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.
Willie Peacock, Esq.