Firm does legwork for lawyers Former court clerk relies on bounty of paperwork

May 08, 1991|By Blair S. Walker

Paperwork is the lifeblood of the legal community. Fax machines pump out paperwork.

A. Gordon Boone III equates paper with profit.

The former Baltimore County Circuit Court clerk recently started Legal Legs Ltd., a Towson legal services company that locates county documents, then faxes them to customers. Since fax machines receive, too, Mr. Boone also serves as a middleman for attorneys filing papers at the county's courthouses.

"You fax it to me, I reproduce it on nice bond paper and immediately walk it across the street for filing," Mr. Boone said. Either way, "this service cuts out the need for sending your paralegal or a lawyer from downtown or wherever you are."

Starting Legal Legs was an idea Mr. Boone had been kicking around for a while. It was time to act after he lost an acrimonious election last year for chief clerk of the county circuit court.

Mr. Boone had been a clerk for six years before his defeat and knew how to navigate Baltimore County's legal paperwork maze. His father, A. Gordon Boone Jr., is a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge.

Legal Legs opened for business May 1. It charges $20 to retrieve and fax documents, plus official copying costs. For paperwork to be sent within an hour, the charge is $30, plus costs.

"It ends up being cheaper, so they [law firms] don't have to bill their client $150 to have a paralegal come out here for three hours," Mr. Boone said.

It is a rare start-up business that makes money during the first year. Legal Legs hasn't been an exception, although it's founder thinks it will pay off eventually.

"So far, I've put about $10,000 into it," said Mr. Boone, who has one full-time worker and three part-timers, all of whom have courthouse clerk experience.

To hold overhead to a minimum, "I'm not paying myself much yet," he said. "I've gotten some used fax machines, a used copier. I really lucked out with the office space -- I had some guys who had some dead space they needed to lease out and it was really reasonable."

He hopes to be turning a profit by midsummer.

"The old saying that businesses don't break even until their third year -- that's a bunch of crap," Mr. Boone said. "I want to make money right off the bat."

Making the transition from salaried employee to entrepreneur has been interesting for Mr. Boone.

"Being your own boss is the only way to go," he said.

"A lot of people say it must be really exciting. It is exciting, but it's terrifying, too."

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