Mark Bold likes to use a phrase, “there’s a dog in the fight,” meaning that people tend to take a grievance more seriously when they know that the opposition has some teeth. He has a history of fighting for the defenseless (and winning, to boot) and is not afraid of barking at the gatekeepers.
As the founder and managing attorney at the newly-established (March 2016) Relevant Law, Bold is now challenging the status quo, hoping to bring a fresh approach to an age-old industry.
Relevant Law is a full service law firm, serving businesses, families and individuals alike in pretty much any legal arena. Its attorneys have years of experience in business law and the corporate world “Redefining law” is the firm’s tagline, which does not mean Relevant Law intends to ignore years of precedent, it simply means that it is trying to change how people think of lawyers in general, who are often found to be intimidating, inaccessible and overpriced. As a reminder of the expectations he hopes to defy, Bold has a daily calendar featuring jokes about lawyers.
“Law needed to be challenged,” Bold said.
“Law is a very traditional industry that unfortunately, has an oftentimes poor reputation. … The legal industry, in general, never questions, ‘Is there a way to do it better?’ They just do what everyone else does; they copy each other.”
Due to the hourly rates of most legal services, clients not only have uncertainty in terms of cost, they are deterred from proper communication. This is why Relevant Law has free consultations and upfront pricing.
“This high pressure for law associates to bill, bill, bill…[it] stifles communication with the client,” Bold said. “Why would you want to pick up the phone and ask how the case is going if you are going to be billed for it? It stifles that client-attorney relationship … you want that open communication (to better solve a case) and yet the industry punishes attorney-client communication, monetarily.”
The upfront pricing model puts a certain amount of risk on the law firm, which Bold shrugs off. He’s not worried about clients wasting his time by calling in.
“Most people are reasonable,” he says, adding that if someone were to overstep, start wasting time, the firm could handle it. “Most people are going to call for a legitimate reason and not because they are lonely.”
Bold adds that he would rather a client come to him with a concern instead of trying to find the (potentially wrong) answer on the internet.
Giving a client a quote, and then sticking to it even if things don’t go as planned, is common practice in other industries, so Bold does not see why it couldn’t work in law. For him, giving the clients that sense of peace simply requires a modern business approach, focused on efficiency, coupled with problem solving skills.
Early on, this begins with asking the client the right questions. This helps determine the cost. Is it a foolproof system—no. Bold has had some cases that stretched longer than planned. But he doesn’t show much regret—he seems pleased to know a client who had felt wronged got a satisfactory settlement.
Bold is a fighter, especially when it comes to injustice. In fact, while he was in law school he took up the cause for Virginia’s eugenics victims—the first generation of wrongfully sterilized, mentally challenged individuals are already dying off, with no reparation—and ultimately saw every surviving victim awarded $25,000. Like many rising lawyers before him, he had read about the case and wondered why nothing had been done to address this atrocity.
Unlike all before, he could not stand while this dark mark on the Commonwealth’s history remained unaddressed.
“I am a problem solver,” he said, simply.
After law school, Bold knew that he didn’t want to just open up another practice—a “Bold, Smith & Johnson.”
“Law has been a traditional industry that’s lacked forward-thinking creativity,” Bold said. “I had been working on a business concept for years that turns its back on the traditional law practice model. I believe business leaders and individuals are looking for not only quality legal advice from experienced and trusted attorneys, but delivered in a way that’s affordable and client-centered. It’s simply a modern approach to law.”
Before deciding to study law, Bold worked as an executive in the tech industry for a number of years. He picked up that cutting-edge mentality. Relevant Law strives to maintain a laid-back atmosphere, where people collaborate openly on projects and don’t feel that rigid corporate weight bearing down all the time. People work hard but they aren’t insular; there’s a warm feeling about the place.
A big way to keep costs down for the clients is to keep the overhead low. Technology is utilized for data entry, customer-relationship management and anything else that can help reduce costs and be more efficient. And Relevant Law isn’t in a skyscraper business suite lavishly overlayed with oak and marble. Everything in its new Cornerstone office at 1216 Greenview Drive is clean, open and modern, but not gaudy. (The office was previously in Wyndhurst.)
Being accessible where people live, shop and eat, is part of the way Relevant Law keeps a pulse on the needs of its clientele. Bold is always analyzing the client experience—even after a case is complete—to ensure it is the best possible.
Even in naming Relevant Law, Bold sought to shirk convention; it’s a name that is less about the lawyers and more about what the law should be to the client. Since the name is bigger than an individual, the firm can grow beyond the borders of the Commonwealth (there are plans to open more offices run by attorneys in those locales), making Relevant Law a trusted name across the map.
“The goal is to solve the [client’s legal] problem,” Bold said. “Attorneys tend to be proud. At Relevant Law we come from a collaborative standpoint, ‘How do we solve our client’s problem at a reduced cost and risk to them?’ The faster we can get it done, without cutting corners, saves them money.”
It is not about being the cheapest service in town—Bold knows there’s a balance with price and quality—it is about being practical. Relevant lawyers aren’t seeking high-end salaries; they’re just looking to revitalize the aspects of law that have grown tired.
In any industry, Bold says, “You need to be adaptive, fluid, open to change. … You can’t rely on just your strength alone or your market share alone, and be content. We are always pushing the envelope—‘How can we do this better?’”
Simply, it is about making the law relevant.
Learn more at RelevantLaw.com.
By Drew Menard