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From Small Town to Big Law to Her Own Firm

Navigating the legal industry often involves traversing the vast expanse of Big Law, with its towering skyscrapers and labyrinthine corridors of power. Yet, for some, the true calling lies in the freedom and fulfillment of creating their own path. Delia Gervin Frazier, the founder and principal attorney at the Gerben Frazier Law Firm, LLC, is one such trailblazer. On this episode of The Founding Partner Podcast, we delve into Delia’s inspiring journey from working in “big law and then bigger law” to launching her own successful firm specializing in intellectual property law for small and medium businesses.

**The Big Law Experience: A Stepping Stone to Greater Aspirations**

Delia’s legal odyssey began in the esteemed halls of Big Law, where she honed her skills in trademark prosecution, litigation, and a spectrum of IP-related cases. Despite the prestige and the substantial paycheck, Delia’s intuition whispered to her within six months that this environment wasn’t her true calling. Yet, she persevered for nearly twelve years, driven by a combination of fear, the desire for training, and a sense of duty to represent the underrepresented in the legal field.

**The Leap of Faith: Embracing the Unknown**

The turning point for Delia came amidst the solitude and reflection brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Confronted with life’s fragility, she resolved to reshape her career in a way that resonated with her core values. With her husband’s support and after a year of introspection and planning, Delia took the courageous step of starting her own firm. She credits mentors, business books, and podcasts like The Founding Partner Podcast with providing the guidance and encouragement needed to embark on this new venture.

**Building a Firm from the Ground Up: Client-Centered Success**

Delia’s firm has flourished, built on a foundation of exceptional client service and a commitment to turning clients into “raving fans.” She prides herself on never having a trademark application denied and on her ability to navigate complex IP challenges for her clients. Delia’s approach to business development has been grounded in word-of-mouth referrals, leveraging her reputation and network to attract clients who previously couldn’t afford her Big Law rates.

**The Wisdom of Experience: Signal vs. Noise**

One of Delia’s key insights for fellow entrepreneurs is the importance of distinguishing between valuable advice and distracting noise. She emphasizes the need for law firm owners to define their vision and stay true to it, rather than being swayed by every new trend or suggestion. Delia shares a candid reflection on her own missteps, such as investing in print advertising that didn’t align with her target demographic, and how these experiences taught her to be more strategic and selective.

**Looking Ahead: The Future of Gerben Frazier Law Firm, LLC**

As for the future, Delia envisions a continued focus on delivering top-tier service without succumbing to the pressures of scaling up too quickly. She aspires to maintain a “lean and mean” operation, potentially growing to a maximum of ten full-time employees while preserving the firm’s core values and personal touch.

**Conclusion: Embrace Your Unique Journey**

Delia Gervin Frazier’s story is a testament to the power of self-reflection, courage, and the pursuit of one’s passions. It’s a reminder to legal professionals everywhere that the path to fulfillment may not always be paved with the gold of Big Law, but rather with the satisfaction of building something of one’s own. For those yearning to hear more about Delia’s remarkable transition and the lessons she’s learned along the way, tune into this episode of The Founding Partner Podcast and let her insights fuel your own entrepreneurial spirit.

[00:00:00] Delia Frazier: So the very first thing I ever said I wanted to do as a kid was be an attorney. So my mom was big on. Metlock and night courting you all these, you know, courtroom dramas and those kinds of shows. And so I just thought it looked really cool. So I said, you know, I want to do that really didn’t know, you know, much about it.

[00:00:18] Delia Frazier: Don’t have any lawyers in the family, have no idea at that age, what it would take to get there, but it just looked really cool to me. And so over the years, I, you know, As most kids do, you know, changed a few times. I think by the time I hit maybe second grade, I wanted to move to the rainforest and be a treetop explorer.

[00:00:38] ​[00:01:00]

[00:01:07] Jonathan Hawkins: Welcome to founding partner podcast. I’m your host, Jonathan Hawkins. Really excited about today’s guest. Today we’ve got a former big firm lawyer, big firm big firms, a couple of big firms, I think that ended up going out and started her own firm. We’ve got Delia Gervin Frazier. Real excited to hear about her journey. And Delia, why don’t you tell us in your words about your firm and where you guys are and what you do.

[00:01:34] Delia Frazier: Well, thank you so much for having me today, Jonathan. Really excited to be here. I’ve been listening to the podcast since the beginning. So, I’m happy it’s my turn. So as you mentioned, I am Delia Gerben Frazier and I’m the founder and principal attorney at the Gerben Frazier Law Firm, LLC.

[00:01:50] Delia Frazier: So I am based in Atlanta and I primarily help small, excuse me, small and medium business owners gain legal ownership of their brands through trademarks. [00:02:00] So practically what that looks like is, you know, helping businesses register their taglines, register their logos Brand names, special product names, business names, so just all of the intangible property that a business may have to establish its goodwill in the market.

[00:02:18] Delia Frazier: So right now it’s just me as far as attorneys in the firm. I do have a couple of VA’s who help me with things like reception and, you know, just administrative tasks. You know, just kind of the smaller things that I need help with. I have a CPA bookkeeper, so I don’t have to, you know, deal with those kinds of things.

[00:02:38] Delia Frazier: And then I always joke that my last employee is technology. So, you know, being on my own and, you know, having the opportunity to try out new technologies. And just see where they can kind of help make me more efficient. And my firm has really been helpful. Cause to give you an example, like I use the Calendly app so that I don’t have to, you know, [00:03:00] go back and forth with people a million times trying to coordinate schedules and, you know, figure out when we can have the consultation or.

[00:03:07] Delia Frazier: When I can meet with other attorneys for lunch. So, you know, just things like that help me to be more efficient and, you know, cut back so much need for additional administrative help.

[00:03:17] Jonathan Hawkins: So let me just make sure I got this right So you have a couple VA’s you said

[00:03:21] Delia Frazier: Yes. Have a couple VAs who helped me with things like a reception small administrative tasks. If I need help with a trademark clearance search I have people who help me with those kinds of things. And then finally, I always joke that my extra employee is technology. So, being on my own has allowed me to explore various technologies, you know, to make both me and my firm more efficient.

[00:03:48] Delia Frazier: For example, I use the Calendly app. And so that helps me to be more efficient with scheduling, whether it’s scheduling consultations, whether it’s scheduling lunches, coffees, et cetera, with other attorneys. [00:04:00] It allows me to just kind of send that link and we don’t have to go back and forth, you know, 50 times trying to coordinate schedules.

