A&O the first top-tier player to forge contract lawyer service

Freelance lawyers to cover fixed-term needs.

For all the talk of innovation in the profession, experimentation with new models has so far been more evident at mid-pack players like Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Eversheds than elite London or New York advisers.

However, as Legal Business revealed on 25 November, Allen & Overy (A&O) has become the first top-tier outfit to challenge that orthodoxy with the Magic Circle firm launching a high-end contract lawyer service for major clients.
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Legal fees: QualitySolicitors to abandon hourly rates in favour of fixed fees

Legal fees: QualitySolicitors to abandon hourly rates in favour of fixed fees

QualitySolicitors (QS) has unveiled plans to abandon the hourly rate across its network of firms, offering fixed fees for all legal services including litigation.

The group, which has around 120 members across 200 locations, is to roll out the next phase of a pilot scheme which will see 15 of its firms stop charging by the hour, with the intention to roll out the model across the network by early 2014. Continue reading “Legal fees: QualitySolicitors to abandon hourly rates in favour of fixed fees”

Guest post: The United States of Innovation – viewed from Wall Street, it could be a whole lot better

Guest post: The United States of Innovation – viewed from Wall Street, it could be a whole lot better

The other night I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the FT’s Innovative Lawyers 2013 US awards ceremony. (The report was published here the next day in the paper, and you can download a PDF.)

Since this is now an annual event – this year marks the fourth time they’ve done it in the US – it’s an occasion to step back and see how the conversation has evolved. Here’s the telling final paragraph of last year’s introductory piece, following a lengthy series of anecdotes from managing partners about ‘buggy whips’, ‘new market dynamics’, ‘requiring behaviour to change’, ‘the wow factor’, and ‘adapting to the moving cheese’:

All the chairmen of the top firms talk about change and the need to ‘not fight the last war’. And yet at the same time they cannot, they say, see their firms being all that different in five years’ time.

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Innovation alert – A&O becomes first top tier player to forge a contract lawyer service with launch of Peerpoint

Innovation alert – A&O becomes first top tier player to forge a contract lawyer service with launch of Peerpoint

For all the talk of innovation in the profession, experimentation with new models has so far been more evident at mid-pack players like Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Eversheds than elite London or New York advisers.

However, as Legal Business reveals today (25 November), Allen & Overy (A&O) has become the first top tier outfit to challenge that orthodoxy with the Magic Circle firm launching a high-end contract lawyer service for major clients.

Continue reading “Innovation alert – A&O becomes first top tier player to forge a contract lawyer service with launch of Peerpoint”

Slaughters teams up with Carillion law venture to cut costs for bluechip clients

Slaughters teams up with Carillion law venture to cut costs for bluechip clients

As general counsel (GCs) push their advisers to think more innovatively about costs savings, Slaughter and May has begun offering the services of Carillion’s new low-cost legal arm to its own clients, including a recent transaction for key client Vodafone.

The Magic Circle firm, which is one of Carillion’s lead corporate panel advisers, offered Vodafone the option to use Newcastle-based Carillion Advice Services (CAS) on an undisclosed deal, which included a customer contract exercise.

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IT departments a wasted resource in City firms, senior figures say

City law firms are being challenged to revise the way they view their information technology (IT) teams and elevate them to a far more strategic level.

As examined in this month’s special legal tech feature, the role of individuals who manage IT teams is now acknowledged as critical but firms’ thinking about where those departments fit into their hierarchy is often out of touch when compared with new entrants.

At the Innovators in Law ‘By Invitation Only’ (BIO) conference for IT directors in September, speaker Richard Tapp, company secretary and director of legal services for Carillion, told delegates: ‘I don’t think all is lost and the demand for legal services will continue but what will change is the way those services will be delivered and that will involve a greater use of technology.’

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Almost meeting minds – a select band of CIOs and MPs plot a big, big breakthrough

Almost meeting minds – a select band of CIOs and MPs plot a big, big breakthrough

During the original dot-com boom, there was a brief period – oh so brief – when legal technologists and managing partners were almost on the same page. With both camps dreaming of dramatic use of IT projects to revolutionise the legal business – the era of Blue Flag – there were big sums signed off, in many cases with poor results when it came to the hard grind of implementation. Dot-com boom turned to bust and IT professionals were once again from Venus and fee-earners from Mars.

Aside from Linklaters’ high-stakes investment in a platform from SAP during the 2000s, technology has shifted in recent years towards pragmatism and smaller initiatives. Mirroring the wider shift towards flexible tech, chief information officers (CIOs) are increasingly focusing on off-the-shelf tools that can be rapidly adapted at competitive costs. Continue reading “Almost meeting minds – a select band of CIOs and MPs plot a big, big breakthrough”

Comment: The mindset for 21st century law – be optimistic and afraid and you’ll do fine

Comment: The mindset for 21st century law – be optimistic and afraid and you’ll do fine

A law firm pumps out marketing bumpf about how awesome it is and it is received – with ample justification – as self-serving twaddle. An alternative legal services provider pumps out marketing bumpf about how awesome it is and it is met with a round of applause, rather than as the self-serving twaddle wrapped in utopian geek speak it usually is.

The point? These days there are a lot of people talking down law firms. True, plenty of criticism regarding conservatism, high costs and lack of genuine client focus is still justified. But to judge by some claims, law firms aren’t just greedy unresponsive bastards, they are greedy unresponsive bastards standing on a burning deck.

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Party for one: E.ON appoints Pinsent Masons as its sole UK adviser

Party for one: E.ON appoints Pinsent Masons as its sole UK adviser

The single-supplier legal advisory model appears to be gaining traction as Pinsent Masons has won its second exclusive fixed-fee contract this year, with energy giant E.ON appointing the firm as sole legal advisor for general matters, a first in the energy sector.

The terms of the arrangement mean E.ON’s UK legal function will reduce its roster of legal advisers to just one. The five-year deal will ‘encompass work across a full range of specialist legal services,’ a statement said today (3 Oct). Continue reading “Party for one: E.ON appoints Pinsent Masons as its sole UK adviser”

How to improve a law firm in 17 easy steps – a blue print for innovation

How to improve a law firm in 17 easy steps – a blue print for innovation

While pundits are queuing up to pronounce the death of the industry’s model, Legal Business canvassed senior figures to devise some practical ideas to make a law firm work better.

You don’t have to look far in the legal profession to find causes for gloom. Battered by a sustained malaise in Western economies, more assertive clients and the threat of legal service liberalisation in the UK, a growing band of observers, general counsel and industry figures have argued that the traditional model of commercial law is fundamentally broken.
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