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EPISODE
36
Published on
May 27, 2020

036 | From Rapper to Trademark Attorney with Kimra Major-Morris, Principal Lawyer at Major-Morris Law

Summary

Kimra Major-Morris is a top-rated intellectual property attorney who is licensed to practice in Florida. Kimra is a nationally-published author on the subject of trademarks and the television host of Legal Connections in conjunction with FAMU College of Law and Orange TV. Kimra is based in Central Florida and is the Principal Attorney at Major-Morris Law, LLC. Kimra represents business owners, celebrity talent, including professional athletes, international music artists, TV personalities, and entertainment industry executives.

Highlights

  • Kimra Major-Morris shares what made her decide to become a lawyer
  • The benefits of contacting a lawyer vs. consulting the internet when researching the use of brand protection
  • The value of knowing the importance of what you need to protect
  • Kimra talks about the shared responsibility in the billing structure between lawyers and client

Mentioned Resources

Episode Sponsors

This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.

Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.

You can email Chris Snyder, President of Juhll Digital Agency, at chris@juhll.com, or contact their team today and find out which of their services will work best for your success story.

Tweetable Quotes

"We've all met people as kids, and I think that we could identify the adults who were not happy. And so it seemed like the adults who were not happy were the people who chose to do something that was not aligned with what they really liked." - Kimra Major-Morris

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"After learning the hard way, then I started teaching. So my first job right before I got accepted into law school was I was a teacher at Full Sail University - the Art Institute. And so I got to tell my war stories to the students there about contracts." - Kimra Major-Morris

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"Even after 11 years of practice, I still offer these free general consultations - because part of the issue is a lack of education in the space. So that's goal #1. " - Kimra Major-Morris

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Kimra Major Morris

Founder of Major-Morris Law

Kimra Major-Morris is a top-rated intellectual property attorney who is licensed to practice in Florida, a nationally-published author on the subject of trademarks, and the television host of Legal Connections.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:06 

Welcome to Snyder's Marketing Showdown and original Juhll Agency production. In this show, you'll discover which elite business executives hold the strongest hand in business marketing and operations. Listen to Epic no holds barred showdowns debating the latest groundbreaking strategies this side of the internet. WARNING: This show ain't for rookies. So check your ego at the door with your host, president of Juhll Agency and founder, operator, investor in banks.com, Chris Snyder.

Chris Snyder 0:43 

Okay everyone Chris Snyder here - host of the Snyder Showdown president at Juhll.com and founder of Banks.com. Although we usually talk with industry leaders and entrepreneurs about what's working and what's not with their growth programs, we decided to pivot the show a little in here. How industry leaders are guiding their teams through this tough time of COVID-19. Obviously, we're gonna address some business issues as well. A word from our sponsor, Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems. While working as an extension of the executive team. We focus on three, three things we quickly identify the biggest problems impeding growth, we propose solutions that give you the best opportunity for success. Finally, the work has to get done. So we bring a private marketplace of vetted world-class talent to execute your plan. Of course, we manage this whole process. To learn more, go to juhll.com. That's juhl.com or email Chris, personally, if you have questions, that's chris@juhll.com. Okay. Without further ado, today, my guest is Kimra Major Morris. She's a top-rated intellectual property attorney licensed to practice in Florida. A nationally-published author on the subject of trademarks, and the television host of legal connections in conjunction with family College of Law in orange TV. She's based in Central Florida as the principal attorney at Major-Morris Law, LLC. Kimra represents business owners, celebrity talent, including professional athletes, international music artists, TV personalities, and entertainment industry executives. Welcome Kimra Thank you for having me, Chris. Absolutely. Absolutely. Kimra, can you tell us all how you got started? Where are you from? How did you become a lawyer? Give us a little bit of your backstory here if you could, please.

Kimra Major-Morris 2:40 

Sure. I'm originally from Wilmington, Delaware. I grew up on the East Coast. My dad was a pastor. And I was probably the new girl every year for half over half of my grade school years. And then when I was 18 my parents moved us to Miami. And when I got to Miami, I one day was just joking about what was the song by Salt-N-Pepa, Push It, was about. 

Chris Snyder 3:11 

I remember that.

