Our recent post about outsourcing sparked some interesting debate about whether junior-level work will be shipped out of the country in the near future.
The commenters seemed to break into three camps: (1) you’re an idiot, outsourcing is already here; (2) you’re an idiot, ain’t nobody gonna take my job, USA, USA; and (3) you’re an idiot.
Fair enough on all counts. But wherever you stand on the issue it should be noted that people are trying to convince your partners to outsource, now.
Ron Friedmann of Integreon, a large legal process outsourcing firm, has written a treatise to convince firms to outsource the work most junior associates do for a living. He starts out talking in language managing partners love:
Until recently, firms emphasized revenue growth over cost reduction. They have merged, invested in marketing, added practice groups, and opened offices around the world. Now, however, with a recession likely, cost control is of growing interest.
Most people should know what “cost control” is code for. But let Friedmann do the double talk:
Outsourcing converts fixed costs to variable ones and avoids the need to borrow. Many law firms are under-capitalized. Partners may therefore want to avoid fixed commitments and to minimize borrowing. Similarly, law departments have small capital budgets and like to avoid locking in headcount. For both, outsourcing provides flexibility and avoids capital commitments.
Capital commitments? Like summer associate programs that offer rising 3Ls jobs over a year before they report to work? Great.
Friedmann tries to be funny, after the break.
I love it when people suggest that taking work away is a great thing for the people who have lost the work:
Allows lawyers to focus on their “highest and best use,” which is serving clients and winning new business. Eliminating managerial distractions from lawyers can let them bill more hours, thus boosting revenue.
I can’t count the number of “managerial distractions” I faced in Biglaw. If only there had been somebody offshore reviewing all of my documents for me, I could have focused on writing briefs and representing my clients in court, instead of having to rely on the good graces of the senior partners to pick up my slack.
Friedmann then goes on to list every single job he believes outsourced attorneys can perform, which is pretty much every single hour Biglaw associates bill. Doc review, due diligence, legal research, drafting contracts … all done more cost-effectively off-site or offshore.
There is one positive aspect to Friedmann’s report, Biglaw associates; he is still trying to sell it. While he uses all the buzzwords and pie charts that we expect managing partners would like to hear and see, outsourcing is still a commercial, not a reality.
At least for now.
Why and What Lawyers Should Consider Outsourcing [LLRX.com]
Earlier: Extinction Level Event: Outsourcing