Ralph Pais, Enterprising Lawyer

August 11, 2014

​Fenwick & West partner and technology transactions practice chair Ralph Pais is profiled by Attorney at Work and discusses the innovation behind FLEXbyFenwick (FLEX), a service that supplies experienced in-house lawyers to assist client companies during busy periods.

Pais now spends the majority of his time running and growing FLEX’s business, he said, while also working up to 600 hours per year for firm clients such as Facebook, Dropbox and others.

The idea for FLEX came from “observing client behaviors and changing needs in my practice,” Pais told Attorney at Work.

“Early-stage companies rely heavily on their outside counsel for almost all legal needs. As their businesses grow, and they get traction in the market, there are day-to-day legal needs that they don’t want to use a large firm for, and yet they aren’t ready to hire full-time legal resources. Often, their management team isn’t sure how or where to find the right legal resources to address those needs. I thought if we could build a business that would help companies address those needs, that could be useful.”

Improving legal services is a priority for Pais. “I like thinking about ways in which we can improve what we do in delivering services to clients.”

FLEX gives lawyers new options for providing services. “FLEX is a way for lawyers to work with very interesting companies and control their own work levels and commitments. It is also a way for lawyers who have their own practices to supplement their workload, and get access to clients they might not be able to develop on their own, while letting someone else handle business development, billing and collection matters.”

Pais credited Alexandra Smith, Fenwick’s senior director of product and services development, as his collaborator in developing FLEX.

“We have been in this together from the start,” Pais said. “I think if you can do something with another person and then build a team, you are much more likely to be successful than if you try to do it alone. We also received lots of support from the firm’s leadership and my partners.”

In addition to his client work and FLEX, Pais is also responsible for DMR, Fenwick’s internal discovery and diligence team, and oversees the firm’s professional development program. His career includes 16 years as Consul of the Netherlands for Northern California. He has also served as general counsel to a supplements and cosmetics company and taught at Stanford Law School and the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus.

The full profile is available through the Attorney at Work website.