Legal outsourcing firms serving in-house counsel on the rise
By Luis Millan
n the wake of a major downturn that has
forced companies to tighten their costs, including their legal spending, in-house counsel departments are under enormous pressure to keep a lid on tight budgets. In a bid to
cash in on a burgeoning market, Canadian legal
outsourcing firms have their sights set on getting
a slice of the legal work that can’t be done by in-house legal teams.
In recent years Delegatus Services Juridiques has
successfully carved out a niche that has drawn increasing attention from the Quebec business—and
legal — worlds, offering an enticing new way law can
be practised and legal services delivered.
Profiting from a rising chorus of disgruntled corporate
clients annoyed by steep and mounting legal costs, Delegatus is part of a new wave of law firms that boast the
ability to provide experienced top-notch talent, familiar
with the ins-and-outs of business, on an as-needed basis
at half the rates charged by traditional firms.
The Delegatus model has caught on. Since 2005
Delegatus has grown from a one-woman show into a
Montreal legal services firm with 14 lawyers.
Quebec’s legal elite, including Pierre Chagnon,
the batonnier of the Barreau du Québec, his predecessor Gérald Tremblay, and former Trudeau cabinet
ministers Marc Lalonde and Francis Fox all attended
a swank fifth anniversary party held at Delegatus’
newly-rented spacious loft in an historic Old Montreal building. It is clear that Delegatus has arrived
on the legal services scene with a vengeance.
Anchored by a lean and mean infrastructure, minimal overhead, and a suppleness that is the envy of
traditional law firms, Delegatus and its like-minded
breed provide independent corporate counsel and civil
litigation to small- and medium-sized businesses with
limited means, as well as servicing larger companies unable or unwilling to add more full-time staff to deal with
cyclical legal needs. Essentially a loose collection of
like-minded sole practitioners operating in association,
Delagatus lawyers work from the law firm’s office, the
client’s office or even the comforts of their home either
for a period of time, an on-going basis or for a specific
project, all depending on the needs of the client.
“The needs vary from client to client, but they’re
always mindful of tight budgets, costs and the economy,” pointed out Anik Fontaine, who was an in-house
counsel for eight years with three high tech and multimedia companies before being enticed three years
ago by Delegatus founder Pascale Pageau —now on
maternity leave — to join the flourishing firm.
“We adapt, and we can, because more than half
of our team worked at one point in their careers as
in-house counsel so we understand what it is to be
general counsel. We realize that decisions are made
not only based on legal considerations but business