FLEX co-founder Alex Smith, Fenwick’s senior director of product and services development, spoke with Law360 about the firm’s unique program in which Fenwick lawyers work in-house for clients on temporary assignments.
While many United States firms contract out their employees, Smith told Law360 that only Fenwick offers a service wherein clients can use Fenwick as a contract-attorney staffing agency. A firm in Singapore recently launched a similar program, but no other U.S. firm has embraced the innovative model, according to Law360.
"It's become a win-win-win: It's a win for the clients and it's a win for the lawyers who are looking for other opportunities and alternate career paths, which then translates into a win for us," Smith said. "We used to say we didn't really want any competition, but the more people do this, the more it legitimizes the model and the more it makes it OK for lawyers to take that alternative path – and we think that’s a good change for the profession."
Smith and Fenwick partner Ralph Pais founded FLEX in 2010 to serve Fenwick’s startup clients who needed a lower-cost legal solution. Through FLEX, Fenwick retained clients who would have otherwise been forced to obtain counsel through other channels. Because FLEX operates within Fenwick, FLEX clients benefit from FLEX attorneys’ ability to work with and gain insight from their Fenwick colleagues, Smith said.
“For one thing, the contract attorneys are surrounded by Fenwick attorneys they can bounce questions off or seamlessly collaborate with on client work,” Law360 added.
But FLEX also attracts clients that aren’t currently working with Fenwick, though ultimately, many later come on as Fenwick clients as well.
Since its founding, FLEX has enjoyed rapid growth. The program now boasts about 70 attorneys and provides counsel to companies across the spectrum of growth – from startups to the Fortune 500.
"We generally can't keep up with our demand," Smith told Law360. "We're basically limited in our growth by the number of quality attorneys we can bring in."
Smith added that a “differentiator” for Fenwick is the experience and quality of FLEX attorneys; Law360 noted that FLEX attorneys must undergo “a rigorous vetting process.”
Fenwick’s choice to innovate with FLEX has seen excellent results, Smith said. The program takes time and energy to execute, but the effort is well worth it, she added.
The full article is available through Law360. (Subscription required.)