Celebrity Attorney, Founder & Owner of Crespo Law Office, P.C. Marissa Crespo is an entertainment and intellectual property attorney who focuses on copyright and trademark brand protection for content creators in the film, television, literary, fashion, and music industries.
In the entertainment industry, Marissa has been involved in deals for television shows on major networks such as NBC, VH1, Bravo, and WE tv, including such shows as Love and Hip-Hop and the Real Housewives franchises, and has negotiated development deals for scripted and unscripted television shows and films.
Noted as the self-proclaimed “Legal Brand Archivist™,” she creatively crafts and curates intellectual property works from a legal perspective to help protect the cultural narrative and voices of her clients.
A frequent writer and panelist on entertainment related issues, Ms. Crespo has been published by Thomson Reuters, and in leading entertainment trade journals such as Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts and the New York Bar Association’s Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Journal, and is currently a freelance writer for Screencraft.
So far this year Marissa is set to speak at Copyright 101 : Protecting Your Ideas Workshop April 4th and Creatives Converge Film + Television Retreat April 17th-18th.
Marissa is barred in GA, NYC & NJ with clients across all states.
1.) Tell us about your business.
Crespo Law Office, P.C. is a boutique entertainment and business law firm that focuses on drafting contracts and advising various content creators and businesses on copyright, trademark protection, and licensing opportunities to expand each client’s brand. At the core of my practice is the fusion of law and culture, with a goal of empowering minority content creators with the information and legal tools they need to commercialize and profit off of their respective art forms.
2.) Why did you decide to take the LEAP to become an entrepreneur?
I decided to take the leap to become an entrepreneur because I wanted to “walk the walk” on what I constantly advise my clients on in creating and running their own business. I realized very quickly once I graduated from law school and started working at a top law firm that merely being someone’s employee was not enough for me. I never want to be put into a box and typecasted in doing one particular thing, as I believe my skill-sets are transferable in whichever space I choose to operate. Agency and ownership are key for me; so I thought the only way to exercise both would be to become my own boss.
3.) What’s the best part about being your own boss? The worst?
The best part of being my own boss is being able to control when I work, and which types of clients I want to work with and to whom I want to give my energy. I feel more free in knowing that the clients I work with align with my overall professional mission. Another great part is that my practice is primarily virtual in nature, so I can work anywhere from home with my family to a beach in paradise, as long as I have my phone and laptop!
The worst part of being my own boss is that constant underlying angst of making sure my firm is successful each and every day in its operations and in drumming up residual business.
4.) What have been some of your challenges and successes in business?
Some challenges I face in business include making sure that the firm is consistently generating new business through existing clients and new clients. It is easier to generate new business opportunities with existing clients if they are happy with the quality of my services and open line of communication. However, sometimes it can be a challenge to get new clients who may not have heard of my firm and prefer to go with other entertainment attorneys who have been operating in the business for 20 plus years. I would say the true successes I have experienced have been in acquiring new clients and keeping them. Most of my clients are not one off transactions, but a long term relationship where they see me as their trusted advisor. A spin off of that success is the success of having my existing clients who refer me their family members, friends, and colleagues. That speaks volumes and validates my professional services. I have even had opposing counsel on matters refer me business after we negotiated a deal. Those are great successes and achievements for entrepreneurs-when clients and colleagues in your field attest to your great work!
5.) What do you love about working here?
The fact that the environment is a bit more quiet and relaxed that a New York City or Atlanta. Immersing myself in a more nature-based environment relaxes me and gives me the space to think more creatively in what I do for work.
6.) What are 3 skills every entrepreneur should have?
The three skills I think every entrepreneur should have are the following:
1) Technical Skills-At a minimum, you need to have the technical skill and training in what you do for your customers/clients to feel confident in knowing you know your stuff.
2) General Business Knowledge -In addition to having the skill, you need to have a basic understanding of the business of the industry you are operating in to survive and thrive. Too many times, I hear creatives say that they don’t know or care to know about the business side of their profession, with a preference of leaving it to others to handle for them. Even though it is great to have the right business team behind you, you should still educate yourself on the business to make sure you don’t get screwed over. We’ve all heard the horror stories of artists and entertainers whose incomes were pillaged by their own team. Don’t allow yourself to be one of those people! Having knowledge of the business yourself also makes others take you more seriously also. The power and benefit of having a working knowledge of the business also means that you also keep your business team sharp as well!
3) Emotional Intelligence- Most people may say some marketing skills, but I believe that emotional intelligence is just as critical. I am a firm believer that if you are authentic to yourself and others, and have the ability to gauge what makes others feel or resonate with your business, the marketing of your business will happen fluidly. I may be cheating by throwing in two skills into the skill of emotional intelligence, but having the skills to listen and observe can take you far in your business and equip you with the ability to adapt to changing business needs for success.