Clifford Chance doubles size of low-cost India base

Clifford Chance has doubled the size of its India Knowledge Centre over the past two years, with the base now home to 60 consultants.

Two years ago the firm, which sends work to the centre in a bid to lower costs across its global business, outlined its ambitions to increase the number of consultants in the base from 29 at that time to 40 (18 October 2010). The growth to 60 was revealed in the firm’s annual report for 2011/12.

The report revealed that in the last financial year 27 offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US all used the Knowledge Centre, sending work spanning more than 850 matters. In the 2010/11 financial year, the centre handled over 500 projects with a team of 40.

All consultants at the Knowledge Centre have legal training and are recruited largely from Indian law schools. According to data provided by Indian legal website, the Knowledge Centre recruited nine graduates from the top 10 Indian law schools in 2011 and 2012.

“In the current environment it’s more important than ever that we continue to look at how we can run our business most efficiently and ensure that the support we provide to clients adds value without adding unnecessary cost,” said a spokesperson for Clifford Chance. “This rationale underpins our investment in both the Knowledge Centre and Global Shared Services Centre, as they allow us to operate cost-effectively while maintaining a high level of support to our teams outside of India.”

The Knowlege Centre was established in 2007 with four lawyers and is managed by New Delhi-based director Mark Ford. Clifford Chance stressed that it does not provide any legal advice at the centre or practise Indian law. The Knowledge Centre works only with the firm’s own lawyers elsewhere in the Clifford Chance network, providing support work on routine or time-consuming matters such as research, analysis and document discovery.

In addition to the Knowledge Centre, the firm also outsources part of its business support processes to its Global Shared Service Centre (GSSC) in India. Both centres are operated under India incorporated company OSC Services Private Limited. The GSSC supports all of Clifford Chance’s offices globally across a range of business functions. A large number of key human resources, IT, finance and business development processes are now managed out of the GSSC from the day-to-day handling of expenses to complex IT development work.

According to Clifford Chance’s annual review, the GSSC currently houses some 16 per cent of the firm’s non-secretarial business services staff.

While Clifford Chance will continue to invest and grow its offshore services centres, the firm has no set plan for how much back-office support functions will be shifted to India.

“We have no target for the size of any part of the firm. The Knowledge Centre and Global Shared Services Centre are an integral part of our support structure. However, we’ll continue to need high-quality resource within all of our offices outside of India to ensure appropriate support to our lawyers and to provide the quality of service to clients that we believe is critical to our overall offer,” the firm’s spokesperson said.