Egan Nelson now offers subscription-based legal counsel for technology startups.
Why We Launched Our E/N Alpha “Subscription” Startup Law Program.
For a long time, “startup law” had a big problem: at the very high-end you have marquee international law firms with hundreds of lawyers, designed for the “unicorns” of the world. A “discounted” partner rate from one of these firms may be $650/hr. Perhaps 20-25% of that rate is paying the lawyer; the rest is funding the very expensive infrastructure and overhead needed to represent companies closing multi-national, billion-dollar deals.
And every market has a low end, including startup law. Cheaper law firms have always existed, but they’re cheaper because their lawyers are simply lower-caliber and lower-quality. These firms have always struggled to gain real market share among serious tech entrepreneurs because of their reputations for making costly errors and not having the right expertise for scaling companies.
So serious tech entrepreneurs had really two choices: swallow the astronomical costs of the international firms, or go low-end and hope the errors don’t sink your company.
A-lawyers, Without Unnecessary Overhead.
Over the past several years the technology available for running a law firm, and collaborating between smaller firms, has become significantly leaner and more accessible; thanks mostly to SaaS tools. Now many of those top-tier lawyers (in large firms) have noticed that they can use that tech to cut their rates, without cutting their compensation, and replicate the “full service” that was once exclusive to larger firms, but in a leaner and more flexible way. That’s where our firm started.
Egan Nelson (E/N) was built by “BigLaw” tech/vc partners who realized that the marquee technology law firms have overshot a very significant portion of the emerging tech market. If you truly believe you’re the next billion-dollar unicorn, by all means go ahead and pay $650+/hr to work with the same law firm that represents Facebook. But for serious entrepreneurs with more mid-sized goals, real alternatives now exist: high-end lawyers with the expertise and resources to close significant transactions, without the bloated cost structure that is overkill for most companies.
A Lean, Top-Tier Offering.
We 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. Very importantly, we’ve structured it as a counterpoint to a lot of the dysfunctional ways that we’ve seen other top-tier firms try, but fail, to make themselves accessible to early stage startups. While we heavily utilize legal technology, we know that great founders need something more than a SaaS tool; even in the early days. In E/N Alpha, you’re talking to people, not a tool.
Another way we’ve seen firms try to make themselves leaner is by forcing entrepreneurs to spend most of their time talking to junior lawyers and paralegals. While junior professionals are certainly cheaper, they lack the judgment and knowledge that entrepreneurs need in structuring their most strategic decisions. Our home page says “World Class Counsel, Brought Down to Earth.” Not clueless juniors, delivered because our partners are too busy for you.
Large, marquee law firms have their place, just as very large companies do. And while there is certainly a market for low-end legal services, it shouldn’t be in assisting serious founders building 8 and 9-figure companies. Our belief is that markets like Seattle, Austin, NYC, and other ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley produce a lot of great, serious companies with different legal needs from those on SV-style unicorn trajectories. Now there are options to answer that demand.
E/N Alpha. Egan Nelson, 2018.
Silicon Hills Lawyer. Jose Ancer, 2018.