B.Ratelle: 00:00 This is episode 16, using legal to stay on brand with attorney Caroline J. Fox, welcome to la and wit creative counsel for entrepreneurs. I’m your host, Brittany, retell mother for entrepreneur and nap time lawyer and attorney for creative entrepreneurs. I’m here to share inspiration and action so that you can tackle your business blocks and confidently own your business in every sense of the word. Thank you so much for being here. Okay, everyone. I’m super excited about our guest today. Um, so I want to quickly introduce her. We have caroline J. Fox and caroline is a Virginia attorney who focuses on small to medium creative businesses. She got her start in the wedding and event space and that’s kind of the first people who were nice to her and that recognized her help and for what it is in terms of bringing legal to the creative folks, um, who are in those trenches.
B.Ratelle: 00:51 And she’s a frequent speaker at leading conferences in that industry. She’s got a background in PR. What? Yeah, let’s hear it for the PR girls because they happen to make great attorneys can just saying, yeah, I said it, and she’s the mastermind behind the engage collective as an engaged to a Belgian, a 10 points to gryffindor if you know the quote for that movie, um, you know, if you know the source. So, um, but yeah, she’s an amazing educator speaker and she’s a great resource and so she’s an attorney and that she also runs this educational resource called the engaged collective and she’s here to talk to us today about ways that you can use legal to stay on brand. And specifically we dive into talking about intellectual property, law contracts, setting up your business, what happens with stuff get canceled when businesses go sour, you know, we’re here to talk about the highs and the lows and everything in between.
B.Ratelle: 01:45 So I knew we try to really keep it non legal nerdy, um, and recognize who our audiences and who we’re trying to, uh, to help here. Um, but we, we get into some really useful stuff in this episode. Guys. I’m not gonna lie, so please does dig in. I know it’s on the long side because like I said, we do get paid to talk by the hour. We are attorneys, um, but it’s all good stuff. So, and I went through and handpicked and listened to every little gigabyte of information to make sure that everything in here was something I felt was really thoughtful and that should stay in, would be helpful. I will give our little disclaimer while we are attorneys, um, neither of us as your attorney, unless you want us to be, in which case, please seek us out on our official legal websites and sign up for a time to meet with us.
B.Ratelle: 02:28 Um, and we’d be happy to represent you and help help you in your business. So without further ado, here is my interview with Caroline J. Fox. All right guys. Well we’re so excited to have caroline with us. Um, so hey caroline, welcome to the podcast. Hey, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Awesome. Um, so Carolina is, we talked about is based, you know, back east is, as we say it here out west, um, and you know, she, she’s another attorney, but, you know, I will kind of wanted her to start off a little bit about
B.Ratelle: 03:00 how she got to be working with kind of creative businesses too because we are, we are kind of cut from the same cloth. We kind of like hanging out with the same people. Um, and I thought it would be kind of useful to kind of understand what she’s doing now in terms of where she’s been. So tell us a little bit about kind of your origin story, how did you get into working with the clients and, and kind of doing that, the stuff that you’re doing now?
CJ Fox: 03:22 Um, so my background, I had a undergrad degree in pr for PR girls. Yeah. It’s so similar, right? Because you’re just, you’re trying to present your story and make a story and presenting the best way you can. And so it’s really, it’s really similar. But, uh, my, I guess senior year I guess fall of my junior year, I decided I took a law class. I was like, I’m going to go to law school, um, but, you know, I still wasn’t quite sure. So I took law classes, apply to law school, got into law school, um, but in the interim to, you know, I worked in advertising and then, um, I worked in pr a little bit so I got that really nice flavor of being able to work with creatives and be around creatives before I got into that law school state of mind, which is just a little bit like, it’s a lot. It can be a lot, it could be a little overwhelming,
B.Ratelle: 04:21 you know. So it’s, it’s a lot of time, you know, uh, in the, in the library, there’s, you know, there’s very little legally blonde going on, you know, when it all lead us astray.
CJ Fox: 04:32 Yeah. The whole thing where she’s like working out, exercising while trying to study, like that’s just impossible. Like that. Those text is so small, right. There’s no way you can know, it’s just, it’s all, you know, 18, 50 railroad cases. That’s all you learned about. I swear to, you know, elephants live, let live. I had a great super niche because I’m a really big believer in like kind of really niching down. So I really reached out into the wedding and event market. That’s kind of the first people that allowed me to work with them. I guess they could raise it with open arms. They were like, come here, you can sit with us. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. What I did was I came back and just decided like these are the people that I’m going to focus on. So I was super niched down. Um, you know, I didn’t exclude a lot of people from my client base now I do because I’m like, I just don’t want to deal with certain things and I don’t have the capacity at this point to deal with certain things.
CJ Fox: 05:29 So I work, I do work with all kinds of creative entrepreneurs, but I got my really like, well known start I guess in that, that wedding and event space. So I get to travel over, do things like wedding wire, um, you know, lecture at the special event, which is a big trade show in New Orleans. I just got back from Mexico recently doing a luxury event planning conference. I’m talking. Yeah, it was so fun. Oh my gosh, it was a really bad. There’s so much tequila, but you had walked somewhere and they would just be like, do you want to heal? And I’m like, no, I just want a glass of water. But
B.Ratelle: 06:04 Mexico, you know, it’s probably safer. Um, but yeah, I mean, yeah, go figure that people in the event planning space would like to party. Yeah, I mean,
CJ Fox: 06:11 yeah, I know who thought they would have thrown a great party. Yeah. So yeah, we um, it was, it was really great and they’ve been really, really, that interest rate has been really, really great to me. Um, so that’s Kinda like where I am in my law practice. Um, I do a lot of trademark law, a lot of contracts, a few businesses booth here and there when we have to, but that’s okay.
