Helena Samaha: Equisphere responds 'directly to the needs of in-house counsel'
Lex Mundi, the network of leading independent law firms, has launched Equisphere, a platform that brings members together to work for clients collectively.
The client service delivery model aims to co-ordinate cross-border legal support across the firm’s members through a combination of people, process and technology.
In practice, the network — whose members include Morrison & Foerster, Arthur Cox, JunHe and Nishimura & Asahi — says this means supplying a combination of management tools, skills and staff.
It promises ‘lean’ work methodologies, account management by Lex Mundi staff for corporate clients, online tracking of key deliverables, cloud sharing of documents and emails, and the use of project and matter management software.
Helena Samaha, Lex Mundi’s president & CEO, said the platform would respond “directly to the needs of in-house counsel to find smarter and more efficient ways to navigate their cross-border legal needs”.
Equisphere, she said, would be transparent, efficient and fast. It would help corporate counsel, “forever tasked with doing more with less, to be able to see around the corners, deliver results, and report accurately to their boards”.
The platform is aimed at project, transactional, and regulatory instructions that favour collaboration; such as investigations, compliance on the contentious side, and mergers, acquisitions, carve-outs and disposals, plus restructuring operations and business partnerships on the transactional one. In both cases, it leverages individual expertise on offer collectively - through a central point of reference – thus acting as a force multiplier.
Eric Staal, vice president of global markets, said the rationale behind Equisphere was to provide legal advice “in places that do not match up well with traditional global law firms, whose business models focus on the main global financial centres to support transactional work and certain big-ticket litigation”.
Following the pandemic, he argued clients required a greater depth of local expertise, built bottom-up, with expertise distributed across the network, saving on global headquarters with high-cost overheads.
That approach is not new, (Dentons has its polycentric leadership structure, for example) but the key difference is a differing level of association and, consequently, control.
Staal described Equisphere as having a “lean-agile approach”, allowing the network to be creative – and independent.
Being “purpose built for the way companies will need to support cross-border matters in an uncertain global landscape”, Staal said the network had attracted interest from client global panel managers.
Simon Watts, a partner in the UK arm of Womble Bond Dickinson, said Equisphere would “allow us to enhance significantly the way we in the Lex Mundi network serve our clients who transact globally”, citing a recent group reorganisation for a global software business spanning over 30 jurisdictions as a collective win.
Equisphere, he said “will enable transactions to be conducted in an even more seamless way going forward, while affording clients full visibility across the spectrum of work being carried out by all network firms involved wherever in the world they are located".
The announcement follows the appointment in May of Horowitz & Co partner Michelle Liberman as chair of the network.