“This law firm will never outsource its legal work!” – Have you heard this phrase in discussions with a fellow partner, an associate, or maybe even the managing partner/founder of your law firm (or in-house legal department supervisor)?
Radical innovation is not common within the legal industry. The legal industry is entrenched in traditions and precedents that are slow to change. The following article explores the psychological reasoning behind the legal industry’s slow adoption of legal outsourcing.
1) “We are worried about the quality of the work from a legal outsourcing company”
This is often the first objection to engaging the help of a legal outsourcing company. Concerns about work quality are misplaced because it is the client, the law firm, early-stage tech company, or in-house legal department, that retains ultimate control over the final work product.
Meaning, that if the legal outsourcing company provides a court brief, an executive-level employment agreement, or a distribution contract – then the client has the right to approve, reject, or modify the work product before finalizing it.
Therefore, concerns about a legal outsourcing company’s quality of work are premature given that the client retains ultimate approval of the work product, which can be individually tailored to a client’s specifications, and the legal outsourcing company simply does the work.
Furthermore, legal outsourcing companies employ numerous elite lawyers based on academic credentials and practice area expertise.
2) “Well, alright, the work quality seems okay, but will I get in trouble with the ethics committee?”
In true lawyer fashion, it depends. It depends upon the various licensing and ethics regulations where the legal client operates their law practice, and it also depends upon the client’s proper management of the legal outsourcing relationship.
For example, if a law firm in New York (USA) wants to outsource some of their document review to a legal outsourcing company based on a different continent, then the legal outsourcing company must comply with New York’s ethical rules. In other words, legal professionals seeking to outsource work can easily comply with ethical rules if they simply stay aware of what rules govern outsourcing and how to comply with them (the process is not different from standard ethical duties that lawyers must comply with, i.e., being aware of applicable rules and monitoring compliance).
3) “Alright, I understand how the work quality and ethical compliance function, but this all sounds complicated, shouldn’t we just hire another associate?”
Legal outsourcing companies provide extra help, the equivalent of having multiple new associates, without the financial overhead concerns. Without question, a client hiring a legal outsourcing company must do some work to ensure the relationship operates smoothly, but once the preparatory work is done – the relationship turns to management and oversight instead of time-intensive involvement.
For example, law firms do not enter into client representation agreements without defining the scope of representation, termination of the relationship, the delegation of decision-making authority, warranties, indemnities, etc.
The same approach should govern a client’s relationship with a legal outsourcing company. Using this approach will ensure that the relationship operates smoothly, and the client will receive the benefit of additional help, when necessary (project-based assistance), less burnout due to workload, and none of the restrictions of increased business overhead.
Should you or your organization raise psychological barriers not addressed above, please contact LawFlex to discuss your situation and to learn how we can help you accomplish more with less.