attorney for entrepreneurs

What happens when you need to overhaul your business?

What happens when you realize a “perfectly good” business needs to change? A business model that is industry standard, commonplace, with a strong and growing customer base?  I’ve been wrestling with this exact question for 4 years.  Yesterday, I finally got to announce what’s coming: the Creative Law Shop® is evolving from a downloadable contract […]

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What happens when you realize a “perfectly good” business needs to change? A business model that is industry standard, commonplace, with a strong and growing customer base? 

I’ve been wrestling with this exact question for 4 years. 

Yesterday, I finally got to announce what’s coming: the Creative Law Shop® is evolving from a downloadable contract template database to a first of its kind contract-building app*. Before getting into the specifics of what this will entail, I want to pull back the curtain on what led us here, because it was not a smooth journey. 

*To be clear, I of course know that contract building tools exist, but I know for a fact that none exist containing some of the proprietary methodologies I’ve used to build the backend. This app is the direct byproduct of my brain. 

The Backstory

The Creative Law Shop® is a business I never intended to start. I never wanted to become a “shop owner” or “product owner”, actually. However, it was an entrepreneurial solution to an exposed need. When I started my firm, I started incredibly niched down: working with creative entrepreneurs, due to my own brief experience as a creative entrepreneur myself (I had a humble little calligraphy company while working in litigation).

Within weeks of starting my law firm, my previous career as a contract litigation attorney inadvertently took off like wildfire, and inadvertently, my reputation became known as a creative contract attorney. I received inquiries from around the world asking for assistance with drafting contracts for various creative businesses. There were just a few problems:

  • Ethically, attorneys cannot write contracts across state (much less international) lines
  • Startups typically cannot (or I would argue, should not) pay an hourly rate for an attorney to draft a contract
  • Most creative entrepreneurs were unaware of the hours that went into each contract- the wedding industry is nuanced and emotional, so contracts in this space must be finessed. 

So, about a month into starting the firm, the Creative Law Shop® was born. Over the years, every contract I’ve written for myself or a client has been redacted and added to the Shop. This has been the solution to get startups off the ground, without hamstringing them financially. Legally sound resources, without the hourly rate®.

If I’m being completely honest, the Shop has been a liferaft for the Firm. Or, more specifically, my own entrepreneurial journey. Not only did it solve a need, it acted as an inherent marketing device for the Firm. Additionally, as I mentioned in this post, I’ve spent a lot of time in surgery, in hospitals, at Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, etc as an entrepreneur. More than anyone will ever know. Entrepreneurship is never an easy road, but when you’re battle a chronic illness, a service-based business is at times simply not feasible. 

Even more honest, though: I very truly never wanted to be a “shop owner” or “sell a product”. I don’t think contracts are “products” and the very use of that word betrays the truth and voracity of the drafter.

But the reality was, the Creative Law Shop® almost acted as my own disability package during those times, providing much-needed financial stability to balance medical bills, etc. And then the pandemic hit, and the Shop became more than just my life raft- it truly carried hundreds of creative entrepreneurs through a sudden mass breach of contract disputes, etc. 

Something else happened in 2020: I watched literally hundreds of creative entrepreneurs use my contracts, but use them incorrectly. Edit them incorrectly; try to “shorten” them and instead hamstring the effectiveness of the language, etc. It caused a deep discontent on a seismic level for me. 

So, I decided to pour more into the business. More education; more updates (we committed early on to providing “lifetime updates” to our contracts). This was a huge undertaking, but from an integrity perspective, I couldn’t sell someone a privacy policy I knew was no longer effective, for example. I’m also very open about the fact that these aren’t documents written to be templates- they’re redacted, robust contracts I use, and that I litigate for clients. When a judge makes a ruling on one line of ambiguity in a cancellation clause, I’m going to update agreements across the board. 

Anyways, we have a strong, and successful business model. We reached the point where I genuinely knew we could not do more to raise the “standard” of our work product- to this day, I literally receive emails from attorneys thanking me for providing their clients with such a strong foundation at such a low price.  

As our profit margins grew, our customer base grew, and we continued to refine and challenge our work product…inexplicably, my discontent grew. 

