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As general counsel and director of financial investigations at New York-based Arkin Group, Justin Paul Caulfield not only learned the ins and outs of the intelligence and security business, he also recognized that the high cost of legal services prevented a number of the firm’s clients from using counsel on a regular basis. As a result, they often operated without sound legal advice. “I saw clients who were stuck-they were faced with either hiring an attorney full-time and paying his salary or going to a law firm and taking on expensive hourly rates,” said Caulfield, 33, of East Northport, N.Y. He saw an opportunity, and in January 2006, he founded Caulfield LLC, marketing his firm as an “outside in-house counsel” that works with clients in the areas of operations, growth strategies and litigation matters. Caulfield is part of a growing breed of low-overhead legal services providers who serve clients with frequent rather than constant legal needs for a fraction of the cost charged by traditional law firms. James S. Wilber, a consultant with Altman Weil, said that Caulfield’s business model makes sense, and he has seen similar arrangements in the last few years. “It’s another kind of example of temporary employment in the legal profession,” he said. Discounted rates Caulfield, a graduate of Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law who worked as a prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office for three years, said he is able to offer discounted rates-up to $225 an hour, compared with an average $450 per hour rate at a New York firm-because he has little overhead. Caulfield uses a post office box address for all his business correspondence and a mobile phone. Other expenses include a notebook computer, maintenance of a Web site, minimal travel and continuing legal education. What he does not have is an office or a land line. Caulfield frequently works out of his clients’ offices. For example, last week, he spent more than 50 hours on-site for a Northport, N.Y., client. Otherwise, he works out of the Northport Public Library, or any other location with free WiFi access, such as a Starbucks coffeehouse or Panera Bread store. “The location really depends on the type of work I am doing on a particular day,” said Caulfield, who stressed that he is virtually paperless and that his data are always encrypted and secured. But he never works from home-it is impossible with children ages 6, 4 and eight weeks, he said. Caulfield’s choice of workplace is unusual, said Vincent Ansanelli of Amityville, N.Y.-based Ansanelli, Kugler & Svendsen, co-chairman of the Suffolk County Bar Association’s solo and small firm practitioners committee. In most cases, Ansanelli said, solo attorneys work from home or operate a small office. “It seems like the reincarnation of the doctor who does home office visits, but who doesn’t have an office,” he said. Ansanelli said while Caulfield’s business model might work for some clients, others might feel uncomfortable with this type of practice. “The clients like to know there is a central location, a place where their attorney does business; it gives them some type of comfort level,” he said. Caulfield said his clients “know what they are getting into. It’s explained to them up front how my firm works.” About a dozen clients Caulfield has had about a dozen clients, five of whom he has worked with on a recurring basis. He has found these small and medium-sized businesses through acquaintances, word of mouth and also on Web sites such as Craigslist. He generally bills the recurring clients for about 20 hours a month. Last month, Caulfield signed up New York-based MetroMedia Technologies Inc., an outdoor marketing, design and advertising firm, for general counsel work. “We had the opportunity to work with Paul on some risk-management projects, and made the decision to broaden his involvement with our company based on his reach, expertise and professionalism,” said Jim Campbell, its president. Asked about Caulfield’s lack of physical office space, Campbell said, “Paul is always accessible, so his physical location has not been a concern. We actually prefer his on-site accountability.” In March 2006, Caulfield began working with Inside Lacrosse, a Maryland-based magazine, on a pro bono basis to give the magazine insight about the legal issues that arose when Duke University lacrosse players were charged with the rape, kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman at a team party off-campus. He also represented the magazine on the Fox News Channel and on MSNBC. “When the Duke incident hit, we were swimming in waters way, way over our head in terms of what to say publicly and how to say it,” said Bob Carpenter, CEO and publisher. Carpenter said Caulfield, who once played lacrosse, provided “much-needed” legal and public relations insight. “There were a lot of things I was about to print that would’ve come off wrong-his consultation services were invaluable,” he said. Lawyers like Caulfield who provide temporary services are becoming more common. New York-based Axiom Legal Solutions said its Fortune 1000 clients have also enjoyed their on-site accountability. Founded by Mark Harris, a former associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell of New York, in 2000, Axiom handles a variety of legal matters from general counsel work to litigation at a 50% discounted rate. “The idea behind Axiom was to strip away all of the heavy overhead, including real estate costs and partnership profits, and focus in on the law and the clients,” said Harris. Most of the firm’s 170 attorneys work on-site in their clients’ offices, but the firm does have space for its 40-person staff in both New York and San Francisco. Harris said he has been able to attract experienced attorneys, because at Axiom they have the ability to self-direct their practices. “There are some attorneys working 60 or 70 hours a week and then there are those working less,” he said. “There is an element of control.” Caulfield said he enjoys being his own boss and business is “thankfully good.” If it continues, he said, he could end up doubling his former salary at Arkin, though he declined to disclose the amount. But no matter how good business is, Caulfield said he does not expect he will be renting an office. “I prefer it this way, I want to build the firm and eventually add a partner with a specialty and grow the business without an office,” he said.

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