Kimra Major-Morris 3:12 

So I wrote this poem about credit. And that was my hook - "I need credit!" - because when you're 18, they tell you, you have to have it, to get. Anyway, I started rapping it was all a joke at first and then I let one of my producer friends hear it. He loved it. And before you know it, I was performing music conferences and on South Beach. And so I started this whole thing in the music business. Betty Wright, the R&B legend, was my vocal coach. So all that was great. And then I became a mom at 26 and my daughter, and I pivoted my degree was in broadcasting. And I started working in the entertainment industry. So I got a job working for Bobby Brown doing some promotions while he was married to Whitney Houston, some things in between there. Then I got production jobs, CNN, HBO, the Caribbean satellite network, and nothing was stable. And when, what 13 years, after I graduated with my degree in broadcast productions, I decided to go back to school because I wanted some job stability. And I also wanted to continue to work around creative people. Yeah, I thought I was going to go and just focus on entertainment law. But now I'm in Central Florida, and we don't really have a huge market for that. And I thought, you know, I can still work with creative people. And I started catering my services more to people in tech and business owners and that's how I got into intellectual property.

Chris Snyder 4:47 

That's, that's amazing. I gotta tell you, you kind of blew through being a rapper. We gotta' unpack that just a little bit. I do. Remember Salt-N-Pepa. I remember this is totally my demo - Ice Cube, Ice-T. Right? You know, Will Smith he was doing stuff back then. Bobby Brown like I do remember my friends in school having their hair like combed over like him the Gumby like yeah, it was that honestly. That was an unbelievable time and music. Why don't you tell me so unpack the wrapping thing for a minute like I Oh my god, you're a little bit more about that just a little.

Kimra Major-Morris 5:32 

Well, okay, so I played as a kid four different instruments. So my emphasis was on music anyway. And although I can sing I would consider myself one of the Pips instead of Gladys Knight. So I got your back I'll do background but anyways, so rap was just fascinating because it was poetry with bass you know, with a beat. And so I wrote this poem. Again, just Kind of imitating you how I thought they sounded and I had no idea that somebody would like it. But that was actually a talent of mine that I was a good poet. And so then I said - well, I don't want to just rap I'd like to sing my hooks and so if I had to, to say that, who I was thinking of - if I could have been the female Heavy D.

Chris Snyder 6:21

Yeah.

Kimra Major-Morris 6:21 

I've always been a Lauryn Hill fan, but I was into that.

Chris Snyder 6:24 

Ah the Fugees! I love the Fugees!

Kimra Major-Morris 6:27 

It was, I mean, it was really so while I was in school, I really didn't have much of a social life. And in college, I lived at my parents' house. I went to FSU in Miami, I would go to class and when I came home, I had two jobs. One was up like a video store. But in the evenings, I would go to the studio. And so that was my life. And for years, I mean, so then when I got to be probably 23 I went to New York and I lived with Professor Griff and his girlfriend. Professor Griff of Public Enemy was one of my producers. But before that, I opened up for Big Daddy Kane and Redhead Kingpin. It was really a lot of fun. But I just could not as a mother as a new mom, you know, I didn't think I could support us and but I had my safety net, which was my college degree. So I ended up going into video production work.

Chris Snyder 7:21

Yeah, no, you know what's interesting about this story, and most of the people I have on this show, they're entrepreneurs, they've been entrepreneurs, really for their whole life. So I think about how far ahead you were when you were 23. Most kids nowadays, well, it's not just like not most kids, but a lot of kids nowadays, they're really just trying to figure out who they are at that age. And I kind of feel like when I was growing up from the day that you know, I could mow a lawn or wash a car, or, I mean, my family was like, you better get to work or else you're not going to get a pair of Air Jordans or you're not going to have you're not going to get another pair of pants. Right. So it sounds like you've been working a long time.

Kimra Major-Morris 8:04 

I've been working a long time. But one thing I can say is I can't take credit for tying all this together and putting it into what I'm currently doing, which seems to be the perfect marriage between my skills and my interest. I can't take credit. So I was one of those kids that would get upset, stressed when somebody would ask me, What do you want to be when you grow up? I mean, it was just how would you know, you know, you don't happen. So it was, I would always freeze but inside I would be almost angry that somebody would put that kind of pressure on me. I by our people who know what they want to do early, I did not I just knew what I liked. And so I knew that I, you know, we've all met people as kids, and that we could I think that we could identify the adults who were not happy. And so it seemed like the adults who were not happy were the people who chose to do something That was not aligned with what they really liked. So much. I knew Do what you like. And like, obviously, my music although I thought I was a good emcee. I had to put my microphone down and feed my child.

