Legal Consultant Limelight: Nick Pournader

Few leading consultants and advisors to the legal space bring the range of private sector experience as Nick Pournader, who has excelled in leadership roles across a range of industries. The CEO of P&C Global says that his team of 850 professionals is not a traditional consulting firm merely offering advice to clients; instead, the firm commits contractually to implementing solutions in addition to providing strategy and guidance. P&C Global eschews “cookie-cutter” approaches when helping law firms tackle their most important problems, a philosophy that has become especially critical with the unique set of complexities posed by the global pandemic.

Lawdragon: Could you please share with us some of your career highlights?

Nick Pournader: I started my career immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree at the age of 18, and always worked very hard at every challenge presented to me while concurrently furthering my education. That being said, there have been three major inflection points that have influenced my career. The first one was an enormous enterprise software industry wave – the emergence of Software-as-a-Service or cloud-based software as we know it today – where I was at the right place at the right time, first at SunGard, and then at Oracle. At those companies, I was charged with the responsibility of creating their cloud-based businesses that previously didn’t exist in the marketplace. I developed and launched the cloud enterprise software at SunGard, growing it to $50M annual revenue run rate within its first year.  And, at Oracle, started what is now NetSuite – a leading cloud enterprise software company. Later on, I wanted to be involved in an entrepreneurial endeavor and took a first-of-a-kind C-level leadership position at a then small plaintiffs’ class action law firm where I played a key role in turning that organization into one of the top five industry leaders. I then pivoted from there to start my own business – a cloud-based healthcare analytics company, which was acquired by BlueCross BlueShield, and then the creation of P&C, where I am CEO today. 

LD: What are the types of services P&C provides to the legal industry and why is that satisfying or interesting?

NP: P&C helps solve the most complex business problems that strike the desks of CEOs. Whether identifying new markets and opportunities to explore, addressing some of their most challenging human resource and organizational issues, or transforming their businesses to be nimbler and more profitable, P&C is there to help solve their business problems, today and in the future. There are no cookie-cutter solutions at P&C. While our approach and methodologies are consistent and proven, every client and each engagement have elements that are unique to each client. What is most gratifying is that we have the benefit, and joy, of bringing solutions to life. We don’t just hand over a roadmap or an idea, we bring the solution to reality and deliver a significant top- and/or bottom-line result for our clients. We build relationships where CEOs trust us with their most complex problems, share information that we know and cherish to be confidential, as well as reveal their strategic insights. We work with them, their leadership teams and their employees to implement the solution for which they initially turned to us – and to make sure they get the desired business results. Furthermore, we are still around years later to help them adjust, answer their questions, and be there as they have additional challenges they want to tackle.

LD: What are some of the challenges and trends you are seeing in the industry?

NP: All of our clients are experiencing the uncertainties associated with the pandemic – everything from determining when it will be safe to return to work and open their offices, to how can they cost-effectively allocate their workforce while balancing the challenges of more and more employees wanting to work remotely most or part of the time. In addition, we help clients determine what technologies, policies and approaches are needed to support employees to maximize their sense of organization and allow them to feel that they are part of the team, while not losing the benefit of relationships that are formed when they work together day in and day out. For law firms themselves, we also consider the emerging challenges that their clients are facing. In turn, those law firms are seeking others to help them help their clients come up with solutions regarding, for instance, the best medical or safety protocols for returning to work.

For these issues and others, clients are turning to P&C. We have to be on the forefront of pandemic safety protocols, business practices, and the enabling technologies because of the work we do across all industries. Profitability and revenue are also top concerns on the minds of law firm leaders. In particular, plaintiffs’ bar firms have been impacted by court closures and/or hearing date postponements. Law firms are looking for ways to effectively reduce their costs and not lose sight of their strategic investments, all while making sure their employees are cared for, mitigating any turnover, and reaping the benefit of having some flexibility of working remotely. That covers a lot of what we’ve been doing over the last two years, and it is constantly evolving.

LD: How can clients work best with P&C?

NP: P&C is not a typical consultancy in that we’re not there to just give clients advice. We’re there to provide guidance, strategy and expertise – and to implement the solutions that deliver the desired business outcomes. The most successful engagements are those where the client fully and openly shares their needs and concerns, gives us the data required for analyses, provides us the benefit of their time and insights, and works with us to implement the solutions. Many times, clients have the notion that consultants fall into two categories: those that just facilitate meetings and present ideas regarding how to craft a solution; or very tactical technology consultants that implement a software system or manage their computer networks. While we certainly do those things for clients across multiple industries and have a strong track record of success, we are best engaged when the client shares the entirety of their business problems they are dealing with and then works with us to develop a solution and have us implement that solution – so the client sees the business return on their investment. Our uniqueness: We fix problems, deliver the business impact and commit to that contractually. We bring the solution to life – and implement that with their employees. This way, their employees learn to do this on their own, which develops their skill set and gives them the tools to solve problems in the future, independently. The best client relationships are those where there’s a high level of trust and the client shares their full set of needs, and trusts us to implement the solution, so they can immediately gain the benefit of why they went to a full-service consultancy to begin with.

LD: Please share with us some of the qualities of your team.

NP: In our hiring process, we focus on a few things. We do not hire any career consultants; rather we want people who have had significant experience in leadership positions in-house across multiple industries, people who understand the needs of the industry, those who have walked in the shoes of our clients and their employees, and know the business processes, technologies and regulatory requirements. We also want the academic credentials combined with a deep and broad exposure across different industries in that individual’s career. When we recruit, we concentrate on professionals who have the requisite qualifications plus at least ten years of experience – with increasing responsibility – in at least two industries that P&C serves. Most importantly, that person must be able to empathize with our clients and use their personal experiences to act on the challenges our clients are facing. When you look at the backgrounds of our people, you’ll see a lot of talent and tremendous combined experience, not only at an individual level but across our teams, and the ongoing training and professional development that we require – above and beyond what we normally see in the industry.

LD: Why is P&C interested in serving law firms that may not be large international corporations?

NP: We see law firms as a great opportunity because they are professional services firms, just like us. They are also highly educated, highly skilled professionals who are truly devoted to their work. We are experiencing tremendous change within the legal industry – and with that, an opportunity for law firms to be transformed into more profitable and nimble businesses, as well as to take on greater spaces in the market than they have done traditionally. We’re excited – and our people are excited – about working with law firms and proud of the results we’ve been able to achieve. We see tremendous opportunities of what we can do for them. Especially with law firms, they should consider a management consultancy as applicable to solving their problems – end to end, and for the long term.