In its 14 years in practice, Howell Legal has established a focus on serving the needs of startups. This concentration is borne of two factors. First, that there is an opportunity for firms as a whole to do better at representing early-stage companies: many law firms don’t have systems in place to be able to efficiently balance the time investment required with the amount startups are realistically able to pay.
Another facet is, quite simply, how interesting early-stage companies can be. Startups are built around innovation, around taking a forward-looking idea and seeing what can be built around it. Ryan Juliano, a partner at Howell, explains the allure succinctly: “Innovation and bold spirit—that’s what gets us excited.”
Howell and Pangea.app
When Adam Alpert was looking for legal counsel, it was important for him to find a lawyer who understood his mindset. Like Howell, Pangea.app was the result of an overlap between a personal passion and recognition of an underserved market. Alpert had always had a keen interest in filmmaking, and his attempts to find freelance work led him to realize that there was an opportunity to help creative students find jobs that weren’t internships or in the service sector.
When he went to a networking event sponsored by Howell, the value in a partnership was clear. Howell didn’t just serve startups, they got them, and knew how to help an early-stage company pursue lofty ambitions while remaining capital-efficient. “I wanted to find a lawyer who gets it. I have friends who go to lawyers who aren’t startup savvy, and because of that, they don’t get good advice. I’m comfortable working with Ryan because he’s forward-thinking and he understands what startups need to grow.”
“You can serve more clients—especially when you’re serving early stage businesses.”
-Ryan Juliano, Howell Legal Vice President & Attorney
“I’m comfortable working with Ryan because he’s forward-thinking and he understands what startups need to grow.”
-Adam Alpert, Pangea.app Cofounder & CEO
Collaborating on Shoobx
One of the hurdles that law firms have to navigate when working with startups is efficiency and scalability. Lawyers that want to work with startups have to balance their desire to see those companies grow and succeed with maintaining a good value-to-time ratio.
Shoobx makes that possible, says Ryan.
“[Shoobx] can even go beyond efficiency and create a reliable experience that you can scale. You can increase the same value over time. In addition, you can serve more clients—especially when you’re serving early stage business, you want as many clients as possible, and you can’t hold the information from 100 of them in your brain. Having systems is important and tech tools need to be behind those systems.”
Even before their first formal raise, Pangea.app had had a flurry of activity, with pre-seed financing and a number of early employees with stock options. Moving onto Shoobx let them organize and manage a growing cap table, while also providing the ongoing documentation support they needed to be successful.
“The cap table has been really easy to use as a whole. That’s a big part of the value. Almost everybody is getting some sort of cap management, but bundling that in with document management and storage is really smart,” says Ryan.
On a day-to-day basis, Shoobx also allowed Adam to handle a lot of his own documentation, while giving Ryan much-needed oversight over the process. For the everyday, repeatable processes—IP agreements, NDAs, stock agreements—using Shoobx lets Adam take control, with the assurance that all of the documents created are standard and secure.
“There are tons of DIY products on the market, but without oversight, DIY can be counterproductive and lead to mistakes,” Ryan explains. “Shoobx gives you that same efficiency and speed, but without any of the risk.”
Improving the Lawyer-Client Relationship
For Ryan and Adam, the benefits of Shoobx go even beyond the workflows that they handle on the platform. Letting software handle the mundane details affords Ryan more time to do what he’s uniquely well-equipped to do: provide the sort of customized, high-level advice that no piece of software could ever emulate.
In fact, the time savings from Shoobx were so consistent that Ryan and Adam were able to formalize the process. After Pangea.app onboarded onto Shoobx, Howell was piloting a subscription program for clients, which included a monthly consultation with unlimited document review. Because Pangea.app was on Shoobx, and thus saving so much time in the document generation and review process, Howell was able to reallocate some of those hours to a monthly high-level strategy session. For Ryan, the benefits have been clear:
“It’s been great for our relationship. We can get a better look at things down the road, and because we’re more efficient in one area, we can spend our time where it’s most valuable.”
Shoobx gives you that same efficiency and speed, but without any of the risk.
Shoobx has shown itself to be really flexible and customizable. It takes into account the inherent complexity of the legal process.
The legal industry is moving beyond a focus on commoditized work, and into a focus on professional judgment and human-to-human advice. To successfully modernize, lawyers need not just forward-thinking internal processes, but also the right tools to be able to best advocate for their clients. For Ryan and Adam, Shoobx has been a key tool in their collaboration kit. As Ryan explained: “Shoobx has shown itself to be really flexible and customizable. It takes into account the inherent complexity of the legal process. It’s been a really intuitive experience.”