[00:04:09] Jonathan Hawkins: cool All right, so I want to hear about your journey to becoming a lawyer and I think I saw on your website you are from A little bitty, itty bitty town here in Georgia. So tell us about, you know, growing up there and making it to the big city, Atlanta.

[00:04:25] Delia Frazier: Absolutely. So the very first thing I ever said I wanted to do as a kid was be an attorney. So my mom was big on. Metlock and night courting you all these, you know, courtroom dramas and those kinds of shows. And so I just thought it looked really cool. So I said, you know, I want to do that really didn’t know, you know, much about it.

[00:04:45] Delia Frazier: Don’t have any lawyers in the family, have no idea at that age, what it would take to get there, but it just looked really cool to me. And so over the years, I, you know, As most kids do, you know, changed a few times. I think by the time I hit [00:05:00] maybe second grade, I wanted to move to the rainforest and be a treetop explorer.

[00:05:05] Delia Frazier: And then somewhere, I want to say maybe around like late middle school or early high school. I just realized that I also really loved math and science. So, as I headed into high school, I was pretty much. pretty much thinking I would do something in the science field, whether that was medicinal chemistry research, become a pharmacist, just kind of something along those lines.

[00:05:25] Delia Frazier: So I went into my freshman year at Florida A& M University and, you know, my major at that time was biochemistry. So Then my first semester and during that first semester I had a required philosophy class. And so during that philosophy class, we talked a lot about foundations of legal arguments and the philosophies behind them, et cetera.

[00:05:49] Delia Frazier: And like that just blew my brain up. I loved it. I fell in love with the idea of law school all over again. So, went and consulted with my pre law advisor [00:06:00] who told me that she felt like maybe going the political science pre law route would, you know, help me. Better learn to think how I would need to think in law school and as a lawyer.

[00:06:10] Delia Frazier: So I don’t know at this point Still if that was the best advice So, you know, I just went all in I didn’t have really anybody else to talk to or run those kinds of you know Decisions through so I just kind of took her advice and decided to Change my major to political science pre law. And I do think for what it’s worth, it was a good decision on some levels because just say, for instance, like I was able to take a legal writing and research course during undergrad that was taught by a judge and a practicing attorney in Florida.

[00:06:44] Delia Frazier: So our curriculum pretty much mirrored. First year legal writing and research. And so by the time I actually took legal writing and research and law school at university of Georgia, it was really kind of like a repeat of the [00:07:00] previous course. Like we pretty much learned all the things we’ve learned, how to Iraq and research and shepherd eyes using the books and all those kinds of good things.

[00:07:09] Delia Frazier: So, I decided to go on to law school and. I need to pause.

[00:07:16] Jonathan Hawkins: Okay,

[00:07:17] Delia Frazier: I think I’ve gotten off track.

[00:07:19] Jonathan Hawkins: no, that’s good. No, that’s good. So, okay. So let’s, we’ll cut all this out. So next question. So, so in law school, did you know, or did you have an idea of what kind of law you wanted to do?

[00:07:34] Delia Frazier: So I did not know what kind of law I wanted to do during law school. So before I even went to back up a little bit to my undergrad years, I worked with a local attorney in my hometown during the summers. And so it’s a general practice firm in a town of 5, 000 people. So, you know, in a firm like that, you do all the things, you know, we may be doing a divorce hearing in the morning.

[00:07:58] Delia Frazier: We may be doing a real estate [00:08:00] closing in the afternoon. We may be at the jail on a criminal matter the next morning. So, you know, I just figured that I probably would end up. Practicing a lot of the way those guys practice and doing the same things that they did, but my trajectory changed once I took my first year property course.

[00:08:19] Delia Frazier: So, my professor taught us the entire gamut of property. We only, we not only focused on real property, river rights, all those kinds of things. We also did a pretty deep dive into intellectual property law and just reading those cases, the trademark cases, the copyright, or as we call it, the soft IP cases.

[00:08:40] Delia Frazier: Oh my gosh. It just blew my brain all the way up. Like I loved it. I found myself. thinking about the cases, you know, when I was walking my dog or at the gym, I just really enjoyed learning more about that subject matter, reading the cases, diving into the law. And from that moment, my path was really set.

[00:08:57] Delia Frazier: I fell in love with intellectual [00:09:00] property, soft intellectual property during law school and did not look back.

[00:09:03] Jonathan Hawkins: So that’s cool. So you went out looking for that. And where did you end up? Did you end up at Big Law right out of law school?

[00:09:10] Delia Frazier: Yes. So, so I’d say big. So my trajectory was like big law and then bigger law. So at my first law firm, I did seek out that work. So my first year I did a mix of trademark prosecution, trademark litigation and patent litigation, in which I quickly found out that patent litigation just simply was not my cup of tea.

[00:09:34] Delia Frazier: And so, you know, I graduated in 2009. So, you know, the market had crashed, you know, things were trying to rebuild at the time. So, you know, I was. First of all, just very grateful to even still have a job. I had a number of classmates who, you know, either got their offers taken back, or they, you know, got delayed for a year or two, or, you know, so just all kinds of crazy things were going on in the market.

[00:09:59] Delia Frazier: [00:10:00] So, I was fortunate to have that job and was willing to frankly do whatever work they needed me to do. And so as time went on, you know, as I developed a little bit more confidence and found my voice a little bit more, I. Was finally able to speak up and tell a couple of the partners that like, Hey, I’m loving this trademark work.

[00:10:19] Delia Frazier: Not necessarily loving the patent litigation. And so that kind of moved me into doing a little bit more general business litigation. So litigation that had contract claims, trademark claims, trade secret claims, those kinds of claims.

[00:10:36] Jonathan Hawkins: So you did some litigation, some other stuff, and then, but you ended up focusing on the IP kind of things. Now I saw a post of yours on LinkedIn and it’s something to the fact of you knew within six months that Big law wasn’t really for you, but you stayed for quite a while before you ended up making the jump.

[00:10:55] Jonathan Hawkins: So, you know, how long were you in the big law spot? I guess this is a three part question. [00:11:00] So how long were you there? What was it that made you realize, Hey, I’m going to leave. And then. How long did it take you to actually make the jump?

