Outsourcing Series, Part 1: When Does Outsourcing Make Sense?


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Outsourcing legal work has become a good option for many attorneys. It provides a way to get the help you need so you don’t have to work harder, just smarter. Outsourcing can be the right answer for you if your billable hours have increased enough that you are feeling the stress, you are turning away clients, clients are complaining because of delays, your family is complaining because you don’t have time for them, or an issue arises that is outside of your expertise.

In this 3-part series, we’ll explore 1) what outsourcing can do for you, 2) what tasks are suitable for outsourcing, and 3) how to find contract legal help.

Outsourcing is generally used to handle an occasional job on a project-by-project basis. It can also be used to see whether or not it makes sense to hire another person for your firm.

What can you expect from outsourcing?

Here are 6 benefits:

  1. Better service to your clients. You will be able to spend more time on the issues you choose, while handing off other tasks to someone else. Your clients won’t notice the difference because the transfer of work should be seamless, and the result should be as good as what you would have delivered.
  2. More money in your pockets. If you’ve had to turn down new clients or cases because you have too much on your plate, you are turning down profit potential. Or if you’ve agreed to take a case at a flat fee and the case is going to take more hours than you originally estimated, your hourly rate will effectively go down. Hiring someone on an “as needed” basis will allow you to get your work done at a reasonable cost, and accept new work that you want.
  3. Less stress. Think of the long hours, looming deadlines, uncooperative opposing counsel, difficult clients, and missed family time. If that raises your blood pressure, outsourcing may be the relief you need.
  4. More flexibility in your schedule. Sometimes scheduling conflicts are inevitable. If there is no one available to step in and help you, and/or it doesn’t make sense to hire another associate or other staff, a contract attorney is the way to go.
  5. Reduced risk of a malpractice claim. When you have too much on your plate, something could easily fall through the cracks or get less attention than it requires. Many bar complaints arise out of missing deadlines, so instead of trying to find time to work on a case, find someone you can depend on to keep you on track.
  6. Career satisfaction. Have you ever felt like giving up your practice because the work is overwhelming, boring and routine, or taking too much time from the things that are most important to you? Hiring someone to take the work that is time-consuming or that you don’t enjoy doing can rejuvenate your passion for your career.

Some lawyers have a difficult time asking for help. But outsourcing isn’t a sign of weakness. Rather, it is adding strength to your practice. It is a way to be flexible with your staffing needs, and is a low-risk, low-cost way to handle your work. Give it a try the next time you’re scratching your head, wondering how it’s all going to get done!

More in this Series: Outsourcing 101


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  • I’m not really into Legal Process Outsourcing but I would love to know how safe it is to engage in this. Yes, it will definitely save costs than hiring local talents, but what about security of confidential data? Is there a special contract that one should consider – on top of everything else. But I agree with you: Outsourcing definitely means less stress — if precautions are taken to minimize costly mistakes.

  • Dear Ajeva,

    Thanks for your question. To answer it, I reached out to my friend, Laurie Rowen, co-owner and founder of Montage Legal Group (http://montagelegal.com) who has built a whole practice around providing contracted legal services. I knew she would be a great person to provide insights. Here’s what she had to say in response to your question:

    “One of the biggest mistakes attorneys make in outsourcing is not having a signed contract prior to the start of the first project. Both the hiring firm and the freelance attorney should demand a contract to protect their interests, and should make sure to include clauses concerning the protection of confidential data, whether the freelance attorney is covered by malpractice insurance, a confirmation that the freelance attorney is an independent contractor not an employee, ethical issues like conflicts of interest, and issues concerning rates and payment. For example, will the firm only pay the freelance attorney after the ultimate client pays (which could take many months), or will the firm pay the freelance attorney on a monthly basis, even if the ultimate client never pays their bills? All of this should be discussed and memorialized prior to the start of the relationship. Using freelance attorneys is an excellent way to keep costs down and reduce stress, but good communication and a good contract is essential.”

    Thanks again for your question, and I’m grateful to Laurie for elucidating the foundational pieces of building a solid relationship with a contracted attorney.

    Also — here’s a link to an ABA Journal article on the growing popularity of contract attorney relationships that Laurie shared on her blog at http://www.montagelegalblog.com: http://snipurl.com/zxb21

  • Good points, Kendra, which I think can be extended to include law firms and service providers who are (should be?) considering outsourcing. And Laurie’s “contract” advice is critical. Are you familiar with sources for samples of such contracts both for attorney services and other service providers (to law firms and attorneys)? Thanks!