Top Ten Reasons Why Law Firms Should Consider Selective Legal Outsourcing

In the last quarter of 2008 America faces economic challenges never imagined even a few months ago. How will businesses manage and survive the limitations on credit, demand and growth? How does the economic downturn impact lawyers and law firms which service the business community?

It is an obvious fact that businesses can only look at modifying two revenue streams, income and expenses, in order to increase profitability. If income is down and not expected to increase markedly in the near term, clients of law firms will take the hatchet to expenses in order to survive. Legal fees will be under extreme scrutiny. Legal outsourcing, while still a nascent industry, is gaining momentum, being considered in more corporate boardrooms. As the pressures to outsource build, lawyers ponder whether they should embrace outsourcing legal work offshore or resist it. In the face of global economic challenges coupled with the increasing loss of American jobs why would a U.S. law firm want to even consider legal outsourcing? Are there valid reasons why targeted legal outsourcing should be considered by every U.S. law firm?

Several weeks ago I received an email from a lawyer who was considering outsourcing some of the legal work of his law firm. Facing resistance and challenges from many in his law firm who wanted to maintain the status quo, he asked for my advice as to what he should tell his partners. Why should the firm outsource legal work offshore, a practice seen by some as adventuresome and risky, instead of staying the course, doing it “the way we have always done it.” I answered him with the top ten reasons why every law firm should consider selective legal outsourcing:

1. PRUDENT, TARGETED OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN REDUCED LAW FIRM OVERHEAD

Outsourcing some legal work to qualified providers in India will result in significantly lower overhead to the outsourcing law firm. In assessing the comparative costs the law firm will be wise to carefully calculate the real costs of employing one lawyer or paralegal. Those costs include salary and bonus, health insurance, vacation and holiday pay, sick time expense, FICA, office space and equipment for the lawyer, paralegal and secretarial staff assigned to that lawyer, pension and profit sharing, auto and parking expense, CLE seminar costs, and other employment benefits such as disability and life insurance. The real annual cost of one lawyer earning a base annual salary of $150,000-$175,000 is more likely in the range of $250,000 to $300,000 per year. NONE of these customary expenses accrue to a law firm utilizing supplemental offshore legal providers.

2. OUTSOURCING WILL ENHANCE LAW FIRM EFFICIENCIES

Selective outsourcing will improve the efficiency of your law firm. Because Indian lawyers work while American lawyers sleep, it will be like your law firm has a full time, fully staffed night shift. Some work can be assigned by a partner at 6 p.m. in the evening and the completed task on his desk when he arrives at the office the next morning. Litigation cases will move more rapidly through the court system with less need for extensions of time.

3. OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN IMPROVED LAWYER MORALE

As a child not many of the sermons I heard from my pastor stuck with me. But one, when I was fourteen years of age still rings a bell. He said: “Ninety percent of any worthwhile endeavor is pack work, plugging, day in and day out. Only ten percent of our work tasks are necessarily fun and enjoyable.” I have always remembered that statement. In more than two decades as a trial lawyer I enjoyed strategizing and trying cases to juries. But I did not necessarily enjoy all of the trial and deposition preparation, research and briefing, document review, and other mundane essentials of the practice of law. A law firm which incorporates outsourcing into its practice will inevitably foster more contented lawyers who devote their time and energies to the more challenging, fun and rewarding parts of the practice of law. Only the “chore” legal work is outsourced with the “core” work staying onshore. This allows more time for client interaction and development by the firm’s lawyers.

4. OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN OVERALL SAVINGS IN LEGAL FEES TO CLIENTS

Clients of law firms, particularly business clients, are searching far and wide for ways to cut their legal expenses. Many ask why they should pay, for example, $200 to $300 hourly for document review. Gone are the days when legal bills are simply paid without scrutiny. Likewise, the annual increases in hourly rates will not be well received by clients looking to cut costs. Wise law firms put the interests of their clients above their own. What is good for the client will ultimately be good for the law firm itself.

