The Legal Intelligencer Article

August 2, 2017

“Pillar+Aught Grows with Two More Rhoads & Sinon Defectors,” by Lizzy McLellan.

Angela McGowan, left, and Steve Moniak, right.

Pillar + Aught, the Harrisburg firm that launched earlier this year vowing to embrace a startup sensibility, is growing in more ways than one, bringing on two new lawyers and expanding its office space.

The firm recently added two more lawyers from its founding partners’ former firm. Angela McGowan, who started at Pillar + Aught last week, will lead its real estate practice. Commercial litigator Steve Moniak also joined the firm in April, adding to its financial institutions practice.

Both had been partners at Rhoads & Sinon, which was home to Pillar + Aught’s nine founding partners before they left in February to start their new venture. McGowan and Moniak are classified as of counsel at their new firm, but co-founding partner Todd Shill explained that the lawyer titles mainly only designate who owns equity in the firm. Any of the firm’s lawyers can make an equity investment and become a principal if they see that as mutually beneficial, he said.

“When we designed this, we wanted to break a lot of the traditional model,” Shill said.

┬áPart of that has included creating a collaborative, open work space within its office. Thanks to that set-up, along with a greater reliance on technology instead of paper, the firm was able to spend less on its office space. The partners’ existing clients followed them to the new firm, Shill said, and they have been able to attract more business since opening because of their lower overhead.

“Lawyers are struggling with that rate pressure, that overhead pressure. When you relieve it, it’s amazing what you can do,” Shill said.

So it may come as a surprise that Pillar + Aught has just added 4,000 square feet to its office. But that space will largely be used as a facility for client training, which clients can also use for events. The cost is nominal per lawyer, Shill said, and saves the firm money it might spend to rent hotel space for training events.

McGowan said she is impressed with the firm’s progress in six months, and its ability to attract and retain clients. She was out on maternity leave when her former partners left Rhoads & Sinon, so she waited until recently to join them. She said her clients have reacted positively to her plans.

“I’m very attracted to the new approach to the practice of law, being a lot more collaborative and a lot more of a team approach,” McGowan said. “This is where the business world is going.”

The firm now has 11 lawyers. Shill said he thinks its model is sustainable as the firm grows, as long as it does so responsibly and continues to leverage technology.

Lizzy McLellan writes about the Pennsylvania legal community and the business of law at firms of all sizes. Contact her at lmclellan@alm.com. On Twitter: @LizzyMcLellTLI