Our Story: A Journey in Legal Innovationby Michelle Bomberger | November 7, 2017
You don’t often find the words “innovation” and “lawyer” used closely together. Lawyers and law firms are known for their aversion to risk and, thus, to change; and innovation requires change. Innovation requires a change in thinking and a change in how things are done. It’s not just lawyers who avoid change. For most individuals and, in turn, most businesses change is difficult. Even when you know it’s the right thing for you, the risk associated with shifting the status quo creates discomfort and fear. We’ve all been in business situations where we finally commit to a change and the process turns out to be more expensive both in dollars and in time than we expected and the short term negative impact to the bank account and productivity a huge cost to the business. Technology implementations are the classic example.
Businesses, however, must accept these risks and make changes to compete in the market. Reactive changes are often “forced” upon us; but “innovation” is something different. Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new”. We at Equinox do strive to be innovators, mostly because it serves our clients well to do so.
We introduced our General Counsel Services plan in 2009 with a goal of helping small and mid-sized businesses to leverage the real value of their business attorney. The traditional model of legal services creates all kinds of barriers to engagement with business clients. The businesses know that every minute of every thought the lawyer has will be billed; expectations of the costs are not clearly set or transparent; and the value received by the business is tenuous. The default is not to call or to call at the last minute with the goal of getting the document written up quickly at a low cost. There’s little engagement of the attorney in the planning of the activity or event. The reality, though, is that the lawyer’s best work is in understanding the goals of a transaction and thinking through the right way for that business with its specific risk tolerance to achieve those goals. It’s no wonder the traditional model doesn’t work – the “value” received by the client is a transaction at a pretty high price point rather than the value of the lawyer’s experience and input in the process. The General Counsel Services are structured to turn this model on its head and provide the real value of counsel with a predictable, fixed price for unlimited access to your legal team – the counsel you need, when you need it.
We are often asked by other attorneys how we manage this model. “Don’t you need a cap on the amount of time allowed? Don’t they call you all the time?” Really, we want them to call. We want them to default to calling rather than not calling. This deepens our understanding of our clients’ businesses and enables us to offer more effective counsel.
Over the years, we have added to the General Counsel Services offering with our General Counsel Advisor and General Counsel Audit services. We are also launching industry-focused General Counsel Services that address industry-specific needs for Real Estate Brokerages, Property Management Companies, Franchisees, and Staffing Companies. Companies within these sectors have similar needs and we can cost effectively provide them with the guidance they need to navigate the governance, contracts, compliance, employment and other matters unique to their circumstances. We expect to launch some additional industry services as well as new startup solutions in the coming months.
Each of these offerings has been in response to discussions with our clients and observations of where they consistently need, but often don’t seek, counsel. We hope to continue to leverage innovation by introducing new things to the marketplace that add real value and help companies to plan and grow. We’d appreciate your thoughts and ideas on what else we can offer to help you.