The hokey cokey

By | 10th March 2011
You put your left leg in
You put your left leg out
In, out, in, out
Shake it all about
You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn around
That’s what it’s all about.

First there was outsourcing. You know what I mean. Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) in exotic places like the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.

Then there was insourcing. Something of a Millnet idea but more of the Smart Insourcing team in a moment.

Now there is Near Shoring.

In, out, in, out, shake it all about, that’s what it’s all about!

Near shoring? I do not know who it is who comes up with these names to describe relatively simple concepts but according to Legal Week of February 24th “Near shoring garners approval in the City.”

The idea is simple. Find a location in the UK or in Europe where the costs are cheaper than, say, London or Manchester or Cardiff and either send your staff there or hire in locals who will not be so expensive. I recall that this is not a new idea having been around many years ago in the guise of warehouses situated on the M1 (supposedly within easy reach of anywhere in the country but in reality miles from anywhere) where lawyers doing low grade or customised work could be accommodated. It never really took off until they started to call them call centres!

Near shoring is a variation on that theme and is merely the relocation of staff to lower cost centres. According to Legal Week, 59% of partners interviewed thought that near shoring was very considerably attractive. Possibly not to the staff to be relocated but to the partners you understand!

Big City firms spoke warmly of the idea and only 12% of partners who responded said that they thought it was a bad idea.

Is it a sure (no pun intended) thing? As Chinese Premier Chou En Lai said in the 1970s when asked for his opinion on the effect of the French Revolution, it is too early to tell.

What is clear, however, is that a combination of pressure from clients for lawyers to reduce costs and greater competition in the market for good quality work is driving law firms to consider new ways to save money and in some cases pass on the savings to their end clients.

In the field of insourcing, Millnet believes that it can combine the benefits of the provision of LPC graduates to help with a range of tasks, including document review, with the advantages if having the tasks done by people located near our clients’ offices and in the same time zone. In our London centric country, Belfast may be a good place to set up an outsourced office and as one of the partners interviewed by Legal Week said, it is “relatively easy to get to” but it is easier still to get to London from most places in the UK. Add to that the fact that most European law firms look to London for the e-disclosure requirements when they have them and you have a number of good reasons why insourcing, at the right price, is here to stay.

What the market is saying, and this is confirmed from our experience, is that routine or mundane work can and should no longer be done by highly paid lawyers sitting in swish corporate offices. However you look at it, alternatives to the old model have to be found. Near shoring may be one, outsourcing may be another, but insourcing combines the best of both worlds for lawyers and their clients alike.

That’s what it’s all about! Come on, sing the chorus with me:

You get work in
You send some out
In, out, in, out
Millnet gets a shout
It gets reviewed and turned around
That’s what it’s all about!