“Our ultimate goal is to let lawyers use their brains to focus on interesting problems and spend less time on operations and moving documents around.”
Augie Rakow ’07 was a partner representing startups at Orrick when a Facebook post changed his career. In January 2017, he saw that Justin Kan, an entrepreneur who had sold his live-streaming video company Twitch.tv to Amazon for nearly $1 billion, had posted a poll about the cost of venture capital financing deals for startups.
Rakow reached out, and the two met a couple of days later. In the course of a four-hour conversation, they realized they shared a dream: attempting a radical new way to run a law firm.
In April 2017, Rakow cofounded Atrium, a San Francisco-based company and law firm that provides legal services to technology start- ups and their investors. Atrium is based on an innovative business structure, which combines a traditional law firm with a sister corporation that can raise capital, develop software to improve operations, and oversee functions such as marketing and finance. And instead of relying on billable hours, Atrium o ers multiple subscription options.
“Our ultimate goal is to let lawyers use their brains to focus on interesting problems and spend less time on operations and moving documents around,” Rakow said.
Since it launched just over a year ago, Atrium has helped more than 150 clients and has closed around $500 million in venture cap- ital financing deals.
Rakow’s path to the law was circuitous. He studied history at UC Berkeley before enrolling at the Harvard Divinity School with plans to become an academic. During a summer in Japan, he came across a Japanese law textbook and “totally fell in love with it,” he said.
Instead of completing his divinity degree, Rakow moved to Tokyo in 1999 to study law. In 2004, he returned to the U.S. and enrolled at UC Hastings. He was inspired by courses on open source software and patent litigation, as well as an externship with Judge Ronald Whyte at the Federal District Court in San Jose.
“UC Hastings showed me the di erent careers you can have and the di erent issues you can work on as an IP professional in a way that was intellectually exciting,” Rakow said.
After graduation, Rakow worked at several patent litigation firms before joining the Emerging Companies Group at Orrick in 2010; he made partner six years later.
Rakow wasn’t planning on leaving Orrick, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reimagine legal services from the ground up. “Law firms are stuck in the past because evolution in the legal industry is left only to lawyers,” he said. “Law firms don’t invest in their own future like good businesses. A two-entity structure allows us to take bigger risks and innovate.”