When I started practicing law, I had every intention of following the golden path: work for a traditional law firm, build my own book of clients, make partner, maybe someday start my own practice. Maybe.
I had no inkling that “someday” would be years sooner than I planned. Or that “someday” would entail not only starting my own firm, but starting a company with a controversial business model. Or that “someday” might also include starting two other companies in the legal space that are designed to go against the proverbial grain.
How did I get here? I ask myself this question a lot. How did I find myself as a practicing lawyer with 3 legal startups, each of them bucking the norms? This wasn’t remotely part of the plan. As I look back though, it really fits.
As a young associate in an up and coming law firm that worked with many early stage technology companies, I got to be a fly on the wall to incredible innovation. I saw how simple technologies and ideas could transform an industry. As I worked on building that book of clients, I was learning so much from them. I learned how automation makes everyone in the company more productive; how traditional practices are sometimes the antithesis of best practices; how humans can so easily be replaced, and why, in some instances, that’s the right thing for the business; and how there are certain things only humans can and should do.
I learned that the legal industry is rich with traditions, procedures, and best practices that I admire. Though some of those traditions haven’t weathered the test of time, and are standing up more like a crumbling brick wall than a statue. Industries evolve and move, just like the people within. The legal industry is no different, except that its’ pace of change is slower than molasses.
And THAT was the rub. While I watched clients grow and evolve at a fast clip along with their industries, I looked at my own position and wondered when innovation would find its’ way to the legal world.
I know that what I’m doing to the traditional law firm business model is considered ridiculous by some. I’ve been told by plenty of lawyers that it won’t work (it’s been working for 2 years and counting). I know espousing the idea that there are thousands of lawyers in the US who can have successful practices following a flat-fee model is threatening and scary. I know that offering a platform of templated contracts is seen as a dig at what we, as an industry, spent years learning how to do. I understand that my perspective on the legal world is not traditional, and it doesn’t fit into a comfortable, tried-and-true box.
I am acutely aware of all of this. I’m told by plenty of smart, successful people in the industry all the time that I’m dreaming, it’ll never work, it’s not economical, and a myriad of other naysayer excuses. But then I see all 3 businesses growing. As I talk to attorneys about joining the Auxana platform and hear them tell us that this is the answer they’ve been looking for. For them, for their clients, it makes sense. I may be going against the proverbial grain, but I know there’s a damn good reason. I believe in progress, and it’s time for legal to evolve.