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Law firms diverge beyond lawyers in bids to defeat rival advisers

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Behavioral scientists, data professionals, journalists, police officers — four professions gathered in law firms everywhere. Traditionally sound legal practices want to be more for more clients, especially in the areas of competitive risk and compliance.

Faced with competitive pressure from professional service companies and clients who want a one-stop solution to more business problems, law firms have begun to set out among the most venerable American business institutions.

Zachary Coseglia, a lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP, said: “I think law firms are gradually realizing that their clients want more than traditional legal services.”

Zachary Kosegria


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Ropes & Gray LLP

Coseglia was involved in the establishment of the R & G Insights Lab. This is an analytical and behavioral science consulting service that comes with the company. Among other services, this group helps clients create compliance training aimed at performing better than the slide decks companies typically offer to their employees.

The team scooped up an educated social psychology doctor at Stanford University to help inform the behavioral science behind the job. In that storytelling effort, Mr. Kosegria said.

The result is more engaging and well-thought-out strategies and training, with scientists on staff to measure whether efforts to develop a compliance-oriented culture actually work. ..

“We went out and looked for people with that experience who could bring a completely different kind of perspective, a career perspective to the table,” said Coseglia. “We really want to find people who naturally have creative and destructive sensibilities in all the hires we’ve made so far.”

Elliott Portnoy, CEO of one of the world’s largest law firms, Dentons, said that due to client demands and competitive pressure, his company has traditionally focused on litigation and regulation of legal services. He said he has begun to look beyond the offerings as well.

Elliott Portnoy


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Denton

“Clients often come to us with problems that need to be resolved and don’t really care about how we solve them,” Portnoy said. “Very often, they were looking for something that went beyond traditional toolkits.”

Dentons has drawn out of legal discipline to provide the services clients desire. For example, we hire journalists, law enforcement officers, and intelligence officers to help create risk reports for clients and corporate staff. Last year, he launched an interdisciplinary advisory firm called Dentons Global Advisors to advise clients on areas other than geopolitical risk, crisis management, and regular legal affairs.

The company has also invested in compliance software companies to expand into complex technology products. Dentons owns a stake in Libryo Ltd., a regulatory compliance software manufacturer, and offers software products that actively collect intelligence on potential regulatory risks.

Another major law firm, DLA Piper, has developed an in-house litigation analyzer with artificial intelligence. It looks at the proceedings history dataset to try to predict how a particular claim will be deployed. Uncertainty from litigation risk. The development of this tool was led by a DLA Piper lawyer who returned to school to earn an advanced degree in data science.

Currently, this tool is used to predict the outcome of clients facing a large amount of behavior. This is, for example, a class of proceedings involving numerous claims related to asbestos exposure. This tool can use a series of past results to predict, for example, what numbers a particular plaintiff’s company will settle in, and provide the company with a more specific analysis than otherwise.

The company has since gained an advantage in negotiations, said Loren Brown, a partner who chairs DLA Piper’s conflict practices. The company considered taking advantage of anonymized datasets containing litigation experience from multiple clients and adapting tools to extend it to other areas. For example, you can monitor and identify potential compliance risks.

“We are getting a fair amount of money for that technology as a snap-on to the legal services we offer,” Brown said.

Stephen Reynolds


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Baker & Mackenzie

The move to turn a law firm into something a little more can meet resistance from lawyers, said Portnoy of Dentons. But he suspected that his company was facing a higher-ranked rebellion than its other rivals because the company maintained its position as a challenger’s brand. Lawyers looking for a more “stable” environment are welcome to leave, he added.

As companies continue to expand their businesses, crutches, often seen among lawyers, ran into the technical challenge of “don’t look at me, I just went to law school.” Law Firm Baker & Mackenzie LLP.

“Clients are really less tolerant of it,” said Reynolds, who has a background in software development. “Lawyers and law firms are more open to attracting people from other disciplines. Maybe we don’t do this ourselves.”

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Write to Richard Vanderford (richard.vanderford@wsj.com)

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