As I shared in the town hall yesterday, I think it’s fair to say that I grew flat-out resentful of my own, profitable business model. I was resentful of every minute spent on emails answering the same questions, when all I wanted to do was advocate and actually practice law. Resentful of watching the templates be inadvertently misused. Resentful of the keyboard warriors who felt successful for telling a lawyer off, as if their opinion was inexplicably superior to judicial holdings. 

It’s not that I lost interest in the business- I never really wanted this business model, and I became an expert at dialing in on the flaws of the business model in how it truly served the industry. 

This was an odd experience, because at the same time that I saw a widening gap between how effective a creative entrepreneur could really be with a contract template and no additional support, I saw more and more contract shops pop up. When I started in 2017, there were 2 or 3 “big names” in the creative industry. Now, throw a rock at an online law firm, and you’ll hit a template shop.

I felt like I was losing my mind a bit, and thought perhaps this was a signifier of burnout, which you hear so much (spoiler: it wasn’t). I hired my mentee and gave her free reign of nearly everything less the contract-drafting itself.

I couldn’t ignore the discontent

Practicing law remained, and will always remain, my vocation, and what I love to do. I was using these same documents in everything from pre-litigation disputes, to mergers and acquisitions, startup support, etc. Point being, It was this boots on the ground approach that allowed me to gain a different perspective on this business model.

Clients in 2024 are savvier. What worked pre-pandemic doesn’t anymore. Now, a couple getting married know that the event could be rescheduled. They know what force majeure is. B2B businesses are skeptical about the use of AI. I could go on and on, but put simply: business has changed in the last 3 years, and every client-based business owner will tell you that. 

I was also growing tired of hearing my own self complain about something, and not follow it up with words. I daydreamed about being free of it; I joked about the wild things I wanted to try with the business model, “if I could do anything”. Then, in 2022-2023, something so odd happened: I was approached by a handful of interested parties who were interested in purchasing the Shop. I thought this may be the solution: every business should be built to be sellable, and I’ve built this one since day one with that in mind. I was actually positioned to sell it, quickly. And it almost happened, right when I needed the cashflow the most. Right when I needed to free up more time to build a new team with the Firm. It was an incredibly enticing offer (or so I thought). But what happened next surprised me the most:

I said no. 

It made absolutely no sense, and was not something I had even premeditated. It was like my intuition spoke for me, before my brain could catch up.

This has happened only once in my life, but it was the linchpin that changed everything. In law school, I interned almost exclusively for in-house counsels. It was always my “end goal”, and my short-term goal was to be in a position within the first 5 years of practicing to be considered. About 14 months into practicing, I got a call: before the job was posted publicly, one of the most prosperous energy companies in Oklahoma contacted me about interviewing for an in-house position. And I said no. I had no idea why, but it was the next week, driving across the state for a hearing that I realized I wanted to start a law firm. 

Sometimes, we don’t need to ask for one more opinion, or sit and overthink something. We just know. 

I revisited the ideas I’d joked about 

Because when you joke about something for more than a year, you’re probably not joking anymore. Through my work practicing actual law, I knew what the missing link was between the contract template model, and the actual online business industry.

It was the very obvious fact that businesses are dynamic, ever-evolving, and usually when change occurs, it happens fast and requires immediate attention. Most entrepreneurs don’t have attorneys on retainer. Most don’t realize you have to, in order to get on a lawyer’s calendar. Our days are spent, on some level, just prioritizing which fire to put out first. 

When business changes and evolves, your contract; the link that literally binds you to your clients, must evolve as well. And you typically don’t realize that until a dispute occurs, and the lessons is learned the hard way. 

In order to be operational by non-legal practitioners, contracts need certain triggering events built into the backend, so that a change that is made to one paragraph does not negate a different portion of the agreement, etc. Contracts are a game of chess, not checkers, and a good lawyer is reading paragraph 13, remember a few words from paragraph 7 that could negate that section. A common example: when you revise your intellectual property section to provide client A with rights as a “work made for hire”, but for client B, you retain those rights, you need to ensure that at least 3 other “triggers” have been contemplated on the backend to clean up the licensing language, portfolio rights, etc. 

The answer is beautiful in its simplicity, and it was just sitting there the whole time. 

So, how do you build a “dynamic contract” that operates by way of triggering events?

