Legal Business Blogs

DWF overhauls business model with launch of consultancy, paralegal and flexible lawyer offerings

National firm DWF has launched a range of new client services as it seeks to overhaul its business model including a centralised legal support centre with paralegals, a consultancy and a contract lawyer service.

The Manchester-based Legal Support Centre will initially cover two areas: Volume Legal Service providing process-led work for insurers and financial clients and Project Support providing stand-alone work such as document review. The centre will start with 25-30 paralegals plus other specialist legal advisers but will expand headcount to meet demand. Paralegals will work across practices including real estate, employment, corporate and commercial and, though initially based in Manchester, will operate on a ‘hub and spoke’ system with pockets of aligned teams across the country under the same management structure and using the same IT platforms.

In addition, the firm has also launched DWF Resource, a contract lawyer service offering flexible resource to clients and consisting of both paralegals and legal professionals. Also based in Manchester, the service includes a technology-based option developed in conjunction with recruiter Douglas Scott.

The new flexible delivery model is being spearheaded by the firm’s head of employment and service delivery Andrew Chamberlain. The model also includes a client consulting arm called DWF Consultancy, which will house a 10-strong team of business managers and process analysts, and DWF Draft, which provides documentation software that will be loaned out to clients as an alternative to developing their own technology in-house.

Chamberlain has been working on the project since he joined the firm in September last year from Addleshaw Goddard, with a pilot process sounding out clients’ views. He will be supported by development director Jonathan Patterson, also ex-Addleshaws, on the Legal Support Centre and contract lawyer sides while legal document automation specialist Catherine Bamford has been brought in as a consultant on DWF Draft.

Speaking to Legal Business, Chamberlain said: ‘It’s bringing together a lot of different things that have been going on in the market under the banner of new models of delivery really. The difference here is the appetite to do it broadly across the business as opposed to just a tactical response here and there.’

He added: ‘What clients have said to us and said to us consistently is that there aren’t people in the market really offering this service. You go to a standard consultancy practice and they can give you consultancy advice but they don’t really understand the legal sector and law firms typically understand the legal sector but don’t necessarily have the consultancy expertise. We have delivered an offering that seems to go down well with clients.’

Chamberlain led the launch of Addleshaw’s transaction services team (TST) in November 2010 which is made up of paralegals supporting each of the divisions/practice areas of the firm: real estate; litigation; finance and projects; corporate; and commercial. The TST, now headed up by partner Mike Potter, is based across the firm’s three UK offices, with a large central team in Manchester, a smaller team in Leeds and paralegal roles that are embedded within the divisions in each of the UK offices as well as with clients in the UK and Europe.

For more on the strategies law firms are adopting see: Coming Soon – assessing the big forces shaping the future of law