B.Ratelle: 06:35 And as we’ve talked, you know, I, I love that your, your particular background and obviously your experiences gotten you kind of in the trenches with intellectual property, you know, Ip is as, as lawyer nerds call it probably, you know, copyright and trademark as others when you talk to clients and they’re, they don’t have, you know, tons of budget in terms of to get everything on their list that you might suggest. Where do you usually like to start
CJ Fox: 07:00 with ip? Well, I mean I think it honestly even goes beyond like back before the Ip is I really want. I really like to get people in that either llc. Usually I push them in and pushing towards LLC because it’s a little bit simpler. I like to get them there because even if you’ve got a great Ip strategy, if something goes terribly wrong and like you get sued or whatever. Like I’d rather insulate those personal assets right off the bat if. Yeah, right off the bat. And if you do have that really kind of small single member Llcs, right? It’s really easy to organize yourself. Um, and you know, and I don’t like to, if there’s anything above a single member LLC and like if you’ve got an plan on taking on investors, if you plan on anything crazy like yeah, we need to really spend a lot of time developing a plan and an operating agreement.
CJ Fox: 07:51 It’s going to reflect that, but good founders plan. Right? Right. But if it’s just you, um, that’s a place where we can probably probably sneak you in and do a little bit less of an aggressive attack there. I know we don’t have to go so crazy. So I’d rather people start there and kind of organize that. If we’re in a place where we’re already rocking and rolling and we’ve got like a brand in motion and like we need to really start evaluating. I say like, all right, let’s do the trademark search because if you’re, you know, we’ve got a brand and you’re investing a lot of money in it. You need to make sure that like you’re not going to get a cease and desist letter and have to rebrand after you buy $8,000 worth of Koozies or something like that. And God only knows.
B.Ratelle: 08:34 Yeah, you know, if you think that it’s expensive to rebrand now you know, how about in two years or five years or whatever. Yeah. Yeah.
CJ Fox: 08:41 Right. And then not only do you have to like rebrand all your pens and your website and your domain names and like all that stuff, your social handles and yeah, your social and Oh my God, the social handles tries all the social handles. Sometimes it’s just like what? But like you have to rebrand all that but then you lose all that goodwill too. And like that’s what it’s all about. It’s about the goodwill associated with the brand. So like that I think is even more devastating than that, like tax burden on the tax bill, but that, that bill is going to come through to, to rebrand and do all your stuff. So trying to avoid that I think is the best place to go. And every company is different. Like, you know, we always say, but those are things you got to be
B.Ratelle: 09:18 responsible about right off the get go. Yeah, definitely. So yeah. No, I think that’s. I think it’s always helpful to have backup, you know, when we’re talking to myself. Okay. The business name is usually probably important to people and it’s usually probably the first thing that meant something to you. That’s why you picked it and it would probably be a huge bummer, you know, if you couldn’t just because you have a domain name or social handles or anything else or you did a google search and didn’t find anything that, that doesn’t cut it. Right? Yeah. That’s the thing. People are like, I did a google search. I’m like,
CJ Fox: 09:53 are there, like I typed it into the US pto to the search bar and I’m like, that doesn’t mean anything. That search is terrible.
B.Ratelle: 09:59 Yeah. Did you look for anything that sounds similar? Did you do, do a boolean search? You did. Do you know the list of all the stuff that you have to do to do a comprehensive search? Yeah,
CJ Fox: 10:09 right, exactly. Like translation, that kind of stuff. I mean, oh my God, yeah, so you. I mean, you know, but it is nice. Well my favorite things to do is when people kind of start doubting me or they’re just like, are you sure I need to do this? I like to send them to you. I’m like non lawyer websites essentially just like reinforced what I’m saying. And I’d be like, here’s a bunch of links to other like not only other lawyers that are saying what I was saying, but like Forbes or entrepreneur.com magazine, like all that and people, those kind of links because it just kind of reinforces it. So I think it’s always. I don’t think it’s bad to want a second opinion. You know, I, I can’t fault people for wanting that second opinion because it is. We are making judgment calls and there’s going to be different judgment calls and sometimes my judgment calls are going to be different than other attorneys judgment calls. But
B.Ratelle: 10:55 if
CJ Fox: 10:57 you are getting the same information over and over, there’s probably a reason you’re getting that information of many witnesses is exactly. It’s like if you have like five people telling you that’s it.
B.Ratelle: 11:08 Yeah.
B.Ratelle: 11:19 was you would, it would have been made easy by now, like somebody would have made manifest to you, someone who would have packaged it and they’d be making a whole lot of money, but it’s not. It’s cumbersome and it’s ugly and it’s a pain, which is why there’s people who are avoiding it and just want to stick their heads in the sand. So yeah. Yeah, yeah. I know you talked about it a little bit too and it’s just like, oh my God. Yeah. There’s so many changes. People have to make it. I’m like, I wish I could make it easier. Like I wish I could. Yeah. I don’t make the laws. We just enforce them because it’ll kill. Yeah, don’t, don’t kill the is we’re just trying to be, you know, your beds here and we don’t judge. Okay. Because we’re just always glad that you’re talking to somebody because we know certainly that you could not be, um, we, we all know that you could be talking to our buddy legal zoom or facebook groups and getting legal advice there and we see what happens when people decide to go that route because we have to clean up
CJ Fox: 12:13 stressful. Yeah, I do. I have to kind of exclude myself from any of those sort of like s communications back and forth because just people being like, well, my, I think you should do this. I’m like, Oh my God, this is the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
B.Ratelle: 12:27 You’re like, yeah, that, that’s fine. That’s, that’s one opinion if that’s how you want to live your life. So yeah, true. It’s true. Yeah. We all understand and we’re self aware enough, we know that we are not the most sexy part of running a business but doesn’t make it any less important for all, for all of that. So, okay, so that, that makes sense. You know, start with the LLC and then probably look at business, trademark. Um, what else? You know, what are the other big mistakes you see people overlooking, you know, when they’re thinking about using either using their own content or in dealing with other people’s content?
