Consulting Talent War Heats Up As Deloitte Hires From Reed Smith / Gravity Stack

Big Four firm, Deloitte, has hired Nicholas Long, previously a senior director of legal ops at Reed Smith who was also a director of its tech and consulting group, Gravity Stack, in another sign that the battle for consulting talent is increasing. He has become a managing director at Deloitte.

Long (above left), who was also a transactional partner up until 2018, has moved over to Deloitte’s Legal Business Services Team in the US, just as Gravity Stack is now expanding its own consulting arm, and when in a recent interview with Artificial Lawyer, its MD, Bryon Bratcher, said that the goal was ‘to compete with the Big Four’.

Bratcher said in February this year: ‘We have grown a business advisory team, many of whom have backgrounds from the Big Four and ALSPs. We’re doing a lot of consultative work and we are being more proactive.

‘We help with business processes and transformations. We implement tech, and for example, we are doing a lot of CLM implementations.’

The move therefore underlines how the legal world is now hunting for legal ops and tech consulting talent – with the Big Four having some advantages given their deep pockets, wide client roster, and extensive experience in the consulting field.

Deloitte has also hired Rebecca Thorkildsen (above right), also as a managing director, from rival Big Four firm EY, and yesterday this site reported on the hire of Peggy Pauwels as a new partner in its Legal Management Consulting (LMC) team. She was previously European Head of Commercial Contract Management at credit card giant, Visa.

Both Thorkildsen and Long were hired at the start of this year, but their moves have only been announced now.

The advisory giant noted that ‘at a time when data shows that having effective enterprise-level contract management is a business imperative, both strategic senior hires bring valuable experiences that will enhance Deloitte’s Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) service capabilities’. 

And ‘with the recent increase in M&A activity, the additional insight that the Legal Business Services team can provide with Long’s arrival is critical for companies and law firms that are required to execute transactions faster at lower cost and risk’.

Meanwhile Thorkildsen has extensive legal, managed service, and technology experience. She previously led the strategy and development of EY’s Legal Managed Services annuity contract services, where she was responsible for developing the Americas go-to-market team.

Mark Ross, principal, Legal Business Services, Deloitte Tax in the US – which does not give legal advice….(yet, as it’s not allowed to) – said: ‘As clients continue to embrace the need to improve their contracting functions, new processes and technologies will play an instrumental role in CLM transformation efforts. Nicholas and Rebecca are proven industry leaders with the vision and experience required to further accelerate our client’s contract management transformation initiatives. We are thrilled to have them join our team as we continue to enhance our breadth, scale, and credibility.’

And commenting on his move, Long concluded: ‘I am really impressed with the Legal Business Services team that Deloitte has built, and I am really excited about the services we can provide to improve the performance of the M&A ecosystem, including as part of the engagement management, due diligence, post-closing integration, and legal entity management. Deloitte is already a leader in M&A advisory, and the additional services that we can bring to bear in Legal Business Services will really drive value for our clients.’

As noted, what this story is really about is the battle among the larger commercial legal services providers to build consulting arms to help corporates with legal ops needs, from contracting efficiency to the better leveraging of technology. CLM is therefore a key part of both aspects.

The hire of a senior figure from Reed Smith and Gravity Stack, just as they were starting to expand their own consulting business, shows the intensity now of the hiring market for people who have legal ops and consulting experience – or who have skills that could be leveraged for that purpose.

It seems very likely that there will be much more movement – and pay rises – for those who have the right experience and skills here, as firms, ALSPs, law companies, the Big Four, and inhouse legal ops groups, all seek to retain and obtain the best talent.