Clifford Chance ramps up Indian operation as clients squeeze low-end work
Clifford ;Chance ;has embarked on a plan to ramp up its offshore paralegal capacity. This will see its Indian staff handle much of the work that is currently undertaken by London trainees and paralegals – including ;form ;395 submissions to register company ;charges, ;due ;diligence document review ;for litigation, preparing shell company ;conversions, cloning documents and certain low-level drafting.
The Indian service centre has ;access ;to ;Clifford Chance’s global document management and IT systems to aid the integration of the offshored paralegals into transactions.
The ;move ;seeks ;to improve the margins on low-end UK legal work, which has traditionally been used in the practical training of junior lawyers.
Although Clifford Chance already uses its India capability for business support staff, this is the first concrete indication that it will increase the amount of commoditised legal work being carried out offshore – something given more impetus by the impen-ding Legal Services Act.
Clifford Chance global managing partner David Childs denied that the move would affect trainee numbers in London, calling it the firm’s “principal recruitment source”.
Childs, however, said: “[It’s] likely paralegal numbers in London will now be flat or possibly fall a little as leavers are not replaced”.
Clifford Chance expects the use of the Gurgaon service centre just outside Delhi to save around £8m in costs annually once the initial infrastructure investment ;has ;been absorbed.
By 2009 Clifford Chance, which currently employs around 110 paralegals in London, wants to employ 20 paralegals and 300 business services staff in Gurgaon – equivalent to almost 10 per cent of its global business services staff.
The ;centre ;presently employs seven paralegals, with six more Indian law school graduates in training. They will have to relinquish their Indian law practising certificates owing to the restrictions on foreign firms practising local law.
Eversheds is considering a similar initiative. A spokesperson for the firm said: “We have been actively exploring the possibilities of offshoring at the request of some of our major clients, however, we would only contemplate going down this route when and if we were convinced that the quality of our product could be maintained.”