In this episode, I talk about a new TV show I’m obsessed with, Platonic. I promise it has to do with lawyer stuff and starting your own business. I also give you a sneak peek of what my marketing and branding work has been like lately. And of course I talk about food (Greek orzo… yum) and my dog.
In this episode, you’ll hear…
- What the TV show, Platonic, can teach us about letting go of fear and diving all in on being an entrepreneur.
- How I deal with being on camera and dealing with negative online comments that are sure to pop up.
- A behind-the-scenes look into what I am doing in terms of content marketing, including my SEO blog posts, website, and overall branding.
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Be Comfortable with Yourself
Every time I record an online video, like a Facebook Ad, my mind automatically tries to think of how to prevent negative comments on it. Then I remember it is the internet and that’s not possible. I continuously have to work on being comfortable with myself and be okay with downright mean comments about how I look, my dog (c’mon people), etc. I remind myself of what Brene Brown says about only valuing the opinion of those who are “down in the arena too”– people who are trying to live the same values as I am and achieve the kind of things I want to. Once I remember that, I brush off the negative random comments and move on building my dreams.
There is No Plan B
Early on when starting my business, I went to a small group meeting with a business coach. She was a very nice lady. But when I kept mentioning being afraid, she finally put hands firmly down on the desk across from me and said “What are you so afraid of?” I told her I was afraid of my business failing and having to go back to being a corporate lawyer. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “There is no Plan B. This is the plan.” I went home, got rid of all my stuffy corporate lawyer suits, and moved forward to create the business I love today. If you are an entrepreneur who is stuck in a place worrying about failing, let me be your spark like that business coach person for me. Email or DM me. I’ll be your accountability partner.
Content Marketing and Branding
Here are a few marketing tips that have come up in my daily work lately. First, don’t be afraid to do online videos– Instagram ads, YouTube, you name it. Yes, you will be self-conscious, but you can breathe through it and channel Brene Brown as needed. Second, don’t overthink what SEO blog posts are going to do well and which ones won’t. I am constantly surprised at my blog posts that turn out to be a hit, while other good ones don’t get as much traction. Finally, take branding seriously. It sets the tone for all of your business dealings. Enlist professionals as needed.
Sam Vander Wielen:
Hey there, and welcome back to On Your Terms. I’m your host, Sam Vander Wielen. I’m a lawyer turned entrepreneur who helps people legally protect their online businesses. But I just so happen to be a girl obsessed with marketing, so I help you with a lot of stuff related to marketing here, too, on the podcast every single Monday and Thursday. If you’re new, welcome. If you’re returning, thanks for coming back.
Today’s episode was inspired by a show that I got really into recently. You don’t have to have watched the show in order to listen to today’s episode. But just as a friend I will tell you, you need to go listen or you need to go watch the show. The show is awesome. It’s Platonic on Apple T.V. It’s so good. It’s worth doing a free trial and just binge watch Platonic. It’s with Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen. It’s so, so good. But if you haven’t seen it, like I said, it doesn’t matter, but it’s just a really, really good show. And Rose Byrne is a former lawyer, so we’ll talk about that in a few. But that’s what inspired today’s episode.
So, today’s been a very productive day. Today was leg day at the gym. So, I go to my personal trainer first thing early Monday morning, and so we did a real serious leg day today. It was one of those days where I felt like my legs were going to buckle out from under me a couple of times. And when we got to the end and he made me do wall sits – he has me do these wall sits for two minutes with my heels really close to the wall and then my feet up and relevé, like up on my tippy toes, my legs were quaking at the end. I love it though. I complain about it, but I secretly, not so secretly really, really love going to the gym.
And all the trainers that I go to, they always joke about how I’m one of the people that they work with who just loves every move, every workout. I’m like, I’ll do anything. I’m very fortunate. But I really love working out in any way. It doesn’t have to be at the gym. I like going to classes. I’ll ride a bike. I’ll go kayaking. I’ll go hiking. I just like everything. So, yeah, unfortunate, I guess, in that respect.
So, basically, to give you a little day in my life, I did that. I then had therapy, which I had to take from the car because I was running late. So, I chatted with her on Zoom in my car, which is always fun, and in a random parking lot. And then, because I had therapy, I stopped and got an iced coffee on the way home because I was like, That sounds good.