CJ Fox: 13:01 Yeah, we’re on the same wavelength because that was kinda going to be the next place when I started hearing you asking this question that was going to the next place I go, it’s like people don’t, um, you know, if you’re running a creative company, I work with a lot of like smaller ad agencies or I guess medium size ad agencies to. And um, some of these agencies are working with fortune 500 companies and they are agreeing to indemnify companies for their work if there’s any sort of infringement action. Right. So indemnification is like saying, okay, we’re going to cover your legal fees. We promised we didn’t steal this content, but they’re not licensing the content through a little bit. Just going online and downloading a video and showing it in their, their presentation to the company that the company then turns around and chose to their employees. And I’m like, so there wasn’t a clearance. Like we didn’t have someone come in who like really knows how to handle this and a lot of times it happens because small companies are lean and they grow quickly. Like if you’re going lean startup model,
B.Ratelle: 14:03 you know, and you suddenly land a big client like you say yes and you hustle and you sign that contract and you’re like, yeah,
CJ Fox: 14:09 it just pitching, you know? Yeah, exactly. But if you’re signing a couple hundred thousand dollar contract and you know you’re agreeing to indemnify a company that’s like a multibillion dollar company, you should probably have somebody look at that. Like you need to put the things in place. We’re not just playing softball anymore. Like we are playing hardball with the big boys. So it’s what’s great about the whole entrepreneurial culture is that like you do get to work with big brands and big companies and it’s really cool and there’s a lot of companies that are trying to utilize small shops now, which is great because they’re able to provide a really quick turnaround with a lot of times a superior product because there’s not as much interference being run. But you had that small company also have to realize what you’re giving, what you’re giving away. You have to make yourself familiar with the law. You can’t just be like, oh, I didn’t know. Like I didn’t know
B.Ratelle: 15:08 10 percent. I thought that was okay. I thought as long as you change 10 percent of the design, you’re fine. I heard that one this week from someone. Yeah. And I was like, no, no. Put the percentages. I’ve heard of that lately and I’m just like, that’s not a thing. It’s not a thing. I don’t know. Some, some, some hooligan designed professor somewhere is like pushing that out, but it’s not, it is not a real thing. I don’t even know how you would do that anyway. I mean it’s, you know, I’m an amateur graphic designer for sure. But you know, I’m trying to like insert myself into like in illustrator and moving things around. And when do you get to the 10 percent mark? I don’t, I don’t get.
CJ Fox: 15:42 How do you even calculate that? I Dunno. I mean I would say not. If you change 90 percent, that’s probably safe.
B.Ratelle: 15:47 That’s good. That says that’s a good thing. It’s a much better position to be in.
CJ Fox: 15:51 Sure. It’s a much better number. So that kind of thing. Just when you were rapidly growing, when you get to that growth stage like you need, I get that you’re not going to be able to hire a compliance officer if you’re like, you know, small. I get that you’re not necessarily going to be able to hire somebody to come in and review every single contract if you are a two person shop, but like when you’re growing and other people’s salaries are on the line, you have got like it is your responsibility as a business owner, as a business partner and then as a service provider to know what’s in your contract and to understand what you’re signing and it’s your responsibility to your client. Not to like don’t put them in that position. Don’t put them in the position where then they then have to turn around and say like, Hey, we’re a multibillion dollar company and we’re going to enforce this indemnification provision against the small company because now we’re being sued for $50,000,000. You know? And it’s just, it’s more of a responsibility thing on your part that you have to take care of.
B.Ratelle: 16:53 Yeah, for sure. Yeah. No, it’s true. So yeah, all, all really important things to think about, you know, when you’re in that important growth scaling stage of Your Business is um, you know, if you want to go after bigger clients, just be smart about it. And you know, to understand that there are risks that come with rewards and be comfortable with that and understand that you’re still going to have to do some good cost benefit analysis in terms of taking on that business, you know, and just be smart about it. Don’t cut corners, don’t put yourself in a position where you have super tight deadlines because that’s normally what happens is that people, you know, I hear it all the time. Well someone told me they needed this done now. And so I went online and I just found something at, you know. And that’s always the way it happens, you know, is because that’s good advice, you know, because you, I mean, it’s the same thing they say in accounting fraud, you know, it’s because people have opportunity and there was pressure and um, you know, it’s like that, that fraud triangle and that’s when mistakes happen.
B.Ratelle: 17:47 That’s when that stuff goes down. Oh,
CJ Fox: 17:50 that’s really good advice. I think that’s really interesting. And that’s a really good. You know, I never did. I’m like any sort of finance a work. When I was practicing, I did, I did a little stint during law school at a, at a bigger law firm. We did like bankruptcy and litigation, civil litigation. This is litigation, that kind of stuff. But I never did like the financial stuff that goes along with that, um, or like the m and a that goes along with that. So that’s a really. Like, I liked that. I like that analogy.
