Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has today (11 March) launched an innovative package of services for clients, which includes rolling out a lower cost team in a new Manchester office early this summer.
The four-pronged model, dubbed the Integrated Client Service Model, will see the firm analyse the systems and processes that clients need; offer them virtual transaction teams as an extension of its existing Lawyers on Demand (LoD) business; offer third parties an outsourcing service based on the type of managed legal services offering currently provided to clients including Thames Water; and access to a ‘large pool of high quality legal staff’ in Manchester.
The team in Manchester will be staffed by paralegals, some associates, business services personnel and secretaries, although the firm currently has not decided how large the new office will be.
The plan is to use the Manchester base to help grow the LoD pool, rolling out virtual transaction teams and making more senior lawyers available for routine and standalone parts of complex client matters.
This is an evolution of the 786-lawyer firm’s remote working, pay-as-you-go ‘On Call’ service, which at the time of its launch last June focussed on individuals rather than teams.
A statement from the firm said: ‘Manchester is the largest legal market outside London and provides access to a large pool of high quality legal staff. Manchester has also over last decade emerged as one of Europe’s leading shared-service hubs, resulting in a highly developed industry infrastructure. Having a legal services delivery team in Manchester will support BLP in delivering integrated services to clients.’
While the firm’s managed legal services division has failed to gain much traction beyond Thames and was restructured in the summer of 2013, LoD has been a success story for the firm, launching its on call service last year and generating revenues in excess of £9m. By packaging up its existing services together with a new low-cost outsourcing venture, the firm looks to have made a credible attempt to expand its new law credentials.
BLP managing partner, Neville Eisenberg said: ‘This is an important step forward in offering our clients a unique model which directly addresses their requirements for high quality and efficient legal services. We have been working on this model in consultation with clients for the last 18 months and I believe it draws on the best of the firm’s reputation for, and experience in, developing innovative client solutions. While parts of the model are already being deployed with clients, the fully integrated service model will be launched when we open Manchester in a few months’ time.’
Other firms to set up near-shoring ventures in the UK include Ashurst with its Glasgow launch last year, and Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast volume disputes centre, which it emerged in January had grown to 120 employees, split between lawyers and legal assistants.