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Law companies: the next stage in Legal

August 31, 2018

general counsel legal services legalleadership

Over the Summer, there has been a great deal of press about the Riverview EY deal. And so there should be. It is a big deal in every sense, not just because one of the Big Four is growing its footprint in the legal market, but because as Mark rightly sets out here, legal has started the next phase of its evolution, as we see the emergence of law companies, many of which are being run by non-lawyers.  Elevate is a good example of this. Liam Brown and his team are technology specialists, project managers, engineers and delivery experts. They also have lawyers, but as we know, running high value, complex projects efficiently is not just about the law – it is about all of the above.

Equally, what is fascinating from a GC, CFO & CEO perspective is that law companies have the ability to obtain accurate, intelligent data on such deals and the ability to analyze & improve systems, process and structures.

It’s an incredible time to be in law, especially for progressive GCs who genuinely want change and are looking for a refreshing entrepreneurial approach.

Consider that the EY-Riverview deal makes no mention of ‘legal expertise’ or ‘legal practice.’ It’s a big ‘legal’ story not focused on lawyers or law firms. That’s the real story of the EY-Riverview deal. The EY-Riverview headlines are a footnote to a tectonic industry change forged by corporate legal consumers. They are separating practice—an increasingly narrow band of regulated activities restricted to licensed attorneys—and delivery of legal services (everything else). This distinction is crucial, because legal practice was long synonymous with legal services. Until recently, lawyers determined what was ‘legal’ work, and law firms performed it (with limited direct responsibility assumed by in-house legal departments). No more. Legal consumers now make that call.

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