June 15, 2018

Why I’ve teamed up with Nimbus Legal

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You may notice on LinkedIn or on my signature block that Framework Legal is now an affiliate of Nimbus Legal and I’m “Of Counsel” to Nimbus Legal.

But what does it all mean Basil???

It means that I’m joining forces with an amazing group of attorneys to do things kind of the same way I do them now.

Wait.  What?

At Nimbus, the concept is: Legal Designed For Business™ which means flat fee, monthly, general counsel engagements that are practical and driven by client needs - not the firm’s overhead.

It’s the way I’ve been operating my own business for four years and I am so blessed to have finally found a tribe of lawyers who are 100% committed to turning the traditional fee structure on its head.

It’s been a long time coming.

Try #1

When I left the Attorney General’s office during the 2010 recession, the “new law” train was just leaving the station. Since I was going to have to build up a client-base from scratch, I jumped at the idea of going into practice with a couple of big firm lawyers who decided that the “eat what you kill” compensation model was for the birds. We could do better. We would split our fees evenly. The “all for one” mentality lasted about 90 days until self-interest kicked in and they realized that there may be personal financial sacrifice involved. Needless to say their about-face came as quite a shock to me and the whole thing painfully splintered (they stayed together and I exited). Mind you, not one of those strained discussions we had about our “model” was centered around what the client might need. I thought about that a lot over the next few months while preparing for iteration #2.

Try #2

Several months late, I decided to team with another partner who seemed much more interested in exploring an alternative practice model. Turns out he wasn’t but it didn’t matter because clients I was working with were. As a lawyer who had hard won business experience in both a rapidly growing franchise company and a huge state agency, I brought something unique to the party that clients appreciated. I worked with them like I was on their staff. I went to meetings and spent time in their offices. I added value where other outside lawyers did not (because they had never spent a single day weighing legal risk against business strategy). Before I knew it, I had a small stable of repeat monthly general counsel clients who understood that there was benefit in having an outside lawyer who was in effect an “insider”. These clients paid me what is called a true retainer, a monthly fee for a certain amount of work. If the fee structure wasn’t working for some reason, we discussed it and mutually adjusted it.  If they needed someone with deep experience in employment, tax, litigation or securities (stuff I don’t do), I found those resources for them and worked the overall strategy (freeing them from dealing with other lawyers). And it wasn’t just in general counsel work where I used the flat fee model. I saw the benefits in all sort of projects. I started to talk to other lawyers who were using technology and lean processes to create unique businesses that were “oh so not traditional.” I never stopped trying, adjusting and experimenting. I really wanted to market the business this way but it was clear my partner wanted to stick with the tried and true billable hour. We parted amicably. He went in to the firm I started my career with (more irony) and I focused on what was next.

Try #3

In the fall of 2014 I launched Framework Legal solo.  I doubled down on my commitment to flat and capped fees and began using scopes of work and project budgets to give clients the cost certainty they crave. I also began to formally collaborate with other lawyers (and promote those collaborations), hiring independent contractors and other subject matter experts. Sourcing talent so my clients didn’t have to. I even began to use flat fees for sale transactions (M&A). I could see the growth potential but convincing other lawyers to play ball was a tough slog. Then I met Beth Lebowitz. I had the pleasure of attending TBD Law (a kind of think tank for “new law” lawyers) with her and we talked deeply throughout the whole conference. Beth had left the firm she was with (ironically, my Try #1) and decided to only focus on those general counsel engagements. She quickly had more work than she could handle and a big vision for what Nimbus could become. More lunches, more discussion, and a team quickly took shape.

What does it mean to be “Of Counsel” to Nimbus?

First, the inside baseball - under those pesky lawyer rules (which make innovation generally really, really difficult), “Of counsel” means that you are “one firm” for purposes of conflicts.

So before I can represent a client, whether it’s a Framework client or a Nimbus client, I have to check for potential conflicts within both databases. Second, because we are one firm, we can promote ourselves that way.

What it doesn’t mean is that Framework Legal will drastically change or  disappear in any way.

Nimbus provides an additional marketing platform to spread the good news about client-centered practice and additional resources to tackle large or complicated projects.

Why Nimbus?

Nimbus is an innovative solution for growth stage and mid-market companies.  It gives companies the tools they need for the intelligent consumption of legal services. It provides efficiencies and practical value to these businesses. The Nimbus attorneys include former in-house general counsels, entrepreneurs, and business owners who understand being part of executive teams, and being guided by a company’s unique vision, goals, plans and culture.

It’s what I’ve wanted to do with Framework all along and I’m so happy to have the chance to serve clients from this broader platform.

Law is evolving and I intend to evolve with.  Stay tuned.


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