Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP was formed in February, 1995 by John Chu and Jim Ring. Both were previously affiliated with Bingham McCutchen LLP, one of Boston’s largest law firms. John was a partner in that firm’s business area and also a member of its Entrepreneurial Services Group. Jim spent six years as an associate with Bingham McCutchen’s litigation area and then ran his own business litigation practice for another six years before setting up our Firm with John.
In January of 1997, Will Hazel joined our Firm as a tax partner. He was formerly Acting General Counsel and First Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and before that was a partner in the Bingham McCutchen LLP tax area. We changed our name to Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP in July of 1997.
Our nine-lawyer firm is based in open loft space located in the Fort Point Channel area of South Boston. We offer legal expertise in the areas of business transactions, corporate organization and governance, federal and Massachusetts state taxation, banking and securities regulation and compliance, business disputes and litigation, estate planning, employment law and licensing.
We focus particularly on representing young growing companies and entrepreneurs; controversies between taxpayers and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service; and disputes among shareholders and partners of closely held businesses.
Why Retain Us?
Many of our clients come to us because they are seeking a different kind of law firm. They are seeking a firm founded on the goal of building long-term client relationships and providing its best professional advice and counsel based on a thorough understanding of the client’s business and strategic goals. Such a firm should be oriented towards resolving a client’s ongoing day-to-day issues and crises and vigilantly assessing future risk based on present actions; yet, this firm should also possess the necessary experience and expertise to engage in sophisticated transactional work for the client. In short, such a firm should possess the following fundamental characteristics:
- Creative and efficient problem solving abilities
Our Firm meets these criteria in several different ways:
- Each of our partners has more than 20 years of experience resolving substantial and complex problems on behalf of a variety of clients, ranging from individuals, partnerships, and closely-held companies to Fortune 1000 companies.
- We use an integrated multidisciplinary team approach to problem solving and client representation – maximizing planning and minimizing disputes and lawsuits.
- We have a radically different infrastructure – a lower overhead model that allows us to focus on providing value and solutions versus the unwanted generation of billable hours.
Large Law Firm Experience
Given the prior affiliations and experience of our partners, it should not be too surprising that our Firm operates like a large firm in certain critical ways. You are typically assigned a team of professionals that includes a senior partner, a dedicated associate and, if appropriate, a paralegal. This provides a measured level of redundancy and back up for quality assurance purpose; it also allows for the most appropriate billing rates for the services provided. As detailed further below, in many cases our team is interdisciplinary from the very start, being comprised of business, tax, litigation and/or estate planning attorneys. And most unlike large firms, our partners are typically heavily involved in the day-to-day aspects of each client matter; and they are always accessible.
Where we begin to differ more significantly from many firms is the extent to which we integrate the delivery of corporate, tax, litigation and even estate planning advice. Many firms, of course, offer expertise in these and other substantive areas. But often this expertise is offered through quite autonomous and separate departments. These departments typically have no occasion to focus on, or even learn about, a given client, until problems develop that are within a department’s particular area of expertise and a formal referral to that department takes place. In contrast, all of our lawyers work in close proximity and are instantly accessible to one another, effectively functioning as a unified business law department. As a result, lawyer and client are able to obtain immediate and simultaneous access to corporate, tax, litigation and estate planning perspectives, maximizing planning opportunities and minimizing the possibility of disputes and litigation. Possibly one of the best examples of this is the way that our litigation group advises our business attorneys. This happens on a real time basis as disputes are unfolding – not after the fact – working strategically to keep our clients out of court and to be in a position to prevail quickly when court action is initiated.
Radically Reduced Overhead
Where we are most different when compared to traditional law firms is in our vastly streamlined administrative and overhead structure. We operate out of open loft space just a short five-minute walk from the heart of Boston’s financial district and the federal courthouse. Our attorneys rely heavily on email and voice mail and the Internet for communication and research. We outsource many non-legal functions like printing, binding, and couriers to copy shops and other specialized vendors, rather than assume the fixed overhead associated with substantial equipment and nonprofessional personnel. While the following seem to provide many clients with a level of emotional gratification, we do not have:
- An impressive downtown street address.
- Expensively furnished law offices.
- Layers of administrative and support staff serving the lawyers.
No one has been able to demonstrate to our satisfaction how any of these superficial emblems of competence and success actually enhances the delivery of legal services in any significant way. Instead, because of the potential conflict between the lawyer’s professional role and the need to generate billable hours, we believe that the practical effect of the associated high overhead is to distort the relationship between lawyer and client. For this reason, our Firm continually evaluates what aspects of our infrastructure are truly important when, in the final analysis, our real value as lawyers is in the analyses and solutions we provide.
While we may be no different by usually billing according to time charges (we will consider alternative fee arrangements when appropriate), we believe it is self-evident that, with our model, for each hour billed and paid for, our clients receive a significantly higher proportion of attorney versus overhead. Much more importantly, our model allows us to focus more clearly on our traditional role as professionals – to help our clients based on our knowledge and experience – and not become enslaved to the generation of billable hours in order to cover a substantial overhead.
We believe that our unusual approach translates into something very significant and meaningful for our clients:
- No reinventing the wheel.
- Simplicity, not over complication.
- Easy and direct access to our most experienced attorneys.
- Fees appropriate to the value provided.
- Objective assessments of what can be realistically accomplished through the legal process.
Our lawyers have much to offer through the exercise of their professional training and experience, having represented hundreds of clients in any number of situations. Computer networks, Internet access, email and voice mail, tablets and smartphones and other information technologies have enabled us to become increasingly efficient and available to our clients virtually anytime and from any place. Somewhat ironically, these 21st century technologies, when combined with our reduced infrastructure model, enable us to become more like the traditional attorneys of our parents’ generation, who inspired us to enter the legal profession in the first instance. They free us up to share our expertise and experience as counselors and advisers interested in the long-term well being of our clients. Recognizing all of this, we have purposely built a firm that is designed to allow us to spend whatever time is necessary, when necessary, to help established businesses and entrepreneurs confront and resolve problems and achieve their business objectives and financial goals. This structure provides us with the opportunity to consistently exceed our clients’ expectations, thus ensuring our own professional satisfaction and the continuing appreciation and success of our valued clients.