Chris Snyder 9:15 

Well, there's a couple of things to unpack there. First of all, the technology and the distribution when we were coming up was not there. Right. So it was very difficult to be an independent artist I think back in the day, you had to go get hooked up with some of these big folks and I just think they just didn't have the kind of distribution or Talent Search that they have today. So like, then the second thing you said, which triggered something inside of me, which I've never ever thought about until you just said it is you know, and I agree with you, why would an adult put pressure on a younger person to have them decide who are they going to be when they grow up, when it's it's basic science that says your brain is not even fully formed until you're 23 or 24 years old.

Kimra Major-Morris 10:12 

Right, right. Right. And I didn't even know about the profession. And I knew that there were lawyers, but I've never heard of an intellectual property attorney. In fact, I had not even heard of it until I got to law school. I knew entertainment lawyers, but what's the difference? The difference is we're still talking about copyright, trademark law, you know, sometimes trade secrets, but the subject that we're applying it to is different. So for entertainment law, we're applying those principles, the intellectual property, the trademark stuff to a celebrity or someone in the entertainment business, but you could be a business owner and still own copyrights and trademarks and you know, the same things. So that's the only difference but I had never heard of an intellectual property attorney.

Chris Snyder 10:59 

Yeah. So, I know I know a couple of IP lawyers. Some of those folks have undergrads in engineering. Right? Is that a path that you looked at? Or do you have an undergrad in engineering? How does that work

Kimra Major-Morris 11:16 

now? Okay, that's a great question. So there are four areas and intellectual property law under this umbrella, and one of them is patents. And I'm not a patent attorney, because my underlying degree is in television production. If I wanted that, I'd have to go back to school, I'd have to pass maybe the fundamentals of engineering exam, you know, but I cover copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, but there's a whole separate Bar Exam if you want to be a licensed patent attorney. Oh, yeah. They refer to my area as soft IP.

Chris Snyder 11:51 

Okay. Got it. Got it. Well, so, so you go from doing entertainment also. Hollywood stuff. This is all on the East Coast, right? And obviously, I'm not in the business. I'll probably misspeak on a few occasions about entertainment related, but you go from this one kind of life you realize one day that you know you this is probably not going to be sustainable as you continue to, to grow and evolve. Now you have a child. And now you decide like how did you even decide to go back to law school? I don't even understand how you decided to be a lawyer. Go from rapper to lawyer?

Kimra Major-Morris 12:32 

Right? What, right? Okay, so you're right. There's some stuff in between. So I was 26. When I had my first daughter, I have two. And then when the Bobby Brown job ended. You know, there are lots of reasons why jobs with celebrities don't last. They could be going through something. But that job abruptly ended through no fault of my own. And so I went and got an entry-level job at CNN doing what they call a VJ. I was a VJ. So that means that I was rotating from headline news to Sports Illustrated. They had all these places in the same building. And I was providing teleprompter service Cairon operator service, all that. Anyway, I worked for CNN, Atlanta, and CNN New York. I was already in Atlanta because that's where the Bobby job was. I moved back to Miami with my parents because I had my youngest daughter - they're five years apart. And an opening came about at HBO Latin America. So although I don't speak Portuguese, I was there as a video editor typing subtitles in Portuguese phrase. Right.

Chris Snyder 13:45 

So that was painful.

