Vonage is a global cloud communications company that helps businesses accelerate their digital transformation. They turned to Priori Marketplace to find flexible resources for various types of legal work, including local counsel and overflow support, and to drive cost savings overall.
Carol Hopperton, Legal Chief of Staff at Vonage, joined the company in 2019 to set up Legal Operations and brought her background in working for fast-growing technology companies to the agile legal team at Vonage. One of her most important goals in taking over the role four years ago was to increase the capacity of the sales-supporting legal function at the company.
“You’re in kind of a quandary in legal because everything that sales needs, they want it now,” she explains. “And there’s this general expectation that you’ll take whatever volume comes in and be able to support it now. So for us, it’s really about trying to map our legal resources onto the business.” Hopperton’s background with technology companies informed her perspective on legal resourcing. “I’m always trying to understand where we’re spending our dollars, how we’re spending them and how to spend them most effectively by embracing better processes, better technology and better legal services. I try to run legal like it’s my business.”
Hopperton succinctly summarizes the challenge she runs into: “How do we right size the team? How do we put together a really agile, dynamic team that can flex and be able to support peaks without adding to your team size?”
When she received a recommendation to check out Priori, it provided an intriguing opportunity to answer these questions.
“I was looking for an additional flexible contract resource to supplement our team,” she says. “I wanted to figure out how we can start to embrace contract managers so that we were using our seasoned attorneys to do the really complex, high value work rather than churn out NDAs, for example. I wanted to embrace people that also embrace technology solutions and different ways of working because you want to make sure they’re going to thrive in your environment. Essentially, I was looking to fill some gaps and really enhance our support and coverage in terms of location and volume so that we could take a breath—the volume was so high that we were constantly chasing our tails.”
After receiving a recommendation from a colleague in her network, Hopperton decided to give Priori a try and immediately found the platform offered her a way to quickly find high quality attorneys who could seamlessly supplement her legal team and reduce their workload.
“We got a project up and within 24 to 48 hours what came back was what I consider to be a perfect number of quality candidates,” she says. “Very quickly I’m able to interact with them and have a conversation. Then I’ll put one or two through to our VP Commercial Legal Affairs and that’s the process. Within a really short time we’re able to onboard these folks and I felt like I was able to be really close to the process.”
She also notes that the lawyers on Priori’s vetted network understand how to work well with businesses, making the onboarding process smooth. “The main piece about finding people is whether they have the right culture fit and mindset to really thrive and become a part of your team. It’s just as important as doing the job. Even though they’re not a full-time employee, you want them to be seen as a core member of the team. What’s been really interesting is—the only way I can say it is that with Priori we’ve found just great people.”
Reflecting on why she has come back to Priori for multiple engagements, Hopperton explains, “Sometimes I stop and think, ‘Why do I use this?’ I use this because it’s easy. I’m not saying the other processes are wrong. I know some of the other options can provide a good service for me, but there is something about everything being online and at my fingertips that I just feel much more in control. I can have a very quick and direct relationship with the candidates and the technology is there to support it. It’s easy. It’s fast. It just works.”
Hopperton’s experience with Priori has led to three current engagements started through the platform, including local counsel on the West Coast, an attorney covering bespoke telecoms service agreement work and an attorney providing overflow support on an interim basis. Depending on what’s needed for a given project, Hopperton may use an attorney for a certain number of hours a week or month, or on a more full-time schedule for a defined period.
As Legal Chief of Staff, one of Hopperton’s top priorities is cost savings. “I always have one eye on the budget and one eye on what we’re trying to do with that budget,” she says. “Like most companies, we’re trying to do more with less. That’s why I embrace new methods and I have very much stepped away from the idea that you need purely seasoned attorneys to do more of the same—you know, every time your volume goes up you just hire another attorney. For me it’s about having a blended legal support team which enables us to focus the right team resource on the most appropriate activities—it makes the team more efficient and provides cost savings.”
Priori helps Hopperton reduce costs in this way. “It’s about finding people with the right level of experience that we need, but not having to employ them and then as a team making sure we utilize them,” she explains. “It gives us great access. And instead of bringing an employee in, where you have the costs of additional headcount and everything that goes with it, you also don’t lose the time that comes with employment from all the employee-related activities so you don’t get 100% of their time. With Priori I feel like I’m benefitting from 100% of whatever hours we are buying and we are buying them at a competitive rate.”
Hopperton sums up her experience with Priori: “It has given me an easy, fast way into a solution, so now it’s my go-to place.” She also points to how in addition to making things easy, the efficiency of the platform compounds her cost savings goals. “Time equals money, so every hour or half hour that one of our people or myself are assessing resources, whether it’s interviewing or on a call, that’s money—we can’t be doing other work. It comes back to those same things, which are the quality of candidates, the speed and the ease of bringing them in and that makes it efficient. And efficiency is cost savings.”
