Dr Peter Allinson, chief executive of specialist real estate law firm Davitt Jones Bould, explains how the practice is partnering with other firms to help them approach their workflow in a strategic and adaptable new way
Now, more than ever, law firms and their partners are under pressure to maintain quality and consistency in their service delivery in the face of ever-tighter timescales, downward pressure on pricing and volatile market conditions. In response to this, we are already seeing the industry adapting business models and processes to improve cost-efficiency and become more flexible and responsive to the fluctuations in demand – from north-shoring and the outsourcing of legal processes to automation and the exploration of AI.
In the coming years, I predict that these increasingly variable conditions will create an ever-greater shift towards outsourcing, ‘buddying up’ and consortia working within the legal profession, reflecting practices that have long been the norm in the commercial world. Whether run over many years or tied to short-term specific objectives, it is commonplace for companies to engage specialist firms that provide support in the areas not central to their business, and for which their own services would not be cost effective to clients.
It was within this context that DJB developed its real estate support offering. As the largest national firm to specialise entirely in real estate law, we are uniquely positioned to offer expert real estate assistance to other firms on a flexible and as-needed basis. This means that law firms of any size – from small boutiques to full-service practices – are able to approach their workflow in a strategic and adaptable new way, drawing on our pool of award-winning real estate lawyers to scale the support up or down as necessary, so they are always equipped to weather adverse business cycles, safeguard their own commercial viability and ensure client satisfaction.
BOLSTER YOUR TEAM WITH DJB
Our pool of specialist real estate lawyers enables you to bolster your team as and when you need, giving you the confidence that you can always deliver to the highest possible standards.
Whether you require surge capacity, need to make the fees work for your client, or want to enhance your pitch opportunities – or perhaps when your firm simply is not the best match for a piece of work – we can support you. We have already established relationships with a number of top-15 UK law firms, where we act as an extension of their existing teams, and work with numerous niche firms as an outsourced real estate department.
So, whether you’re full-service or boutique, have a large real estate team or none at all, our support includes all types of real estate legal work such as:
- certificates of title, reports on title or general due diligence;
- lettings and estate management (short-term or longer-term ongoing management);
- transactions (sales and purchases); or
- more specialist real estate legal advice such as construction, property litigation, development, planning, compulsory purchase orders, development consent orders and more.
A NEW APPROACH TO OUTSOURCING
It is nothing new for partners at a full-service firm to anticipate a pinch point and reach out to a friend at another firm to ask for some ad-hoc help; or for a ‘you scratch my back…’ arrangement where work flows both ways. Indeed, it is now commonplace for firms to use locum or ‘on-demand’ solicitors to deal with staffing issues. So, what makes our real estate support offering different?
It is my belief, and the principle on which we developed our solution, that what firms should be saying to their clients is that they have taken a conscious decision to partner with X specialist firm which offers complementary expertise to their own, as this will result in better value for the client and is scalable at short notice. This puts the needs of the client first and ensures your ability to service and even delight them is never restricted by issues of cost, capability or capacity. What’s more, with our solution you will benefit from:
- Enhanced profitability – Your lawyers can focus on high-value, profitable work, while ours can take care of your low-value work at competitive rates.
- Effortless management – All work completed by our lawyers is entirely co-ordinated and managed by DJB to your requirements, lessening your management headache without compromising on service delivery.
- Reduced risk – Working with our lawyers reduces your need to recruit in uncertain market conditions.
- Increased flexibility – Our lawyers can be utilised to deal with fluctuating workloads, quickly scaling up or down your team as required.
- Competitive edge – You can use our experienced lawyers to complete routine work which your competitors could only feasibly delegate to juniors.
- Expanded capability – We can swell your real estate capability, ensuring you can always deal with your clients’ real estate demands.
- Quality assurance – With DJB, you’ll never have a lawyer with less than ten years’ PQE working for you: most of our lawyers average 20 years’ PQE.
- Enhanced opportunities – We can jointly bid for work you could not otherwise tender for, due to the ratio of the expertise required versus the potential revenue you could generate.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is the question I get asked most frequently. Luckily, the answer to it is simple:
You instruct us on the nature, quantity and urgency of the work you require.
Following conflicts checks, we assign a lawyer or lawyers from an approved pool to complete the work within your timescales. All our lawyers are senior and highly experienced, so you can be assured of their quality.
Our lawyers work either directly with your client as your approved partners, or directly for you in a consultancy capacity.
We manage our team and service delivery to you (at no additional cost), relieving you of any additional management headache.
A joint Memorandum of Understanding will provide assurance of our commitment to working collaboratively with you, and guarantee that your clients will remain your clients. The respect for who the client ‘belongs’ to is paid in the same way, or more, as it would be between partners in a full-service firm. After all, if we didn’t respect the client owner and attempted to create our own direct relationships, then we would jeopardise our relationship with you and other partner firms.
UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO SUPPORT YOU
You might ask, why should you choose DJB? First and foremost, we are award-winning, nationally recognised and the largest specialist real estate law firm in the UK.
In addition to this:
- We are a specialist resource – As a specialist commercial real estate law firm, 100% of our business falls in this remit.
- We have top-tier rankings in The Legal 500 – With 11 high rankings overall, including being ranked across all commercial property subcategories in London.
- Our lawyers built their experience in top City firms – Before joining DJB, our lawyers all worked in senior roles in-house or at top City firms.
- We understand your clients – Our lawyers regularly advise large blue-chip and institutional clients from across the public and private sector on their real estate work.
- We have a proven track record – We have established relationships with other law firms and regularly help service their clients, particularly when their teams are stretched to the limit.
- We guarantee effortless management – We manage our lawyers to do your work for your clients. We also have a business support team who deals with all the tasks that lawyers are not paid to do – leaving you more time to manage the client and our lawyers more time to do the legal work, without compromising on service delivery.
- We are flexible and quality assured – We will assign work to a defined and approved pool of our lawyers, all of whom are selected to align with your unique requirements and high standards.
- We provide a dedicated single point of contact – Your DJB contact will be available to you at all times and will manage our lawyers, so you don’t have to. You tell them what matters and needs dealing with, and they will allocate resources accordingly, ensuring the speed, consistency and quality of service you expect is met.
Supporting a wide range of law firms sits comfortably alongside us working directly for our own clients: it is the nature of the client which is important at DJB; whether we work directly for a client or indirectly through a partner law firm is, for us, a technicality.
But over and above our support offer, I passionately believe that this model of a specialist team acting as a certified partner to another firm has the potential to become the norm across the legal sector, with obvious benefits for clients and law firms alike. My feeling, drawing on many years’ experience, is that this is an area where the profession must evolve to offer the best possible service to clients.
Furthermore, I believe that the most resilient firms are those that have a strong sense of who they are, what they do best, and truly where their core business is. If that is the case, then they can ride out the worst ‘boom and bust’ situations and avoid the pain of downsizing in recessions.
That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles to this approach in our profession – not least the fear among some partners that they must guard access to their clients against all comers – internal or external. But in our changing times, this notion no longer feels fit for purpose and it’s perhaps time to move beyond it. I think that clients truly trust their key relationship partner and are less sensitive about who delivers the quality work they require than many lawyers realise. I also believe today’s forward-looking partners understand that delighting clients is the best way to ensure they maintain their client relationship long-term.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Peter Allinson, chief executive
Davitt Jones Bould, Level 24 The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG
T: 020 7870 7500