PwC, which has aggressively pushed its way into the legal services industry, plans to expand its Flexible Legal Resources offering into global markets.
The new, on-demand lawyering service that was launched in the U.K. four months ago, has met with great success, according to Peter Workman, managing director of Flexible Legal Resources (FLR). It received 500 applications within 14 days and now boasts a pool of more than 1,000 contractors, he said.
That success has led to the model being taken up at PwC’s Swiss offices, and its Asia network is considering adopting it as well, he said.
“A big driving factor of this model’s success is the power of the PwC brand,” Workman said.
Since the launch of flexible-lawyering pioneer Lawyers on Demand (LOD) in 2007, a string of similar offerings has flooded the market. Eversheds Agile, Pinsent Masons’ Vario, and Addleshaw Goddard’s AG Integrate, for example, all provide contract lawyers to address clients’ legal needs on an ad hoc basis.
But PwC’s version has rapidly met with success. Its model is similar to others, but Workman notes that FLR benefits from the backing of one of the biggest financial services companies in the world.
“Candidates have said that although they had never previously considered working in this way, the draw of the PwC brand, its client list, and the types of projects they could work on, have made them think again,” Workman said.
For example, an ex-FTSE 100 GC who had recently left that role, was looking for his next opportunity while he did some traveling, Workman said. “He saw our campaign and realized this could be ideal.”
Workman said the launch of FLR was prompted in part by calls the had been receiving from overburdened GCs and legal heads calling out for extra staffing resources.
Their message to him was that secondees from law firms and contractors from some of the other flexi-lawyer businesses – although often good lawyers – did not have enough in-house experience and were too accustomed to life in private practice. As a result, FLR’s initial focus has been on signing up senior lawyers, in particular those with in-house experience.
“One of our key selection criteria is that candidates have a really solid background and experience of working in an in-house environment, and initially a background in financial services, as those are the clients who were calling us and saying: ‘We have these massive complex projects that we need to deliver as a result of regulation change and Brexit, and we need a holistic solution’,” Workman said.
FLR is just one part of PwC’s “New Law” offerings, which give clients access to legal technology, outsourced managed legal services, and now this pool of contractors.
All of this is being leveraged when PwC goes for panel pitches alongside its traditional law offering. Despite the service’s initial focus on financial services, FLR believes it is able to service any client regardless of the industry, and has already placed contractors in construction, real estate and insurance companies.
Workman is of the belief that the flexi-working model should not just apply to lawyers, and that in the future PwC should be able to provide contract-based resources in all professional services sectors.
“We do not see this as just a U.K. offering,” he said. “I have had enquiries from Asia and we see that as a key market for this offering. I don’t think there is a limit on growth.”
PwC launched a law firm in the U.S. last year—more evidence of the concerted push into legal services by the big four accounting firms. The firm, ILC Legal, which is based in Washington D.C., does not offer U.S. law advice, but rather assists U.S. clients on international issues and acts as a marketing operation to generate work that can be referred to PwC’s existing legal services network.