29 October 2020

Pinsent Masons boosts professional services offering with Vario expansion

Photograph of Matthew Kay

Matthew Kay

New group combines flexible resourcing unit and diversity and inclusion consultancy, among others

Pinsent Masons has expanded its flexible resourcing unit Vario to become a broader professional services group that will sit alongside the firm’s main legal offering.

Vario will combine its existing on-demand resourcing service with its diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham, its technology and consulting group, and its legal project management and managed legal services business. The new professional services group has been set up in response to increased client demand for commercial expertise alongside traditional legal support, the firm said.

The department will employ around 300 staff, of whom 200 are lawyers and 30 are legal project managers. They will work alongside consultants, operations personnel, marketers and account managers

Matthew Kay, managing director of Pinsent Masons Vario, said: “For some time now there has been a move away from the idea that the provision of legal services is mainly about black letter law. More and more, we and our competitors are called on to play a central role in responding to broader business issues through the provision of technology, or the delivery of managed legal services. While flexible services have been a game changer in recent years – enabling businesses to dial resource up and down in line with day-to-day needs – this offering alone will not be the only solution required by clients as they grapple with increasingly complex business demands.”

The firm originally launched Vario in 2013, expanding into Asia-Pacific in 2018. Earlier this year it hired senior lawyers Carl Renner and Michael Zollner from on-demand lawyer outfit LOD in Germany, building on its acquisition of German flexible resource business Xenion and managed legal services company Xenia in December last year.

Pinsent Masons launched its dedicated client legal project management division early last year, growing the team from a dozen professional project managers to 25. Its diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham also expanded into Asia-Pacific last year.

Richard Foley, senior partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “Clients may require corporate or planning lawyers as well as forensic accountants, data scientists and D&I consultants. These are all just skill sets and yet historically many have looked and treated the former very differently to the latter. By bringing these professional disciplines into one group and aligning them internally alongside our global practice groups we hope to drive a material change and thus to be able to easily flex and adapt how we provide support on a case-by-case basis.”

Earlier this month, advisory firm Baretz+Brunelle published a study on the growing number of top US law firms that have set up their own in-house alternative legal service providers in a bid to win back lost revenue that has shifted to other tech-focused suppliers.

It coincided with the launch by KPMG of a global legal operations consultancy service in a bid to ramp up its work advising legal departments on digitalisation.

In June, Eversheds Sutherland launched its alternative legal services business Konexo in the US, following its launch in the UK a year earlier, and in February, Kennedys hived off its new law-type activities into a separate wholly owned entity, Kennedys IQ, which it characterised as a separate technology driven company akin to ‘Kennedys, without the lawyers’.

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