And when I got home, I got ready, tried to get dressed for the day because I knew that today I had to do a bunch of stuff on camera, including this episode. Hello. We record these on video and then we’ll take snippets and we turn them into Reels. I knew that I had to do some stuff on camera – I mean, I’m still very casual, but normally I would be even more casual – and so I got myself all ready.
And then, the first thing I did was knock out a couple of Facebook ads, so I had to record some videos for a Facebook ad. I had to do several takes of that. I think that’s really interesting, I’ve been recording them for years and years and I still have lots of mess ups, or I get nervous, or I’m super awkward, or have to do it again, or I fumble my words. So, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience with yourself and not taking yourself too seriously. I’ve allowed a lot of ads to go forward that I was like, That’s fine.
Like this one time, I was recording an ad and Huddy, my dog – he’s a Bernedoodle who thinks that he’s my baby because I treat him like he’s my baby – he ran up to me right in the middle of me recording this thing and he would not leave me alone. He was pawing at my leg. So, I just picked him up and recorded the rest of the episode. And to this day, it turns out to be one of my most popular Facebook ads. Some people give me a lot of crap for it on Facebook or Instagram. I get nasty comments about it. And then, other times, people are like, "I just like the dog." And then, other times people are like, "You look like your dog" or "You are a dog." It’s a wild special world out there, friends.
So, yeah, I’ve recorded these Facebook ads and I’m just kind of used to going with the flow. And something that my friend, Maya Nicole, said the other day when we had our podcast recording – which is actually the very next episode that you’re going to hear from me is my interview with Maya – one of the things that Maya and I talked about was the fact that no matter what you do, someone’s going to have an issue with it. We were talking about it’s not even like you have to be talking about something controversial, you don’t have to be sharing your political opinions, and all that kind of stuff for people to come at you. People come at you for literally no reason.
This lady took at me the other day on one of my Facebook ads and telling me something about how I looked, and blah, blah, blah. I was saying like, "Oh. Do you want to legally protect your business? Here’s a free legal training." That’s my video. I’m not asking you about religion and politics and money and anything else. So, anyway, I just thought that was a good reminder that it doesn’t have to be that you’re creating a Facebook ad, but even if you’re creating something for social media, just keeping in mind that someone’s going to have an issue with everything. There’s always going to be someone who finds some issue with something that you say.
And so, you can’t shapeshift yourself into being like, "Well, let me say it this way " or "Let me qualify it this way" or "Let me try to protect myself" or "Water my opinion down" because I’m going to then prevent someone from saying something. Actually, someone’s going to say something regardless, even if they don’t say it to your face or in your comment section, they’re thinking it. And I really just think that can’t be part of the equation.
So, if I thought about every single comment or opinion and piece of unsolicited feedback that I’ve gotten from people who I never asked what they thought about how I’m doing or how I look or how I talk, I would be paralyzed and frozen with fear to ever put myself out there again. To be honest with you, I actually sometimes am surprised, given the amount of – let’s call it – feedback that I’ve gotten in, like, six, seven years of online business, that I am still able to put myself out there. I definitely feel different. This episode is going in a different direction than I originally intended it but, honestly, I think sometimes that’s helpful.
I do think it impacts me. I notice an anxiety that comes up when I do want to share something, but I’m like, "But how is that going to be received? Let me try to anticipate all the things that people might say." And then, when it comes to your appearance, oof, that’s just tough because it’s like I look the way I look. So, if you have a problem with me, unless I go get massive plastic surgery, I don’t know how else to fix it and I don’t need to fix it. I’m just kidding with you, obviously. But you just have to be continuously working on being comfortable with yourself or not caring what they think and all that kind of stuff.
I always come back to the Brené Brown saying about if people aren’t in the arena with you, then I don’t care what you have to say. And I know for me the other day when that lady commented on how I looked in my ad, and said that because of how I looked she would never work with me, I got admittedly pissed off at first. And then, I really did think about how the joke that I was telling my friends, I’m always like, "Could you imagine Amy Porterfield commenting about that on someone’s ad?" Do you think that Amy Porterfield, or Rachel Rogers, or Jenna Kutcher, or Marie Forleo, any of these people who’ve been in the game for a million years who are super successful, do you think they’re sitting around commenting on random people’s Facebook ads about how they look? No. Because they’re freaking busy. They’re busy and they’re not doing that kind of stuff.
