Big Four firm EY has launched Core Law, a scalable Legal Managed Service (LMS) that can be used by SMEs as well as larger companies that want more flexible support. Artificial Lawyer spoke to Jessica Lazarus, a Director at EY, who joined last year after working at both LOD and Axiom, about the new offering.
First, what is Core Law and what does it offer? It provides contracting services and compliance support, along with horizon scanning to keep clients up to date with regulatory change.
But what makes it different? Lazarus put it this way: ‘Core Law is a wrap around service and it’s cost effective. Most LMSs have catered for larger banks and the like that have a high volume of matters and [have signed] multi-year contracts. And EY has done that also.
‘But at EY there is more of a push now to cover SMEs and fast growth companies. These have the same issues, but at a smaller scale. That would normally mean it’s harder for them to access an LMS as they do not have the volume.’
Now, with Core Law, companies can work with a fixed price menu to handle their growing contracting and compliance burden. While for larger companies that perhaps don’t immediately want to get into a multi-year contract, they can also work with Core Law to have a service that can scale up and down depending on their needs.
Artificial Lawyer noted that this could help fast growth companies to better manage internal lawyer headcount, especially around more process-level work, from day one. I.e. Many companies turn to LMS providers after already having built a large legal team to handle overspill. In this case, companies could work with EY from the moment the contracting and compliance workflow starts to peak beyond the main legal team’s ability to stay on top of it.
The way EY approaches pricing is also a key aspect of Core Law. Lazarus explained that clients can pick and choose what they want.
‘Clients do not have to commit to certain volumes, as they do not always know what needs they will have. So, we do not want to be a barrier there.
‘To help them we offer two models: pay as you go, or there is also a minimum spend model, which has two levels, £25,000 or £50,000 a year.
‘Clients [eventually] develop a better sense of the volume they need to handle, and we can also help with that by providing data on the contracting work that is coming through.’
‘The key idea is to be very transparent, offer fixed fees and flexibility.’
Now onto the tech. As all the Big Four will tell you, they are tech agnostic. However, they work very closely with practice management and CLM platform, KIM – which has a long-term contract with EY following the firm’s purchase of Riverview Law back in 2018.
However, Lazarus noted that they will work with whatever the clients want them to, for example they are working with HighQ for a client that wanted to take this approach.
And who does the work? Lazarus explained that they bring to bear aspects of the entire firm’s legal capability.
They have the higher value expert input from the partner-led practice areas, which are no different to those in any traditional law firm, to specialist delivery teams all over the world, from Poland, to India, to Argentina, to Minneapolis in the US – which is the legacy home of part of the Pangea3 group that EY also bought.
And if there is an issue abroad, they can also bring in their lawyers there. Lazarus noted an example of a client in the UK that needed some input in the Asia-Pacific region, so they called on their lawyers there to help as part of the service.
‘The lawyers can also help the clients with designing playbooks and templates for documents,’ she added – which is a key factor in improving the value of the LMS approach.
In short, from a contract expert in the former Pangea3, to a group of associates and partners in London, EY is putting all of its legal sector-focused capability on call for Core Law, with the goal of providing something that can scale to the clients’ needs.
And the future? Lazarus noted that they will be making more and more use of technology in the future. Naturally, the Core Law model needs to bed down first, but the long-term path is to bring in tech to make the teams steadily more efficient.
All in all, it’s a move that makes a lot of sense. Many traditional law firms don’t have the ability to offer this kind of scalable LMS service, while the large LMS groups may not be able to be so flexible and cater for SMEs and high growth companies. The fact that EY is making a concerted effort here could be welcome news for those inhouse teams that are seeing their contracting needs growing rapidly, but don’t want to make the same resourcing choices their larger peers have made in the past.