BigLaw Alums Q&A: Glen Rothstein
Law360, New York (June 2, 2017, 2:19 PM EDT) —
BigLaw Alums Q&A: Glen Rothstein
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Glen A. Rothstein is the founder and CEO of Rothstein Law APC, based in Santa Monica, California. He is a nationally recognized and respected Los Angeles-based entertainment and sports law attorney, and former partner of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP. Rothstein focuses his practice in the area of general commercial litigation, primarily in the entertainment, sports, interactive gaming and digital and mobile app industries. Rothstein’s representative clients include motion picture and television production companies and studios, actors, athletes, writers, producers, directors, talent agents and agencies, talent and business managers, independent film production and distribution companies, foreign sales agents, interactive videogame agents, developers and publishers and mobile and digital app companies.
Rothstein’s name, face and voice regularly appear in print, television and radio, and he is oft-quoted in high profile entertainment, sports and legal trade publications. Rothstein is also the founder and CEO of Where Were You When…? LLC, a brand and licensing sports and lifestyle apparel company that, along with fellow partner Sports 1 Marketing/Warren Moon Enterprises, is dedicated to family, leveraging relationship capital in the entertainment, sports and business community to create business synergies for clients and nonclients alike and promoting philanthropic endeavors.
Rothstein’s professional affiliations include: Executive Committee of the Entertainment Law Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association; Law360 2017 Sports Editorial Advisory Board; and Executive Committee of the Provisors Silicon Beach Group (2013 – 2015), among others. He is also listed in California Super Lawyers (2009, 2012–2016).
Q: Why did you decide to leave BigLaw? Was there a specific moment or incident that significantly influenced your decision?
A: Simply stated, it was time. Given the diverse nature of my practice, I felt for quite some time I was operating as “my own firm within a firm” within the big firm environment. I have always been ahead of the curve in all my business endeavors, legal and nonlegal, and based upon my personal research, discussions with individual practitioners as well as seasoned and noteworthy nonlegal business mentors and my pragmatic and solid business-minded Dad, I truly believe that Rothstein Law APC is at the forefront and the changing of the guard as it relates to the traditional big law firm model and continued client willingness to continue to pay big firm rates. In today’s fast-moving and highly competitive legal climate, clients more than ever not only value exceptional results but also financial predictability and a human touch from their attorneys. Rothstein Law fills that sweet spot.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you faced after leaving BigLaw? What did you do about it?
A: That’s a really good question. For over 20 years I have a built a loyal client and referral base predicated upon mutual trust, confidence, respect and efficient, consistent successful results. I consider my clients to be valued friends and everyday people with everyday problems, both legal and nonlegal, not just dollar signs. I have never been handed a legacy or “firm” client to help support my book of business, so I was confident my client base would be 100 percent portable if I made the shift to my own firm. My (perceived) greatest challenge, and trepidation, was the everyday logistics. I am BigLaw born and bred. How would I get my briefs on the right pleading paper and to court? How would I handle IT problems other than bellowing my secretary’s name and crying out “help!”? All of the things BigLaw attorneys take for granted from junior associates to the most senior partners.
Fortunately, through personal and professional contacts who could “vouch,” so to speak, I immediately assembled a fantastic support team; my secretary, my IT help, my web designer, my publicity team, etc…, which not only made the transition virtually seamless, but allows me to keep my overhead down, which translates into an ability to lower my hourly rate for existing and prospective clients and effectively compete with the big law firms. My clients receive the same “me,” but at a lower price. Win, win for all concerned.
Surprisingly, the full transition process took less than a week, and was almost seamless. I think the biggest surprise, which was my greatest pretransition trepidation, was how easy it really is to start your own law firm if you have loyal clients, a solid infrastructure and strategic vision, a terrific support team and the help and support of family and friends. My Dad’s blessing and statement “Go For It,” was the greatest gift he provided Rothstein Law and I cannot thank him enough and share how much I value his business acumen, good, street-smart business sense and how lucky I am and how much I love him.
Q: What advice do you have for other practitioners who are considering departing larger firms for solo or small firms?
