Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is the latest Big Law firm to enter the alternative legal services space as law firms increasingly seek to fend off upstart competitors in the fast-growing market.
The launch of BCLP Cubed on Thursday comes about 15 months after the merger of Bryan Cave and UK-based Berwin Leighton Paisner, which had both for years been developing capabilities such as staffing and legal department consulting that many alternative providers offer.
BCLP Cubed will bring the firm’s services including “complex legal advice, volume legal services and legal operations support” under one umbrella in both the U.S. and the UK, the firm said in an announcement.
BCLP’s announcement comes within days of two of other major firms launching competitors in the alternative provider space.
More firms are fighting for a share of a market that Thomson Reuters says is poised to grow at a 25 percent annual clip from nearly $11 billion in sales in 2017, even if some in the market are less optimistic about the industry’s growth rates. The top 100 U.S. law firms brought in around $99 billion in revenue last year, according to AmLaw figures.
“I certainly see alternative providers moving up the value chain; I certainly see them continuing to partner with big [law] firms, the Big Four and clients. And I see the Big Four doing similar things,” said Katie DeBord, who will lead product development for BCLP Cubed. “But the thing that makes us different and the reason why this is a no-brainer for us is because we have the capabilities and expertise in each of those three areas: legal operations, high volume work and complex advisory.”
The new BCLP division will be led by full-time CEO Neville Eisenberg, who as Berwin Leighton Paisner managing partner oversaw the 2008 launch of its legal staffing arm Lawyers on Demand. BCLP sold its controlling stake in that business following the merger.
DeBord launched a legal department operations consulting unit at Bryan Cave that is now branded Cantilever at BCLP and which will be part of the Cubed offering. The unit plans to add personnel including a chief technology officer and former chief operating officer of a managed service center, DeBord said.
Eversheds Sutherland, also formed by a merger of U.S. and UK firms, this week launched a business line it says will compete with alternative providers. The firm said it expects to generate about $127 million through its new Konexo brand of advisory, interim resourcing and managed service offerings.
Greenberg Traurig this month launched an innovation-focused subsidiary branded Recurve that the firm’s executive chairman said would take on outside investors as a response to new providers’ ability to use capital from non-lawyers, prohibited by U.S. bar regulators.
While BCLP Cubed does not plan to seek outside investment right now, DeBord said the firm feels it can compete with alternative providers’ deep pockets thanks to its head-start investing in legal operations and alternative staffing models since the late 1990s.
Providing complex legal advice is also an advantage that a law firm like BCLP has over non-law firm providers, DeBord said.
DeBord declined to provide revenue projections for the new business line. One of its competitors, Elevate Services, expects its top line to grow by about 25 percent a year to bring in about $200 million in revenue by 2023. The company is aiming to go public by 2021, Bloomberg Law reported this month.
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