THE TOP 25 law firms in the UK employ external support for non-core services such as catering, security and cleaning, while smaller firms have other priorities , a new survey has found.
A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reveals that outsourcing is for the first time being seriously considered by the UK’s top firms for non-core support services. Recognising both potential cost savings and improvements in quality, many firms now consider prudent outsourcing in some areas, The Law Firms’ Survey 2006 suggests.
The survey found that while the most popular outsourced functions are IT, payroll, cleaning, catering and security, the top 10 prefer to outsource their catering, security and cleaning, while the top 50 and firms outside the top 100 outsource IT and payroll.
The top 10 firms are the only users of third party selection and professional contracting for travel and document production, while almost no top 10 firms choose to outsource their secretarial work, general office and mailroom work, and insurance.
The survey showed there is a growing confidence in the associated business benefits to be gained from outsourcing, with many firms planning to consider it as an option in the upcoming year.
About 56 per cent of the top 10 expect to increase their levels of outsourcing next year, with travel, IT support and payroll expected to be the main priorities.
As the top 25 firms get their cheques ready, firms outside this realm are less likely to spend large amounts on external non-core support next year, with only 25 per cent of firms in the 11 to 25 band expecting to outsource any functions next year. Outside the top 100, only 8 per cent of firms plan to outsource next year.
According to Nicola Stott, director of businesses services company Exigent, top-tier firms look to outsource as a supplement to the services their in-house teams already provide. “This is seen as providing additional flexibility to fee earners, making sure they have 24-hour coverage, so they can get documents processed whenever they want,” she told Lawyers Weekly.
“For smaller firms, it is used to supplement in-house teams, but many also have it as their complete support solution. This is a way for firms to avoid having non-revenue generating staff taking up expensive CBD office space,” Stott said.
“From a secretarial perspective, firms think outsourcing word processing is excellent because it frees them up to do some of the more interesting work and client service type work. In-house secretaries don’t have to sit there typing away, which is really time consuming when you are interrupted by the phone, or by the fee earners. So it takes internal staff longer than it would take external staff.”