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Editor’s note: This is the second excerpt from “Hit the Jackpot,” an article profiling several law firms with innovative marketing campaigns, from the inaugural issue of Small Firm Business magazine. Minneapolis may not be a top entertainment law mecca, but playing second fiddle to New York and Los Angeles has kept Minneapolis’ Abdo Abdo Broady & Satorius at center stage. The Abdo partners knew they could develop a strong entertainment law practice by starting with local talent. After all, there’s a respected music scene in the Twin Cities. The Land of Lakes has spawned its share of music stars, including Bob Dylan, Prince and Soul Asylum. But the lawyers realized they would have to fight perceptions when marketing the firm. “Unlike other practices, people sometimes want to know if you’re a ‘for real’ entertainment lawyer,” says Kenneth Abdo. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.” Though he may still get questioned, the firm has an undeniable track record, representing such clients as blues guitarist Jonny Lang, rocker Michelle Branch, and humorist Garrison Keillor. When the firm was formed in 1936 by John Abdo, it focused on the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in a traditional full-service practice. Today, it consists of his sons Robert and Kenneth, and Keith Broady, Timothy Matson and Daniel Satorius. Kenneth Abdo was an ex-disc jockey and musician in 1983, when he joined the firm. He began by representing people he knew, including musicians. They brought a range of issues, everything from DUIs to divorces and house purchases. Ten years ago he made a decision to combine his two passions, and take his practice, and ultimately the firm, in a new direction: entertainment law. A pivotal moment occurred during a meeting of the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, a group he now chairs. Abdo began discussions with Daniel Satorius about partnering. Within a year, Satorius, who had been practicing entertainment law at Minneapolis’ Leonard, Street & Deinard, joined the firm. Their decisions paid off. Firm revenue generated by entertainment work has doubled and now accounts for roughly half of the annual intake. “Entertainment law is really a type of business law practice,” says Abdo, “so they’re very compatible. There are some cultural differences, but there’s a lot of crossover.” But the men needed to spin their image into an entertainment firm, so Abdo and Satorius started to get more involved in the music and film communities. It’s an evolutionary process, explains Abdo. “We don’t think that you can go purchase marketing to develop a firm like this, you can’t hire a PR person and have them help make it happen,” he says. “The marketing really is a function of putting in human time. And some money investment, but only to support what is principally a human effort in teaching, volunteering, writing, traveling, investing in the music and film communities.” That human effort has been far reaching. Both men frequently travel to key film and music festivals, such as the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, where they often give lectures to aspiring artists about the business side of the craft. They hit the bar circuit (both legal and non-) in order to network with lawyers and potential clients. Both men are adjunct professors at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Kenneth Abdo is a voting member of The Recording Academy — the folks who dole out the Grammys. Satorius, whose work centers on film, is a frequent lecturer in the Twin Cities’ community colleges and musical facilities. He has a master’s degree in motion picture production from the University of Iowa and was a film producer before he started practicing law. The musician got his wish. Kenneth Abdo found a way to combine his love of law and music. He hasn’t given up the stage completely, but he is transitioning out of his role as drummer with “The Abdomen,” a self-described “garage rock band” with his two sons. The band will remain the Abdomen, though he’s being replaced by his 13-year-old daughter. About developing his entertainment practice: “At some point everybody is a wannabe,” he says, “And we really wanted to be.”
Read the first segment of this story: Hit the Jackpot: How One Small Firm Builds Its Brand

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