Daliah Saper is the Founder and Principal Attorney of Saper Law, an intellectual property, social media, and business law firm known for its expertise in handling intricate contract negotiations, software, trademark, and copyright licensing agreements, as well as litigating novel internet, social media, and cyberlaw cases. A member of the Illinois Bar, the General Bar, and the Trial Bar of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Daliah has managed numerous high-profile cases, including arguing before the Illinois Supreme Court. Her expertise has led her to be recognized and honored by various publications and organizations, from being named in the Super Lawyers magazine list for 15 consecutive years to her recognition in Crain’s Chicago Businesses 2017 list of the “60 Most Influential Women Lawyers.” Besides her practice, Daliah imparts her knowledge as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago College of Law.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Daliah Saper talks about Saper Law’s specialties
- How has AI impacted the legal industry?
- Daliah’s journey to becoming an attorney
- Starting a firm after graduating from law school
- The early days of Saper Law
- Significant milestones in Daliah’s 18-year journey running her firm
- Daliah’s role as an adjunct professor
- Advice for future attorneys
In this episode…
Establishing a lasting legacy is challenging and commendable in the rapidly evolving digital legal landscape. What’s the secret to enduring success while consistently delivering top-tier digital legal expertise in a developing industry?
According to Daliah Saper, it’s the seamless fusion of staying ahead of digital trends and maintaining a steadfast legal foundation. This harmonious blend has elevated her firm and set a benchmark for excellence in the domain.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen sits down with Daliah Saper, Founder and Principal Attorney of Saper Law, to talk about her remarkable 18-year trajectory in the digital legal landscape. Daliah shares the nuances of starting a specialized firm right out of law school, the continual adaptation required in the face of evolving internet laws, and the unique challenges and triumphs of building a renowned legal brand in the digital space.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Daliah Saper on LinkedIn
- Saper Law: Website | Instagram
- Loyola University of Chicago College of Law
- Timothy Liam Epstein on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.
Chad Franzen 0:12
Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Daliah Saper is the principal attorney and founder at Saper Law, an award winning intellectual property, Social Media Entertainment and business law firm in Chicago. She additionally serves as an adjunct professor at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, and is regularly interviewed on national television, radio and several major publications. Hey, Daliah, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Daliah Saper 1:11
Thank you so much for having me. I’m great. Good, good.
Chad Franzen 1:14
Hey, so as I mentioned, your principal attorney and founder at Saper Law. Tell me a little bit more about the firm and what you guys specialize in?
Daliah Saper 1:22
Well, we are celebrating 18 years in business today, today’s our 18th anniversary. We focus our practice areas in the areas of intellectual property, entertainment, social media, and business law. And the majority of our clients are either creatives or innovative business organizations that have legal needs that touch on new mediums, the digital the new digital landscape, internet issues in so our firm gets to be on the cutting edge of new legal issues, new cases, and it makes the practice of law, you know, a little bit more fun.
Chad Franzen 2:05
Sure has, has that been the focus throughout the 18 years?
Daliah Saper 2:10
Yeah, so I started the firm about a year after graduating from law school. So I was in my early 20s, when I started the firm. And necessarily, in order to attract clients, the way I set myself apart was to target other 20-somethings oftentimes, who were in the website business at the time, or creating businesses that had online storefronts. And at the same time, around the same time, social media started to really permeate, you know, the entire landscape of our existence, I don’t want to be pretty grand, but it was right around the time when, you know, MySpace was transitioning to Friendster was transitioning to Facebook. And being a user of these platforms, that exact target audience, I position myself as someone who also understood the arising or new legal issues around those platforms, and then the rest is history.
Chad Franzen 3:09
Sure. So and from your standpoint, as a, as an attorney, how has that world you know, going from MySpace to where we are now and everything else? How has that world kind of changed? Or what what would you say isn’t like a completely different world now than it was when you started?
