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The continued power shift from legal service provider to general counsel

The Lawyer mailshot of February 2nd 2015 included comment on Allen & Overy’s plan to launch its Peerpoint service in Asia. The Lawyer comment piece was as follows:

A&O launched Peerpoint in November 2013 to meet spikes in demand for lawyers at peak periods. It followed the 2010 launch of Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Lawyers On Demand, which spun out into a separate company in 2012.

A number of firms have launched similar initiatives. Pinsents has Vario, Eversheds has Agile and most recently Simmons & Simmons joined the bandwagon with the launch of its consultant lawyer offering, Adaptive.

The shift in power from service provider to general counsel seems ever-more apparent as law firms scrabble to meet client demands and remain profitable, in every jurisdiction.

BCL Legal – opinion by Craig Wilson

In August 2014 I posted a Blog about the Growth of Legal Resourcing Companies that are owned and operated by law firms. The premise of my blog was that the resourcing companies run by law firms were effectively offering the same service as a dedicated legal recruitment consultancy. The key differences being that the legal resourcing business was often considerably more expensive; they tended to have a smaller pool of potential talent available, certainly when compared to the larger specialist legal recruitment consultants; and the same lawyer candidates are often available for less via a recruitment company.

The Lawyer mailshot of February 2nd 2015 makes it clear that there has been a shift in power towards the in-house general counsel, which has meant that law firms are still scrabbling to juggle profitability whilst meeting client demand. The establishment of legal resourcing companies is clearly aimed at securing extra business and profit in an environment which sees more and more work undertaken in-house. However, this process is slightly cannibalistic and it sees work which may have gone externally to the parent law firm remaining (albeit loosely) in-house with the in-house legal team. The upswing for the law firm of course is that they still make a profit and maintain a relationship with the client however it does not address the trend towards lower cost legal services.

Whilst the service does provide significant flexibility (and some reduction in costs compared to private practice) for in-house counsel, my points about cost and availability of lawyer candidates should be borne in mind? Recruitment companies, with dedicated consultants, often have access to the same lawyer candidates, and indeed a wider variety of candidates, for less money. For the savvy in-house counsel, a call to a dedicated legal recruitment company like BCL Legal is highly recommended.

For more information please contact Craig Wilson or visit our website BCL Legal.

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