Principles are the foundation of a trustworthy institution.

When I was applying to law school, I was dead broke. I was the guy who worked two jobs while taking a full-time undergrad class load to pay for rent, food and books, so when it came time to apply for law school, I did not have the budget to apply far and wide — until I curiously googled “law schools with free applications.”

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more thankful for a search query. On that
list was the Washington and Lee University School of Law, a highly
ranked school located in an idyllic rural setting, guided by its
one-line honor system: “We have but one rule – that every student must
be a gentleman.”

I loved that. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize just how important such bedrock principles are in any organization. They are the foundation, the test against which every notion, project, and product is delivered. Google was famous for “don’t be evil,” even if some may argue that they have strayed from that path since. And my favorite SEO company, MOZ, has a set of principles abbreviated TAGFEE, which you can
read about on their own site.

When it comes to founding this institution, I believe that it is paramount that I
first set down what we are all about, before the pricing, products, and the client lists are developed. Here are my thoughts, though I reserve the right to add to this living document as we grow:

  • We don’t own your brand, your website, or your content.
  • We don’t believe in long-term contracts, though we do believe in long-term handshakes.
  • Transparency is an absolute must, and is the principle behind Omniscience — our planned online marketing dashboard and CRM.
  • We will always aim far beyond our reach, for absurdly high goals.
    Our floor, the bare minimum we will accept, is better than every other
    competitor out there.
  • Our pricing is set to empower law firms, not to gouge them. Most of
    the money we make goes back into building more tools to further the
    mission. We give out a lot for free, but we save our best, most
    creative, and most impactful products for paying clients.
  • We embrace a workforce that is global and diverse – in race, gender, and physical abilities.
  • We have a strict no bullshit rule. We will not hide the truth from
    you on performance, products, or billing. We will not hide the truth internally either – everyone is expected to account for failures and missed deadlines with a tone of accountability and a lesson learned to prevent recurrences.
  • We expect the same “no bullshit” rule from you, the client. We want your feedback and participation.
  • Great agencies are powered by responsive clients — we only want to
    partner with firms that want an active role in their branding,
    marketing, advertising, and performance. We accept no silent partners.
  • We keep our overhead low, and our rates lower. Though we believe in the power of advertising and the creative forces of “Mad [People],” we’ll never fly First Class, hire limos, or staff a skyscraper on Madison Ave. Why? Because every wasted cent means less growth as a company and higher fees for the clients.
Last, and perhaps most important, is this promise: we’ll be accessible. You’ll have the founder’s direct cell for emergencies and we will always do our best to respond to emergencies immediately (no matter the hour) and ordinary inquiries within 24 hours.
 
 

Our Founder's Story

Most legal tech startups just don’t get “it.” What “it” is, is the struggle of a small firm soloprenuer trying to bring quality legal services to her community while still making a decent enough income to live comfortably and pay off her immense student loan debt.

This is the plight of my generation. This is my own plight. I graduated Class of 2011 from an extremely reputable and highly regarded law school that had no idea what to do with us once we graduated into a historically barren economy. Neither did the industry, which had few jobs, while the jobs that were available offered below-subsistence level wages.

“Pay your dues,” they said. Easy to say when you didn’t have to take out six figures of debt to get an education.

I couch-surfed. I studied for the bar and passed on my first try. And yet, I still could find a paying job as a lawyer. Instead, I turned to the legal marketing industry, where FindLaw (Thomson Reuters) gave me my first shot: a contract blogging position. I’d spend the next few years balancing that job and occasional solo law practice, hoping for a break anywhere — public interest jobs, small firms that offered reasonable salaries, anything. But it never came.

In 2015, I opened my own law firm.

It went pretty well! Though I quickly discovered that pretty much all legal software was out of my budget, I wrote (and still write) for Clio, and they were gracious enough to gift me a subscription to their platform. But when it came to things like legal research, receptionists, and marketing, I was on my own. I built my own website in WordPress, created my own online maps listings, and when it came to practicing law, I spent a lot of time at the law library relying on publicly available free legal research. My little firm that could paid the bills, got noticed in the local bar, and was absorbed into a larger firm later that year, which led to a hybrid role as an associate attorney and Director of Marketing.

And then came the biggest twist of fate of all: meeting the woman of my dreams. Because her medical career would send us back to the East Coast, I had to reinvent myself again: I re-entered the marketing arena, while limiting my legal practice to a small niche that I could practice part-time from anywhere.

All of that is an exceptionally long preface to say, simply, that I have been there. And if you look at most legal tech startups, founded by BigLaw refugees, their pricing is opaque, unrealistic, or both. As for marketing, if you look at the major providers, their pricing is either unrealistic or their products have stagnated, and they don’t provide much real value to small firms that need to make a name for themselves – they provide placebo websites and lip service to other channels, while collecting monthly dues on a long-term contract, in other words.

That’s my story. And that’s why I founded Omni, Esq. I want to build a lot of things differently, in a way that supports and empowers small law firms and solo practices to help as many consumers as possible, support their own families, and pay off the student loan companies that own their souls.

For questions, I’m always available on Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Your friend,

 

Willie Peacock, Esq.

Willie Peacock founder's image