Simmons set to vote on moving legal jobs offshore

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  • Globalisation; don't you just love it!

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  • A law firm yet again proposing to cut more of its ranks. This time the work is there unlike the first round of redundancies. Strikingly on this occasion the partners seem to think think it would be preferable for domestic clients to have their matters serviced in India, preposterous!

    The proposal also does not sit well with me. Redundancies are justified and necessary when there is little work in a practice area due to market conditions. When there is work and it is being proposed that even more London jobs are cut in favour of out sourcing overseas, fuelling another countries economy and not our own is somewhat objectionable. The proposal strikes me as spineless. I am sure many associates would opt of a pay cut over indefinite unemployment.

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  • I am an independent consultant who works and lives in India supporting the Indian legal profession.

    I have bad news for all those commentators above who are suggesting that there is no future in sending work here. I also find it amusing - yes amusing - that there should be any suggestion that the work would be completed to a lesser standard than in the UK as even a small amount of time would confirm that the Indian lawyer is highly productive, very well trained usually in both the Common and Civil law and has spent time abroad. Oh yes and extremely driven.

    Firms are smaller here, that is true. However, the skills and the technical efficiency of the lawyers that I have had a pleasure to work with has led me to understand that, in many cases, the work that is completed is better researched and delivered in a timely fashion so that clients enjoy the significant cost advantage that results.

    I have worked with UK law firms for 18 years or so in areas which are relevant to this discussion - change management, improving working practices and the commoditisation of services. What disappoints me the most is that after so long a period in promoting change, despite the huge sums invested in IT, productivity gains as expressed in value for money to the client have not been seen. Perhaps that is why certain clients are looking elsewhere.

    The barrier to this has been the billable hour, excessive focus on recovery rates and utilisation and resistance to agreeing fixed quotations. Well, hello, its wake up time for all the top UK law firms.

    Indian firms do not, in the main, bill by the hour. Even if they do then charge out rates of a third of their UK equivalents ensure a significant cost benefit to the client.

    All that Simmons is recognising in their proposed initiative is that their key clients have recognised that cheaper legal services are on offer at an equivalent technical level elsewhere in the world. In aligning themselves to this trend, Simmons are protecting their business and their client base which is precisely what I would do if confronted by an unstoppable market force.

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  • I have conducted numerous cross border matters across Aust/Uk. Uk fees outrank Aust fees by at least five to one (often before the pund/Aus dollar differential cuts in) and there is no identifiable quality differential. Aust lawyers in the Uk firms are usually amazed by the inefficient over charging that occurs. Fascinating to see that a firm has the courage to start breaking down the informal London cartel.

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  • it's now the turn of law firms to outsource for staffs to do what junior lawyers and para-legal does is something that will not do any good for futrue.

    if junior lawyers of now have nothing to work on or made redundant, will there be any new senior lawyers or partners in the next couple of years? i guess that will be something we should all wait and see.

    outsourcing is just a short term solution to cut cost but not good for future.

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  • As a South African lawyer, I agree that the quality of services offered from top firms in other common law jurisdictions matches up to the services offered by top UK law firms. However, in my opinion, there are moral considerations that should play a role here. If firms benefit from having acess to the london market and of practising UK law and charging UK rates, surely there is some responsability not only to tain and develop local talent but to employ support staff from the area in which a business operates. I would find it appalling if my firm suddenly decided to sack the staff who have assisted me with my practice here in South Africa in favour of people who live tens of thousands of miles away. Don't be so greedy. Trust me, there will be bigger problems on the hands of UK businesses if they neglect to keep their own people employed. Try crime and poverty in the city of london for a few years and the capital will simply no longer be attractive for global capital. All for the sake of a few extra pounds profit in the short term wihout considering the long term implications.

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  • Let's say that S&S needs to work on an acquisition of a Chinese company. Can Indian or South African lawyers / staff agency employees do the DD worK? Can they read Chinese documents?

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  • In the current legal industry, cross-continent and cross-cultural outsourcing does not work.

    The external professionals do not feel the time and quality preassure and usually their work is not properly supervised locally. Further, it is more difficult (or even impossible) for the external professionals to get the whole picture of the transaction and do a meaningful work.

    It may work if "outsourcing" involves a law firm on the other side of the world. Its partners and senior staff could guarantee quality standards and timely delivery.

    But then this is not outsorcing. It is cooperation with foreign law firms working in less expensive jurisdictions. And I do not see why after some time these foreign law firms cannot pitch for the same work directly.

    This news from S&S shows - once again - that the international law firm business model does not work in these tough times. What it could work is the boutique law firm business model where only the skills and experience of the senior professionals are sold at lower costs.

    This news is also a nice (and smart) way to say that there will be further layoffs in the UK and worldwide.

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

    I would seriously question what your meaning is...Are you really suggesting that Indian or S African lawyers from the same firm are incapable of delivering high quality service? I have to wonder what your implications are, other than supposedly ill-thought out patriotism.

    Firms have every right to choose who they feel is best able to complete their work, and if they are choosing their lawyers from abroad, that speaks volumes about how they feel about their capabilities in the UK.

    In short, remember your comments are speaking to a diverse audience and learn how to phrase appropriately.

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  • Any idea how many lives the NHS saves every year by outsourcing heart surgeries to India?? So it's okay to outsource heart surgery to India, but not legal services, Anon?? Quite stupid logic.

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