, and bye, everyone. Take care; have a good day. Bye, everyone.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/