Camerons outsources all support services in £600m deal

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  • How much money is Camerons going to make out of this if Integreon is going to be using its staff to do work for other firms?

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  • My sympathies to the poor staff who will be caught up in this noxious experiment.
    It will be interesting to see if the process works, but whilst retaining the outsourced staff in the same building, one has to question why? I certainly would not trust recruitment of my staff to someone else, nor want my daily affairs dealt with by technically, a permanent "temp".

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  • This is similar to Orrick's outsourcing operation in the US which was to have sold services to other firms. I don't think any other firm ever signed up.

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  • All support functions? This reveals how much Camerons see support as a commoditised service. Yes, some areas can be outsourced but how will they ensure strategic alignment in areas such as business development?

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  • If firm's sign up to business development being outsourced to one firm, how does one differentiate on USPs? Confidentiality is hard to monitor at the best of times, but how it works when the same team works for a number of firms having access to highly confidential information across a number of areas (and not just recruitment unlike the headhunters who, lets face it, are not entirely discrete themselves) should be interesting to watch.

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  • If your name is Cameron, in this day and age, then I guess you have to power share!

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  • Am I alone in thinking that Camerons have been conned by some very slick salesmen?

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  • Cost-cutting by any other name would still smell as fetid. Let's hope this isn't just yet another way for a big firm to hide the fact that it needs to make redundancies.

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  • Oh for the day when support staff are respected as integral team members rather than disposable and interchangeable whenever corners have to be cut.
    It's hard to see how this idea can offer a "service that’s better than any back office law firm", not only from the aspects of the lack of confidentiality, effiency, knowledge, etc but also those antiquated ideas of morale and motivation. Who wants to feel like a small cog in a big machine?
    I would dearly love for partners like Duncan Weston to spend a day working as an unappreciated secretary or in accounts. I suspect it would be eye-opening.

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  • Up next, the Secretaries. Then, Boris Weston will finally have to figure out how to grow a business through means other than cost cutting. Two years of it and profits are still plummeting.

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  • Speaking as an ex (thank goodness) Cameron's lawyer, I am saddened but not surprised by this latest piece of news. It is utterly typical of how the management of CMS treat their staff (another case in point being the administration of the 'flexible working scheme'). This move demonstrates just how utterly uncommitted they are to the development of their staff and I am amazed that a man of Duncan Weston's experience still believes that he and the rest of the partnership board can grow a business without investing in and nuturing support staff, NQs or junior lawyers.

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  • Why is it that as lawyers will cling to antiquated ideas? Our core competency is meant to be the delivery of legal services, not IT or support funcations. Our blinkered view will be the death of the profession. Its high time businessmen take over the industry. Bring on ABS!

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  • When I was at Camerons delivering its 'core competency' (legal services), I seem to remember requiring quite a lot of IT and support functions, especially when under pressure and working at the weekend and at 3 in the morning. I also remember the clients being rather displeased with the manner in which we were unable to produce a 300 page word document that wouldn't corrupt or crash and our (then outsourced) IT department could not help. It is extremely short sighted to say that IT and support services have got nothing to do with the business of providing legal advice. How does this fit in with Camerons' dream of being a 'full service law firm?'

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  • Outsourcing can work very successfully if approached as a long term deal and if you are very clear on service level agreements. It is not a quick fix, cost cutting exercise and it requires careful and effective management and that's often where things fall down. Firms need to grow revenue as well as control costs; sounds easy but difficult to deliver.

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  • Well done!
    Back Office Outsourcing (BOO) is becoming increasingly popular throughout the legal profession because it allows the firm to focus on their core competency - law!
    I work for CallCare, 24hr call handling specialists since 1998 and we have been working with several large law firms who have turned to us to reduce costs but more importantly to maintain the quality of how their calls are handled.
    In fact I myself had a meeting with Tony Wright back in October 2009 to propose the idea of outsourcing their switchboard facility, it's encouraging to see one of the leaders within the legal profession embracing the new concept of outsourcing. Lets hope the rest of the market follow....

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  • I suppose the Camerons' switchboard operators should start looking for new jobs then! (Tony Wright is Camerons' director of operations).

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  • Gemma great self promoting but you seem to missed the point. its all of support services. How often do the fee earners "Realistic" above being one of them go to support with a problem expecting instant results? Well it looks Camerons fee earners will now just be another client who will get the outsourced treatment ie no urgency or personal contact/respect. Just like when they phone up Phone / utilities etc. Did the Partners really vote for this? Very short term solution, my thoughts go out the under the kosh support staff there.

