Massachusetts mom founds company to support attorneys with families

Issue November 2012 By Nora Lockwood Tooher

When Trish Landgren was pregnant with her daughter, she had a hard time finding an attorney to fill her corporate counsel position while on maternity leave.

After her daughter was born and the company she worked for was sold, Landgren decided not to pursue full-time, in-house counsel work. Instead, she co-founded her own law firm - Corporate Legal Partners LLC - aimed at making life easier for her and other female attorneys juggling the duel demands of motherhood and law.

The firm, founded in 2001, also fills a critical niche in the legal field, providing experienced corporate counsel to companies in need of reasonably priced, high-level legal work.

"We're not a traditional law firm, or a temp firm," Landgren explained. "We will place people on site for a few days a month, or three months at a time, but the typical service is on an as-needed basis."

Fee arrangements are flexible. Corporate Legal Partners offers hourly, retainer and project-based billing.

Some clients, for example, pay a fixed amount at the beginning of each month for a certain number of hours. Anything beyond those hours is billed on an hourly basis.

Fee arrangements are "really catered to client needs," Landgren explained. "It might be a project for three months, or it might be work on-site."

Unlike larger firms that provide a wide range of specialized outside counsel legal work such as patent law Landgren's firm focuses on day-to-day legal issues.

The firm's specialty is corporate transactions and contracts. Other practice areas include employment, real estate, banking and finance.

Overhead is minimal. Landgren has a small office in Topsfield, and most of her attorneys work at home.

Landgren built her client base by contacting potential clients whose services or products she used or liked.

She started with a product familiar to every parent searching for a quick dinner for young children - fish sticks. Landgren contacted Gorton's, the Gloucester-based seafood company, and convinced the firm to hire her. Other clients include the apparel firms Chico's and Boden.

Corporate Legal Partners LLC has a roster of eight attorneys - all senior attorneys, and all women with children.

Working for Landgren's firm allows them continue practicing law, while limiting the number of hours.

"It's a great opportunity for them," she commented.

It's also a strategic, cost-effective solution for corporate clients, she noted.

"The companies are getting such quality attorneys," she commented. "They're coming from top-notch law schools, firms and corporations."

The quality of the work is also top-notch, she added. "We've got remarkable turnaround and attention to client matters because we don't have a huge caseload," she explained.

Unlike temp firms, Corporate Legal Partners strives to establish long-term relationships with clients.

"Usually, I will pair up an attorney with one or two clients. So, there's not that huge learning curve every time," she noted.

Corporate Legal Partner attorneys are available, however, to work on short-term projects for clients, or to fill in for in-house lawyers on maternity or medical leave.

Landgren has hired male attorneys in the past, but they are usually lawyers in transition between full-time jobs.

"They want to be in that office environment every day as a general counsel," she remarked.

That's not, however, Landgren's goal.

She has more than 12 years of experience providing general counsel services to public and private companies, both in-house and as a consultant.

Landgren graduated from the Dickinson School of Law, served as an officer in the Army JAG Corps and spent six years at a $1 billion public, promotional products company. She also served as legal counsel to numerous companies, including a venture-backed, privately held professional consulting services company, a high-tech software services firm and a multi-national environmental consulting firm.

Currently, she devotes about 10 to 15 hours a week to legal work, specializing in advertising and marketing law.

"I cherry pick the work because it comes through me," she said. "I truly try not to take on too much."

She and her husband, Mark Landgren - who co-founded Corporate Legal Partners but is now chief operating officer and general counsel at The Nexxus Group in Danvers - have three children. Their oldest daughter is now 13, and they have a 9-year-old son and a 2-year-old girl.

Corporate Legal Partners is thriving, Gorton's remains a valued client, and, Landgren noted, "We're still eating fish sticks."