We launched Plave Koch PLC in February 2007 with a vision to break away from the routines and perverse incentive structures of large law firms. If we no longer qualify as “new,” it nevertheless still feels new to us, and the sense of exhilaration lingers. We enter into every client relationship with these commitments:
- To remember where we started – and, more important, why we started.
- To try to make our enthusiasm contagious.
- To sustain an environment in which we have the flexibility to work creatively with clients, developing realistic budgets to meet reasonable expectations, all while competing for interesting and challenging work.
We’re one of the largest franchise law practices in the country, packed into a small, dynamic firm. We’re nimble – not bound by the management trappings or costly overhead of a large law firm. Our combination of experience and efficiency, as well as our practical, business-oriented approach, enables us to deliver first-class services to our clients at a reasonable cost.
Our overall goal is to offer a fresh and independent approach to providing legal services. We call it “zing.” While we first used the word tongue-in-cheek, we’ve grown attached to the term “zing” and what it represents. As we see it, “zing” means:
- Vitality – providing excellent service at simple, fair, and predictable rates
- Flavor – making our advice understandable and memorable with personality, practicality, and a sense of humor
- Freshness – redefining our relationship as a trusted extension of the client’s organization, not a mere vendor who just delivers a product
- Clarity – cutting out the layers, hype, and overhead of large law firms
- Passion – infusing the energy that flows from working with well-rounded friends who share a commitment to quality
If you’d like more on what we think makes us different, read on. If you’re tired of reading, skip to The Bottom Line.
Why We’re Different
No tolerance for pretense. We’re serious about the work we do and about representing our clients’ best interests, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our firm has a zero threshold of tolerance for pretense. Yes, we take pride in the names on our client list, and we humbly appreciate the recognition that our lawyers have received, but we recognize that these things don’t entitle us to quit learning, to carry a big ego, or to stop earning our clients’ trust every day.
Respect for your money. We believe the purpose of legal fees is to pay for our advice and services, not for artwork and furniture. Clients who visit will see offices that are practical and professional, but no more. We keep our rates as reasonable as our décor. We don’t need impressive artwork and fancy furniture to tell us that we’re successful.
No internal competition. Unlike most firms, we don’t make it a point to track “client-claiming” credit. We don’t think it should be the client’s burden to worry about who gets credit for business, so we are intentionally structured to avoid competing within our own team. Clients need not fear stepping on one partner’s toes if they want to call another Plave Koch lawyer for an answer, whether it involves a quick question that can’t wait or a subject that’s really within someone else’s wheelhouse.
Flexible billing. Our goal is that you are always as comfortable with the fairness of our bills as you are with the quality of the legal services that we provide. Here are some key points of our billing philosophy:
- We are willing to quote fixed project fees when we have an adequate basis of experience with similar projects and sufficient information about the specific work needed by the client. Project fees can be an effective way to meet the objectives of budgetary certainty for the client and fair value for us. Of course, it’s difficult to quote project fees for certain types of projects, such as contract negotiations and litigation, because the time and effort required depend so much on the other party and its counsel.
- When project fees are not feasible or not preferred by the client, we generally bill at an hourly rate (though we are open to discussing other arrangements). On any project to be billed at hourly rates, we can provide an estimate in advance.
- We do not charge for more than one lawyer to do the same task. Although we like to consult with each other on client questions, on the “two-heads-are-better-than-one” theory, we believe this should be a benefit and not a cost for the client. So if two lawyers confer on a question, or share a task, or ask for a second look on a draft, the client pays for only one lawyer’s time.
- We do not charge clients for expenses that law firms traditionally have passed through – such as telephone usage charges, postage, or internal copying. We view these items as part of our cost of doing business.
- We do not bill for time spent traveling, except to the extent that work is actually being done for you during travel.
Lack of Conflicts. We are a small firm. We are much less likely than our larger competitors to encounter conflicts of interest in undertaking a project. There certainly can be no conflicts with other practice groups within the firm, because, well, we don’t have any other practice groups.
No Layers of Review. All of our partners have well over 10 years of experience in franchising, so there is little need to review each other’s work. If it’s beneficial to you, attorneys on our team might ask for another pair of eyes on his or her work product, but we will not charge for layers of review.
Periodic “No Charge” Meetings. To stay in tune with your business, we encourage regular, in-person, “off the meter” meetings at your office. These are typically free-flowing discussions of whatever’s on your mind. We often learn things about future plans, franchise relationships, etc., that we might miss in the day-to-day and month-to-month work. We cherish these opportunities to fit our work into the larger context in which you operate.
The Bottom Line
A big part of standing out from the crowd is the sheer willingness to risk being different. We are not just willing, but eager, to accept that risk. If the approach described above challenges your preconceptions about working with a law firm, it’s just fine with us.
Today it is more vital than ever to stay connected with the founding principles of Plave Koch PLC. Please dare us to be different – and if you feel the difference, tell us.