What Tangled Webs We Weave
We met through the random power of networks.
Sara met Margaret in early 2013 at a local D.C. networking event, just a few months after they had each started their own firms. They hit it off and have supported each other through the first five years of their firms.
Ellen met Sara when a mutual friend introduced them, knowing that Ellen was looking to leave her big firm and Sara had started her own firm.
Around the same time that Ellen and Sara met, Ellen and Margaret were introduced by a mutual friend. Michelle was already part of a more established small firm and was running against Sara for a DC Bar position. Sara ended up winning the election. Even so, the two became friends. Sara then introduced Michelle to Margaret and Ellen.
The concept for The Candid Counsel first germinated over our lunches and then in a series of emails among the four of us grumbling about the never-ending media pieces about in-house counsels’ concern over the increasing hourly rates of lawyers and hand-wringing about the supposed lack of diversity in law.
There was a stunning disconnect between what we were reading and hearing from our in-house colleagues and friends versus our reality. Every day we work with, network with, and engage with talented, competent (and diverse) lawyers in incredible small firms. These lawyers know what value means to a business, since they are running their own businesses – their law firms.
We set out to eradicate that disconnect by sharing our experiences as lawyers through The Candid Counsel.
We all deliberately chose small firms for different reasons.
Ellen wanted more autonomy over the business she was in, to be able to serve a wider range of clients and to focus her trial work in federal and state courts in Virginia. She also wanted more flexibility in how she charged clients.
After several years in large organizations, Margaret saw that medium and small organizations needed a law firm, right sized for them, to advise on the legal risks related to working internationally and working with governments before they got in trouble; before they decided they wanted a larger organization to buy them out; and to defend them when they were under investigation. So she started her firm to do so.
Michelle wanted a law practice where she could combine her litigation and counseling experience in a more nimble environment. After twenty years in Big Law, Michelle welcomed an opportunity presented by a forward-thinking former colleague to help build a boutique firm focused on client service, innovation, and cutting-edge issues. Michelle has found that the small firm environment enables her to leverage the expertise of all firm colleagues, unconstrained by office structures and departments. As a result, Michelle and her colleagues have created a boutique with a sophisticated practice (including some clients who have been with Michelle since her days as a first year associate!) where they maintain and develop genuine relationships with clients, colleagues, and attorneys in governmental and private practice. Michelle particularly enjoys bringing her privacy law expertise to a wide range of clients, including those in the firm’s Chambers’-ranked gaming practice.
Sara wanted to first-chair her trials; to represent more executives (rather than always the company) in criminal investigations; and she wanted to do so in a way that was cost-effective to a wider range of potential clients. She also wanted the freedom to choose her cases, rather than to have them simply assigned to her. She relished the opportunity to work with smaller companies rather than only Fortune 500 companies and to do some court-appointed criminal work.
We know that our enthusiasm for the law and for our businesses, our law firms, makes us better lawyers for our clients.
We write for a variety of audiences. We write for in-house counsel who want a fresh perspective on legal issues and insight into the working relationship between inside and outside counsel. Warning: we may shake up (dare we say “disrupt”?) your views of bigger firms along the way. We also write for start-ups and smaller companies that don’t yet have inside counsel and are navigating legal problems on their own.
Some of the posts will lean towards legal issues, some will mull the working relationship between lawyers and clients, and some will be middle-of-the-afternoon musings about our practices. We can’t guarantee that there may not be a rant or two in here when we get fired up about an issue. These aren’t meant to be legal articles. You won’t find a footnote anywhere, we promise!
We’re having fun writing about these issues. We want you to have fun reading them.
To that end, if you read something you like, let us know. If you read something you don’t like, heck, let us know that too. We may use your disagreement for a follow-up piece. Get in touch here!
Finally, if you have topics you’d like us to write about, we’re always open for suggestions or questions or your own thoughts about how clients and lawyers can work even better together. Welcome to our journey. We are glad you’re along for the ride.