[00:11:08] Delia Frazier: So I, you are absolutely right. I did realize within about six months, I’ve just Felt like this little nagging voice inside me that this just is not quite right for you, and this is not where you need to be. But, you know, just for for a number of reasons, I continued to trudge forward. I felt like I, Needed to learn.

[00:11:32] Delia Frazier: I felt like that was a great training ground. I worked with some of the absolute best attorneys worked on some of the most cutting edge cases. So I felt like it would be a great training ground. So that was part of the reason I stayed out. I didn’t want to get that training. And then the other part I guess this is kind of where your show turns a little bit.

[00:11:54] Delia Frazier: Dr. Phil is for me on my answer turns a little bit. Dr. Phil is. So I ended up [00:12:00] staying almost 12 years despite knowing almost six months in that it wasn’t for me. I think a lot of that was fear driven. So what else do I do? You know, I am at what I have always been told is, you know, the pinnacle of law practice, the gold star.

[00:12:20] Delia Frazier: So if I’m not doing, that what else do I do? You know, Am I going to be accused of not being able to hack it? Am I going to let my family down? Am I going to let my friends down? Am I going to lose the prestige of it all? So just all of those thought processes as well as You know, just even on a more personal level, just kind of feeling like I was carrying the torch for, you know, various identities that I hold.

[00:12:48] Delia Frazier: So I know what the numbers look like in larger firms for, you know, women in retention. I know what the numbers look like in larger firms for black people and retention. I know what the numbers look like for in [00:13:00] society generally for, you know, people who come from backgrounds like I did. So I came from a below the poverty line background.

[00:13:08] Delia Frazier: So I literally grew up in public housing, welfare, the whole nine. So I just really had a feeling of. At this point and as far as I’ve come like who am I to not stay who am I not to who am I to not continue fighting who am I to not you know and be the representative for all these various identities.

[00:13:30] Delia Frazier: So just kind of all of those thoughts led me to stay put because often, you know, especially when you are feeling fear, it can often be easier to, you know, stay put, even if you know something isn’t right for you then to try to explore the unknown.

[00:13:48] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah,

[00:13:50] Delia Frazier: I’m sorry, go ahead.

[00:13:51] Jonathan Hawkins: I was going to say, I understand that completely. And you know, I didn’t know you grew up in public housing and all that. And I can imagine, you know, to all what you [00:14:00] said, it’s, you know, you’re at the pinnacle you got the trophy, you know, you got the trophy and it’s probably a good paycheck too, I’m sure.

[00:14:07] Jonathan Hawkins: And you’re like, it’s hard to walk away from that. I imagine too. But you, like you said, you knew, and then it, you know, at some point, something clicked and said, all right, I’m going to do it. So what was that moment? What was the thing? Because there are a lot of people out there, I’ve talked to a lot of them at big firms and they’re scared for, they have different reasons you know, they’re extremely risk averse. They say they want to do it. But oftentimes I never do, but you did. So what was it that, what was the flip?

[00:14:35] Delia Frazier: Sure, so I, I think just kind of being at home, being quarantined due to COVID made me think a lot harder about my life and what it looks like and what I wanted it to look like took a hard look at myself I just, I tell people from time to time, I kind of started feeling like a stranger in my own body.

[00:14:58] Delia Frazier: Like I had all types of [00:15:00] health issues that had cropped up, you know, just due to my continuously trying to, you know, make myself, who’s a square peg, fit in a round hole. So, you know, I think all of that just kind of, came to a head during COVID, you know, as I’m looking around and, you know, seeing people.

[00:15:18] Delia Frazier: Dying left and right. And, you know, just all the uncertainty and all the

[00:15:23] Delia Frazier: I guess just heartbreak going on in the world at that time. I just realized that like my life needed to look differently because I, you know, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. It’s not promised to me. So I just felt really motivated and inspired to do my best to. From that moment forward, live my life on my own terms.

[00:15:47] Delia Frazier: So, after I decided to leave, well, first of all, I talked with my husband, you know, to make sure we were on the same page with, you know, my making that move we were on the same page cause you know, he and I had been [00:16:00] kind of talking through things and about things for, you know, the nearly 12 years I was there.

[00:16:04] Delia Frazier: So, you know, none of it kind of came as a surprise to him. So, we decided that, you know, it’s, I was, I got his blessing essentially to, you know, do what I needed to do next in my career. But the interesting thing is that I didn’t know exactly what that was. So honestly, I had burnt out to a point where I felt like I didn’t even want to practice law.

[00:16:28] Delia Frazier: So I took and I realized this is a very privileged thing to be able to do. So after I finished up with the firm, you know, got all my matters wrapped up and handed off and all those kinds of things, I took roughly a year to do this. To try to recalibrate as a person, you know, I reconnected with family. I reconnected with friends reconnected with my dog.

[00:16:53] Delia Frazier: Cause I got a dog at the end of my 12 year and pretty much, you know, being in big law was always [00:17:00] gone. So, you know, I just spent time with her outside playing, you know, doing those kinds of things. And. I started thinking because I love and have a passion for interior design. So I started thinking like I don’t think I want to practice law anymore.

[00:17:16] Delia Frazier: I think I’ll be an interior designer. So I started looking up programs online, looking at SCAD, looking at the, you know, Art Institute, just looking at various, you know, Programs to try to, you know, make a second career as an interior designer. But during that process, I felt that tiny voice again, and I’ve, I am convinced that was the voice of God for me that asked me, do you really not like practicing law or do you just need to try practicing law another way?

[00:17:48] Delia Frazier: And so when that first occurred to me, I’m like, what else am I going to do? Like, I’m just done with law. I just kind of wrote it off. But like, as the days were on, it became louder inside [00:18:00] me. And eventually I talked with one of my good friends who has her own personal injury firm about it. And she’s like, you know what?

[00:18:07] Delia Frazier: I really do think that you love that area of law. And I think you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. And so that kind of planted the seed and I decided to move forward with starting my own shop. So, you know, she basically gave me gave me all of

[00:18:22] Jonathan Hawkins: so let me cut you out, cut you off real quick and ask you. So, you know, I think it’s. Awesome that you took the time off, you know, most people don’t have you know, I think people probably could make that opportunity and maybe they just don’t take it, but it’s cool that you took it, but it’s like you gave yourself the space to figure out what was right for you.

[00:18:43] Jonathan Hawkins: And then of course you started talking to your friends and other attorneys out there.

