Last week, I was getting my hair cut (code for removing the gray) and was asked about my new gig, Nimbus Legal. I explained that, while it is a law firm, I will be “Of Counsel.” And we have a different model because we charge flat fees and less than other lawyers. “Why?” was the resounding question from those within earshot. Why charge less?
Later the same day, after posting this month’s ABA article on some ideas to change law school, someone tweeted that I should practice law first. It reinforced that many think lawyers are expensive, self-centered, and it’s all about the lawyer, not the client. I decided to interview my fellow attorneys at Nimbus around their reasons for joining forces with founder Beth Lebowitz.
Mary: Why did you create Nimbus?
Beth: I started Nimbus to change how businesses consume legal services. This began with one of my largest clients, Parchment, when I was asked to serve as an interim General Counsel (GC) and had the experience of simultaneously working at a firm, serving as an outside GC, and working inside the company all at the same time. This impressed upon me that there is another model for companies that need part-time GC work. They don’t need the overhead of a full-time employee as GC and there are practical and financial issues with outsourcing to a traditional firm.
Thus, the aha moment: Nimbus and outsourced GC on a flat fee monthly subscription basis. This is about the intelligent consumption of legal services using company resources, technology, and other solutions to control legal spend and solutions.
Mary: How do you establish your pricing model?
Beth: Over the past two-plus years, I’ve developed scopes of work and volume tiers tied to monthly flat fee services. Companies complete a discovery process with Nimbus that allows us to start with a certain tier and then go from there.
Mary: What type of companies do you serve?
Beth: These are companies that have a lot of day-to-day or weekly legal needs, whether that be contract negotiations with customers and vendors, contract template audits, HR issues, equity management, and corporate governance.
Traditionally these companies have two options: 1) hire a GC as an employee with overhead of close to $200,000 on the low end, or 2) reach out to their corporate law firm. The latter comes with the billable hour (yuk!), misaligned economic incentives, lots of overhead, and stemming from that — lots of redlines, or impractical/inefficient timing and advice due to the fact that it is coming from outside your business. Nimbus solves these issues by providing a part-time outsourced GC on a shared services model. So, companies get a flat monthly fee that works for their budget and an attorney working in their business, both driving efficiency and practical advice.
Mary: What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Beth: To grow the Nimbus model with my awesome group of outsourced GCs in Arizona, California, and Washington!
Personally, I am attracted to this model because of the certainty and the ability to expand the market to reach companies who are, as Beth coined, “solution unaware,” those companies that do not understand that they can have the equivalent of in-house counsel for less.
Beth has recruited some other amazing lawyers with a variety of backgrounds and I asked them why they joined Nimbus. Responses below show that lawyers can change.
Elias Parisca: Incentives are poorly aligned in the traditional legal services model. As a former startup founder, I dreaded picking up the phone when I had a question for my company’s pricey law firm attorney, never knowing how much of our precious limited funds would be charged for a simple phone call. I joined Nimbus because its proactive, tech-enhanced, flat-fee model perfectly aligns interests and incentives with its client companies at a much lower cost. It’s a win-win for everybody, and I’m convinced it’s the future of legal services!
Juliet Peters: I joined Nimbus because it provides the one thing I wish I had when I was in-house — cost certainty. I’ve been using flat general counsel fees in my boutique transactional business for a few years. Clients respond because they have an extended team member who knows their business, can respond quickly and efficiently and won’t blow their legal budget.
Chris Jones: Nimbus enables me to merge two fields I love: law and emerging companies. I love the intellect and rigor of a legal challenge. And I love the status quo-breaking, agile approach of startups and high-growth companies. Also, being able to provide strategic counsel to companies through an innovative, forward-thinking model like Nimbus is a no brainer. Every lawyer — and client — knows the billable hour stifles innovation. Nimbus is at the forefront of a transformation in legal that will make the practice of law more enticing, engaging, and rewarding.
Andrejs K. Bunkse: Many of my clients in cannabis and tech are national in scope. It’s incredibly supportive to them (and me) to have superb resources in L.A., Seattle, and Phoenix — with colleagues who are both experienced and commercial. Nimbus offers an agile platform built for enterprises looking to have predictable fees and ready to deliver GC services — exactly what I’ve been looking for!
Michelle O’Connor: I probably don’t have the same reason for joining Nimbus as the other attorneys. I’m not looking to vastly expand my practice. I worked with Beth previously and we worked really well together — so I knew I wanted to continue working with her. I had worked for much larger clients in the past on discreet securities and corporate issues, but didn’t get as involved in their businesses. I liked the way Beth interacted with her clients on a business and practical level and the relationships she developed with them, and I loved the flat fee pricing. I also enjoy assisting in the day to day legal needs of companies with their vendor and customer contracts. The outsourced GC Nimbus model encourages better understanding of the needs of our clients and continuing relationships with them, which leads to more efficient, practical advice and service.
Finally, I asked Beth where she sees Nimbus in 3 years?
Beth: If we can create successful repeatable processes around the Nimbus outsourced GC model, then my hope is to create a platform that trains attorneys on this model and then provides a marketplace for companies to come and hire outsourced GCs for their business and allows them to run their “legal” through the Nimbus tech platform.
I believe this is the model of the future and excited to be part of it. #onwards.
Mary E. Juetten J.D. lives on the West Coast and is both an American and Canadian professional accountant. Mary is passionate about metrics that matter and access to justice. She founded Traklight and Evolve Law and consults as an Access Advocate for LegalShield. She is Of Counsel with Nimbus Legal email at email@example.com or on Twitter: @maryjuetten.