“Consultancy [noun] (pl. Consultancies)” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “ a company [or individual] that gives expert advice on a particular subject to other companies or organizations.” It thus entails providing a third party with expertise on a subject matter in exchange for a fee, providing an independent and un-biased perspective on specialized matters demanding the knowledge, experience and know-how of an expert.
However, to whom does a legal practitioner turn to when he or she seeks advice or objective opinion on the strengths and/or weaknesses of a legal argument or claim submitted on a client’s behalf, or on the evidence they wish to include in their discovery affidavit to support or refute a client’s claim, or in respect of legal research conducted on behalf of a client or on the future growth or efficiency of the firm itself? This remains an unanswered hypothetical question despite the significant age of the consultancy industry, whose origin can be traced to the industrial revolution of the early 19th century.
The truth is that legal practitioners cannot simply turn to a fellow legal colleague to review or analyze their legal claims or arguments as set out in court notices, legal documents or contracts, to check spelling, grammar and structure or to confirm facts and precedents against case law or do additional research, should the need arise, given the time restraints and billable hour demands that all legal practitioners work under. Nor is it possible to approach any other professional, who would lack the necessary legal knowledge and experience to appropriately advise on the suitability of a legal argument, claim, evidence, research, future or efficiencies of the legal practitioner or his/her firm. A problematic situation often expounded in small, boutique or sole practitioner firms who do not always have the luxury of a legal secretary or candidate attorney and whose resources are already constrained, prohibiting their subscription to research databases and search engines.
Despite the six main functioning areas of consultancy, which include: Strategy, Management, Operations, Financial Advisory, Human Resource and IT, each of which will not only intersect with each other but also with other service areas to ultimately form a myriad system of over 200 fields of different expertise and proposition service areas, the question remains, who do legal practitioners and law firms turn too when seeking advice and/or guidance on their own practices and procedures. Despite the continuing growth of the consultancy industry and the increasing popularity of consultants, there remains a consultancy lacuna within the legal field and industry.
The demand for a consultancy services specifically catered for the legal industry and field may have been answered by a new venture, Legal Outsourcing Consultants, known as LOCs, who specialize in offering consultancy services to legal practitioners and law firms.
LOCs provides supporting legal services to law firms, corporates, and individuals by offering customized legal research, reports, reviews, analysis and drafting services. Apart from legal research, LOCs offers consultancy services, including the editing, proofreading and review analysis, on all legal documents and contracts; litigation support through summarization of client evidentiary documents, drafting of discovery affidavits and case law research and summaries; legal drafting, including legal opinions, legislation, correspondence and legal technology trend analysis. LOCs additionally offers bespoke strategic planning and foresight workshops and training for law firms and legal practitioners, to assist in preparing for the future of a firms or legal practitioners’ practice.
Although small and young in years, LOCs promises to bring the benefits of consultancy to the legal field, undertaking to assist legal practitioners and firms in saving time by performing tedious research and drafting, so that a legal practitioner can devote more time and energy to the billable aspects of client matters such as court appearances and client or advocate consultations. With more time dedicated to managing the billable aspects of client matters, costs are saved and billable targets are easier to meet, with more flexibility and money saving benefits given that LOCs can be appointed on an ad hoc basis, as or when the need arises, or on a retainer basis, saving time and costs involved in the permanent employment or sourcing of an expert. Additionally, LOCs offers a fresh, innovative and objective perspective, with new knowledge, resources and experiences, with which the appropriateness of a legal claim or argument can be objectively determined, thereby avoiding the risk of oversight caused by practiced reruns of a clients matter during trial preparation.
Consultancy is no longer limited to corporate business practice, with LOCs forging the way for what can be termed “legal practice consultancy”, promising to impact not only legal practice in general but also the way legal practitioners manage client legal matters.