You turn it into an app. attorney for entrepreneurs

Follow the green lights

Around Q3 of 2023, I knew it was time to jump. It actually made no sense whatsoever; it was around the same time that the castle nearly crumbled. But I started quietly brainstorming the feasibility of making the Shop an app. I didn’t know if there was any way to even do that, or how to build an app, but I’ve never seen an entrepreneur who was given permission. So, I figured I might as well at least follow the green lights, to see what kind of opportunity I could uncover. This was going to be very literally bootstrapped, but I knew I’d need at least 3 critical components: a developer, a designer, and the support of my team.

And then, the oddest thing happened. A dear friend; someone I hold in the highest regard as a business owner herself, offhandedly mentioned that her husband was a developer. I hadn’t even told her about this idea. I started asking some questions as if for a client, and discovered he was literally the perfect fit. Greenlight number 1.

Next, I reached out to one of my closest business friends, who also happens to be one of the best designers I know. The type of friend I’ll fly across the country to see. One night around Christmas, I hopped on a call with her and told her about this crazy idea. She agreed it was, in fact, crazy, but immediately agreed to come onboard. Greenlight number 2.

Next, I had to present this idea to the team. This was hard, because I was telling them I was flipping the business on its head, and gambling our entire business model with an idea that had no proof of viability. No direct competitor analysis exists on the market, so not only are we traversing the literal “road less traveled”, we are doing so at a time when the missing is showing growth month after month. Put simply, what we have now works. Well. But luckily, I work with a team of entrepreneurs, who understand that zigging, even when everyone else is zagging is precisely why we’re in this industry. Greenlight number 3. Just because we’ve grown accustomed to a certain modus operandi didn’t change the fact that business has changed in the last 4 years. What used to work no longer does.

The linchpin greenlight: we have the strongest team we’ve ever had with the law firm, who were able to help the law firm running smoother than it’s ever run, even during this building phase. 

Do you start over with a new company, or transform the original?

The business concept behind this model came to me like a lightning bolt, but determining the actual business structure of the concept was difficult. It became clear, almost immediately, that if we maintained the preexisting business structure, it would cannibalize the new model, and vice versa.

Turning away from a successful business model is hard. But, I had to come back to the truth of why we’re making this move in the first place: the integrity of the business model of a contract template shop isn’t the same that it was pre-2020. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with contract templates, or shop owners: that is not what I’m saying. But for myself, personally, once I saw the gap in client interactions pre-2020 and post-2020, I couldn’t “unsee” it. On an integrity level, it didn’t make sense to maintain the business that I knew was no longer serving customers the same way, and create a new business for this app. 

“Flipping” a business, or stripping it down to the studs, is something that I’ll share more about at a later date, but is a concept that I want to encourage every entrepreneur to be willing to even contemplate. Discontent is a signifier, and in the same way that you’ve likely heard the saying “learn to rest, not to quit”, be willing to challenge the “shoulds” or the “industry standard”. 

The same thing that caused me 4 years of discontent, and feeling like I always had “one foot in” the law firm owner, and shop owner side of business proved to not be wasted time after all- it took that buildup of tension, while not forsaking the day to day work as an entrepreneur myself to uncover this new, yet more simple way of doing business. The answer wasn’t adding “more”, it was stripping the company down to provide what really matters: legal resources that grow with a company.

Become an expert at the “boots on the ground” of practicing in the industry that you’re selling to, and you never know what new angle you’ll uncover. 

I’ve found myself calling this my legacy project when speaking of it recently- not because of any perceived success (this is in its MVP phase, traversing uncharted territory, so who knows). But, the lesson this evolution has taught me is invaluable, and that is the type of work that leaves a legacy. No matter the success, not a minute spent on this project has been wasted, and has turned me into a different entrepreneur. 

Everything I’ve learned about business has come from either my own trial and error, or the lessons shared from colleagues and those who have gone before me. In that vein, I’ll be sharing openly about what this project has entailed. But at the end of the day, I hope this backstory finds you where you’re at: whether you’re smack dab in your own 4 year waiting period, or you’re about to jump off the cliff yourself. 

The app will be launching June 3rd at, and I’ll be sharing more soon!

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