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  • In my experience employees do not wish to join outsourced providers - hospitals are not better for all their outsourced activities - the pride in working for the former employer goes. Unfortunately, accountants rule.

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  • How do we feel? Undervalued, unappreciated and very low on morale. What impact is this going to have on peoples performances over the next few months? Managing Directors/Equity Partners honestly think that we believe that they are doing this for the good of the Back Room Staff/Support Staff as they put it "First in Class" if they think we have swallowed this then they should also believe that our work ethic and performance will remain the same as before this outsourcing was announced. There are people who have given 20 years of service and this is their reward (being dumped to another company.)

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  • It shows that the management have no concern for their support staff, moreover after their last 2 restructures. People suffered on 3 day weeks & now they outsource, no one else would sign up to this model, turnover of support staff remains high, it's not the nature of work, but middle management. They should outsource them instead! How long will it be till they leave?

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  • Three points:

    1) The irony is that over the next four months the management want support to assist Integreon in developing this plan (as they do not have the blueprint for it yet) . At the end of the process a number of those involved will probably be made redundant.

    2) On Friday morning you could hear the metaphorical sound of CVs being posted out. Who will be developing the plan then? Will the last person in support please turn off the lights.

    3) To Gemma Harding above - After reading your comments, which seem to be devoid of any consideration for the staff involved and are maybe a touch of sour grapes , I think most other readers of your mail wouldn't touch your company with the proverbial dirty stick.

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  • Outsource Duncan.

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  • To read self-serving comments by reps of the outsourcing industry professing to be objective, is utterly corrosive.

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  • Not a good move. Presumably all their best support staff will upsticks and get jobs elsewhere in firms where they are appreciated. Their staff will feel cheated having dedicated their career to a firm and ending up working in a call centre. Camerons underestimate the importance of support staff integrating into a firm's work flow. They will realise their mistake when they require a flexible approach from support staff and all get is "computers says no".

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  • An extremely depressing article and a hammer blow to the support functions at Camerons who already have a very low team morale.

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  • This is probably the worst idea I've ever heard. The support departments where I work (Magic Circle) are absolutely integral to everything the lawyers do. We have the best PAs, the best HR, the best print room, the best BD people, and the best finance people. They help us provide our competitive advantage and we could not function to the standard our clients expect without them. It is that simple.
    The fact that Camerons see these services as being mere commodities probably says more about the standard of legal services that Camerons churn out than anything else.

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  • Speaking as someone who was outsourced from Osborne Clarke to Integreon, I have to say a lot of the negativity in these comments is unfounded. The service we provide has been completely restructured making for much quicker response times and first time fix for OC's fee earners, which of course allows them to concentrate on what they do best. The feedback we have had from them has been very positive.
    The opportunities for us as Integreon employees are looking good too, as this CMS deal highlights. Of course morale took a hit when we first heard the news that we were transferring from OC but as time has passed most of us have settled well into our roles with Integreon and there is a great deal of optimism about that future holds.

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  • Is the above really from someone previously at Obornes? Funny that it is exact same comment as on Legal Week.

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  • It's distressing to see how many of the comments on this story are 'anonymous' - presumably these heartfelt & very apposite thoughts are coming mainly from people in line to be outsourced but currently still working in law firms. It sounds like the end of the line for legal support staff careers: I would love to know what (if anything!) the professional associations have said about it.
    Quite sad to find yourself suddenly extinct - and unlike recent news about Britain's cod stocks, these people will not be coming back in significant numbers in the foreseeable future!
    Oriole.

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  • I guess this says something as to how Duncan views people. Does anyone recall him being nice to someone that did not have something he wanted?

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  • Most of the comments on this are depressingly cliched... it's like outsourcing is a dirty word for cheap call centres - does anyone really think a law firm would move all it's support services to that kind of set up? Change is required in the legal profession in many areas and guess what, people don't like change... Thank goodness there's a firm out there willing to do something brave where their 'support' people have a chance to influence the future provision of these types of services - because the rest WILL follow to one extent or another... and Duncan Weston will have got their first...

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  • Yes I really did work at OC and yes I posted on Legal Week too. Just trying to offer some hope to those worried about what's happening - it's really not all bad.

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  • It's times like this when one wonders if the UK's disdain for unions has helped lead us to this point. That is to say, if the hundreds of staff involved in this brave new world of lower salaries paid by Integreon and less job security, had been members of a union and were prepared to do something about it then perhaps law firms would think twice before casting out their 'cost centre' staff as if they were dumb cattle that just needed a prod to do what they were told?

