New-model firm plans hiring spree, 50 to 100 lawyers a year

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Photo of Rachel Zahorsky
by Marc Hauser.

One part law firm and one part business entity, Washington D.C.-based Clearspire aims to expand its nontraditional legal services model across the country with the addition of 50 to 100 former BigLaw lawyers each year for the next five years.

With brick-and-mortar outposts recently opened in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and more planned for Chicago, Atlanta and a handful of other cities, Clearspire operates primarily through a $5 million online platform that connects lawyers and clients through virtual offices and high-end videoconferencing systems. The company’s business operation aims to raise another $3 million from outside investors in 2013.

This model allows Clearspire Law Co., a law firm that outsources all business processes, technology administration and commoditized legal work to its independent sister company, Clearspire Services Co., to cut overhead costs by 50 percent compared to traditional firms. That drastically reduces client fees on complex legal matters and maintains market salaries for its lawyers and staff, the firm says.

The model has attracted the attention of 165 general counsel of Fortune 500 companies, says Clearspire president and CEO Bryce Arrowood, who co-founded the company with civil trial lawyer Mark A. Cohen, a large-scale, early adopter of information technology in the delivery of legal services.

“When Mark and I looked at the legal landscape and what was happening in 2008, no law firm was looking at changing their model the way the market was telling them they needed to change,” Arrowood tells the ABA Journal.

“While a lot has been done to bring costs down,” Arrowood says, citing a boost in overseas outsourcing and contract attorneys, “nobody looked at how firms could be more cost-efficient at the high end.

“If everyone sticks to what they do well, and firms let businesspeople manage projects and tech people build robust systems, lawyers are liberated to focus on the law.”

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