Legal Business Blogs

Dentons targets in-house lawyers as it adds new consultancy service to Nextlaw family

Dentons has embarked on yet another chapter in its experimentation with the legal services model as the 8,000-lawyer giant announced the launch of Nextlaw In-House Solutions yesterday (15 November).

The fifth service line to come out of the firm’s spin-off Nextlaw business, the new consultancy service will see 50 of the firm’s lawyers – all former GCs – advise existing in-house lawyers on matters including procurement for panels, relationship with the c-suite and use of technology.

Unveiling Nextlaw In-House, Dentons Canada chair and chief executive of the new platform Chris Pinnington said clients would range from in-house teams in large organisations to start-ups setting up their legal team for the first time.

The firm was circumspect on fee arrangements but Pinnington said the consultancy wanted to move away from hourly rates: ’We want to shift the conversation from cost to value, moving away from the traditional hourly charge, which could mean fixed fees, success fees or in some cases it will take the form of a subscription fee.’

Other services the consultancy will offer include career mentoring and crisis management, the issues that ‘keep in-house lawyers awake at night’.

Dentons global chief executive Elliott Portnoy said what makes  the new service unique is global coverage: ‘We have former GCs with expertise from countries all across the world, and the service operates in multiple languages.’

Lawyers working on the service include David Allgood, who was the GC of the Royal Bank of Canada for 15 years; Berlin-based counsel Christian Schefold, who worked on setting up a compliance network within automotive company Daimler; and Tatiana Reuben, who was in-house at Walmart Mexico & Central America and Philip Morris International.

As Legal Business discussed this month, opinion within the profession is divided on other Nextlaw products.

Its Global Referral Network in particular, which now includes more than 500 member firms, sparked a row with other referral networks after its launch. Hailed by Dentons global chair Joe Andrew as the beginning of the end of the traditional referral network model of charging membership fees, the service which went live in October 2016,  has been criticised by rivals who describe it as a simple legal directory rather than a platform promoting collaboration between members.

The network expanded into lobbying in September, as Dentons signed up 60 public affairs organisations from 100 countries to join the referral group with the launch of the Global Public Affairs Network .

The Nextlaw group business began in May 2015 with the launch of Palo Alto-based Nextlaw Labs, which was created to develop new technologies for the legal profession.

Also part of the family, Nextlaw Ventures was created to invest in a number of legal tech start-ups, including most recently regulatory software Libryo and contract-building platform Clause in October last year as well as fee transparency firm Apperio last spring.