Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. ~ Steve Jobs
Rachel Johnson and Christina Oshan spent the beginning of their careers at large firms. They noticed that startups and emerging growth companies engaged with their legal teams using a different approach than that used by established companies – one not often aligned with the antiquated protocols of conventional law firms. They set out to build a law firm that was more transparent, efficient and approachable, and the result was J+O.
Oshan and Johnson realized that the evolving way in which startups use their legal teams meant changing the way in which they, as attorneys, needed to deliver service in return, and they saw that this evolution was a match for their experience and professional style. At J+O, every decision is “gut-checked” to ensure it advances the sentiment that the firm’s attorneys feel like internal company team members versus outside counsel – a notion that, they point out, is not common in the legal field.
J+O uses the latest technology to connect and collaborate efficiently, including tools such as Slack and Asana, which reduces their overhead and makes it cost effective for their clients to work directly with their legal team.
Also to promote efficiency, they forego the common practice of keeping legal documents locked up behind brick and mortar doors. Instead, J+O sets up digital technology processes to ensure corporate documents are organized and readily accessible, to facilitate seamless transactions (such as due diligence) and day-to-day operations.
While technology plays a big role in their evolved legal industry approach, Johnson and Oshan also credit the fact that they are selective about the type and volume of clients they work with, so they can give them the attention they need. This enables them to successfully steep themselves in their clients’ businesses so they can anticipate their needs as the company grows – and with “luck” (which they define as “experience, sweat and commitment”), J+O grows right along with them.
While the J+O approach may not be right for everyone and every area of law, more traditional firms would do well to consider the major change in mind-set it represents for lawyers and their clients.
As always, I invite you to share thoughts on this or any other law-related topic, either through the comments below or directly via email.