A: I was on the marketing committee at my prior BigLaw firm and asked one morning by the CMO at the last minute to put on a firmwide presentation. I entitled it “Sophistication & Street Hustle.” And the message I conveyed, which I put together in about 20 minutes and pretty much winged it, is every practitioner should have the confidence that he or she is unequivocally the best person for the job, but at the same time never lose sight that attorneys, even the best and brightest, at the end of the day are merely cogs in a service business wheel and never take your clients for granted or expect that the next new matter will magically appear at your door without constantly working, hustling and creating your own opportunities. I boiled my personal business approach, which in many ways is a life approach, and trust me, I don’t portend to be any Tony Robbins, to five simple tenets. (1) Give unconditionally; (2) People like to do business with people they like; (3) Work tirelessly; (4) Be responsive; and (5) Consistently obtain excellent results that exceed expectations.
In many ways, I believe, tenets (1) and (2) may be the most important for all practitioners, especially those departing the BigLaw milieu. There is a line a mile long of practitioners who work hard, exhibit responsiveness and achieve successful results. But how many take that unexpected referral call at the end of the business day as they are leaving the office and spend half an hour on the telephone helping a friend of a friend or client, knowing that the ROI will likely not translate into immediate new business? How many practitioners call their clients at home from home at 10 o‘clock at night and ask “That was a very ‘un-you’ e-mail you sent today, are you OK?” And if things aren’t OK, and I am talking about personally here, how many practitioners have developed those kinds of relationships with their clients that allows them to listen, a shoulder to cry on, offer advice and try to provide counsel? And, of course, this is not and never is billable time. This is being a friend and not taking your clients for granted. They are people, not dollar signs, and the lifeblood for any practitioner, BigLaw, small firm, solo or otherwise. I believe the smart practitioners want to help on a personal level and never forget this.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about working at a small firm?
A: 1. Autonomy. And 2. Autonomy. No committees, no BigLaw firm politics, nothing but practicing law at the highest level and consistently obtaining excellent results for my clients that exceed expectations. The ability to quickly make creative fee arrangements or take on a case because it feels like the right thing to do, and is not just based on statistics and the bottom dollar. The ability to devote time to other personal and professional business ventures and passion projects without any negative impact on or at the expense of fully dedicated time commitment to my law practice, such as my Where Were You When…? sports and lifestyle brand and apparel line.
This is not only spiritually rewarding, but has allowed me to expand my network of entertainment, sports, celebrity and high-level business contacts because in many instances we meet in philanthropic contexts, have a commonality of purpose and develop personal friendships before we ever even talk about professional business, because the goal at that moment is not about pitching for business. Giving unconditionally. People like to do business with people they like. Organic introductions and personal connections forged without any particular or specific business agenda. Rothstein Law allows me to connect all of these dots for everyone’s ultimate mutual benefit.
Q: What is your work environment like now, compared to at the BigLaw firm?
A: A bit more isolated, obviously, but as I stated earlier, I have been the lead counsel calling the strategic shots on all my litigation matters for as long as I can remember,, and quarterbacking matters in nonlitigation areas. So dealing with that pressure of having to “make the ultimate call” for a multibillion institutional client, or any client, for that matter, is not new to me. It comes with the job. I am fortunate to have worked with many great practitioners over the years and developed personal friendships, so if I need a sounding board or desire to brainstorm, they are only a phone call away. But my work environment, business philosophy and day-to-day substantive law practice remains unchanged: It is my duty and obligation to help my clients and colleagues succeed in all walks of life and help them problem solve along the way and find peace of my mind, both personally and professionally.
My entire career I have fought for the inches. In my view, the unwavering commitment to embracing the battle for the inches is the difference between winning and losing for your clients; between living and slowly dying as a practitioner and a human being. Rothstein Law reflects these long held personal beliefs not through its words, but through its actions and results, and by providing existing and future clients with A+ quality, hands on exceptional legal services at fees significantly below BigLaw rates. I could not be more excited about what the future holds for Rothstein Law and its clients, both short term and long term. Humbly, I believe I am the right person at the right time, and the time is now. Be great or be gone.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.