Polunsky Beitel Green is Keeping a Close Eye on The Economy
For real estate heavy firms like Polunsky Beitel Green, what happens with interest
rates and the labor market next year will affect their financial fortunes.
|By Dylan Jackson, ALM Media Properties, LLC.
December 10, 2021
Firm Name: Polunsky Beitel Green, LLP
Firm Leader: Allan B. Polunsky, managing
partner and founder of Polunsky Beitel Green, LLP
Head Count: 335
Locations: Full-service offices in San
Antonio, Houston, Dallas. Attorneys and
staff members are embedded in various
clients’ offices both inside and outside Texas.
Practice Areas: We exclusively represent
residential mortgage originators.
Specific services include preparing and
reviewing mortgage closing documents,
full-close outsource services throughout
the country and complete legal and regulatory
support in all aspects of residential lending.
Governance Structure: The firm is governed
by a committee consisting of our
named partners. Input is received from
the senior associate and our CFO.
Do you offer alternative fee
Our fee arrangements are somewhat
unique. For closing document preparation
and review, we charge a set fee.
The same is true with full-close services
There may be slight variations in our fees
depending on the scale of the client’s
work. We also bill extensive research
projects by agreed upon flat fees.
|What are the two biggest opportunities
for your firm, and what are the two
We are the recognized leader in the
development of technology services
used in preparing and reviewing residential
closing documents. No law firm
has developed the advanced systems
and software we have in place. Beyond
that, we were one of the first technological
providers, law firm or otherwise, to
design an eClose platform that allows
closings outside title companies. Our
product, eClosePlus, is used internally
and by certain clients externally. Our
opportunity on the technological side is
to continue to be on the cutting edge
in our service systems and technology.
These are areas that set us apart and
present an unprecedented opportunity.
Another opportunity for the firm is to
continue our exponential growth, both in
Texas and throughout the country. We
have established ourselves as the “go
to” firm in Texas. We wish to use that
status to expand our presence in other
states, primarily as a niche residential
lending law firm but also as a broader
service provider. We have begun that
push in earnest.
A challenge, if not a threat, is the industry
business stream and the variations
Allan B. Polunsky, managing partner and
founder of Polunsky Beitel Green, LLP,
recently spoke with Law.com’s Mid-Market
Report on how the economy and labor
market will affect business in 2022.
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inherent to it. As a midsize law firm, we
are built around a cyclical industry. In our
case, real estate, and more specifically,
residential mortgage originations. We
have experienced the peaks and valleys
of the industry over the last 45 years.
We are on course for higher interest
rates, which could affect our clients’ production
volumes. Therefore, we need to
be prepared for a certain elasticity in our
workforce and overhead. Precaution in
these areas must always be the byword.
Of course, we would prefer to overcome
the challenge of potential business contraction
by continuing to expand our
Another threat common to law firms
and other businesses is the labor market.
|Our practice is built on a high level of
client service, time sensitivity and expertise.
From the beginning, we have always
recruited the best and the brightest. With
our business expanding in this unfamiliar
labor market, we are challenged to identify
individuals that fit our corporate culture
and produce a superior work product.
Our priority, of course, is ensuring that we
do not dilute our level of client service or
The legal market is so competitive
now—what trends do you see, and
has anything, including alternative service
providers altered your approach?
Is your chief competition other midmarket
firms, or is your firm competing
against the big firms for the same
Our competition comes almost exclusively
from other boutique firms using
somewhat similar models. The big firms
are not really tooled to provide the bundle
of services that we do. We haven’t been
impacted by ALSPs, but without a doubt,
our law firm has succeeded for much the
same reasons that many ALSPs have:
we use technology and focus on process
improvement to deliver services in a
highly efficient manner. Having the gold
standard technology and a highly efficient
workflow frees up our attorneys to focus
their time on activities that deliver the
greatest value to our clients.
There is much debate around how
law firms can foster the next generation
of legal talent. What advantages
and disadvantages to midsize firms
have in attracting and retaining young
lawyers, particularly millennials?
|I wouldn’t deny that there are differences
a between a Gen X lawyer, say, and a
Millennial. But I also believe some job
characteristics appeal across all generations.
Attractive compensation, stability,
and growth opportunities, to name three.
We are very solid on all of these fronts.
Two other factors work in our favor. The
of our work tends to attract a personality
type well suited for our practice. Also, the
way we have integrated technology into
our operations creates an atmosphere
that appeals to younger generations.
Does your firm employ nonlawyer
professionals in high level positions
(e.g. COO, business development officer,
chief strategy officer, etc. If so,
why is it advantageous to have a nonlawyer
in that role? If not, have you
considered hiring any?
Our CFO, an experienced C.P.A., provides
input to our governing partners.
Additionally, he develops firm business
strategies, which are presented to the
attorney management. Many of these
recommendations are ultimately adopted
by the firm.
Our chief technology officer is responsible
for the development and operation
of all our IT systems and network environments.
He is acknowledged as a visionary
in mortgage technologies. Although he is
not an attorney, much of the success of
our firm can be attributed to his innovation.
Our director and associate director of
business development are both non-lawyers.
They have each spent many years
in high-level positions in the residential
mortgage industry. We have found them
to be the best individuals to interact with
clients and prospective clients who generally
share their backgrounds.
Beyond these key people, we maintain
a large team of non-lawyers who analyze
closing documentation under attorney
supervision. They exercise higher skills,
and are better compensated, than a typical
document reviewer. In a large sense,
they are the backbone of the firm. Many
of our non-attorney document personnel
have been recruited from large banks
and mortgage companies, including our
firm director, who was with Wells Fargo
for 25 years.
What would you say is the most
innovative thing your firm has done
recently, whether it be technology
advancements, internal operations,
how you work with clients, etc.?
Without question, the development and
implementation of our state-of-the-art
eClosePlus platform. No other law firm
has a proprietary product like it. Many residential
lenders, including two of the largest
builder-owned mortgage companies in the
country are currently using it. To a large
degree, it was helpful to them in addressing
the challenges of the pandemic. Our
eClosePlus product is an excellent example
of the type of innovation that gives us
the competitive advantage.
Does your firm have a succession
plan in place? If so, what challenges do
you face in trying to execute that plan?
If you don’t currently have a plan, is it
an issue your firm is thinking about?
We have identified my successor.
There have been no challenges and we