Minter Ellison's New Zealand office has uncovered a new revenue stream working with UK-based law firms and clients to assist with their legal work at around half the price of UK-based lawyer rates.
Minter Ellison Rudd Watts managing partner Mark Weenink told Lawyers Weekly today (May 24) that the firm is working directly with UK law firms including Lewis Silkin and Memory Crystal to assist in areas such as sports law, as well as low-level work regarding the acquisition of North Sea energy platforms.
"We've just developed a certain practice for clients of doing UK-based work for them, and we would happily expand that if it makes sense in certain areas," he said.
Weenink added that the UK legal work is predominantly being undertaken by lawyers who have recently returned home from the UK and that cost is not the initial factor encouraging clients to take up such services.
"They [clients] use us for the 24-hour turnaround and the expertise," he said. "The fact that our charge out rates are half of theirs is useful, but not the primary motivator for them."
Weenink said such agreements have usually emerged out of personal relationships. He does not consider them to be legal process outsourcing (LPO) arrangements, and does not believe taking on such work devalues the Minter Ellison brand.
"It's less than one percent of our revenue at the moment," he said. "It's never going to be our core model. It's just an add-on and we'll only do it where it makes sense."
With a strong insolvency team, the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts has experienced some significant growth during the global financial crisis - increasing its base from 100 to 140 lawyers over the last couple of years. Weenink says around three quarters of the new staff are lawyers returning from the UK.
- Angela Priestley