Kimra Major-Morris 13:51

I can spell it for you. Right. So anyway, but a lot of my co workers were freelancers in the production industry. They were camera op, they were videographers and photographers. And they turn the light bulb on for me for entrepreneurship. Just seeing how Easy it was all you need. All I needed was a laptop and a professional camera. That's right. And that's what I did. So I ended up getting all these red carpet jobs to do the Soul Train awards for bt. And so I started seeing people that I knew from my work in the entertainment business on the red carpet, and now I'm wearing another hat. And now I'm in production on the red carpet. Usher is a prime example. So I sure I met years ago when he was probably 13. I interviewed him when I worked at a TV station. And then fast forward to when I had the job with Bobby. He was friends with Bobby's kids. So I saw him, you know, probably 10 years later, as a person who was working for Bobby, a personal assistant and doing promotions. Then, you know, a few years later, Usher sees me on the red carpet with my camera. So he's one person in the business who has seen me wear all these hats. And just a few years ago, we have a mutual friend who had a book signing, and she introduced me as her attorney or IP attorney and Usher looked at me and I can only imagine what his thoughts were.

Chris Snyder 15:05 

Well, and I can only imagine now that you're an attorney, you're like, Wait a second, that was a terrible idea for for him or her to do that, like, why would they say that?

Kimra Major-Morris 15:15 

Right now? Right? Because I told her I said, I can only imagine because we've all met someone that we can't take seriously. You know, like, they're everything and they're everything depending on what day you ask them, you know, these things spaced out years apart, you know, and this was just my evolution to go from, you know, the talent in music to you know, the behind the scenes person in production, to you know, just deciding to, to be my own boss and kind of marry all these things. So that's what happened, you know, video production and working for myself, after looking at my co-workers and seeing how easy it was to make my own money. I was doing those independent photography jobs and videography jobs. I did the official photography for BET Spring Bling while I was in school, you know, and go do these gigs. And that was part of my financial aid. Yeah. So.

Chris Snyder 16:11 

I see this, see this volcano. Right. And it's it's rumbling, rumbling rumbling and now, you're like, wait a sec, and I'm assuming during this period, you've seen a few contracts, right? I mean, yeah, obviously, you've been looking at contracts for many years before you were an attorney. Right? And maybe couldn't even afford to have an attorney. Look at your contracts.

Kimra Major-Morris 16:34 

Right? That's exactly right. I had several situations. So as an artist, I signed with a label that I wasn't happy with. And it was a two year contract. So I didn't read the fine print as a photographer. I did not understand that I was an independent contractor when I delivered 500 plus photos to a certain organization and it was for I thought one occasion, but did not understand that I no longer own the rights to those photos, and they I ended up being on magazine covers, you know, things that weren't totally unrelated to, I was hired to do, but they weren't mine. So, you know, after learning the hard way, then I started teaching. So my first job right before I got accepted into law school was I was a teacher at Full Sail University, just like, you know, the Art Institute. And so I got to tell my war stories to the students there about contracts. Yeah.

Chris Snyder 17:29 

Yeah, that's there's so there's so many hard lessons to learn as an entrepreneur. And as many of us that have learned them, you would think there's a playbook for it. Right? Don't do this. Don't do that. Don't sign a contract without reading it. If you don't have to read. Don't give it to someone who does right and then ask, go to the internet and ask all the questions about what these words mean, right? Like, it's just but the cycle repeats itself. It's a cycle of life.

Kimra Major-Morris 18:00 

Right, because we're doing things based on how we feel. Yeah, you know, as an as a good vibe. You know, you don't seem like that kind of person, you know, we did it on a handshake, you know, but if it were reliable then attorneys wouldn't have jobs. 

Chris Snyder 18:16 

So now after hearing all this, I really want to unpack you know, some of the more technicalities, maybe of legal and law and what you work on. So tell me about a typical client or a typical day for you. What are you focused on?

Kimra Major-Morris 18:37 

Well, I'm focused primarily Will my first goal is to educate my client. Excuse me. There is such a gray area around intellectual property law, that the terms are used incorrectly. And so I spend the first part of my consultation time just making Sure the client understands the difference between a copyright trademark and a trade secret, and a patent if it applies to them. So that's important to me. And so for that reason, I still, even after 11 years of practice, I still offer these free general consultations, because part of the issue is a lack of education in the space. So that's Goal number one. So once people know what the differences, then we talk about what their work entails. So most of my interactions are with small business owners. My celebrity clients are, you know, sent to me by mutual contacts. And there's not as much of a learning curve with them because a lot of times people referring them to me or other attorneys that don't practice in my space. So I'm dealing with the other attorney telling them what I need to do and why but for the small business owners, I make sure that it's crystal clear that you know what they're doing. Is what they probably have that falls under the intellectual property umbrella. And, you know, telling them about what I do. Some people know exactly what they want when they call, but the majority of the callers think they want a copyright when they really need a trademark.

