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For companies that can’t afford an in-house lawyer, let alone house one on loan from the outside counsel they can barely afford, one New York lawyer has created a law firm based on a unique marketing of the much talked about concept of alternative fee arrangements. He calls himself the “spot GC,” and markets his nearly year-old practice to emerging and middle-market companies as a cheaper way to handle sporadic or monthly legal needs. J. Paul Caulfield created Caulfield LLC while still working as an in-house attorney at an intelligence-gathering corporation. Many of the clients who came to his company did not have an attorney and couldn’t necessarily afford New York law firm rates. “The traditional law firms have to get smart with what these businesses are doing,” Caulfield said. “There still is not that widespread solution for these companies.” Eliminating overhead Caulfield’s solution is to eliminate overhead by working at his clients’ offices on a project-based fee, a monthly retainer or a reduced hourly fee. His fees, he said, range from an average of $175 an hour to $225 for specialized or time-intensive work. “I invest in technology over brick and mortar,” he said. One of Caulfield’s clients, a New York marketer of financial data for hedge funds, hired him on a monthly basis and pays for 20 hours of work each month. Another client, Inside Lacrosse magazine, hired Caulfield to handle legal and public relations work for the publication after the Duke University lacrosse scandal broke. James S. Wilber, a consultant with Altman Weil, said Caulfield’s concept makes sense and has seen similar models throughout the country for a few years. “It’s another kind of example of temporary employment in the legal profession,” he said. In 1998, Charles B. Brown formed his Chicago law firm, Corplaw Associates, based on the “law department method.” Brown said clients were underserved by law firms who were often too distant and didn’t understand the needs of the businesses. The method he chose to use places attorneys in the client’s office, right down the hall from the executives. Brown has his own office where the seven or so attorneys in the firm each have space. While he offers reduced hourly rates, the focus is more on having an experienced law department attorney in the client’s office on a part-time basis. Brown said his business is more like a traditional law firm and has worked for companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Corplaw attorneys might fill in for an attorney on maternity leave or help out if a company is rapidly growing, he said. The lifetime of the engagements vary, with the average time spent with a client being six months to a year. Brown is working on his sixth year with one of his clients, he said.

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