Three years ago, when I launched All Places, I could not have imagined what this business would look like today. I’m not even sure I tried to imagine it. All I knew was that the situation I had been in as a Big Law partner was not for me and this vision for All Places felt right. What that vision was going to turn into, however, was well beyond me.
Many of you have been on this journey with me from the beginning. You were there giving me feedback as I struggled to figure out what this new firm would look like. You were encouraging me, being straight with me, oohing and aahing over our early brand concepts. And some of you, you loyal, risk-loving, glorious humans, leapt right alongside me, and hired this little startup law firm when you could have just as easily gone to Cooley or Kirkland or Wilson Sonsini.
Whenever I see a founder who I respect post something about what they learned about running a business from day 1 to today I click click click. Give me all your secrets!!! For any of you who are like me, here are some of the highlights of three years of All Places.
Our Clients. First things first: we love you. Your faith in us has created this firm. Not only have you hired us to support your precious babies, but you have gone out and told other founders about us in the most glowing terms. Thank you. I said it when I wrote my first CEO’s report for Q42020 and it’s just as true today: “It still takes my breath away a little bit each time someone chooses to sign with All Places–the startup firm with the weird name and the weird website and the weird focus on women.”
You also know I’m a numbers geek, so on to the numbers! Since our launch, All Places has worked with nearly 100 clients. In 2023 alone (and it’s only October), we have worked with more than 60 clients. Who are these clients? More than 30 have been funds across asset classes (venture, private credit, private equity, venture debt, hedge funds, long only, and deal-by-deal firms). More than 35 have been startups across industries (food and beverage, healthcare, fintech, SaaS, fashion, sports, beauty, wellness). The rest have been a mix of amazing individuals and small and large businesses. Half of our clients have at least one founder of color.
The question we get asked most frequently: do we work with men? Yes! Approximately 25% of our clients are businesses founded by mixed gender or all-male teams. We are on a mission to create greater gender equity in capital markets and it turns out that that mission (along with the provision of exceptional legal services without surprise bills) resonates across the gender spectrum.
Team is everything. If you’ve spoken to serial founders or any entrepreneur who has been doing this for more than a couple of years, you have been told that nothing is more important to the success of your business than the people who work there. I concur. I’d like to tell you I had this all figured out from the beginning, but that would be a lie. We’ve certainly had some missteps along the way, but we’ve also been incredibly (incredibly!) fortunate. I have to give a shoutout here to my partner-in-crime since very early on: Molly Tranbaugh. Her skill, humor, diplomacy, and mutual love for the film Working Girl have gotten me through many hard days. We have also recently been joined by someone many of you have already met, our new Chief of Staff: Erica Akitani-Bob. In less than a month, she has made us better and pushed us in new directions (some of which we have accepted: DMing; and some of which we have not (yet): TikTok). More about her later this month. And, finally, to Brit Poff, who jumped in after a couple of rocky experiences to provide some stability and organization to our back office. That’s right: we are now four!
Live and die by the mission, even if it takes more time and more money. All Places has always been a mission-driven company. We are seeking to close the gender equity gap in capital markets, where less than 2% of venture funding goes to all-female founding teams and less than 1% of assets are managed by asset management firms majority-owned by women. We are doing our part to support the women and men who are changing these numbers by making sure that, with each deal they make, they understand what they are getting and what they are giving up in the short- and long-term.
This mission doesn't just apply to our legal services. We take it into just about everything we do. When we host an event, we feature women-owned brands and host at woman-owned spaces. When we send out our holiday gift boxes, they are packed with our clients’ products. When we start thinking through a gift to send our top referral sources, we work with a woman-owned agency and purchase swag from a woman-owned (and sustainable) clothing company. These are things we want to do, but they are also things that telegraph to our community that we are genuine. We are not a male-owned, male-dominated, male-focused firm trying to slap a “rah rah women” label on a new department and invite you out for mani/pedis and another innovative conversation about work-life balance.
Think differently. There are so many industries out there that have been run a certain way seemingly forever. This is just “how it’s always been done.” And as long as the people running those businesses keep making money, they will continue to do it that way. This is true about most of the industries you all have been disrupting and it’s true about law. In some ways, nothing we are doing at All Places is revolutionary. At the same time, each time we have a pitch call and explain that we work on flat fees or with real budgets and real timelines, and that no one on our team is compensated based on their billable hours, people tell us how amazing that is. Is it?!?! Well, it shouldn’t be, but it is. Because law firms have always done things one way, and that way tends to yield big surprise bills for mediocre legal work landing in your inbox each month. Boy, bye.
This is all to say that, just because an industry is really big and the biggest players in that industry do things one way doesn’t mean you can’t come in and make it better. One company at a time is how you change an industry. And if you’re ahead of the curve, all the better for you and your shareholders.
Thank you for being on this journey with us and for taking time from your day to read this, when there are horrific things happening in the world demanding your emotion and attention. Life can feel very hard and very heavy sometimes and I am grateful to have this community of support in work and in life.
-- Jessie Gabriel