Deloitte Legal’s recent global launch of Legal Management Consulting (LMC) follows a deliberate strategy in China to build a new kind of firm consorting with the Deloitte culture, rather than a simple acquisition or alliance, senior lawyers with the firm say.
According to China’s LMC lead, Mark Schroeder, LMC requires “lawyers plus” to deliver tech-enabled legal and regulatory advice.
“Our platform also includes tools that we can use to help clients reduce the costs and improve the quality of their regulatory compliance activities in China,” says Schroeder. “The technology and systems we’re developing in/and for clients in China was created in multiple jurisdictions and across different service lines. The delivery requires legal, process and tech talent.”
Deloitte Legal describes LMC as a global multidisciplinary offering designed to help general counsel and their in-house legal department teams navigate rapid legal industry transformation and deliver more value with less resources. Its launch also follows an expansion of its legal services in London to further target in-house counsel.
As financial, legal and technology spheres align more closely, “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s legal services arm and other Deloitte practices around the world have targeted improving corporate counsel operating models to deliver faster integrated services within enterprises. LMC services can enable legal departments to use technology more efficiently and elevate effectiveness in monitoring risk.
“Whether Deloitte Legal was the ‘first’, the ‘last’ or somewhere in between to target legal services would probably depend on the jurisdiction in question,” Patrick Yip, Senior International Adviser at Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm, a member of the Deloitte Legal global network, told Asia Business Law Journal. “For China, however, Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm would be one of the earlier firms to enter the Legal market.
“Our strategy has been to build a new kind of law firm with the distinctive Deloitte Legal culture, one of diversity, collaboration and globalization, instead of, like other firms, merging with or acquiring existing traditional law firms,” Yip says.
“All of the professionals recruited by Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm were developed with the Deloitte methodology and in association with the firms of the Deloitte platform. Deloitte Legal has worked extensively with the other parts of the Deloitte network on joint client pursuits that have led to client engagements that would not have been possible if Deloitte Legal or any of the Deloitte firms went on its own.”
Yip said China is immersed in a complex compliance environment, and businesses operating there are managing an ever-shifting regulatory landscape of exposures and changes imposed by regulators, often with limited in-house resources.
“Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm, in collaboration with Deloitte China’s data analytics and software engineers, have developed customized workflow programs to automate such complex regulatory compliance programs, helping in-house teams achieve more with less,” he said.
“We’ve developed services supported by professionals, processes and tools that allow us to quickly set up regulatory repositories applicable to our clients’ business operations, using Natural Language Processing to ingest regulations and administrative licences, and match with our clients’ control frameworks, providing traceability and sustainability.
“We also help inside counsel monitor the regulatory landscape for changes on an ongoing basis so they can conduct impact assessments. On top of this, we’ve developed customized dashboards and other proprietary products such as Regulatory Visualizer to streamline multi-faceted compliance environments.”
Yip said Deloitte Legal had a unique advantage of being able to leverage Deloitte’s multi-disciplinary/jurisdictional platform, devising integrated legal and business solutions to address a client’s multi-faceted legal and business issues that arise across jurisdictions.
“Traditional law firms are generally known for substantive expertise within specific areas and jurisdictions, while Deloitte Legal prides itself being a legal ‘plus’ solutions provider with an expansive global network underpinned by specialists across various disciplines utilizing service and delivery models powered by the latest in technology,” he said. “The resulting impact to our clients is often one of higher satisfaction at lower cost.”
Yip said the China LMC practice was growing quickly and leading the way in Asia, mostly due to the complex regulatory environment and robust client demand.
“In Asia-Pacific, Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm, with over 50 lawyers, is among the largest of our Asia-based offices,” he said. “However, Deloitte Legal global network also has a significant presence in Japan, Korea, Australia and throughout Southeast Asia.
“In the past five years our year-on-year growth, in terms of revenue, has been more than 20%, and it is expected that this pace will continue for the foreseeable future given the growth prospects in China’s expanding economy.
“Hong Kong, being part of China and a springboard for many Chinese companies to launch their outbound investments, would be a key jurisdiction for the Deloitte Legal global network to establish the next legal practice.”
Yip said his firm’s newly launched Whistleblower service, based in Shanghai, is a perfect example of leveraging Deloitte’s multidisciplinary and technology platform to deliver a needed service to clients in China.
“China, with recently enacting the Cybersecurity law, has now made it imperative for companies operating here to safeguard personal and potentially sensitive data and store it within the PRC jurisdiction,” he said. “Whistleblower reports include data that is certainly personal and can sometimes be particularly sensitive.
“Accordingly, due to this compliance challenge and related client demand, Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm launched a fully secure PRC-based service as well, which adheres to the same global standards that Deloitte Legal has established globally.”