Rob Fink, co-founder, Fenchurch Law

Opinion: Outsourcing back office work helps firms focus on law

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  • Its hard to build competitive advantage with a back office. Nevertheless firms hold on tight to their book-keeping, their often highly bespoke practice managment systems and a range of other process based tasks. Firm by firm the wheel is routinely and expensively re-invented.
    If shared services can work Integreon like for libraries (or knowledge), they can certainly work for accounting, IT systems and services, HR processes and compliance. I suspect law firms often have very large back offices because the partners (1) don't fully understand what goes on in them (2) feel safer having them and (3) can (or could) afford the luxury.
    Former Managing Partner

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  • As MD of a UK Professional Support Services company, one might expect me to be biased on the great benefits of placing your back office offshore. However I am still very surprised that the majority of articles I read on this subject are wary and cautious about handing over legal work in its real sense. The expectation that our solicitors in India and America lack something in ability or in practice expertise is rather puzzling. Many of our staff trained in the same UK and international Universities and colleges as the best at the "magic Circle". Yes there are very high cost savings with working with companies like ourselves, but please remember the massive drive this creates to make your fee earners more valuable, as with our offshore teams, they handle greater case loads and for once get out and meet and understand their client base. Why do your clients have panels? because for many corporates they have a polarised view of what each Law firm they employ does. Normally because you didnot know what work your client does and they did not know every facet of your firms expertise. Legal Support services provides this opportunity to , yes drive down costs, but also develop your experts and give you a definite competitive advantage

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  • I believe you need to do some lateral thinking here. The huge back offices are there to service the business (and unfortunately often personal) needs of partners and fee-earning staff. Rather than outsource the back office staff, the solution is more likely to be to employ your fee-earning partners and staff as self-employed working from home and/or with clients in conjunction with a simple but effective automated practice management system. I would expect a significant drop in support staff to result with a far more helthy bottom line.

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