Pinsents – first firm to offshore work of qualified UK lawyers

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  • This is so depressing. Does it need to be done by the best legal brains in Britain? No. It needs to be the trainees and NQs that are learning and developing to become the best legal brains of the future.

    Pinsents should be ashamed to be among the vanguard of the "low cost low quality" revolution in legal services.

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  • I totally agree with the first comment.
    Clients should understand that today's best legal brains were yesterday's trainees and NQs learning the job by doing first reviews etc.
    It is up to law firms to come with an acceptable fee they can bill for this kind of work, but saving costs by outsourcing is not the right way.

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  • If lawyers (collectively) hadn't been so greedy, and expected such high salaries, this never would have happened. They assumed no one would complete with them for work, and pushed wages up to unsustainable levels accordingly.
    Well, wake up a smell the coffee. If a lawyer – or a member of support staff - is not doing reserved work, or work that can only be handled on-site, they have no USP.
    I'm sure there were textile workers, or furniture makers would thought that clients would care about their profession, and wouldn't let their livelihoods be outsourced. Well, it turns out that clients only really care about price, once basic quality standards have been met.
    If you’ve ever bought a cabinet manufactured China, or clothes made in India, then you really have no right to complain when your own profession becomes globalised.

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  • As an ex-Pinsents assistant, I can say that nothing they do surprises me. I don't think it will benefit them in the long run though. This shows what they think of litigation lawyers!

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  • Anonymous at 4:15 says it all. The first two postings are truly astonishing in their myopia. Lawyers (especially from London) benefitted massively from globalization. Here comes the next phase. Deal with it or stop buying mangoes, Australian wine, Calvin Kleins or putting your money in a UK bank.

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  • Since when was the adverb or adjective "offshore" a verb?

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  • I suppose when morons like 415 and 449 abound in the UK it's no wonder that firms are looking to outsource.
    Do you really think that "clients" want savings at any cost? The problem is that when greedy managers get into full flow, clients end up being unable to find quality anywhere and have to settle for low cost. Look at shoe shops. Twenty years ago you could buy quality shoes for a moderate price. Now, you can spend £20 or blow £200 and either way the things still fall apart because they are all made in the same unskilled, sweat labour conditions.
    And the export of goods is completely unrelated to the outsourcing of services provided by UK firms. Does the sale of Australian wine here put Australians out of work or force them to work for slave wages? No! Quite the opposite.

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  • And instead of making catty, embittered remarks perhaps you could constructively suggest how ordinary people on ordinary wages in the UK (which, by the way, includes most lawyers) are supposed to survive and thrive in their profession?

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  • I agree with the poster of 4:15pm. Like it or not, this sort of move is inevitable and irresistable. Clients will seek to drive down costs and offshoring (sorry to use it as a verb, 5:03pm) is a sure way of reducing costs without making unacceptablle sacrifices in quality. Whilst it may indeed protect PEP, it is ultimately client driven. The only surprise is that it has taken so long for the Legal profession to make this sort of move. Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat" charts the progress of offshoring, outsourcing, in - sourcing et al. Its first overview chapter is called "While I was Sleeping". Those who can't recognise that this march is the same as those which have hit other professions and industries, as 4:15 describes, are still sleeping. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm saying it is client driven and it is a fact.

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  • Those who crow about how "obvious" it is as a development may be right but I think they are idiots to speak as though EVERYone didn't see it coming; of course we did but that doesn't remove our right to complain about it.
    It WILL result in unacceptable drops in quality. Being unable to communicate properly with the people doing the work offshore will lead to the same frustration, errors and delays that arose when the callcentre industry started outsourcing.
    It's a very sad development for UK employees and UK clients. I only hope that the regions are protected from this to an extent, since personal relationships are so much more important and deals generally smaller.

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  • anonymous @ 5.46 - how exactly will quality drop? 'Being unable to communicate properly with the people doing the work offshore will lead to the same frustration'. Are you suggesting that South African lawyers can't speak English? Or write in English? Are you suggesting that Cape Town is in a timezone that will prevent the London lawyers from communicating with the South African ones?
    I think your comment is patronising and just plain wrong.

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  • Many general counsel, some of whom will not be English, will almost certainly view with amusement the argument that "not English" automatically means "lower quality".
    Good point on the time zone issue. Why should calling Durban be any more problematic that calling Birmingham?

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  • Fascinating stuff I just had to blog about it. http://uklegaleagle.blogspot.com/2009/06/am-i-about-to-be-outsourced-to-south.html. Lots of valid comments but at the end of the day it comes down to cost, money and profit.

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  • I think, if they are outsourcing, it should come to Scotland.

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  • Dear 5.53 (Mary), it is unlikely that a Saffer will have UK legal nuance at their grasp. But, more importantly, the quality will suffer long term if UK trainees are left without work to train on.

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  • Whatever the rights and wrongs of this issue, what I find really depressing is the level of mis-spellings, poor grammar and above all lack of checking, which pervades this and other comment streams on legal websites. Are not most of the posters lawyers, and were they not trained, like me, to know that accuracy and attention to detail was absolutely fundamental to the profession? Surely that is what our clients expect as a minimum. If they can't rely on their lawyer to be accurate, who will guarantee it? This may be an unfashionable view, and it may seem "boring" to have to check through wording, but ensuring that our comments as lawyers were correct before sending them out would give them significantly more credibility.

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  • Pedant, I think you are exaggerating. There are very few spelling mistakes made by posters. Some posters though find it difficult to construct an argument; this is more worrisome.
    The move by Pinsents was predicted by Prof. Richard Susskind. We were warned and now we are in the midst of a revolution.

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  • What's that smell? Rome's on fire, you say?
    Quickly, write a report, outlining what is happening. And please ensure your grammar is accurate. That's the most important thing, after all.

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  • For a long time, the profession has been held to very, very high standards of professional ethics. It's the only way to guarantee that people can rely on lawyers as part of the justice machine. There will always be bad eggs. There will always be a need to deal with them in a way which can be relied upon to have serious consequences.

    How can any professional body be expected to protect the public from unscrupulous practitioners who cloak themselves through offshore arrangements?

    This is an erosion of professional responsibility and any "client" who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

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  • Margin business planning... don't ya just love it? Equity owners left the Dickensian ethic of upholding the continuance of a profession long behind and years ago. And yet, they've continued selling students and trainees the old pyramid scheme of advancement as gratitude for graft because students/trainees are daft enough to still believe in it. The profession is dead, what we have now is a DFS sofa selling model: get 'em in, get 'em out, make it cheaper abroad and hold seats of honour on the Law Society benches. You gotta hand it to 'em... the greatest trick the Devil ever played...you're looking it square in the eye and not seeing it... there is no future for the young professional because the bossman (if he hasn't sold it off already) is looking to do so in earnest...but hey, it's still one hell of a ride ain't it?

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