B.Ratelle: 18:20 Yeah. Give yourself will feel free to use it, you know. But yeah, give yourself that space in your business because, um, yeah, otherwise yet you’ll, you’ll probably be called upon to make judgment calls and go directions you didn’t want to and you won’t be able to, to say, you know, to heck with you. So yeah, now yeah, now you’ve put yourself against the wall for sure. So yeah, so I mean, so say someone you know, is doing the right thing there, you know, listening to someone like us, they are trying to protect their business, be smart about using other people’s but say that, you know, say they’re, you know, in a wedding event business and they find that someone is using their photos or something else is happening that there, you know, and they know that they don’t have the money for outlet. Again, that point, what kind of options do they have, you know, how do you kind of play that cease and desist game of
CJ Fox: 19:08 chicken? Right, exactly. I mean, well first I would say, you know, never send a cease. I want to get this and put it on my tombstone is thou shalt not send a cease and desist unless you’re ready to sue so much. Somebody can look at it and be like, Oh really? You going to sue us? Okay, go ahead. And then if it’s a trademark situation and you send a cease and desist and you don’t follow up on it, that’s ground to get your trademark overturn. So it’s like definitely don’t do it. My answer is going to be you have to consult with a lawyer. It’s sucks, but like that position you don’t know like do you even have rights to the photos? Like if you took a photo then you obviously own it, but if a photographer took a photo of your wedding and event execution, like you don’t necessarily own that photo. So like what does that mean?
B.Ratelle: 19:56 And they. But they decided to submit it to a magazine and it’s not being that got printed and that’s awesome. But now your, you know, you don’t see your name in there, you know at tribute it. And that’s usually how it goes down. It’s usually not a problem if people get attribution because everyone’s like, sharing is caring. That’s awesome. It’s normally as a problem when it’s not, and now you’re like, well, wait, did that, they shouldn’t eat. They didn’t even ask and I didn’t get any money out of that and yeah, Yada, Yada Yada. Right, right.
CJ Fox: 20:20 Yeah. And one of the ways that I do like to work through these types of problems and it’s not, it doesn’t always work because you don’t always catch everybody or you may not be confident in yourself enough yet to say that you need this, but especially in the, in the case of a style sheet, you definitely need to have enough when agreement with the photographer and everybody else that’s involved in the style shoot, talking about that. Like that’s pretty easy to get. Um, it’s at the wedding or the event itself that you have to kind of like be a little bit more careful. Um, you know, maybe get some sort of agreement with the photographer that you can use images or that they’re going to like send you images. It’s really tricky though because you don’t want to. You don’t really have any leverage in that position, right where we’re already at a wedding.
CJ Fox: 21:07 Someone else is paying for these photos. You cannot like require the bride to have the photographer transfer photos to you because the photographer’s not a part of that contract. I’ve seen that people try to do that and I’m like, I’m probably going to work. So you don’t have a lot of rights in that situation. So I would say just the more you can communicate, the better. And the same thing goes for if you are in a situation where there’s a dispute going on or the possibility of a client being unhappy with your work or like something happened and if you’re a photographer, you’ve lost photos. If you’re a designer, you know something’s happening. The designs taking longer, you’re up against that tight deadline because supposed to launch and tick Tock Tock
B.Ratelle: 21:53 not happening and you say it’s because you haven’t gotten the copy that you need for the website and they say it’s because you’re dragging your feet and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle and. Yeah,
CJ Fox: 22:02 exactly. So I think the best thing you can do in that situation is just keep those lines of communication open because the minute you go dark is the minute that like people get really mad because as long as you. If you keep in communication with somebody, like even though they’re like a little pissy, there’ll probably be a little bit easier to deal with. I mean just in my experience handling these all the time.
B.Ratelle: 22:26 Your vast experience to which you could speak of quite professionally. Proficiently.
CJ Fox: 22:31 Exactly. Just based on that. I’m just. The more you communicate with people, the better. Yeah. I mean, yeah, it even in my experience as a business owner, if we’re not perfect, you know, we’re, we’re business owners too. Yeah. We’re lawyers and we’re taking care of stuff, but we’re also business owners. You know, I like forgot to pay a bill and I had to call them and be like, look, I’m really sorry, this is what happened. I forgot to pay this. I’m sending the check in the mail now. I pr you know. So just keeping in communication with people I think is key.
B.Ratelle: 23:01 Yeah. Because people will be reasonable most of the time, you know, but it is when you, you, like you said, it’s when you go dark that people’s imagination start to go wild and then they start thinking like, what is happening? I am being screwed, you know? And just, it all starts to build all that tension and it’s hard. None of us like to have those phone calls. Are those emails where you’re like, look, I’m sorry I am not going to meet that deadline. Like something has come up. We have issues. We’re going to have to talk about how we can fix this. Um, and yeah, no, no one likes to eat crow, but you know, if they say it’s a, it’s a dish best served warm. So you should probably just get to it, make the phone call yet.
CJ Fox: 23:37 And that’s part of being a business owner is to make those tough calls, like if you don’t want to do that, you can work for somebody. Like, that’s fine. Like, that’s great, you know, um, but if you are the business owner or somebody who is high up in a company and there’s a mistake that happens, it’s your responsibility. Yeah. No, it’s totally, it’s your, it’s your deal to fix that. So no, I really liked that. Keeping the communication. That’s super clear. So, um, you mentioned a little bit about, uh, you know, working in business breakups and I know we talked a little bit of that when we were chatting last week about business divorces as sometimes we call them in the business. Um, so, you know, and you mentioned a little bit about how you can be avoided, which is by having a sound, people come to you and they do have a partner, they have someone else they’re going to work with with their business.
