DLA Piper has announced it will offer its clients a flexible resourcing capability through a bespoke agreement with agile working provider LOD, with the majority of the resource drawn from DLA Piper alumni.
The agreement has been described by the parties as the first of its kind, although LOD does also work with around 20 other law firms on a more ad hoc basis.
The new offering will be rolled out across the next year, starting in the UK before being expanded to other jurisdictions. DLA Piper director of service delivery and quality Stephen Allen told The Lawyer that the firm was looking at how it would be used in Europe and Asia, but that the US was not included.
Allen added that DLA Piper had explored “a number of options” before deciding to team up with LOD for its contract lawyer service.
“The first thing we decided was that we didn’t want to have a separate brand,” Allen said. He said the firm had run a review process in order to make its decision about how to provide the contract lawyer service.
“We decided that the key thing is we wanted to deliver clients a quality service from day one,” he said. “We wanted to be able to deliver something holistic and of high quality. Then it became clear first of all that they’ve got the longest track record, they’ve seen good steady growth.”
“They’ve seen it, done it, they’ve got several t-shirts,” he added.
Allen also praised LOD’s quality assurance and the way it looked after its clients.
The offering would utilise DLA Piper alumni but also LOD’s existing roster of freelance lawyers where required.
LOD co-founder Jonathan Brenner praised DLA Piper’s “brave” approach in contracting LOD’s services for its flexible offering.
“Since we set up about eight years ago we’ve seen lots of other law firms trying to set up their own contract lawyer business,” Brenner said. “Whilst it’s a great idea it takes a very long time to build the infrastructure to make it work.
“Clients are demanding really innovative solutions and contract lawyering has become front and centre of that offering. DLA were innovative enough to realise that they couldn’t build it themselves.”
Brenner said the deal could well be followed by others, but said DLA Piper was “brave enough” to be the first firm to decide to pursue a partnership with LOD.
“This is probably the most transformational relationship we’ve had since we set up. This is a real partnership and collaborative project,” he said. “We’ve always been huge supporters of the sharing economy and clients are asking their law firms to work together. Those that win are those that do it, and those that put their heads inthe sand and say they’ll do it themselves ultimately lose out.”
Allen said he thought DLA was being “grown-up” rather than brave in teaming up with LOD. He added that LOD’s relationship with Berwin Leighton Paisner, which set up the business in 2008 before spinning it off in 2012 while retaining a stake, was not an issue for DLA.
A number of firms have launched contract lawyer services under separate brands in recent years, including Addleshaw Goddard’s Integrate, Allen & Overy’s Peerpoint, Eversheds’ Agile, and Pinsent Masons’ Vario.