Legal project management is spreading to the ordinarily highly conservative Channel Islands legal market as top four firm Bedell Cristin looks to technology to help it increase its competitive edge.
Led by managing partner David Cadin (pictured), Bedell Cristin is working with legal industry management consultancy Janders Dean to break down its legal processes, following the management buyout of its fiduciary business Bedell Trust in 2016, which leaves Bedell Cristin as a standalone law firm for the first time in 40 years.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Cadin said: “We are breaking down the legal process, looking at legal project management and becoming more adept and flexible in exceeding clients’ needs, which will lead to more standardisation and eventually automation.
“We’re just in the early stages but when you speak to clients and say you’re interested in improving your processes, they are enthusiastic about understanding what it means for them.”
He adds: “Until now, transformation has been the preserve of the Magic Circle and large firms but it’s spreading and we have to accept it.”
Bedell Cristin, which has offices in BVI, Singapore, Guernsey and London, follows a number of other Channel Island firms such as Ogier, Appleby and Mourant Ozannes in splitting its legal and fiduciary businesses.
Cadin, who is a leading private client litigator, said: “For the first time in 40 years we’re a standalone law firm. It’s an exciting opportunity and the amount of energy in the law firm has grown exponentially. But the question now is, do we carry on the usual turf war and hope to maintain our market share or do we look to position the firm to clearly differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”
Offshore firms are typically instructed by onshore law firms on a transaction or case and have traditionally been cushioned from the commoditisation affecting much of the wider legal sector.
However, at a Janders Dean transformation conference in Jersey in November 2016, which looked at developments in automation, AI and billing, it was notable that the main area of interest and concern among large Jersey firms was the rise in legal of the Big Four accounting firms – all of which have a presence in the Channel Islands – and their short and long term impact on legal practice.