[00:18:47] Jonathan Hawkins: And so she gave you, I guess, Some tips or maybe the courage. I don’t know. Did she give you the push or tell me about that? Or was it, did you talk to other law firm owners?

[00:18:56] Delia Frazier: Yes. I did talk to other law firm owners too. And I think one of the [00:19:00] biggest pushes I got was like without variance. Every single solo attorney I talked to said that the only regret that they had about their law firm was that they didn’t start sooner. So that was really a little, it was really surprising.

[00:19:15] Delia Frazier: And just eyeopening for me as to, you know, what a career as a solo attorney could look like and could feel like

[00:19:24] Jonathan Hawkins: And I bet you, you know, in the big firm, those lawyers aren’t talking about solos. They’re probably, it’s probably the opposite. You can’t make it out there on your own. You can’t, you cannot leave. That’s probably the talk in those halls. And so you get out there, give yourself some space. You start talking to people and you’re like, wait, you can.

[00:19:41] Jonathan Hawkins: And actually it’s, it can be a cool thing. So, so you decided to do it. You know, what, you know, how did you in terms of, you know, Hey, I can give this a go, what gave you the confidence that you’re going to be able to do it? Cause it sounds like you were starting from scratch. You had zero clients.

[00:19:59] Delia Frazier: that’s [00:20:00] correct. So starting from absolute scratch but I would say. Two things really propelled me. So first of all, just kind of the rejuvenation and just newfound excitement for the law that I gained from taking that time off and just the prospects and the possibility of being able to do law on my own terms.

[00:20:22] Delia Frazier: So I was just literally so excited about that. That I think all the fear and all the stuff that had been holding me back up to that point, just really went to the wayside. I was just propelled forward by my vision of what my life could look like practicing law the way I wanted to practice law. So that was the first part.

[00:20:44] Delia Frazier: And then the second part I’ll have to give a nod to our patron saint of solo practice ownership Carolyn Elephant. I saw a post that she did the other day and said that, you know, all too often people think of, you know, going solo as quote unquote, a [00:21:00] life sentence. Like if you, once you do it, like you can’t do other things, but you know, I reminded myself that, you know, in life we are free to choose and if we make a choice and it’s not quite what we wanted it to be, you can choose again.

[00:21:12] Delia Frazier: And so I just reminded myself that, you know, Hey, I’m going to. Give this my best shot. But in the event that I need to choose again, I have the freedom to do that. So

[00:21:24] Jonathan Hawkins: So, so you did this you know, in the aftermath of the COVID scare, when everybody thought everybody’s going to die all uncertainty, you had a No clients. You’d never, you’d always been a big firm, so you’d never run a firm. So then you go do it. So how did you figure out what to do? How did you learn about how opening a firm and running a business?

[00:21:48] Delia Frazier: sure. So first and foremost really gracious mentors both in people that I’ve known for a while and in new people I’ll have to say that. As I reached out to people, even cold, solar [00:22:00] practitioners were very warm, very open, very willing to share their knowledge with me, you know, the mistakes they’ve made, things they wish they’d done differently.

[00:22:09] Delia Frazier: So, first of all, a bunch of gracious mentors, I would say. Business books have been helpful to some extent. I would say podcasts listening to podcasts like these cause it’s really helpful to hear from people who have done it before, you know, and, you know, to help me realize what I need to think about, what I need to be doing those kinds of things,

[00:22:31] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah. So, I saw another post that you had done on LinkedIn and it was something about signal versus noise. When you’re looking at advice to entrepreneurs and maybe law firm owners and, you know, nowadays. There are coaches and gurus and this and that everywhere. And everybody’s telling you to do this, do that, do this, do that. And I think your post was you know, what’s, what should you listen to? And what should you, what advice should you take and what should you ignore? [00:23:00] So I guess, tell us about your thought process there. And then how do you figure out what. Which way to go,

[00:23:08] Delia Frazier: sure. So I would say that for me, this is where. Even if you don’t do it at the complete outset of your firm, I would say sometime within the first six months of opening your firm, you really need to sit down and figure out what do you want your firm to look like? You need to, whether that’s through therapy, coaching, whatever the case may be, figure out who you are as a person and accordingly, what do you want your law firm to look like?

[00:23:41] Delia Frazier: Because that is kind of the first place you want to start looking when, you know, people are in your ear, you need to do this, you should be doing this, you should be doing that. So to first of all, be able to go back to, you know, what you originally stated that you wanted to happen. That’s very helpful to realize whether what you’re being told is [00:24:00] signal or noise.

[00:24:01] Delia Frazier: And then secondly, I think it’s important to get quiet. So I think that means it can mean different things for different people, but that may mean getting off social media for a brief period. That may mean, you know. Unfollowing or silencing some accounts. You know that if, when you read certain things, like if somebody’s telling you like, you know, your firm needs to have 20 people in it by the end of your second year, if that’s making you uncomfortable, maybe you need to unfollow that person.

[00:24:29] Delia Frazier: Maybe you need to unfollow that account. And then just really sit down with yourself. And as I mentioned before, like get into your body, like when you are hearing various ideas, when you’re reading various things, like how is that making you feel in your body? Like, is it making, Is it giving you baited breath?

[00:24:45] Delia Frazier: Is it causing you to tense in your torso? So just like drop into your body and realize what’s going on. And that can be a good indicator as to whether, you know, something is for you or not, because generally speaking, you won’t feel those kinds of stress [00:25:00] responses or negative bodily reactions if something is resonating with you or is for you.

[00:25:05] Delia Frazier: So those are just some of the things that I employ just kind of getting away from the noise. Looking back at my plan to figure out, okay, what did I say? I wanted is what’s being suggested to me in accordance with that. If the answer is no, I just need to tune it out and keep it moving.

[00:25:21] Jonathan Hawkins: you know Essential to any law practice is you got to go get clients. And depending on where you are, but most law firms don’t teach you that I don’t think big firms probably teach you that really at all I mean, how do you teach somebody go get coca cola as a client that’s already been at the firm forever So you started your firm you had no clients, how did you Go get clients.

[00:25:45] Jonathan Hawkins: What was your approach? How did you figure that out?

[00:25:49] Delia Frazier: Sure. So very surprisingly within the first week or so after I launched I had several clients to come in because, you know, when I was at the larger firms. Like [00:26:00] my rate was literally right at a thousand dollars an hour and small and medium businesses can’t afford that most of the time. So, when I launched my firm, I had a couple of pieces.

