Matt Curran, Brandt Bowman and Scott Penwell practice business law a bit differently than your average firm.
The three Harrisburg lawyers opened their own corporate and securities firm, Penwell Bowman Curran LLC, on Pine Street in downtown Harrisburg in August 2017 to serve businesses of all sizes, in all stages of the corporate life cycle.
Penwell may have three decades of experience on his younger partners, but the trio have found the combination of experience and energy to be a hit with clients, both new and old.
“I spent my entire 35-year career at very large law firms, so I was ready to do something I had never done before,” Penwell said. “These two young guys are very good lawyers – very smart, focused and disciplined – so I thought they would make great partners.”
“Our ages may be very different, but the way we interact with clients is the same,” Curran said.
Although Penwell is at a very different stage of his career at age 65, he said he plans to be with the firm for at least a decade or more – enough time to build something worthwhile.
Curran, 32, said they’re all doing the same kind of work they did during their previous, large-law-firm experiences – they’re just delivering it differently.
“We don’t have all the overhead, so we can provide a really personal service,” he said.
Building a firm from the ground up, the team has been able to operate in ways that make sense for clients, rather than fitting them into an already-established system. They can make decisions quickly and pivot as necessary when situations present themselves.
“We’re able to be very flexible and nimble,” Bowman said.
Penwell said by running their own firm, he and his partners have become more focused and efficient than they might be otherwise, and have a better appreciation for and understanding of what their clients are dealing with. “That helps us be better lawyers,” Penwell said.
As a start-up themselves, the three attorneys work to be accessible, trusted advisors for their clients, some of whom may be in the early stages of a business.
Instead of the traditional billable hour, they work to understand the scope of the work upfront and provide a fixed-fee quote whenever possible, so the client knows what to expect.
“That really opens the lines of communication and helps the relationship,” Bowman, 32, said. “They aren’t worried that a quick phone call is going to result in a bill, so we can prevent problems before they happen rather than getting calls after the fact and trying to fix them.”
Because the legal field is often not the first to adapt to new technologies and processes, the three partners have been able to distinguish themselves from other firms with their fresh approach and efficient use of available technologies.
“We got to choose the software and platforms we wanted to make the client experience as enjoyable as possible,” Curran said.
Penwell said that adds a new dynamic to their work and shortens the time frame for getting work done and deals closed.
Bowman said their focus on approachable, friendly “bedside manner” is also paying off.
“The traditional view is that lawyers are people you only deal with when you absolutely have to,” he said. “We want to change that.”
Although each attorney brought clients with him to the new firm, the trio have gained a number of new clients during their year working together.
“People seem to like the way we are delivering services,” Curran said.