Chris Snyder 20:14 

Yeah, no, I've been through this a couple times and right when you think you know what's up, like you needed a Holiday Inn Express last night you think, you know, right? I don't need to hire an attorney that cost too much money. You just use get smacked, right? He's like, well, that's trade dress. That's not trademark. Well, that's copyright. That's not trademark. What's the difference? I thought I knew will look you don't do this for a living. So why don't you go call an attorney, please. 

Kimra Major-Morris 20:43 

So there's a lot of information online so that that adds to the confusion. Because there are people who pretend they know what they are talking about. And you know, they're seen as an authority in one space, but then they'll merge you know, over into another lane and say, Well, no, this is what you need to do. And it's so the internet is a scary place when it comes to legal solutions, because it's especially the general contracts that people download. So personalizing a contract is is really important because state law comes into play. So if you're going to download a contract, what state is good for what? Where was the author based? And what might they have overlooked? That could have made a big difference in your situation? So you know, saving money on the front end, but on the back end, you'll wish you had certain clauses in there that were putting you in a stronger position.

Chris Snyder 21:42 

Yeah, let's talk about the internet for a minute since you brought it up. What do you think about firms like LegalZoom? I know there are a few others out there that claim to be - just click a button, download the thing. If you need an hour consultation, we'll give it to you but you should be good to go. Like what's your advice on that?

Kimra Major-Morris 22:00 

Well, I mean, there that's a market. It's, I can't knock the hustle, right? Yeah. But for clients, I will tell you that I have a lot of people who come to me from those companies. So they might have applied for a trademark or been told that they could get a certain thing protected. But then it was it to someone like me on its face, it was obviously it was not going to qualify for trademark protection. But when you go to certain companies, you're not going to get the personalized service. You might not get the honest truth about the strength of what it is you're trying to do. So I would just say with caution.

Chris Snyder 22:40 

Got it. So So mostly entertainment, mostly small business. I mean, I mean, if I was if I was an entertainment professional, I mean, honestly, I just don't think I would go anywhere else because you've got such a deep understanding of that business. Like what would you say your mixes? Mostly entertainment?

Kimra Major-Morris 23:03 

No. And then thank you for that. But it's not it mostly entertainment just because of my location. So if I lived in in Atlanta, or LA or one of the cities where there's more activity there more things being shot, then that's what I would probably have most of. But right now, as I said, and I can represent clients all over the country for intellectual property matters, because it's a federal space in the law. So that's great. And, but I'm not getting as many clients for entertainment just because of where I'm based. Their areas are pretty stacked with qualified attorneys. I'm happy to know several of them so I don't do as much. Every once in a while I'll still negotiate a music contract. For someone I don't have to be base there or look over something for somebody that wants to hold onto their publishing. But it's, you know, it's not a lot. It's not a lot of activity that I'm getting for that the most. Most of my work is brand protection for small business owners and for the larger brands.

Chris Snyder 24:14 

Yeah, so that's interesting. Well, you know, I can tell you for sure, I think that you know, maybe, maybe historically being geographically located was important. I think the acceleration towards Hey, it doesn't really matter where you are. I mean, look what we're doing right now. You're right. You know, I think there's going to be some, you know, some eyeballs looking at places that are like, Hey, we just care where the talent is. Right? We don't care if you live in LA, right, not now.

Kimra Major-Morris 24:45 

It's true. Now. You're absolutely right. I think part of that is how I'm marketing also. I'm not really marketing myself as much as an entertainment attorney. But things you know, I think the more I do IP work just for business. And owners and for people who have a straight shot to their brand protection and it's not having to negotiate the music royalties I've moved largely away from that on purpose. You're right. The location is a smaller factor, but that's initially why I started moving towards the intellectual property angle of it.

Chris Snyder 25:20 

Yeah. So there's a note here about the virtual sale of goods and services. Obviously, that's increased a lot with COVID-19. You know, I'm assuming you have customers that have intellectual property registrations. You know, they may be delegating work, they may be working with partners. Can you give us a little bit of advice on the situation with COVID-19 as it relates to you know, IP, you know, registrations trademark all that stuff.

