News Business Leadership Law firms Cuts and redundancies Eversheds to offshore more support work, 100 jobs at risk By Margaret Taylor 12 August 2010 12:16 17 December 2015 16:04 Sign in or register to continue reading. It's FREE Sign in Email Password Keep me logged in Forgot your password? Not registered? It's FREE! Register now Register with The Lawyer Scep Tick 12 August 2010 at 12:24 Assuming £20k p.a. earnings for support staff, the wages of those facing the sack amount to less than the increase in PEP for 18 partners. The partners must be so proud of their astute, profit-busting business acumen. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 12:31 Correct, Scep Tick. That’s what happens when you knock yourself out for years to make partner and then get to run your own business. Its not some charitable foundation. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 12:41 Oh dear. This is, in my view, dire. I struggle to see how a law firm can function to the high standards it should (in all respects) without all support functions fully integrated. I am truly sorry for the staff who are affected. I am also quite tired of seeing this continual focus on PEP in the press. I don’t view it as a measure of well rounded success, and I don’t think clients do either. Its all greed and perpetuates peoples’ hatred of lawyers. Earnings do not equate to quality of advice and service. Reply Link IHateBPP 12 August 2010 at 12:49 Sending repossession work to India, well that’s one way of avoiding the earache from an irate homeowner on the phone after finding out they’re losing their home. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 13:17 Love the 2nd comment – good to see that Parnters only worry about themselves. Once again – support staff dont exist in a partnership. This is not the 80’s and greed is no longer good. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 13:43 “Eversheds prides itself on being a great place to work” as per its own website. Class. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 14:40 Globalisation inevitably means that, where possible, work will be transferred to wherever in the world it can be done most efficiently. It also means the convergence of wages for all such jobs between the transferring nations and the recipients. The process might be great for the world economy as a whole but is not so good for the people whose jobs are transferred or whose wages are held back or reduced as a result. Reply Link Rural bliss 12 August 2010 at 15:38 @ Anonymous 12:31 pm What a sad indictment you are of the greed culture that has infected the legal profession. A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 15:50 The second comment shows the usual arrogance from Partners to Support staff. Correct it is not a charity, but what you are too foolish to see is that support staff will lose any loyalty (if there was any in the first place) and will only “do their jobs” and not go above and beyond. Financially offshoring does make sense, but you do lose the hidden benefits. I only hope you experience the moment you require that “urgent report” only to find that it has been offshored and therefore will not be immediate. Reply Link Antonio Gramsci 12 August 2010 at 15:59 That’s right anonymous — no one works hard at law firms except the partners… Ever asked the cleaners how many other jobs they have? Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 16:03 This is very sad and, in my opinion, very short-sighted by Eversheds. Yes, it is efficient, but how much does a chair-warming, happy-clappy [insert name of outsource provider] drone in some Bangalore sweat-shop know about client service and the culture of the Firm? BTW, the firms that loudly crow about their improved PEP are the ones targeted most by the Buyers of Services as the ones to tackle first. Sometimes, a little discretion is best. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 16:15 The firm has begun a 28-day consultation and is proposing paying twice the statutory redundancy to those affected. Oh how generous! Most market-leading businesses have redundancy terms which are significantly more generous than that. Reply Link Dayglo Dave 12 August 2010 at 16:15 I agree with Anonymous@12.41pm. If the support function is not fully integrated fee earners will feel, even more than ever, that they are just cogs in a faceless machine. I personally think it’s pretty unsporting to off-shore back-office support. Were I a client I’d be prepared to pay a small premium for a firm that was a bit more patriotic and not obsessed with profit. Reply Link Anonymous 12 August 2010 at 16:29 Would you seriously pay 20p more per litre to fill your big car up on the motorway when you can call in at a petrol station when you pull off the motorway and get the same product from happier staff? From one Global company to another… its a no brainer! Reply Link Worldview 12 August 2010 at 16:38 A UK Foreign Office briefing note reports that by 2020/25 India has to generate 900 million jobs if it is to prosper and remain stable. Given their current energy and drive it seems likely they will succeed. The only question is, where will those jobs come from? The debt laden, narcisistic and self entitled West remains a very good place to look. This will no doubt continue until we wake up, hopefully before it is too late. Reply Link OutsourceHere 12 August 2010 at 16:46 Gobalisation my *rse! The country is going into recession so let’s send our business off shore – great idea. What’s wrong with outsourcing on shore, working on a different cost base and giving our people here a chance to have a better life? The bigger picture has not been considered at all. Reply Link Mr Jingles 12 August 2010 at 16:54 If they outsource all their administration to India, who is going to leave a post-it on the Partners’ desks reminding them that they have missed their son’s birthday. Again. Presumably, they will get a call from a nice Indian chap, also commenting that it is ‘raining dogs and