Steven Zdolyny - director of legal services at Riverview Law – on the legal sector, his firm’s growth and its evolution
Despite difficult economic conditions over recent years, the legal market remains large and valuable at c. £30bn a year and is likely to continue to grow. In addition to the economy, the legal market has been affected by customers demanding better value, Government policy (including legal aid), and the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007, allowing increased competition from new entrants.
The legal market will continue evolving, with the greatest change likely to be in the use of IT. New technology has the potential to disrupt the legal market in a massive way. At Riverview Law we embrace innovation and developing new technology.
We have executed a strategy that has seen us move from a start-up in 2012 to an established and credible part of the legal landscape, delivering fixed price, high quality legal services on long-term outsourced contracts to many FTSE100 companies.
Riverview Law is helping to drive change in the legal market by providing customers with greater choice and a legal model that focuses on driving ‘Legal input. Business output.’ Since launching in 2012, the business has grown from about 10 to over 100 employees and is expanding rapidly. We’re already in the top 2% of law firms by size. This has increased employment in Liverpool and Wirral, where the main office is based, and in March we’re opening an office in Manchester.
Manchester is part of our expansion strategy, as like Liverpool and Wirral, it is a great catchment area for the range of skills we’re looking for from solicitors to IT professionals. We’re passionate about developing our people. In 2013 we appointed our first legal apprentice and in 2014, we awarded our first seven training contracts, with all employees on clear career paths to achieve their goals.
Our big change over the last year is the increased focus and investment in technology, which is a huge driver for our business. We’ve recently announced our partnership with the University of Liverpool which is a key facet of developing our capabilities in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Our In-house Solutions let GCs license the Riverview Law technology and tailor it to their organisation. It helps them evolve their operating models and do more with the same or less resource by delivering relevant management information. It is proven and low risk – we use the same model and technology to deliver legal solutions to existing customers globally.
Riverview Law In-house Solutions is aimed at in-house teams which are looking to leverage the benefits of technology without necessarily having to outsource their legal work or embark on a huge IT transformation project. Early adopters are large corporations who are attracted to the benefits of a low-risk/high return implementation that can bring automation to new or existing processes with little-to-no involvement from IT. As one GC recently tweeted: “I have been to @RiverviewLaw & seen the future”.
With the overwhelming majority of Riverview Law’s revenues coming from long-term contracts, this visibility of earnings also allows us to invest heavily in people, technology, analytics and infrastructure, while protecting our core culture and values. Without the right people with the right attitude, combined with a scalable and powerful infrastructure and business model, we would not be able to deliver the quality of services that we do to large corporations. It is the quality of what we do, at pace and at scale, that has won us the blue-chip customers that we have.
One GC said: ‘The term I like to use is that Riverview Law are an “extension” of my in-house team. It’s irresistible as they’re offering something that really works – and this is frequently about how they deliver their legal advice – the process – and not just the technical quality of the advice’.
Over the last two years we’ve managed to attract a number of FTSE100 customers, revenues are increasing year on year, we’ve won several prominent awards and been dubbed “the most innovative law firm in the world”. Harvard Business School recently published a case study on us and as at September last year, Riverview Law had a staggering 3,210,000 Google hits, far more than most of the magic circle firms, plus we’ve been invited to speak at leading business and law schools around the globe. Whichever way you cut it, that’s not bad for two years!
One of our global £50billion turnover customers recently said: “I have been speaking with our General Counsel and Global Legal Operations Director about the evolving legal industry and contacts that we have in the marketplace. Needless to say, Riverview Law and your name were at the top of the list as cutting edge and dynamic players in the marketplace!”
I truly believe that Riverview Law has an exciting future as the legal market continues to evolve.