28 Jun Egan Nelson launches innovative new program for top-tier startup law
Sponsored by Egan Nelson
The market for early-stage emerging tech corporate lawyers (“startup lawyers“) has for a long time been bifurcated in the following way: on the one hand, you have massive law firms with hundreds or thousands of top-tier lawyers, designed for the Facebooks and Ubers of the world. A “discounted” partner rate from one of these firms may be $650/hr. The truth is that maybe 20-25% of that rate is going to the lawyer; the rest is funding the very high-cost infrastructure and overhead needed to run a multi-national law firm designed for billion-dollar clients.
On the other hand, every market has a low end. There have always been cheaper firms in the market, but they’re cheaper because the kinds of lawyers they employ aren’t nearly of the same caliber as the larger firms. These types of firms have always struggled to gain market share with serious tech companies because they’ve unavoidably developed reputations for constant mistakes, sometimes questionable ethics, and a general lack of scalability.
The A-lawyers break free
What’s happened over the past few years is that the tech available for running a serious law firm, and collaborating between firms, has become significantly leaner and more accessible; thanks to the cloud and SaaS. The result has been that the more entrepreneurial of the top-tier lawyers (those in the larger firms) have realized that they can use that tech to cut their rates significantly, without cutting their compensation, and collaborate with other boutique firms to replicate “full service” tech law in a much leaner and more flexible way than their larger competitors. And that’s where the story of our firm started.
Egan Nelson (E/N) has been built from the ground up by former “BigLaw” tech/vc partners who realized that much of the traditional startup law market has simply overshot the needs of many serious emerging tech companies. If you’re really the next billion-dollar unicorn, go ahead and pay $650+/hr to gain access to all the infrastructure needed to do multi-billion dollar international mergers or IPOs. But for serious founders with more down-to-earth goals, real alternatives now exist: specialized lawyers with top-tier credentials, and resources right-sized for exits up to the hundreds of millions, but not billions, all delivered at hundreds of dollars less per hour.
You’ll see on our home page that it says “World Class Counsel, Brought down to Earth.” That’s what we’re designed to deliver. Top-tier lawyers at significantly more accessible rates, because we’ve cut out waste; not quality.
A lean, top-tier offering
We also recently launched our E/N Alpha Program, a subscription-based offering ($500/mo) giving high-potential pre-seed and seed stage tech startups direct access to a specific scope of Partner-led legal services. It’s our way of taking the reputation we’ve built in the Texas market as a leading tech/vc boutique law firm, and making ourselves even more accessible and transparent for high-potential companies.
Very large law firms have their place, just as very large companies do. And low-end firms may have their place as well; though it’s not assisting serious entrepreneurs building 8 and 9-figure companies. Our belief is that ecosystems like Dallas, Austin, Seattle, and others outside of Silicon Valley produce a lot of great, serious tech companies whose needs are very different from what the conventional “unicorn” firms deliver. It’s time the legal market answered that demand.
Contributor: Jose Ancer, Technology & Venture Capital Partner, Egan Nelson LLP