The announcement yesterday of the newly minted LeClairRyan Legal Solutions Center should provide another shockwave to an American legal profession that is already in distress.
National law firm of LeClairRyan (22 offices and 350 attorneys) and LPO UnitedLex (1,100 attorneys engineers and consultants), will now collaborate to provide "a wide range of support services and incorporate best-in-class technology and quality control processes which will be uniquely integrated into the law firm's litigation and transactional practice areas….[allowing clients to obtain]….more comprehensive, value-based services at a lower and more predictable cost.
"The LeClairRyan Legal Solutions Center is an important part of our strategy to provide clients with insightful and solution-oriented legal support services that have a foundation built on efficiency, predictability and value-based budgeting," said LeClairRyan Chairman Gary LeClair.
What is their strategy?
To be the top law firm in every industry class or area of practice? (BTW, despite what Canadian law firms think, this is not a strategy).
To increase revenues? (BTW despite what Canadian law firms think, this is also not a strategy).
Their strategy is to design and implement "one of the most comprehensive legal support delivery programs in the industry. UnitedLex will assume responsibility for the operations of LeClairRyan's Discovery Solutions Practice and will provide additional capital allowing the firm to have best-in-class, end-to-end litigation support for its practices and clients on a global scale." Creating the largest solutions center of its kind anywhere in the world.
And is the centre located in Chicago, L.A., or New York City?
Nope. It's located in LeClairRyan's hometown – lower cost centre (true there are even lower cost centres in the US) – Richmond, Virginia.
The backbone of the solutions centre will be a "full technology suite, including a proprietary combination of technology and processes that allows in-house legal teams and law firms to identify and eliminate non-responsive data at an early stage in the eDiscovery process to reduce costs and allow for pricing predictability. Document management suites are also included.
LeClairRyan Legal Solutions Center is yet another example of structural change in legal services. Clients of this centre will no longer tolerate the old methods – they will never go back. As a result, law firms who do not follow this lead, will lose business.
And because legal services is an industry, and not merely a profession, there will continue to be a morphing of lawyers and other service providers to create new solutions for clients.
Lawyers who continue to believe that the old model of legal services delivery will come back into vogue with an economic recovery south of the border, are going to be in for a big shock.