Kimra Major-Morris 25:52 

Sure. So the first thing I would say is intellectual. Intellectual Property audits are recommended. Because you can't protect what you don't know you have. And so what do you have? every business owner has a trademark, it might not be a registered trademark. But whatever your business name is that name in association with the goods or services that you're selling is a trademark. And so whether it's your logo, your name, your slogan, every business owner probably has copyrights. Because what are you putting on your website, that language, the way it's expressed is potentially eligible for copyright protection? You know, so those are two things that you want to look to see, you know, what, what's your secret sauce as a business owner? Now COVID-19, of course, is kind of given a lot of other business owners who were not online a jolt, and they might look up, you know, Instagram accounts or potential Facebook handles and the thing that they thought only we were using is not available because there's a similar competitor. So I would say one of the most Important things right now that people can do is make sure that you know what you have to protect. But then the virtual assistance area is picked up because people are delegating. You can't do everything from home, right? You don't have your staff in your kitchen or in your living room working beside you. So you have a virtual assistant a lot of times and so you want to make sure that their work product is clearly identified. So what do I mean if I mean, if you hire a secretary, and you say, I need you to give me social media content? Well, who owns it? Who's going to own it when the job is done? Right?

Chris Snyder 27:38 

So so we're making the assumption. I'm a business owner, I'm not a I'm not an attorney. I wouldn't even think about this, right. I work with a ton of independent contractors in please do this, please do that. Here's the goal. Go do it deliver the work, and you're telling me there's potentially a chance that you don't know That stuff.

Kimra Major-Morris 28:01 

Correct. If you hire somebody to do research for you, they're gonna put together a nice proposal for you that you can use to secure a bid, you know, that you could put in it. Well, who owns the research? You know, who's gonna own the proposal? Can I? Is the independent contractor allowed to repurpose it? Or do you have language in your contract that says is strictly for this purpose? So you want to detail the word product in those agreements? And the other thing I would say, is the warranties and representations in our agreements. If If you don't have them, you should see an attorney, because what guarantee Do you have, that the person who designed your website or has given you content hasn't copy that heavily borrowed, you know, render, and so I recently had this where a client had images on their website that were used on their blog, and they got a cease and desist notice. It was a demand for 30 days. hundred dollars for three little pictures. They weren't even that creative, but they were registered, registered works with the copyright office. So, yeah, so that now what are you going to do business owner, you don't have any language in your contract that says this person is responsible for infringing material. So now you're 100% liable. You didn't you don't even have any recourse. So I would say with COVID-19 in all the people suddenly working in these virtual spaces that there are definitely some landmines to be able to look out for.

Chris Snyder 29:36 

Yeah, virtual assistants in particular, have you seen and obviously I think it's a great service. You know, you probably use them as well. I think it's fine. But have you seen an uptick in from your point of view? Have you seen an uptick in problems with services like this, whether it be freelancers, virtual assistants, we have fiber, we have Upwork, we have Right The list of marketplaces to get talent rolls on, are you seeing a lot of problems with this?

Kimra Major-Morris 30:07 

They're not new. So I think they're they, it's too early to to connect them to COVID-19. But I have seen where people have logos that are designed by someone they found on Fiverr or Upwork. And then, you know, the content that they paid for most of the time with the contracts that they're having these contractors on those sites do, there is language that assigns the rights to the logo, because that's the other thing. If you want to trademark the logo that was designed for you, you might want to make sure you own the title, title to it. You can't go and do a trademark registration for underlying artwork that you don't own. And so you know, there's going to be a lot of that, especially because there are more people, virtual assistants is in demand. And so we already know what's going to happen. There's going to be some virtual assistants. Don't have the integrity that we'd like them to have. And they're they they need content. They're going to repurpose content. And it's going to be similar as it's sold to business owners who are in similar workspaces. Yeah, got it.

