June 29th, 2011
(written by lawrence, however indented passages are often quotes)
Four years ago, I was making $400K+ at a top law firm. When I became eligible for partnership at my firm, I decided to leave instead. Why? Because I did not want to own a tiny amount of equity in a poorly-run business. Down the hall from me were several men in their mid-eighties who were drawing $1MM+ pensions and turning up for work two days a week. They had teams of secretaries who printed off their email and read them a digest each morning. I watched the firm spend, spend, spend to recruit “the best and the brightest” from Ivy League schools. After those new lawyers were hired, they would be put to work doing tasks that any decent temp worker could do. Young attorneys were being billed out at $500+ per hour and pressured to make their minimum hourly quotas every year. Our offices were expensive. Our parties were expensive. The I.T. support was expensive because it had painted itself into vendor lock-in and a huge (and useless) support staff. I flew first class everywhere. I stayed in the Four Seasons for months on end.
Sounds great, right? Nope – not when you’re considering becoming an owner of that company. I saw the writing on the wall. Clients were bailing. They were getting better at doing my job with in house people. They were pressuring firm management to write off big bills and compete in RFPs.
So I got out, and I’ve never looked back. I did it because I think I can run a business better than they do. I did it because I actually care about whether my clients feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth. Also, I did it because I wanted to build an IT platform for lawyers that wasn’t hampered by incompetent IT staff and poorly-chosen, expensive solutions.