Paul R McMenamin of McMenamin Law Group Explains a “radicalized” Approach to Attorney-Client Relationships in this new age
We recently had the chance to speak with Paul R McMenamin of McMenamin Law Group on the firm’s radicalized approach to litigation and corporate matters. By bringing principals like compassion, humanization and understanding to the top of the priority list MLG creates stronger relationships with clients. This methodology does away with the “clock watching” and puts clients at ease attributing to better communication leading to a stronger case, solutions and better results.
This new way of thinking differs greatly from the old model of first time consultation fees, high upfront retainers, and line items such as phone calls, emails, and copying documents. In the interview, Paul explains MLG’s fresh approach and how it came to fruition.
Q. Paul, can you tell me a little about your background in the industry?
A: Well, having graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1985 I started working in a major law firm in Philadelphia and then New York, where I spent the balance of my legal career. I started out as a litigator, handling highly complex litigation matters, securities, RICO, and sophisticated commercial litigation. I developed a specialty area in corporate law. I would primarily deal with company purchases, sales and intellectual property matters. In addition to working in large New York law firms as a partner, I also spent a number of years in a private equity firm, working under the CEO of CBS, and former CEO of ESPN. We were institutionally backed with 13 portfolio investments and approximately 500 million in capital to invest. Our charter in the private equity group was to invest in media, print, digital, and technology companies that would support media platforms. Certainly working in areas ahead of their time.
Q. What type of services does your firm specialize in?
A. MLG started over 4 1/2 years ago primarily focusing on litigation and corporate transactional matters. Within the context of litigation, our specialty is primarily in federal courts in the Southern District in New York. We also handle cases outside of that jurisdiction with other affiliate legal partners in our vast network of like-minded legal counsel. MLG’s litigation focus is primarily on securities related matters where we have served both as defense counsel and prosecutors in, securities fraud, RICO matters, including mail and wire type fraud litigation. Our practice really encompasses both sides of the equation –defense and prosecution. And lastly an increasing sector of our work on behalf of public corporate Clients handling SEC Filings and compliance related matters.
Q. What type of clients do you benefit most? And Why?
A. There’s a single through-line that I believe in associated with any type of client, whether that client comes to us with an issue that involves a potential litigation, whether he / she or the corporation is looking to sue, or has been sued, and/or in a transaction matter. The clients I like the best are those that come with a full understanding of what their issues are and can properly articulate them. On our end, it gives us the ability to properly advise and craft the clients needed solution. One core philosophies of MLG is to stay away from legalese. Stay away from talking about the law, per se initially, but really to understand the particular need in whatever context that is, whether it be a litigation, or transactional context. To understand that is critical to get to a solution and legal strategy.
Q. What is the most common problem you see your clients having? How do you solve that problem?
A. The most common problem I see, whether it’s the context of litigation or a transactional situation, is confusion, a certain amount of trepidation. It’s not easy to walk into a law office be bombarded with legalese and presented with the rate structures, that’s in fact why we call ourselves “The Legal Sanctuary,” we disrupt the normal understanding of the Attorney – Client Relationship. We’ve created an environment that’s open, fluid, and inviting, not intimidating, expensive and overpowering.
Q. Do you consider yourself a teacher in your line of work?
A. I think whether it’s the practice of law, or medicine, or any other type of profession, there’s altruistic nature about all of these professions. Specifically, with the legal profession, yes, you are a teacher, but you got to be the right type of teacher, not a teacher that’s didactic, and just throwing legalese at somebody, and confusing the individual. You need to deliver a fluid, even, understandable dialogue, so that that client can feel that comfort level, so that you can do the right thing. Get to the essence of the problem, so that you can arrive hopefully at a strategy associated with the solution. Unless you build the right relationship and start out the right way, which is the way I just described, you’ll find yourself as a lawyer operating with not 100% of the facts. Everybody that walks into our office has a different chemistry. We recognize this and work in a transparent, compassionate nature for each of our clients.
Q. Besides being confused with legalese and facing high fees, do you think problems clients may face also lies in understanding the documents, the laws, and why are they there in the room with you?
A. That’s a great point, again, a very critical part of MLG and why we call it “the legal sanctuary.” I’m a big believer that the documentation or the legalese should remain initially out of the room. In truth, the focus should be to get a clear understanding and read on what those problems are, and to devise a solution that’s clearly understood, both with respect to the lawyer and the client.
Q. At McMenamin Law Group, what sets your firm apart?
A. Quite simply, “humanizing” the practice of law. We believe that after over 30 years of experience as described, you come to understand your strengths and your weaknesses. One of the strengths I’ve had from the inception is patience and understanding which leads to humanization of the process. When you look at our website, read our philosophy, it really is borne out of a radical departure from the traditional way that law has been practiced. MLG delivers the same level of sophistication, and delivery of our service as any other big law firm can do and does, but we approach it in a different way – we are not clock watchers. We’re listeners, we’re problem solvers. We work very hard. We take each client, large or small, as serious as the large one or the small one can be. We don’t rank people, there’s no ecosystem in our practice. That’s where the altruism comes and that’s where the care comes. That’s where the passion comes, so a client can feel without having to walk into a room and think, “Oh my God, how am I going to afford this?” Where they’re saying, “I’m scared, I don’t know what to do”. We try to dispel that. Dispel it so that we give that concept of that sanctuary where you’re not on a clock. You’re not coming in to talk to us with a consultation fee, you’re there to talk to us as we will talk to you, in a context of free association.
Q. What kind of advice can you give to someone shopping law firms for the best fit. What should they be looking for?
A: Well, when you’re shopping for a law firm, I think the things you need to be looking for:
- First, the person you’re sitting in front of. Do you believe that lawyer is going to be your advocate, and do everything in that lawyers’ power to get you to where you want to be?
- Secondly, do you believe he or she has the skill-sets to get you there
- Thirdly, is that lawyer more interested in discussing rates and fee structures than the case? If you walk into a law firm and the first thing they talk about are what they charge, how they charge, that’s a red flag, stay away from it and run.
- Fourthly, stay away from those lawyers that guarantee things, because any lawyer that will guarantee you results is not telling you the truth, so always stay away from them, because the practice of law by definition is subjective.
You may have a good case, but that may not translate in a litigation context to a jury or a judge, so there are no guarantees. At the end of the day, it’s about the fit. Without the fit, you’re never going to get anywhere. The McMenamin Law Group stands as a great example and role model for the future of the industry. Eliminating intimidating legalese, and stress from on-the clock fees puts clients at ease. This allows full focus on understanding the client and situation more thoroughly ending in better results.
About The Author: Tavis Bucklin
Tavis Bucklin is a #1 Best-selling author, and contributing iReporter for CNN covering leaders in Business, Health, and Personal Development.Tavis has been published in ABC, CNN, NBC, FOX and Forbes Magazine among other outlets.