Legal Business Blogs

Stake in the ground: Pinsents bolsters alternative services with project management division

Pinsent Masons has launched a client and legal project management division as it continues to ramp up investment in non-legal services.

The firm said today [8 October] it had launched the division of more than 20 project managers, led by head of client and legal project management Dee Tamlin (pictured). That team has largely been built up since May last year and won mandates in the UK, Europe and South Africa, with the firm now looking to invest further through recruitment in the UK, Asia-Pacific and Middle East.

The project managers work both within the firm and externally with clients, with Pinsents placing project managers into client teams on major projects, litigations and transactions, regardless of whether Pinsents is also delivering legal advice on the matter.

Tamlin told Legal Business the firm first recruited project managers in about 2013, recognising that their lawyers had been providing both legal advice and managing projects simultaneously. The early project managers worked in different practice groups to try improve efficiency, but would now operate from a centralised division which will have its own P&L.

Clients had also been demanding training and support on project management for their own legal matters, she said, a service a number of law firms, consulting and project management organisations had already been offering. Typical mandates so far include disputes work, M&A deals, as well as GDRP projects and regulatory changes.

‘Where we can offer something different is that we’re happy to second our legal project managers into our client’s in-house legal department even if we don’t have the legal work on that particular matter,’ Tamlin commented. ‘In a law firm there’s a whole lot of lawyers, in-house legal teams have a whole lot of lawyers, and both of those organisations are doing legal projects. There’s no reason why the in-house legal team shouldn’t need legal project managers to help deliver their legal projects more efficiently to their business.’

Tamlin added that where other law firms could specify that you needed to be a lawyer to be a legal project manager, Pinsents was open to those without a legal background. The firm was also partnering with the Association for Project Management and other law firms to establish a competency framework for legal project managers so that clients would know what they are buying.

‘We know we’ve got our lawyers and we know they deliver great legal expertise and it’s about making sure that those lawyers are supported professionally on legal project management to really put a stake in the ground,’ she commented. ‘We are a professional services firm, so how can we develop the offerings that are not really the delivery of law and legal matters? How can we enhance that? There is a huge investment by the firm in this.’

Pinsents in July said it had ring-fenced ‘significant funds’ from partner profits in a bid to prioritise investing in the business, in turn cutting profit per equity partner (PEP) by 5%. Revenue at the firm for the 2018/19 financial year rose 7% to £482m and gross profit rose 2.5%, but PEP fell to £620,000 from £653,000 as the firm put aside funds for investment in areas including IT and cybersecurity.

It has been steadily building up complementary services in recent years as it positions itself as a professional services firm with law at its core. That includes contract lawyer business Vario, which grew revenue 50% last year and boasts more than 750 consultants, diversity consultancy Brook Graham, and public policy and forensic accountancy units.

Revenue from the firm’s alternative offerings sits at about £17m.