The Virtual General Counsel Project all began as a casual conversation over the tennis court one day with attorney Justin Clark of Stoll Keenon Ogden. Justin was asking me who my company used for legal counsel, and I explained that as an entrepreneur, I couldnt afford a pricey law firm tagging me for billable hours.
Like any start-up company, I am cautious with how my money is spent. Justin appreciated my position and suggested we explore a compromise that would be a win for both sides. Justin was smart enough to recognize the following:
- Entrepreneurs tend to be very loyal; we stand by the people who have guided us and helped our success from the very beginning.
- High-growth tech entrepreneurs like Interapt will grow and require more legal services over the years.
- By offering an entrepreneur lower front-end costs, Justin and his firm will have a more vested interest in the entrepreneurs success and helping them grow.
To that end, we collaborated on this fun and unique new business model called the Virtual General Counsel Project. In essence, high-growth technology entrepreneurs can pay an affordable, scalable monthly stipend giving them access to 150 attorneys at Stoll Keenon Ogden. These attorneys gain intimate knowledge of the entrepreneurs business, guiding them as they grow.
The attorneys can file patents, do intellectual property research and handle any aspect of a technologists business. Contract writing, reviews and negotiations are priced at a “not-to-exceed” cost. As the entrepreneurs business grows, so will the monthly retainer. This makes it fair and affordable for both sides.
Much of the work Stoll, Keenon and Ogden does with me is via email, but they will take meetings and phone calls with me as I need to. Some months I need very little, some months more, but it all balances out in the end.
I learned early on the value of the Virtual General Counsel Project, when I paid $2,500 for finalizing a complicated contract, while the opposing side paid more than $20,000 because their legal counsel didnt take the time to understand our two businesses. Stoll Keenon Ogden did, and there was no need to charge me such an excessive amount.