Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Wishes

We would like to wish all of our readers a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. Thank you for your contributions to this blog and the support you’ve given in the past year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Temerity in the Face of Turbulence

In a recent newsletter Andrew Hedley, founder of the UK legal strategy consultancy Hedley Consulting, discusses changes set to impact the legal market in the UK (US legal firms are also facing similar pressures). One of the core changes, emanating from the cost pressure on law firms, will be in the law firm structure with the most apposite change being the “significant acceleration in the use of legal process outsourcing for increasingly complex work.”

Hedley’ piece is posted in full below.

"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic."
-Peter Drucker

The legal sector faces a number of unprecedented challenges in the year ahead. The one with potential to disrupt most widely and deeply is a wholesale move to fixed-fee pricing. Surveys of in-house counsel show that they are resolute in demanding fundamental change over the next twelve months.

Delivering profit from fixed-fee work requires wholesale changes to historic operating models and has far reaching implications.

One inevitable consequence will be the demise of associate lockstep, the process by which salary (and hourly rate) increases are pegged to years of qualification rather than any objective measure of increased ability to add value for the client. Another will be a significant acceleration in the use of legal process outsourcing for increasingly complex work.

An emphasis on better management skills will also be necessary as firms disaggregate the legal process, undertake individual work components at the lowest price point and then reassemble the “legal product” at its point of delivery to the client.

The effect on firm culture, talent management and the psychological contract between partner and associate will be hugely significant. However, these are nettles which must be grasped to emerge from the recession with businesses that are viable in the longer term.

Simply hoping that one can hold out long enough for better times to return is not a strategy. Temerity in the face of turbulence is unlikely to deliver the desired result!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Than Labor

Outsourcing is more than a cost play or exploiting labor arbitrage. Other very important sources of value to law firms and corporate legal teams are scalability and more on-demand services models.

These strategies allow firms to better allocate firm resources, particularly in volatile times such as today when workloads are highly variable and litigation pipelines are uncertain. What this means is that not all work has to be performed offshore or even very far out of the office to achieve significant savings and strategic advantages.

As these implications are coming together, firms are seeking to explore onshore shared service delivery models that reflect these growing needs for on-demand service offerings. Shared service delivery models include common resources and services that are shared with 2 or more firms. Thus avoiding duplication of non-core, non-differentiating services at a number of separate firms.

In the UK, the shared service model is picking up steam with announcements this past week by several large law firms that they are outsourcing their library services using a shared delivery model.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cyclical Nature of the Economy

We have also been proponents of the cyclical nature of our increasingly globalized economy. This week, Crain’s Chicago Business featured an article on the growing number of US immigrants “energizing” the US economy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ten For 2010: Trending Projections Recognition by the American Bar Association

The Ten For 2010: Top Ten Trends in Legal Outsourcing released last week was recently picked up by the ABA Journal and was one of the top 10 most read articles for the week.

What seems to have caught the interest of many US legal professionals is the idea of the increasingly attractive career path for outsourced legal services. Global-minded and entrepreneurial legal professionals are finding the legal outsourcing sector an attractive alternative to the big law lifestyle. This is not a major portion of the legal workforce, but it is an emerging demographic that we see growing further in the coming year.

An interesting dialogue was also started on the message board below the article. While we do not find that all issues raised in the discussion are of merit, they are still issues and opinions that need to be addressed when engaging in outsourced legal solutions. Some posts to check out include: 21, 22, 27, 36 and 37.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Year, New Trends: Fronterion Ten for 2010

Since the new year is nearly upon us, we are proud to announce the release of Ten For 2010: Top Ten Trends in Legal Outsourcing – an insider’s perspective of changing industry dynamics for the coming year.

The Ten For 2010 trends report highlights a number of changes set to occur in the industry this year. The most notable of these include:

+ India will remain the dominant destination for outsourced legal services, but increasing interest in South Africa will make it India’s leading competitor for legal outsourcing in 2010.

+ The rise of LPO as an attractive alternative career path for legal professionals as pay and prestige increase.

+ Increased transparency around the LPO industry including the possibility of additional ethical guidance from industry bodies such as the American Bar Association.

+ A shift in the role of the lawyer from providing pure legal advice to managing the procuring of a number of different legal functions both within and outside the traditional law firm structure.

As noted in the release, we feel, “The year 2010 will be an exciting and watershed year for outsourced legal services. The economic volatility over the past year has caused legal professionals to step back and genuinely assess how they are providing and procuring legal services for their organizations. In 2010, legal outsourcing will be an increasingly important factor in these decisions.”

More information is available on our website and at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

South African Seminar

As noted in some of our previous blog posts, the recent release of our publication entitled Implementing a Successful Legal Outsourcing Engagement has been well received.

This week, I (Michael Bell, managing partner of Fronterion) presented the increasingly recognized book to the High Commissioner of South Africa during a legal outsourcing seminar hosted at the South Africa House on Trafalgar Square in London.

The event was well attended and included presentations by the High Commissioner as well as other leaders in legal outsourcing organizations based in South Africa. Speakers included representatives of several organizations that were featured in the book such as Exigent and Underwood Solicitors.