Healthcare

Recommendations for a law firm that understands lean?

Anne Weiler Co-founder and CEO at Wellpepper

April 1st, 2014

First experience: all templates, junior associate. Second experience: all custom, too expensive. We need a firm that is comfortable using templates for basic things like employment contracts but able to review and provide feedback for HIPAA BAAs and advise on product risk for healthcare. And a firm that understands that startups can't spend all their revenue on legal and understands that a startup needs quick turnaround. We're in Seattle.

Scott Milburn Entrepreneurial Senior Executive and Attorney

April 1st, 2014

Anne, some key things to ask are

  • the experience of the lawyers who will handle your work
  • the range of practice areas represented by the attorneys in the firm (e.g. business law, securities, employment, IP, etc.). No one attorney can effectively provide legal services over a wide range of areas of law, so you want to ensure there are attorneys who specialize in the areas that may be relevant to you.
  • What their billing rates are. For very experienced lawyers in Seattle, you can pay anywhere from sub $300/hr to well over $600/hr.
  • How they  bill, and how open are they to alternate billing practices other than standard hourly rates.
  • Do you feel like you can develop a good relationship with the attorney who will be your primary business lawyer?

I've been in the technology business world in Seattle for 16 years, preceded by 18 years of full time law, and I still do some legal work through a virtual law firm in the area. Happy to chat some time to help you through the process.

Rob G

April 1st, 2014

Anne;

your experience is not unique.  at the risk of pissing off the lawyers on this thread, what you have experienced us unfortunately the norm - i won't get into it here, but it seems to me that the long-standing model of providing legal services is broken and ripe for disruption.  Lots of lawyers out of work or under employed yet all want to start billing at $250/hr+ with 3-4 years or less experience and with little accountability for performance.  Billing $150/hr. for a assistant who gets paid $25/hr is simply wrong.   Managing attorneys is crucial.  set clear expectations about what you want and don't want in writing. For every request get an estimate (not to exceed) in writing (email) as to cost and deliverables. If you can't get a not to exceed commitment (this is for typical business law stuff, not litigation) then find another attorney/firm.  Apex Law Group in Seattle is a small firm that has supported us well and been reasonable about managing costs.  Peter Smith or Michelle Rassmusen.  Summit Law Group is mid-sized firm in Seattle that understands startups, but can be expensive - applicable for securities offerings and/or important transactions.  Mike Erricson or Mark Worthington.  Joe Wallin is with Davis Wright Tremaine - big firm rates, but he understands startups and is connected in the VC and transactions community in NW and sand hill road (startuplawblog.com). I would start with Peter at Apex -    Peter@apexlg.com   

Scott Milburn Entrepreneurial Senior Executive and Attorney

April 1st, 2014

Hi Anne, how about a full-service virtual law firm in Seattle with 15 very senior, experienced lawyers, including one who represents health care providers and knows all about HIPAA, but a firm that has no actual office, and as a result has billing rates that are half of what the same lawyers would charge in you second experience? Let me know if you would like to chat.

Ben Sweat Director, Product at Idealab

April 1st, 2014

Hi Anne, I've been very pleased with my lawyer. http://kunzlerlaw.com/contact-us/curtis-oscarson/ I'm in Los Angeles; he's in Salt Lake City. Distance has not been a problem. He was very conscious of my budget and did a few templates for me. He's a partner at his firm, but because he's in Utah, he was more affordable than an associate here in L.A. He used to be at Wilson Sonsini in the bay area. He's worked on several large venture deals. His contact info is on the url that I included. Ben

Anne Weiler Co-founder and CEO at Wellpepper

April 1st, 2014

Thanks everyone. I was talking to someone yesterday who said that legal needs to be disrupted. It's kind of ridiculous the amount of our total budget that legal was in our first year of operation. 

Hareesh Chandrupatla Data Science & Analytics for life sciences & healthcare

April 28th, 2014

You may have received an email from FD regarding a TechDisrupt contest for which One of the sponsors is Upcounsel.com  which seems to be an elance.com for legal work...

Contest email -
http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=d9deaaddc55d4137e13e292ea&id=fa334d6549&e=735c2664eb

Will Glasson Assistant County Attorney, Multnomah County

April 1st, 2014

Anne -- I'm in Portland and Seattle (and a lawyer by training). You should contact Jerry Carlton at Immix Law Group (http://immixlaw.com/). Happy to recommend more, too. 

Rob G

April 1st, 2014

Anne, i ran across this site doing some research. Might be a possibility. PrioriLegal.com  says its for startups in NY who need quality legal work at (mostly) fixed fees.  https://www.priorilegal.com/  AVVO.com is one place to find lawyers and get some semblance of customer feedback. 

Here's an interesting article on the subject of disrupting the legal profession.  There are some interesting business models popping up that you might be able to leverage. 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwhiteboard/2013/11/bringing-the-disruption-of-the-legal-services-market-into-the-law-school-classroom.html

In terms of vetting:

1. My first question would be "do you do fixed fee work"? if not move on. there are plenty who do.
2. ask to speak to references - other clients like you.
3. Resist paying retainers. 
4. negotiate the terms of the representation agreement to be sure you don't get stuck paying for subpar services. 
5. include terms that allow for deferred payment or contingent payment. 

For the mundane contracts work (partnership agreements, employment agreements, NDA, IP, etc. we search online for docs that fit our needs then ask our firm (Apex law group) to review and tweak.  You still need to nail down the parameters of what you want them to do, but have a head start.  this doesn't necessarily mean the document(s) you start with will come from a LegalZoom or RocketLawyer or LegalDepot, but it may be a doc that was filed in a court or otherwise available online.  then ask your firm/attorney to customize it to your needs.  In the startup world it's tempting to dish this stuff off to the lawyers completely, but you, as CEO, need to take the time to understand the details and implications of each agreement/contract anyway so as painful as it may be it is worth it in the long run.   




Marshall MSCS Planning, Strategy Operating/Business Model Analysis IT Process Definition, Design, Software Programming, Management

April 6th, 2014

You might want to consider a software that manages HR compliance there are many one I like is Trinet.com.

Robert H Lee

April 1st, 2014

I think this is your guy:
http://www.ballounlaw.com
o.shane@ballounlaw.com

Early Googler. A lawyer who understands a startups needs, in Seattle.


Regards,
Robert Lee
Startup Consultant & Investor at SV Accelerator
Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Stanford
 of Technology & Adventure at flØwstate
+1.510.427.2049 - California