by Stephen Cole
As legal markets continue to shift, outsourcing can provide some stability.
We’ve all felt the changes within the market for legal services. Staffing models are substantially different from a decade ago, and mergers and acquisitions continue to disrupt operations. Still, what is most common across all firm sizes and geographies is the need to deliver more client value with fewer resources.
According to the 2016 Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery and Middle Office Survey, 70 percent of law firms outsource a portion of their back office; 45 percent consider outsourcing more middle office functions. It’s clear that outsourcing is one of the tools firms are leveraging to succeed in the new legal market. When executed correctly, it can be an excellent management tool to increase service levels, broaden talent and manage costs.
In fact, these were some of the persuasive reasons behind Am Law 100 firm Fox Rothschild’s decision to outsource. “The value of outsourcing then and now is the flexibility and continuous level of service and expertise it provides our firm,” says Suzanne Homel, Senior Director of Administrative Services for Fox Rothschild, LLP. “Law firms have very specific back-of-the house needs, and in the absence of cross-training investments, if one or two in-house staff were to call out sick, this could put our attorneys in a bind. The decision to outsource was to enable continuous, skilled and flexible service to our attorneys and, therefore, our clients.”
When Sandberg Phoenix was looking to outsource, it also came back to the clients. “I look at the firm’s operations as having two clients — internal and external,” says Jeffrey Feltz, Director of Finance and Facilities. “The goal is always to provide better service to clients; however, often the way to achieve that is through providing important efficiencies to the internal clients, i.e. the firm’s attorneys. With outsourcing, we were looking to gain efficiencies for the firm that could help drive more value into certain key support roles. For instance, by removing copier tasks from our legal secretaries, they could provide more valuable support to the firm’s attorneys.”