When Amazon announced a group of selected law firms to provide trademark registration services at pre-negotiated rates for small- and medium-size businesses with whom it works, it featured law firm FisherBroyles — what one commentator last year called, “The Most Important Law Firm You’ve Never Heard Of”.
Amazon’s goal, according to legal innovation and tech expert Bob Ambroggi:
To help companies more quickly obtain IP rights for their brands and access to brand-protection features in Amazon’s stores. It specifically targets small- and medium-sized businesses by making it easier and more cost effective for them to protect their ideas.”
I’m a business attorney who was schooled in basic management skills only after being thrust into P&L duties after practicing law in a conventional law firm. During my first 10 years practicing law I was blind to the ways that conventional law firms’ and in-house counsels’ adherence to the billable hour, purposeful overstaffing & duplication of effort, insertion of inexperienced lawyers alongside those capable of working on their own, and slow-walking of accuracy-enhancing and labor-saving tech adoption — advantage the attorney — and disadvantage the business client.
This quote from FisherBroyles’ founders illustrates why I find their way of doing legal work true innovation instead of hype:
“We took away the two most inefficient aspects of the law firm model: The expensive fixed cost real estate, and the $180,000 a year associate [junior lawyer] being trained on the client’s dime. And once you eliminate those two massive aspects of law firm overhead, that leaves a lot of capital revenue to pay your lawyers more.”
In 2017, two years before Amazon and FisherBroyles made this announcement, one of FisherBroyles co-founder James Fisher put it this way:
- “We leverage technology and talent rather than young lawyers and tall buildings.”
- “We think billing quotas are a direct conflict with the client … Our emphasis isn’t on how much we can bill a client in a given month … our emphasis is … how long we can keep the client.”
- “We’re a lot like Amazon in that we are providing the same or better product than the brick and mortar stores, but we just found an easier and more efficient way to deliver it, which allows us to compensate the people that are producing the product more and at the same time charge our customers less.”
Unsurprisingly, it is Amazon — a business model innovator itself — that has recognized FisherBroyles as among the law firms it expects to most efficiently and competently serve the needs of small- and medium-size companies with whom Amazon works.