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A&O in talks with clients over expansion of contract law business

UK Magic Circle firm, Allen & Overy (A&O) is in talks with a number of high-profile clients over deploying lawyers from its contract law business in-house following a successful soft launch period.

The magic circle firm introduced its Peerpoint business last year, initially using only its own alumni working directly for A&O. But it has now spoken to around 10 to 12 clients, including high-profile financial institutions, with a view to offering in-house placements before the end of the year.

Head of business improvement Ben Williams, who is overseeing the business, told Legal Week: “We’re saying it will probably happen within the next 12 months, but I’m sure it will be sooner rather than later given the levels of interest from both lawyers and clients.

“We’ve almost done the reverse to other consultant lawyer businesses in the market in the sense that we’re first setting up to improve our existing business model.

“Before we open it up to clients directly we want to check we are attracting the right people, have a reasonable number of lawyers on our books and that our systems are working well.”

Peerpoint initially launched with a small group of around 10 lawyers and has since been adding staff with a view to growing to a headcount of around 30 in the short term.

According to Williams, the business will help to reinforce client relationships as the firm currently receives more requests for lawyers to go on secondment than it can accommodate.

The initiative, which kicked off last November with a team of around 10 alumni lawyers, is also set to expand to bring in lawyers from other top tier firms, as well as general counsel who have been trained at large law firms.

The firm also aims to contract lawyers from outside of the UK who can take on ad hoc cases in countries where A&O has larger offices, such as Asia, the US and parts of Europe.

Williams has spoken to managing partners at some of the firm’s larger offices over using the service in the future.

LEGALWEEK

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