Wiktor Doktór: About LPO many things have been already said but in fact this is still unclear what Legal Process Outsourcing really stands for. Can you describe in few words what it really is?
Richard Singer: Legal process outsourcing is essentially about sourcing legal services more efficiently and usually at a lower cost –by outsourcing to a less expensive location, using technology, and/or streamlining processes. Many companies, which are already outsourcing IT or finance services, are now looking for additional efficiencies.
To be clear, Dentons Business Services EMEA is not a LPO. It does not provide legal services to clients, but rather back office services to our offices across Europe and the UK. After the rapid expansion of the past few years, we are looking to leverage the benefits of our scale and resources more effectively, whilst keeping quality consistent.
Wiktor Doktór: Every business with global presence or with international transactions requires legal support. What are current trends in the market when it comes to legal area and what brings the biggest challenges to legal companies?
Richard Singer: Since the global financial crisis in 2008, the legal sector has faced downward pressure on fees and demands for different fee structures – for example, success fees instead of hourly rates. This means that law firms need to operate more efficiently and also need to be flexible. International firms that are centrally managed from London or New York - and that try to operate on the economic principles of those financial centers – are finding that in smaller markets, such rates are simply unacceptable. Many of these companies will need to change their mind set and be more adaptable to local conditions to be sustainable.
We have also observed that clients are increasingly looking for a law firm that can serve them in all, or most, of the markets where they operate. This makes sense since business is increasingly global, and we are seeing more and more cross-border transactions. This is also driven by the fact that many large companies are cutting down on the number of law firms they are working with, focusing on those who can offer a full range of practices over a large number of geographic markets.
Wiktor Doktór: In Dentons you are following the global IT revolutions. In BPO industry more and more the RPA (Robotics Process Automation) is present and in your company you have decided to focus on NextLaw Labs – what is it?
Richard Singer: In today's dynamic market, there are tremendous opportunities for the most innovative law firms, and growing risks to those that stand still. Traditional law firms are not typically designed for innovation. So Dentons launched Nextlaw Labs back in May 2015. It is a global collaborative innovation platform focused on developing, deploying, and investing in new technologies and processes to transform the practice of law around the world. As the lead supporter and investor in NextLaw Labs, Dentons serves as the global testing ground for new products, services and other ideas.
Wiktor Doktór: I mentioned already the BPO industry. How do the legal companies support BPO or SSC companies? Is there more or less work for you recently?
Richard Singer: Most often BPO and SSCs come to Dentons for support with employment issues, such as contracts for managers and staff, and labor law compliance. But in fact we work with BPOs across all of our practices, including Real Estate, Tax, Corporate, Dispute Resolution and others. Particularly in CEE, which is a hot spot for shared services, we do a lot of work with SSCs and see great potential for growth.
Wiktor Doktór: We know Dentons is at the moment building Shared Service Centre in Warsaw (Poland), what would be the processes run from that operations centre? Is it back office for legal processes or perhaps something more?
Richard Singer: Dentons Business Services EMEA will serve as a center of excellence for business services such as finance, marketing, human resources, risk and IT. At the moment our focus is on business services only and we have no plans to include legal services.
Wiktor Doktór: Final question. I love to ask about the future and see how it looks like in the eyes of business leaders. How do you think – how legal services will look like in the next five years and how Dentons will look like in the next five years from now?
Richard Singer: The law firm of the future will use technology more effectively, and be even more focused on creating value for clients. It will have a broader global reach, while retaining close links with the local community. And we will continue to see consolidation in the market.
As for Dentons, we will continue to grow and to expand into the markets that are most important to our clients, and we are confident that within the next five years we will be one of the top seven – or even top five - law firms in continental Europe.
Wiktor Doktór: Thank you
Pro Progressio Business Talks is the cycle of interviews with global key managers. Interviews are run by Wiktor Doktór, the CEO of Pro Progressio Foundation. In Pro Progressio Business Talks there are covered current business trends, analysis of business cases, hits and tips as well as discussions concerning process development of European and Global companies.
About Richard Singer:
Richard Singer is the Chief Operating Officer of Dentons Europe. He has been instrumental in driving the Firm’s growth strategy in Europe through his ongoing efforts to increase profitability and to attract, develop and retain top talent from the market. An experienced cross-border manager, Richard is responsible for leading Europe’s finance, HR, IT, risk management, business development and marketing functions. He is working with these teams to transform back office operations and ensure the delivery of efficient and fit-for-purpose business support services to the Firm. Richard is also a member of the Global Operating Committee. Richard Singer has more than 15 years’ experience in various strategic, operational and business development roles including working at White & Case, Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young.
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Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.