In an opinion piece featured in Managing Partner magazine entitled, Outsourcing the Core, Andrew Hedley discusses some of the dynamics and challenges facing legal professionals in the UK – particularly as they relate to outsourced legal services.
The points that I enjoyed most were his thoughts on the factors which impact market penetration for outsourcing legal services.
1. Technology: Technically speaking, it might be argued that a couple of factors have constrained development in the past for all but the most straightforward of work. These are shortcomings in communications technology, and a paucity of the advanced project-management skills needed to disaggregate a legal service, have the constituent parts handled independently, and then reconstitute the service at the point of delivery to provide a seamless client experience. Such technical and management challenges can now be overcome.
2. Perceptual: What remains is the emotional barrier of managing so much of the legal process at arms length within a profession in which many partners have been reticent to let work leave their own desks, let alone ﬁrm, country or continent. At an organisational level there are also issues of trust, conﬁdence and client confidentiality that will need to be overcome. At what point will economic imperatives overcome these social and management impediments?
Too many times firms concentrate on overcoming the former challenge while in many ways disregarding the latter. Equal, and in some situations greater, emphasis should be placed on ensuring the internal buy-in and managing expectations for changes within the organization.
As Hedley concluded, “I believe these changes are inevitable. How far-reaching they will be, and over what timescale, are the key issues law firm leaders will need to consider when deciding on the best approach for their individual organisations.”