Legal Business Blogs

In-house: RBS to tackle peaks and troughs with flexible legal providers

The need for a more ‘nimble and agile’ environment is driving the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) foray into the flexible lawyers market, reducing a dependence on the need for secondees from external firms.

RBS general counsel (GC) Michael Shaw (pictured) confirmed the bank has gone out to a number of flexible resourcing providers with an eye to setting up its first-ever panel in the area later this year.

Shaw told Legal Business the bank, like other major corporates, went through peaks and troughs in activity that altered demand for particular skills. Sometimes that demand was met through the use of external firms, and also through the use of secondees.

However in recent years there have not been as many spare bodies at law firms and the regular rotation of secondees could cause disruption.

‘We’re all living in an environment where you have to be more nimble and agile than perhaps was the case in years gone by,’ Shaw commented. ‘What’s useful to have is contractors and other people who will be with us longer than firms are normally happy to spare secondees for.’

Shaw said the bank, which has an in-house team of more than 300, therefore wanted to create a more flexible internal resource base made up of a mix between permanent staff and contractors. RBS had approached a number of providers, some of which he was more familiar with than others.

Alongside well-known providers like Axiom and New Law pioneer Lawyers on Demand (LOD), various firms including Pinsent Masons, Eversheds Sutherland and Allen & Overy have set up flexible lawyer offerings in recent years. LOD recently secured private equity backers as it geared up for global growth.

Earlier this week another, Riverview Law, made headlines when it was acquired by Big Four accountancy firm EY. Another newer entrant which has a database of more than 750 lawyers in over 40 countries, Lexoo, recently made its way onto Vodafone’s panel.

Shaw added: ‘There’s now quite a few players now. That enables us to have some price competition in the process but also slightly different individuals and skill sets available through different providers.’

Late last year, the RBS legal team appointed its first chief operating officer (COO) in a bid to shake-up the bank’s senior in-house roles. Head of data privacy law, Suzanne Rodway, took on the role, while also joining Shaw’s executive committee.