At this point in my career, I have a pretty clear understanding of small to midsized businesses (SMBs) I spent my childhood growing up in our family SMB, Stock Transport. I elected into the joint JD/MBA program so that I would be in a position to advise SMBs like Stock Transport. Today, my companies, Stock Legal and Legal Back Office, are SMBs and our clients at Stock Legal are primarily SMBs.** Additionally, I’m the incoming Chair of the American Bar Association’s Middle Market and Small Business Committee.
That said, it still came as a surprise when Tim Shea, a writer for the Harvard Law’s The Practice, emailed me to ask if he could interview me for a story on how SMBs choose their lawyer. I think it’s important to pause in this blog to take a moment and acknowledge the “imposter syndrome” I had in that moment, because it’s not something we often talk about. I very clearly had the thought – Why would he choose to interview me? I think it’s also important to write about how I acknowledged those feelings, recovered, and then reminded myself of the whys that I led with in the first paragraph of this blog. It’s a process, and the “win” here is to overcome the fear and believe in ourselves.
That said, what is different about how we engage with clients at Stock Legal? Well, first and foremost, we found a gap in the market – very few law firms were structured to deliver the legal services that SMBs need on a regular basis in the manner SMBs wanted to receive those legal services. But the question then became, to quote my good friend Laura Burkemper – Is there a market in the gap?
We’ve proven over the last 5 years that there is a market in the gap. We’ve grown from around one hundred clients to several thousand clients, and from one lawyer to soon-to-be thirteen lawyers.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve learned throughout that process:
- SMBs want and deserve the same legal counsel provided to large privately held and publicly traded corporations.
- SMB founders want to pay for good counsel, but their budgets only stretch so far, and that limiting factor has led us to put into practice alternative fee structures and continue to iterate on what we currently have in place.
- The legal service delivery model is changing, and I believe it will continue to change rapidly, as basic legal functions become further commoditized.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already playing a role in the legal industry, and I believe that role will continue to expand.
- Millennials will soon be the primary consumer of legal services, and how do millennials want to engage with their lawyers?
- They want to engage initially through technology.
- They want to work with tech forward companies.
- They then want to engage relationally with their trusted advisors.
The five bullets above have greatly influenced our mission, vision, values and culture at Stock Legal, and will continue to do so in the next decade. We hear the SMB market speaking, and we are listening by delivering high quality legal services, alternative fee arrangements, creative problem solving that cannot be performed by machines, and long-standing relationships with our clients.
To read the full story, Taking Care of Small Business - What Small and Midsize Companies need from their Lawyers, click here: https://thepractice.law.harvard.edu/article/taking-care-of-small-business/
**This blog focuses on the work we do at Stock Legal for SMBs. I would be remiss not to mention that we have a robust estate planning practiceat Stock Legal, that often utilizes alternative fee arrangements/fixed fees for individuals (sometimes SMB owners, sometimes not).
*The choice of a lawyer is an important decision, and should not be based solely on advertisements.*