how to consume legal services (intro)

I’ve spent the past 2–3 months searching for an answer to a seemingly complicated question: “why are startup founders consistently frustrated by the experiences they have with their lawyers?” Thus far, I’ve been able distill my learnings into the following two categories:

(1) I need more time to research :)

(2) It might be your (the founder’s) fault

A big theme in the book “Reboot” by Jerry Colonna is the constant resurfacing of the self-directed question how am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?The exercise is designed to expose ourselves to a blindspot we are wired to ignore: our own contributions to those things we complain about. While this isn’t a post about leadership or self-help… it’s probably a question we should all strive to ask ourselves now and then.

Repurposing this question for my particular application, the question may go like this:

how have we (myself, founders, in-house legal teams, anyone really who consumes legal services) been complicit in creating the poor attorney-client experience we so vehemently hate?

In other words, are we setting ourselves up for failure by the manner in which we approach our lawyers, or in our expectations for what services or work product they will provide?

One of the problems I have identified is that neither clients nor their lawyers agree on exactly what constitutes a desirable attorney-client experience for startup clients. Is it speed? Transparency? White-glove service or light-touch engagement? Should it be heavily automated, or highly personalized? Does it come with a credible Big Law stamp of approval, or can it come from the cost-effective boutique? Since this isn’t clear, and legal work is far from commoditized, you’d better get very specific on exactly the work product or service experience you want. You can walk into a great restaurant and ask for quality food, but if it isn’t what you like… it doesn’t matter if the result has any semblance of objective quality.

The food analogy highlights a related (and likely more pertinent) problem; the customer who orders “quality food” doesn’t really know how to order… do they? The restaurant example is a low-stakes gamble. In the startup world it’s a bit more mission critical. Startups need to know how to order, what to order, and ultimately, how to eat what they ordered.*

Over the next several articles, I will outline a set of strategies for startups sourcing and consuming legal services in the year of 2022. I’ll also give you some cooking tips** in case you wan’t to DIY a few legal-ish tasks yourself.

Thanks for reading my first post. Please follow along as I build heycounsel and do my best CEO impression!

* I didn’t realize how much I would stick with the cooking analogy when I started this article.

** see * above.




heycounsel founder and CEO, writing about legal services mostly and other things that peak my interest. Thanks for reading :)

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Brian Scherer

Brian Scherer

heycounsel founder and CEO, writing about legal services mostly and other things that peak my interest. Thanks for reading :)

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