Addleshaws vows: no more drudge work for associates

Routine work to be sent to new paralegal centre; associates to ramp up client-facing skills

Paul Devitt
Paul Devitt

Addleshaw Goddard is rolling out a firmwide process of unbundling its chargeable work in a bid to free associates from routine assignments and develop their relationship-building skills.

The move is the latest in a series of ventures by law firms to pass cost savings on to clients, but Addleshaws is one of the first practices to explicitly link disaggregation of legal work to the training and development of its lawyers.

Commoditised work will be sent to a transaction services centre in Manchester, which has been running on a pilot basis with five paralegals since November. The firm envisages a team of 20 fee-earners by next month, eventually rising to at least 60.

E-disclosure has been a significant part of the work, along with some elements of due diligence, but the firm is aiming to boost the amount of work referred internally to the Manchester centre.

Addleshaws employment partner Andrew Chamberlain, who has led on the project, said: “We’re ­starting to deconstruct work on ­litigation and we’re also mapping the typical process of an M&A transaction and identifying who needs to do what.”

Addleshaws managing partner Paul Devitt said: “We’ve looked significantly at what’s within any ­mandate and what are the elements of any package.

“What we’ve done when talking about this approach to clients is explain how we deliver services ­differently and show them what it might have cost on a traditional hourly rate model, then collaborate with them to scope it ­properly and produce a model where pricing is task-based.

“A lot of this has come from the associates who’ve been driving things. They can see where the efficiencies can happen as they’re at the sharp end all the time.

“With training, you have to ask, ’Are we training our people up to be lawyers?’. With this project we can offer a fuller training ­contract – yes, you need to know how to do a due ­diligence exercise, but you don’t need to do 500 of them to know how to do it.

“It will allow associates to do more relationship-building with clients and get to understand their business.”