CJ Fox: 24:24 How do you like to start that process? You know, do you send them home with homework? If things to think about and talk about and you know, what, why should people care? Because I know a lot of people say, well like they’re my friend. I trust them. Of course. That’s why I’m doing business with them. Like what? What do I have to be so afraid of? Right, exactly. And like that’s how it all. That’s where it all started. It’s all funny names until it’s not, you know, just like marriage. Yeah, exactly. No, you’re laughing because you know it’s true. It’s like you. Before we will even come into my office, I started this now after like five years of kind of like figuring out how to handle it. I finally figured out the best way to do it is more we believe in God in my office.
CJ Fox: 25:04 If they’re like, hey, we want to start in this business together, like can we come in and talk to you? I send them home. I do. I give them homework. I give them a worksheet to fill out. It’s like literally just like a question and answer worksheet that I give to them and say like, here’s your information that you need to be thinking about before you walk into my office. And then that way, by the time you get into my office, we can know the answers to these questions. There won’t be any issues with like a conflict of interest because, you know, as, as a lawyer, we like also as a lawyer, we also have to deal with conflict of interest rules where, okay, you know, in a best case scenario, both of those partners are represented by lawyers. Um, and they both come in and they have someone advocating for them who knows, business law in practice in that literally never happens.
CJ Fox: 25:56 I literally never. And they’re like, oh, you can be an attorney. And you’re like, yes, as long as we’re all here on the same page, on the same team. But as soon as people start splitting up onto different jet skis, now we’ve got a problem. Like, yes, as soon as we split, now we have a problem and now I can’t represent anybody. It’s like, yeah, this is why we can’t have nice things. So yeah, I send them in with those questions, like how are we splitting the company? How are we voting? What does the, does the money split look like? The voting split? Are we doing this steam? Yeah. Yeah. What’s, what are you investing? What are you putting in? How much money are you each putting in? Can you each demand the other one put in more money? What happens if one of you dies? Like that’s the kicker. And people will still forest if you’re like in a community property state. We are. Yep. Yep.
B.Ratelle: 26:44 So you were not. But we’re surrounded by. So I always, you know, I put that little bee in the bonnet and my clients and I’m like, I know that you think you’re safe now, but let’s talk about if you move anywhere else around our state. Literally we’re surrounded. Yeah.
CJ Fox: 26:56 Yeah. And it’s. So it’s what we’re talking about is like that, that marital property, I guess they call it community property out there. It’s like if you get, get married, everything you have, it was 50 slash $50
B.Ratelle: 27:06 is on, it’s on the table. It is okay
CJ Fox: 27:08 on the table. Yeah. Even if you’d like.
B.Ratelle: 27:11 And like that’s my business. No, no member. It’s our money honey. It’s one,
CJ Fox: 27:16 he’s one of us dies like where does the business go? Does it go to their heirs and then do well their successors or whoever and just their successors get a vote voting say like, do they run the company with you? You don’t know their husband, you don’t know their wife like. So those kind of things are what we talk about in advance and a lot of times that kind of like siphoned out the people who would have problems in the first place. Um, and so and you know, not in a bad way, not saying like, oh, they shouldn’t be in business. Like it’s just like, it, it’s things that people haven’t thought about. Um, and that really says what you get when you do work with I’m a lawyer or someone who like knows your industry or they get where you’re coming from and they kind of get the way that people deal with each other in your industry. So you don’t get this super severe agreement versus you know, an agreement that might not be severe enough because the is familiar with, with whatever kind of situation that you’re walking into as a business owner like that or
B.Ratelle: 28:21 so, you know, they would know like, hey, if you’re doing sponsored posts with someone, it’s pretty normal that you’re going to offer this. Like, that’s, that’s a normal thing for a brand to ask, especially at this price point. And then a blog. Weird, you know, we’re like a licensing agreement. If people don’t know that like, Hey, a five to 10 percent is, that’s a really great royalty percentage. You should take that. That’s a good deal. I know you don’t give more than that unless you’re Disney. You’re not Disney, so you’re not going to get more than that.
CJ Fox: 28:47 Yeah. If you are Disney, you should pay us a lot more.
B.Ratelle: 28:50 Yeah. So that’s a different conversation for another day. I definitely.
CJ Fox: 28:55 Yeah. So like getting familiar, getting those people that Kinda like know those norms. I think that’s where we kind of provide that like better fitted service to the small business owner because you don’t want to be going, you know, relying on robots necessarily for everything. I mean I think they’re really great and they can be really, really useful. Especially, you know, especially in doing things like automating certain agreements or, or making things easier to fill in, you know, I use software where I can fill in a contract really really quickly and then I go through on top of that and I make other edits for the client that are specific to what they need and that helps me bill at lower and lower cost
B.Ratelle: 29:37 and providing a good service, good quality product. But you know, yeah, no, there’s a total balance of the efficiencies and we see that, you know, when I talk to clients, because you know the last lot about, well what about using this software or you know, using like a project or client management system with that. And I’m like, yeah, that’s great. You know, just make sure you have a good, decent contract. Because I’ve seen some of the ones that come with, you know, some software I know, you know, and you’ve, you’ve seen them too and you’re like, ah, that’s, it’s. Yeah, I know it looks short and pretty because it’s short and it doesn’t have enough in it, you know.
