Shift evident in private practice and in-house lawyers’ relationship
There has been a change in dynamic between in-house counsel and private practice firms due to two core drivers, according to the head of Pinsent Masons' Australian practice.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Pinsent Masons Australia head David Rennick said the relationship between the two types of legal professionals has changed in two key ways in recent years.
“Firstly, advancements in technology have streamlined the ways in which in-house and private practice firms can work together, creating a more efficient service delivery for clients,” Mr Rennick said.
“Secondly, in-house teams have grown larger and become more specialist which has impacted significantly on the nature of the briefs firms receive. There has also been a related increase in demand from clients for secondments and hybrid secondments to in-house legal teams.”
Mr Rennick said he ultimately puts the shift down to technology, tighter budgets and a greater emphasis being placed on the importance of lawyers having a deeper understanding of an organisation’s business drivers, strategy and culture.
“Increasingly, in-house counsel turns to private practice firms for specialist areas, or for large-scale matters where external support is needed to complement in-house resources,” he added.
Mr Rennick said, now more than ever, private practice firms need to evolve and adapt to the changing dynamic between them and in-house teams.
“Commoditisation is becoming more of the norm in many aspects of legal work, and we need to balance the cost savings clients demand with the quality of advice that our clients require and deserve, while also offering new and innovative solutions. It’s about adding value by filling new and emerging gaps in the market,” Mr Rennick said.
“A lot of focus is being placed on technology at the moment, but a big part of responding to the requirements of in-house teams is about flexibility to meet their needs.
“An example of this can be seen through the Australian launch of Vario, Pinsent Masons' flexible resourcing hub. Vario caters to the ever growing demand for flexible and freelance work, focusing on finding and placing candidates with the right legal skill set, values and behaviour, with the right clients. It’s not just about meeting the evolving expectations of lawyers to work flexibly, but also meeting the evolving need of companies to be able to access lawyers who are not just technically skilled, but have the personality and drive to ‘fit right in’, to add value from day one.”