Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Radiant Law Illuminates the London Legal Scene

As a follow-up on my earlier post about new and innovative law firm models coming out of the UK, this past week I was able to catch up with Alex Hamilton, formerly of Latham & Watkins, now a founder and principal at

Alex and a handful of colleagues from several leading law firms and in-house legal teams have banded together to launch a boutique called that specialises in outsourcing, technology and commercial work.

The endeavor has created a reasonably large splash in the London legal scene due to the unique nature of the firm which is predicated on fixed pricing, senior-level staffing, and the expansive use of an offshore legal process outsourcing vendor to deliver much of the necessary legal support services.

Alex offered some behind-the-scenes insight into as well as some interesting projections for the rapidly changing legal market in London. As far as Radiant’s view for its role in the market, Alex explained, “We’re not interested in changing the legal market, but believe the legal market will become more diverse. Clients simply need more choice for how they purchase their legal services. Throughout our work at our respective firms before coming to Radiant we always thought there had to be smarter ways of doing this."

At Fronterion, we’ve often speculated on whether law firms will end up acting more like LPOs or if LPOs will begin to embrace more law firm-like characteristics. In a strong shift towards the former, Alex outlined a number of strategies that Radiant picked up from their selected LPO provider, Pangea3. “For example, we’re adopting the Pangea3 approach of building playbooks for the more repeatable work. These play books outline the preferred and fall back positions on common issues that are used by Pangea3 staff. Using this more process-driven approach, alongside better checklists for all lawyers working on the matter, allow us to deliver a more consistent and better value product to clients,” Alex said.

On the decision to make LPO a prominent part of Radiant and the significance of LPOs’ unique approach to deliver high-quality work, Alex noted that, “What jumped out of me almost immediately when we started working with our LPO was the quality, structure and process, the entrepreneurial and innovative attitude and how they kept refining their processes.”

“At Radiant we’re all outsourcing lawyers so we know how the outsourcing market has evolved in other industry sectors. Essentially, firms who first went offshore for labor arbitrage are now going to India to get the expertise of process-driven service delivery. We’re really starting to see this in the legal process outsourcing sector. The rigor of the LPO’s approach is very important to delivering better quality products to clients.”

On the role that legal outsourcing will play in their day-to-day work at Radiant, Alex noted, “The primary role of the LPO for larger deals will be keeping all of the transactional documents in good shape – particularly overnight. This not only improves quality, but the deal velocity. We can also offer better value fixed price support for the smaller day-to-day contracts where we can use Pangea3 to do initial reviews and mark-ups under our supervision. Going forward, we’re going to keep looking for ways to increase how we work together with our legal outsourcing vendor.”

On client interfacing: “We take full responsibility for the work product at Radiant so we’re always checking everything. We are also the people who the client deals with and we will be in the negotiations.”

Critics are skeptical about the ability of the Radiant’s exclusively senior-level team to scale up their time to make the practice viable, particularly without the help of junior-level assistants. Certainly much of Radiant’s success is predicated on its ability to leverage lower-level tasks with their LPO provider. Alex noted, “We hope to remain nimble and very open to adjusting our model to what works, but for the time being, I really think that we’re on to something.”

One small step for a boutique technology firm, one giant step for what law firms may look like in the future.