As lawyers and law firms around the world rush to set up remote work arrangements to accommodate the need for social distancing, for one law firm, Grable Martin Fulton PLLC, working remotely is business as usual.
Grable Martin has operated from its distributed model since its founding in 2013, when Lee Grable, Shauna Martin and Suzy Fulton decided to build a firm with low overhead costs, high flexibility and excellent attorneys operating in a non-traditional law firm environment. The full-service firm’s 32 attorneys work strategically from whatever locations are best for them and their clients. Some have conveniently located offices, some work from home, and others may split time or work part-time from a client’s office.
The inspiration for Grable Martin came in 2011, when Lee and his family moved to Aspen, Colorado. Lee found that his Texas clients didn’t care where he was working, as long as he was responsive and did quality work for a reasonable fee. When his family decided to move back to Dallas, he saw no reason not to extend that arrangement and make it more official by asking Shauna and Suzy to join him.
“Technology allows us to be productive from anywhere,” Lee says. “So why would we want to continually invest in expensive, one-size fits all office space our clients will never see – particularly if it means our billing rates have to account for that additional overhead?”
The business model is also perfectly suited for those who want to stay productive during their travels. One member, Austin-based Liz Wiley, serves as the president of the board of directors of The French American Business Council of Austin and often works remotely from France.
“Just as Lee discovered when he lived in Colorado, your clients don’t care where you’re doing your work, as long as it’s good work,” says Suzy. “When we started the firm, I knew we were on to something. And now, seven years later, my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.”
Grable Martin attracts many former big-firm lawyers who are looking for a different environment, as well as former in-house counsel who are attracted to the autonomy. All three founding members have Big Law and general counsel experience, as do several other members.
“Our in-house experience is definitely a differentiator,” Shauna says. “We know what clients are looking for in terms of communications, billing, and, most importantly, results. It’s all about adding value and making our clients’ lives easier. Plus, we can empathize because we’ve stood in their shoes.”
Why Work at Grable Martin?
Grable Martin’s lawyers point to three main reasons for joining the firm:
- A more flexible, autonomous work environment that accommodates real life: Along with the ability to work from wherever they want comes the ability to set their own schedules, and, importantly, their own rates. No more rush hour or pointless bureaucracy.
- The ability to keep more of their revenue: Grable Martin’s formula allows members to keep a significant percentage of their billings, rather than squandering it on needless overhead.
- The opportunity to serve clients in a variety of practice areas and put together teams from multiple disciplines: It used to be that if you wanted to serve a broad variety of practice areas, you had to join an old school firm (and give up a great deal of autonomy and revenue). Grable Martin provides the best of both worlds: the ability to serve a wide variety of legal needs, while retaining the benefits of a small/solo firm.
Why Hire Grable Martin?
Likewise, clients have their own reasons for engaging Grable Martin:
- The firm’s model makes economic sense: Grable Martin’s streamlined solution and technology allow it to be efficient and cost-effective.
- Top-notch attorneys: Grable Martin lawyers include alumni of some of the country’s largest law firms, former General Counsels and high-level in-house attorneys.
- Client service: Clients have direct access to partner-level attorneys who are responsive and actively listen to their clients’ goals.
As a bonus, Grable Martin is a WBENC-certified, women-owned business, which can be valuable for clients.
“The biggest concern our prospective members have is that they want camaraderie and a sense of community, so we hold bi-weekly gatherings, regular conference calls, annual retreats, holiday parties, and happy hours with members, clients and firm friends,” says Suzy. “We make sure that everybody knows and stays in close contact with each other.”
“In light of COVID-19, we’ve had to postpone some in-person gatherings,” Lee added, “but our team was already set up for workplace flexibility, so we are in regular contact and have not missed a beat.”