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Case Study

Howell Legal Streamlines Client Collaboration

In its 14 years in practice, Howell Legal has established a focus on serving the needs of startups. This concentration is borne of two factors.

First, that there is an opportunity for firms as a whole to do better at representing early-stage companies: many law firms don’t have systems in place to be able to efficiently balance the time investment required with the amount startups are realistically able to pay.

Another facet is how interesting early-stage companies can be. Startups are built around innovation, around taking a forward-looking idea and seeing what can be built around it. Ryan Juliano, a partner at Howell, explains the allure succinctly: “Innovation and bold spirit—that’s what gets us excited.”

RyanJuliano Howell Legal

“You can serve more clients—especially when you’re serving early stage businesses.”

Ryan Juliano, Vice President & Attorney, Howell Legal

Collaborating on Fidelity Private Shares℠

One of the hurdles that law firms often have to navigate when working with startups is efficiency and scalability. Lawyers that want to work with startups typically have to balance their desire to see those companies grow and succeed with maintaining a good value-to-time ratio.

Fidelity Private Shares makes that possible, says Ryan.

“[It] can even go beyond efficiency and create a reliable experience that you can scale. You can increase the same value over time. In addition, you can serve more clients—especially when you’re serving early stage business, you want as many clients as possible, and you can’t hold the information from 100 of them in your brain. Having systems is important and tech tools need to be behind those systems.”

Even before their first formal raise, a client had had a flurry of activity, with pre-seed financing and a number of early employees with stock options. Moving onto the platform let them organize and manage a growing cap table, while also providing the ongoing documentation support they needed to be successful.

“The cap table has been really easy to use as a whole. That’s a big part of the value. Almost everybody is getting some sort of cap management, but bundling that in with document management and storage is really smart,” says Ryan.

On a day-to-day basis, Fidelity Private Shares allows stakeholders to handle a lot of their own documentation, while giving Ryan much-needed oversight over the process. For the everyday, repeatable processes—IP agreements, NDAs, stock agreements—using Fidelity Private Shares lets founders take control, with the assurance that all of the documents created are standard and secure.

“There are tons of DIY products on the market, but without oversight, DIY can be counterproductive and lead to mistakes,” Ryan explains. “[The platform] gives you that same efficiency and speed, but without any of the risk.”

Improving the Lawyer-Client Relationship

For Ryan and their clients, the benefits of Fidelity Private Shares go even beyond the workflows that they handle on the platform. Letting software handle the mundane details affords Ryan more time to do what he’s uniquely well-equipped to do: provide the sort of customized, high-level advice that no piece of software could ever emulate.

In fact, the time savings were so consistent that Ryan was able to formalize the process. After their client onboarded onto the platform, Howell was piloting a subscription program for other clients, which included a monthly consultation with unlimited document review. Because clients were on the platform, and thus saving so much time in the document generation and review process, Howell was able to reallocate some of those hours to a monthly high-level strategy session. For Ryan, the benefits have been clear:

“It’s been great for our relationship. We can get a better look at things down the road, and because we’re more efficient in one area, we can spend our time where it’s most valuable.”

Looking Forward

The legal industry is moving beyond a focus on commoditized work, and into a focus on professional judgment and human-to-human advice. To successfully modernize, lawyers need not just forward-thinking internal processes, but also the right tools to be able to best advocate for their clients. For Ryan, Fidelity Private Shares has been a key tool as a collaboration kit. As Ryan explained: “[The platform] has shown itself to be really flexible and customizable. It takes into account the inherent complexity of the legal process. It’s been a really intuitive experience.”


"[The platform] gives you that same efficiency and speed, but without any of the risk."

Ryan Juliano, Vice President & Attorney, Howell Legal

"[The platform] has shown itself to be really flexible and customizable. It takes into account the inherent complexity of the legal process."

Ryan Juliano, Vice President & Attorney, Howell Legal

About Fidelity Private Shares

Fidelity Private Shares provides end-to-end automated equity management solutions for venture-backed startups. Fidelity is reshaping how companies get started, raise capital, and exit and is used by numerous investors, legal teams, and startups, including companies like Burrow, Firefly Health, Rugged Robotics, Day Zero Diagnostics, and many more.

Ready to see how Fidelity Private Shares can support your company?

Source: Howell Legal. The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Private Shares LLC cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.