New Firm, New Model

Where did the last few months go? It’s nice to spend a few minutes and reflect on the last few months as a new business owner. We didn’t just open a new law firm, we launched a new model for legal services. Trying something new inevitably means mistakes are made and lessons learned. Thankfully, the trials and tribulations have been relatively minor and the journey has been fun.

I’ll start with explaining our new law firm model. Turke & Strauss engages smart and experienced “freelance” attorneys on a project basis. This enables us to keep our overhead (and therefore our rates) low, even as we perform a broad range of sophisticated legal services.

From the client’s perspective, Turke & Strauss is able to bring the right talent to the client’s project with the appropriate level of experience, in the right jurisdiction. We interface with our freelance attorneys wherever located, we review their work and communicate the results back to you. And ta-dah… high quality legal services in a cost effective model.

Actually, what I described above is not far off from what happens at traditional law firms: attorneys whom you may never meet regularly perform legal work for your matters, the work product is reviewed and vetted internally and then “your attorney” (the attorney responsible for your account) communicates the advice to you. The big difference is that big law firms almost never go outside their firm roster of attorneys when assigning work, even if there is someone better for the job. And law firms that offer a full-suite of legal services typically have high overhead. This overhead accounts for more than 50% of every hour you are billed.

Our model is also attractive for the attorneys in our network; we appeal to free-agent attorneys who left large law firms, seeking more flexibility and without the client development pressure. Our attorneys have great resumes and experience. We deliberately pay our free-lancers at a much higher hourly rate than many law firms pay their attorneys. We want the best attorneys to want to work with us.

If you’re not a lawyer and reading this, you may be wondering why the Turke & Strauss model is new. Many industries and professions regularly rely on project-based assistance and expertise. But for whatever reason, it’s just not the case in law. In dreaming up Turke & Strauss, we researched alternative law firm models and we found very few examples. For those interested, a comprehensive study by the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, can be found here: http://worklifelaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Disruptive-Innovations-New-Models-of-Legal-Practice-webNEW.pdf

As is typical with attorneys, I have some unsolicited advice for anyone reading this post. Go out and try something new; shake things up; do something differently. Owning a small business is a glorious rollercoaster and the most thrilling part is doing something that has not been done before. So get out there and try it. We may not be AirBnB or Uber, but creating Turke & Strauss has been more rewarding than I imagined.

Posted by Mary Turke | August 30, 2016