Meet the 2023 ELITE Firm of the Year Award Winners

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The 2023 Game Changers Summit was for Crisp Coach members only, and the event was largely crafted around celebrating the accomplishments of those firm owners.

Throughout the two-day Summit, Michael and Jessica Mogill took the stage to recognize the most committed members for their incredible transformations and contributions this year.

Winners of these brand-new, highly prestigious Crisp Game Changer Awards at each level (ELITE, PREMIER, and CrispX) were determined based on the factors that impact a successful business, an influential leader, and a true Firm of the Year: Leadership, Firm Culture, Client Experience, and Community Impact.

We are incredibly pleased to announce that Charles “Bo” Bowen and Ryan Schmidt of Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys took home the distinguished ELITE Firm of the Year honors!

Meet Charles Bowen and Ryan Schmidt

Charles Bowen founded the firm as The Bowen Law Group in 2012 after serving as the managing partner of larger corporate practices and experiencing firsthand the inefficiencies and skewed priorities that inevitably came with a “big law” mindset.

While The Bowen Law Group initially focused on general corporate and small business law, the firm’s transition into entertainment law began in 2014, as Savannah began building a reputation as one of the premier film and television shooting locations in the world.

The local entertainment industry continued its rapid growth, and within three years, the majority of Bo’s practice was dedicated to legal representation related to film and television productions. The addition of Ryan Schmidt in 2018 expanded the firm’s expertise into music law.

“While we were well-known and established as corporate litigators, we quickly learned that our work with entertainment industry clients was the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspect of our practice,” explains Ryan. “While we had begun discussions related to forming a new partnership, a pivotal moment for the firm was last year’s Crisp Game Changers Summit which emphasized the importance of niching down and finding absolute clarity in our mission.”

This realization led Ryan and Bo to rebrand and rebuild, focusing on a powerful vision of helping build a more equitable entertainment industry one client and one deal at a time.

“Without Crisp’s encouragement to dive into the deep end, it is unlikely we would have gone all-in on entertainment law,” Ryan elaborates. “Thus far that move has paid off tremendously and taken us to entire new levels of fulfillment and success.”

Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys: A Year in Review

Ryan and Bo maximized their Crisp Coach membership in 2023, applying concepts they learned to every area of their firm and their lives. Let’s see what they’ve accomplished:

Community Impact at Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys

Utilizing the techniques learned through their ELITE membership, Bowen Schmidt has taken tangible steps to make the entertainment industry a safer and more equitable place “by democratizing access to justice and educating creatives on legal issues that have the potential to negatively impact their careers.”

The firm founded the Savannah Film Alliance (which quickly grew from an initial meeting of 40 members to over 500 local industry professionals) and launched the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala, an event that celebrates the unsung heroes of their local film and television industry.

On the music side, Bowen Schmidt has also become heavily involved with musician’s rights lobbying and advocacy group Georgia Music Partners and authored a book on how to foster a fair artist/record label partnership.

They also launched the Allegedly podcast, a show “tailored to entertainment industry professionals who want inside information and tips on how to advance their careers and also to learn how to avoid getting ripped off,” as Ryan explains.

“First and foremost, we are lifelong creatives ourselves,” he continues.

Bo is a long-time veteran of the stage who grew up in a show business family. His parents had a popular touring vaudeville act, and his father held onto the dream of shining lights and red carpets his entire life.

Ryan toured extensively as a singer/songwriter prior to law school and has been featured on NBC’s The Voice and Apple iTunes’ New Music Page. He was also named Critics’ Choice at the Starbucks Music Makers Competition. As a professional musician, Ryan experienced firsthand the cutthroat nature of the business and the restrictive contracts creatives are too often asked to sign.

“Both of us were inspired to invest in the above efforts under the shared belief that every creative should have access to the information necessary to build a successful and sustainable career free of exploitation,” Ryan elaborates. “We are committed to making certain every client can pursue their artistic dreams secure in the knowledge that they are legally protected.”

Firm Culture at Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys

A major turning point for Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys was taking the time to clearly articulate their core values and shape their firm culture.

“While we have always attempted to operate the firm in accordance with a set of values, prior to Crisp these were essentially nebulous concepts never explicitly articulated,” says Ryan. “Now they are an essential part of our practice that influences each one of our decisions.”

