Lawyers from the Houston-based intellectual property firm of Patterson and Sheridan want the big-money tech clients of Silicon Valley but not the big-money price tags of Bay Area real estate and salary expectations. Impressively, they found it cheaper just to buy a $3 million Gulfstream G200 jet and commute.
The Houston Chronicle hopped a ride with the lawyers, who flip open laptops and get to work the moment their private plane takes off for clients in Silicon Valley, San Diego, and as far afield as Seattle. While in town, the attorneys meet with existing clients and try to recruit new ones over classy dinners and high fives. They call their jet "the bus" and it costs $2,500 an hour to operate or roughly $1,900 per passenger. With each attorney charging an average of $250-an-hour to patent inventions and working throughout the journey, the flights pretty much pay for themselves.
The attorneys live in Houston, where real estate is approximately 48% cheaper than it is in the Bay Area, and salaries are 52% lower. Patterson and Sheridan can also recruit the top talent because they get to say (paraphrased), "We'll fly you to meet with the clients at Intuit on our baller private jet like a goddamn Kardashian."
According to the firm, clients pay less and the firm makes more. Patterson and Sheridan does keep a tiny office in Palo Alto, but the lawyers are based out of Texas. The firm's monthly flights leave every second Tuesday from Houston's Sugar Land Regional Airport and the lawyers don't get to relax and knock back some scotch until their return flight enters Texas airspace.
"They found a way that is very interesting and very intriguing," said Rick Anderson, the wildly jealous COO of competing law firm Fish and Richardson.
As for the California clients, they don't seem to care that their legal team is all the way in Texas. "You can have a firm next door that is inattentive, and a firm that is 1,500 miles away that is very attentive," explained satisfied Patterson and Sheridan client David Haugen of Fox Factory.