Starting out as an associate at Allen & Overy (A&O) in 1989 Andrew became a partner in 1994. His background with the firm is as rich, as it is varied. From 2008 he co-led the global banking practice, before bringing together A&O’s alternative legal services under one roof in 2019, collectively known as Advanced Delivery & Solutions (AD&S).
Below, he tells us about how we support clients and the powerful advantages the combined AD&S teams can bring to leaders looking to improve how effectively their in-house functions enable and support broader business objectives.
Could you give us an overview of A&O’s AD&S offering?
The strength of our offering is our ability to draw upon and blend together a range of capabilities – spanning technology, process improvement, strategic consulting and alternative resourcing – to create solutions for in-house legal teams, often in combination with our legal practice, that are carefully configured around each client’s particular challenge.
AD&S solutions include delivering traditional legal services in new and flexible ways, making the most of what legal tech has to offer to develop new solutions, or providing specialist consulting and strategic advisory services to build strength and integrity into organisations.
Ultimately we want to help our clients embrace change and overcome the frustration of outdated and inefficient ways of working, enabling them to better manage risk, reduce costs and become more resilient.
How did the offering come about and how do you see it evolving in the next year or so?
We identified the need to innovate the way we delivered legal services well over a decade ago – our online legal information business aosphere started in 2001 – and it remains a core priority for A&O. Having started investing and transitioning our legal services model ahead of most of our peers, we offer our clients alternative solutions, for example flexible resourcing options such as Peerpoint, which are now mature and tried and tested.
As a result, we have a real depth of experience and track record in this space, delivering results and advantage for our clients. Our offering is also much broader than our competitors; no one else has the equivalent of A&O Consulting, Peerpoint and the combined equivalent of Fuse and our LegalTech team.
Our investment in AD&S is a long term play and we have ambitions to further expand our services, the breadth of our offering as well as our global footprint.
That investment will continue to be responsive to our clients’ needs; establishing A&O Consulting is a great example of where we listened to the challenge our clients were describing in accessing the strategic regulatory advisory support they needed. Last year we undertook a substantial global study of how in-house legal functions are addressing the opportunities and challenges presented by legal innovation and the results clearly demonstrated that this is an area general counsel, chief legal operating officers, and heads of legal innovation are grappling with. I think we have a great opportunity to assist businesses looking to develop and move their legal functions forward. As part of our commitment to supporting clients on such transformation programmes for example we’ve invested in ancillary skill-sets alongside our existing legaltech and resourcing teams including data scientists and transformation consultants.
It’s an increasingly busy market with the rise of alternative legal services and the ‘big four’ flexing their new law offerings. What are A&O’s differentiators when it comes to AD&S?
Our strongest differentiator is that we are part of a world-leading law firm and that means we work hand in hand with our traditional legal practice. We aim to offer our clients the reassurance of a global elite law firm combined with the innovation clients might expect from an alternative provider. Our focus is at the more complex end of the market and our AD&S teams and clients benefit from being able to pick up the phone to the relevant leading legal expert to input into the design of a solution. It’s having access to that deep legal expertise that’s at the heart of our proposition and enables us to help our clients manage risk or deliver highly complex projects in a way that is very efficient, with no loss of quality.
How would an in-house legal team know when they might need to enlist the help of A&O’s AD&S teams?
There is so much potential for in-house legal departments to re-imagine how they function. Whether at the beginning of their transformation journey or having already identified a new target operating model, we can help clients evaluate their operations and design new models that leverage technology and optimise processes and resourcing options. For those looking to benchmark their current operations with peers we have arguably assembled the most robust global data set into how more than 100 global in-house legal functions are tackling change and transformation and can provide personalised benchmarking reports which many clients find helpful in beginning their transformation journey. You can find out more here.
On a business as usual basis I would suggest any clients embarking on transactions or regulatory change programmes, or needing to resolve complex disputes, where the volumes of data or documents are very high, or timescales and number of workstreams particularly challenging, to ask their law firm providers how alternative resourcing options, or legaltech, could play a role, and their experience of integrating those options into their solution.
Could you share some of the most exciting and interesting examples of how you are helping clients achieve success?
Perhaps the example which best demonstrates the power of AD&S is our work helping financial institutions clients to remediate all their IBOR-based contracts and financial products and transitioning them to new products based on new benchmark, a complex issue which brings significant risks requiring careful management. A&O is advising representatives from across the market, asset classes and jurisdictions and has won strategic mandates from the significant majority of US and EU banks.
IBOR transition showcases how we can bring a multi-disciplinary, scaled solution to a highly complex, industry-wide challenge, using our proprietary IborMatrix technology, providing additional resourcing for clients through Peerpoint, project management capability, strategic regulatory implementation advice through A&O Consulting and leveraging our lower-cost resourcing team in Belfast.