Rampenthal keeps an eye on outside legal expenses by identifying repetitive tasks and keeping them in house. "Grooming top-notch in-house lawyers helps us retain institutional knowledge and build a knowledge base to make the department more efficient."
As for what he looks for in an outside firm, he says, "If a firm doesn't get what we do, then there are plenty that do. I have to know that someone fighting for me believes in my company." As for fee arrangements, he adds, "Not all firms are cut out for alternative fees, and I respect that. However, the ones that are willing to take on some of the risk for a legal matter will generally get my attention."
The first years of Rampenthal's career at LegalZoom were devoted to getting state bar associations and practicing attorneys familiar with the business. "Too often they would hear about the company through a radio ad, or see a TV commercial, and make incorrect assumptions about our business model. I spent some time to ensure that they understood that LegalZoom was not engaged in the practice of law and did not provide any legal advice to customers."
Today, the company is expanding its services to offer access to attorneys. Customers can join a legal plan and receive business or personal legal advice on their LegalZoom documents and other legal matters.
"Much of the regulation of the legal profession is directed toward attorney conduct, so we are taking the same care to ensure that all of our offerings, including access to attorneys and legal help, are legally and ethically compliant."
Rampenthal doesn't require in-house pro bono or volunteer work outside the company, but he has volunteered his own time to support entrepreneur-focused organizations like the SBA's SCORE program and the Founders Institute.
"I maintain a budget to give to organizations that have a goal of increasing access to the law and giving consumers more choices."
Outside of work, he's focused on being a "good dad" to his 19-month-old son with his wife, Yin Zhen, also a USC law grad. They are expecting a baby girl in April. When they have time, "we are big fans of food, and like to think that we are pretty adventurous eaters."
Travel is also a priority. "We went to the Maldives on our honeymoon, and have traveled to China (Beijing for the Olympics, Guangzhou to visit family and Hong Kong to shop and eat), Singapore, Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico and all over the U.S. We hope to expose our children to other cultures through travel and food ... but mostly food!"
Lisa Holton writes for The Recorder, a Daily Report affiliate in San Francisco.