An Interview with Business Lawyer Scott March
Most people cringe when they have to talk to a lawyer. What’s this going to cost me? Are they going to use snazzy legal jargon that will cause me to have to secretly Google while we talk? I must admit that when I picked up the phone and dialed Scott March earlier this month to talk story, none of these anxieties were running through my head. In fact, I felt at ease. That’s because Scott is just about the most unlawyerly lawyer there is…and I mean that in a good way.
Licensed in Hawaii and California, Scott’s been practicing business law since 1984 — longer than I’ve been alive! (Sorry Scott.) His unofficial motto is “Pain free lawyering”. “I consider myself an entrepreneur first and lawyer second,” says March, who insists, despite his lawyerly smarts, to be “just a normal guy”. His approach is to put himself in his clients shoes (or slippahs) and to be transparent about costs and expected outcomes from the get-go. He’s also got a wonderful dry sense of humor and the ability to remain cool as a cucumber under pressure…and as it turns out there’s an interesting backstory to that!
Blue Collar Roots
Scott’s first job was in a grinding wheel factory as a teenager in the midwest. He distinctly recalls working on the line and his boss telling him, “if you stay with us, you can make foreman in five years!” However, his boss was only holding up three fingers, not five. The other two had been lost in a factory accident. Scott took it as a sign that college might be a good idea, even though his parents didn’t support it. He came from a working-class family, and few of his high school classmates went on to college.
100 Feet Underground
Scott earned his undergraduate degree in international relations at the University of Southern California, where he was a member of the ROTC. After graduation, he joined the Air Force and was sent to North Dakota from 1977 – 1981. It was the height of the Cold War, and he spent the next four years one hundred feet underground with his finger on the trigger of America’s nuclear warheads. He was only twenty-three years old! He recalls that their sole entertainment was a very small TV that got two local North Dakota channels. With all that time on his hands, he earned his MBA from the University of North Dakota as part of the United States Air Force Minuteman Education Program. Luckily for all of us, he didn’t end up having to launch any missiles.
Becoming a Lawyer
Scott came out of the Air Force as an officer and returned to California to go to law school. He attended the University of California Hastings School of Law in San Francisco. After four years underground in North Dakota, he was ready to return to civilization! He hadn’t had a date in four years. In law school, Scott met his wife, and they later had a daughter together.
Upon graduating from law school and passing the bar in 1984, Scott began practicing law in California at the firm Fitzgerald, Abbott & Beardsley. In 1987, he started his own practice. Business law was a natural choice with his MBA background. In 2009, he relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii and opened his Hawaii law practice.
Tips for Hawaii Businesses
When it comes to starting a business in Hawaii, Scott recommends beginning with a good business plan and a great lawyer. While he may be a bit biased, Scott recommends talking to a business lawyer who knows what it’s like to do business in Hawaii and not cutting corners trying to DIY. “Googling and trying to find legal answers for your start-up can result in a major headache,” says Scott. One mistake can create costly problems down the road.
Another area that is often overlooked by businesses in Hawaii and small businesses, in general, is the issue of trademarks. “Many people think of trademarks as an extravagant technicality, something for big corporations,” says Scott, “however that’s not the case.” A trademark protects the name of your business or your identity so that other businesses can’t use the same name. A trademark is not the same thing as a patent. Trademarks are not as expensive or as complicated to obtain as one might think, says Scott.
His Suites Story
Scott has been a client at Suite Possibilities since the beginning. He uses Suite’s professional mailbox services and as a physical address for his business. Scott says that the best part of being a Suite’s client is the networking benefits and the steady stream of referrals he gets for his business. Suite’s clients are able to display their business cards on site and the Suites team is always quick to connect him with people who need his legal services. “All my business comes through referral,” says Scott. “I don’t have to spend time and money on marketing.”