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Protecting Your Brand With Zak Kurtz of Sneaker Legal

Almost every creative entrepreneur starts their business out of passion but as time goes on and the business grows, the legal matters of the business become more important but also often fall to the wayside. Zak Kurtz, lawyer and founder of Sneaker & Streetwear Legal Services dba Sneaker Legal, has turned his passion for kicks and coveted streetwear into a business designed to help creative entrepreneurs with all of those legal matters so that they can focus on their passions, while he focuses on his. We got the chance to chat with Zak about how he found an opportunity in a niche legal space, his tips for new creative entrepreneurs and what some of the keys have been to his success.

Read the conversation below!


Hey Zak! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell us a bit about you and your firm?

Hey guys! So, my name is Zak Kurtz and I'm the founder of Sneaker & Streetwear Legal Services, also known as Sneaker Legal. Sneaker Legal works with clients in the sneakers, fashion, sports and entertainment space to help them protect their brand across a number of legal matters.

You've built a very cool career in an admittedly niche space. What was the key to getting there?

If you like something, go do it. I read a good book last week, and a line that I remember from it is, "let your joy be your GPS", meaning, whatever brings you passion, whatever brings you joy, do that in your life. Let that guide you.

My grandfather was a judge, so I knew I wanted to be a lawyer but I wasn't sure about what in. I played soccer soccer in college overseas, so I thought I wanted to be a sports lawyer but in law school, while I was doing sports law, and I was president of all these things, and I was making a lot of money, I wasn't happy. I would sit on my computer and I would just look at trademarks like drawings of sneakers. Never did I know that one day I'd have a special law firm that's niche was in sneakers and streetwear. If you never giving up and follow your passions, that will definitely lead you to a good career and also a good life.

We love that story and the self awareness about what makes you happy.

At the end of the day, just be you. Staying true to yourself and what you love is the most important thing. If you're passionate about something, maybe it's sneakers and law or maybe it's something else, that will find a way to shine. If you want to build a brand and you're a good human being, people will come to you. We only live so long and I think it's important to be yourself and that really attracts people and brings good things into your life.

You seem to have a great capability at getting clients. Any secrets there?

A lot of the time, people don't reach out to legal because they're afraid of legal's answer always being "no". Due to this, most of the time when people come to lawyers, it's reactive. It's after you're getting a cease and desist or after you're getting a lawsuit. So, it's very important just to be upfront and work with your client so that that stuff doesn't happen. If you're releasing a shoe, come to us and we could say, "hey, this looks like an Adidas or a Nike. You might want to change this" or "this name is already trademarked by another company so you might want to change your name". We always take a very open approach because we believe it's important to be proactive with legal and I think that openness has helped create a welcome environment for new clients.

Once you get a new client, what's often the first legal item that they might need help with?

Starting is the hardest thing for your brand but once you start, you need to start thinking about all the stuff like establishing an LLC, registering trademarks, bringing on a lawyer or having someone around that you can ask those types of questions to. I can't tell you how many questions I get daily about little things like "should I have a contract for this?" or "do I need an NDA for that?". These are simple questions that a lawyer could answer for free or in a few minutes and I think it's good to start building that network and have that team environment.

If I was to focus on one thing though, It would be the trademark. Anyone could actually do their own application or do some research but if you take it the next step and actually hire a lawyer, working on the trademark will really help protect your brand. That way you're boxing out the other people from using that name or that logo.

Lastly, outside of the legal field, what's one piece of advice you'd give to a new entrepreneur or small business owner?

You need to have a great team and be able to rely on other people because you can't do everything yourself. Then, once you find the right people, you need to trust them and let them do their job. I'm very cautious about every micromanaging them. I want my team to know that, as long they get the work done, they can be creative and flexible with their approach and I feel like that's been a key to the success of my team.


Make sure to follow Sneaker Legal for all of your sneakers and streetwear legal info and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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