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Meet Thomas Maddrey in Downtown Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Maddrey.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up, I always knew I was going to be an artist. In fact, I was positive I would be a photographer. I grew up in Dallas, and from an early age, photography was my passion. After high school, I landed at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, one of the top commercial photography schools in the country. It was from Brooks that I received my artistic training.

Beginning in the early 2000’s, I was a full-time photographer, specializing in nature and wildlife imagery. I quickly realized, however, that photographers specifically, and artists and entrepreneurs in general, were taken advantage of regularly in the marketplace, and few knew how to fight back. This led me to found the Eclipse Photography Institute, where we taught photographers business and visual skills to help them flourish in the marketplace. Eclipse was a wonderful springboard, as at our peak we had a significant number of employees, outside investors, and our products were on the shelves of over 800 stores throughout the world. I could not have asked for a more intense crash course in the startup and art worlds.

At the same time I was running Eclipse, I realized I needed more specialized training, so I obtained my second degree from the University of Texas at Dallas, where I studied Business Administration. These skills helped me continue my speaking and teaching career where since 2005 I gave averaged speaking 20-30 times a year to groups of all sizes and all disciplines.

I eventually had the opportunity to move away from Eclipse, and as I looked over the course of my career, I realized it had all been leading to helping the entrepreneur and artists communities from the legal side. Shortly thereafter I obtained my law degree from the Dedman School of Law at SMU.

My first position as an attorney out of school was for a boutique litigation firm in McKinney. It was there I learned the ropes of trial work and what it really took to practice law. In 2015, I founded Maddrey PLLC to work with the communities I most want to help: entrepreneurs and artists. We work with all sizes of business, as well as the entire art world, from artists to collectors, as well as galleries and museums. Since beginning with just me working out of my small apartment, we have grown to a full-time staff of seven, with three attorneys and a thriving practice based in Downtown Dallas.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It is hard to quantify the number of setbacks and challenges I have faced in my career. When I was a working photographer, I had my images stolen, entered into unconscionable contracts, and essentially ran into every problem an artist could face. As a business owner, I juggled the challenges of hiring employees, and the pressure that came along with expanding businesses.

AS an attorney, I now have a broader skill set to deal with challenges, but each day brings hurdles to overcome. As I tell my clients often, I can help you with your problems because I have faced almost all of them and have been in your shoes.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Maddrey PLLC – what should we know?
Maddrey PLLC is dedicated to helping our clients do what they do best. Create. In fact, I knew from the very beginning that we were going to build a different type of law firm. Our slogan is “Creative. Business. Law.” This has multiple layers: first, we work with people who create things, no matter if they are small or medium-size business owners, or artists, collectors, or anyone who wakes up in the morning and brings into existence that which was not there before. Those are the people I seek to help.

Of course, with my specialized background in the arts and entrepreneurship, I bring a different level of experience to this practice of law. I have been where my clients currently are. I have faced those challenges and felt that stress.

But above all, we are not interested in doing “one-off” legal jobs for clients. We want to build relationships. I don’t want this firm to just draft a contract, I want to draft that contract and be your trusted advisors for the rest of your career. Every business and every creative needs an attorney on their team, and one who knows just what they are facing and how to deal with it.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Careers and business are much like living things; they rely not only on one organ, but rather the collection of functions that allows for life. And I believe it is critical for people to understand what they do well, but more importantly, what they don’t do well. No matter how isolated you feel as a business owner, there is a world out here ready to help you.

Right now, it is my team in the office that really make things work. It is one thing to have a vision, but a far different thing to actually implement and execute that vision. Be open to help, be open to failure, and be open to success.

Specifically, I can recall the support and faith that my high school photography teacher Janis Hefley gave me many years ago when I knew I wanted to focus on the arts, and the guidance and mentorship attorney Tom Luce has shared with me as I have launched my firm. These two people, and countless others who should be named (and I could write volumes about) have helped me build the company I have now.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nicollette Mollette
Carlyn Ray
Melissa Ellis

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