Anchorage Digital, a global digital asset platform for institutions, with the first federally chartered digital asset bank, needed flexible support for legal issues in the crypto industry, and turned to Priori for overflow support and niche expertise.
As a key player in crypto, Anchorage Digital is the first stop for digital asset projects and works with institutional clients of all types, from asset owners, wealth managers and funds to banks and fintechs. When she came on as General Counsel of Anchorage Digital, Georgia Quinn needed access to attorneys who understand the crypto market and can work flexibly with their “business hats” on.
“When I became General Counsel at Anchorage Digital and I had to start staffing my team, being able to have flexibility to bring more people on or get more hours was really important because I did not need full-time headcount,” she explains. “I think that’s the same for a lot of startups that are in nascent spaces, where you don't have your market fully defined yet. As a result, you're hesitant to hire a full-time, salaried employee. It's hard to make that full commitment to an employee because there's this uncertainty—you're not sure what the future workload is going to be.”
Quinn and her team at Anchorage Digital turned to Priori Marketplace to source and engage with sophisticated attorneys who understood the crypto space and could work flexibly, providing support when it was needed. Priori’s data-driven matching system allows Anchorage Digital to find attorneys with knowledge of the crypto space, ensuring they can work seamlessly with the Anchorage Digital team and make engagements go smoothly.
“With the kind of work we do in the crypto industry and the way the legal industry is at this point, it's highly specialized,” Quinn says. “We really like that we are able to get access to the very specialized skill sets of attorneys and can find the kind of niche qualities that we were looking for. In my experience, that's rare to find in a legal marketplace.”
Nellina Alarcón, Legal Operations Manager at Anchorage Digital, explains that, in addition to niche expertise, the ease of use of the Priori platform and the ability to engage with attorneys quickly are valuable to Anchorage Digital.
“I think the biggest benefit for me is efficiency—the time saved,” says Alarcón. “After beginning the request, getting that ball rolling and saying, ‘We have limited bandwidth and need some help here,’ we then immediately go into the Priori platform and create a proposal to request a lawyer. From there, we get a list of possible lawyers that we can connect with and the whole process is very quick. It's much nicer than having to do it the old-fashioned way where you're engaging a recruiter and then doing interviews. I find Priori to be really fast.”
Quinn also notes the professionalism and business-savvy that Priori attorneys bring to every engagement: “We find that Priori lawyers are more like in-house lawyers compared to using a law firm. Priori attorneys act like in-house counsel, not like outside attorneys. That's the difference. It’s a mindset. There’s a different mentality between in-house counsel and outside counsel. Priori lawyers put the business hat on more. They know they have to get the work done so that we can run a business.”
The Anchorage Digital legal team is able to work lean and still receive the kind of high quality legal services they would expect from an in-house attorney. They currently have engagements with three Priori attorneys and use the platform for a wide variety of matters, including commercial lending, securities law, crypto issues and vendor management. And, most importantly, the team is able to do this without the risks involved with adding to headcount.
“Especially being in the crypto industry, which is highly volatile, if we hit a dry spell or a crypto winter or something else, I might have to lay people off or I would have a lot of extra overhead that I couldn’t support if I wasn’t using Priori,” Quinn explains. “You don’t have to lock yourself into an employee and you still get a really talented team member who believes in the company goals and isn't just a mercenary.”
Quinn adds that another benefit of filling gaps as needed through Priori and not having to hire an additional in-house attorney is important for any startup. “Options are really your only currency as a startup, so having that staffing flexibility without having to give up equity or give all the full benefits—all of the things that can really weigh down a company—is important,” she says. “In a startup, you need to be lean and Priori enables that.”
Anchorage Digital is a regulated crypto platform that provides institutions with integrated financial services and infrastructure solutions. With the first federally chartered crypto bank in the US, Anchorage Digital offers institutions an unparalleled combination of secure custody, regulatory compliance, product breadth, and client service. Founded in 2017, Anchorage Digital is valued at over $3 billion with funding from leading institutions including Andreessen Horowitz, GIC—Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Goldman Sachs, KKR, and Visa. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Anchorage Digital is remote-friendly with offices in New York, New York; Porto, Portugal; Singapore; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Learn more at anchorage.com, on Twitter @Anchorage, and on LinkedIn.
I’ve been at Artsy since November 2015, and when I first started I was the sole in-house counsel. In the first 12 months, it was very clear to me that I was going to need additional support, but it can be challenging to get buy-in to spend more on legal when there are pressing business opportunities.
In my second year at Artsy, more resources were allocated to the legal department. I knew I didn’t have enough money for permanent help, so I began to investigate temp solutions.