[00:26:09] Delia Frazier: So say for instance, there’s one business owner I know, you know, has a multi seven figure business that, you know, is a great and thriving business, but you know, is not a, you know, big law a good big law candidate. So, the CEO had a trademark matter pending at that time. I knew nothing about this. And I mean, I’ve been knowing this guy.

[00:26:28] Delia Frazier: much all my life. I’ve been knowing him almost 40 years at this point. So he was the first person to come in and say, Hey, like I actually do have a trademark matter now. Can you help me? And I’m like, of course I can. And

[00:26:39] Jonathan Hawkins: That is like divine intervention there

[00:26:42] Delia Frazier: Yes, exactly. Exactly. And so that gave me confidence like, huh, maybe this thing really can work. And then so, other friends who knew I’d launched started sending their referrals to me. So attorneys who don’t do what I do. And if they knew somebody that had a need, they would send those people to me.

[00:26:59] Delia Frazier: [00:27:00] So 99 percent of my business has come from word of mouth referrals and, you know, people I’ve already. been knowing for years, but just, you know, would have liked to have worked with me, but couldn’t because of the you know, the big law rates just didn’t work for their business model.

[00:27:17] ​

[00:27:30] Jonathan Hawkins: So do you have a certain Industry or industries that you focus on or is it sort of just small business versus bit large or where do you focus?

[00:27:39] Delia Frazier: Sure. So, mostly small and medium businesses. I have been pretty industry agnostic up to this point, but I’m wanting to focus more on restaurants. I have a few restaurant clients really enjoy working with those people. And, you know, we’d like to just kind of expand on that and work with even more of them.

[00:27:58] Delia Frazier: But, As I mentioned, [00:28:00] industry agnostic. So, you know, whether you have an online coaching business, whether you have a restaurant, whether you have a medical practice. So I’ve worked with a wide range of professionals.

[00:28:11] Jonathan Hawkins: So I’m curious, so from a lawyer perspective, so a law firm owner perspective you know, if I’m a law firm owner out there what parts of my business, if any, should I be looking at for potential trademark protection or any other type of IP protection?

[00:28:29] Delia Frazier: Sure. So that is a great question. So most law firms, especially if you have. A trade name can benefit from trademark protection because to give you an example of a real world situation that I knew of, so let’s say law firm owner A has a law firm called Glowing intellectual property and law firm owner two decided to name [00:29:00] their law firm glow intellectual property.

[00:29:03] Delia Frazier: I mean, anybody can get confused, you know, with that close of a naming, but because trademark owner one, this is a real life example of I’ve changed the names up, but it’s a real life example that I knew of that happened between two trademark attorneys actually who own their own firms. So because a trademark owner one had protected the name.

[00:29:24] Delia Frazier: Trademark owner one was able to shut down trademark owner two. So it’s especially something that trademark, I’m sorry, that law firm owners who have trade names for their firm need to consider. And I also want to give a caveat trade names that are. Distinctive and able to be trademarked because one of the most well known rules in trademark law is that Names that are primarily a surname Unless you have a very rare surname those aren’t protectable So if I had you know, williams the williams law firm like [00:30:00] I stand zero chance of getting a trademark on that So if there is a distinctive trade name being used.

[00:30:07] Delia Frazier: That’s a good area for trademarks for law firm owners. Any special taglines that you may have, logo. So it’s very important to be able to differentiate yourself from other law firms. Law firms. Firms,

[00:30:21] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, so, you know, a couple things for law firms out there, you know, they’re, you know, you got, and you know this better than I do, but you’ve got federal trademark. I think you’ve got some sort of state. A trade name or trademark type thing. Maybe even have local trade names you can register. Then you’ve got sort of the common law usage protection you might have. And so there may be a firm out there that says I’m never going to leave. My small town or my state. So why do I need to, why should I care about getting a federal trademark? What would you say to that? Is that accurate or does it just depend?

[00:30:58] Delia Frazier: yeah. It really depends [00:31:00] because if, you know, you may change your mind. And I feel like too, for people who are more concerned with, you know, selling their law firms, you know, as they exit, you know, whoever purchases the firm may want the ability to, you know, expand to other states, other geographic regions.

[00:31:17] Delia Frazier: So if, you know, if there if the trademark has not been acquired. On the name, then how do you spread? Like how do you go further with that?

[00:31:27] Jonathan Hawkins: I think that is a tremendous point there. Huge point, you know, more and more people are talking about selling their firms and, you know, some are easier to sell than others and always tell people it’s the assets. You want to build assets that might be worth something to somebody else.

[00:31:42] Jonathan Hawkins: And I would think a trade name that is.

[00:31:44] Jonathan Hawkins: Trademarked that has protection could be worth something to someone. So like you said, even if you don’t ever want to build it and put it everywhere, there may be a buyer at some point that does, or maybe a more junior attorney in your firm wants to come up [00:32:00] and take it over and conquer the world or whatever it is. So it’s almost, even if you don’t, it’s not that big a deal, I would think just. It’s like a just in case kind of thing, right?

[00:32:12] Delia Frazier: Right. Exactly. And then the other part of it is if you are currently operating under a trade name, even if the secretary of state, wherever you are based has, you know, given you permission to use that name, that still doesn’t quite mean that you are authorized to use it because when the secretary of state’s office determines whether a certain.

[00:32:34] Delia Frazier: You know, name can be used or not. They are simply checking their own database. So just to give you the example that I gave earlier. So let’s just say the glowing IP law attorney had not gotten a federal trademark, you know, on her name. So the attorneys that I mentioned, the law firms that I mentioned are in two different States.

[00:32:54] Delia Frazier: So if attorney to, you know, try to register. Glow IP law in his state. [00:33:00] They’re going to tell him. Yes, you’re fine. Go ahead. We bless that name But he’s infringing on trademark owner one law firm owner ones federal trademark. So just because you can use it, just because you get authorization to use a name in your state, doesn’t mean that you may not be infringing on somebody else’s federal trademark rights.

[00:33:20] Delia Frazier: So you can still be in trouble.

[00:33:22] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, I may have mentioned this on this back podcast in the past, but you know, a lot of folks come to me with making partnerships, law, lawyer partnerships and all that. And the question always comes up, what do we name the firm? And it’s, you know, it’s X, Y, and Z, or is it Y X and Z or Z Y X, you know, where are we going to put the name?

