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Virtual Law Firm Scale Plots Growth, Hires Veteran Leader

June 30, 2021, 11:00 AM

Virtual firm Scale LLP has hired Big Law and in-house veteran David Reidy to lead the nearly 50-lawyer firm through what it expects will be a growth spurt driven by the pandemic trend towards remote work.

David Reidy will be Silicon Valley-founded Scale’s managing partner, joining from fintech startup Payactiv, where he served as chief legal and compliance officer since early last year. Previously, he was a partner at McGuireWoods, where he led the national fintech practice and co-founded the firm’s San Francisco office.

Since its founding as a virtual firm with a focus in Silicon Valley in 2017, Scale has expanded into 10 states and its headcount and revenue have doubled in the past six months, Scale’s co-founder Adam Forest said. The firm declined to provide specific revenue figures. Forest said the firm provides a full range of legal services but its largest practice area represents startup clients.

“We are on the cusp of a generational change in the way people work and lawyers work,” Forest said in an interview. “The time for us to grow the business and mature the business is now and I can’t think of anybody better to lead a world-class team than David.”

The growth is driven by changing workplace behaviors brought on by the pandemic, when virtually every Big Law attorney worked remotely. Those large firms are now planning to return to their office space, but Reidy and Forest said many partners have expressed interest in the personal and financial flexibility offered by the virtual law firm model.

Virtual firms generally allow lawyers to take home a larger portion of the fees they collect by eliminating the overhead that results from maintaining a physical office. Scale lawyers can earn up to 80% of the fees they collect. According to the firm, 20% of the fees go to lawyers who originate the work while 60% go to the attorney who handles the matter.

FisherBroyles, the largest virtual law firm in the country, last year broke into the ranks of the country’s 200 largest firms by revenue, according to the latest AmLaw financial data, making it the first virtual firm to accomplish that feat. It brought in $113 million in revenue, a 14% increase from the prior year.

Some Big Law firms including Quinn Emanuel, McDermott Will & Emery, and Goodwin Procter have recently hired lawyers in cities where they don’t have a traditional office. Husch Blackwell, an AmLaw 100 firm, last year launched its own “virtual office” allowing more than 40 lawyers to permanently work from remote locations.

Some of Scale’s main clients include Ford Motor Co., software company Xero Ltd., real estate technology company LendingHome, and payments solutions company Modern Treasury. Many of the firm’s lawyers have both Big Law and in-house experience.

Forest, a former Reed Smith associate and director of legal at LendingHome, said the firm received more than 3,500 applications in 2020. Part of Reidy’s job will be to wade through the candidates to grow the firm.

“Many in the legal profession see this as a time to invest in themselves and explore a different way of working, and now they have a choice,” Reidy said in an interview. “For me, the goal is to build the best virtual firm in the country, and to grow in a way that preserves our community and our brand. I’m very excited about that.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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