HK – Consulting Conflicts of Interest

In 1 on December 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Holland & Knight severs consulting arm

Washington Business Journal – by Tim Mazzucca Staff Reporter

H&K Consulting, a unit of law firm Holland & Knight, has spun off its consulting subsidiary — H&K Strategic Business Solutions — through a management buyout at a time when professional services are reconsidering the model of multidisciplinary practices.

H&K Strategic Business Solutions now will operate as an independent company, doing strictly business consulting.

"Conflicts of interest were always a strong problem," says HKSBS President John Schell. "But appearance was a larger problem because the lawyers didn't feel comfortable sharing clients with us."

H&K Strategic Business Solutions ( will consult middle-market clients mostly in the government services sector, but it also has expertise in telecommunications and information technology. HKSBS still works closely with the law firm, sharing office space in McLean for at least the next two years. But HKSBS is no longer linked to Holland & Knight's Web site (

"There's a lot of pressures right now with professional services mixing their message," Schell says. "The change in the business environment and regulatory environment have made some people rethink things."

Despite the perception issues, Schell has no plans to change the name of his limited liability company.

Schell began as the lone employee of HKSBS in January 2001, but now is joined by three colleagues and six part-time consultants.

The firm will have to rebuild its IT consulting practice after losing Jim Ungerleider, who left to become president of Greenbelt-based OAO Technology Solutions.

"We're going back to basics with our subsidiary services," says Bob Feagin, managing partner in Holland & Knight's Tallahassee, Fla., office. "HKSBS has an independent business approach that would work better if it were not constrained by conflicts, and now we don't have to worry about feeding it clients."

"None of us have a problem being spun off," says Harbour President John Malanchuk. "There was always the idea that we might be an incubator for new ideas, and that's refreshing for me."

Posted via email from Case Investigation


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