For Rahul Magan, Creating Processes Is Essential To Running A Powerful Legal Department

Rahul Magan has always known what it means to wear multiple hats. Growing up in a family of independent hoteliers, he saw first-hand how different the same job could be from day to day. After graduating UPenn Law, he joined Goodwin in Silicon Valley where advising tech firms and start-ups became his passion. But being outside counsel never fully satisfied Magan, so after 5 years of working with and observing start-ups, he joined one. Magan worked at ShipBob, where he set up the Legal department and, most recently, came on as General Counsel for the venture capital and private equity firm Trousdale Ventures.

At Trousdale, Magan is once again building a legal team, but the firm's diverse portfolio of investments (space tech, lifestyle brands, real estate, and more) also means he's wearing multiple hats and doing vastly different jobs day to day. One of those jobs is sole general counsel for Meyers Manx, which is bringing back the original Dune Buggy, this time as an EV. "It's really hard to start a car company from scratch," admits Magan. "There's a graveyard out there of American companies that have tried to start small, low-volume vehicle manufacturers."

Such challenges don't scare Magan, but they require a team. To help with the caseload at Meyers Manx, and at previous companies, Magan integrates Lawtrades into the firm's workflow. We sat down with Magan to understand how he leverages Lawtrades for his specific needs, and how it compliments the nimble style of a start-up.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lawtrades provides legal professionals at a fixed, predictable cost, and fully-integrates them into team workflows
  • The staff at Lawtrades is personally responsive to a client's specific needs, and sources qualified legal professionals
  • Legal professionals on the platform are business-oriented and entrepreneurial

Parts of this interview have been edited for clarity.

What are some of the biggest problems you are trying to solve for your clients?

The regulatory landscape when developing a car is incredibly complex. There's very few people out there that know how to decipher the regulations, because when you're manufacturing a car, not only do you have to be able to address consumer safety and apply for VIN numbers to register your vehicles, you also need the dealer licenses so that you can start selling, and if you want to be a D2C—Tesla has an entire army of attorneys that does the retail side of it. However, Meyers Manx is more of a niche company where we're probably going to produce only about 5,000 vehicles to start. We still need to get through as much of the regulation as we can, with very limited resources. There's not a lot of expertise around the table, in fact, there aren’t many folks around the world that have practiced this type of law or implemented this process before.

Then, besides the regulatory side of it, another part of my legal job at Meyers Manx is the commercial side. We're constantly prototyping—where we're collaborating with other manufacturers and suppliers. We're figuring out where to manufacture these cars: do we have our own facility and get that financing, get equipment in there, or do we contract manufacturing with third-parties?

As always, there's the corporate fundraising side, the governance side, and the employee side. We are manufacturing vehicles, so there's a high level of liability that we have to watch out for. We don't want people dying in our vehicles. Also, we have shop workers, we have professional staff, we have people traveling constantly—we have new-hire templates, hourly pay, make sure everyone's taking their meal breaks, like at a granular level you have to be able to handle these things too.

What casework do you use Lawtrades most for?

At ShipBob, my first employment counsel transitioned out and I had nobody while at the helm of a company with hundreds of employees spread across 28 states and 7 countries. We had gone through a budget tightening exercise, and I wondered if we can live without a new hire by using outside counsel. Experienced outside counsel costs $700 an hour? And I'm like, "well, they don't play within our systems. They can't talk to HR every day and be plugged into the Slack channels. How about I find someone on a temporary basis?" Hiring a Lawtrader is great because they're hourly, we don't have to pay insurance and all of that, and they're a fully-loaded cost—we know what their rate is and we can predict it. That, and we get a subject matter expert who does this day-to-day and they can talk to even outside counsel and still significantly reduce our overall cost and spend. So if the company wasn't ready to budget for a full time replacement hire, I could at least get a subject matter expert who can help shoulder 20 hours a week to start.

How did you first hear of Lawtrades?

I actually met Ashish Walia [Lawtrades co-founder and Head of Business Development], through TechGC.

Using Lawtrades was primarily strategic. I was a new GC at the time. I met Ashish over the course of a few conferences and we talked, and when the time came to find staffing in a pinch, Lawtrades set it all up. Within two days, Lawtrades sourced a few candidates, scheduled interviews, and on-boarded a capable attorney. And even after I hired a full time attorney, we continued that relationship with Lawtrades because there were simply too many projects in process.

Have you ever used another ALSP or was Lawtrades your first one? What made Lawtrades stand-out for you?

I looked at some of the "old-school" ALSPs, and they effectively operate as an outsourced Big Law firm. For me, that seemed like overkill—the people were hyper specialized, so it'd be good for a really specific project, but I'd be paying higher rates. With Lawtrades, I like the platform because it's a little bit more entrepreneurial. The attorneys are fighting for the role, and I find that the Lawtrades folks seem a bit more business-oriented. Whereas, I think some of the other ALSPs, the lawyers were outside counsel before and never spent time in-house, so you still get that outside counsel flavor versus at Lawtrades you can plug the hire in.

On the backend, it's really easy for me to reach out to Lauren or Ashish, and I can send them a sentence saying I just need someone to help me with this and they sort a bunch of resumes and make the interview experience really easy to handle so I'm not scheduling a bunch of things that I have to worry about. Plus, usually every time I hire someone, they've started the next day. It's really seamless.

Would you recommend Lawtrades to other firms or Legal Operations departments?

Absolutely. Yes. To all of my general counsel friends, I always say that if you need some ad hoc help and you don't want to pay $600 an hour for a junior associate that will get something back to you that's 50% complete, try Lawtrades. It's a good way to try something new. There's very low risk to bringing someone on from Lawtrades, and if it works, the ceiling is very high.

Whether a growing start-up, established legal firm, or multinational corporation, Lawtrades provides world-class legal talent via an easy-to-use platform that makes hiring and managing a breeze.

Book a demo and discover how Lawtrades can benefit your business.

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