1. The concept itself is not news; there have been a number of firms that have pursued this. Law Dragon has a list here. One that they missed is The General Counsel Ltd. in Minnesota. I interviewed the founder, Kent Larson, back in 2006.
2. What is news is the potential scale of VLP: a year of planning to get the technology right and the practices and processes workable. When you want to go to 1,000+ attorneys, internationally, there are no templates for this.
3. The level of attorney interest is striking. When you get 200 resumes in one week, you have struck a chord, and won’t need to be using recruiters for awhile. Photos of real attorneys with lives outside the practice beats a boring recruiting brochure any day of the week.
4. The business model is bracing for VLP lawyers and clients. The lawyers get to keep more of the revenue they generate. This lets them make more or work less, or a combination of both. And the clients get as good or better service, without paying more for things they don’t want (over-staffing) or need (expensive offices in high-rent cities).
5. VLP is wisely avoiding litigation. They will likely develop a network of litigation firms to whom they can refer cases and, who, in turn, can refer corporate work to VLP. No reason that VLP can’t refer litigation to BigLaw firms, either. They just shouldn’t wait around for the favor to be returned.
What is also notable, but not surprising, is how some commentators are reacting to VLP:
1. In this article, there’s the remark I mentioned last week from a law firm consultant that VLP is not the next “big idea.” Hmmm. How can you know yet, after only one week? And while we’re at it, exactly what is the current “big idea” for law firms? Mergers?
2. In another article, a different law firm consultant offers that VLP will have a real hurdle as a new market entrant “… to convince clients to take a significant risk with respect to the legal services they buy.” I have a news flash: VLP’s partners already have clients. What’s the risk? That an experienced lawyer is working from home, providing high-quality work, and passing some hourly savings along? That’s not a risk for VLP; it’s called competitive differentiation.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I’ll stop for now.
Lastly, there’s one thing that Craig Johnson said that really caught my attention. And just might be the real big idea behind VLP:
===> no compensation committee.