I talked with Stephen Hopkins and Diana Newcombe of Eversheds last week; they are two leaders for the firm on the Tyco legal services team (the new agreement’s details are here). Also participating was Martin Hopkins, who oversees Eversheds’ relationship management strategy and deployment for US-based clients.
Some of the major points follow here, I’ll give some of my perspectives Thusday.
Two things impressed me from the outset:
— The Big Picture: This process has been a real learning experience for the firm, and consistently drives home the importance of closely linking legal services and a clientâ€™s corporate goals. This is often talked about by law firms in the abstract, but is hard to quantify in practice.
— The Building Blocks: Tyco is certainly a custom-built arrangement, but components of it are finding favor with other clients. Indeed, the approach and the technology involved make it more â€œmodularâ€ than initially thought. A client can pick a few features to start with, and go from there.
A few other items of note:
— The Need for Speed: Getting the right technology in place, FAST, is key, one that facilitates client needs and the control of the arrangement. You canâ€™t always know what itâ€™s going to be like to get matters formerly handled by 250 + firms into a process now being overseen by one until you do it. Indeed, it seems without Evershedsâ€™ Global Accounts Management System, this type of service model simply canâ€™t work. And itâ€™s not something you can go out and buy off the shelf.
— What Quality Really Is: Legal work is about many things: not just the product itself, but when it is delivered, how useful it is for the client, and of course, the cost. The system that tracks such things also gives the ability to measure. These can then be analyzed, forming the basis for an upgraded agreement, which refines the allocation of risks and rewards.
— Innovation Forces Change: The Tyco services agreement is changing how Eversheds is organized and presents itself to the market. The firm canâ€™t help but re-evaluate how matters are staffed and work is sought, sourced, and serviced.
— Alignment is a Motivator: The Tyco experience has pushed people inside the firm (at all levels) to do something new that tangibly (and measurably) helps a client. Having a challenge that requires teamwork and has the interests of the firm and client aligned is invigorating for Evershedsâ€™ lawyers and staff. It also helps extend and enhance diversity initiatives already under way.
— One Firm of Many: since Eversheds will retain other firms to help on matters in certain countries, it has forced a level of consistency and cost control across the EMEA region that is rare when such matters are traditionally â€œreferred out.â€ Indeed, not all firms want to (or are able to) work with Eversheds this way. They payoff for some firms that agree to work with Eversheds on Tyco matters is a chance to work for a high-visibility international client that they might not have been able to land before.
— Less Work Can Lead to More Work: things like preventative law and litigation avoidance are clearly new opportunities for legal services that are often seen by many firms as putting sources of future work at risk. When incentives for these are combined with more traditional work, you are getting closer to win-win. From this newer perspective, the traditional billable hour model is more like pay-pay.
Part II comes your way on Thursday.