Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Readers of this blog are already familiar with the incubator projects started by numerous law schools that provide low cost office space and resources to recent grads trying to start their own firms (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). The ABA Journal is now reporting that one law firm has helped launch a business start-up incubator project in Chicago as a way to cultivate future clients. The project, called Catapult Chicago, is both a business "incubator" and "accelerator" meaning that once a new business gets up and running, if it shows promise the next step is to find investors which might lead to some lucrative legal fees. The take-away being that in an increasingly competitive legal market where new clients are getting harder to find, some law firms have decided to grown their own clients. An excerpt:
On the 25th floor of the high-rise where Foley & Lardner has its Chicago offices, some of the city's most promising high-tech startup companies have set up shop in a space the firm set aside just for them.
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Catapult is a hybrid business incubator and accelerator. As an incubator, it supports startups by providing resources such as office space, professional services, mentors, meeting spaces and business advice for a fee. Accelerators are considered the next step for startups that show promise and are ready to move forward with investors. At Foley, Catapult allows its resident companies to draw advice and expertise from one another and from sponsors such as Foley & Lardner and its lawyers around the country. The lawyers hold regular office hours for Catapult residents and open up their professional networks.
Foley also offers the startups various deferred and fixed-fee arrangements at its regular rates, as well as an ongoing relationship and access to its attorneys. "Law is a relationship business," Mason says. "You have to trust the lawyer you work with."
LOOKING FOR THE NEXT BIG THING
Reaching out to potential clients in the startup sector is something law firms across the country are doing with vigor. Many firms are on the lookout for clients that could wind up with multimillion-dollar IPOs and mountains of future legal needs. "If you do well, we do well," Mason says.
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Continue reading here.