On Monday, my partner Nicole Auerbach and I announced the launch of ElevateNext, which will work alongside Elevate Services, a best-in-class law company.  And with Elevate, we announced our collaboration with Univar, a Fortune 500 chemical and ingredient distribution company, to reduce its legal spend by 50%. Many have followed our time with Valorem.  I am grateful for the sustained interest in our work at Valorem, and so I wanted to share the thinking that went into the creation of ElevateNext.

I see the creation of ElevateNext as a big deal.  When Nicole and I founded Valorem in 2008, we launched with an unheard of commitment to alternative fees.  Eventually, everyone got around to saying they offered AFAs.  They didn’t really offer AFAs, but that is another post for another day.  I wrote long ago about the importance of project management (2010). To this day, most firms have not made the needed investment in or commitment to effective project management disciplines.  Despite that, every firm claims to have project management expertise. Again, another post for another time.  Launching Valorem turned out to be a big deal, though, and, as a result, I have been described as a trailblazer and a visionary.  Others have called me just plain lucky.  Who knows. But regardless of luck, I see our arrangement with Elevate as the next big thing, and I wanted to explain why we are taking this big step.

For while, I have been concerned about the inherent bias with which most people view problems. When looking at two pieces of wood that need to be joined, those with a hammers and a nail want to nail the two pieces together. It may be that nails are the worst waysto join the wood, that a dovetail joint or a tenon and grove joint might be better.  Or a bridle joint or a biscuit joint or a finger joint.  The point is, that those who know one way tend to believe their way is the right solution in all cases.

Litigators want to litigate problems. Tech people see their unique tech tool as the be-all solution. Others bring their own unique perspective. But most of the time, problems are just problems and the right solution frequently involves the combination of tools and approaches.  So what do you do when you’re a lawyer but don’t have a tech expert available? What do you do when the client’s preferred outcome requires a redesign of the way work has been done until then?  What do you do when the right solution requires subject matter experts that are not on your team?  Few firms have the breadth of business, tech, design and legal skills to see a problem from many angles.  And clients pay a price because of that.

We came to believe that the answer was to find a way to not be resource-limited, to find people who believe as you do and are willing to solve client problems by collaborating to see the problem from many perspectives, not just through the prism of a single person or profession, and then to reach the best possible solution, drawing on the input of the varied contributors.  Nicole and I found fellow travelers when we met the people of Elevate. A diverse group from around the world. A group with a range of skills and talents that defy easy description but are beyond impressive. A group that are as committed as we are to solving our clients’ problems.

Sometimes, the right solution becomes the next big thing. This is one of those times. We believe that with our arrangement with Elevate, we will be able to carry the Valorem mission of extraordinary customer service forward better than ever before, providing our clients even greater value than we have before.