Maclen and Ashleigh Stanley work together to demystify the legal system through their combined TikTok account called @the.law.says.what. They use this account to teach jurisprudence and court cases to their following of 914,200 followers. In August of 2021, they established the account in order to publicize Maclen’s book titled The Law Says What? Things You Might Not Have Known About the Law (But Really Ought to Know!).
The Stanleys seek to empower people who are interested in gaining a better understanding of their legal entitlements by simplifying complex legal concepts and presenting them in an engaging manner. Additionally, they upload videos to their channel on YouTube and host a podcast on Patreon.
Maclen arrived late to the Harvard Law School orientation and took the last seat in the auditorium next to Ashleigh. This is how the two of them first crossed paths. Maclen, who is now 31, started his own business two years ago to represent people who had been victims of sexual assault, gender discrimination, or sexual harassment. Ashleigh, who is now 29 years old and works in entertainment corporate law at a prominent firm. The pair currently divides their time between their homes in Los Angeles and Nashville, Tennessee.
They recently had a conversation with Rachyl Jones of The Observer.
I was wondering if you could tell me how you first started using TikTok.
Ashleigh: Through a great deal of convincing on my part. During the summer of 2016, Maclen worked on writing a book, and during the process of publishing it, we discovered that no one promotes your book as much as you would like them to. One day he approached me with the suggestion, “let’s produce a TikTok to advertise the book,” and I agreed. And I responded with a resounding “no” to the offer.
I didn’t want to be that awkward young adult trying to pull off the latest dancing moves. He guaranteed that it would be concerning the book. It would be related to legal matters. And despite this, I said “no” because I believed that nobody would be interested in what I had to say. The majority of individuals do not find the law to be naturally intriguing, and lawyers are famously boring. The purpose of his work was to explain various legal concepts using language that is more accessible to the general public. Consequently, as we began discussing the possibility of doing a TikTok video in a similar vein, I chose to experiment with the platform. I didn’t think there was going to be any point to it.
Maclen, may I ask why you felt it necessary to enlist Ashleigh’s assistance in resolving this matter?
Maclen: I mean, how many wives do you know who graduated from Harvard Law School? It will stay in your mind. The idea of doing it with my wife also sounded like a lot of fun to me.
Ashleigh: Our collaboration is quite productive. We complement one another in different ways. He has a lot of originality. I am better at editing than most people are, and I pay close attention to detail.
Why do you think individuals, and especially almost a million people on TikTok, are interested in learning about the law?
Ashleigh: If what I’m saying makes any sense, I believe that people don’t realize they’re interested in the law until you explain something to them that they didn’t know that they didn’t know. In addition, I believe that we are providing interpretation tools for topics that people are already interested in.
Maclen: You are correct. You have the ability to describe intriguing parts of the legal system in a way that is not just correct but also entertaining and occasionally amusing. I mean, there are a lot of laws on the books like jury nullification that a lot of people don’t know about, but they are extremely interesting. And there are also a lot of laws that people don’t know about that are very interesting. It comes in an uninteresting box though.
Ashleigh: That seems so boring. Jury nullification.
Maclen: Yeah, it does. However, there are a lot of legal loopholes that are quite interesting to look into. At the end of the day, the legal system is essentially a book of rules that people have devised in order to exert authority over one another. If you approach it in the appropriate way, gaining knowledge about this topic may be rather entertaining.
Maclen, do you believe that the fame you’ve gained on TikTok has been helpful to you in getting clients?
Maclen: No, actually. In addition, I have not been interested in promoting my company on TikTok. To tell you the truth, I promote the hell out of my book, but in my mind, the two are completely separate worlds.
Could you please elaborate on how you promoted your book using the internet? I’d really appreciate it.
Maclen: The internet has most likely been my most effective form of promotion. TikTok has become the primary source of content. We had one really popular video, which garnered several million views. In addition to this, I affixed a comment at the very top of the thread, in which I mentioned that my book was recently published and had further details. When my publisher heard what had occurred, they said, “What the hell happened? You just got so many fresh sales.” Because of just that one review, several hundred people decided to buy the book.
Do any of you have any idea who exactly is watching your content?
Maclen: Regarding ages, it spans the entire spectrum. And the vast majority of our viewers have very little legal knowledge. I believe that is because we want to cover issues that will make it onto the “For You” page simply due to the fact that they are intriguing in and of themselves. A notable illustration of this is the trial of Amber Heard. Because we posted a few videos on the topic, our account has gained a few hundred thousand new followers as a direct result.
Where do you see this brand going in the years to come, in your opinion?
Ashleigh: Big open question. We were both surprised by how large it turned out to be.
Maclen: We’ve been approached by a number of people who are interested in the possibility of producing a spinoff educational television show as well as a podcast with a higher profile.
Ashleigh: Yeah. We just want it to turn out well because, on a more personal level, our biggest problem in life right now—which is such a first world problem to have—is that at the end of every day, we both ask each other, “Where did the day go?” We just want it to be the right thing because, on a more personal level, our biggest problem in life right now—which is such a first world problem to have—is that every day seems to
So, what is it about your TikTok that keeps you going?
Maclen: Before I went to law school, I worked as a teacher for a short period of time, and I really do enjoy imparting knowledge to others.
Ashleigh: People have expressed their gratitude to us and told us that our work has encouraged them to pursue a career in the legal field.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other people who create things?
Maclen: Keep doing it. It did take a few months of consistent blogging, creating a brand, and getting people to recognize our brand as a viable option. After that, it started to work. Because you just never know, all I can say to whoever is out there is this: don’t give up trying to accomplish it. Simply because there is potential for success.
This interview was initially written up and distributed as part of a publication called The Creators, which is a newsletter about the people that drive the creator economy. Get it delivered to your inbox before it is made available online.