For attorneys who work in solo and small firms, the biggest struggle often is not the practice of law but running the back office. Bookkeeping, marketing, technology take up time, and in an industry that measures days in billable hours, that’s a problem.
In June 2018, Jaimee Hall and Sara Stock established a solution: Legal Back Office, a company that enables small to mid-sized law firms to outsource their accounting, human resources and marketing. The company also offers consultation services for business development.
“We do all the [administrative] work so lawyers can do the real work,” Hall said.
Hall served as the chief operating officer and director of human resources and operations for Cordell & Cordell from 2012 to 2017. She led a back-office operation of more than 100 people that focused on strategic planning and other areas. Previously, Hall was the Leadership Development Director of CHAN Healthcare Auditors, an internal-audit company with more than 350 employees.
Stock is a graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law and also earned an MBA at SLU. She was an equity partner at Lewis Rice when she started to see herself out-pricing her clients. She said she believed she could better serve small and mid-sized businesses from a small to mid-sized firm, so she founded Stock Legal in 2016, which has grown to 10 attorneys.
Hall and Stock met in a CEO advisory group in St. Louis. The pair ended up discussing how Stock, even with her business background, had encountered challenges in managing the operations of her mid-sized firm.
From that discussion, the idea evolved to combine Hall’s operations experience with Stock’s business acumen and knowledge of the legal community — creating a company to help attorneys manage their day-to-day work and achieve their long-term goals. For about six months they conducted research on the industry.
“Every lawyer we talked to gave us positive kudos for what we’re doing because they see the need,” Hall said.
In the five months since they established their company, they’ve gained as many clients. Although they initially expected attorneys to support the idea of handing over bookkeeping and other tedious aspects of running their businesses, Hall said she and Stock have encountered even more enthusiasm for the strategic planning and marketing Legal Back Office offers.
Stock and Hall said they have built their business in such a way that will make it easy to scale up as they add clients. It isn’t just a local endeavor, but a national — even international — opportunity, Stock said.
The company is entirely virtual, with employees working from coast-to-coast. In the future Stock and Hall said they hope to add IT and call-center operations, as well as a one-year all-inclusive startup package for their clients.
“The business case for this company is extremely persuasive,” Stock said. “When people start running their own firm, it can be overwhelming and lonely.”