Today’s guest post is from C. Alexander Chiulli, native Rhode Islander and attorney at law with Barton Gilman LLP. It marks the second installation of a monthly column where Chiulli will speak with local entrepreneurs and innovators in Rhode Island to chronicle their Ocean State happenings, from one professional to another. -CG
Daniel P. Reilly is a Rhode Island native who grew up in Portsmouth. He graduated from Providence College in Providence, and Roger Williams University Law School in Bristol. Dan is a former Rhode Island state representative and currently both a practicing attorney and CEO and cofounder of Legably. It’s a modern online legal staffing platform that connects attorneys seeking work with other attorneys and firms in need of their services. For this column, Dan participated in a Q&A, highlighting his work with the startup.
Chiuli: What problem does Legably seek to solve?
Reilly: Legably connects freelance attorneys with small- to medium-size firms who have short-term needs. Smaller law firms and solo practitioners may not have enough volume of work to justify hiring an associate full-time or to hire a temp agency. We enable these attorneys to access on-demand assistance on a client-by-client, project-by-project or task-by-task basis depending on the need. So, if you’re an attorney but not in a larger firm, Legably allows you to handle larger or more specialized matters that you might not otherwise be able to, with the goal of potentially increasing revenue while controlling costs.
C: Why did you start Legably in Rhode Island?
R: We really wouldn’t have started Legably anywhere else. We had to be based, at least initially, in a place that had access to tech and talent. I thought it would have been a greater challenge than it actually was. Providence has really impressed us. There is considerably more talent in Rhode Island than people may realize, and that we can access just by being part of the community. There is a lower cost of living than Boston, and that has brought people to Rhode Island. There are a lot of people who want to have their careers in Providence, live and work locally already, or want to come back. At the same time, we sit on the Northeast corridor between Boston and New York. And it’s relatively quick to travel to and from those places.
C: What is unique about Rhode Island that other innovators are entrepreneurs may not realize?
R: You know, it’s proven to be the cost of scaling an enterprise. This is something we’re still experiencing, but the cost to scale, as best as we’ve been able to tell, is considerably lower in Rhode Island than in other places. Startups focus on conserving resources, and the costs are notably lower compared to places that we could relocate to, like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boston and New York.
C: What should people understand about Rhode Island’s Innovation scene?
R: Rhode Island has bustling but under-the-radar scene for startup companies, because they either started here or because they spun off from bigger companies. Rhode Island may end up flying under the radar for a while, but my sense is that we’re going to start seeing steadily increasing venture activity. From my own interactions, there are quite a few companies that are self-funding or are at-revenue, and that stand ready to really thrive. These companies may not appear on statistics that would show Providence or Rhode Island as a hub of investment activity, but they’re successful companies nonetheless. I think these successes will ultimately speak for themselves, and will attract greater capital and more regular interest and investment.
C: And a closing important Rhode Island Question, Del’s Lemonade or coffee milk?
R: Oh, wow. Do I have to answer? Del’s.