Daliah Saper 3:24
Um, it’s changed in that we constantly have to understand the context around, for example, defamation case, it’s, you know, in the past, it was someone published something in the newspaper. Well, publishing something in a newspaper is different and publishing it on a blog and then explaining to the court what a blog is, and then explaining what a Snapchat is, and explaining, you know, how I viral video might be worse than even just the newspaper. And so it’s it’s not so much that the laws have changed, but the application of a context in which these problems arise changes, and we as a society now, you mentioned AI prior to our to our interview is just as a society, how are we adapting and assessing? What is the appropriate legal recourse when something goes wrong? In these new places and these new mediums?
Chad Franzen 4:16
Yeah, what do you what does Saper Law do to keep up with kind of a rapidly changing developments in the world of AI? And, you know, how does that benefit your clients or potential clients?
Daliah Saper 4:29
Twofold. One is we try to provide educational seminars on a regular basis, but it’s kind of chicken before the egg or, you know, we usually get a case or a question from a client that’s in the space that necessitates us doing the homework or understanding some new aspect of technology or the law. And then in the process of presenting that information to our clients, maybe as part of a seminar or as part of a panel for different organization. We double down on our expertise in that space, with the big disclaimer that there is no one who can be an expert in these areas because, quite frankly, no one knows what the answers are. They’re still emerging areas of law. All we can try to do is be one of the first to tackle those issues.
Chad Franzen 5:13
How and when did you know you wanted to become an attorney?
Daliah Saper 5:18
Oh, well, I was a debate nerd in high school as a policy debater. And I always thought that if I wasn’t a lawyer, then I would certainly be some sort of journalist or, or an orange or an ad in the ad space. My degree was in online, not on my degree was in marketing and business administration. In my undergraduate studies were focused on being in the advertising world. So when I graduated, I went straight through to law school, I said, What what’s the best way to marry both of those interests? Why not be an IP lawyer dealing with trademarks and advertising campaigns and counseling clients and entertainment law issues? So I think it’s it’s the perfect profession for me, it allows me to write read and engage with really interesting, nice people.
Chad Franzen 6:03
Sure. And are those debates skills, those debates, skills that you had in high school still benefiting you?
Daliah Saper 6:10
Sure, I’d say what’s even better as the improv group, I joined in college and the ability to kind of think quickly on your feet, and come up with answers or responses to tricky situations. But I went to summer legal camp, and I’ve, since that’s the 10th year, we’ve run that program. And we bring in a slew of high school students to learn about the practice of law. And that’s one of the first things I tell them is join as many groups and activities that allow you to present on topics and engage with people and sharpen your writing skills. Those are, of course, super important for at least the areas of law, I practice.
Chad Franzen 6:50
Sure, absolutely. So how did you get you said, you, you started your firm a year after you graduated law school? How did you get started in the year prior?
Daliah Saper 7:00
A series of events. One is that I had a summer associate ship as at a bigger IP firm in town. And due to the demographics of our class, and my lack of a science background, third of our class did not return was not asked to come back. So it changed the trajectory of my kind of law school career where I had anticipated getting a big firm job, and rising up the ranks in a bigger law firm. So when that didn’t happen, it required me to pivot. And I ended up reconnecting with a friend I had known from undergrad, and she had a fashion production business. So our third year of law school, we ran this company, and it was exhilarating and frustrating, but taught me the trials and tribulations of running a small business, all the while still, of course, completing my third year of law school. So what the plan had been was to take this pivot and run this business, but we ended up disagreeing with how to run that business. And so like many businesses broke up. And I accepted a position instead at a solo small firm, where I was the second lawyer and the only other lawyer in the firm. And that was really an intensive bootcamp. I did it for about eight, nine months. And that entrepreneurial itch was still there. And so I said, Look, I, you know, I want to run a business, I might as well be a lawyer, run that kind of a business. And so on June 8 2005, I left an open state for law, and then in the firm has grown organically since.
Chad Franzen 8:34
Yeah, well, good for you. So um, where you, you know, I talked to a lot of people who, who have a little bit of a background before they open their own firm, and then that, you know, things go well, but you did it relatively early compared to the other people I talked to you do you think that that entrepreneurship experience really helped you? And what else helped you?
