find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
More globals bring outsourcing in from the cold

More globals bring outsourcing in from the cold

Sonya Leydecker

As globals embrace the trend for internal outsourcing, Australian firms may lose out on bulk work.

Herbert Smith Freehills global CEO Sonya Leydecker told Lawyers Weekly that this model – where firms send process work to centralised offices in low-cost locations – may give global firms an edge compared to those using external providers.

HSF was one of the first firms to adopt the model, setting up an office in Belfast in 2011 solely to complete document review for its disputes practice.

Since then, the 20-person operation has grown to more than 200 people, handling bulk processes for the full range of transactional work in HSF offices worldwide.

Recently, the firm launched a pilot program in Perth with 30 lawyers to test the viability of a similar hub in the southern hemisphere.

Ms Leydecker said the initiative had been partly driven by a growing cost-consciousness among clients, triggered by the GFC.

“I think the GFC was a big wake-up call,” she said.

“That, plus some of the changes that have happened with technology and new entrants, have meant the market has changed permanently. I don't think we're going to go back to the pre-GFC days.”

As part of this shift, she suggested clients were no longer prepared to pay for bulk work to be done in expensive locations.

“We wanted to offer a service to clients which was competitive by sitting it in a location where you have a lot of lawyers coming out of university but no international jobs; where the cost of living was much cheaper; and where we could ensure we use technology to join that part of the business with the rest,” she said.

However, she emphasised the need to maintain quality and consistency by keeping the work under the Herbert Smith Freehills brand.

Patrick St John, the HSF managing partner for strategic implementation, said that while other global firms had also begun to set up similar internal centres, national firms in Australia were unlikely to have the necessary volume.

As a result, many of them have resorted to using external providers.

“They all do it now in the UK – but I don't know of any Australian firms that have that capability,” he said. “You need a big operation to feed enough work to make it worth doing.

“But also some of the Australian firms have seceded the ground to the LPOs.”

However, he suggested firms with internal providers could maintain greater control over the quality and consistency of the work produced than those using LPOs.

In the long term, he suggested clients may begin to stratify as those with large-scale or transnational needs seek out exclusively global firms and national firms struggle to accommodate such work.

Prior to launching the Belfast office, Ms Leydecker admitted some lawyers expressed concern that the firm would downsize as a result. However, she confirmed that has not been the case.

“It has created, in effect, more work overall because it is attractive to clients,” she said.

At the same time, she suggested lawyers in the Belfast office were given opportunities akin to lawyers in the larger HSF network, though their careers took a different path.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017


More globals bring outsourcing in from the cold
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...