This Law Firm Founder Is Dropping Major Legal Gems, Sis!

Name: Ashley Williams
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Founder of Unorthodox Legal Law Firm
Instagram: @unorthodoxlegal
Fun Fact: “I am crazily obsessed with bacon! I love bacon. I love to eat bacon. I used to eat bacon a lot. Of course, as you get older, you cannot eat it like that because it will catch up to you. However, if I can have bacon every single day of my life, I will.”

Ashley Williams Law is an Unorthodox Legal practice that strives to offer unconventional and effective legal counsel to creative entrepreneurs in hopes for entrepreneurs to protect their brand and business. She believes if you can get natural hair advice from Youtube and Google for free, why not get online legal advice? If you’ve not been following her Instagram, chile what are you doing? She’s been dropping some serious legal gems to make the legalities of your business easier…much easier! Check out our exclusive interview below!!
MN: Ashley, we did chitchat earlier about your background, about your Instagram, and you’ve been dropping major gems about protecting people’s businesses and brands. So, let’s begin with your background for our readers. Where are you from, what was your childhood like, what college did you go to, and what jobs did you have before starting your business?
AW: I am the creator and founder of Unorthodox Legal. I am a solo practitioner. I run my firm by myself and it’s a law firm but for creative entrepreneurs and just like anybody that needs help in their business. I make sure that their legal portions of their business are all in check. My childhood was an average childhood but I was very inquisitive. I actually was introduced to the law field when I was about 7 years old. I used to participate in mock-trials in Brooklyn, New York where I was born and raised and grew up the majority of my life. I would go do mock-trials and then I would go and watch arraignments at the courthouse.
And at that point, I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this!’ I would like to be a lawyer. I would like to go through criminal training and help all of these criminals get out jail and so on so forth. That’s kind of how I actually ventured into the legal field. I realized how much I enjoyed that; so, all through my childhood, I was pretty much just like I’m going to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a lawyer and I went to school. I went to undergrad in Philadelphia for a couple of years. I went to Drexel University and then I came back home and finished up my undergrad career at the city college in New York and then I went to law school out here where I currently reside on Long Island, New York.
MN: Why did you decide to specialize in helping provide legal protection for creative entrepreneurs? Why not like practice criminal law or any other major areas of law?
AW: Well first, after I graduated, in that transition between undergrad and law school, I was actually the manager at burger 21. Being a manager, I dealt with a lot of the operations and logistics regarding toward the business. I was doing the scheduling. I was seeing if we had any construction issues. I was dealing with making sales. I was dealing with all of the vendors that the store had, who the store worked with to get all the credit card transactions correct; so, being in that role I got to see a lot of the legalities of running that business and that’s what brought me to what I am doing right now.
Criminal law was my passion but when I went to law school, I realized that it just wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue maybe because of all the emotion [I’m a very emotional individual] and I kind of put myself in the job and become attached to certain situations as I was going to law school. I had a couple of internships in family law which is civil law as well as in criminal law. I realized that I would become very attached during the cases and it wasn’t something that made me happy especially if situations did not go in the way that I wanted them to. So, I scaled back a little bit and I thought to myself what else do I like and I really, really working retail, a lot of people don’t like retail but I loved it.
I love the business aspect. I love being able to put procedures together which would grow an individual’s business as well as ensuring that the business is running smoothly. With my love for business as well as my love for fashion, I said how can I make this the legal career that I’m pursuing and that’s how I started to help creative entrepreneurs. I really started off helping a lot of fashion companies and a lot of my clients to this day are still smaller fashion companies and influencers and models of that sort and that somehow tie into fashion and the legal world so that’s kind of got myself involved in it and I would not be doing anything else besides helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
Unorthodox Legal - Melanation

‘It’s something that’s important for everyone especially for millennial entrepreneurs because I find that a lot of millennials do not understand the importance of getting all of your legalities in order for your business until there is an issue.”

