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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Atrium, a law firm for startups led by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, is laying off most of its attorneys and paralegals. It now will focus primarily on tech tools it developed for lawyers and law firm clients, and for new areas it will expand into.

Why it matters: Even lawyers aren't immune to the unpredictability of working for a startup—and the appeal of generating high margins from selling software instead of human services.

What they're saying: In a draft announcement of the changes shared with Axios, CEO Justin Kan writes that the growth and success of Atrium's legal services business "wasn't enough."

The details: Atrium tells Axios that only a small number of its lawyers will remain at the firm to work with clients on complex issues and with a network of outside law firms to which it will refer clients.

  • The company also says that it's giving laid off lawyers the option to join this network of outside lawyers.

Founded in 2017, Atrium has raised around $75 million in venture capital funding from firms like Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and Y Combinator.

  • Its goal was to improve on the traditional law firm model, by developing software to improve efficiency for both its attorneys and clients.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to note that Atrium plans to expand into areas beyond legal services.

Go deeper

Inside Patch's new local newsletter platform

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) local digital news company, has built a new software platform called "Patch Labs" that lets local news reporters publish their own newsletters and websites, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It follows a growing trend of journalists going solo via newsletters at the national level.

Scoop: Politico stars plot new Playbook

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three of Politico’s biggest reporting stars plan to launch a competitor to the company’s Politico Playbook franchise, sources tell me. 

Why it matters:  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan will launch a daily newsletter in 2021 as a stand-alone company, the sources say. In effect, they will be competing against the Playbook franchise they helped create and grow. 

Ben Geman, author of Generate
28 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Big Oil's big reckoning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There doesn't seem to be an oil major that's got it all figured out between the pandemic, cloudy demand and price outlooks, and the unknown path through a world getting a bit more serious about climate.

Driving the news: ExxonMobil yesterday afternoon showed the latest signs of its struggle to position itself as it announced large write-offs and a big rethink of long-term spending.