[00:33:42] Jonathan Hawkins: And I’m like, you know, It’s way easier if you just can come up with a trade name So then you don’t have to worry about where and because nobody’s names in it

[00:33:51] Jonathan Hawkins: Although there may be some states that I know Georgia used to require you had to have at least one name in there That’s gone away. But And so it takes away [00:34:00] some of those issues But then you know, that’s not enough just because you come up with the trade name, you got to go to the next step.

[00:34:08] Jonathan Hawkins: And maybe not everything is able to be trademarked, but if it is, then you need, you just need to take that extra step and get it

[00:34:15] Jonathan Hawkins: done. So another thing that I’m curious about, and this is diving into the trademark stuff. I don’t know if you’ve started to see this or not, but with all the AI and the creation of these things, they go out and they pull from all these places and they create these things. It seems like I heard or read that, you know, the stuff that the AI creates cannot be protected.

[00:34:39] Jonathan Hawkins: Is that accurate? Or is that still sort of in flux? Do we know yet?

[00:34:44] Delia Frazier: Yes, that is accurate. It cannot be protected. So that’s one potential issue. And then the other potential issue is you can go into, you know, various AI vendors and say, Hey, you know, make me a new logo for my business. And so, you know, [00:35:00] AI is pulling from all these different, you know, sources to try to create this logo for you.

[00:35:04] Delia Frazier: And it may very well be that the logo that is created for you is too close to, and in fact infringes, on somebody else’s logo. So I it’s going to be interesting to see, you know, where all this leads,

[00:35:19] Jonathan Hawkins: Yeah, it is uncharted territory. I remember seeing something where some AI created an image and it, and it was a new image, but they had pulled from existing images and one of them had a like a stamp of, you know, I don’t know, some news agency sort of in the background of the AI created image was, it had the news name on there, Reuters or whatever on there.

[00:35:45] Jonathan Hawkins: So it’s clearly. It was infringing on someone else’s, that’s probably another issue. You don’t want to, you know, suck it in. And it was like, boom, it was in the picture. So it was pretty clear on that one.

[00:35:56] Delia Frazier: right, exactly. And then who’s responsible because, I [00:36:00] mean, did the AI infringe, can AI even infringe? So yeah it’s just going to create a host of very interesting issues and I’m pretty excited to watch it all play out, honestly.

[00:36:11] Jonathan Hawkins: All right, let’s, so let’s get back to your firm. So you’ve been at it for is about four years now.

[00:36:15] Delia Frazier: Three years. So it’ll be three years next. So July of 2024 next month will be three years.

[00:36:21] Jonathan Hawkins: So looking back what are you thinking? What do you, what are some of your wins? You’re like, wow, that was, you’ve done it.

[00:36:30] Delia Frazier: So, you know, just continuing to deliver a great client service turning my clients into raving fans who think of me at holidays and reach out and those kinds of things. That’s just really been a win for me to build those personal connections. With people have gotten some great wins. I mean, in terms of my actual trademark practice, I, you know, haven’t had an a trademark application denied yet, which of course that does not, you know, guarantee any future performance, but I’ve [00:37:00] never had a trademark application denied.

[00:37:02] Delia Frazier: So that’s been a win. I’ve gotten a few clients out of some pretty pretty sticky situations going on with their intellectual property issues. So those are. because especially with small business owners, like their businesses are very near and dear to them. And frankly, an extension of them, an extension of their personhood to some degree.

[00:37:24] Delia Frazier: So they take them very seriously, you know, at the slightest threat of, you know, the business being harmed, they, you know, go into panic mode. So it’s been really nice to get some good resolutions and wins for those people.

[00:37:37] Jonathan Hawkins: And so what are some of the mistakes that you’ve made or maybe lessons learned that looking back you say, you know what I wish I had done this differently or done this sooner or not done this at all, or do you have any of those?

[00:37:50] Delia Frazier: Yes, absolutely. So the first is I’ve learned that you can’t just throw money at any and everything and fix, fix [00:38:00] problems and you know, you just really need to before you Take any action, you know, just sit down and really be strategic about, all right, is this really going to, you know, move me forward?

[00:38:11] Delia Frazier: And which, I mean, you don’t know for sure. Like, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty that comes along with being a law firm owner. But to give you an example of something that If I look at it in hindsight now, I’d be like, why did I even do that? So, I want to say maybe about a year after I started my firm, you know, I’m just continuing my process of trying to get more business in the door, increase my visibility, all those kinds of things.

[00:38:36] Delia Frazier: And so there are a couple of local magazine publications in the area that I said, you know what, I’m going to take out ads. In both of these publications and the both publications pretty much go to homeowners in, you know, affluent areas. And so, I was like, okay, well, you know, maybe some of those [00:39:00] homeowners are business owners and, you know, maybe I’ll end up getting some calls from this, but, you know, they’re pretty much, we’re going to homes of people who, you know, work for other people.

[00:39:09] Delia Frazier: They don’t have any intellectual property to protect. So, you know, it, Advertising makes sense maybe in some instances but in that, those particular publications, it just didn’t just given the demographics, it just really didn’t make sense for me. And I can see that clear as day now, but I didn’t really think through all that at first.

[00:39:28] Delia Frazier: I’m like, okay, I’ve heard other people in town say they’ve had success with this. So I’m going to do it too. And it was a complete bust for me. So, you know, I would say I’ve definitely made mistakes and really that’s what helps me, you know. Start distinguishing between, you know, signal versus noise, because, you know, I’ll talk to my friends and other practice areas, you know, like PI or, you know, family law or criminal.

[00:39:52] Delia Frazier: And, you know, their practice is very different from mine. The way they get clients is very different from the way I do it. We’re looking for [00:40:00] different types of people. So, you know, I, in that moment realized just because, you know, Other people have had wild success doing something doesn’t mean like it’s, you know, a golden egg for me and I need to just rush to do it.

[00:40:13] Delia Frazier: I need to really sit down and be strategic and figure out whether that even makes sense for me in my practice.

[00:40:20] Jonathan Hawkins: That is so true. I mean, what works for one practice or even one attorney or even in one town may not work in another, and you know, just because somebody else, and you know, you never know if somebody is telling you the truth, if it really works or not, you never really know.

