Legal Business Blogs

‘This is the future’ – A&O sees further growth of contract lawyer arm as it hires new head from Deloitte

Following the launch of its innovative contract lawyer business ‘Peerpoint’ last November, Allen & Overy has made a move to develop the high-end service further, today (5 September) announcing the hire of Richard Punt, the managing partner for clients and markets at accountancy giant Deloitte, as Peerpoint’s chief executive officer.

Punt, who leads the strategy practice’s impact programme at Deloitte, will join Peerpoint in November where he will work with chief operating officer Ben Williams and focus on new business development both with clients and within the firm. This will include international expansion of the business and the extension of the scheme by recruiting lawyers outside the magic circle firm’s alumni network.

Punt is expected to be remunerated the same way as a partner, although the firm would not say whether he will take a share in the Peerpoint’s profits.

As revealed by Legal Business last November, the launch of the Peerpoint model saw A&O-vetted freelance lawyers deployed to handle a range of fixed-term needs, including covering maternity leave or fulfilling secondment requests. The service aimed to provide lawyers ranging in experience from the equivalent of a senior associate to partner level, with the initial plan to draw on former A&O lawyers who want to work flexibly.

Having started out with around 10 lawyers who were employed on a contract basis and paid the pro-rata equivalent of a full-time employee, Peerpoint now houses around 30 lawyers while smaller pilots operate in Australia and Hong Kong.

Allen & Overy global managing partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) told Legal Business maintaining growth is a key objective: ‘We are seeing increased client demand – we need to invest in our offering and move to the next phase. I’d be surprised if you don’t see substantial growth in the coming years – I don’t have a specific target – but we need a larger group of lawyers in this model.’

He added: ‘I don’t think you see a lot of initiatives like this at the level at which we play. But this is the future – breaking down the workstreams and making sure you have the most efficient offering for the client. Peerpoint is at the heart of that.’

Research conducted by A&O earlier this year demonstrated the rate of change occurring within the legal market, as 63% of respondents said they have used contract lawyers in the past two years, while three-quarters (74%) said they expect to use contract lawyers over the next five years.