RPC targets 'gap in the market' with new training and consultancy service for in-house lawyers

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General counsel face more challenges than ever before. Rising compliance demands, technological developments and the many dilemmas presented by Brexit mean in-house lawyers are being pushed to raise their game.

In recent years, a number of law firms have launched consulting offerings to help GCs tackle some of these issues, but RPC has identified what it sees as a “gap in the market” – to provide coaching, mentoring and career support services that in-house lawyers may not otherwise be receiving from their employers.

The new venture – dubbed the Centre for Legal Leadership (CLL) – is being led by Bruce Macmillan (pictured above), who joined the firm in January last year. Macmillan’s extensive in-house experience has encompassed roles at a variety of companies, including Cable & Wireless, Dell and Visa Europe, handing him unique insight into the challenges in-house lawyers face.

“In-house law – especially at the team manager and head of legal level – is becoming a very different type of role from that of a private practice lawyer, as there is a much stronger focus on proactive business investigation and analysis to identify what business is doing and how this is touched by the law,” explains Macmillan.

The initiative, which officially launched on 22 March and is based in RPC’s London HQ, will offer three core services to in-house lawyers – recruitment services, educational support (both web-based content and accredited external learning), and discussion groups about career development.

Macmillan explains: “Most in-house teams are pretty small, so they don’t really get tailored training from the businesses they are in; and they aren’t big enough to tailor services for themselves. We come across an ever larger number of people whose training was good, but didn’t suit them well.”

CLL is the third consultancy business the firm has backed, following the 2015 launch of RPC Consulting, which targets core insurance sector clients, and RPC Perform, which was launched in May 2016 to provide management advice to GCs but has now closed down following the exit of director Julia Chain.

Chain joined e-discovery and legal document services company Millnet last month after 18 months with RPC, leaving with the two other permanent members of RPC’s consulting team – former RBS consultant Varun Srikumar and former Barclays director Andrew Dey.

Macmillan, who has been working alongside Chain for the past year, explains that Perform and CLL were intended to offer separate services to the in-house legal community. “They were designed as adjacent services: one team and technology focused; the other individual and career focused. I’ve been involved in discussions on this area since before Julia was involved with RPC. The business predates Julia.”

Perform, which closed for business at the end of March, was originally designed to provide advice to GCs on areas including the organisation and management of their in-house legal department, the management of their external legal spend, and technology.

“Essentially, Julia was working alongside us doing adjacent things and has now moved on,” says Macmillan. “We are doing a couple of extra things around the boundary line; more on the consulting side, as well as coaching and mentoring which were always designed to be adjacent services.”

However, he says other areas that Perform specialised in, such as legal spend and technology, are “not primary areas of focus” for CLL.

Alongside Macmillan, the CLL launch team includes Paul Bentall, formerly GC for nine years at the Financial Ombudsman Service, and Peter Giblin, a specialist consultant and visiting professor at Cass Business School in London.

Another way CLL will be distinct is in its emphasis on in-house recruitment. The business will have a particular focus on helping in-house lawyers hire into their teams, as well as advising and placing those looking to move themselves.

“We have launched services to help law departments to run well, to make the right hiring decisions and to write good job descriptions. We’ve done a lot of market research and we wouldn’t bring it forward if there was no gap in the market,” says Macmillan.