Daliah Saper 8:56
Yeah, if it’s something you’re contemplating doing, the sooner you rip the band aid, the better, it just gets exponentially harder to start a business or law firm when you have other obligations, you know, family, children, when I started the firm, I had nothing to lose. I had no children, no family, no debt. And that’s important because I was a, I came out a lot. I graduated a year early from law school, and I went straight through. So I had I was I also had kind of a year extra if you’re counting to play around with most of my peers. So I had another were a year older than me, at least or more. And also I was a TA. And I taught speech comm as a law student at the undergraduate to the undergraduates, which paid for my tuition. And between that and my spec, firm summer gig, I did not have any debt to pay off. And so it allowed me to take that risk. But people always think that starting a law firm requires an IT department and infrastructure and a lot of things that you and I always tell them and you really just need your law degree and a computer And then that’s that’s it and clients, that’s that makes a law firm. So, yeah, I think the answer is if you’re going to do it, do it quickly. And, and, you know, don’t be afraid.
Chad Franzen 10:13
Sure. Great. So what were the what were the early days there? Like? How did you go about getting clients? You know, how did you kind of get the ball rolling?
Daliah Saper 10:21
I think it was important to know what your strengths are. So you know, what kind of clients you can attract. And also to understand what you like to do. I know a lot of people hang their shingle, and like, I’ll take whatever comes in the door. For me, that wasn’t a way to start, I think you have to know your limitations know, your background, I did have some experience in the IP space and the general litigation space. And I started to think about who I wanted to have as clients and started to go to as many events as possible, so that the world knew that I existed in combination with the website and living on Craigslist, to barter services, legal services for, you know, website development, or anything else that I could find, really bootstrapping it. So for me, I started by identifying one who did I want to attract as clients to going to as many events as possible. And three, trying to utilize the very things I promoted being on social media and my website, to attract new business.
Chad Franzen 11:25
When you expanded beyond just being like a solo entrepreneur, what was the first, who was the first person, you added the first position you added, as part of the firm.
Daliah Saper 11:36
So I used a lot of independent contractors for a long time, until I had my first child back in 2010. And that’s when it became a little harder to rely and manage all the independent contractors. And I said, you know, I really need someone who’s an employee whose focus and time is going to be devoted to my firm. And it was pretty natural. I had one contractor that had been spending a lot of time and doing a lot of work. And so he was the first official employee, and then I added another employee, you know, as the firm grew, and the work expanded, I was less afraid to hire the second employee, this was the first but yeah, but the answer is kind of those like, life triggering events kind of force, that lack, you know, like, I can’t control everything, I need help. That’s when I got the first employee,
Chad Franzen 12:27
Did you use independent contractors then from day one? Or were you just rolling solo for a while?
Daliah Saper 12:34
I don’t know about day one. I mean, you have to have enough business to have a contractor. So I would say more like him after the first year, when I just wanted the benefit of, you know, it’s it’s a balance, trying to spend time marketing versus doing the work versus collecting and versus, so you have to be a good lawyer. And you have to make sure you get people to buy your legal services and to collect on those legal services. So I knew from an early time frame that, for me, I can’t do it all alone. And so I think I started using contractors in the beginning, but But of course, the more sophisticated the work has gotten, the harder it is to outsource it to a contractor.
Chad Franzen 13:15
Sure. What, what would you say are some significant moments of success or or milestones, maybe, in your journey as a firm?
Daliah Saper 13:26
Um, significant one would be the nature of cases. So one that got a lot of attention was Where do I even begin? I’d say the first one was when I started to get on television, that was exciting. Producers found me based on the cases that I had been handling and asked me to opine on a variety of tech and media issues. So that first gig was pretty exciting. And then the ones that got bigger and better where they do your makeup and tell you to go on set. That was super exciting. Next stage would have been taking a case of the Illinois Supreme Court. That’s that’s a big deal. So getting to go at argued before the Illinois Supreme Court professionally was a big deal, getting invited to join kind of exclusive organizations. What is the internet? There’s an internet law group that I’m in it’s comprised of kind of only a handful of leaders in the space they asked me to be part of that group that felt good. And just these these yearly milestones, I’d say every year we’re still in business like today 18 It’s exciting, but this little kind of thrown together law firm I thought would be a fun experiment is actually survived and is still a big.
Chad Franzen 14:41
Yeah, that’s awesome. Congratulations. So as you kind of maybe take a bird’s eye view of the last 18 years. What are you most proud of?
