In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 podcast, Guy is joined by Lisa Friedlander to discuss NEXT, an innovative law firm that gives guidance to startups and entrepreneurs. Lisa started her career as an attorney, entrepreneur, and angel investor. She practiced corporate and telecommunications law at both small and large firms for 15 years. Lisa joined Shulman Rogers to help launch and grow the NEXT platform, as well as support the business services group. Lastly, she is a mentor and speaker for a variety of entrepreneurship and investment groups along with sitting on the advisory board for several startups.
1. Tell us what NEXT is all about?
After selling my company, I went from being a provider of legal services for a decade to a customer or client of legal services. I experienced the climate every business owner has experienced when they engage with a law firm. Some overall great things, and some not-so-good things. You know, lack of communication, time, and all those pain points that law firms deal with on a regular basis when servicing their clients. In Shulman Rogers, a gentleman by the name of Anthony Millin launched a new division that was all about startups and EGCs. It focused on servicing them in a really innovative and disruptive way. Having just had literally the experience of being on the receiving end of legal services, and personally experiencing all the pain points that Anthony set out to solve with NEXT, I actually reached out to him and kind of raised my hand and said I get this, I get what you’re doing and I think a lot of companies, small businesses and startups are really going to react positively to this value proposition. If you need somebody to help you build this, I can do marketing, business development, strategic partnerships, and all.
2. How has the interrelationship with NEXT and Shulman Rogers been? How does that dynamic work, and what challenges have you faced?
I have to give Shulman Rogers a ton of credit, law firms aren’t necessarily the most innovative places. But Shulman really, really was not only just open to this idea but really excited by it and willing to put in a lot of resources. They gave time, money, and commitment to the idea that small businesses and startups may have something a little bit different than what your traditional legal model offers. It’s not that you necessarily start out with NEXT and then graduate, so to speak. But it’s the idea that between all of the skill sets and all of the different business models that Shulman Rogers and NEXT provide we can meet our clients, where they are at the moment that they need legal services. That was sort of the jumping-off point for the acceptance and then it was our job to pay credence and respect to the larger brand. We are always sort of balancing that there’s a need for different services that are packaged and paid for in different ways at different times. It was more we saw ourselves as an extension and incorporated ourselves in.
3. How did you develop the right strategy for NEXT?
I think it’s worked out really well. We sort of operate in a full silo that’s cordoned off from the rest of the firm. Shulman Rogers in addition to myself has two remarkable women that lead marketing and business development. They’ve been incredibly supportive of NEXT and helpful to me. We’ve all kind of looked at it as NEXT is an extension of Shulman that is appropriate and offers a certain value that many other firms don’t offer. We all look at this together collectively as a way to grow from the managers and as a way to make sure that our clients matter regardless of how big or small their businesses are or how big or small their legal need is. It really is all about that client-centric approach and structure.
4. What makes NEXT unique?
So the pain points that Anthony and his decade of experience of running companies as a serial entrepreneur had is that legal fees have the dreaded billable hour, clients will feel that the law firm model is attorney centric and not client-centric, and lastly, the lack of firms willing to use technology. Our entrepreneurs are great in terms of communicating and making the whole attorney-client relationship just as transparent and collaborative and efficient as it possibly can be. We believe that predictability and reasonableness and sustainability are critical for any company, but it’s certainly critical when you’re launching a startup, growing, scaling, and raising outside capital. I mean it’s honestly not rocket science, it’s a commitment to predictability.
NEXT uses its client-centric approach to help grow startups and EGCs in any way they can. Their experience and backing from a well-respected firm such as Shulman Rogers are mixed with their new and innovative strategies. In the end, they have a strong commitment to predictability, reasonableness, and sustainability for all their clients, no matter how large or small.