So many articles have been written about how lawyers make terrible entrepreneurs. Lawyers are mischaracterized as risk averse, unimaginative and perfectionists to a fault. Most also believe that lawyers lack general business know how. While some of these may have been accurate in the past, lawyers today are entrepreneurial and innovative, mostly out of necessity.
Lawyers are starting their own companies on the side to help lawyers with either efficiency or client acquisition. More law school graduates are starting their own practices straight out of law school, a startup in and of itself. Virtual law firms are commonplace now. Law firms are coming up with fixed fee arrangements and straying away from the traditional billable hour model. Lawyers are embracing, not fighting, the fact that information is readily available to consumers and that many startups are trying to commoditize legal services.
Related post: It’s a Double Life for the New Lawyer
Below is a list of 5 entrepreneurial attorneys that are pursuing businesses that are a substantial break from the traditional practice of law. Want to add to the list? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) Victoria Aguilar
Victoria owns her own employment law practice that provides legal and compliance counsel for companies including GE, USPS and Netflix. She recently formed Uncommonly Smart HR to compliment the legal services her law firm offers. Uncommonly Smart HR is a subscription based human resources consulting company that advises companies on complying with labor regulations, creating a productive corporate culture, human capital management and other employment related topics. For a fixed monthly fee, you get unlimited access to a team of HR consultants and lawyers that will provide advice, review documents, conduct audits and provide evaluations such as whether or not someone can be considered an independent contractor. Uncommonly Smart HR is both for companies that do not have an HR department and for companies that have a HR department but require additional support. “Companies are becoming increasingly aware that they need to keep abreast of the laws related to benefits, immigration, discrimination, since they are constantly evolving” says Victoria.
2) Mark G. Astor
Mark G. Astor, a state attorney in Florida, is in the process of building Guildam, a lawyer to lawyer referral network that connects lawyers for purposes of helping one another acquire new business. “I wanted to give lawyers a way to meet other lawyers that they might not otherwise get to meet and be open to taking cases from sources they never imagined before” says Mark. Guildam is invite only so attorneys can feel secure knowing that their referrals will be taken care of and will receive only the best legal representation.
3) Ryan Anderson
Ryan is a personal injury attorney in Nevada, built a project management software called Filevine. He came up with Filevine out of frustration helps attorneys organize all of the tasks associated with filing a personal injury case. FIlevine also allows attorneys to text their clients directly from the software, a feature that Ryan patented. “My co-founders and I started Filevine not because we wanted to be entrepreneurs, but because we wanted to give other firms the tools we used. We wanted to see them do what we have done” says Ryan.
4) Mike Gorback, David Kestenbaum, Jordan Everakes
Mike, David and Jordan are California Bay Area attorneys who have identified a problem that they are solving with their mobile app called Treatise. Treatise’s app is a Q&A platform that allows attorneys to ask questions anonymously (optional) and have them answered by other attorneys. To ensure quality, a user must submit their bar number and be approved prior to posting or answering questions on the platform. Having worked at large law firms themselves, they know that new associates are often put to task in trial by fire conditions with little or no guidance. The app was originally targeted at new associates to ask questions of virtual mentors (more experienced lawyers) so that they can learn more quickly. However, since launch, many other attorneys are using it to ask a variety questions including those in different practice areas, law practice management and other topics. Per the founders “Think Quora meets LexisNexis meets Alex! (Alex is that one lawyer who always seemed to have the answer. We all know an Alex).”
5) Somya Kaushik
Somya formed Esq.me, a platform that enables lawyers to buy and sell legal documents. Somya started Esq.me because she witnessed first hand small firms and solo practitioners having to reinvent the wheel with research and document production for new cases. Somya hopes to encourage collaboration between attorneys and further cost savings and efficiencies among lawyers.
From these examples, it should be evident that lawyers are innovators. Whether the startup is started by lawyers for lawyers or by lawyers for consumers, lawyers are clearly not oblivious to having to adapt to changing times. If you know of any other attorneys that have created new products or have a unique approach to selling legal services, please email me at email@example.com