How Private Equity backed Dept supports fast expansion with solid legal processes

How do you as management of a fast growing successful company retain the benefits of being lean and agile while building the solid legal structures, strategic insights and operational continuity that underpin the company’s future success?

That was the challenge facing our client Dept (, a highly successful digital marketing agency. Backed by private equity investor Waterland and with ambitious plans to acquire agencies across the globe, it was expanding at breakneck speed. Working solely with external law firms, head office had a limited inhouse legal team and a lightweight IT network. But what were pluses at the outset were threatening to become a drag on the business. The COO wanted more consistency and transparency in the growing agency’s legal work, and a state-of-the-art database.

Needed: strategy, people and systems
Specifically, the company wanted up-to-date overviews and standardised data formats to simplify the task of reporting on its acquired legal entities, shareholdings, authorisations, contractual rights, obligations and all the rest. This would require a legal strategy and IT systems that would align its processes and offer the right support to execute basic legal steps and safeguard consistency, but without adding an army of FTEs. It didn’t want to become just another high-overhead agency.

Our advice was: start small, stay flexible and figure out your needs as you go. An agile approach employing the Legadex Managed Services Platform and a mix of temporary and permanent part-time staffing. We suggested that the inhouse legal counsel wasn’t an FTE position at that moment, so don’t try to make it one. At the same time, some parts of the project would require senior legal counsel experience, but once the strategic design was finished and the IT system and processes implemented, much of the day to day work would be mid-career or junior level, plus some paralegal support. Probably part-time, too, though how part-time was also unclear. No problem.

Move fast with blended managed services
Based on this plan, we assembled a team to get the client through the project and beyond. We helped the client to define and implement a workflow, supplied a corporate general counsel for two days a week and provided corporate legal support on a part-time continuous basis. We also prepared standard template resolutions and template contracts that every agency in the company would find easy to use.

And because our solution employed the Effacts IT system, we could move fast, too. Effacts, developed by Wolters Kluwer, is a system we use a lot – in fact, we are a contributor to it – and we like it because it makes it easy for inhouse legal teams to find, summarise, share, audit and report. It covers entities, contracts, compliance, claims, IP, data privacy and corporate housekeeping, and features clever tools that help legal to manage risk and collaborate with other departments. Being a known entity with no lead times, we got the whole solution literally up and running within weeks.

Flexible, responsive, ongoing support
Through this approach, our client transformed the legal aspects of running a fast-growing business. We helped the company create flexible solution comprising part-time legal counsel, part-time paralegals and part-time administrative staff. The senior legal counsel handles strategic issues, the paralegals review documents, provide in-house legal advice and manage and liaise with other company advisors. The administrative staff process inserts and updates of legal entities and contracts on a continuous basis.

Today, the client can pick as needed from a pool of expertise that covers legal counsel, paralegal, administrative and specialists. Another interesting benefit for this client is that in devising their solution, we included the needs of the company’s private equity backers and their eventual exit. So we ensured that data formats and retrieval have been designed to support a future sale scenario.

Client benefits at a glance

  • Fast deployment of familiar Effacts legal software solution
  • Right-fit staffing (seniority, specialisms, part-time, flexible)
  • Full workflow with pre-defined reports covering organisational charts, authorities, signatories, contract values, run time, renewal alerts, recurring action clauses and risks, corporate compliance)
  • Blended legal staffing and legal admin service with hybrid on site/ online support as needed 
  • The benefits of your own staff without the overhead of permanent staff
  • Scale legal personnel quickly to ensure continuity
  • 24/7 online accessibility 
  • Click to export corporate information and contracts for operational purposes, corporate projects and transactions
  • Easy to collate information for privacy, compliance, know your customer and business information projects