The former executive director of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association has joined Exigent, a global company focused on outsourcing legal solutions, and will be the sole Toronto-based employee.
Christine Staley is now vice president of legal solutions for Exigent, having started her new role effective Sept. 27.
Staley had been the executive director of the CCCA from 2014 to 2016, and was director of professional development for the organization before that.
The company says Staley's hire will help "in responding to a rapid shift in the Canadian legal market towards alternative legal service delivery models."
"There has been a lot of chatter ... for a quite a while within the in-house counsel community about doing things differently, doing more with less, finding new ways of delivering services," says Staley.
Staley says while the "industry has been a bit hesitant here in Canada" she had noted a shift recently where "people were starting to take notice of different models of different service delivery methods."
Exigent has about 400 employees worldwide, located in Australia, England, India, South Africa, and the United States.
The company has gained attention in Canada for its partnership with McCarthy Tétrault LLP, for example, on the development of a contract management solution the law firm describes as "an alternative service delivery model designed to capture commercial contract data."
Staley says a shift has happened in the last 18 months to two years.
"It started slow, it started, I think, with in-house counsel saying, 'We want our external firms to do things cheaper,' and it started that way, but it's growing and it's growing into not only do they want services to be done at a reduced cost, but they want increased value," says Staley. "And so I really think in the last year and a half, you've heard that quite strongly."
A recent survey by Corbin Partners and Taran Virtual Associates of more than 200 Canadian lawyers indicated that 40 per cent were using legal process outsourcing in their firms.
David Holme, Exigent's chief executive officer, says "the opportunities lie really in the application of different solutions."
"From my perspective, what we are seeing is in-house counsel looking for answers to problems," says Holme.
He said some big changes in the Canadian landscape include the large accounting firms "encroaching on various areas like litigation," Deloitte's acquisition of ATD Legal Services Professional Corporation and the creation of Deloitte Conduit Law LLP, and Axiom's purchase of the general counsel business of Cognition LLP, and the creation of Axiom Cognition.
"There's a confluence of different factors that [have] perhaps stimulated the opportunity to change, and allows general counsel to do things differently.
And I think that's the big deal really, it's doing things differently, not doing things cheaper," says Holme. He adds that Exigent is is working with large Toronto clients by sharing expertise around contract management and analytics.
Staley says Canada is "just primed for growth," and the role of in-house counsel includes new facets.
"First and foremost...the legal departments are being asked to do more with less, and I think that's the overarching cloud that everyone is living under, but at the same time, the role of in-house counsel is evolving quite rapidly, and no longer is in-house just supposed to be the legal adviser, but they are supposed to be a strategic business partner," she says.
"When you look at that role, they have to be able to come to the table and come to the executive with business solutions that make sense and add value to their client, to their corporation, division, whatever it might be."