RALEIGH – Hutchison PLLC, founded in May 1996, turns 25 this month. The firm, founded by Fred Hutchison, celebrates its origins as a unique approach to supporting entrepreneurs throughout the entrepreneurial journey, from the first stage, including participation in an incubator or accelerator, to the exit.
“Today we continue with this business approach,” Hutchison said. “It’s the combination of hectic businesses and visionary entrepreneurs who love our lawyers and the thrill of seeing innovative ideas every day that has kept the practice going for a long time.”
The story goes: One day, while practicing at Raleigh, Hutchison was asked to cover a meeting on the topic of incubators and accelerators. After the meeting, Hutchison guided his legal practice to focus specifically on startups. Now, 25 years later, PitchBook ranks the firm as the top 5 law firms in the Southeast.
“Entrepreneurs are unique individuals with the drive and determination to move out into areas with a large number of unknowns, mostly funding, and yet thrive in this environment,” Hutchison wrote five years ago, in celebration the 20th anniversary of the firm he founded. . “Someone once told me that most entrepreneurs can’t afford it. I guess it’s right in the sense that most don’t follow the rules and are always looking for ways to do things differently and hopefully make them better and more efficient. I think being “unoccupied” is somehow really a badge of honor for entrepreneurs and what makes them successful. ”
The company faced challenges, especially the tough competition from more established “big brand” firms based outside the region and the lack of adequate and available real estate that led to a small office adjacent to the office of a chiropractor, with the appearance of Hurricane Fran shortly after the firm’s relocation date, which caused flooding, lack of air conditioning and the stench of kittens’ rubbish for two weeks after the storm .
“It was tough somehow, but we all came together and we’re all thrilled to be part of our new company,” Hutchison said.
Before and beyond the “dot com boom”
The first five years of the firm experienced growth and an increase in interest in technology companies, followed by the start of the point as early as the 2000s. Five lawyers completed 100 financing agreements in 2001 , Hutchison noted, as the technology sector was a huge success. The firm also worked with clients in the life sciences, an industry that was still affected by the fall of the dot-coms, but which was less volatile compared to technology startups.
On the firm’s 15th anniversary, it had suffered a new shock: the Great Recession. The consequences of the first days of that recession were long lasting and the firm responded by reducing expenses and also reducing some staff positions. When the firm’s 15th anniversary was celebrated, in May 2011, there were first signs of economic recovery and renewed interest in emerging companies.
During the years following the crash, people were scared, investors shrunk and entrepreneurs expressed additional creativity and tenacity, Hutchison said. So did his lawyers, Hutchison noted, and as a company, decisions made to support and advise emerging companies and their founders through the Great Recession prepared the firm and its clients to come out. of the Great Recession stronger than ever.
The company would add customer segments, including the representation of nonprofit research institutions, investors, and the addition of geographic regions far outside the Triangle. Although most of the firm’s clients used to be located in the Triangle, the firm has now expanded to represent clients in the Southeast, the United States, and around the world, and the firm is now a member of LawExchange. International, improving its ability to serve customers worldwide.
Many clients have had notable successes, some quickly and some much longer. SciQuest and LipoScience, as two examples, completed the initial public offerings (IPOs), while Coventor remained in the development and commercialization of the development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) chip technology for 22 years and then was acquired in 2017 by Lam Research.
What stands out most about its presence and impact in the Triangle community is its structure, which allows lawyers and the firm to help local ecosystems, first in the Triangle and now in other southeastern cities, Hutchison said. “Lucky to have been able to develop lasting relationships and continue to work with many entrepreneurs in their successive endeavors,” he noted, even when events occurred in large companies that were outside the direct control of an individual: dismissals, mergers, acquisitions, for example – Towards the formation of new companies.
With headquarters in the Triangle, Hutchison has also played an important role in hiring emerging companies in the region. Helga Leftwich, retired partner of Hutchison PLLC, a role that demonstrates its focus on supporting ecosystems, rather than legal transactions. “Having the company dedicated to supporting the ecosystem on an ongoing basis has helped support existing businesses here, but also attract new entrepreneurs,” Leftwich said.
While the most pressing legal issues facing companies in 2021 are issues related to privacy and data security, Hutchison PLLC’s next 25 years of legal support for business ecosystems are likely to be guided by their first 25 years of lessons learned, based on the core values of the firm and involving many more technology professionals to staff, predicted Dan Fuchs, one of the firm’s managing partners there will be at least as many technology professionals as lawyers in companies in the future.
Fuchs, as a result of the lessons learned, is well positioned so that changes can come, although we do not know what the challenges will be ”.
“We are also entrepreneurs and we will stay adaptable,” he concluded.