FisherBroyles, a law firm with more than 200 lawyers but no physical offices, added three Washington, D.C.-based partners this week as it beefs up its offerings to clients in the capital.
The virtual firm announced the arrivals of Richard Kirby, most recently a litigation partner at Baker McKenzie, Beth-ann Roth, previously a partner at the Capital Fund Law Group, and Mark Thomas, who formerly worked as assistant general counsel for intellectual property and transactions for TeleTech Holdings Inc.
Kirby and Roth will be part of the firm’s compliance counseling, fintech and blockchain, political law, securities and private equity practices, among other areas. Thomas will practice in the fintech and blockchain, internet and e-commerce, and technology groups.
Kirby focused on a range of matters at Baker McKenzie, particularly securities litigation and enforcement matters and broker-dealer liquidations. He specializes in representing Ponzi scheme victims, including victims of Bernie Madoff.
He said he was lured from Baker McKenzie by the flexibility his new firm offers, which will allow him to maintain his practice while traveling to visit grandchildren spread from Africa to the West Coast of the United States.
“What large firms haven’t quite come to grips with is the feeling that you need to have a brick-and-mortar [building] to be an institution,” Kirby said. “As a practical matter, I go to the clients. If they want to meet, they don’t go to me.”
Kirby noted that FisherBroyles would provide office space if necessary for certain depositions or other matters, but such furnishings have become a secondary consideration given advances in technology. At Baker McKenzie, Kirby said, he would “increasingly go down the halls of an office and people wouldn’t be there” because technology made it possible for people to work remotely.
FisherBroyles’ approach has allowed the firm to eliminate overhead and encourage collaboration, Kirby said, and will help him reduce rates for his clients.
“There are financial incentives that make collaboration work really well,” Kirby said. “The basic principles are that if I do work on a collaborative matter, there’s a formula for compensating me that’s very generous, and the person that brings the matter to me is compensated directly.”
Kirby said the firm does not have young associates it needs to train, but is able to provide younger lawyers a lifestyle where they could bill 1,200 hours instead of 2,000 and still be compensated handsomely while raising a family. He said he thinks FisherBroyles’ blueprint is the “model of the future” and touted the firm’s “remarkable” recruiting efforts. In 16 years, the firm has grown from six lawyers to more than 200.
Kirby isn’t the first Baker Mackenzie alum to go virtual. Charles Yang left the firm’s Texas offices in 2013 to start his own virtual law practice in California. After Yang’s practice grew to include partners in Silicon Valley and Missouri and paralegals in Texas and Nevada, his outfit merged with FisherBroyles in 2017.
Alongside its expanded D.C. presence, FisherBroyles also added partners this week in San Francisco and Salt Lake City in its intellectual property practice.