Eversheds’ contract lawyer business Agile has signed up JP Morgan as its first major client in Asia.
Eversheds first launched its Agile service in the UK in 2011 and rolled out in Hong Kong and Singapore in October 2015, providing interim legal consultants to in-house legal teams on a flexible basis.
Since its expansion to Asia, the number of registered lawyers with Agile has increased from 20 to 100, ranging from those at two years PQE to senior practitioners with over 25 years of experience.
According to the firm, there have been nine placements since Agile was launched in Asia, including six in Hong Kong and three in Singapore.
Although JP Morgan has worked with Eversheds in the UK, it is the first time it has used the firm’s Agile services.
New York-listed chemical company LyondellBasell is another new client of Eversheds Agile in Asia.
“General counsel are increasingly asked to do more for less. The legal markets are very tight and
law firms need to demonstrate value. Agile is one way we are addressing it,” said Eversheds’ global client development head Stephen Hopkins, who relocated to Hong Kong last year to drive client focused initiatives in Asia such as Agile and Consulting services.
“More in-house teams in Asia now take a strategic approach to resourcing. Instead of resourcing for 100 per cent of the staff all year round for business needs, they are looking to optimise resources and tend to focus on core work and use contract lawyers for projects, certain expertise or staff shortfall. Fewer permanent staff is more cost effective,” he added.
The market for contract lawyer services is growing in Asia. Last month, Lawyers On Demand (LoD) announced its merger with fellow agile working provider AdventBalance giving the firm a major base in Australia and Asia. Post-merger the firm will have 600 lawyers and hold seven offices across London, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Singapore and Sydney.
Asia-based firms have also tapped into the market. Singporean firm Rajah & Tann, for example, launched its own contract lawyer service dubbed R&T Asia Resources in August 2015.