Dear Clients and Friends:

As COVID-19 rapidly unfolds, I would like to assure you that Cara Stone, LLP (“Cara Stone”) will continue to serve you in this time of need. As a small business owner, I understand the pressure that a pandemic like COVID-19 has on small businesses. I am always saddened to see small businesses suffer.

I founded the firm to help businesses who were getting started during the difficult times of the Great Recession. This has caused much introspection and an attempt to draw upon my prior experience and affirm the core values that are shared among many entrepreneurs. I want to take a moment to share some commonalities with that period in an attempt to spread some hope as the future seems somewhat unknown.

During the Great Recession, people who had not expected to become entrepreneurs suddenly found themselves without jobs and/or in turbulent times. At that time, I believed that the next great generation of founders and businesses would be born. Many in New Orleans and elsewhere repeatedly told me that the future belonged to railroads, banks, and oil and gas companies, what they termed “real” companies (prices of oil then were very high) and that helping entrepreneurs was “pro bono work.” My belief was that the economy was undergoing fundamental shifts. Entrepreneurs were people who recognized something similar in the world and were increasingly taking their future into their own hands. New investors began to devote more attention to private company financings at the angel and VC level, whereas Silicon Valley had not been historically geared toward these new types of investors. I believed that there would be enormous effort expended in places outside of Silicon Valley to help support entrepreneurs. I also believed that the recession and its related difficulty would result in increasing ingenuity, flexibility, and ultimately growth.

I decided to focus heavily on long-term value. My main mission in starting a new law practice was to abandon old worldviews that did not adapt to change and to help those entrepreneurs who understood that the world had changed would continue to change rapidly. In that regard, I focused on strategies that I believed would be crucial in the future.

We have purposefully built technology with remote capabilities from the start. Because of this, our lawyers have been fortunate enough from the beginning to choose where they work. We are dealing with COVID-19 without disruption so far, and we hope that continues. Perhaps this situation will help you transition to work capabilities you want and discard anchors from a bygone era.

We have focused on building our own capabilities to independently generate content, engage with clients, and support true leaders of the community without being bound by obligations that were not in the interests of clients, ourselves, or the entrepreneurial community at large.

We have dedicated ourselves to excellence with no substitute for providing leadership in our respective practice areas, not just locally, but nationally.

We have prioritized adaptability and attempted to anticipate the uncertainty and respond to both difficult and positive changes in the world around us.

We take honesty seriously. I decided early on that it was more important to provide honest advice than to sacrifice that honesty to tell people (clients or not) simply what they wanted to hear.

Over the last 10 years, the entrepreneurial community has risen to the occasion and produced successful, prospering companies again and again. We have been lucky to represent companies who have taken the bull by the horns in uncertain times and become some of the most prospering companies in our region and beyond. We know that the members of our community will find ways to persevere and ultimately overcome any obstacles we may face.

I know many of you may face challenging decisions as COVID-19 unfolds. Over the next several days, weeks and months, know that we will do anything we can to help you navigate these challenges. In addition to providing legal counsel, our team is devoted to expanding community service efforts and supporting local businesses.

To give our staff time to prepare for COVID-19, we have delayed the release of the Louisiana Venture Capital Report. We will release the report shortly. We hope that it, and other resources we plan to put out, will give you some guidelines on navigating any uncertainty.

Much like I felt during the Great Recession, I hope and believe that people will emerge stronger and healthier and that the spirit of the entrepreneur will help us all overcome what may lie ahead, to the best of our ability.

Thank you for your support, and please reach out if you need help!


Mark Graffagnini and the Cara Stone Team

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