cats in [insert location of office]’. Perhaps that’s the answer for all the struggling law students trying to get training contracts. Let’s all head out to Delhi and start applying there. Reply Link Bloomin' Heck 12 August 2010 at 17:10 Maybe I am missing something, but how can you offshore HR to Bangalore? How can you, for example, conduct disciplinary and grievance procedures if the team is on the other side of the globe? Perhaps though the service proposed has the same relation to HR as Bangalore call centres have to Customer Service – i.e not a lot. Reply Link Economics Logic 12 August 2010 at 17:23 Interesting reading and very similar comments (unsurprisingly) coming up here to the Cameron’s deal. While there is clearly huge sympathy for those whose jobs are displaced, it is perhaps worth putting some context from other professional services firms here. Firstly, the fundamentals of economics will tell you that by specialising in what you have a comparative competitive advantage in is the way that countries and nations will grow. That is why we import much of our agricultural produce and why many toys get made in China. It is called progress. Moving more commoditised elements of services to providers or countries who are comparatively advantaged is not new and facilitates continued growth to higher value-add services. Secondly, there have been some suggestions on this and earlier posts that outsourcing will be brand-damaging. Well, if you look at the precedent of blue chip firms from other sectors who offshore outsource – Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, 3i, PwC – it is difficult to say that it has destroyed their brands. Some might question why law firms have taken so long to focus on the delivery of their core service (i.e. law) and retain more commoditised service support. Thirdly, there are perceptions of poor quality and service from outsource providers. This simply is not true. Again, do you think that banks would allow their equity research or merger modelling be prepared offshore if it was not of appropriate quality. As for closeness of relationship – most work is done by phone/email anyway nowadays – you lose some personal contact perhaps (though this can be managed) but not the service. Again, one’s heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs but as most are able and talented, they will find work elsewhere – the cream always rises. Meanwhile our firms become more competitive and deliver higher value-add work allowing them to distinguish themselves on the world stage. Reply Link Hugey 12 August 2010 at 17:48 Confused thread, as usual. Bosses are sacking workers. What gives? Reply Link Susan Hacket, Association of Corporate Counsel 12 August 2010 at 18:20 The debate on this issue will continue with strong arguments on both sides. But before we condemn Eversheds or assume that their motivation is greed (as opposed to good business practices) or that they are tone-deaf to the value of their employees (as opposed to seeking to serve their clients in a more effective fashion), I would offer the following: Perhaps another way to look at this is by assessing what a law firm is at its best – a business that provides the highest quality legal services, a strong value proposition, and best service possible to their clients. If a firm does that well, they deserve to profit nicely and will have built that success on a strong and loyal workforce. So do remember that many of Eversheds’ clients are the first to tout the benefits (not just cost savings, but improved efficiency and service) that many have enjoyed from moving business functions which are not core to their business to businesses that can offer that service in a more expert and cost-effective fashion. I know many clients and companies whose outsourcing experience is not the one that becomes the butt of jokes about the call center to India or West Virginia or the Caribbean; rather their experience is that service has improved and they have better results all around. People remaining in the organization are freed to focus on what is core to their workplan. And if Eversheds is acting more cost-consciously and adopting business practices that have been successful in their clients’ organizations, I would think that should be seen by clients as a plus, not a sign that they lack values or value. Maybe business clients might be saying, “Gee, that’s a firm that gets it; they operate in a fashion that I understand and endorse.” Any decision of this sort will have severe ramifications within the firm and on the people most directly affected who lose their jobs — I think we all get that and none of us would want to be on the receiving end of that pink slip. But running a large, sophisticated law firm in today’s market that continues to employ the many hundreds who remain after this action is taken requires tougher decision-making and executive skills than might have been needed when it was still possible for firms to say: “No one cares if we’re inefficient – we’re worth it!” In today’s world, clients care about whether their firms are efficient and focused on delivering high quality with controlled cost. Eversheds is likely just as focused on serving their clients and living up to their expectations as they are on assuring that their workforce has faith that the firm will make the hard decisions necessary to excel and profit into the future. Maybe this decision serves both purposes, when you look at it through that lens. Time wil tell if Eversheds made the right decision, and the market will decide if this decision is supporting or counter to what Eversheds wants to be known for in terms of their business culture going forward. As a person from the client community and one who’s closely watching the marketplace of successful firms and practices, I’m willing to bet that Eversheds will find short and long term benefit — from both their continuing employees and from their clients — precisely because they took on such difficult decisions in the interest