I recently heard about a firm called Virtual Law Partners (VLP). Check out: virtuallawpartners.com, which is a virtual law firm consisting of experienced attorneys (most former big firm refugees).
According to the website, “We work primarily with in-house legal departments of large and mid-sized companies to provide general corporate, licensing, contract, IP protection, securities regulation, financing, real estate, employment, merger and acquisition and other legal services.”
All of the attorneys are “partners”, and work from home. Some of the touted benefits include better cost control/lower billing rates, more experience attorneys (all of the work is performed by the partners, not associates, and work typically assigned to junior associates is given to highly trained “legal specialists”). Of interest, they highlight that they don’t have an “up or out” promotional system, which enables attorneys to stay with the company (and clients) for a longer time.
For the attorneys, some of the stated benefits include a better work/life balance, better technology for virtual collaboration, and the ability to keep a much higher percentage of collections (they state that over 85% of their revenue goes to compensation, versus the 33% usually given at large firms).
I think this is a very interesting company and we will see a rise in this type of business model given the number of very capable attorneys who are simply unable to remain in the large firm model.
My first reaction is that litigation is not within the practice areas at VLP, so litigators may be out of luck for these types of virtual practices, which makes sense given the face-to-face, collaborative, and document-intensive nature of litigation. The focus seems to be transaction- and counseling-based. My second reaction is that the website touts better compensation in terms of keeping a higher percentage of billings, but does not mention anything about salary. As such, it appears that if you don’t have your own clients, this type of model could prove challenging. For most associates, probably not a very workable business model to join.
Overall, this seems like a very cool and promising business model … for the right type of entrepreneur.
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