Intermix: Flexible Work for Ex-Big-Firm Lawyers

Leila KananiToday’s post is from Leila Kalani, the founder of Intermix Legal Group.

Leila knows a lot about the inflexibility that comes with traditional law firm employment. That’s why she created Intermix Legal Group for attorneys who had other commitments or were “law firm refugees” and wanted to be able to work on a project or part time basis from home based around their own schedules. Intermix is based in Chicago and works with law firms and legal departments in Chicago and the DC metro area.

After practicing intellectual property law for 10 years in prestigious firms in DC and Atlanta, Leila decided to leave BigLaw. She was getting married and wanted to start a family and knew she wanted more flexible working arrangements. But she also knew she didn’t want to stop practicing. However, there were no companies that catered to helping attorneys who wanted to leave full time work and still stay engaged with interesting legal work, on a more flexible basis than billing a set number of hours a year.  She left Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, and Fox in DC to start her own firm and gain that flexibility.

At one point in her practice, she had needed a few experienced attorneys to help her on special projects and overflow work. After many failed attempts with different traditional legal staffing companies she turned to her own network of attorney colleagues who had recently left the practice. She soon realized there were so many attorneys that had left BigLaw or wanted to leave for reasons such as their families, because their firms would not allow for more flexible working arrangements. These attorneys were qualified to do top legal work without supervision or hand holding, much more so than the junior attorneys the traditional staffing companies had recommended.  There seemed to be no reason why these same seasoned attorneys could not do part time work from home.  Leila knew that if her former firm could benefit from this hidden pool of talent, then so could so many other law firms and corporate legal departments if only they had a source from which they could be matched with these attorneys.   Intermix became that source.

To start her team, she tapped her network.  After 10 years of working and maintaining good connections with her colleagues, she had developed a very strong network, and was overwhelmed with the response from attorneys that wanted to join her team.  These attorneys had an average of eight years’ experience and are almost all women who had left their law firms to stay at home with their families. The attorneys currently bill between $125-$200 an hour, and also work on project flat fee rates.

Intermix provides experienced freelance attorneys for project based work to assist law firms and legal departments with resourcing challenges such as overflow work and special projects. Legal departments and law firms can now send work to Intermix’s pool of talented attorneys knowing they are getting high quality legal services at significant savings.

My questions for you, readers, are these:  what are the obstacles to creating more firms like Intermix?  While firms like Intermix and Montage Legal Group attract many working mothers, can you see more men joining firms like these in the future?

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