For more than a decade now large U.S. law firms have experimented with and in some cases actively pursued the opportunity to outsource various middle office operations, including word processing. As a result, the outsourcing of word processing has been well proven as an option for law firms to achieve significant cost reduction without sacrificing quality, timeliness or responsiveness in service delivery. Indeed, outsourcing can help law firms improve coverage hours and even quality.
And yet, not with standing the intense pressure facing the legal industry to better manage its costs, many law firms today still resist the idea of outsourcing. Why? Perhaps it’s nothing more than another sign of the legal industry’s general aversion to innovation and change. Compared to other industries, including financial services, where top tier firms have successfully learned to manage many business critical functions in their middle office operations by integrating with onshore and offshore outsourced service providers, large law firms for the most part continue to pursue a Little Red Hen strategy of keeping all middle office functions in-house.
Yet in the last five years we’ve noticed a growing number of prominent law firms consolidate middle office functions into low cost service centers. Typically, word processing is one of the services firms perform in these centers. This kind of centralized in sourcing is an important first step in rationalizing a law firm’s business operations. Aside from cost savings and operational benefits, it also demonstrates the feasibility of outsourcing. Moving middle office operations shows that they can be just as effectively (or more effectively) be performed offsite as onsite, with no derogation in performance or quality.
And the business logic for in-sourced centralization of a law firm’s middle office operations is pretty much identical to the reason for outsourcing – the achievement of very substantial cost savings and operational benefits. The big difference is that with outsourcing – particularly when it’s offshore — the savings that can be realized are that much more significant. Cenza law firm customers find that moving work offshore reduces significantly reduces costs. Moreover, the offshore option provides better management of surge demand, easier staffing of US or UK overnight shifts, and added business continuity benefits.
Another difference is that implementation of an outsourced solution and all the attendant savings is available for a wider range of law firms, including regional and mid-size national firms, most of which would be unlikely to consider building a captive low cost service center. That’s because there’s considerable investment required, as well as effort and management skill, to build and run an effective low cost captive service center, which typically makes it only attractive to mega-firms with a deep bench of management talent and the budget to sustain a large upfront investment. But the even greater economic benefits that can be realized through outsourcing can actually be realized with much less difficulty and management effort; the key is to find the right outsourcing partner, a firm that is capable of understanding and adapting to each of its individual client’s operational needs.
Cenza has been the leading provider of outsourced word processing services for the legal industry, with more than 15 years of experience, meeting and exceeding the needs of the most demanding law firm clients. With our operations center based in Chennai India and our experienced management team, we have become a leading partner to top law firms. We welcome inquiries from law firms. We also welcome inquiries from service providers who work with law firms and who want to offer legal word processing services as a Cenza channel partner.