ALTHOUGH MANY are reluctant to admit it, a significant number of law firms are planning to send their transcription work offshore.
Since setting up in Australia 18 months ago, UK-based Exigent has managed to sign around 20 firms to its legal secretarial service based in South Africa and there are already more than 30 more firms in the UK using the service.
Exigent uses a team of legal secretaries based in Cape Town who are on call 24 hours a day.
Offshore transcription has become a real option with the advent of digital recording technology, with many firms here introducing this over the past couple of years.
A key attraction for Australian firms is the ability to have files typed overnight and the fact that the pool of typists is divided into teams assigned to particular firms so they can become familiar with each client’s work.
“We have got clients from right across the spectrum,” said Nicola Stott, a co-founder of the company’s Australian branch, ranging from sole practitioners such as barristers to one top-tier firm, with many more firms considering using the service.
There are a range of other reasons why law firms are looking seriously at the service.
For small firms, Stott said it does not make sense to retain full-time staff for often sporadic transcription work. A firm can also grow without having to hire additional back-office staff and can cut down on the amount of office space they need to pay for.
“As you go up the spectrum, when there is 100-plus fee earners, [they can] reduce their reliance on temps.” These firms can also use the service to free up their secretaries to do more paralegal work, she said.
As well as those already signed up, Stott said, there were several law firms that were about to “go over the line”.