David Friedman and Blake Iverson of the Minneapolis-based law firm Friedman Iverson are not your typical lawyers.
The plaid-wearing duo display local band posters in their conference room, frequently dole out legal advice free of charge, and would rather hold meetings over a beer at the CC Club than across a desk at the office. Despite this unconventional approach to law—or, more appropriately, because of it—Friedman Iverson is quickly becoming a household name throughout the Twin Cities creative community.
Two years before convincing his best friend and former bandmate to relocate from New York and join forces with him, Blake founded the practice as a one-man act in the fall of 2008.
“I worked in corporate law for a while and absolutely hated it. But I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a musician or a writer, so I decided to work with them instead. When I first started Iverson Law Group, I couldn’t afford an office and worked mostly out of coffee shops and my apartment,” he says. “My two cats were my legal assistants.”
Now a self-sustaining business with two additional employees, Blake’s vision is much closer to a reality. Though much of the current practice revolves around bankruptcy cases and more traditional clients, Friedman Iverson has gained a strong following among the artists, small business owners, and creative entrepreneurs of Minneapolis.
Formerly an afterhours dance club, police station, and recording studio, the firm’s eclectic office in the ArtSpot building in Uptown Minneapolis has played a big part in establishing their anti-ivory tower identity. Hosting record swaps, displaying a library of zines from local publishers, and always having a bottle of Jameson on hand are just a few of the ways the pair has created a comfortable atmosphere for clients.
“We’re not interested in mahogany tables or crystal water pitchers,” Dave says. “We want to talk to people on the same level—we don’t want them to walk into our space and feel like the meter’s running.”
From drafting pro-bono contracts to leading free legal workshops, Friedman Iverson is intent on building up their client base in the most organic, non-corporate way possible. Their willingness to openly share their knowledge with a creative community that may not always have the means to pay for professional legal advice further illustrates the lawyers’ earnest dedication to the Minneapolis arts scene.
“The idea is that the education of our potential clients is an investment for us,” Dave says. “We follow the ‘rising tide’ mentality that says we’re going to do better if the entire Twin Cities creative community succeeds. If we can empower people to keep going and keep doing what they’re doing, then that’s going to eventually create business for us.”
While bankruptcy and consumer law will always remain a priority, Friedman Iverson plans to further separate and focus in on the two different sides of the business by building an additional website dedicated solely to the creative practice.
Blake, who is no stranger to the starving artist lifestyle, is particularly committed to doing his part to further strengthen the Minneapolis arts scene through legal and business savvy.
“I come from the generation where ‘selling out’ was considered this horrible thing,” he says. “Nobody wants to have a day job; you want to do the things you love for a living. But if you can be true to yourself and make a living at it rather than scraping by delivering pizza, that’s not selling out. That’s fantastic. And in the end that’s really what we’re trying to help people do.”
Originally published at BePollen.com.