Daily Dispatch

Interview

Enterprising Lawyers: Avenue4’s Janine Goodman and Marc Lindsey

By | Apr.08.15 | Daily Dispatch, Enterprising Lawyer, Innovation, Law Firm Management

Enterprising Lawyer

Who are these “enterprising lawyers”? Actually, they are easy to spot. Look for the more engaged and happier lawyers in the crowd. Deeply invested in the power of the work they do, they have ample interests beyond the practice of law as well. And they seem to have more energy for getting things done than anyone in the crowd. You probably know one  — you may even be an enterprising lawyer yourself!

Meet lawyers Janine Goodman and Marc Lindsey, co-founders of Avenue4 LLC, a (non-legal) firm focused on advising clients with Internet assets on how, whether and when to enter the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) market. Once in the market, Marc and Janine help them find buyers for their assets. Their clients are predominantly Fortune 500 companies that hold large supplies of unused IPv4 numbers. Is this NewLaw? Sure sounds like it to us!

Janine Goodman

Janine Goodman Headshot Vice President, Avenue4 LLC
Washington, DC
University of Chicago Law School, 1992
Brown University, BA, English, 1988

What does your work at Avenue4 entail?
Everything it takes to run our business. I work with my colleague Marc Lindsey in engaging with clients and providing deal support. I lead our IPv4 market research efforts, ensure that we are always moving forward in implementing our strategic business initiatives and generally ensure that our business operations are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Our ability to serve our clients well starts with how we run our business, and in that regard we hold ourselves to extremely high standards.

Do you continue to practice law in the classic sense?
No, but I can’t think of anything I do that doesn’t benefit from the legal skills I’ve learned over the past 20 years. Writing, strategic thinking, issue spotting and problem solving. Everything I’ve learned as a lawyer plays a big role in what I do and how I think.

What is Avenue4 and how did it come to be?
Several years before the IPv4 market emerged, Marc was already providing legal advice to clients who held IPv4 assets. He then began advising clients who were exploring whether they could sell those numbers, and in 2010, Nortel engaged him to advise on the legal implications of selling their numbers. With Nortel’s sale of a large block of numbers to Microsoft, the IPv4 market began to take off. Soon clients and brokers alike began seeking Marc’s counsel on the market. Things were getting busier and Marc asked me to help with his contract review and negotiations. I found the whole area fascinating from a legal and public policy perspective. I continued representing clients in their communications services and technology procurements, but began to spend a substantial amount of time helping grow the IPv4 practice. Soon it became clear the work we were doing was predominantly of a business nature and no longer a classic legal practice. Our competitors were all brokerage businesses. We determined that to best meet our clients’ needs, the IPv4 practice really needed to evolve into an advisory business separate and apart from a law firm. Our firm, Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, LLP (LB3) recognized that as well and supported our spinning off the business into Avenue4.

What do you see in Avenue4’s future?
Currently we specialize in large block transactions. As the market evolves and the needs of buyers and sellers change over time, we expect that smaller block deals will predominate and we will need to adapt our business model accordingly. By most estimates, the market is expected to last five to seven years, so we’ll also be working toward how best to serve our clients in a post-v4 world.

Describe your own career path so far.
After graduating law school in 1992, I worked as a litigation associate in Chicago. I moved to Washington, DC, in 1993 and worked as an associate doing both litigation and communications work until 1996, when I left to join LB3. At LB3, I began doing both FCC regulatory and telecommunications transactional work and then transitioned fully to transactional work. For the last 15 years or so, I’ve represented several Fortune 500 clients as their primary counsel for all their telecommunications work. In 2011, I began working with Marc in the IPv4 practice he was developing. We formed Avenue4 last September and I left LB3 to begin working full time for Avenue4 this past January.

Why did you go to law school in the first place?
It has something to do with my mother telling me I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My brother was in law school at the time and, based on what I had learned about it, it seemed to be a good match for my skills.

Janine Goodman and Family

Janine Goodman with husband, Gil Strobel, their son, Oren Strobel, and daughter, Orly Strobel.

Why might someone describe you personally as “enterprising?”
From a professional perspective, figuring out how to take an organization from point A to point B is really interesting for me. I like to think of myself as someone who knows how to do that well — helping to come up with that good idea, running with it, making it a reality and bringing people along in the process. As to my non-work life, I love the arts and spent many years either writing or playing music. I self-produced a CD of original music (I have about 200 copies in my basement if you want one!), and wrote a children’s book for tweens that my daughter’s book club has read. I also spent quite a bit of time volunteering for my kids’ school — designing and running a successful school-wide event, and then serving as president of the school board.