CJ Fox: 30:12 Well, and that’s one of the things too where people get in trouble is because they, if you do have a contract but it isn’t correct or it like arbitration clauses drive me crazy and I don’t know if you go to, like, I’m really anti arbitration and you might have other feelings on it, but like at this point, arbitration can be as expensive as litigation like this. Uh, and if you’re a small photographer, like you really want to be able to go in and get out, like going to small claims court file a really quick like small claims, worn in debt or whatever you call it, wherever you are, and like recoup fees based on your contract and then leave, like that’s a great option. You don’t want to go to arbitration for that. Like, and if there’s something that we need to mediate, like we couldn’t mediate, that’s cool, but people don’t recognize like they see arbitration and not knowing any better because they haven’t really necessarily consulted with somebody who knows their industry or their type of business or like what kind of business they’re running. They see arbitration, they think like, okay, it’s not litigation, but like sometimes litigation, it’s just a better answer
B.Ratelle: 31:18 sometimes it’s a benefit. Yeah. No. So I think you got it. You got to be smart there and have carve outs and certainly small claims is a great place for those folks who don’t know. That’s basically, it’s a very simplified kind of court proceeding and it’s under a certain amount, you know, it changes in certain jurisdictions but it’s normally like between 10 to 15 grand or something, you know, in that range normally and you can go and a lot of people is represent themselves or maybe hire just an attorney for that and it’s a lot more cost effective way for you to resolve something with someone else. You know, when you see like the online, like on TV, like judge Judy’s, that’s like a small claims normally kind of ESC proceeding. That’s kind of thing I wanted to, to, to get your thoughts on are kind of event cancellations because I know that you, you know, event and event services or you know, where you’ve kind of developed and been in the trenches. Um, and it’s something that no one likes to think about, especially when you’re talking about weddings and big events that sometimes things do not happen. But how do you handle that? And do you just throw a big force majeure clause in there or.
CJ Fox: 32:20 Yeah. So you have a couple situations, right? You have like the force majeure, which is, you know, there was an earthquake act of God fire, civil insurrection, whatever you want to.
B.Ratelle: 32:32 People get sometimes a really creative with what they list in here, you know, in terms of the things that could go wrong. Yeah, asteroid, you know, and like apocalypse like we’re talking about like zombies, you know, World War II.
CJ Fox: 32:45 So it becomes kind of a business decision, like how do you want to handle it? Do you want to risk a maybe like going to court and losing, which if you write it to look like a liquidated damages clause, which means you know, you’re keeping things spread out in New York, accepting payments as you go and blah blah blah, and based on whatever they cancel close to the event is how much money you’re going to get. I’m going to kill this dog. That’s not really. I mean I just like decided to be insane and in squeak his duck at me, which he never does. I’m new here. Um, uh, so yeah, we have that, that kind of situation. I like to tell people that as if somebody’s wedding is canceled for whatever reason, you I would really heavily consider refunding an amount of money because like even if that person isn’t going to be using your full services, like you build up so much goodwill with that person because you’re helping them in this time of me that like is probably not the best time of their life for whatever reason this widens getting terminated. It’s not happening. You know, if they just move the wedding to a different location than like you use your best judgment there and figure that out, but they are more likely to hold you in a higher regard and possibly refer you to other people instead of like freak out and be like this wedding planner, Blah Blah. They are like the worst and they wouldn’t refund me when like my husband left me for the secretary, Blah Blah Blah. That kind of
B.Ratelle: 34:16 right. Just not. It’s not a story you want associated with your brand probably.
CJ Fox: 34:21 Is that part. Is that part of the way you present your brand? Like think about the on-brand solution to what you want to be doing because it’s like all fun and games and like you have a legal remedy but you also have like the business side of it that you need to think about. And that’s one of those, those situations, um, you know, if they need to move the wedding or the event itself, I usually draft a clause in there about like, okay, like if it’s available to us and we can do it then we’ll do it, but you’re going to have to pay another non refundable deposit and your fees might change based on the date because certain days or how do the dates are hotter or cooler or more popular than others. So just kind of like putting that in there is a way to protect yourself.
B.Ratelle: 35:01 Yeah. No, I think that’s really smart. So yeah, I liked that. The think of on brand remedies. I think that that’s a really good way to encapsulate, you know, all of the strategy that you should be thinking about and when problem solving, when things go wrong, because the reality is in business things happen that you didn’t expect, you know, we talked about, you know, there are data problems or weather problems or you know, third party problems if someone else that you were working with that flaked out and stuff happens. So how, how can we fix it, how can we move forward in a way that resonates with what you propose to be doing in your business, you know, that stays consistent who you are that feels authentic to you and your brand and the people you serve.
CJ Fox: 35:41 Right. Exactly. And so keeping those things in mind as I, I just think it’s really important as you, as you move forward and figure out your business and grow it and then figure out where it stands and even differentiate yourself from other brands. Um, so that’s, it’s just things to think about like that and keeping in communication about it because that’s important too,
B.Ratelle: 36:01 right? Yeah. Don’t see in the dark for sure. So, all right, well I have things that people should be doing in their business, you know, to be a kind of a better legally protecting themselves. It’s kind of a creative entrepreneur. So I know that’s a broad category, but um, you know, I, I, even though these are probably things that I talk about and that you also talked about to your people, I think it bears repeating again on terms of what people can do to be better, you know, tomorrow,
CJ Fox: 36:25 first thing for. Yeah, no absolutely. You know, at first I think that getting yourself organized as a, some sort of limited liability entity, if it’s possible, you know, if that’s in your budget to do that, just do it because it, it saves you so much money in the long run. You know, I had a case recently where I was trying to pierce a veil, which means essentially go through the LLC and get somebody’s personal assets because they were being very sketchy and I thought that I could maybe do it. We were really trying to get in there and I thought maybe, but they wouldn’t let us. Like, it’s really hard to get through that corporate veil. So if you want to protect yourself, like I
B.Ratelle: 37:05 really, really recommended LLC. Guys, get that shield, did that bubble, put it up, put up the wall. Okay.