Chris Snyder 31:14 

Yeah. I mean, look, I think that it kind of goes back to probably, you know, you when you sign stuff you really didn't know you're like, God, just get it done. Just get it done. We're, we're moving fast. And, you know, I've been, you know, guilty of the same stuff myself in a number of different occasions. I mean, thankfully, it's never amounted to much. You know, what's interesting, and what happens with services business sometimes, too, and maybe you could advise on this. You know, you sign a contract, maybe it's a year retainer. You know, let's say it's January through December, right. And this would be a regular, you know, run of the mill business contract and then, you know, come November your clients like, Look, we just, we don't want to do This anymore and you're kind of like, Well, you've got a contract, you've got to pay me. Right? No, I've been in situations where they're just like, well, tough. I mean, come after me if you want, but we're not going to pay. What kind of advice do you have for folks that, and I think in the freelance and services businesses happens quite often. It's an expensive, it's expensive to get an attorney. You know, most of the times we just walk away, we're like, you know what, guy that's not cool. But whatever We'll see.

Kimra Major-Morris 32:30 

I'm glad you asked that. Because that's, that's really a good example about why these tailor contracts are good to have. Because depending on the scenario, there could be language put into your contract that automates and automatically makes it possible for you to get a judgment against that person. Wow. Yes, it depends on state law depends on where you are. But these are things and tools that attorneys have that they can look at and see if that makes sense for your arrangement. So don't always have to be in a situation where you have to spend so much money when there's a breach if you have built in language to address that. So part of our training when we're in law school, in our contracts class, we're taught to think of the worst case scenario. And, you know, it doesn't have to be any fancy language. If you don't, if you can't afford an attorney, you sit back and think about what's the worst thing that could happen here and and address that in writing. In court, it's the intent of the parties that matters, not necessarily the language that you use in the contract,

Chris Snyder 33:39 

to audit got it well, and hopefully you don't have to get into litigation that's just, I think, painful for everybody. So, if if you had to give your clients advice, because I think that, you know, given that it's such a technical and specialized, you know, legal and laws of technical One specialized thing to do, you know, how would you advise your clients to work with attorneys just in general, right? Like, give us you know, the say things to me that you wouldn't say to your client, because you already have your client, you don't want to be rude or condescending, right? It's like, right. You know, of course, you know, Don't be a jerk client. Like there's there's a few things I'm sure you would love for the perfect client relationship to be like, what would that be?

Kimra Major-Morris 34:29 

Oh, okay. Well, I would say that people should do some basic research be a good thing. Right? Be a good consumer. And if you don't know don't, the worst thing you can say to an attorney is it's pretty straightforward. It's a pretty simple contract. Because my first thought is Why are you calling me you know, so are you trying to tell me that so that I can charge you less because if so, it's not gonna you know, my my rate is my rate But a lot of times, that's what people do. They try to downplay the need. So that then you could give them a quote that's smaller, but it's insulting for you to call me. Because I'm the professional, you're acknowledging that by calling me, but then you're going to tell me is pretty straightforward. How would you know?

Chris Snyder 35:17 

Yeah.

Kimra Major-Morris 35:18 

You know, so. And if you know that, then why are we on the call?

Chris Snyder 35:23 

All good? Just do it yourself. It's all good, right?

Kimra Major-Morris 35:26 

That's the worst thing. That's probably the worst thing. And then just a lot of times people don't know that attorneys are paid for their time. I had one - I can tell you that my contracts are non-refundable if I've started the work. And the way that I knew that I needed to put that in my terms and conditions was that I accept installments for the work that I'm doing. I just don't file the application and so all the installments are in. But this one set of guys had you know, they didn't have the fee they needed to trademark and so they took three years. They were young guys. They took three years to come up with this amount of money which was just barely over $1,000, but they look long. But then at the end of it, they were supposed to be selling t-shirts. So the trademark order was for this particular brand, but when I went to the website, it said coming soon, or sold out or something like that. And so I called the client and I said, you know, you're not allowed to have it like this. If you are applying for trademark protection. You know, you're saying to the trademark office that you're currently using this but then when I go to your site, it says coming to coming soon. So he called me and he goes well, you know, we decided that since that money that is just sitting there we're just going to take it and apply it to inventory just sitting there but at the time I didn't have these terms in my own contracts. So they treated me like I was the saving account savings account. I ended up refunding it because I didn't have the right language in my contracts. But I would say to that understand attorneys are paid for their time. And so when someone is generous enough to consult with you and can sort of teach you the ropes to make you someone that's going to proceed with some knowledge, and then don't take advantage of that. Yeah, yeah, no, and