Where do you think the practice of law is going, generally? What does that mean for you?
That’s a big question and I don’t think there’s one right answer. The practice of law can be very different depending on your working environment. In DC especially you see so many different ways to practice law that give shape to very different experiences.

Describe your own personal office.
Sitting in one corner is a big Tweety Bird that I won on the boardwalk in Rehoboth, Delaware, doing a Coke bottle toss. Other than that, there’s my desk with computer and phone, boxes of files, trade magazines and piles of paper that I try very hard to control. I also spend a lot of time working at my home office where my cat keeps me company when she’s not stretched out by the radiator.

What is the first thing you “check” each morning?
First the temperature, so I know how warmly my kids need to dress when they leave for school. Second, the American Registry for Internet Numbers website to see how many free pool numbers are left, my email, and my tracker to see what needs to get done that day – not always in that order.

What are you currently reading?
Fences by August Wilson and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

Listening to?
My kids playing guitar and ukulele whenever they’re home. Other than that I’m rediscovering Suzanne Vega and my favorite Broadway show tunes on Spotify.

Watching?
“Breaking Bad,” “Broadchurch” and “Elementary.”

What are people surprised to learn about you?
Did I mention my 200 CDs in the basement?

Where do you turn when things go really badly?
I call my husband. Immediately.

LB3058-marc

Marc Lindsey

President, Avenue4 LLC
Partner, Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, LLP
Washington, DC
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, JD (1996)
University of Pennsylvania, MSE (Systems Engineering) (1992);
Howard University, BSEE (1989)

Describe what your work now entails.
At Avenue4, I spend most of my time talking with clients and prospective clients about their business objectives, and developing market participation strategies best suited for them. Marketing my clients’ assets to potential buyers occupies a lot of my workload. I’m also in the trenches delivering Avenue4’s core advisory services — structuring asset purchase transactions between buyers and sellers, and then overseeing their closing. Avenue4 is a young company, and business model planning and refinement are prominent responsibilities.

Do you personally continue to practice law in the classic sense?
I split my time between technology transactions legal work as a partner at LB3, and technical and business advisory services with Avenue4. My “traditional” legal work consists of structuring and negotiating outsourcing, cloud computing, managed services, and other complex information and communications technology-related transactions for Fortune 500 companies.

Explain how Avenue4 came to be and your role in that.
As head of LB3’s technology transactions practice, I began working with IPv4 legacy holders back in 2007, long before the IPv4 trading market existed. Enterprise companies who held Class A and other large IPv4 legacy blocks sought my legal advice to determine their rights and entitlements in and to their IPv4 numbers. Soon after that, in 2009 and 2010, I represented several IPv4 clients in their exploration of the legal, technical and commercial underpinnings of conveying IP numbers for value to third parties. Startup brokerage companies, other lawyers and intermediary firms began reaching out to me for help evaluating the marketability of IPv4 assets, navigating the law and applicable policies and developing transaction structures. As the market formed in late 2011 and early 2012, many of my original clients turned to me to help guide them through their planned market participation. My role transitioned from lawyer to IPv4 market advisor and broker.

Where did the idea for Avenue4 come from?
To better serve the business objectives of our clients and pursue non-legal opportunities, enable a more rapid development of new services and processes for the changing market, and foster greater industry partnerships, Janine and I concluded that we needed to move our IPv4 practice into an independent entity. After several months of discussions with the leadership of our law firm, we spun off Avenue4 in partnership with LB3. With the support and assistance of LB3, almost all of the existing IPv4 clients transitioned to Avenue4.

How many people are employed by Avenue4 at this time?
We built Avenue4 on lean startup principles. We don’t have any w-2 employees. Avenue4 is a manager-managed LLC. Janine and I are two of the three managers, the executive officers, and majority shareholders. We also provide Avenue4’s professional services. When and as required, we draw from our trusted contract resources for administrative support. We use Salesforce software, document management, and account management applications that are cloud-based, which eliminates our dependency on dedicated IT physical and human resources.

What do you see in Avenue4’s future?
The IPv4 market is nascent. Matching buyer and seller, setting the key commercial terms, negotiating and closing the transaction, and registering trades is very personal and high touch. It is a consulting and advisory practice, which requires many hours of effort for each successful (and unsuccessful) pursuit. Because we only get paid when we deliver results for our clients, that level of effort is not well correlated to our earnings. At the moment, we are able to do well without capacity constraints because we qualify opportunities, and specialize in large deals at the high end of the market. However, a large portion of the trading volume in the future will involve smaller blocks. And there are no trusted, reliable and transparent mechanisms to execute and clear these smaller trades efficiently and at large scales. I anticipate that Avenue4 will evolve to address these scale and efficiency impediments.