5. THE RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT REQUIRE OUTSOURCING CONSIDERATION

The Rules of Professional Conduct of require that: a. “A lawyer should seek to achieve the lawful objectives of a client through reasonable permissible means.” (Rule 1.2) b. “A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions about the representation.” (Rule 1.4 b) c. “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.” (Rule 3.2)

A lawyer is required to explore and discuss with his client all reasonable means of accomplishing the client’s objectives. A lawyer is not permitted to charge an unreasonable or excessive fee. It would seem that a lawyer is arguably required to discuss selective outsourcing as a way of reducing the client’s ultimate fee obligation and furthering the interests of the client.

6. OUTSOURCING “CHORE” LEGAL WORK PROMOTES CLIENT RETENTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Clients have long questioned ever-increasing legal fees for basic, “chore” legal work. However, they felt as if they had no alternative. They needed the legal representation and wanted good quality work. As there was not a significant degree of fee variance from law firm to law firm, clients tended to “stay put.” This trend is beginning to change as clients learn that they have options. Lawyers who outsource selectively are reporting a more contented, loyal client base. Clients who perceive that their lawyers are looking out for the entirety of the their interests, including fee costs, tend to remain committed to their existing law firms and even refer other clients (whose lawyers refuse to outsource).

7. THE COMPETITION IS OUTSOURCING

If your law firm is not outsourcing, be certain that your competition is. On August 21, 2007 Bloomberg. com reported that even long-established AMLAW 100 law firms like Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis are outsourcing under pressure from clients.

8. OUTSOURCING U.S. LAW FIRMS MAY CHARGE A REASONABLE SUPERVISORY FEE

It is reasonable and acceptable for U.S. law firms outsourcing legal work offshore to charge a reasonable supervisory fee in conjunction with outsourced legal work. It is axiomatic that a lawyer who outsources legal work, whether to an associate, contract lawyer or offshore provider, ultimately remains responsible to his client for the quality and timeliness of delivery of the legal product. If a lawyer assigns the research and writing of a brief to a junior associate, the assigning lawyer will not customarily submit the final work product to the court without review and supervision. So it is with offshore legal outsourcing. Published ethics opinions of the San Diego, New York and American Bar Associations indicate that a lawyer who outsources offshore may charge a reasonable supervisory fee.

9. CLIENTS ARE INSISTING ON SELECTIVE OUTSOURCING TO ACHIEVE COST SAVINGS

Clients talk to one another. Executives of major companies golf and have lunch with one another. Corporate General Counsel attend meetings and CLE seminars, sharing information and ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs. They know about offshore outsourcing and the dramatic cost savings that can be achieved. It is unacceptable, therefore, to ignore legal outsourcing and, as one managing law firm partner told me, have “no appetite” for it.

10. OUTSOURCING WILL HAPPEN.

Doing nothing is not an option. Some are outsourcing. Many more are considering it, whether prompted by keen business sense or financial realities. Outsourcing is like a large, ominous wave a few miles offshore. It is preferable to surf the wave than wait to be engulfed, overwhelmed by its power and left wondering what happened.

British economist Herbert Spencer is credited with originating the term “survival of the fittest” in the mid 19th century. Although also having application to biology, Spencer applied the concept of survival of the fittest to free market economics. In a free market, companies and businesses will do what is necessary to survive. If that means outsourcing some U.S. legal jobs for the greater good of survival of the entity itself, then so be it. The model of ever increasing salaries and expenses for law firms followed by even higher legal fees charged clients cannot sustain itself any longer. Legal outsourcing is here to stay. The wise will take notice, survive and flourish.

A Comprehensive Law Firm Search

In a civilize society like ours, one of the major factors that dictates how an individual should act and perform his dealings is what we call law. This set of principles and rules aims to maintain justice, peace and order, equality and wellbeing of the people.

However, there are various and untoward circumstances wherein some ill-mannered citizens tend to defy the laws and practically cause harm or damages to others. These are the instances wherein the affected victims greatly need the help and support of a respectable law firm that has the capacity to advocate their causes and ensure that justice will be served to them.