So, I kind of remind myself about who are the people who would be doing this?, (A). And what is going on with them?, (B). Therefore, I don’t really care. And so, if they’re not kind of going for the same thing I’m trying to go for, which doesn’t have to be the exact same literal goals, but the goal of bettering yourself, building something, helping other people, putting yourself out there as a result of it, then I’m not really interested in your feedback. You know what I mean?
So, yes, that’s my spiel on Facebook ads. That was all a long way of telling you today I knocked out a lot of Facebook ads. I just feel like every time I do it, I have a lot on my mind about putting yourself out there, and how vulnerable that feels, and how you do try to hedge your bets and be like let me see what you’re going to make fun of me for or poke at in what I say or do so that I can get ahead of it. And there really is no getting ahead of it. So, that’s what I think about that.
After that, I actually knocked out, reviewed four blog posts. So, I focus a lot on SEO in my business, so we have a lot of SEO blog posts. Those are blog posts that we write with topics with SEO in mind, searchability in mind.
So, we design a lot of blog posts about like if someone’s going to Google what is a coaching contract or how do I legally form an online business or something like that, we, as a team – sometimes I write them, we hire some people to write them, it kind of depends – we write these blog posts. And then, if they’re legal stuff, especially, I always review them, if not write them, and then they go up on the site. So, some of them really take off. Some have some really good traction on Google. Others, it takes time. And others, they don’t pan out. The thing I always find funny about SEO is the ones that I’m like, "Oh. This is a slam dunk. This post is going to be amazing." It doesn’t. And then, other super random ones, they’re woo, they take off. So, who knows?
So, I reviewed four of those posted already. You can always go to my site, by the way, samvanderwielen.com/blog, if you like to read more of this kind of information. I really try to respect the fact that you have different learning styles and preferences. And if you don’t like to listen to podcasts, well, thanks for being here, I guess. But if you don’t like to listen to podcasts, I have blog posts for you. If you don’t like to read stuff, I got podcasts. I have all of the things. So, I’m always making sure that those are going up so you can always check those out. I’ll make sure I drop the link in the show notes if you want it.
And last but not least, before coming to you today and chatting in this episode, I reviewed assets for my new website and branding. So, first is all the branding stuff, which is really big. I take it really, really seriously. I love branding. I think it has so much to do with the success of a business eventually, right? It doesn’t have to be off the bat. Mine was certainly not off the bat, but once I really had a good feel and grasp for who am I speaking to, who am I attracting, what’s the vibe, what do I want it to feel like here, I got very serious about my branding. So, I’m really excited about that. I feel like it’s the biggest overhaul I’ve ever done.
Basically, I built my first website, which is really not that different than what it looks like now. And then, over the years, I basically just did updates to that site that I built. I had purchased a theme from somebody and then applied that theme, and then built it out a little bit myself, and then hired developers along the way when things got too complicated for me to be able to fix or understand. And then, I did a little bit of a branding overhaul maybe two or three years ago – yeah, two or three years ago, but it was all a refresh of what I had already.
Whereas, this one, it is a completely different direction, which is really cool, because I feel like as that comes out, my book will be coming out next year, there’s just going to be a lot of newness. And I want to talk about things other than just legal. I want to help you market your business. I want to talk about evergreen marketing and content creation and talk about the Big Three – YouTube, podcast, and blogging. So, I want to focus more on these high level marketing topics with you as well and I want to make sure that my website reflects that so you can get all that information from me too.
So, yeah, after I was done recording, I did a Loom for the website people about the assets for my branding, and then I needed lunch. So after that, I had lunch, which was leftovers from dinner last night. So, I’m recording this on a Monday, so I try to cook a big meal on Sunday that I then have a lot of leftovers for. And, oh, my gosh, I will link to it in the show notes, Pinch of Yum, which is a great food blog, has this baked Greek orzo one pot dish. And it has lots of veggies, like kale and red peppers and onions, and then you add chickpeas and orzo and broth, and then at the end you add fresh herbs and lemon juice and all this kind of stuff. It’s so, so good. And then, what I do, because I eat turkey and chicken and Ryan only eats fish, so when I do it for myself is that I make Greek turkey meatballs. So, I just mix turkey meatballs with red onion and some parsley and dill and then bake those up so that I have a little extra protein for myself. So, that’s that. I had that for lunch.