Describe your career path so far.
I started out as a system engineer for GE Aerospace. During my four years with GE, I worked on a variety of software and satellite systems. I wrote software code, developed requirements, conducted system integration testing, and managed small teams of other engineers.

Law school did not cross my mind until about two years into my career as an engineer. I enjoyed learning and exploring technology, and felt that my hyper specialization at GE was too confining. Patent lawyer seemed just right. Mastering and using the law to enable innovation and facilitate technology transfer fascinated me. But I eventually discovered during a law school summer clerkships that the act of drafting patent claims was not well suited for my personality and capabilities.

After graduating from law school in 1996, I joined Hunton & Williams as an associate in the antitrust and litigation group of its just-opened Charlotte, NC office. We were a small office, with large firm resources. I practiced there for two years. I didn’t hate large firm life as an associate. Hunton & Williams is an excellent firm, and trains young lawyers well. I did, however, miss science, engineering and technology.

I found myself drawn back to patent law and started searching for lateral positions in patent litigation groups. A headhunter connected me with a small DC-based telecom and IT transactional law firm, LB3. Although it fell outside of my selection criteria at the time, I was hooked by the prospect of practicing at the intersection of technology, law and business without the layers of oversight in a big firm. I joined LB3 in 1998 as an associate, made partner, and advanced to my current role as lead in our technology transactions practice area. Last year, Janine and I launched Avenue4.

Describe your personal office.
For better or worse, my personal office is wherever I happen to be — Avenue4’s business occurs around the clock. Since our resources are cloud based — even our telephone system — I can make and receive calls from my “office” line and access all of our knowledge resources using my mobile device, laptop or tablet. I do have a brick-and-mortar Avenue4 office, which is co-located with LB3’s space in downtown Washington, DC. My office is on the ninth floor of a 10-floor building, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a major DC street, and my blinds are always up or open. The dominate décor item is my large graphite multitiered Bimorph desk, where my two large LCD computer monitors sit. I have a wall of bookshelves stuffed with journals, technical manuals, and deal handbooks, and a very ugly boom box I have had since law school. It has both CD and cassette players — though I’m not sure either works. I only use it now to listen to the news.

Marc Lindsey and son

Marc Lindsey with his son, Maceo.

Why might someone describe you personally as “enterprising?”
Movement towards greater self-determination and divergence from institutional status quos have been strong currents in my professional life. While practicing technology transaction law at LB3, I created and developed several new practice areas (with varying degrees of success from a fee generation perspective) by identifying technology-driven changes that had the potential for significant disruption (e.g., cloud computing displacing IT outsourcing), anticipating client needs, and stretching to be the first mover.

Where do you think the practice of law is going, generally? What does that mean for you?

Today, there are incredible opportunities for small firms to successfully compete with big law firms using rapidly deployable and scalable technology, low overhead, legal process outsourcing, targeted expertise and nimble practice delivery models. Not all firms will have to change their traditional law firm business model, but the legal market is ripe for innovation. I believe a wave of new smaller leading law firms will emerge that will weaken the dominance of big law firms in corporate law departments. I’m fortunate to practice in a small firm that allows its partners to experiment with new practice areas and fee structures. My freedom to experiment with the IPv4 advisory practice at LB3 directly contributed to Avenue4.

What is the first thing you “check” each morning?
Often, before I say good morning to my wife or son, I grab my smartphone and look at the Google news “front page,” working down my personalized headlines (after top stories) from technology news, IPv4, cloud computing, world news, and then US news. Scrolling through text messages and email is next, and then I actually get up out of bed.

What are you currently reading?
“Serial Innovators,” by Claudio Feser.

Listening to?
FKA Twigs – LP1.

Watching?
I’m hooked on “The Walking Dead,” though I’m soft on just about any show with aliens, time travel or zombies.

What are people surprised to learn about you?
Generally, I’m fairly calm — some would say very laid back in my personal interactions. But I have a very strong desire to push beyond the limits of my current situation, and some are caught off guard by my resolve to move ahead notwithstanding the apparent obstacles. That, and the fact that I planned and pulled off a surprise (to everyone, including my wife) destination wedding in Belize (my wife’s country of birth).

Where do you turn when things go really badly?
My faith helps guide me through difficult decisions, and my family’s love grounds me on what’s most important — particularly when circumstances appear the gloomiest.

Read About More Enterprising Lawyers

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One Response to “Enterprising Lawyers: Avenue4’s Janine Goodman and Marc Lindsey”

  1. Mike O'Horo
    8 April 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    This is really interesting. I hope you publish more of it.


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