A new Bellingham legal practice is embracing technology and abandoning the profession’s traditional bill-by-the-hour system to cater to the small-business community.
Attorney Dawn Deans opened her practice, Kickstart Law, in Suite 426 of the Herald Building (1155 N. State St in downtown Bellingham) in early February.
Deans specializes in an array of business-related legal issues, including new business formation, contract writing and review, and intellectual-property protection. She also offers legal advice for companies in Washington and British Columbia seeking to advance across the border.
Deans attended law school at the University of Calgary. She practiced in Alberta and British Columbia prior to moving to the U.S.
Kickstart Law offers most of its services with fixed fees, as opposed to the industry standard of charging by the hour. Deans also provides quotes for clients with more specialized needs.
Deans is not the first lawyer to use fixed service fees—some attorneys even work with a combination of fixed prices and hourly billing. But with the Internet making legal information much more readily available and accessible, she said she believes law firms need to adapt their business models in order to survive.
“Lawyers don’t like to be pinned down for a price, because traditionally we haven’t had to do that,” Deans said. “But times are changing.”
Kickstart Law’s setup is primarily designed with small-business owners in mind, Deans said. While she does have an office for in-person meetings, a lot of her client interaction is done by phone or email, and she encourages the use of Web-based instant messaging and videoconferencing through services such as Skype and Facetime.
Utilizing tech tools for communication allows her to offer flexibility she feels small businesses need, Deans said. She also hopes the tools will let her attract clients from a broader geographic area, she said.
Evan Marczynski, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or firstname.lastname@example.org.