Competition in legal services in Asia is acute.  Among the competitive pressures traditional law firms face in Asia is the drive by Big4 accounting firms to gain legal market share.  In this Q&A interview, Asia Law Portal asks Mark Schroeder, Senior Legal Consultant with 勤理 China law firm and member of Deloitte Legal* about Big Law vs Big4 competition in Asia and what makes Deloitte Legal unique:

Your LMC (Legal Management Consulting) model:  How does it streamline the workflow of in-house legal / compliance operations?

Today’s China is immersed in a complex regulatory compliance environment.  And businesses operating here are making great efforts to manage the ever-shifting regulatory landscape of exposures and changes imposed by regulators with limited in-house resources.

Our law firm, in collaboration with Deloitte China’s Data Analytics and Software Engineers have developed customized workflow programs to automate such complex regulatory compliance programs, helping in-house teams achieve more with less.

Our multidisciplinary team, known as LMC (Legal Management Consulting), has vast experience in legal and regulatory process mapping and have built various managed service programs delivering predictable and consistent results.  

We’ve developed services supported by professionals, processes, and tools that allow us to quickly set up regulatory repositories applicable to our clients’ business operations using Natural Language Processing to ingest regulations and administrative licenses and match with our clients’ control frameworks, providing traceability and sustainability.

We also help inside counsel monitor the regulatory landscape for changes on an ongoing basis so they can conduct impact assessments.  On top of this, we’ve developed customized dashboards and other proprietary products such as “Regulatory Visualizer” to streamline multifaceted compliance environments.

The time and resources saved allows businesses and in-house to devote more resources to strategic initiatives and planning for the future.  

What are Deloitte Legal’s unique advantages over more traditional law firms?

Deloitte Legal has the unique advantage of leveraging our multi-disciplinary / jurisdictional platform, devising integrated legal and business solutions to address our clients’ multi-faceted legal and business issues that arise across jurisdictions.

Traditional law firms are generally known for substantive expertise within specific areas and jurisdictions, while Deloitte Legal prides itself being a legal “plus” solutions provider with an expansive global network, underpinned by specialists across various disciplines utilizing service and delivery models powered by the latest in technology.  The resulting impact to our clients is often one of higher satisfaction at lower cost.

How has “Deloitte Legal” developed compared to the other Big Four?  How did your strategy evolve and what are its strengths compared to the other three?

Deloitte Legal was one of the first to target legal services in Europe and Asia.  In China, however, we are not only one of the most developed of the Big Four, we are a specifically a leader in LMC or tech enabled legal and regulatory advisory.

Our strategy has been to build a new kind of law firm with the distinctive Deloitte culture, one of diversity, collaboration and globalization, instead of, like other firms, merging with or acquiring existing traditional law firms.  All of the professionals recruited by Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm were developed with the Deloitte methodology and in association with the firms of the Deloitte platform.  Deloitte Legal has worked extensively with the other parts of the Deloitte network on joint client pursuits that has led to client engagements that would not have been possible if Deloitte Legal or any of the Deloitte firms went on its own. 

Can you provide a general summary of where you have currently established LMC in Asia, and perhaps other jurisdictions that may be in the cross-hairs at a later date?

The China LMC practice is growing quickly and leading the way in Asia.  This is mostly due to the complex regulatory environment and robust client demand within the area.

In Asia Pacific, Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm, with over 50 lawyers, is among the largest of our Asia based offices.  However, Deloitte Legal global network also has significant presence in Japan, Korea, Australia and throughout SE Asia.

In the last 5 years our year on year growth, in terms of revenue, has been over 20% and it is expected that this pace will continue for the foreseeable future given the growth prospects in China’s expanding economy.  Hong Kong, being part of China and a springboard for many Chinese companies to launch their outbound investments, would be a key jurisdiction for the Deloitte Legal global network to establish the next legal practice.

We’ve heard about your China whistleblower services launch as well.  What is the story behind this development?

Our newly launched Whistle-blower service based in Shanghai is a perfect example of Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm leveraging on Deloitte’s multidisciplinary and technology heritage to deliver a much needed service to clients in China and beyond.

Due to increased global regulatory demands, Deloitte globally has offered whistleblower services since 1999, (under the Tip-offs Anonymous™ brand), to provide our clients comprehensive compliance / corporate governance support.

China, with recently enacting the Cyber-Security law, has now made it imperative for companies operating here to safeguard personal and potentially sensitive data and store it within the PRC jurisdiction.  Whistle-blower reports include data that is certainly personal and can sometimes be particularly sensitive.

Accordingly, due to this new China compliance challenge and related client demand, Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm launched a fully secure PRC based service as well.  In China Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm adheres to the same global standards that Deloitte has established globally and we expect exponential growth due to our premium and comprehensive service offering.

What does Deloitte Legal endeavor to accomplish with this LMC global initiative? 

This is a competitive space where there will continue to be entrants from media, software and professional service firms of all types.  We believe our unique focus on leveraging our natural strengths to help Inside Counsel elevate their strategic value will be well-received by the market.

Deloitte Legal and LMC’s primary mission is helping raise the effectiveness of General Counsel.   Working closely with the Deloitte Global network of financial, risk, tax and strategy advisory partners, we are able to execute on a strategic and technical level, allowing the General Counsel to deliver on their ever increasing demands.  The role of the General Counsel is becoming ever more vital.   Accordingly, GC’s need outside support that provide much more than advisory, evidence and bandwidth.  Deloitte Legal and LMC intends to become an indispensable arm of each GC’s operation where we’ve become engaged.

About Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm

Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm is a Chinese law firm and a member of the Deloitte Legal* global network.

* “Deloitte Legal” means the global network of legal practices which are affiliated with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited member firms. Shanghai Qin Li Law Firm, a licensed Chinese law firm, is the China member of that global network.

About Deloitte Legal

Deloitte Legal includes the legal practices of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited member firms or their affiliates that provide legal services. Deloitte Legal teams combine specific industry knowledge with broad legal experience to offer focused, client-centered service to national and multinational organizations. Deloitte Legal industry specialists strive to understand the unique needs of clients operating within the industries that they serve, focus on their business needs, and remain current on trends and developments. The global Deloitte Legal network comprises over 2000 legal professionals in 80 countries. For legal and regulatory reasons, some member firms, including the United States firm, do not provide legal services.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. A writer and editor to the international corporate and professional services sectors, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group, 2014).

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