Simmons set to vote on moving legal jobs offshore

  • Print
  • Comments (46)

Readers' comments (46)

  • I would seriously question whether lawyers in India or S Africa would be able to meet the kind of standards that clients expect.

    Good luck selling shoddy due diligence to clients in the UK, whatever the reduction in cost.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think it's a very bright move if it is done transparently. For those that remain, hopefully it will mean better work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is all part of the trend of the incredible shrinking law firms. At last they've realized that their clients don't want to pay for enormous bloated ranks of salaried lawyers.

    There are so many elements of legal work which can be done cheaper and more efficiently by contracting out.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Fascinating....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • ...and I would seriously question whether Anonymous @ 27-Apr-2009 11:39 am, really believes that the vast majority of our work can not be done by and half intelligent hard worker to and above 'client standards'. I would say that at least 50% of the work that younger associates do can be outsourced without a problem.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous - why do you immediately assume that lawyers in poorer countries than you are lucky enough to live in, produce "shoddy" inferior work. Shame on you

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Firms like Simmons & Simmons will inevitably be feeling the pinch. A lot of the firm's growth in recent years has been off the back of its Financial Markets Practice. Counter-cyclical and non-cyclical practices are unlikely to have grown at the same pace over this time.

    So there is nothing like a severe downturn to focus the mind on achieving cost efficiencies. Speaking as a Simmons alumnus, my concern is less about the quality of lawyers in overseas markets than the ability of the firm to manage them effectively.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Anonymous

    You question, whether South African lawyers can meet the expectations of clients in the UK.

    Well, the UK firms definitely think so. At last count, aproximately 12 of the 75 graduates from UCT Law School (2002) work in the UK or US. They work at all the big firms, ranging from Herbert Smith to Sullivan & Cromwell. This statistic should be seen in perspective, because not all 75 graduates are qualified lawyers today.

    Please tell Giles White, ex head of Linklaters Asia, Eversheds, DWS, White & Case (all who have offices or alliances with South African firms) that South African lawyers are not competent, or Eversheds or DWS.

    It should not be forgotten, that some major South African businesses, like Investec, Old Mutual, Liberty, SAB Miller etc are listed on the LSE and they are happy to use South African law firms.

    On the eve of attending QLTT classes, I cannot help but smile and think that in an increasingly globalised world, that the competition is hotting up.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anon @11.39am is just wrong. As an English qualified lawyer who sweated in the City for 14 years at Freshfields and Weils before escaping to the good life in Cape Town I can tell you the quality of lawyering here is excellent and more than adequate to tackle most aspects of large scale litigation and corporate due diligence.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Very smart move, recognising that clients are increasingly wanting cost reductions and that much of the work does not need rolls royce treatment to be done well. They'll do well out of this, it makes them look cutting edge, commercial and innovative.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Before training to become a solicitor, I worked for a telecoms company that outsourced several functions to India a few years ago. It was a complete disaster.

    By the time I arrived my responsibility was to help with the return of most of those functions to London, at considerable cost to the company.

    The relief in the voices of the customers who had not taken their business elsewhere as a result of the diablolical standards of customer service experienced following the changes was palpable.

    It beggars belief that the legal sector would fall into the trap of thinking that a move like this could actually save them money in the long run. All it will do is alientate their clients and make life more difficult for the staff who remain in the UK!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We all know what it's like dealing with outsourced call centres in India and wherever and this is going to be the exact same - cheaper service but poorer quality work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The challenge to firms outsourcing work (whether legal or support) is to manage the process and quality so that clients still get the top-end service they expect and can benefit from the resuting cost savings that outsourcing delivers. The management team at Simmons, and any other firm considering this, would only choose this route if they felt it was a win-win situation for clients and themsleves.

    Within 3 years I would expect most major firms to be outsourcing much of the process-driven work that junior lawyers regularly undertake and this can only be good for the careers of those lawyers.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I guess that Anonymous would exclude Lord Steyn and Lord Hoffmann from the list of South African lawyers that would fail to meet client expectations!

    Simmons may be onto something. It can be expected that with the redundancies in the UK legal market it must also have influenced some of the many Saffer lawyers working for City firms. Why not employ them in SA (albeit indirectly) at a fraction of the cost they would be expecting in the City.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I guess it depends on what sort of work is to be outsourced: I assume Simmons will still put their PI cover on the table for clients and backstop the work?

    I've been based in Asia for 8 years. A lot of our work is 'interfacing' with local counsel and, (putting it politely), it takes a huge amount of time and is frought with difficulties. Clients doing deals in the region understand this issue. I'm not sure that clients in an European context would have the same understanding...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Indeed, this is a great news from Simmons after laying off more than a hundred of associates globally on the pretext reducing costs.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Having had experience in the states and Africa, i completely disagree with you Anonymous. I think the approach you have chosen to take displays your ignorance about jurisdictions other than your own. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that you have never dealt with a foreign lawyer on a cross border transaction or complex litigation. When you do, you will realize that lawyers who practice in foreign jurisdictions (many of who studied in Harvard, Oxford etc) are truly excellent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think there is something to be thought of here which is not whether India, S Africa or the other countries can handle this but is it fair to those in the UK who loose their jobs?

    There are enogh competent and skilled individuals in those countries to handle the work and turn out quality product but yes their way of working and the use of language is different from what Europeans are used to. SO be patient....

    And if the quality was really that bad then CC and the others wouldn't be so keen to have best friends alliances in India and continue to out source their work or retain foregin qualified lawyers from these countires.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As an in-houser I have previously worked for companies heavily involved in outsourcing some of their client orientated services overseas. In most cases it was a complete disaster and even if with the most stringent quality control procedures, the standards were not satisfactory and clients absolutely hated it and left en masse. Most of these companies were at some point contemplating how to get these services back on-shore.

    Funny that the legal profession views this as an "innovative move" when a large proportion of the business world has wised up to the fact that you shouldn't underestimate your client's relations.

    There are other ways to cut costs and if my current external advisers were enaging in outsourcing, I would most certainly reconsider their appointments.

    Another thought: how will law firms source senior lawyers in a few years' time if there is no need for junior lawyers' now?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why not outsource elsewhere in the UK to solicitors qualified in England and Wales? A cost saving would be achieved and clients would continue to benefit from English legal advice from English lawyers which is what they are paying for.

    I know there are plenty of quality lawyers in RSA, India and Aus, but the vast majority of those lawyers will become partners in their own countries and maybe firms in the UK or US and will not want to work as agency staff for Simmons on lower wages.

    The process will be problematic and I am sure the outsource agencies have been smart enough to ensure all liability rests with Simmons.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (46)