Background & Approach
One of the unforeseen consequences of the 1990s Internet bubble has been the growth of low-overhead boutique law practices in areas traditionally reserved to larger law firms. The dot-com era’s promise of quick and lucrative exits lured lawyers away from the big firms to take up in-house positions at rapidly growing early stage companies. Being in-house counsel lost its aura of being a slightly predictable, 9-5 practice, and instead became one of doing a lot of deals, involving a lot of money, with new technologies, in new markets. For more than a lucky few, the results of their efforts were high return exits for just a few years work.
But, not for all. When the boom subsided, many former in-house lawyers (those of us who were not fortunate enough to have acquired our own vineyards) decided to apply our experience to private practice. While the intensity of late 1990’s and early 2000’s in-house practice had brought significant legal experience in M&A, financing, technology licensing and strategic partnering, it also provided a much rarer exposure to the operational realities of running emerging and fast growing businesses. Many bubble-era in-house lawyers had also, of necessity, become very tech-savvy. The evolution of the Internet, and business shifts towards virtual presence and product offerings made it much simpler to set up and run a law practice.
This kind of practice is made possible by a combination of low overhead operating requirements (laptop, Internet connection, printer), significant experience in specific areas of the law (for example, IT, information law, angel and VC financings), operational experience that lends itself to very practical advice, and … the rates charged by the larger law firms. Many clients recognize that the transactions they engage in would benefit from legal advice but, while the expertise is certainly available at the big firms, the big firm cost structure can make it very expensive to take advice on a day-to day basis. This practice fills that gap.
We price our services so that our clients can afford to involve us more closely in their businesses and leverage our experience. We focus on close involvement with a few clients; we provide all of our services ourselves, without delegating to less experienced lawyers. If we think other lawyers will provide better value, then we don’t hesitate to refer our clients to them.
The following principles help define our practice:
We enjoy being trusted members of our client’s team. If you’re losing sleep over a deal or a dispute, so are we.
We take a very, very practical approach. If a course of action isn’t going to significantly improve or protect your business, we won’t recommend it.
We reconcile legal issues with operational realities. We recognize that what may be ideal may not be practical, and that risk tolerance needs to reflect the business’ performance.
We apply our experience strategically. We know what it takes to implement a deal once it’s been signed, and we have considerable experience with what will contribute to, or interfere with a business’ long term success.
Our goal is to deliver a terrific value at a reasonable cost. We charge rates that are on-average much lower than our counterparts in the larger law firms, and can be creative with our billing models. This flexibility typically permits our clients to include us in projects earlier, leveraging our experience, and allowing us to play a more strategic role in their decision-making processes.
We’re used to creating, justifying and implementing legal budgets, and can articulate the value to be obtained from a recommended course of action, so that our clients can prioritize appropriately.
We have developed a broad network of legal providers locally and throughout the world. If we cannot deliver a specific service directly (e.g., litigation, patent, etc.), we can usually recommend proven lawyers to meet the need. Upon request, we are also happy to manage those lawyers on our client’s behalf.
We are experienced general counsel, and often work with clients to manage all of their legal affairs, including managing outside counsel. We also have significant legal project management experience, ranging from managing investment rounds and mergers and acquisitions, to establishing and maintaining overseas operations, to implementing and managing stock option programs and patent programs.