For Brit Young, the roots of Bridgeford LLC, a boutique law firm with a laser focus on helping small businesses grow and thrive, go way back.
“My dad was a banker not a lawyer, but he had a passion for helping small businesses and small business owners. He would come home from a good day of work and be excited about helping someone who was building a business and he shared that passion with me.”
So, even when Brit was in law school at the University of Florida, he found a practice group at a large law firm in Charlotte, North Carolina doing exactly what interested him. They represented small, high-growth companies in their formation, fundraising, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactions.
“It was great education and exactly what I was hoping for. I was able to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs – some succeeded, some failed – but I learned from both.”
While the big law firm life was certainly educational, Brit was envious of his clients who would raise money, form a team, and work towards building a successful business.
So in 2008, when Brit was offered an in-house opportunity with one of his small (but rapidly growing) clients with a highly-transactional business plan, he was intrigued. And with the support of a very understanding pregnant wife, Brit took the jump into entrepreneurship and left the big firm to join the start-up called EndoChoice in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“My experience both at the big firm and in-house inform how I practice law today. At the big firm you are taught how to be a skilled technical lawyer. You learn how to read and understand agreements, transactions, and the related issues and applicable law. The downside is that these law firms are the proverbial white tower. When you’re there it’s difficult to truly perceive the business challenges your clients face.”
When Brit went to EndoChoice, he found out how to be a businessperson.
“You realize that your client doesn’t want a law review article. They make real decisions, and they must make them well or the company is not going to survive. You learn that the businesspeople don’t care how smart you are. They don’t care about the history of the law. They want to know how to get from Point A to Point B, and what the “speed limit” is, so they can decide the best route to take.”
Brit helped EndoChoice grow even through the Great Recession, obtaining venture capital financing in 2008 and 2009 when many investors had stopped writing checks. Very quickly, he was doing dozens of deals a year and handling the day-to-day legal details that come with any start-up: various agreements, employment issues, managing the small but growing IP portfolio, and understanding the regulatory space.
In the first seven years of the company’s life, Brit helped it raise ~$100 million in private capital (including from Sequoia Capital), acquire companies all over the globe, and finally to IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.
“For a deal lawyer like me to be standing on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange with a company I had been with since its inception was really a dream come true. Having been a kid who was always interested in entrepreneurship, it was a great feeling.”
His final big deal with EndoChoice was selling it to Boston Scientific in 2016, completing the full life cycle of a company from formation through venture capital rounds, to growing through acquisitions and partnerships, to going to public, and finally to selling to a Fortune 500 company.
With all this experience, Brit learned that there was a big gap in the legal space.
“As a General Counsel for a small, growing company, your choices for legal representation are either hiring small firms where the lawyer may not have the deep specialization you need, or spending a small fortune for a big firm that has that experience but also the overhead of a skyscraper downtown.”
Understanding that unmet need, Brit formed a business-focused boutique firm that represents small companies in sophisticated venture capital, M&A, and other transactions, but at a reasonable cost. That firm is Bridgeford.
He hired senior paralegal Jennifer Buchanan, who shared his background having been a corporate paralegal at a large, full-service law firm and in-house at a high-growth telecommunications company.
“She is a huge competitive advantage for this firm. I’ll put her up against any young lawyer at any other firm. She does high-quality legal work that gives me the ability to be more cost-effective in assisting clients.”
Together they enjoy working with people who are building businesses that will improve society.
“I know it sounds pie in the sky, but it really is true. My clients have new inventions that are enhancing people’s lives. That’s what gets me excited – representing high-quality businesses navigate legal matters as they grow, and then ultimately helping them exit once it’s time to sell.”