- Firm Name & Slogan: Neon Esquire, LLC “While our logo may be inside a box, our ideas and solutions are not.”
- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- What does your firm do? Neon Esquire is a boutique Minnesota law firm specializing in counseling creative professionals. I advise and advocate on behalf of designers, agencies and more. I support modern creative businesses so they can focus on what they do best and routinely have those conversations my “Minnesota nice” clients would rather avoid.
- How did the firm start and how did it grow? Before law school, I worked for national luxury retailers as a designer jewelry merchandiser. During that time many of my vendors were copied or knocked off by much bigger brands. The designers were understandably upset but at a loss as to what sort of legal recourse they had. So I decided to attend law school and focus my studies on copyright, trademark and business law. In order to better serve the fashion community, I also attended the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School in New York City. Through my unique work experience, I know that creative businesses have different needs than most other businesses. However, other laws firms treated them as the same- usually to the detriment of the creative business. Neon Esquire was created to provide a more industry-specific approach to these types of clients. My legal training and fashion background means that I understand my clients’ present-day problems and my skills are well tailored to resolve those issues with innovative solutions. Over time, Neon Esquire’s client roster has grown to include apparel brands, academics, fashion designers, marketing agencies, creative directors, advertising agencies, documentary filmmakers, food trucks, small businesses and many other imaginative clients.
- How did you do things before PracticePanther and how has PracticePanther helped today? Before PracticePanther my client information was all over my computer. I kept track of billable hours and financials in Exel, client emails in Google, and my forms (intake, representation, agreements, court filings etc) in Word. This meant in order to have everything as it pertained to a specific client in one place, I had to print everything out. And, I was using nonlegal software to send out billing invoices which lead to long hours of transcribing information from Excel to the service I was using. The rate of error of retyping information like addresses or agreements or billable hours into different software programs was high. I am a solo practitioner who does not have a clerk, secretary or paralegal. So after a long day of work, I then had to become the marketing, IT and accounting departments. I spent a lot of time doing things two and three times. I knew I needed a case management system but was afraid it would be too expensive or time consuming to learn. After doing my due diligence I found PracticePanther. Not only was PP one of the most affordable options out there, they had very intuitive methods of doing things so the learning curve did not take much time. Now anything and everything pertaining to a specific client is kept in one place. All billables, emails, evidence, representation agreements…I even enter details of phone calls and meetings I have on matters in the Notes section for each matter so I have a documented history of what was discussed on what day. PracticePanther has cut the amount of time I spend on my office management duties by about 65%. I use that time to grow my practice, network or do pro bono work.
- What is your favorite thing about PracticePanther?It is a 3 way tie about what I like best about PracticePanther. I love the IT help, the invoicing system and the templates feature. I had a lot of questions and needed a lot of help in the beginning. Being able to schedule times to discuss my issues with the IT guys at PracticePanther was great. The fact that they can take over your computer remotely so they can see what you see in real time is even better. Their response time to non-scheduled issues is pretty fast. I have also found their FAQs and how to videos to be extremely helpful but having a live person to speak with who can access your computer is just as good as having someone standing next to me while I work.The invoicing system is phenomenal. It keeps track of all of my client banking accounts. I can see at any time how much is in my IOLTA account, how much is in my operating account, how much a client owes, how much a client has paid and how much I have billed a client but not yet invoiced. I can do this client by client, matter by matter or as an overall total. LawPay is free if you sign up through PracticePanther which is awesome because it handles my credit card transactions and when a client pays, it automatically updates my invoicing and accounts. PracticePanther also knows how to deduct things from a client’s retainer when sending out an invoice so you don’t have to worry about that either. Their timing device feeds right into the system. It is awesome.Finally, I have a lot of forms I use over and over again. Rather than having to enter information specific to a client or matter to each form every single time, PracticePanther lets you create templates so that you can have that specific information auto-populate onto the form. This is SUCH a major time saver and prevents accidental typos, forgetting to change or enter information or entering the wrong information in. I cannot emphasize enough how useful this is. I do a lot of pro bono work with domestic violence victims and the amount of time I had to spend on paperwork for the client, court and the agency I work with was unbelievable. I am now able to take on more clients because my paperwork time has gone from hours to an hour due solely to this feature.
- What is one piece of advice you would offer other lawyers in your industry? To other firms and solos I would say: Stop spinning your wheels. You are doing way more work and making way more errors than you need to. Getting PracticePanther has cut down the amount of time I spend on everything tremendously and helps me stay organized very easily. It has an amazing app that is just as affective as if you were working at a PC. For the price of less than an hour of work a month you can buy peace of mind and some of your life back!