CJ Fox: 37:11 Put it up when you can. It’s, it’s so worth it. Um, the next thing I would say is look at all your contracts and make sure that you just haven’t like hobbled something together. Um, look at like, just read through it. Make sure it makes sense. You know, if you can’t necessarily go and talk to a lawyer at that point, um, or maybe like purchase a template or anything like, just look at your contract and read it and make sure you actually understand what it says. I’m make sure everything in there is applicable to you and like makes sense. Sometimes I have people, even people whose contracts I’ve dropped it, they’re just like, I just haven’t even read it yet. And I’m like,
B.Ratelle: 37:51 really? Come on, you know, I spent like two hours on this. No. So just read it. And that even help you understand and feel more confident in your contract and in your business and in negotiation because it’s hard to push back on something and know what the give and take is, you know, it’s hard to know the steps of the dance if you don’t know the choreography. I mean, if you don’t know, if you haven’t read to know exactly what you’re offering and what you could give, then how are you? How are you going to feel more confident?
B.Ratelle: 39:23 Amen. People at this point, we’re going to say it, every single person owning a business with a website, which is all of you need to have this on your website.
B.Ratelle: 39:43 Someone is buying your stuff from California somewhat is so air go. It applies to everybody. Guys like 2018, it’s happening. You guys are not. No one is getting off the Internet these days. You’re only getting more, so you got to have a book, you’ve got to have them in your footer. They need to be somewhere where people can find them. I know that no one is going to read them. We’re well aware of that, but they have to be there.
B.Ratelle: 40:36 that does what you do and that makes promises that you can actually keep. You know that that’s I think I see a lot is that people are like, I would never share your information. I would never get it away. And then they were like, well, except yeah, you do every day. Do you have google analytics? Check? Do you use an email marketing manager? Check? Yeah. Do you have lead pages or click funnels or all of these other tools and plugins that need people’s information to do what they do than check check, check. Yeah. You actually are sharing your information with all kinds of people all over the.
CJ Fox: 41:07 Yeah, exactly. So, and sometimes you know, I almost wish in those situations I’m like, is it better for just people not to know and if not better than people not to do it, but like sometimes I’m just like, oh, I feel like it’s worse when you’re not doing, when you’re, when you’re like essentially misstating what you’re, what you’re collecting and how you’re sharing. So make sure you’ve got all that in place. So those are my like I guess top five things to do. Just get hot straight, get all that. It takes reading. Like you got to sit down and read stuff. Yeah.
B.Ratelle: 41:40 Sorry to give you guys homework. You know, and, and we’re, we’re going to give it to you straight. That’s what we’re here for. Okay. We don’t, we don’t want to waste your time.
CJ Fox: 41:47 Exactly. We don’t waste time here because we know how valuable time is because we bill in six minute increments.
B.Ratelle: 41:53 There was no one who appreciates time more than lawyers. Okay. Who get paid by people that you can, you can, you can take that to the bank. So. Well Caroline, thank you so much for joining me tonight. Um, where can people find out more about you? You know, um, you know, as we talked a little bit about the way that the law works, you know, for trademark and federal issues, trademark and copyright, we get to do work with people all over the country, which is really great. Um, you know, for some other issues we have to kind of stay with the people in our state. Um, but then there’s a lot of stuff in between. So if people like working and hearing from you, which I’m sure they do work and they find more about you.
CJ Fox: 42:27 Yeah, absolutely. You can visit my law firm website at as in Caroline, J as in Jessica, Fox law.com. So C, J, Fox law.com. Um, and then if you’re in the wedding and event industry and you’re interested in just like reading about how the law affects your wedding business or maybe like seeing, you know, we posted videos, we kind of do, we do templates and guides on how to operate your wedding and event business. We’re firstname.lastname@example.org. So like a ring engaged, like kind of play on words. I see what you did there. They’re engaged legal.com. You can find us there. We’ve got all that information. Um, and you can also follow us on instagram at engaged legal. So,
B.Ratelle: 43:19 you know, that’s where our creatives are there on instagram. So that’s where we are to, you know, we want to be where you guys are.
CJ Fox: 43:25 Exactly. Exactly. And I don’t have, a lot of times my I’m speaking engagements are all know in the wedding off season, so it’s gearing up. We’re in big wedding season now so I don’t have another one until like next off season, so I’m not going to be anywhere cool um, soon, but keep an eye out and um, we, the next time I travel, if you’re in that area, let me know.
B.Ratelle: 43:46 Yeah, stop in. Say Hi. Say like, Hey, I know you and hurt you on for these podcasts. There you go. Stop. Don’t be stranger. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So we’ll thank so much for being on and uh, yeah, we’ll wish you all the best and please guys make sure to connect with, uh, with caroline because as you can tell, she’s pretty awesome. So
CJ Fox: 44:04 you’re awesome too
B.Ratelle: 44:05 guys, I hope you enjoyed that. I had such a fun time talking with Caroline and I hope that you, um, got a lot out of that as well. Uh, I think her tips in terms of, um, and it really didn’t hit me until the end and that’s kind of how podcasts go a lot of times. You don’t really get of like, what’s the whole theme overlying, you know, message going to be until you’re finished. Um, and it really meant, was very clear to me once we’d finished and, um, I considered how we were both in pr and it talked about how we use legal,
B.Ratelle: 44:32 especially when we work with creative professionals and that legal can be such a big part of how you stay consistent and authentic as a brand because you can use it when things are going well and when you’re setting clear expectations and making plans to grow and expand. And that’s why you want trademarks and copyrights so that you can move forward. You don’t have to worry about problems and legal is there for you when things don’t go so well when you’re having business divorces, um, and client, you know, clients from Hell and uh, events and weddings, they get canceled and you know, data issues and pictures that are lost and all the other hundreds of things that can go wrong. Um, you know, legal is there in good times or bad. Um, but when you’ve had the forethought to try to put some of these things in your business in a way that resonates with the way you do business, then you’ll get, you’re going to have room and you’re going to have some space to make business decisions in a way that’s authentic with the way you want to serve your people and the way you want to show up with them when things are going great and when they’re not.
