From legal advice to government advocacy – ABS gives Cherie Blair’s firm “competitive advantage”

Hulme: holistic approach

Hulme: holistic approach

Being an alternative business structure (ABS) “definitely gives us an advantage as compared to a typical law firm”, according to the managing director of the unique practice founded by Cherie Blair QC.

Julia Hulme said Omnia Strategy – which describes itself as a “pioneering international law firm that provides strategic counsel to governments, corporates and private clients” – was born in 2012 “from a recognition of the gap between what law firms can provide and what clients want”.

In 2014 Mrs Blair quit Matrix Chambers to concentrate on her role as Omnia’s chairman.

The firm has not courted publicity but in an interview for the newly published book ‘Democratizing Legal Services: Obstacles and Opportunties’, Ms Hulme said: “Clients often just want help solving a problem by their trusted advisor. Their problems are not just legal – they concern the company or the individual as a whole.

“This is why we wanted to become an ABS – to permit us to deliver to our clients a holistic approach with our advice. The flexibility to offer clients comprehensive advice and not just legal advice – that is what the ABS structure permits us to do.”

This in turn gave the firm its competitive advantage because it could assemble the entire team that the client needed.

Ms Hulme, who is dual qualified in the US and as a solicitor in England and Wales, said: “Take high-profile litigation for example: Normally, a client needs to hire a law firm for the litigation itself, a government relations firm for government advocacy, a communications firm for reputational and communications issues, and a strategy firm to help with how to move forward.

“With us, it’s a one-stop shop. The client can pick up the phone and speak to just one person, who understands all of the different work streams, and from who they can be confident they will receive a consistent message.”

Omnia Strategy has four core practice areas: international dispute resolution, international public law, outsourced general counsel, and international strategic communications and reputation management.

Ms Hulme said: “Clients are expecting a lot more from their lawyers today — they want better solutions to their issues at more reasonable rates. This requires more agile structures. [ABS] offers flexibility and the ability to have a modern approach to providing legal services. I don’t think that anyone should be afraid of it.”

Democratizing Legal Services: Obstacles and Opportunities is written by Laura Snyder and published by Lexington Books. For a 30% discount on the price of the book/ebook, taking it to £70, download this form.

Ms Snyder cites Legal Futures as her primary source of information to identify the case studies used in the book, saying: “This website is a treasure trove of information especially (but by no means only) with respect to alternative structures in England and Wales. In particular, this is the go-to website for information about newly licensed ABSs.”

Editor Neil Rose aided her with introductions to some of the firms profiled.

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