But the real problem is that most legal assistance seekers are having a hard time searching for the law firm that houses the most credible lawyers to provide the best legal services. Among the numerous law companies, one may think that all of them have the capability of dealing with his particular legal concern; but it is not.

In order to hire the right lawyer for your case, you should have a comprehensive look on these law firms’ background and specialization.

Field of Specialization

Law firms, may be categorized according to their area of expertise. Although lawyers are expected to have an understanding of all the aspects of law, you should not assume that they perform well in those fields.

A law firm may focus on several fields. These include civil law, business law, international law, real estate, labor law, social security, women’s rights, family law and personal injury among others. Thus, you must precisely choose the right firm that suits your needs.

For example, if you have suffered an injury from a car accident, a law firm that specializes in employment law should not be an option. It would be necessary for you to hire a personal injury lawyer who has the background in handling car accident claims. Hiring his services will give you a much higher possibility of having a positive case result.

Background Check

The law firm’s expertise in a particular field is not the only guarantee that they perform well in handling their clients’ cases. You should also look into their backgrounds. In many situations, successful case verdicts have been handled by those legal companies that have already maintained a good reputation in the legal business.

A law firm’s long history may be very important. Like what many people say, experience will make one better.

Another thing that you can rely on is the law firms’ vast network of connections. Having numerous associations with other legal companies and organization can be an indication that they are well respected by their colleagues. This means greater credibility for them.

The most important factor to determine in a law firm is their record of winning cases. Before you hire their services, examine their list of verdicts and settlements. It would also be better if you would spend some time to talk to their former clients if they are contented with the law firm’s manner of managing their cases. The information that you will gather from these people may also help you to finalize your decision.

Qualities of an Exceptional Personal Injury Law Firm

If you are involved in an accident whose occurrence was due to failure of another party to take reasonable care, the first step that you should take is to hire a personal injury lawyer. This will help you get compensation for the physical, mental, and emotional injuries you suffer due to the accident. However, for this to be possible, you will need to hire an exceptional attorney with all the relevant skills, experience, and knowledge to take on your case. Unfortunately, you cannot find such lawyers in any other law firm. They are only available in distinguished personal injury law firms. There are many law firms specializing in personal injury law. Nevertheless, there are those that stand out from the rest because they possess certain qualities, which makes it easy for them to win cases. These qualities include:

Qualified Staff

One important quality of an exceptional personal injury law firm is that its staff is qualified. Their staff should be knowledgeable on matters pertaining to this branch of law and have all the relevant skills and experience to see them through all injury lawsuits, specifically yours.

Capable of dealing with insurance firms

Most insurance firms do not like meeting claims. They will do everything possible to avoid compensating you for your injuries. An exceptional firm should have massive experience in handling representatives of insurance firms. The attorneys of such firms should be able to negotiating with the insurance company’s representatives so that they can reach an amicable solution and fair settlement or compensation for your injuries.

System of payment of contingency fees

A good law firm that specializes in this field understands that sometimes you might depend on the damages or settlement to pay their fees. Nevertheless, you are liable by law to pay for basic expenses. A good law firm however, will not force you to pay for the expenses until you recover a good amount or fair value of damages entitled to you. From there you can pay them. This is the ‘no verdict no fee’ or ‘no recovery, no fee’ or ‘no settlement, no fee’ type of system.

Specialization

To get an exceptional firm to handle your case, you must choose that which specialize in personal injury law. If finding such a firm is difficult, this is almost impossible, look for the firm with a personal injury law department. Such firms have all a lot of experience to help them deal with personal injury cases and have probably handled a variety of cases related to personal injury, as they are never the same.

Other specialization

Apart from the firm’s lawyers having good knowledge in the field, they should also have reasonable experience in litigation. They should have the necessary skills to carry out important motions. In addition, they should be skilled in paperwork, which the court and the insurance companies expect in civil cases and in insurance claims.

Use other professionals

The firm should be able to hire and retain the services of other professionals. To have all the necessary information to help them win the case, they will need the information that the government agencies have. This means they will need to hire private investigators to collect information as to the cause of the accident, the negligent party, and to protect evidence, which could solidify and protect your case.