Derek Silva’s passion is transformation. As practice director of elite consulting firm P&C Global’s Law & Advisory Services sector, he is able to fulfill that passion by guiding leading law firms to new heights. Whether that’s through introducing novel technologies, initiating practice mix shakeups or planning a strategic merger, he is trusted to lead the world’s foremost firms into new chapters of innovation and growth.

Silva has the pedigree to back up his mission. With a B.A. in economics from Harvard, an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and postgraduate certificates in Digital Transformation and Innovation from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Silva was well-armed to begin his career – first at Goldman Sachs. He went on to hold roles at two other prestigious firms – Deloitte and Rothschild & Co – before joining global powerhouse P&C Global, which was founded in 2012.

As head of the firm’s worldwide law firm practice group, Silva manages teams across 15 offices, which span from San Francisco to Paris to Beijing; in fact, nine of those 15 offices are abroad. “Every day feels like a new episode in a global legal drama series, where the plot thickens with each cross-border project,” says Silva. “But unlike a TV show, there's no script – just a talented team, a map of the world, and a whole lot of coffee!”

Across locations, Silva is a member of the Corporate Performance, Digital Transformation, Mergers & Acquisitions and Strategy & Innovation teams. Digital transformations, in particular, have become crucial in the last few years. Cybersecurity concerns have heightened, necessitating advanced protections; on the flip side, technologies like AI present unprecedented opportunities for firms. Silva and his team are there to guide law firms through technological investments that pay dividends. In one matter, he and his team led the digital transformation of an elite firm with a $1.8B annual revenue. P&C Global reported the initiative led to a 50 percent increase in operational efficiency, equating to a $1M earnings boost per partner. Crafting strategy that yields such results is what Silva finds most fulfilling about his work – and motivates him to continue finding new ways for already-exceptional firms to realize the next stage of their potential.

Lawdragon: How did you first start working with law firms?

Derek Silva: My journey with law firms began at Goldman Sachs & Co., where I was deeply involved in mergers and acquisitions. This experience provided me with a unique perspective on the strategic and operational challenges law firms face. My transition to Deloitte further solidified my expertise in this area, as I led a team managing complex advisory projects for law firms. This blend of finance and consulting experience laid the foundation for my current role at P&C Global, where I lead our Law and Advisory Services sector. That practice includes our full spectrum of services for other leading global consultancies who solely rely on P&C Global for their internal strategy, operations, and technology strategy advice and implementations. And just for a bit of fun trivia, we probably have more law school graduates and former law firm leaders at our firm – including our CEO – than most mid-market U.S. law firms. We like to think of it as our own little legal 'dream team' – minus the courtroom drama, of course!

LD: It’s great to have consultants on board who really know the ins and outs of law firms. That includes practice area mix; you have had notable successes in business mix optimization. What shifts in practice priorities have you seen recently?

DS: Recently, there's been a significant shift towards technology and data privacy law, driven by the digital transformation of businesses and increasing data protection regulations. Conversely, traditional practice areas like real estate and tax law are seeing a relative downturn. Firms are now reallocating resources to build expertise in emerging areas like AI law and cybersecurity, which are rapidly growing in demand. It's fun and intellectually challenging work helping law firms build and effectively launch these new practices and helping them acquire the talent they need to deliver these services. 

Our approach ensures that as we modernize and transform law firms' operations, their security posture is strengthened, not just maintained, making them resilient in the face of cybersecurity challenges.

LD: Speaking of technology, you also assist law firms looking to make digital transformations. What advice would you give to firms wondering if they might need a digital transformation or technology overhaul?

DS: Firstly, assess whether your current technology aligns with your strategic goals. If there's a disconnect, it's time for a change. Secondly, consider client expectations. In today's digital age, clients expect speed, efficiency and security – all of which are enhanced by technology. Lastly, don't overlook the competitive edge. A tech overhaul can significantly improve your firm's market position while dramatically improving (and often resetting it via lower non-billable labor costs) for years to come.

LD: There’s a privacy component, as well, of course. How does your work in digital transformations help protect firms navigating increased concern around cybersecurity risks in the industry?

DS: Digital transformations are not just about adopting new technologies but also about enhancing security. At P&C Global, we integrate robust cybersecurity measures as a core component of our digital strategies. This includes advanced data encryption, secure cloud services and regular security audits. Additionally, adopting AI for predictive analytics plays a crucial role in preempting and mitigating risks. 

Furthermore, our firm has an extensive cybersecurity practice, staffed with both defensive and offensive cybersecurity experts who are among the top in their field, holding global standard certifications. Given our experience in servicing the world's leading banks and airlines, the level of cybersecurity expertise we maintain internally is unparalleled in comparison to other technology firms in the law firm industry. This high standard of cybersecurity proficiency is embedded in our digital transformation projects, ensuring that our law firm clients are not only advancing technologically but are also fortified against the ever-evolving cyber threats. Our approach ensures that as we modernize and transform law firms' operations, their security posture is strengthened, not just maintained, making them resilient in the face of cybersecurity challenges.

LD: Tell us about the international component of your work.

DS: Heading up a global practice group is both exhilarating and challenging. The joy comes from interacting with diverse cultures and legal systems, which broadens our perspective and approach. The challenge, of course, lies in navigating these varied legal landscapes and ensuring our strategies are culturally and legally sound across different jurisdictions. 

LD: And your M&A practice – what work have you been taking on for law firms in that sphere recently?

DS: Recently, our focus has been on facilitating strategic mergers that enhance our clients' market presence and service offerings. This includes due diligence, integration planning, and post-merger cultural alignment, ensuring that these mergers are not just financially sound but also operationally synergistic.

LD: What do you find most fulfilling about your work?

DS: The most fulfilling aspect is seeing the tangible impact of our strategies on our clients' success. Whether it's guiding a firm through a complex digital transformation or a strategic merger, knowing that our work contributes to their growth and resilience in a competitive market is incredibly rewarding. Ultimately, it’s the managing partner-to-managing partner referrals that grows our law firm practice.