Disaggregation and collaboration – two different models that have the same target of improving cost efficiencies.
In-house lawyers across the board are taking a closer look at legal spend to see how to get the best from their panel lawyers. Several firms have responded by investing in disaggregated services, which for some (Hogan Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and Herbert Smith Freehills for example) means low cost support centres.
The question is are these models really delivering the savings in-house lawyers are demanding? Research by The Lawyer today reveals that clients are failing to buy in to the disaggregated model and awareness of it remains low.
What of collaboration? Earlier this week, Barclays’ panel firms learned that to maintain a panel place they would have to take the lead on working in partnership. The Royal Bank of Scotland could follow suit after calling in change theorist Richard Susskind to advise it on how to overhaul panel practices ahead of its 2015 review.
Some private practice lawyers are sceptical, warning collaboration could lead to duplication, adding more cost. Mid-tier firm managers disagree and Macfarlanes senior partner Charles Martin reckons this is where they can cash in.
“What comes to mind is the appetite for corporate clients to segment the work they’re doing, their willingness to work with multiple providers, internationally or domestically,” he says. “Once that mentality has settled in, that allows us to play to our strengths.”
The key is to align those strengths with client demand.
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