The founders of Pillar Aught are modeling their new firm more on a West Coast tech startup than a traditional law office.
The isolated, bookshelf-lined offices they saw as staples of older law firms are replaced by a large open work space where attorneys can bounce ideas off each other without leaving their desks. Instead of a traditional lobby, Pillar Aught will have a café-type area and, eventually, outdoor seating.
A Silicon Valley-esque office is just one of the many ways that the firm’s founding partners hope to establish themselves as a new, more modern kind of law firm.
Seven partners and two associates from Harrisburg-based Rhoads & Sinon LLP left the firm this week to launch Pillar Aught. The new firm, which set up shop at 4201 E. Park Circle in Lower Paxton Township, will officially open to clients after 5 p.m. Friday.
The founders’ goal is to create a new kind of law office free from the structures they feel have held back traditional firms. That means creating a truly collaborative environment where every customer is the firm’s client, as opposed to that of an individual attorney.
“We see it as a disruption in the legal profession,” said Todd Shill, one of Pillar Aught’s founding partners.
The new venture affects many individuals and businesses in the midstate who worked with the Pillar Aught’s founders at Rhoads & Sinon, one of the midstate’s largest law firms. Those clients will have the option to stay with the firm, follow their attorney to Pillar Aught or go with someone else altogether.
“This happens from time to time in the legal industry,” Rhoads & Sinon managing partner Drake Nicholas said. “The departure of this group has absolutely zero impact on the range and quality of the services we provide to our clients.”
Pillar Aught’s founders, meanwhile, are hopeful that many of their clients will follow them to the new firm.
The nine attorneys came together while working at Rhoads & Sinon with the idea of creating a firm that incentivizes collaboration. If they launched an office with low overhead, they figured, they could offer flexible pricing while eliminating the need for clients to affix themselves to a single attorney.
Part of that low overhead comes from the small size of the firm’s crew: nine attorneys and one paralegal. Although the firm hopes to expand in the long run, its name – Pillar Aught – pays homage to the starting 10-person team (the “pillar” being a one and “aught” being zero). The fact that the firm is named after the entire crew, as opposed to one individual attorney, also serves as a reminder of their collaborative spirit.
- Kevin Gold: Labor and employment, intellectual property law
- Cory Iannacone: Commercial litigation, labor and employment law
- John Martin: Commercial litigation, labor and employment law
- Dean Piermattei: Commercial litigation, personal injury law
- Kenneth Rollins: Business, banking and securities law
- Kate Deringer Sallie: Business, banking and bankruptcy law
- Todd Shill: Business, employment and entertainment law
- Lindsay Snavely: Commercial litigation, labor and employment law
- Jill Neary Weikert: Commercial litigation, personal injury and family law
Their expertise runs the gamut from personal law to legal services for large corporate clients. Many of the founders have decades of legal experience, they noted.
Pillar Aught offers flexible, sometimes flat-fee pricing for some of its services, including fixed-fee in-house training seminars, flat-fee Securities and Exchange Commission work and no-cost attendance at client board meetings.
Three of the firm’s founders – Shill, Kate Deringer Sallie and Kenneth Rollins – enthusiastically described their vision for the new endeavor in a sunny conference room at the firm Wednesday. They see the collaborative model as not just a benefit for them, but also a win for the clients who can draw from the collective 134 years of experience in the entire firm.
“No one person can know it all,” Sallie explained.