Chris Snyder 37:24 

just be, you know, be a decent person. Right. And I think that and I've been in situations and as I've gotten older, I've learned to just trust people and kind of deal with it until they prove otherwise. But no matter what you're buying, whether it's a service or whether it's a product, but, you know, if you're working with an attorney, and you just keep getting bills and you're not getting stuff done, can you maybe you can unpack that a little bit and give our audience a little bit of insight into, you know, how we think when we start a project, it might go from point A to point B cost a certain amount of money. And then we wind up from, you know, Point A to Point B and a cost that plus that and then the needle keeps moving how to stuff like that happen?

Kimra Major-Morris 38:11 

Well, it definitely is a shared responsibility. It's the attorney's job to communicate what the billing structure is. And I think it's helpful to give a ballpark. Attorneys that bill on hourly retainers, I offer flat-fee retainers no circumstances. So you want to make sure you understand whether you're going to be billed hourly, or if the attorney is going to quote you a flat fee retainer. Now, what's the difference? The difference is obviously that if you're on an hourly retainer when you are when you call the attorney, when you send an email and you all those things get added to the bill that you're going to get at the end of the month. If you're on a flat fee retainer then your fee is locked in and that's what It is so they're no surprise invoices. So I think it's important to clear that up upfront what kind of working relationship is going to be contingency fees, you know, car accident stuff, you know that stuff gets built, it's built on the Add. That's not our I mean, that is hourly billing. And so at the end of the accident, then all those things get pulled out of the settlement fee, but you might not realize that every time you call to check on the status of your case, you know those things, you have to have a discussion where the attorneys taking time to explain, but I guess one analogy and when you book a hotel, you're booking the room, right and so when you don't show up, if you cancel, then you're most of the time not going to get 100% refund if you cancel, so when you retain an attorney, it's like you are booking my time that time is for you, and then if you decide not to use it. Meanwhile, I may have turned Way two or three other people, so you're still going to be on the hook for the payment because that's the time that you retain me for.

Chris Snyder 40:07 

Yeah, no, I totally get it. And you know, you spent a lot of time in law school, you're good at what you do. I mean, you know, I think that they're just nice and you're an entrepreneur and a business owner yourself. So I think that all of us just need to be a little more thoughtful. You know, on our side about who we're working with, and our clients need to be, obviously a little more thoughtful and understanding about, you know, the situation that we're in right COVID know, COVID treat, treat people with respect and Okay, do your research. Understand, you know, how these folks operate. Just read a book, just read one little book before you go spend two or $3,000 on an attorney, you know, understand a little bit. Yeah. Well, look, this has been great. We've been talking with Kimra Major Morris and I always love saying this as Squire it's Esquire. Right? Yes. That must have felt really good to get that it did. She's a principal attorney at Major Morris Law does copyright intellectual property law. She's amazing. Camera. Do you have anything? Any final thoughts to leave our guests with?

Kimra Major-Morris 41:22 

Yes. Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on. I've enjoyed talking with you. But I would just say that people should value intellectual property. If the keyword is property, just you would not leave your real estate I mentioned in your estate planning documents. So once you get these things registered, include them in your estate planning documents so that you can create some generational wealth. If you have a copyright, then you can generate royalties if you have a trademark that your kids or grandchildren can license and collect. Some royalties do that but it's um, it is. It's a lot of times a business owner's most valuable asset. So I would say identify what you have. That's worth registering with the copyright or Patent and Trademark Office. And

Chris Snyder 42:10 

they're awesome. Well, I'll tell you what, Kimber is amazing. You should give her a call or email her. Her email is Kimra@majormorrislaw.com. You can also find her on LinkedIn. When we publish the show you will also be able to find her on Snyder Showdown in all podcasts, Stitcher, Apple, Android, and all the above. So thank you very much camera. It's been an amazing discussion and I appreciate your time today.

Kimra Major-Morris 42:42 

Thank you likewise. Okay, take care.

Outro 42:46 

Thanks for listening to Snyder Showdown. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.


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