Getting It Done: Dispelling The Myths Of Outsourcing
Because they are responsible for ensuring that law firm operations run smoothly (and profitably), legal administrators and managers are clearly critical to any firm’s success. And with today’s technological advances, important work can often be done from anywhere in the world – and at a fraction of the cost – without compromising quality. Welcome to "Outsourcing 101."
Outsourcing is no longer a novel concept. For years, many companies have outsourced billing, customer support and information technologyrelated work overseas. More recently, some companies are also outsourcing their legal work. By year’s end, researchers say, worldwide legal outsourcing will be a $163 billion industry. And according to Hildebrandt International, U.S. law firms outsource more than $600 million in legal research and nearly $5 billion in litigation support. As surprising as these statistics may be, it’s not as shocking as what the future may hold, thanks to the aging of members of the "baby boom" generation. By 2008, experts say, approximately one-fifth of the workers with skills that companies need to survive will leave the workforce. Rather than wait for the mass exodus, legal administrators must identify solutions before the issue negatively affects their firms. Perhaps the most cost-effective solution is outsourcing. While many law firms have begun outsourcing a considerable amount of work, others shun outsourcing because of the myths associated with it. Take a closer look at these myths to better understand how outsourcing can be a sound solution for your firm.
MYTH #1: OUTSOURCING IS BAD FOR THE ECONOMY
The concern that outsourcing will harm the economy is misguided because outsourcing typically creates as many jobs as it "destroys," all while offering consumers more services for lower prices. For instance, when U.S. consumers spend money on outsourced services, the foreign workers and firms often spend their money on U.S. products and services. Thomas Friedman, a reporter for the New York Times, went to India to investigate the outsourcing business and acknowledged that he was "prepared to denounce the whole thing." He went to a call center in Bangalore, where he observed hundreds of young Indian workers responding to customer service and technical support queries for U.S. companies. The call center’s founder, S. Nagarajan, pointed out that he had purchased all of his computers from Compaq, his software from Microsoft and his phones from Lucent. He used air conditioning from Carrier and ordered bottled water made by Coca-Cola. Ultimately, while Indians benefit from job outsourcing, the United States benefits even more economically.
MYTH #2: CONFIDENTIALITY IS NOT PROTECTED
To maintain confidentiality and reduce the risks of misuse of proprietary information, many outsourcing companies self-regulate. Some have implemented the following procedures and safeguards:
If many U.S. law firms had the same physical and technological security measures in place, they would see far less litigation among former partners who have left firms and, in the process, taken with them many of the firms’ clients.
MYTH #3: OUTSOURCING IS TOO BURDENSOME AND COMPLICATED
Outsourcing is no more complicated than hiring an associate or secretary, but like any other business process, it requires planning and training. In order to make the office "outsource friendly," a law firm must ascertain how to approach outsourcing and select an outsourcing business partner, by doing the following:
In an outsourcing arrangement, the outsourcing company and law firm share key benefits. Law firms benefit because they typically pay significantly reduced wages for the same work they would pay to have people in the United States perform. Moreover, because U.S. firms contract with outsourcing companies, they don’t have to pay for workers’ benefits, insurance, taxes, parking and holiday/sick/vacation leaves. Outsourcing companies pay those costs, resulting in significant savings for U.S. firms.
Many outsourcing firms also have employees available 24/7, which increases responsiveness and expediency. With overseas employees working both day and night shifts, U.S. attorneys have access to employees during the work day and can assign work at the end of the day, knowing that it will be completed by the time they return to work the next morning.
Outsourcing can reduce costs to existing clients and free valuable time to focus on client development, all without compromising the quality of the work. The reasons to outsource are compelling and can no longer be ignored as the legal profession continues to grow and evolve.
Kunoor Chopra is a practicing attorney in California and launched LawScribe, Inc. in 2004, which provides staffing and office support services to law firms, solo practitioners and other businesses through overseas outsourcing. For more information, contact Kunoor Chopra at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Ross, UK Attorney and Director of Business Development LawScribe at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.