Cognatio Law – A boost for Hong Kong’s in-house legal teams with flexible lawyers

  •  Hong Kong NewLaw veteran, Lesley Hobbs, establishes Cognatio Law to tap into the growing demand for flexible legal services providers in Hong Kong. 
  • Looks to further disrupt the legal services sector amidst growing pressure from in-house teams to reduce headcount and increase cost efficiencies.

Hong Kong, 23 Feb 2018 –  NewLaw industry veteran, Lesley Hobbs, announced today the launch of her own firm Cognatio Law, to satisfy growing demand within Hong Kong’s legal market for flexible and cost effective legal services that helps companies big and small. The company assists in-house legal teams who are facing downward pressure to reduce their legal project costs, headcount and fixed expenses by seconding experts quickly and at short notice onto any given project and without the risk of incurring additional permanent employee costs. 

According to Lesley, Cognatio Law is an evolution in Hong Kong of the flexible lawyering business model that has been around for many years but, that has only truly become a regular fixture for in-house legal teams on a global basis in the past ten years and has grown from strength to strength in Asia in as little as seven years. 

“Hong Kong is the leading Asia legal centre and it has definitely been undergoing a quiet revolution to challenge the Big Law establishment and traditions that have dictated the way legal solutions were offered in the last century. In a very short period, General Counsels, Heads of Legal and in-house legal teams have changed the way they structure various projects to include flexible resourcing to achieve their goals.” 

“This is evident from a recruitment sector perspective whereby head hunting firms have had to adapt from being providers of permanent headcount, to engaging with their clients as solutions providers for short-term/one-off projects or providing talent who don’t warrant a big law firm budget,” she said. “While recruitment firms may be able to provide a short-term fix, they don’t match up with in-house legal teams’ long-term goals to reduce headcount or the fixed costs associated with having to employ permanent staff.” 

With the addition of Cognatio Law to the Hong Kong flexible legal services market, financial services organisations and multi-national companies (MNCs) will now be able to choose from six NewLaw providers, which is in stark contrast to the option of just one provider back in 2010. 2 

The rise of NewLaw in Hong Kong closely follows the global trend and points to an increasing tendency by internal risk management teams who are widening their use of “on demand” expertise – not only for senior legal counsel on legal projects, but also in other areas of the business including the human resources, compliance, procurement and IT functions. 

With ongoing structural changes to the financial services sector since the global financial crisis - and downward pressure by transnational and local legislation/regulators (including HKMA and SFC), legal teams are continually being asked to deliver more for less. In Hong Kong and Asia particularly, senior legal counsel is being channelled into companies for projects to cover internal investigations, mediation, data privacy; pan-global legislation; China’s cyber security laws and directors’ and officer’s responsibilities. 

Notes for Editors

About Cognatio Law

Cognatio Law was established in February 2018 by Lesley Hobbs and Tim Fawcett, in response to the changing mind-set amongst corporate firms seeking legal support on a flexible basis. It is the latest evolution in Hong Kong of the flexible lawyering business model for a new generation of in-house legal teams. The company offers a fresh platform for clients and lawyers who need to manage legal and compliance resourcing requirements through innovative, flexible and cost-efficient means.

Our management team has 40 years’ experience of working with legal, compliance and risk professionals across the Asia Pacific region as well as a proven track record placing professionals into household names within the investment & private banking, funds, insurance, telecoms, media & technology, FMCG and manufacturing sectors. 

Lesley Hobbs, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Lesley is a NewLaw veteran having been instrumental in setting up one of Hong Kong’s earliest ‘on demand’ legal solutions firms that grew from the ground up, into a multi-million dollar business in less than five years. Lesley is a qualified solicitor (England and Wales), with over 20 years of experience working with lawyers and risk management professionals across the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific. 

In her previous roles, Lesley worked as in-house counsel for the legal & compliance department of a leading UK merchant banking group and she had a highly successful career as a headhunter sourcing high-calibre lawyers, company secretaries, compliance and regulatory specialists for global financial institutions and multinational companies. 

Lesley is a permanent Hong Kong resident and she is regarded as one of the leading business development professionals in the APAC in-house legal community. 

Tim Fawcett, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder

Tim Fawcett is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Cognatio Law. Tim oversees all Asia operations for the firm and is responsible for ensuring the uniform delivery of its global strategy. He is also responsible for the introduction of various technologies that will further disrupt the industry as it adapts to the world of NewLaw. 

In his previous roles, Tim was interim COO during the set-up of a high profile law firm in Hong Kong which he helped to establish in 2017. He also served as the APAC Managing Director, of a U.S. multinational. His entrepreneurial endeavours in Asia have included the development of manufacturing centres, global distribution networks, new brands and being the driving force for a series of highly profitable mergers & acquisitions. Tim moved to Asia in 1999 from the U.K., and is a permanent resident of Hong Kong. 

About NewLaw

Big Law or Traditional law firms have not fundamentally changed the way in which they operated for much of the 20th century. NewLaw seeks to disrupt the industry by creating efficiencies across a number of platforms, to transform the way companies big and small utilize legal services in much the same way accountancy and management consultancies have in the last 20 years. 

By partnering with a NewLaw firm, companies can engage individuals or teams for one-off assignments and time-critical or sensitive projects on an ongoing basis. The model creates efficiencies by offering flexible or scaled back hours and timeframes – without the traditional partnership overheads. This flexibility also extends to discounted fee rates and fixed project delivery times. There are also benefits for the lawyers, who gain flexible working hours, greater choice and control over picking client assignments as well as visibility on earnings. 

By choosing this method of project delivery, companies can reduce their reliance on traditional private practice law 


Newgate Communications
Kim Spear
+852 5435 3535