Bowen Schmidt’s core values are:

  1. Never tolerate injustice or inequality
  2. Always put our clients’ needs first
  3. Be committed, efficient, and results-driven
  4. Strive daily to be better than yesterday
  5. Handle every matter with integrity

“We display these values proudly and prominently as they serve as our guiding principles and ensure that every decision aligns with our mission,” Ryan asserts. “This clarity has fostered a cohesive team environment where every member is directly aligned with our vision.”

Reinforcing guiding principles at the heart of their organization also helped Ryan and Bo identify employees who did not align with their culture and vision for the future. With Crisp’s support and guidance, they created a custom-tailored hiring funnel that enabled them to recruit and replace these individuals with new team members who have helped the firm grow in multiple ways.

“As Crisp has stressed, we are well aware that our firm’s strength lies in its people,” shares Ryan. “Investing in a positive, values-driven culture ensures that we can attract and retain top talent. This not only benefits our firm, but more importantly it benefits our clients.”

Client Experience at Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys

In 2023, Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys overhauled their entire intake process and implemented procedures to ensure that we never miss a potential new client inquiry. Additionally, Ryan and Bo also put procedures in place to ensure that they attract the right clients and provide them with an exceptional experience from the outset.

“Before joining Crisp, we were not able to consistently deliver the same exceptional client experience,” acknowledges Ryan. “Our intake process had no set structure or repeatable processes. We were also spending far too much time meeting with potential clients outside of our niche practice area. As a result, we often accepted the wrong types of cases based on a scarcity mindset, ultimately costing us more time and money than they were worth. Even worse, we undoubtedly lost out on countless hot leads due to slow or nonexistent responses.”

To remedy the situation, Bowen Schmidt invested in structured client experience efforts, tracking solutions, and intake process standardization.

“In hiring new team members, we stress that the first impression a potential client has with our firm is by far the most important and can easily determine whether our firm is hired. As a result, our client experience has vastly improved,” Ryan explains.

Their improved processes have enabled the firm to clarify the right cases for them to take on and which are better served by referring out. They have also developed key performance indicators (KPIs) around every contact to ensure each inquiry receives a response within 24 business hours.

“Our clients now enjoy a seamless, efficient, and personalized experience,” says Ryan. “This transformation is evident in our jump from 25 to over 75 five-star Google reviews in less than a year.”

Leadership at Bowen Schmidt Entertainment Attorneys

Ryan and Bo credit not only the Crisp team but also their fellow Crisp Coach members for the many lessons and positive examples of great leadership they’ve experienced in 2023. Bowen Schmidt is proud to have represented other Crisp members as clients, appeared on the podcasts of other firm owners, and shared what they have learned with many others along the way.

“Crisp’s coaching has emphasized the importance of leading by example and empowering team members,” reflects Ryan. “It has also helped us realize that the value of our firm is inversely proportional to its reliance on us (the partners). Since then, we have shifted our leadership style from hands-off (except in emergencies where we would take on everyone’s problems) to an approach that rewards accountability, encourages autonomy, and fosters a more collaborative environment.”

Not only has this shift attracted incredible new team members to Bowen Schmidt, but it also inspired Ryan and Bo to use the same approach in starting an internship program.

As Ryan explains: “Prior to joining Crisp, we did not have a formal program and would essentially offer an internship to anyone who reached out and requested it. After Crisp, we created a virtual internship targeted at law schools with strong ties to entertainment law. In the summer of 2022, for example, we hosted six virtual interns. This past summer, we hosted three in-office interns passionate about the practice of entertainment law.”

With Crisp’s assistance and encouragement, Ryan and Bo have also implemented monthly offsite partners’ meetings to discuss all areas of the firm, from client experience, to culture, to marketing, to leadership, and so on. These game changers take the time to map out important monthly and quarterly tasks and goals and ensure they’re aligned and on the right track.

“Effective leadership is the backbone of a successful firm and is one of the driving principles of the Crisp ELITE program. Investing in leadership development ensures our team feels supported, valued, and motivated to achieve our collective goals,” Ryan concludes. “We also firmly believe that our efforts at leadership development will result in a firm that is not only built to last but is safeguarded against any potential interior or exterior threats.”

The results of this ELITE Firm of the Year speak for themselves:

“With Crisp’s support, despite the fact that we have vastly curtailed the types of cases we are willing to accept, we have actually had our best earnings year to date. Our receivables through August 2023 reflect a 42% increase in revenue over this same time period last year.”