And then, Hudson was bothering me to go to the bathroom, so I took him on a ten minute walk. We usually do one big long walk at the end of the day. But during the middle of the day, I’ll take him on, like,10, 15 minute walk. And then, I came back in, sat down to chat with you. I’m trying to make sure I finish my second big water of the day, because I do one water by noon, try to hit my second one by 3:00, and then the last one by 6:00, 7:00-ish.
So, that’s it. That’s my super boring kind of day in the life. This is where I’m at right now. I would say that this has changed many times over the years. I don’t follow a set schedule anymore.
I feel like when I was still trying to really build up my business and get some traction under me, the number one tip that I can give you is that I would have days that were categorized or themed. Like, I had all my meetings on one or two days, and then I did not allow outside meetings on the other days. I had one or two full content creation marketing, what I would call marketing days. I either create content, wrote content, thought about content, planned it out, strategized, all of that kind of stuff. And then, I usually had a-half-a-day of admin, SEO type stuff, backend things to do. And usually a-half-a-day, I would plan on product development, product ideation, product improvement, stuff I had to do related to the products or services and offers. So, that’s what used to work really well for me in terms of structure.
Right now, admittedly, first of all, I have a fantastic team who takes care of a lot. And I’ve pulled back as much as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can to deal with the ongoing trauma, and sadness, and grief of losing both of my parents, and particularly how I lost my mom and the aftermath of having lost my mom and what I’m having to go through behind the scenes right now.
So, yeah, that’s just my honest kind of day in the life, but also I recognize this is not normal. You wouldn’t normally be able to run a business like this doing those things I just named. But I also think you can build a business that gets you to this point, and maybe that’s one of your goals, maybe you’re already there. But I just wanted to share an honest behind the scenes.
So, what’s the deal with this Platonic episode that I was talking about? So, the last thing I want to share with you today was just about something that was so impactful for me when I first started my business that I think was the first little spark that I needed, that pushed me in the direction to actually go out and grow this business, and really start to put pedal to the metal for it to take off.
So, first, I’ll tell you about the episode. So, in Platonic, which is a show, like I said, starring Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen, they’re best friends who have fallen out of touch. They’ve gotten back in touch in adulthood, when life is a little messier and more complicated. Rose Byrne is married, she has kids. She was a stay at home mom for many years. But now her kids are kind of getting older, they’re in school. And then, Seth Rogen has this girlfriend who gets engaged. He owns a bar. Some things are a little bit messy with him. So, they come back together, they rejoin as friends.
And that’s really what the show is about, is, living as friends in that time period of your life where you’re married, you have kids, you have a lot going on, life is messy. You kind of miss those days of your teens and 20s when life was a little bit simpler and more carefree, but that’s not where you are anymore, but yet you kind of still yearn for it. So, it’s really, really good.
And the story with Rose Byrne in the show is that she was an attorney for, like, 13 years – sorry. She was an attorney and she’s been out of work as an attorney for 13 years. So, she stepped out of the game for 13 years. And she goes back to work as an attorney at a fancy pants law firm. It looked just like the one that I worked at. So many of the scenes in the show reminded me so much of being a lawyer.
But there’s this moment when she just feels like she should be back in the game. She wants something for herself. She doesn’t want to be defined by what she’s been doing and she wants to be back to being a lawyer. And so, there’s this moment when the reality of that decision sets in, and she sits down at her desk, and she’s all dressed up for work, and she kind of romanticized the idea of going back to work, being a lawyer, all that stuff. And there’s this moment when she sits down that she’s like, "Oh, shit. Now, I actually have to do this. It’s miserable." She sees how miserable it is.