[00:40:35] Delia Frazier: That’s true.

[00:40:37] Jonathan Hawkins: I went, but I’m with you too.

[00:40:39] Jonathan Hawkins: I have, you know, there are a few costly mistakes that I think of every now and then I’m like, why did I do that? It was just, I’ve been better off just burning the money to start a fire to start the grill.

[00:40:53] Jonathan Hawkins: But you got to sort of learn that, you know, you gotta learn that the hard way, I think. But I think you’re right. Be careful, [00:41:00] really think through it. Is this going to work on those magazines? Did somebody sell you on that? Or had you just heard that someone else had done it?

[00:41:09] Delia Frazier: So I’d heard that someone else had done it. So I reached out to both publications and they said that they, you know, thought I would be a great candidate for it. And I literally I advertised for a little over six months. And I literally got two calls behind it. One was from somebody looking for pro bono services and the other I think was just trying to pick my brain and Get me to tell her how to do it.

[00:41:35] Delia Frazier: Cause I think she said she used to be a paralegal. So she was essentially asking me questions that I could tell, you know, was her trying to get me to explain to her how to do it. So I curtained that conversation pretty quickly.

[00:41:47] Jonathan Hawkins: You know, it’s funny speaking, you know, the old way you remember back in the day with the yellow pages, you know, that was the, everybody was in there. I didn’t even know they still had them, but I was at the gym the other day and [00:42:00] there was an actual yellow pages there. It’s about, you know, a quarter of the size of what they used to be. I picked it up. I was so interested and I flipped through to see if there were any attorney ads in there and there actually, there were some attorney ads in there.

[00:42:12] Jonathan Hawkins: I don’t know how much those ads cost nowadays. I don’t know who convinced them to do it, but I would not have done that, you know, but maybe it. works for them. It was people I’d never heard of. So, and again, I didn’t even know they had yellow pages anymore.

[00:42:25] Delia Frazier: Yeah. This is news to me too. And another thing too, I just feel like there’s just so much noise online, you know? So everybody’s, you know, either marketing their businesses or, you know, there’s vacations and puppies and, you know, just all the things, wedding photos to compete with, you know, the space that is available on social media.

[00:42:47] Delia Frazier: So another part of it was okay, well maybe if I, you know, try a print ad, you know, maybe this can be kind of an alternative to all the noise that’s going on social media. And I don’t think, you know. Print [00:43:00] advertising is necessarily dead. I just should have certainly done a better job at, like, carefully selecting.

[00:43:07] Delia Frazier: where it made most sense for me to do those ads.

[00:43:12] Jonathan Hawkins: yeah. So, you know, you’ve been at it three years, you left big money and prestige at the big firm to, you know, to do your own thing. And so as you look back. And you look at yourself now and your firm, you know, what’s the best thing, the best part of owning your own firm.

[00:43:32] Delia Frazier: So I really love being able to do the work I love in a way that just flows and aligns and feels most natural for me. I’m not having to try to, you know, contort myself to be who somebody else thinks I need to be. I’m not having to, you know, follow certain procedures and protocols that, you know, if we get to the bare bones of it, it really doesn’t make sense [00:44:00] other than we’re just doing it this way because it’s always been done that way.

[00:44:03] Delia Frazier: It’s been nice to depart from kind of that ingrained thinking and have the space and freedom to practice. Like I said, the law that I love in the way that I love.

[00:44:14] Jonathan Hawkins: And, you know, years ago you said you thought you were going to, your vision was you were going to end up. Going back to a small town having a small town practice doing a little bit everything Obviously you’re not there. So the vision changed.

[00:44:27] Jonathan Hawkins: So where do you see or where do you want to see your firm go over the next 10 15 20 years?

[00:44:34] Delia Frazier: Sure. So I want to continue to provide top notch client service. I want to continue turning clients into raving fans. I do not want, or at least the way I feel now, I do not want a super large firm that’s Not my goal. I don’t think that’s for me. At largest, I would want to be maybe, and this is absolute largest, maybe 10 full [00:45:00] time employees.

[00:45:01] Delia Frazier: So maybe working up to that over the years, but yeah, definitely do not. I want to stay as lean and mean as I can for as long as I can.

[00:45:10] Jonathan Hawkins: More problems bigger yet. That’s for sure That’s for sure so, If you weren’t practicing law, you know almost you almost stopped but if you weren’t practicing law What would you be doing interior design or

[00:45:24] Delia Frazier: Yeah, I probably would do the interior design or possibly doing some form of coaching. I have, in addition to having great mentors over the years, I have mentored a lot of people too. And it just always lights me up inside to, you know, see people feel seen and heard and, you know, feeling like they are able to grow both professionally and personally behind our conversations.

[00:45:47] Delia Frazier: So, maybe even something in the coaching, coaching realm.

[00:45:50] Jonathan Hawkins: So how do you seek out mentees or do they find you? How does that

[00:45:57] Jonathan Hawkins: come about?

[00:45:58] Delia Frazier: Sure. So, people find me, [00:46:00] especially when I was at the firm, like I pretty much had an open door policy, open phone policy, open everything policy. Like if somebody was feeling down or, you know, needed to talk to me or just kind of had a sticky situation that they wanted to, you know, kind of get a second set of ears on and maybe get some strategy for dealing with it.

[00:46:18] Delia Frazier: Like I’ve been there, I’ve been doing that for people at least a year. Since I was a fifth year associate. So, and probably even sooner than that. So, a lot of those people still, even to this day, we haven’t worked together in years. They still call me and say, Hey, like this just happened, like walk through.

[00:46:35] Delia Frazier: This with me and tell me kind of how you would handle this situation. So I’ve gotten people, so I’ve met people and started mentoring people that way. Also if attorneys that I know, or just people I know generally know that there is a young attorney who, you know, wants to either go to law school or something like that.

[00:46:54] Delia Frazier: Specifically wants to do IP. And in fact, that’s what I’ve been getting most of recently, you know, people who [00:47:00] are upcoming or new graduates who have an interest in soft IP. I’ve been mentoring those people as to maybe how to break in, you know, some of the books they should be reading, those kinds of things.

[00:47:11] Jonathan Hawkins: All right, let’s put on your mentor hat here. We’ve got an attorney who’s at a big firm thinking, Hey, I might want to go start my own practice or do something different. They come to you. What kind of advice would you give to them?

