Law Firm offshoring – what can be offshored and how to do it?

When considering whether to implement an offshoring plan for particular functions, it is important to bear a few things in mind. Firstly, plan for teething issues. It may be difficult to anticipate at the start where these issues will surface but if you plan for a level of difficulty and communicate this to all the key stakeholders, this will help a lot with both managing their expectations and ensuring that they remain patient while the issues are resolved.

Similarly, it is wise not to start with offshoring functions that are either client facing or are in direct support of you lawyers (such as WP). A better approach is to start with functions that report into your existing business support teams such as finance and marketing support, and focus on getting these roles up and running well. Once you have developed more confidence and understanding about how offshoring works and have also ironed out any initial issues you have, you can then look to continue the roll out of the strategy to include functions which directly support your lawyers and eventually functions which may also have a degree of client interaction.

The types of positions which have been successfully offshored by other firms include:

  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Business analyst
  • Credit manager
  • Book keeper
  • Payroll officer
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • SEO/SEM manager
  • Marketing assistant, including CRM database management
  • Word processing
  • Human Resource Administrator
  • Recruitment manager
  • Level 1 and 2 help desk support
  • Software developer
  • Mobile applications developer
  • Precedent co-ordinator
  • Legal research clerk
  • Virtual assistant

When implementing an offshoring plan it is important to get the internal communication and roll out plan right. Often, the major impediment to your offshoring plan is your local staff who might be threatened by the strategy.

Some things that can help with local staff engagement include:

  • Carefully selecting the managers who will oversee the initial offshore staff to ensure that actually want to make it work
  • Modifying the position descriptions for these managers to include the management of the offshoring function and also modifying their KPI’s to include the success of the offshore team
  • Communicating to the firm what your plan is for offshoring and how this will likely affect everyone
  • Loudly and visibly celebrating your initial offshoring successes
  • Rewarding your local managers, who are overseeing the offshore teams, once they are a success
  • Bringing some of your offshore staff to Australia to meet the local staff

With ongoing advances in technology geographic separation in the workplace is becoming less and less of an impediment to performance. This is opening up opportunities for law firms to utilise low cost highly skilled labour in developing countries and thereby significantly changing the cost structure for their business.

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