When I tell you I was so uncomfortable watching this scene because that is literally my worst nightmare, having to go back to a firm – oh. I can’t even talk about it without wanting to throw up – having to dress like that ever again, having to be spoken to that way ever again, having to be sexually harassed, having to be living under billable hours, the billable hours structure is terrifying to me. I’m not even kidding. I literally have nightmares about it where I end up back at the firm and I am freaking out in my dream being like, How did I get here? What did I do? How did this go so terribly wrong? What did I do in my business? I was doing so well. How did it take such a hard right turn? I’m freaking out and then I wake up in a cold sweat and I’m like, "Is that my reality? Is that true? Oh, my gosh. No. Thank God, I never went back to being a lawyer. I will never go back to being a lawyer."
Now, granted my experience was a particularly bad one, there are lots of lawyers who love what they do, there are lots of lawyers who are very good at what they do. And you might like whatever you do or your corporate job or maybe you liked your corporate career, but you just found something or want to do something different, or maybe you didn’t, I don’t know.
But one of the things that this made me think of when I saw this episode with Rose Byrne was that when I first started my business, very early on, I was really struggling with letting go of this idea that I would have to go back to being a lawyer if this didn’t work out. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, like if this business doesn’t work, I’m going to have to go back to being a lawyer, so you better make it work because you know how badly you don’t want to go back. And I was almost beating myself up, being so harsh that I was just putting a lot of pressure on myself.
But also looking back on it, it wasn’t true. If my business didn’t work out, which, ironically, at the time when I first left the law and I was telling myself this, I started a health coaching business. That’s the first thing that I did when I left the law in 2016 and that business didn’t work out. And by it not working out, it actually led me to creating this business, which very much worked out. So, it’s just kind of funny that I was telling myself "If I don’t make this work, if I don’t make this work, if I don’t make this work," I didn’t make it work. But I made it work, if you know what I mean. I didn’t make the health coaching business work, but I made the whole situation work.
And I think if you’re somebody who is determined, you’re a hard worker, you persevere, you’ve probably been through a lot of shit in your life, you’ve overcome a lot, you’re not the kind of person who’s just going to revert back to what your situation was before.
And so, when I started my business and I was acting like this and I was really, really adopting this mindset, I was walking around with this idea in my head all the time, letting this boogeyman fear hang over my shoulder, I went to a conference. It was the first ever business coaching kind of conference that I went to. And everything that we would talk about in our small groups or with the business coach we held the conference, I would share my hopes or my dreams about creating this business, I had just started the legal business.
I shared a lot of fear, like, "Well, I would do this, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I can bet on myself. I’m not sure if I should do that. I’m not sure if it’s safe. I don’t know if that’s a good idea. What if it doesn’t work out? What if it’s not okay? What if no one likes it? What if no one buys it?" Everything was hinged with this fear. And I remember, eventually, the business coach who was facilitating this, in a nice way, got kind of in my face, put her hands down on the desk in front of me and she kind of slammed her hands down and she’s like, "What are you so afraid of?" And I was like, "I’m afraid I have to go back to being a lawyer." And she really got serious and looked at me dead in the eyes and goes, "There is no plan B. Stop acting like there’s a plan B. This is it. This is the plan." And I was like, "Oh, shit. She is right." She is right, I was acting like there was this default, plan B.
And I see this all the time with people who have kind of one foot out the door and then not all in and they’re hedging their bets, they’re not sure if it’s going to work out, and they’re very nervous. And this manifests differently for all of us. But, for me, it was really holding me back from putting myself out there, putting a lot of time, effort, energy into the business because I was so nervous. And so, what I was doing was I was spending, technically, a lot of time, but I was spending time on stuff that didn’t really matter. I was swirling. I was keeping busy but not moving forward.
And so, when she said that to me, I had that light bulb moment that sometimes you need that kind of proverbial slap across the face that we all need sometimes. And, for me, I usually have to take some sort of – well, I think two things. One is I always have to take some sort of action when I feel something like this or some big, big shift like this. I can’t just think about it or talk about it. I have to go do something. And two, cleaning is my way to deal with anxiety, which is not the worst problem in the world to have.
So, I went home from this conference and I was like, "I have to do something." So, for me, I’m very visual and I needed some sort of visual representation of my separation, of moving forward, of not staying in this plan B place anymore. For me, that was the attorney clothes. Because I looked in my closet – you know, when you’re an attorney or you work any kind of corporate job like that that’s so freaking stuffy and you wear all this stuff that you would never wear anywhere else, I mean, I think people think that it’s like a show on T.V., like Suits or Lincoln Lawyer or something like that. In a real law firm, everybody wears black suits. And so, women wear skirt suits and pant suits, and you have basic blouses that go under it. It’s super boring, and itchy, and uncomfortable, and hot. That ends my complaints about lawyer clothes.