MN: Let’s discuss your Instagram page because you post a lot of great advice and little gems about how to protect someone’s business and brand. Why do you feel like you need to educate your followers on important things that many lawyers would charge for?
AW: Because I feel like there is a shift in the way individuals are obtaining information back in the day. People would only obtain information by going to a lawyer’s office and being charged astronomical amounts to get this advice and sometimes they don’t even know what to ask a lawyer. I don’t think that in this day and age especially with social media [especially with Google] there’s so much valuable information that’s on the internet and I realize that there is a lack of valuable legal information. So that’s the way that I approach my firm and I approach my social media is that just as much as you can go on YouTube and you can find out how to dye your hair or you can find out how to do a certain makeup style, we also need to make other information acceptable that are going to help business owners of all realms.
So even though I do give a lot of information, it’s also my way of giving back to individuals who might not have the seven, eight hundred, thousand dollars to put down and get advice from a firm but also, I kind of feel like I created a community of individuals who are starting their business and sometimes they might not have the capital to go and get certain tools from attorneys.
They can come here and they can get all of the information an entirety of the information that they need and training them so that when they do go to see an attorney, they know what to ask because I’ve seen a lot of business owners who know that they need to get some of their legal protection in order but because there is not enough information floating around they don’t even know what they need.
So, they cannot go to someone else because they’re too skeptical to ask ‘I need this contract. I need this shape of protection. I need this copyright protection’ Although I am a law firm, I also try to build a community of information where people do not feel ashamed to come and ask me questions because people see things happening and they say ‘Oh my gosh! this is my business. I really need to jump on top of creating an LLC or creating a partnership.’ It’s something that’s important for everyone especially for millennial entrepreneurs because I find that a lot of millennials do not understand the importance of getting all of your legalities in order for your business until there is an issue.
Although I’m not charging and I am giving a lot of free information, I feel if you need it and it’s helping a lot of people then it’s bringing me joy because I do know that a lot of individuals are benefiting from the tips and little gems that I make.
MN: What would you say is the most important thing that a person who wants to start her own business. What that person really need to focus on to keep their brand protected?
AW: I would think intellectual property and by intellectual property, I mean trademark and copyright. The simple fact that whatever brand that you build, that is all that you have. Whatever role that you have, whatever brand name that you have that is something that you have been working tirelessly to build and your clientele identify you by your trademark. They identify you by whatever logo you use, whatever slogan you use; so, protecting your intellectual property and protecting all you’ve worked so hard to create is your number one thing because if that is not protected and someone takes your idea or they take your slogan and they start using it and they receive trademark protection before you, your work is no longer what you worked it to be because someone else has taken it and now you have to rebrand.
And conceptually, if McDonald’s had been building their brand for 10 years and then all of a sudden, they say sorry someone has taken the name McDonald’s. We have to now be something else. Individuals are going to be skeptical to go to your brand because you have to go through that entire change; so, I say at the beginning you always have to pay attention to that and there are other things but this is the top priority to make sure that your brand is protected by intellectual property. Your intellectual property is worth a lot and it saves you a lot of time. It saves you a lot of headaches. It saves you from people stealing your brand name. It saves you from people building brands similar to yours and trying to compete with your brand. It’s a great tool for creative entrepreneurs.
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MN: What wisdom would you give young women of color who want to pursue law?  
AW: Don’t listen to what other individuals say about starting your own firm. When I was starting my law firm, everywhere I went individuals would tell me you’re not ready, you’re not ready, you don’t know enough, you don’t know enough. And people have this notion of I have to work for a law firm for a specific amount of time before I am able to move out on my own and that is not true. There is a lot of information. I have an amazing mentor who in any situation that I don’t know, I can go to my mentor and I can ask them. The power of research is substantial.
There is a lot of information on Google that people just haven’t tapped into. You can google a lot of things if you know how to do legal research or if you are a competent attorney or even a law student, you can find the answer online. I always tell legal trainees, even individuals who are not especially women of color, that don’t let people put you down. Don’t let people say you have to go and work for someone else before you can set off on your own.
Because there are a lot of individuals who sometimes look at women of color as if they’re not worthy of doing certain things and we don’t have the requisite knowledge of succeeding in this field but just the amount of knowledge and just the amount of experience that other individuals can obtain is in the same place. So, don’t look at or listen to what other individuals are saying and let it discourage you.  Yes, it’s going to be tough. Yes, there are going to be times that you’re down on yourself. Yes, there’s going to be times when you walk into the room and someone asks who the attorney is because they don’t believe that you’re the attorney; however, don’t take all the negativity and take all the negative thoughts from other individuals to heart. Keep on pushing and toss whatever they say and just continue to grow and that’s kind of how it happened to me and I just learned just to not take things seriously and move on.
In the end, I always tell people you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to crash and burn and you might let other folks set you back. I remember when I was first starting my business, I spoke to my mentor. I was like ‘Oh my gosh! What if I fail? What if I do something wrong:?’ and she looked at me and she said you’re going to get up and you’re going to continue going and you’re never going to make that same mistake again. At no point is the dream of an entrepreneurship venture going be easy and that’s not only for lawyers but for every creative entrepreneur. It’s never going to be easy. You’re going to lose. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to scrape your knee. You’re going to fall down a couple of times and then you’re going to get back up and keep it moving.
MN: Do you watch a lot of legal shows? If so, what type of legal shows do you watch?
AW: I’m not the average attorney. Wait, you know what, let me take that back. A lot of attorneys don’t watch legal shows because we know that they’re fake and that’s not how things happen in the real world. I used to watch Law and Order here and there and I think there is another show named Suits. I don’t watch Suits. I’ve only watched Law and Order and because my business is a little different. I’m not the litigation type of attorney. I don’t go to court whatsoever. I try and negotiate all of my cases. If it does turn into cases, I try to negotiate them out and then if it has to go to court, I will transfer it to another attorney who goes to court. My practice is a little bit unconventional. I don’t really enjoy going to court.
MN: What are you listening to right now on your playlist?
AW: I love reggae music but currently there is an artist called Assassin and he just came out with an album that I really, really love. It’s called Hope River. You should probably check it out Everyday I’m going to work I’ve been listening to that for a while now and I also love Jay-Z a few of his albums and also Jay-Z on Pandora like Hard Knock Life and things like that but I also like some of the new music but I like the old stuff too.

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