Is shifting work offshore the answer right now?

By Jerome Doraisamy|19 January 2021
Is shifting work offshore the answer right now?

In the wake of a pandemic-inspired economic downturn, outsourcing work overseas is an option that law department operations (LDO) professionals do not appear to be exploring.

Blickstein Group has released its 13th Annual Law Department Operations Survey, which details the impact that COVID-19 has had on legal ops, together with the extent to which LDO professionals are seen as trusted and mature workers within a business.

In identifying financial impacts of the pandemic on LDO professionals, the research found that despite the economic downturn caused by the age of coronavirus, the rates that legal departments are being charged have either remained steady or gone up rather than declining. Moreover, it found that NewLaw approaches are potentially shaping as a more prominent option in a post-pandemic world.

In the wake of such financial considerations, it might seem reasonable for legal departments to utilise offshore legal process outsourcing as a cost-saving measure. This is, Blickstein mused, “often” considered in the face of budget pressures.

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However, when asked if they were shipping work offshore, only 16 per cent of respondents said yes, up only slightly from 2019 (15 per cent).

In addition, when asked if they would consider using offshore legal process outsourcing, even fewer appear to be contemplating this avenue: 45 per cent in 2020, versus 49 per cent in 2019.

Reflecting on these results, Lotame general counsel and chief privacy officer Amy Yeung said that the findings were “indicative” of how senior leaders are recognising that “short-sighted” approaches to cost cutting can ultimately hit the business harder from a financial perspective.

“The economic environment of 2020 is a good opportunity to re-pivot the organisation, but not necessarily at the cost of short-term gains,” she said.

“Companies still need to be in a strong position – or as strong of a position as they can relative to others in the industry – coming out of this. That includes the talent footprint.”

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Further to this, Ms Yeung noted that a number of companies have started to expand the ways in which their workforces can be present.

“Traditionally, the legal function is often seated with the corporate office, but as companies’ footprints have become global, there is more pressure to recognise support consistent with time changes and cultural events that impact the commercial calendar,” she said.

“The pandemic opens up fresh evaluations on the way in which business can be done effectively.”

Is shifting work offshore the answer right now?
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