B.Ratelle: 45:28 So, um, and I, I hope that you found this encouraging, like I always do, um, that you don’t feel like, oh, they’re just laying on more stuff than I need to do. Um, but that you feel like now you have more information than you did yesterday and you have more tools than you did the day before and that you can go forward with faith and confidence in your own business acumen as a business owner. So, thanks so much for being here. Um, I want to close by reading one review, um, as a total, just a Gimme move to try to convince some of you, other listeners to leave me a review. And if you don’t know how to do this, you can do it straight from your app. So if you’re in itunes and you’re listening on the podcast APP, you can go to leave a review.
B.Ratelle: 46:08 If not, if you’re like me, I actually use overcast, so listen to my podcast because I am of course a podcast junkie myself, I’m than you actually have to go and pull up itunes and do it. So, um, and you can do it on a desktop to either one. So, and I’m just Fyi, this little funny thing, you do have to have a unique name to leave a review. So it may be, there’s a chance that if you’re putting in something like Bob, I’m that somewhat, Bob has already left your review so you may, you have have to be a little bit more creative in your moniker, um, but it doesn’t really matter, but as long as it’s unique enough that’ll let you leave a review. Um, but this one is from Ashland Mitchell, which is really sweet because I know Ashley, um, she’s a, she’s a really nice friend and she says, Brittany makes following the rules fund.
B.Ratelle: 46:49 I’m Brittany. I love you. You were one of the most well rounded people I’ve ever met. And listening to your wisdom here has me making plans for where are businesses going? Glad you have made your practice fit into the world of influencers. Um, thank you so much Ashley. That’s so sweet of you. Okay. And I’m going to read one more from vacation maven. Encourage you information from a fund lawyer is what she said. I am so glad this show exists. Just a few episodes in and I’ve learned a ton about the legal aspects of my creative projects. Brittany delivers lowe’s, it varied advice and she really does it with wit and flare. And Best of all, I like Alif. Feeling encouraged, not scared or intimidated. Thank you Brittany for sharing your wisdom and such a positive way. Um, thank you guys so much for leaving reviews. It’s really sweet to get direct messages and when people get on my lives and say that they’re liking the podcast or email me, um, those are all really great things.
B.Ratelle: 47:36 They help, you know, fuel fuel me, fill my bucket, um, and keep me going and saying, yeah, this is still really worth my time and the effort to do the podcast because I do it all on my own. I’m still at this point, um, but in terms of me helping use the podcast in my mission, which is I want this content to get out to more people who are just like you, creative entrepreneurs, small businesses, micro businesses. I don’t really like that term. That makes it sound like super tiny solo preneurs, but you guys know who you are, but I bet you you have five friends or one friend or 10 friends who are similar to you, who, you know, have questions, who have been stressed by staff who have been confused, who, uh, found conflicting or bad information online or from other sources. Um, and if not, felt like they had a good resource to go to.
B.Ratelle: 48:28 Um, and I hope that you will help them find this and that and a couple of ways. The first is by leaving a review. Um, the second is sharing with it. So, um, you know, it obviously it would be great if you could share on your social media, you know, put a screenshot and your story or something. Um, if that’s not on brand for you, which I totally understand, then maybe just send it to someone, screenshot and just send a direct message in instagram or something else and be like, hey, have you heard of this podcast? I think it would be a good fit for you. Um, or you can send this message direct from the APP. I know overcast does that. I know podcast is to where you can literally say swipe up and not swipe up, but there’s a little icon and you can send a particular episode to someone.
B.Ratelle: 49:08 But I’m frequently after I finished a podcast, I just get this feeling that I’m supposed to share this message with someone and sometimes I forget and that’ll do it. Right, right then and there. And then of course the thought goes, you know, the, the muse moves on, um, and shame on me because you know, what harm is there in inviting what harm is there in trying to win you to think about something else that, that’s a nice gesture to do always. So I don’t think you ever should feel embarrassed or weird about that, but if you think of someone else that you think could be helped by this information, just go ahead and do it. Make it happen guys. So, all right, um, that’s a little philosophical for you tonight, but I’m really, thank you so much for being here. I just, I really, really appreciate people who take the time to listen.
B.Ratelle: 49:47 I know you’re busy and I don’t take it lightly. The, uh, your time and your resources and being here and listening and trying to work on your business in this way. So let me know and give me feedback if you have other issues that you want to hear about it. If there’s other people that you’d like to have me on. So, um, I have, you know, a big list and I’m trying to get people on, but you know, it’s hard because folks are busy. Um, but if you have other specific feedback in terms of what you’d like to see, I’d love to hear it. So, um, you can always direct message me on instagram. You can email me@helloatBrittanyretell.com. Um, and uh, that’s probably the best way to get to meet would be those two. Okay. Otherwise, have a great day guys, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.