of moving the firm as a whole toward stronger business efficiencies. Reply Link Ashley Balls 12 August 2010 at 20:18 How unfortunate that a so-called ‘leader’ is still indulging in cost cutting. One whould have to wonder why they thay have not pursued more sustainable options that deliver more than a single, never to be repeated, ‘hit’. The issue surely is to reduce the cost of sales anda adjust the business model. Now if they ditched the billable hour and decided ot gurantee thier results (output) may be some respect could be accorded to management. Left as it is what have we got? Cost cutting (yawn). It would be good to have a really close look at the full operational metrics, not just the fiscal ones. Cost cutting is easy; getting more from less is a standard budgetary objective which, when carried out as a ‘mid term’ adjustment, suggests it is knee jerk reaction and not part of a plan to improve client service. After all where does the money ultimately come from? Reply Link Anonymous 13 August 2010 at 11:25 Few questions; 1) 100 roles * say an av salary of 25k does not give you several million a year, may do over several years …… but the headline is incorrect and misleading. 2) no reference to how clients who don’t want their details or monies transferred abroad will be managed. 3) why not fix the current outsourcing solution – exigent, which is apparently a disaster!! 4) can I be there when everybody catches on to the fact they will have to use and speak to a indian call centre. Reply Link Scep Tick 13 August 2010 at 11:53 “Correct, Scep Tick. That’s what happens when you knock yourself out for years to make partner and then get to run your own business. Its not some charitable foundation.” Yes. And without the previous partners running the business properly the current partners would not have a business to run. In the same way that the Halliwells partners thought it better to invest £15m from the sale of an asset into their pockets and now have denied the next generation their chance. The partners ought to be getting business in to reap the rewards. If they are not doing so then they resort to cost-cutting. It’s not sustainable, and they know it. But they’re raking in as much as they can for the time being. Scorched earth policy with no future thought. Reply Link Anonymous 13 August 2010 at 13:59 It’s a sad view that business is somehow void of any moral obligation, that it is only there for profit, and any other objective is somehow a weakness. I feel sorry for the partners at Eversheds. Reply Link Anonymous 13 August 2010 at 14:27 This is the slippery slope. Support staff today, legal services tomorrow. I’m sure we won’t see many comments defending outsourcing once solicitors start to lose their jobs to cheaper alternatives abroad. Reply Link Partner who doesn't want to do HR too! 13 August 2010 at 16:22 I can fully understand outsourcing IT, Office Facilities’ functions etc; but to attempt to offshore HR fully could be difficult. Staff have statutory rights to physical Disciplinary hearings with reps present and I doubt these will be held in Bangalore via a link and interpreter!!! Reply Link Anonymous 13 August 2010 at 16:36 I think the guestimates that HR staff are on average only on 20-25k may be somewhat wide of the mark. Sadly are lot even in Top 100 UK Law Firms believe that they ‘run’ the firms, because they administer hirings and firings. With the advent of LLPs and incorporations a lot of HR managers now even find themslves titled HR Directors and consider themselves on an equal footing with former full Equity Partners. I recall one such HR Manager telling an Equity Partner that he ‘hadn’t signed in today’ and she needed to know where he was etc until he reminded her that her name wasn’t on the letterhead! A cursory glance at HR positions advertised even in the provinces shows they demand 30-60k with some even seeking 80k pa! Secretaries earn 20k in many firms so the savings may be greater than some comments above suggest. Reply Link Goron G Gekko 13 August 2010 at 17:26 I don’t know what the problem is. I’ve worked for a number of law firms in non fee-earning/support roles. I gave my all but was never under any illusion that these were ruthless businesses. I left every job and moved on of my own volition, but the point is that there is always tons of other jobs out there. There was a recruitment tumble after Lehmans which ran into 09 but has picked up now and the law firm support recruiters are buzzing. Get another job – one door shuts, another opens. No big deal. I can’t understand all this naive “there’s no loyalty” whinging…most top commercial lawyers would sell their grandmother for a bump in PEP or a juicy new client. Did you not realize that when you worked there? Reply Link Anonymous 14 August 2010 at 14:21 Ive worked in a corporate law firm for many years starting as support and becoming a fee earner and its a well known fact that the support staff are the backbone of the firm! the partners in my firm did nothing but socialise, play golf and have affairs with their secretaries!! they didnt have targets to meet and just spent most of their time in what they called “marketing”!! Reply Link Anonymous 15 August 2010 at 19:59 Prior to my joining there was no relationship between finance and the client, the fee earners and partners did my function to avoid the client relationship being destroyed by some idiot who wouldn’t understand the sensitivity of some client relationships. Fee earners and partners have little time to perform finance functions and should not have to. I have spent 2 years gaining the cofidence of the fee earners and partners and as a result I now have direct contact with not only the clients finance teams but also general counsel/presidents/owners etc. As a result the fee earners and partners figures have drastically improved. I agree with Goron G Gekko, I was under the illusion that I was appreciated. I am sure some of my fee earners and partners will miss me for a short while, however they