A recent Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report article, citing Lebau & Neuworth attorney Steven Lebau, states, “Whether they work on the management side or the worker side of labor and employment law, the attorneys contacted by Bloomberg BNA touted the advantages of boutiques (small law firms such as Lebau & Neuworth) for both lawyers and clients. They said the lawyers collaborate more and are able to offer high-quality and expert services at lower prices.”
Steve added to the conversation, “A boutique firm allows us to mark ourselves in a specific area. We can become masters at what we do.”
Many worker-side boutiques do a large portion of their work on a contingency basis, so they get paid only if their client recovers money, the article points out. Steve told Bloomberg BNA that Lebau & Neuworth represents employees in discrimination claims and noncompete disputes and also handles salary disputes for tenured professors. He estimated 25 percent of his clients are executive employees who pay him on an hourly basis.
“Lebau & Neuworth has found a niche that ‘can be very lucrative,’ representing federal contractor employees in whistle-blower claims,” the article explains. The False Claims Act authorizes lawsuits from people who witness an act of fraud against the government, and a whistle-blower who wins can receive between 15 percent and 30 percent of the money recovered.
Lengthy government investigations can drag whistle-blower cases out for several years, however, so “there's a huge waiting time,” Steve said.
“Some clients seek out boutiques because they have a reputation for being more flexible in their billing than large, full-service firms,” Daily Labor Report states.
In the article, Steve credited technology with helping small law firms save money. “The playing field has been equalized,” he said, noting that Lebau & Neuworth “can subscribe to all the latest, most expensive products,” such as information websites, because it needs to buy for only one practice area.