Listed law firm Ince has launched what it describes as the first integrated legal advisory, business consultancy and technology offering for the maritime sector.
Global senior partner Julian Clark said it was time for lawyers to “redefine what they do” and give clients the one-stop shop they wanted, a process he said was helped by Ince’s structure.
“Clients are becoming more sophisticated and looking for a different service, which is why the Big Four [accountants] have moved in.”
Mr Clark said that, when combined with the increased risks faced by clients, a “perfect storm” had been created for law firms, where “any kind of reaction is almost too late”.
He went on: “For me the solution is collaboration, taking law to the next logical evolutionary stage by providing clients with a full suite of solutions and managing that.”
Mr Clark said lawyers had the management skills to deal with huge numbers of documents and tight timetables. “Why don’t we take those skills and project manage an entire solution?”
He said InceMaritime added consultancy and technology solutions to legal services. The consultancy service would be provided in-house by Ince, while the technology could be provided by third-party companies.
Its first offering, launched this month, is a cyber-security solution in partnership with tech company Mission Secure, a priority for shipping firms with the number of cyber-attacks on shipping increasing four-fold last year.
The second service, scheduled for the end of March, will tackle international sanctions. A recent case involved an Italian shipping company, which could have been forced to close had it not been removed from the US sanctions list for an alleged violation involving Venezuela.
Later this spring, InceMaritime will launch a service dealing with demurrage, the liquidated damages regime which ensures compensation is paid for delays in loading or unloading goods.
Mr Clark said artificial intelligence could “take a lot of the uncertainty out of the process” by feeding information from the ship to the blockchain.
Later this year or next year, Ince Maritime will launch a claims handling and litigation service, which “streamlined the process”, particularly for small claims, again by using the blockchain. This would be followed by a new offering on AML and compliance.
Mr Clark said the corporate structure of Ince as part of listed law firm the Ince Group, gave the firm a “leg-up” when developing new services.
“I don’t need to go to a meeting with 100 partners and convince them that something is a good idea. I go to the board, and they reality-check it and tell me whether or not to get on with it.”
Mr Clark added that being a lawyer now had to be about more than knowledge and keeping it up to date.
“Clients need an enhanced service. The tool bag needs to be a lot bigger.”