A Texas law firm had a novel approach to the Bay Area’s oppressive living costs: It shelled out $3 million on a private plane to ferry patent lawyers to clients based here.
Instead of hiring local lawyers, who would then have to live in a region marred by soaring rent and home prices, Houston-based Patterson and Sheridan bought a nine-seat Gulfstream G200 jet to bring their employees to Silicon Valley once a month, the Business Insider reported.
Though expensive, their approach is also cheaper than relocating Texas lawyers to this part of Northern California, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The median rent in San Francisco is $4,450, while the median home value comes in at a whopping $1.2 million, according to Zillow. Prices in San Jose are lower, but not less daunting. Zillow found that the median rent is $3,300 and median home value is $934,000.
Prices in both cities are forecast to rise in the coming year.
By contrast, the median price of Houston homes is $324,900 and median rent is $1,500, Zillow reports.
"The young people that we want to hire out there have high expectations that are hard to meet," Bruce Patterson, a partner at the firm, said to The New York Times. "Rent is so high they can't even afford a car."
Each flight costs the intellectual property law firm $1,900 per passenger and totals to $2,500 per hour in operating costs, the Houston Chronicle reported. Lawyers work while traveling so their hours are billable and help the company protect lawyer-client privilege, which is harder to do when arriving early at an airport, checking in bags and waiting in a security line.
The firm doesn’t view the plane as a luxury, and only flies it when it is full, partners said to the Chronicle. It also helps them recruit young lawyers who are eager to work with the world’s leading tech brands, but are put off by the Bay Area’s living costs.
Patterson and Sheridan is "still able to offer companies and inventors lower costs because most of the patent work is done in Houston, where commercial real estate is 43 percent cheaper, salaries 52 percent lower, and competition for technical talent far less fierce," according to the Chronicle.
In fact, the frequent flights to California helped the firm bring Intuit, Western Digital and Cavendish Kinetics on board as new clients.