Outsourcing of legal processes is well underway in Australia, with small to mid-tier firms the most vocal proponents of its cost saving and efficiency advantages.
International LPO provider Exigent, who lists amongst its UK clients Pinsent Mason, Eversheds and Lovells, has taken a softly, softly approach in the Australian market, but has now built up an impressive client list which includes Herbert Geer, Lavan Legal and Swaab Attorneys.
However, not all of Exigent's Aussie clients are ready to go public. Sensitivity about the outsourcing issue is most apparent in the top tier, and one of three directors of Exigent, Nicola Stott, said that a "Big Six" firm in Australia did not want to be named publicly as a client.
Swaab Attorneys CEO Bronwyn Pott said the firm's foray into outsourcing arose purely out of need, but has since developed into a long-term flexible resourcing strategy.
"We had 1.5 WPOs but the work was very 'lumpy' and it was difficult to resource the function without an awful lot of flexibility on behalf of the operators ... paying for a service on a 'pickup / putdown' basis had a lot of appeal," she said.
Lavan Legal managing partner Greg Gaunt doesn't see any significant cost benefit in outsourcing legal document production and proofreading to Exigent, but he believed the service provided is often of a higher standard than is produced internally.
"Cost isn't the prime determinant for us. It's that other advantage that you can get it done out of hours and you can get it done with pretty good accuracy," he said.
Herber Geer managing partner Bill Fazio credited the 24-hour capability of external providers as the main driver for his firms' decision to outsource.
"We're excited by the potential to have this kind of as on call available support and also the fact that's it's available 24-7 does make sense for a business of our size that can't justify having those resources at 24-7 ourselves," he said.
"It is early days - we've had some successes and some glitches but that would be expected."
For an in-depth look at the IPO outsourcing experiences of Australian law firms, click here to read the feature article from our Best Practice supplement.