The first step in my process was to reach out to other GCs in my network, to find out what services members were using. Priori Legal clearly rose to the top in terms of the number of recommendations. The buy-in from the tech community was very important in my decision-making process because I wanted to work with a company that understood and worked well with tech companies.
Like any good due diligencer would do, I talked to Priori and several competitors. I had in mind a very particular type of skill-set, class years of experience and culture fit for an attorney whom I thought would be the ideal second person in a small generalist team. Priori’s rigorous vetting process and data-driven technology platform made me confident that Priori had segmented the market to deliver the right person and right fit from a skills and culture standpoint.
I didn't have any concerns because I had done so much due diligence ahead of time. But that said, until I saw the quality of attorneys, their backgrounds and pricing based on my project request, I didn’t know for sure! Both of the attorneys I interviewed made me feel confident in Priori’s vetting process – not only were they a match on paper, they were lovely in person. I would say the only other concern I had was that your rates may be too reasonable…
I chose Priori because I was looking for cost savings off of traditional outside counsel for legal advice in a number of areas. I have been particularly impressed with Priori because the quality of attorneys is the same or better than our usual attorneys at larger firms, which, given how selective we normally are, says a lot!
I really didn’t think I needed a third party to help me find a lawyer – I thought I knew enough people to do it myself. But within 30 minutes of contacting Priori, they had scheduled three attorney interviews for me, something I never would have been able to do myself. Booking appointments on the Priori platform was seamless and delightful. They had thought through every detail, including providing a pre-arranged conference number.
There was one lawyer we particularly clicked with, and the next day we were on our way, negotiating the deal.
Priori has saved us quite a bit of time and money, and it allows us to easily find, and receive advice from, experts in many different areas. In particular, quick responses from attorneys on Priori’s platform, clear communication from the Priori team, and transparent billing make Priori my default when I’m looking for niche expertise, local counsel or simply cost savings compared to more traditional firm solutions.
Priori has been a huge asset to the Home Chef legal department. I recommend Priori to my fellow General Counsels whenever the opportunity arises.
Whether we need to find counsel with very specific expertise for a discrete project or an entirely new long-term relationship, Priori has allowed us to quickly locate whatever it is we need. It provides peace of mind knowing that we'll be able to vet multiple credentialed counsel, all with the necessary prerequisites, without having to simply rely on relationships or engage in a lengthy RFP process.
We needed extra support on our legal team at Via but couldn’t quite justify the budget to bring another person on full-time yet. A colleague of mine who is also in-house at a technology company in NYC had used Priori previously and found the experience remarkably positive. I had also been aware of Priori from their blog and email newsletter, which I found to be very relevant and interesting.
As Via has grown, our legal team’s workload expanded, but we didn’t have enough in-house lawyers to do all the work and didn’t want to outsource day-to-day commercial legal matters to outside counsel. As such, we needed to bring someone on who could work in a part-time and flexible manner to handle NDAs, engagement letters, vendor service agreements and commercial contracts.
We also used Priori following the imposition of the federal government’s travel ban early last year. We offered to assist with identifying legal resources for affected members of the Via community. Not only did Priori enable us to identify a roster of reasonably priced immigration practitioners, but Priori also helped us find a great lawyer to come in and provide an informational session for Via drivers on the legal ramifications of the ban.
In my experience, Priori’s vetting process is much more thorough than other legal staffing agencies that I have used in the past at my prior jobs. As a result, the caliber of lawyers recommended by Priori is much higher. Another benefit of using Priori was how specific we could make our hiring requirements. For instance, we needed lawyers with particular expertise who had also worked in technology environments. With Priori, you can really tailor your outside counsel and temp attorney hiring in a way that best suits your needs.
Priori has top quality attorneys with a variety of expertise. We chose Priori for our projects because their attorneys had the best expertise in corporate/transactional matters. We also love the service that we receive on an ongoing basis. It is timely and efficient, and very cost-effective.
Any corporate legal department would benefit from Priori's services. Priori offers an excellent alternative to hiring, especially for temporary, short-term, or individual project needs.
The breadth and scale of the company’s global operations was putting a strain on the company’s ability to quickly respond to legal projects requiring specialized local or niche subject matter expertise, both in the U.S. and internationally. The company was looking for a solution that would enable their legal department to quickly identify reliable outside counsel with the necessary experience to advise the department and the company’s business units on those ad-hoc, specialized projects.
Since turning to Priori, the company has used the Priori platform to quickly source highly experienced attorneys to advise the company’s in-house team and business units on issues including local leasing requirements for an office expansion, the appropriate strategy for the company to take in negotiations against specific contractual counterparties, to the process for the company to respond to proposed changes in local and state government regulations. The company has reported a high level of satisfaction with the quality of the attorneys engaged and the speed at which they have been connected to the right outside counsel, with the average turnaround time being 48 hours from initial RFP to engagement.