Axiom, one of the longest-running alternative legal services providers, today joins the ranks of licensed legal services providers as it opens Axiom Advice & Counsel LLC (AA&C), a law firm in Arizona, where it plans to provide corporate legal services to businesses.
Last May, the Supreme Court of Arizona granted AA&C a license to operate as an alternative business structure (ABS), following Arizona’s historic move in August 2020 to become the first U.S. state to eliminate the long-standing ban on non-lawyer ownership of law firms. In its place, the state created a new class of authorized practitioners, alternative business structures, that must be licensed by the court.
In January 2022, Arizona granted an ABS license to law company Elevate, enabling it and its affiliated law firm, ElevateNext, to operate as a single entity in that state, and making Elevate the first non-lawyer-owned ALSP in the U.S. to operate with an integrated law firm.
In Axiom’s case, the company and the law firm are separate businesses, but the law firm is owned by Axiom, according to Catherine Kemnitz, Axiom’s chief strategy and development officer and chief legal officer.
(Kemnitz discusses the new firm in greater detail in a LawNext podcast episode that will air tomorrow.)
The firm is being led by Scottsdale lawyer Matthew Levine as managing partner. In practice for 27 years, Levine since 1998 has been co-managing and co-founding partner of the commercial law firm Titus Brueckner & Levine.
Joining Levine as a partner at the firm is Jeffrey Harris, who had also been a partner at Titus Brueckner and who focuses on civil and commercial litigation.
Arizona’s rules require that an ABS appoint a compliance lawyer who is responsible for ensuring that the ABS complies with the states ABS rules and regulations. For this role, AA&C has named Lynda Shely, a Scottsdale ethics lawyer who is 2020-2023 chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and a member of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Alternative Business Structure Committee.
Shely will not be a partner in the firm and will continue to maintain her own practice.
Reinvent the Archetype
Levine, the managing partner, said in a statement that he is looking forward to the opportunity to “reinvent the archetype of the modern firm.”
“By creating a firm unencumbered by billable hours and the traditional partner pyramid, AA&C’s lawyers are freed from prioritizing firm economics over client-centric values,” he said. “Instead, our attorneys can place their singular focus on providing clients with the practical, commercial-oriented legal advice that best serves their strategic goals. Equally important, the model responds to the growing client outcry for high-quality, flexible, cost-efficient counsel.”
AA&C says it will support a diverse set of clients ranging from growing businesses to multinationals. It will initially focus on corporate law, including complex real estate, labor and employment, mergers and acquisitions, data privacy, intellectual property, and regulatory matters, with plans to expand over time into other practice areas and sectors.
In its ABS application to the Arizona Supreme Court, Axiom said the firm would focus on providing legal help to smaller businesses that do not have in-house legal departments.
“Businesses that lack in-house teams are more likely to ignore issues or unintentionally permit them to get out of control before seeking appropriate advice. Axiom Global is setting up the Applicant to fill that gap by offering both new and established businesses a new cost-effective way to proactively control risk through access to affordable legal services,” the application said.
“Leveraging Axiom Global’s legal industry and operations knowledge, the Applicant will deliver savings to clients by operating without the inefficiencies of minimum billable hours, high overhead, partner equity-based bonuses, and pyramid structure, all legacies of the traditional law firm model.”
Axiom’s Kemnitz said the launch of AA&C is the next important step in the company’s continuing transformation of the legal industry.
“Under Matt’s leadership, we approach the practice of law with unmatched modernity – prioritizing clients and the lawyer experience, and leveraging the right legal talent, data, and practice-specific technology for each legal matter. AA&C’s reimagined law firm model delivers uniquely effective and efficient outcomes for every dollar spent on outside counsel.”
- LawNext Podcast: Supreme Court Justice Ann Timmer on Arizona’s Sweeping Regulatory Reforms.
- LawNext Podcast: A Deep Dive into the First Comprehensive Study of Reg Reforms in Arizona and Utah with Stanford’s David Engstrom and Lucy Ricca.