Lawyers Weekly | 14 Feb 2003
This article on Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants profiles its integation of law and management consultancy. It was published in Lawyer's Weekly originally under the title "Gone Consulting.
It was primarily frustration that motivated Noric Dilanchian, now managing partner of Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants (www.dilanchian.com.au), to leave the world of traditional law firms and set up a legal and management consultancy. "As I gained experience in the law, I became increasingly frustrated with the way in which the traditional confines of legal practice stopped me helping clients," he explains. "The silo approach employed by conventional private law firms can force legal answers to what are essentially non-legal questions. Law firms can also mystify things, using legal language and forms, in circumstances where the law is in fact a second-order issue," he says.
With "a fair bit" of background experience in both national and mid-tier law firms, as well as industry development bodies (serving as national president of the Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association, for example), in July 2000 Dilanchian set up his own multi-disciplinary firm specialising in intellectual property and innovation.
Its aim was, and is, to go beyond the strictly legal to address underlying business issues and develop integrated responses.
Given that in some cases this even means telling clients they should not proceed with legal work until other business issues have been worked through, Dilanchian believes this approach would be very difficult to carry off within private practice's conventional parameters.
"Law firms help clients understand legal requirements and constraints," he says. "Where it is relevant, our firm links these considerations with business and broader environmental factors. Ultimately it is a question of delivering value, and charting a course for clients that minimises risk and costs and maximises returns."
Since 2000, Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants has grown with a number of alliances, such as with the Ndarala Group. Developing "integrated responses" intrinsically requires the firm to work with a range of specialist professional services firms and knowledge providers, such as management consultants, HR consultants, IT developers, engineers and accountants - as well as other lawyers. "It's about integrating legal, business and technology strategy. In some cases we can deal with issues directly; in other cases, we will arrange for another professional specialist to provide support; in still other cases, we become part of an integrated team."
Dilanchian sees cross-disciplinary interaction as a benefit for clients. "Our professional training blinkers us all to some degree," he says. "Working with colleagues from other disciplines forces us to question and explain things that would otherwise be taken for granted when serving clients. It also helps us access information quickly. In our firm when a problem comes up in a particular area, we can pick up the phone and get ideas and advice across a range of disciplines," he says.
Dilanchian makes the point that his firm's integrated approach is readily applicable to commercial law, intellectual property, IT, e-commerce and even litigation. "These are all areas that tend to involve a mix of legal, business and management issues such that a full solution requires our type of integrated approach. Traditionally, bigger clients have done this type of integration themselves, and many will continue to do so, but even here we're finding the merits of our multi-disciplinary approach are apparent."