Seulki Lee was in the process of setting up his biotechnology company out of the Johns Hopkins University FastForward incubator last summer when he needed legal documents drawn up to both establish the company and for its seed funding round.
Having started a company once before, he was familiar with the hefty legal bills that come with hiring an attorney on an hourly rate.
“It’s very expensive,” said Lee, who spent between $30,000 and $40,000 in attorneys’ fees. “I was very surprised about the invoices from the lawyers.”
This time, however, Lee worked with Shulman Rogers NEXT, a new program from Potomac-based Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker P.A. that offers fixed pricing packages to startups and early-stage companies for a range of services, including company formation, raising money and employment.
“I think this addresses a very important need in the startup, emerging growth company market,” said Anthony Millin, chairman of the firm’s startups and venture capital practice group and a venture investor and entrepreneur himself.
Millin said Shulman Rogers began the program in response to a “lack of alignment” in legal services needs for emerging companies.
Lee worked with Millin during the fundraising process for Neuraly Inc., which is developing a compound for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
“Once we identified the investors and introduced them to Anthony, he took care of the legal stuff,” said Lee, who is also a faculty member in radiology and the Center for Nanomedicine at Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute.
While Shulman Rogers designed its program to fill a need it saw in the legal market, fixed fees and alternative methods to pay for legal services are becoming prevalent across the industry.
“Many firms over the last number of years have devised creative ways to bill, particularly for startups,” said Randi Lewis, recruiter with Major, Lindsey & Africa.