[00:47:24] Delia Frazier: So the first piece of advice I would say is to Sit down, breathe and make a list of what about your current situation is not working for you. Whether that’s, you know, something that is personal going on in your life, that’s making it difficult for you to do that job, or whether there’s something going on internally at that firm that’s making it difficult for you to do your job, just kind of get to the of what is going on.

[00:47:54] Delia Frazier: And then if it is something that, you know, You [00:48:00] reasonably think can be worked through, then I would recommend trying to work through it, you know, work with a coach, work with a therapist, you know, just find the right professional for you to work through those issues to see if you know, can work it out and stay.

[00:48:14] Delia Frazier: Cause if you can work through those things and stay, I’ve heard of several people who have done exactly that and are loving their lives. But some people like regardless of how much coaching, regardless of how much therapy, regardless of how many of the things that you do, it’s just not a fit and there’s nothing that you’re going to be able to do to make it a fit.

[00:48:33] Delia Frazier: And so if you determine that’s the case for you, then you need to start making an exit plan to leave. So there are. A number of coaches out there working with attorneys on finances, because for a lot of attorneys, that’s the biggest fear, right? They don’t want to walk away from that money. Like, how am I going to live?

[00:48:52] Delia Frazier: How am I going to eat? How am I going to, you know, sustain this lifestyle? And, you know, some people really have. Allow the [00:49:00] lifestyle creep. And they are in a position where walking away would be hard, but there are coaches out there to help you, you know, bring things in, to be able to make the changes that you seek.

[00:49:10] Delia Frazier: But while you’re there, you know. Even if you’re not working with a coach, if you know, in your heart of hearts that it’s just not working for you and you have no reasonable belief that is going to change, start getting yourself ready, you know, start You know seeing where you can start reducing expenses, you know Do you need a car?

[00:49:28] Delia Frazier: Yes. Do you need a super high end car? Probably not. You need a house. Do you need, you know, a million dollar home as a third year? Probably not. So, you know, just start looking to see where you can maybe cut some costs and, you know, create a lifestyle that is still comfortable for you, but you know, doesn’t have to be at the top of your budget pay down debt.

[00:49:49] Delia Frazier: Cause that was one. Big thing that gave me a lot of confidence to start out on my own before I even left. I had paid off all my [00:50:00] debt, student loans, everything. Basically paid off everything except the mortgage. And also saved up a nest egg. So those kinds of things, you know, made it easier for me to say, all right, like I have a little cushion here so that, you know, even if, you know, business doesn’t come flooding in the door immediately.

[00:50:17] Delia Frazier: Like, I’ll be fine. So just I guess the short answer

[00:50:21] Jonathan Hawkins: that’s huge. That’s huge. I was gonna say that, that is huge. I’m glad you did that.

[00:50:28] Jonathan Hawkins: And I’m going to, you’re glad you did that.

[00:50:30] Delia Frazier: absolutely. Absolutely. Because I mean, and I to be sure I know attorneys who started right out of law school, they had still had all the debt in the world they had, like, hadn’t really. You know, accumulated any savings. And frankly, I know some people who have left big law who had not paid off their debt and didn’t have any savings, but, you know, they just kind of jumped out there and made it work and, you know, have had firms for eight plus years.

[00:50:54] Delia Frazier: For me personally I am, I’m not as risk averse as I used to be, but I’m [00:51:00] still to some extent risk averse. And I just, for me, wouldn’t have felt comfortable making that leap without having paid off debt and saved up a nest egg.

[00:51:10] Jonathan Hawkins: You know, that’s, you brought up a couple of things. Number one, lifestyle creep. That is huge. That’s like my number one piece of advice to our lawyers. Live beneath your means. Don’t spend it all. There’s so many temptations to just spend it all. And it’s sort of amazing on some level, lawyers are so risk averse. And just about everything else. But they just spend their money. Like it’s going to last forever. And then when you do that, it limits your options. You know, if you want to quit being a lawyer, if you want to go start your firm, if you want to go to a smaller firm, if you want to go to in house or go to government or whatever If you’ve paid off your debt to the extent you can or paid it down, if you’ve saved and you’ve done all these things and you haven’t gone out and got the fancy car and the big house, then you have options and that’s the best thing in life to have, I think, options.

[00:51:59] Delia Frazier: [00:52:00] Exactly. Even if you want to continue, you know, at big law, like just having the option, I feel like can be such a huge weight off your chest. And I mean, look, you know, we talked about my background a little bit earlier and you know, while most would see that as a, you know, huge disadvantage. And I’m not saying that it wasn’t to some extent, but.

[00:52:18] Delia Frazier: It was an advantage to some extent too, because, you know, growing up, you know, I didn’t have a lot of the, you know, material things that the kids around me had. And, you know, my mom did an amazing job. My father’s passed away, but my mom did an amazing job instilling in me that my worth is not tied to material things at all.

[00:52:39] Delia Frazier: And that has stuck with me to today. So, you know, even when I was in big law and, you know, my, had my super large paychecks and all the other kinds of things, you know, as I’m watching my classmates and colleagues, you know, let their lifestyles creep up and, you know, buying one point, whatever million dollar homes.

[00:52:57] Delia Frazier: I never felt. [00:53:00] Press to try to keep up or show that I can do it too. Like I coming from where I came from, like even the lifestyle that I have now, which is not, you know, super extravagant or grand or anything of that nature, but it is a complete sea change from, you know, my humble beginnings. So I feel like in that way, my background was a bit of an advantage because I didn’t need all this stuff to, you know, feel worthy.

[00:53:25] Jonathan Hawkins: I think that’s very insightful. Everybody has advantages and everybody has disadvantages, but, you know, you almost turned in what some people would say a disadvantage almost into maybe a superpower. So it’s like everybody out there, it’s like figure out a way to take advantage of your quote disadvantages. Cause that’s what makes you different. That’s what makes you unique. So. Well, great. This has been awesome. So people out there they want to find you. What’s the best way to get in touch with you?

[00:53:57] Delia Frazier: Sure. So I am on LinkedIn [00:54:00] as Delia Gervin Frazier. I am also on Instagram and Facebook at DG Frazier Law, and then my website is

[00:54:14] Jonathan Hawkins: Awesome. Well, I appreciate you coming on.

[00:54:18] Delia Frazier: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Jonathan. This has been awesome.

[00:54:22] ​[00:55:00]