Law Practice Management
Ex-BigLaw Associate, 29, Forms Biotech Boutique via Craigslist
Posted Jul 27, 2009 12:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
When Afif Ghannoum decided to open a biotechnology boutique in Cleveland, the 29-year-old former BigLaw associate advertised for potential partner-level attorneys on Craigslist. He received responses from nearly 100 lawyers in Ohio and another 400 in New York City.
To help keep costs low, the firm's nine lawyers operate out of a tiny 400-square-foot office (with plans to move to a 500-square foot office) in the city's downtown area, doing most of their work from home on a virtual basis, reports the Med City News. Only about half are based in Cleveland. It has no billable hour requirements, and pays lawyers based on the work they produce.
The firm openly promotes its bare-bones alternative operating structure, explaining on its website that the Ghannoum Law Firm's attorneys—who are "from the top law schools and firms"—work at clients' offices or at home, "keeping our costs down [and] allowing us to pass tremendous savings to our clients, without sacrificing the quality of services rendered.
"Since we only employ senior-associate and partner-level attorneys, our clients do not pay to train inexperienced young attorneys," the website states.
Clients are coming in through through word of mouth, Ghannoum says. Ghannoum, a former corporate and real estate associate at Squire Sanders & Dempsey and Baker and Hostetler, is the son of a prominent local physician.
The firm sees a big opportunity in offering economical legal services to start-up biotech companies, Ghannoum tells the medical news service, and he is thinking big in terms of potential growth. He says it is possible that the firm will have a 50-lawyer attorney roster within the next two to three years, as it aggressively expands its client base.