New law firm offers different pricing policy

May 7, 2011
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A new law practice recently opened in Grand Rapids, and the way it is practicing is relatively new, too.

Started by Hal Ostrow, the Ostrow Law Firm began practicing in February. Its target clientele are small business owners and those who dream of becoming entrepreneurs. But what is unique to Ostrow’s firm is it has a strong online presence and its fees are subscription based —  meaning a client pays a pre-set monthly charge for a selected level of service. His charges for four service levels are listed at MIStartupLawyer.com.

For instance, for $150 per month, a start-up business can have four attorney-client conferences a year, its formation document and another document written, and the first five minutes of every phone call or e-mail correspondence for free. Additional services are based on subscriber pricing. Set charges also exist for firms that are beyond the start-up stage, for on-call legal advice, and for on-demand counseling.

“I found that the small business clients that I had at my former firm really preferred cost certainty. What I mean by that is being able to predict what their legal services were going to cost from month to month rather than having fluctuating bills. So I wanted to try to come up with something that would be fair to them and would be fair to me, and it seemed like the subscription plan was the best way to go,” said Ostrow.

“That way they know what they’re paying every month for a certain amount of services. If they need something more than that, they know ahead of time that they’re going to need something more than that. But, so far, it’s been quite effective,” he said of his pricing policy.

The Ostrow Law Firm can draw up all the basic documents required for forming an LLC or a corporation and many other more specialized documents such as a nondisclosure agreement, an employee drug policy, an independent contractor agreement and even a social media policy.

Ostrow pointed out that start-ups and existing small businesses are two distinct groups with different legal needs. Still, he designed his law firm to be able to help both.

“One, start-ups are where people either have a concept or are working on a concept for a business. And, two, any business that’s not big enough to have its own in-house counsel,” he said. “I have single-member LLCs as clients and I have substantially larger businesses as clients.”

With the economy growing at a snail’s pace following the Great Recession, Ostrow said the cost certainty his firm offers has become a strong selling point with his clients. “I think it would be anyway, and I think the economy enhances it,” said Ostrow, who earned his law degree from the University of Pittsburg in 1999.

“The other interesting thing about the economy right now is I think between where the economy is and some of the wonderful things we have going on in West Michigan, and in particular the momentum — for example, in the Five-by-Five Night — we’re seeing a lot more people starting businesses. I think we’re seeing an uptick in entrepreneurial spirit in West Michigan,” added Ostrow, referring to the monthly entrepreneurial search that Rick DeVos started earlier this year.

With just a few months of operation under his belt, Ostrow said he hasn’t heard much in the way of feedback from the legal community about what he is doing. “Well, other than I’ve been in the presence of other lawyers when I talk about subscription plans. For example, clients can call and have just a couple-minute phone call or a short e-mail exchange and it’s included in the subscription, so they’re not getting billed separately just for those couple of minutes,” he said.

“I’ve gotten some nods of the heads from other lawyers saying, ‘Yeah, we know clients really don’t like asking a 30-second question and then getting billed for a tenth of an hour.’”

More information on Ostrow’s practice can be found at ostrowlawfirm.com, or by calling (616) 920-1780.

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