When I saw that someone was brave enough to open an IP-focused law firm in New York City amid our current COVID-19 craze, I told myself I had to try and interview that person. And as I dug deeper and saw the interesting story of the company's founder, my determination only deepened. Fortunately, she agreed to my request for a written interview, which I am happy to make available to this readership. Read on for an introduction to a tenacious, savvy, and savvy law firm founder beyond her years.
Nikki Breeland is from Fontana, California and grew up in the arts. She attended a magnetic performing arts school, where she excelled in theater, music, and dance programs. Nikki attended Mississippi University for Women and received her B.A. 2013 in political science. She also attended Missouri University of Science & Technology, where she received her BA in History with Honors in 2015. Nikki received her JD, magna cum laude, from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2018. with an emphasis on entertainment and sports law, where she was a member of the Mississippi Law Journal, the Federal Courts Law Review, and the Mississippi Sports Law Review. After graduating from law school, Nikki served as a clerk for the Honorable Jimmy L. Croom in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee for the 2018-2019 term. Nikki received her LL.M. in 2020 at the Cardozo School of Law as textbook editor for Barbara Kolsun and Douglas Hands The Business and Law of Fashion and Retail. Nikki was published twice for her article Bad Blood: Reconciliation of the Recording Industry and Internet Copyright Protection, published in Volume 19 of the Florida Coastal Law Review in 2019. Her first article, "All the Truth I Could Tell": A Discussion of the Potential Impact of Title VII on the victimization of the systemic entertainment industry, was published in 2018 in the 25th volume of the University of California Los Angeles' Women's Rights Journal. Nikki is licensed to practice in New York State and focuses on Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law in her law firm, Breeland Law, PLLC.
As usual, I've added a quick comment to Nikki's answer below, but otherwise presented her answer to my first question as she provided it.
1) You have a great quote from Milton Berle that appears prominently on your website. How does this quote summarize your professional history so far?
NB: Ah, the quote. I've heard this quote probably a hundred times in my life, but it never really impressed me until this year. I was on a mini beach weekend with my husband discussing my career plans as I'd spent days applying for jobs and apparently getting nowhere when we stopped at a restaurant gift shop. My husband picked out an SPF shirt and mug and I looked around for the trinkets when I saw them: a bowl of rings that said, "If the opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." – Milton Berle. I stopped and bought it right away. This is when I refer to it as the "sign" that we are all desperately asking for and that we seldom get. I told my husband that evening that I would take a more active role in my own career: I would start my own company.
I will say, however, that the feeling shows up on my career path so far. When I was 21 years old, I graduated from political science and became a military housewife. In Waynesville, Missouri, there weren't many opportunities for a graduate who was about to move in a few years. So I enrolled and got my second bachelor's degree from a local university. When my husband and I moved to our new Alabama location, I realized that the opportunity for me to begin a career would never prove to be auspicious. So I applied to a law school within a 6 hour drive and started living as a geographic bachelorette in 2016. In law school, my classmates got jobs in big litigation in big cities, but I knew I didn't want this life. So I worked in smaller clerk jobs and went to school year round, which helped me graduate a year early. I also used my legal notes and a class paper to be published externally in my area. I was the first student to graduate from my law degree with a focus on entertainment and sports law after struggling to get it. After serving in the US bankruptcy court in Jackson, Tennessee, where I was again doing a geographic bachelorette, I passed and passed the New York bar exam. Realizing that not many law firms or career opportunities had been badly exposed for a candidate with a Tennessee address, I decided I needed a connection to bond with the city, network, and consolidate my specialty I did an LL.M. Program that gave me excellent opportunities, such as working with the Harry Fox Agency, volunteer lawyers in the arts, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Yet even with a résumé as complete as mine, I couldn't predict a global pandemic, and when the jobs didn't crawl to offer me a partnership, and with a little pressure from Mr Berle, I made my own opportunity to live my dream: Breeland Law, PLLC.
I'm basically a carpenter at this point. Show me where the nails and 2×4 are and I'll get to work.
GK: It's hard not to be impressed with Nikki's tenacity, ability to work hard, talent and ambition when hearing her story. Each of these traits will benefit her in the future development of her company's business. Additionally, her story is a lesson in perseverance and drive for her youngest graduates, as well as a shining example of the importance of taking responsibility for professional progress. In our industry, it's easy to focus on the gold-plated road that appears to be ahead of top graduates, paving the way to high-profile employees or government jobs, or to land them as new hires at high-paying law firms. But that's the story for a small group of law students every year. At the same time, even amid the (creative?) Destruction caused by the current pandemic, the chance to start a successful career with a law degree is great. Resilience, self-confidence and the willingness to learn from stories like Nikki's are the building blocks for long-term success in what I have called our brutal (in the best sense of the word) and yet noble profession.
Next week we'll wrap up our interview with Nikki and focus on how she sees Breeland Law's niche in the NYC IP market, as well as her good advice for today's law students.
Please send me comments or questions at email@example.com or via Twitter: @gkroub. Suggestions or thoughts on topics are very welcome.
Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is a founding partner of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC, an intellectual property litigation boutique, and Markman Advisors LLC, a leading patent consultancy to the investment community. Gaston's practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related advice, with an emphasis on patent issues. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.