Legal Business Blogs

Blue sky thinking – A&O initiative to adopt and roll out new business ideas from clients

Following on from its roll out of high-end contract lawyer service Peerpoint last November, Allen & Overy is continuing to challenge and develop its model with the introduction of an initiative to adopt new business practices from its clients.

The Magic Circle giant, led by senior partner David Morley, has pulled together five panels of between five and eight partners covering Asia Pacific; Middle East and Africa; Continental Europe; the US and the UK, to target its clients for ideas not usually seen in the legal sector across the entire business function including finance, human resources, strategy and IT.

The new initiative, dubbed ‘learning from clients’, will see each panel present five ideas at the global partners’ conference in Dubai at the beginning of March, led by Morley. The idea is to whittle down the submissions to five strong business proposals, which will then be put forward to the board to consider for implementation.

Morley said: ‘We are searching for ideas that have not been used in the legal industry. I approached partners around the whole firm as we want to cross-fertilise what partners in the Middle East can come up with, in comparison to partners in the US for example.’

The initiative comes after the firm in November became the first top-tier outfit to launch a high-end contract lawyer service for major clients, overseen by managing partner Wim Dejonghe. Peerpoint will see A&O-vetted freelance lawyers deployed to handle a range of fixed-term needs, including covering maternity leave or fulfilling secondment requests. The service will provide lawyers ranging in experience from the equivalent of a senior associate to partner level, drawing initially on former A&O lawyers who want to work flexibly.

The team currently has around 10 lawyers, and aims to grow to some 20 to 30 members in the coming weeks. Lawyers will be employed on a contract basis and paid the pro-rata equivalent of a full-time employee.

The firm has been known to encourage its partners to think outside of the box in the run up to conferences, including launching a project called ‘the long view’ in the run-up to its May 2012 partnership conference, in which five groups of partners from around the world were asked to sketch out what legal life will look like in 2020.

However, this time the iniative may have a significant impact on A&O’s own way of doing business and Morley added: ‘We want to generate a different set of ideas and take them out of context. Some will work and some won’t, but we need to get them on the table.’