Search & Replace S04E03: Karin Coger

Dig into the untold challenges of building a career outside the traditional educational blueprint while battling imposter syndrome. Karin Coger, a pioneering virtual law firm founder, shares her inspiring journey of navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship against the odds. Discover how Karin’s leap into the unknown, driven by a desire to forge her own path, led her to redefine success in the legal profession and offer invaluable insights for budding female entrepreneurs. Tune in to uncover the realities of starting your own venture, the pivotal role of resilience, and the transformative impact of technology in modern law practice. This episode of Search and Replace is a must-listen for anyone contemplating the entrepreneurial leap or seeking to innovate within their field. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the school you just graduated from never actually taught you anything about how to get clients? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

[00:00:23] Karin Coger runs a law firm that operates virtually, and she’ll explain how that works in just a minute. But when she was younger, she couldn’t have predicted this career path. 

[00:00:34] Karin Coger: As a kid, I was an entrepreneur. So I grew up in a household where my mom was a teacher, so very heavy on education. And my dad was an accountant, but he also went out on his own during his career. So, he always preached entrepreneurship to me and my brother.  

[00:00:50] And when I went to college, and I’m dating myself, cause it’s over 20 years ago, it was literally like at the beginning of the internet for the mass people, you know. At college, we got the internet, I think, it was in the library first year, and then I decided to stay in the honors dorm the second year because that was the only dorm that had internet in its rooms. 

[00:01:14] Joe Taylor Jr.: Karin gravitated toward a mix of law and communications.  

[00:01:17] Karin Coger: I was always interested in media, and I thought I was going to come out and just be this like mogul media entertainment attorney. When I started working in the law, I went into litigation. Which was never, ever the plan. I never planned to be a trial lawyer. 

[00:01:33] So I started out at the Public Defender’s Office in the state of New Jersey. I was here for about 8 years. And then the next 12 years, I worked in various capacities as a civil defense attorney. So doing insurance defense. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like any of it. I mean, at least as a PD, you’re able to help people, but working for the insurance company, it’s like I’m just working for the man. 

[00:01:58] And while I was doing this, you know, I contemplated going out on my own, talked to people about it. And you know, I was very discouraged to do it, especially by older white men, because that’s who I was surrounded by in my profession. And I’m sitting in their law firms talking about opening my law firm, and when they say it, it’s like, oh, why are you going to do that? It’s hard. It’s like, well, you did it, you know, like, what makes you think… if you can do it, I can do it. You know?  

[00:02:27] Joe Taylor Jr.: And that’s where Karin started to realize that her law degree included everything she needed to know about the law and nothing about how to operate her own law firm.  

[00:02:38] Karin Coger: I tried to go out on my own the first time and got scared. I’m looking like there’s no paycheck here, you know. And all I knew how to do at that time was litigate. And so I went back into the workplace, and I tell people all the time, they’re like, what inspires you? I’m like, when you go to work and you are crying in your car on the way to work, that is an indication that it’s time to go. 

[00:03:04] So, I was fortunate enough to listen to a podcast and there was a woman on there and she started a course on Sonia Lakhany which was Two Weeks to Trademark. A lot of people don’t realize in law school, at least when I attended it, they really did not teach you how to be a lawyer. They taught you the law, but they didn’t teach you how to get clients, how to actually fill out the forms. And so in her course, I was able to learn that. And doing trademarks brought me back to media, in a certain respect.  

[00:03:33] It was all hard. Everything from getting clients to just getting in the rhythm of things. I think the hardest thing was to not go back. Into the corporate or law firm world, because there were days where I’m sitting there and I’m like, okay, cash is not coming in. Let me go on Indeed and look at these jobs real quick. And it’s like, no Karin, you can’t do it. Because if you want to be an entrepreneur, there are thousands of people who work a day job and do something on the side and the type of attorney and type of law firm that I wanted to have, this was not a part time job. I needed to do this full time.  

[00:04:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: Karin realized that, thanks to the internet, she didn’t need to worry about opening a traditional law firm that required a fancy office and a huge team.  

[00:04:20] Karin Coger: So, they’re like, you’re opening your own firm. And it’s going to be online. Like, what are you talking about? That’s crazy. 

[00:04:27] I had a whole page on my website defining what a virtual law firm was. And then the pandemic hit I said, you know what I can take this page down because now the way I practice is the norm. In my firm, we were using Zoom and everything pretty much for all of our clients.  

[00:04:44] Fortunately, as the trademark and copyright attorney, we can practice in all 50 states. With other areas of the law, you’re oftentimes confined to the states that you are barred in. So, I’m barred in the state of New Jersey. But it just opened up a whole world to me and my practice and people that I could assist. I am finally doing something in the area that I love. I’m still helping people, which has always been the goal of being an attorney. 

[00:05:09] I work with all entrepreneurs, pretty much. That’s who I connect with. That’s who I understand. Helping people build their own businesses and build their own brands based upon trademarks, copyrights, and contracts.  

[00:05:23] The trademark process is long. So the best feeling is to get to the end of the trademark process. Finally get that registration. It’s like you’re getting like a little nugget of gold. And it’s like we did this.  

[00:05:36] Joe Taylor Jr.: It’s a feeling of accomplishment that Karin gets to offer her clients. And it’s a similar accomplishment to the one Karin celebrates when she considers what she had to overcome to build a thriving law practice. 

[00:05:48] Karin Coger: Women, we suffer from imposter syndrome way more than men do. We suffer from people not giving you the due. As women attorneys, there are often times that you walk into the courtroom, and they didn’t believe that you were the attorney.  

[00:06:02] You just got to do it. You just have to rip the band aid off. And if you are an entrepreneur and you’re a business owner and you are at the very beginning, you’re about to get your LLC. You need to talk to a trademark attorney because you might have done a search of businesses and done a Google search to see if anybody else used your name. But with us, one of the first steps in the trademark process is doing a comprehensive search because the worst thing that you can do is start your business, invest all this money into starting your business, and get hit with a cease and desist because somebody else was using that name or brand or logo, it’s yours. It’s your asset. This is something that you can sell, that you can lend, that you can license. It is yours. You can pass down to your children. It is yours.  

[00:06:48] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Karin Coger, Principal of the Coger Law Firm in Morristown, New Jersey. We’ve got links to Karin’s work in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:59] Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.  

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.  

[00:07:09] Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. 

[00:07:19] Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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