Australia is fast becoming a prime location for legal process outsourcing (LPO), according to a local LPO provider, with UK firms increasingly looking to send their work to our shores.
Nicola Stott, a director of Exigent, says her business - which provides back office legal-related work to law firms from Rockingham, Western Australia - has quadrupled over the last 18 months.
With UK firms like Eversheds and Linklaters already outsourcing to our shores, as well as Exigent's second base in Cape Town, South Africa, Stott is preparing to significantly grow the Rockingham base to cope with an expected further increase in demand.
"In the last four weeks, two of the top 15 [UK] firms have started doing due diligence [to use Exigent services] down here," Stott told Lawyers Weekly.
Stott added that interest in Exigent from Australian law firms is also increasing.
"Australian firms have taken longer to embrace LPO," she said.
"But we currently have proposals out to 12 of the top 20 law firms."
Already, Exigent is working with Australian clients like Swaab Attorneys, Lavan Legal and Herbert Geer to assist with general legal-secretarial type duties.
Not all clients, however, wish to be publicly recognised as retaining the services of an LPO provider - especially given that the move to outsourcing is often aligned with downsizing.
At Eversheds, for example, entering outsourcing arrangements with Exigent resulted in the loss of up to 100 support jobs. Stott notes that this was a strategic move for the firm that not only saved 2 million pounds, but also allowed the firm to enable 24-hour back office support.
Stott noted that in Australia, local firms are more willing to commit to outsourcing if the work can be kept on our shores. "That way all the jobs are for Australians, and there's the same time-zone, same culture," she said.
And locally, Stott said she has not seen blatant job cutting occur as a result of taking up Exigent services, but rather jobs not being replaced when staff leave.