CGL Founder Interview
We interviewed Noam Cohen, co-founder of CGL and really connected with her passion to law and approach to work-life balance.
Describe your company to our readers
CGL is a fully distributed, female-led transactional law firm dedicated to quality legal services infused with humanity. Our founders, and our attorneys, are highly qualified and experienced, having worked previously at premier law firms, government agencies, and demanding in-house roles.
These talented attorneys are engaged, motivated and ready to provide high-quality legal counsel while delivering innovative, future-focused, and efficient legal services. Why? Because they are given the freedom to practice law humanely, working from wherever they are during their most productive hours, carrying workloads that work for them.
CGL Mission Statement
Delivering legal excellence while enriching lives by reimagining the workplace.
What led you to start your company?
My co-founder Hannah Genton and I reconnected after both having left our careers in prestigious Silicon Valley law firms. We had both found that the lack of work-life balance offered by those roles didn’t allow for the quality of life we were seeking and that the pace demanded wasn’t sustainable. Yet, we both enjoyed practicing law and knew we had the talent and experience to offer clients. After Googling ‘how to start a law firm’, we dived in – and we’ve never looked back.
How are you making your business stand out?
Our model of legal practice allows us to offer our clients quality legal services at a competitive price point, and our attorneys unparalleled work-life balance. While these may seem at odds, the relationship between the quality of legal services and the humane working hours we offer is symbiotic.
The prospect of practicing law in a meaningful way while enjoying a real quality of life helps us attract talented, experienced attorneys who want to practice law from wherever they are (not from a fancy office space in the middle of a busy city). In turn, this allows us to offer competitively priced legal services to clients who want high-level expertise.
Since founding, we have more than doubled our revenue every year, proving that our business model isn’t just a “feel-good” story, but highly viable and scalable.
Did COVID-19 impact your industry?
The legal industry has a reputation as being resistant to change. As you’d expect, requiring the entire industry to switch to remote work basically overnight was a change many firms weren’t ready for – culturally or technologically.
Fortunately for us, CGL was founded as a distributed law firm.
We have never had a central office. Our team has always worked from wherever they are during their most productive hours. While it has been challenging at times, we have built a culture where our attorneys work autonomously but have the support of more senior team members when and if they require it.
We encourage our attorneys to manage upwards, relying on them to tell their managers what they need. This curtails micromanagement, encourages creativity and innovation, and fosters trust and engagement.
How do you envision the future of your industry?
As technology becomes more advanced and clients become more demanding, we are seeing changes within legal service delivery. Legal customer experience is more important today than it has been historically. As a result, we’re seeing smaller firms find success by offering services that are better tailored to meet a client’s needs.
We’re also seeing increased uptake of technologies that streamline the provision of legal services. When we started CGL, we found that most clients were open to (or even preferred) meeting online. It saved them time, since they didn’t need to travel between offices during work hours. Now that online meetings are ‘the norm’, we would expect to see more clients asking for their legal services to be delivered that way.
Finally, we anticipate that automation technologies will help increase access to legal services. Some attorneys denounce automated legal services, like document generators. However, we like them. There’s certainly a time and a place for them, but if a client’s legal spend budget only allows them to speak with an attorney about which documents they need and to flag major considerations in drafting those documents, then we would prefer for them to at least be aware of the risks. It leads to better decision making and allows business owners to adequately assess risk at every stage of business.
Where do you see your company in five years from now?
We have experienced rapid growth since founding, and we don’t intend to take it for granted. Over the next five years, we will strive to increase our client base and diversify the services we provide by attracting top quality legal talent. Hannah and I are passionate about our legal practice, but we’re equally passionate about giving burned out attorneys a space to ‘land’ when they leave these 80+ hour/week roles.
Ultimately, we’d love for word about our mission to continue to spread, and bolster the idea that law firm profitability and humane working conditions for attorneys are not mutually exclusive.