Daliah Saper 14:51
Wow. I’m most proud of the the people’s careers I’ve launched having come through this firm, we have a row bussed clerkship program. And I don’t know, hundreds of law students in recent grads have come through these doors. And they have gone on to do some pretty cool things. I have I’ve French interns who send me postcards from France, one ended up working at lunchtime, so I get cool swag from from her. The network, I’d say I’m most proud of the network I’ve built via both mentorship and being a mentee of other attorneys, that the people I know now, because I’ve been in this business for 18 years.
Chad Franzen 15:31
What makes kind of this elements of the law, particularly appealing to you?
Daliah Saper 15:39
Oh, it’s super fun, who would who doesn’t want to go to art shows and film, open screenings, and get cool clothes and learn about the latest tech. And the new technology? It’s our firm motto is be cool by association. So if I wasn’t a lawyer, I would try to be running one of these really cool businesses. And so that’s the best part. I think about being this type of lawyer having these kinds of cases.
Chad Franzen 16:09
Yeah, sure. Were you ever in any danger for lack of a better word of maybe going down a certain road of law, that would be less fun?
Daliah Saper 16:22
Well, the perk of having your own firm is you can choose what you do. I when I first first started, I started doing a few real estate transactions, and quickly realized that was not fun and not for me. So I’d say no, I’ve been pretty lucky in that. I’ve been fairly good and weeding out what isn’t isn’t interesting. Of course, not even the interesting things are boring, right? Like you might have a really cool, we just did a contract for an up and coming rapper who’s got a million views and listens on Spotify. But the deal was, you know very a lot of minutia. And in contractual terms that were kind of dense. So that’s not fun. But it’s cool, and that you’re helping a an up and coming rap star.
Chad Franzen 17:12
I have one more ever, one or two more questions for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about Saper Law.
Daliah Saper 17:19
We are everywhere online. But the website is the great, great starting point, the website is saperlaw.com And we have the same @saperlaw handle on Instagram and you know all the socials.
Chad Franzen 17:31
How did your role as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, Chicago School of Law come about? And what do you enjoy most about it?
Daliah Saper 17:42
Oh, okay, we just I’m actually submitting grades for this semester. Also today. That came about when I teach it with another professor Tim Epstein. He does the sports part. And I did the entertainment part. And I think Nikki had been asked to bring on someone and asked me, we went to law school together. So that was 14 years ago. And another way that I keep on to keep up to date with interesting cases is I’m teaching that class, I need to know what the latest and greatest IP, you know, social media, entertainment law cases.
Chad Franzen 18:16
How much? How much time does that take out of your kind of week?
Daliah Saper 18:20
Um, it’s not much Now I’ve done it 14 years in a row. But I teach once a week for this spring semester.
Chad Franzen 18:30
Last question, then, as you see these kinds of emerging attorneys come out of law school, what is one thing that maybe you might wish you knew when you were there, or where you were, when you were at their stage or, you know, maybe just some advice that you’ve learned along the way.
Daliah Saper 18:44
You really have to like the people you’re working with. So when you’re, you know, you might be desperate to get a job. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter what the legal work is, if the people you’re doing legal work with are great. So I would say do your homework and make sure there’s a there’s a personality fit for the people you’re working with. And for that is know your own limitations. If you are truly grossed out by medical information and documents. Don’t accept that personal injury job or mental medical malpractice job just because you want to have a job, you will not succeed, you will be upset either you might succeed professionally, but you won’t be happy. So it’s kind of a combination of really know your strengths. Try to pick an area of law that you do find interesting that you think you can flourish and maybe it’s the subject matter or the way you practice litigator versus transactional lawyer. And, and don’t feel stuck. If you do make the wrong decision. Don’t feel like you have to stay there for years. The longer you stay in the wrong place, the harder will be to make a transition to the right place.
Chad Franzen 19:44
All right. Hey, great advice. Hey, Daliah, it’s been great to talk to you. Thanks so much for your time today and for all of your insights really enjoyed it.
Daliah Saper 19:51
Thanks again for having me, Chad.
Chad Franzen 19:53
So long, everybody.
Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes, be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.