will soon move on and return to the previous way and put a stop to the offshore finance team getting involved in their matters. I recall when I was in Uni the Dean saying “It’s dog eat dog out there”, how could I have been so naïve! Reply Link Adrian 16 August 2010 at 12:38 At £500K per partner I’m glad I don’t need a solicitor! Reply Link Anonymous 16 August 2010 at 16:52 i completely understand and support the need for efficiencies but not at the cost of service levels, integrity and client care. This will prove to be a costly exercise in more ways than one. You get what you pay for. Reply Link Marketing Guru 17 August 2010 at 15:54 Anonymous | 14-Aug-2010 2:21 pm “Ive worked in a corporate law firm for many years starting as support and becoming a fee earner and its a well known fact that the support staff are the backbone of the firm! the partners in my firm did nothing but socialise, play golf and have affairs with their secretaries!! they didnt have targets to meet and just spent most of their time in what they called “marketing”!!” ** Couldn’t agree more! Having worked as part of the marketing team at two large international firms I cannot stress what a false view the partners have of the team, and actually of the whole concept of marketing. They just try it on with all the skirts and use their budgets to schmooze all the wrong people. Spend budgets on decent marketers, genuine client care and client service reviews and you’ll be making enough money to keep all your support staff AND increase PEP. I wonder how the marketing teams in India will be able to print off 500 seminar packs and put them out on chairs in the board room with all the pens facing the right way within half an hour. Good luck! But seriously, to all those people who are saying “I pity the partners at Eversheds”…course you don’t!! You’d screw over your support staff for half a mil per year! Reply Link Retirement ahoy!! 18 August 2010 at 13:14 Nothing ever changes, for the last 25 years I’ve seen the noses in the trough. This used to be a profession, but no more. Thank God I’m getting out soon. Reply Link Anonymous 18 August 2010 at 13:30 The atmosphere in “the Shed” is appalling right now, so many staff de-motivated and expected to work like trojans for six months before they hand “everything up to date” over to Bangalore…like that’s going to happen. How do you keep motivated in this situation. Reply Link Woolly thinking 18 August 2010 at 13:44 It’s not just the salary costs which are part of this calculation. There are also significant on-costs associated with siting these staff in expensive city centre locations. Each individual can effectively cost twice their salary p/a if you take the office space, computer, admin and other ancillaries into account. I see an opportunity here for an onshore outsourcing company offering these functions from UK-based staff. Reply Link gone and not forgotten 18 August 2010 at 16:43 Intersting sales pitch. “Dear [insert plc or big pricvate sector emplyer name here]. Please allow me to introuduce myself. I am a leading partner in evershed’s employment law team. We would like to do your HR work, from simple day to day advice to strategic guidance. Our partner rate is £450 per hour. Our own HR advice? Oh no we don’t do that, yes, that’s right we use Accenture, based out in Bangalore. Very efficient, very cheap, but I think YOU should instruct US. Shurely shome mishtake??/ Reply Link Anonymous 19 August 2010 at 16:53 As a foreigner working over here in the UK I am always amazed at how people assume I must have lived here a long time or that perhaps I am the only one from my village (so to speak) who can use a PC, speak English, interpret the nuances of English culture let alone win business and function competently. It’s only when I reveal further that I am hardly the brightest from my village and that there are thousands more like me; eager, educated, honest and yes much much cheaper that they begin to appreciate that perhaps their job can be done a lot lot cheaper elsewhere. My core finance team of four (excluding credit control and accounts etc) is made up of say the Financial controller, a management accountant, an assistant and a senior accountant – a wage bill of £200K pa for these four guys – and what value do they deliver for this ? Fancy Excel reports ? C’mon – for £200K pa you can go shopping around the world and replace whatever service is being provided for much much less. In a world where “the Intranet” is a click away you can manipulate a spreadsheet from anywhere ! Only mugs are still paying “accountants” etc top dollar to post entries and “run reports” !! Reply Link Anonymous 13 September 2010 at 14:01 If the cost savings are expected to be several millions of pounds per year perhaps the redundancy payments should be further enhanced. Disappointed and demoralised employee. Reply Link Anonymous 14 September 2010 at 13:09 At some point the people in the UK are going to have to look at outsourcing holistically. It’s all very well making the service cheaper for clients but if most businesses endorse outsourcing, the overall effect will be a net loss of jobs in the economy. With fewer jobs, businesses will sell fewer products. It’s a downward spiral that should, in my view, be avoided. The greed of business owners is ultimately damaging corporate profits by reducing the number of consumers. This is not good. Reply Link Anonymous 22 September 2010 at 11:28 What a sad society we are becoming and law firms such as this are leading the way with their greed culture Reply Link kumar 1 March 2011 at 09:29 Accenture is the world best company to handle any kind of work deligently ..sure it will deliver high performance..so i feel eversheds taken best decission Reply Link Anonymous 2 March 2011 at 16:48 Kumar, do you work for Accenture? If the orthographic standard of the two lines you posted is what Eversheds can expect from their new support services, good luck to them. 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