UnitedLex, which helps law firms adopt and use tech, has hired five executives from the Big Four accounting firms as it seeks to accelerate growth and meet demand.
The new hires have been tapped to help grow UnitedLex's customer base, which also includes corporate legal departments, by acting as bridges between their client companies' general counsel and c-suites, convincing them of the importance of legal departments as linchpins of their business.
"The problem corporations are facing is that legal departments are among the last areas of a business to see a tech transformation," in part because company executives don't fully realize how important these legal functions are, said David Clarke, UnitedLex's new executive vice president and chief experience and marketing officer. Clarke formerly led the strategy, experience, and marketing functions at PwC.
When companies lag behind in technological innovation, they can lose valuable time and money, especially when it comes to law-heavy areas like contracting. According to research by McKinsey and World Commerce & Contracting, businesses are losing eight to 20% of their contract portfolio's value due to poor contracting processes. This equates to $2.5 trillion value lost per year for Fortune 1000 companies, per a UnitedLex report published in November.
The pandemic, however, has jolted companies into adopting tech. In the past year, almost 70% of companies said they accelerated their tech initiatives, found a September study by Gartner.
As adoption of digital technologies is increasingly rising on the companies' agendas in an effort to boost efficiency and shed costs, UnitedLex is seeking to rev up its own business — and teams — to meet this demand.
From Big Four to legal tech: leveraging consulting and client service.
The five new hires have similar backgrounds centered around client service and technology consulting, said Mike Duggan, the new vice president of clients and markets at UnitedLex.
They will focus on using their consulting experiences to help UnitedLex's clients map out their tech and business strategies, said Duggan, who helped lead Deloitte's Swiss technology consulting business to its position as a market leader.
In addition to Clarke and Duggan, the new hires include:
Audra Nichols, who spent nearly 19 years at PwC leading its tech consulting programs before joining UnitedLex as its new senior vice president of digital solutions and methods; Bhavesh Patel, who has 20 years as a management and technology consultant at Accenture, PwC, and West Monroe Partners and is UnitedLex's senior vice president of transformation; and Christian Schmitt, a former PwC senior client partner who is now UnitedLex's executive vice president of clients and markets in EMEA.
One way that the new hires will leverage their consulting backgrounds is by helping companies "build out a roadmap" by nailing down what their objectives and pain points are, and advising them on what tools can help address them, per Clarke.
"Our job is to connect their dots and show that what's good for legal, is good for business," Clarke said. "It's our whole prescription for transformation."
The new hires are part of a broader strategy of growth for UnitedLex.
The company wants to double its revenue in two years, and the former Big Four executives aren't the only additions UnitedLex plans to make as it's "going through growth," according to Clarke.
In addition to the client experience team that Clarke is spearheading, the company plans to expand its tech department. UnitedLex provides its clients with a range of legal management solutions, and is seeking build out its portfolio with artificial intelligence capabilities.
"We're at the tipping point for digital legal transformation. It's an evitability," said Clarke
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