The UK legal profession is a £30bn outsourcing success story. Of course, it doesn’t see itself this way; it still views itself as a profession and indeed it is, but the reason law firms exist at all is because most organisations choose to devolve the management of their legal affairs to specialists.
Legal compliance is not core to the primary purpose of most organisations. Yes it is critical, but it is peripheral to the main reason they exist. So, how curious it is that an industry called legal process outsourcing (LPO) is now growing up around the existing legal services market. Apparently it is ‘new’. Even private practice lawyers treat it as something different. But the irony is that clients have been outsourcing their legal processes to law firms for hundreds of years.
The difference lies in that word process. What LPO providers have done is to ‘de-skill’ (re-engineer, streamline and process map) some of the more routine legal processes delivering a range of benefits to their clients.
It is much the same with business process outsourcing (BPO). Many law firms have already discovered the considerable benefits, both financial and service, of BPO by outsourcing non-core business support services including secretarial, print, mail, front of house, records management and procurement, to providers that specialise in those areas of a law firm’s operation.
However, there remains a commonly held misconception among some law firms that they need to get their house in order before they outsource any of these services.