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How offshore staffing can impact your legal practice.

In today’s competitive legal landscape, law firms have to work smart to be successful. Lawyers need to be able to focus their time and energy on essential legal work, instead of being distracted by simple business tasks — such as answering calls or updating client records — that can be managed by a support team.

Legal outsourcing services allow law firms to outsource time-consuming and tedious tasks so that their attorneys can scale operations, accomplishing essential work more quickly and at a bigger scale. By delegating business processes through outsourcing and offshoring, law firms can boost productivity and profits while improving customer service, marketing, and other services.

Law firms also turn to outsourcing and offshoring for added flexibility — an important quality in today’s fast-changing business environment. Outsourcing allows law firms to nimbly scale their support teams up in response to changes in the market, while offshoring can make it easier and more cost-effective to perform administrative and other business functions around the clock.

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about outsourcing legal work. We will look at how legal outsourcing and offshoring are defined and practiced today, what the benefits of both are, and which business processes can be easily outsourced. We’ve also put together a tipsheet for successful legal outsourcing. With this information, you’ll have all the basic knowledge you need to grow your practice and profits.

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What is legal outsourcing?

In its most basic terms, legal outsourcing is the practice of contracting work out or abroad for your law firm. Instead of completing every piece of work required for the business in-house, a law firm can choose to delegate certain tasks, whether it’s administrative duties, client management, or legal work, to outside agencies or companies.

Legal outsourcing — also called legal process outsourcing, legal services outsourcing, or legal staffing — encompasses a wide variety of different functions that can be outsourced by a law firm. Outsourced legal services include legal work that must be performed by lawyers, paralegals, and other legal experts but can be delegated to external law firms, freelance lawyers, or agencies. In addition, many law firms also choose to outsource non-legal business functions, such as client intake, customer service, billing, or marketing, that are required to keep a law firm working smoothly. 

Today, many different types of work fall under the umbrella of legal outsourcing. To distinguish between the various tasks, law firms also use a few additional phrases that are more specialized. Business process outsourcing (BPO), for example, refers to specifically outsourcing non-legal yet essential business functions. Legal offshoring, on the other hand, refers to outsourcing work — whether legal or non-legal — to be done in a different country, usually at a lower rate. 

Legal outsourcing is a common and growing practice today. Many law firms delegate duties ranging from answering calls to marketing their firm to external companies, with the goal to save attorneys time by allowing them to work more efficiently, thus increasing profits. After all, an attorney’s time is best spent on the legal work essential to the business, not on general business processes that can be accomplished by people without legal training.

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus specifically on legal BPO — the outsourcing of general business processes for law firms.

Top 10 benefits of Legal Outsourcing

Legal outsourcing is a useful way to grow your law firm’s practice and profits while staying nimble as an organization. While outsourcing is often considered primarily a cost-saving measure, contracting out the non-core business functions of a law firm can yield a wide range of benefits, from preventing attorney burnout to improving the security of sensitive client information.

Here are the top 10 benefits of legal business process outsourcing and offshoring:

1. Lower labor costs

Hiring in-house employees can be an expensive proposition, especially in the legal industry. From the cost of salaries and benefits to the added expenses of recruiting, onboarding, and on-the-job training, bringing on a new internal hire often comes with a very high price tag.

Legal outsourcing, however, can lower costs dramatically — which is why elite law firms are choosing to delegate many functions to external teams. By letting external companies perform business processes for your law firm, your business can grow without adding more staff members, allowing you to better control your payroll and benefits costs.

Offshoring legal business processes can offer remarkable savings. By outsourcing non-core business functions to workers offshore, your law firm can access skilled labor at lower costs without compromising the quality of the work. In addition, many outsourcing and offshoring companies take care of the recruiting and onboarding process, allowing you to realize further savings on human resources-related expenses.

2. Lower overhead costs

Leasing additional office space. Buying more computers. Activating new keycards and parking passes. Adding an employee to a law firm comes with a whole host of overhead costs — some one-time, others ongoing throughout the tenure of the hire. And these expenses are going up. During the first half of 2022, law firms saw expenses increase by an eye-popping 14.7%.

Outsourcing eliminates most, if not all, of these additional expenses. Because outsourced employees generally don’t work at the law firm’s offices, you don’t need to worry about finding additional space, furniture, and equipment. Instead, the outsourcing company usually provides for these needs and allows for the employee to work remotely, saving you both the time and expense of adding a new employee to your physical workspace.

3. Streamlined business processes

Lawyers are trained specifically to practice law — not to oversee market campaigns, take care of billing issues, or provide customer service. Thus, when non-legal duties are delegated to attorneys, two major business problems ensue. For one, valuable attorney hours get eaten up by tasks that aren’t central to the firm’s business. Two, highly-compensated attorneys are made to spend their time on basic administrative work.

Outsourcing business processes eliminates these problems. Lawyers are able to focus on the important work of the firm, while non-legal work is taken care of by people who specialize and have training and experience doing exactly that job. This allows the business of law firms run smoothly and efficiently.

4. Improved information security

Law firms often work with sensitive client information protected by local, state, and federal regulations. As a result, some states have even begun requiring lawyers to undergo cybersecurity and data protection training. Safeguarding legal information is a top priority for firms, yet due to the rise of remote work and distributed offices in recent years, that job has become more difficult. For example, a lawyer’s assistant who works from home — or a local cafe — may not have or practice the same level of digital security common within the confines of a legal office.

In contrast, the best legal outsourcing and offshoring companies ensure the safety of legal data by maintaining its offices in physically and digitally secure locations. Workers who perform their duties in these offices have their data protected through firewalls and other technologies necessary for a modern legal practice. In addition, employees should receive annual data security training.

5. Expanded service hours

In today’s always-on business environment, clients call and email law offices around the clock — and can get frustrated when they don’t get a quick response. Legal outsourcing and offshoring allows law firms to easily expand service hours by bringing on workers who live in different time zones or prefer nontraditional work hours. This allows firms to better serve clients without requiring in-house employees to work after hours or on weekends.

6. Higher customer satisfaction

Better customer service brings better business ratings, which is why many law firms choose legal outsourcing in order to improve the experience they provide to prospective and current clients. Outsourcing and offshoring generally allows law firms to improve their customer service, partly by allowing them to hire more customer service representatives due to lowered labor and overhead costs, and partly by enabling them to expand service hours. As a result, law firms are able to answer calls more quickly, respond to emails in a more timely fashion, and improve customer satisfaction overall.

7. Attorney time savings

Repetitive tasks such as client intake and management can easily be outsourced to outside consultants and companies. A case manager, for example, can follow up with clients on a regular basis to keep cases moving forward without taking up the lawyers’ time.

Outsourcing these tasks safeguards attorney time not only by protecting lawyers from performing rote tasks but also by providing lawyers with more robust, well-updated client files when it’s their time to step in. 

8. Attorney work-life balance