“Eric, congratulations on the new gig with Fisher — it’s FisherBroyles, right?” they said with scrunched, skeptical faces that didn’t quite match their words of encouragement.
I got a lot of that when, after 12 years at a large, traditional law firm, I catapulted to the first and largest full-service cloud-based law firm in the world.
‘Catapulted’ is intentional. Sure, you can soar to new heights. But, the ultimate impact can be hard and messy.
So, how has the first year of practice been at FisherBroyles?
Well, I’m happy to share with you, my clients, readers, and friends, how great this ascension has been. With plenty of blue skies ahead.
‘It’s better to be lucky than good.’
IMHO, that saying doesn’t apply nearly as much as some may think. But, on August 31, 2017, I was one lucky guy.
Yadda, yadda, yadda (I’ve told this story before), and here I am, one year in as a partner at FisherBroyles.
Thank you, Joel.
My partners continue to amaze me.
Last April, I posted a 30-day update in which I described my FisherBroyles partners — we have no associates — as “more amazing than I could have imagined!”
I gushed over the strength of our pool of partner talent, a diverse group of Biglaw expats. So, I’ll spare you any further detail today. Rather, I want to focus on the culture that my partners have created at FisherBroyles.
Who among us hasn’t been serenaded with platitudes of company culture? “We’re a bunch of jerks,” said no one ever during any job interview that I’ve ever attended.
But the most common *tongue in cheek* ‘complaint’ I heard on my way in was, “Why didn’t I make this move sooner?’
I get it now. With sea legs under me, I can vouch for what it’s like to work here.
I remember the first time I saw ‘Superlatives’ as the last item on our monthly meeting agenda.
“What the, what?”
Superlatives is about publicly recognizing partners who have raised the bar in service to colleagues and clients. It’s not quite the humanitarian gesture I blogged about last week. Still, it’s sublime to hear genuine, selfless praise for one’s colleagues. Sometimes, I find myself checking my watch because we spend 5-10 minutes gushing over each other.
It feels good.
Collaboration and Communication.
If you go to our website, you’ll see a list of 22 FisherBroyles offices across the country. Still, I’ve seen FisherBroyles described as “virtual,” “cloud-based,” and a “distributed law firm partnership.”
Let’s call it what it is: we’re spread across the country and most of us work from home. I do. I own that. Some have described this architecture as a loose confederation of solo practitioners. Respectfully, I disagree. Instead, imagine a large law firm with hundreds of satellite offices.
And it’s freaking great taking that hour-and-a-half I spent commuting to my old job and spending that time with my family instead. (More on this in a bit.)
When I describe the model, people often ask me if remote work hinders collaboration.
“How do you even communicate with each other?” some ask me.
I’m at the point in my career where I don’t need hand-holding. But, if I want to strategize, you know what I do — you’d better sit down for this, Millennials — I call my partners. And we talk on the phone. It’s great. Or, if I want to crowdsource a legal issue, I text or email my partners. And, they reply. Like right away.
(Pro Tip: When we group email, we bcc all recipients. That eliminates those annoying reply-all’s that congest your inbox. You’re welcome.)
How can my partners be so responsive to colleagues and clients? Because we’re not distracted by the traditional trappings of the brick-and-mortar office (e.g., low-value department meetings; people who insist on spending what seemed like countless hours in your office discussing their fantasy football teams (guilty!))
Our model also incents collaboration. In addition to the money I earn servicing my own clients, I make even more when I’m of service to others too.
Bottom line: if you are the type that has to collaborate with other people in person, then the FisherBroyles distributed model isn’t for you.
For me, this model works just fine.
Speaking of which, business opportunities have exploded. (Translation: Thank you, readers!)
When I first blogged about my move to FisherBroyles, I touted scale as one of the biggest motivating factors. Here’s what I wrote:
My blog and overall social media presence have blown up over the past several years, garnering a broad fan base across the country. Consequently, I have yearned to join a law firm with a matching geographic footprint. You see, I communicate a lot with readers of my blog. Active communication helps with my blogging goals. That is, through my conversational writing style on legal issues about which your lawyers may update you in a few weeks (months?), I try to build relationships and convert those engaged readers online to paying clients offline. While I have been successful, not having a bench [at my last regional firm] — let alone a whole stash of talented employment lawyers in places like Texas and California, for example — impedes me from convincing an employer in the West to pay this dude from the East for advice on employment law issues. That problem is now solved. I’m ready to roll!
We’re rolling, alright!
You know who you are, but to those of you around the country that made the transition from reader to client over the past 12 months, thank you!
I’d also like to thank those readers in private practice who have retained me as a private mediator or referred me new clients. Thank you and I hope to return the favor soon if I haven’t done so already.
“But,” my lawyer friends and well-wishers added soberly, “I may ping you down the line in 6-12 months. I’m interested in hearing how it works out.”
Here I am, down the line with a year under my belt at FisherBroyles. I no longer use talking points from my partners’ FisherBroyles elevator speeches; I speak from experience.
Here’s my pitch…
How’s the money? Because, that’s really what you want to know, right? I’ve been here for a year. But, within months, I was receiving paychecks that are 4x bigger than any I’d ever received in 12 years at my prior firm. That’s because our partners keep 80% of the revenue from work that they bring in and perform, and a big chunk on work performed for others. Bye, Compensation Committee Star Chamber!
How do clients like it? They love it! My client relationships have never been stronger. And since we’re all partners at FisherBroyles, clients get consistent quality and never have to pay to train associates. (They don’t pay for office overhead either.) But, if I want to charge associate rates for partner work, I can. Clients are totally cool with that.
I buried the lede. Now, I see my family so much more. N0 billable-hour requirements. No late nights at the office, more family dinners — I even chaperone school trips. My only regret is that I didn’t switch firms sooner. (Yep, that’s a common refrain here.)
Is your interest piqued?
Many have contacted me to learn more about my exciting transition. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But, if any of this #FisherBroylesLife sounds good to you, connect with me on LinkedIn. Hit me up today. A week from now. A month from now. It’s just a conversation. I’m here when you’re ready to talk.
Until then, I’ll be back here tomorrow blogging employment law.