But, for me, when I looked at my closet, half of it was all these lawyer clothes that were going unused because I wasn’t practicing as a lawyer anymore. But I was hanging on to all of them because of this fear of having to go back. And seeing them every single day was a visual reminder and a representation of how I was living, how I was living within that fear of "Well, I have to have this in case it doesn’t work out." And instead I needed to stop acting like it could not work out and just start planning for it to work out. And better yet, plan for the fact that I would figure it out even if it didn’t. And either way, I wasn’t going to let myself go back to that.
Again, I recognize that my example is extreme. I hope that your job was not one that you have nightmares about going back to. But maybe for you it’s not even your job. It might be some old way of life, or an old mindset, or an old way you were living, or I don’t know, it could be anything for you. But I see this a lot with people’s businesses where there’s some kind of plan B that you’re holding on to, and we need to drop the plan B and realize that this is the plan. And that doesn’t mean that everything has to go according to plan. It doesn’t mean that everything has to go exactly like, "Well, in this business or with this offer or with this podcast that you start," or whatever it is. It might change.
God knows I’ve started and stopped YouTube, like, three times. It’s not about that. It’s not about never changing and altering course. It’s about believing in yourself that you’re going to make this work. And that everything that you’re doing right now is leading to something that’s helpful, that’s an experience that you need for some reason even if you can’t see it right at this moment.
So, tell me, are you going to drop a plan B? I would love it, actually, if you would commit to this. If you’re like me and you need to take some sort of action, I will be your accountability partner. Send me a message, send me a reply to my email, tell me if you’re going to drop plan B and you’re going to go all in on this plan regardless of how it turns out or what it ends up looking like. It’s okay for it to change. But you don’t have to go back. We don’t have to worry about reverting back to something you used to do. We can drop that story. We can drop that fear so we can free you up to actually move forward, whatever forward might look like for you. How’s that sound?
I hope you liked this episode. I feel like this episode was, for one, really not what I planned and, two, was really the reason why I started this podcast because I wanted to have these conversations with you that are open and honest and motivational, I hope, to you. But, also, deeper because it’s really hard to have these conversations in 60 second snippets on social media or sometimes to get them across in an email. So, this is really why I’m just feeling very grateful right now, this is why I started On Your Terms. So, I hope that you liked it.
I really appreciate you listening. If you liked this episode, please do me a favor, go ahead and text a link to this episode to a friend, or post it wherever you share things about business. I really, really, really appreciate it. And I hope that you’re going to be emailing or DM-ing me and telling me that you’re dropping plan B, I will be looking for your message. I’ll see you in a few days for that guest interview with Maya Nicole on all things Instagram and stopping trying to be like everybody else. I can’t wait to chat with you soon.
Thanks so much for listening to the On Your Terms Podcast. Make sure to follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can also check out all of our podcast episodes, show notes, links, and more at samvanderwielen.com/podcast. You can learn more about legally protecting your business and take my free legal workshop, Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow Your Online Business, at samvanderwielen.com. And to stay connected and follow along, follow me on Instagram, @samvanderwielen, and send me a DM to say hi.
Just remember that although I am a attorney, I am not your attorney and I am not offering you legal advice in today’s episode. This episode and all of my episodes are informational and educational only. It is not a substitute for seeking out your own advice from your own lawyer. And please keep in mind that I can’t offer you legal advice. I don’t ever offer any legal services. But I think I offer some pretty good information.
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- SamCart // what I use for my checkout pages and payment processing and LOVE. And no, not because it’s my name.
- ConvertKit // what I use to build my email list, send emails to my list, and create opt-in forms & pages
DISCLAIMER: Although Sam is an attorney she doesn’t practice law and can’t give you legal advice. All episodes of On Your Terms are educational and informational only. The information discussed here isn’t legal advice and does not intend to be. The info you hear here isn’t a substitute for seeking legal advice from your own attorney.
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