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  • A sad state of affairs, but I suppose that if you are running a law firm and are incapable of growing the revenues, then all you can do is try and look at somehow reducing costs - the usual last roll of the dice for the desperate or out of depth. It is interesting that this appears to be the whole support function. As some have already commented surely in a forward thinking law firm these days, the skill is turning support functions into a competitive advantage, rather than seeing them as a commodity. It will be interesting to see how clients react to this move when they realise that all of those 'added value' extras (IT solutions, knowledge systems, training access, bespoke support etc) that are in the Cameron's pitch will be available from any Integreon company. It's also a surprise that Cameron's partners are OK with this when all of those extras will be accommpanied by an Integreon invoice in the future...

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  • As always its all about short term gain & planning . This is the culture of capitalism . Talk of long term strategy which sounds grand but actions are all about short term trends & fashions. Same way we overspent carelessly in the good times and so now we will cut costs calrelssly at the risk of long term failure.

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  • To the person who used to work at OC and now at Integreon: we had the sales pitch yesterday. As an "Integreonite" (Yes that's what you're called!) how much do you enjoy the daily 'water-cooler moments' and the 'touching of rocks' that the sales guy mentioned you have? The support staff are being asked to transfer to an alien American-style firm that spouts this gibberish and I wonder how many will have sought alternative employment before that time? I certainly won't be joining it. Spreading Magic and Love Everywhere ("Smile") - my butt cheeks.

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  • To Anonymous 18/5 at 9.23am. You are right to be surprised that Cameron's partners are ok with this: At the support meeting yesterday, Duncan informed the support staff that the partners haven't voted to approve it yet and my own understanding is that some (possibly many) didn't know about it until last Friday's press announcement. Oops - could be quite spicy.

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  • So Integreon is half-owned by venture capitalists then? And they're not known for putting their employees first, not loading up their companies with debt and flogging them quickly, then? Shanghai, Mumbai, Manilla or goodbye, then?

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  • It should be added that Camerons has got the whole outsourcing strategy back to front, and forgotten about the client in the process. God knows who advised them to do this. At the end of the day changes to production should be about the client not short-term boosts to PEP. The idea is to cut costs of legal production where it will help the client, ie sending process legal work done by City assocites to centres, perhaps within Camerons where it can be done more cheaply. The idea is not to undermine the firm by hurting the core group of people that make all of the firm's fee-earning possible - including the work of the partners. This is basically daft and transparently a move to reduce costs to partners so bills for clients can remain with a high margin. How can alienating so many vital people be a good idea?

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  • I believe the England World Cup squad is contemplating a similar move. Given their strategic plan is to win games and core activity to score goals, the strikers are staying along with the forward thinking midfielders - for the moment. The whole defence, however, is being outsourced. The service agreement for goalmouth protection support is up to 36 hours which is expected to become the industry standard. After all, fully integrated teamwork is so 1966!

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  • On the subject of football, the only decent team left at Camerons where lawyers and support staff work together is its football team.

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  • I've just seen the internal video Duncan Weston released to Cameron McKenna about his intentions. In a two minute video I've never seen so many cuts - he could barely string 2 sentences together without having to pause and shoot the next bit. Dreadful presentation. Frankly,I think Mr Cholmondley-Warner of Harry Enfield fame could produce a better video!

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  • The biggest issue in many businesses is the lack of respect that they have for their employees, at whatever spot in the organization. Someone is useful one day and then deemed useless the next. Dunky is not unusual in this respect. Which of course means less loyalty all the way around.

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  • Phew. Thank goodness the person who negotiated the disasterous Moscow joint venture (snatching losses from the jaws of profitability) is overseeing the transition to Integreon. What a relief.

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  • It's very sad and short sighted. They will end up regretting this. Did they not hear how badly the outsourcing of Recruitment at Freshfields went??! They still haven't recovered. This is a big mistake.

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  • Tell me this is just a bad Spaghetti Weston, but at £600m for 200 staff its not so cheap. These must be the best paid support staff in the city? Let's see what unravels.....

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  • Job no 1 for the newly outsourced PR dept: deal with fallout from disastrous-sounding outsourcing move by short-termist, money-grubbing partners.

    Job no 2: find new job at law firm that values its staff.

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  • Why not:

    Job no 1: find new job at law firm that values its staff and forget the rest.

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  • After listening to Mr Croft at a recent seminar, it's clear that Acronyms will be top of the agenda. We've got SMILE (Spreading Magic and Love Everywhere), SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed - Do me a favour!) among i'm sure many others. So in keeping with US agenda....For me Integreon at Camerons = CRAP (Career Review Action Plan)

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  • Shafted after 20+ years!!!!!!

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