find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Taking the traditional blinkers off business strategy in law

Taking the traditional blinkers off business strategy in law

The Australian head of a Global 100 firm has explained how the blurring lines between legal and business services is changing the dynamic between lawyers and clients, and what his law firm is doing about it.

When Pinsent Masons forged its innovation agenda seven years ago, the global firm made a decision to expand its offering beyond law.

David Rennick, head of the firm’s Australian business, explained that that vision cast away the traditional approach which only looked at problems from a legal point of view. He suggested that viewing things from a “legal box” was an outdated way of doing things and that modern business required a broader perspective.  

“The line between the law and other consultancy services is being blurred and we are deliberately looking at those lines and saying ‘where are the services and products adjacent to those traditional legal services?” Mr Rennick said.

“We are saying that it is not right to just to look at client problems from the legal box perspective, we need to look at our services more broadly than that,” he said.

To stay relevant to the needs of its clients, Pinsent Masons began building a suite of complementary services and products about seven years ago, Mr Rennick said. Today that offering includes legal resourcing hub Vario and a newly acquired diversity and inclusion consultancy named Brook Graham.

Pinsent Masons has also invested in a cloud-based regulatory compliance venture named Cerico and has a minority stake in a NewLaw start-up.

“As legal services now are far more competitive than they’ve ever been, I think firms like Pinsent Masons are looking at providing services more holistically because clients don’t look at their issues purely though the legal prism,” Mr Rennick said.

The purchase of UK-based Brook Graham is an altogether different kind of diversification taken on by a law firm. Established in 2004, Pinsent Masons was a client of the agency, engaging its consultants to develop a more diverse and inclusive workplace.  

The firm was so impressed by the results achieved by working with Brook Graham, which included meeting a target of 25 per cent female representation among partners one year earlier than expected, that it leapt at the opportunity to acquire the company for the benefit of its international clients.

According to Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley, Brook Graham is a scaleable business with a strong reputation.

"We take a holistic view of the challenges that our clients face and have a successful track record of investing in businesses that have the potential to help our clients overcome these.

“D&I is high on the agenda for organisations and combined with our own international network, legal expertise and dedication to D&I, I’m confident that clients will reap the benefits of this valuable combined offering,” Mr Foley said.

While no Australian clients are yet to work with Brook Graham, Mr Rennick said it was likely in the midterm that the service would expand beyond the UK market. He noted that the diversity and inclusion debate in corporate Australia is as healthy as it has ever been and that this service would be well received by clients.

“Brook Graham is a classic example of the firm providing different kinds of workplace services to clients, and diversity and inclusion is a really core part of that,” Mr Rennick said.

“We have added to and broadened our services to be able to also advise clients on diversity and inclusion. This is one of the suite of services and products we are offering to our clients which are broader than legal services,” he said.

Commenting on this expanded offering within his own firm, Mr Rennick noted that as the number of lawyers in traditional law firms shrunk the talent pool of employees with different skills would grow. He predicted that the demand for mathematicians and statisticians, for example, would increase to help firms address the needs of client businesses in a more comprehensive way.

This trend would also follow a greater reliance on technology to solve problems, the Australian head added.

“The smart law firms are building significantly around technology and how technology is applied to solve what has hitherto been legal problems,” Mr Rennick said.

“We do think that lawyers are going to have to work with other people, with other skills and disciplines, in order to deliver a more fulsome service to clients. At Pinsent Masons we’re experimenting with that, with artificial intelligence and big data, and experimenting with services that we describe as being adjacent to law.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Taking the traditional blinkers off business strategy in law
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...