The world is flat: off shoring your law firm

Date: 01 Feb 2008


Ian Prince was a former IT director at JP Morgan and Deutsche bank before deciding at forty five to set up his own consultancy: Prince OMC. The OMC doesn’t stand for anything but was a way to set the company apart on web searches.

Prince OMC is a strategic consultancy dealing with off shoring or outsourcing projects for banks and law firms (captive or non captive). Their notable deal in the legal sector was with Philip Rooke, Head of IT at CMS Cameron McKenna, who earlier this year signed a deal worth £10million for a five year contract to outsource a number of areas (data centre support, network, security and managed desktop services and application development, support and management) to a company called HCL who have offices in London and Chennai, India. Cameron McKenna now employ forty staff using this method.

Philip Rooke was unavailable for comment, because of a trip to India, but says this move resulted in twenty staff being made redundant and ten moving to work for HCL. A more flexible and skilled work force along with cost saving were said to be behind the deal. This undoubtedly was a tough people decision for Philip Rooke, as it would be for you, but for CMS Cameron McKenna it was a no brainer: reduced costs means more profits at a time when benchmarks include embarrassing profit per partner articles in publications like Legal Business if profits are down.

Ian says he gathered experience of the offshoring model when at JP Morgan. “JP Morgan acquired shares in a bank called ICICI in India, then later took them over.” Ian agrees that there are problems in dealing with out sourcing abroad. “Mainly it’s cultural.” He says. “The British over assume and Indians oversell. It means you need to take this into account before signing any contract.” Despite this he says the off shoring model is proven and effective particularly for IT/application support, business processes, knowledge process outsourcing and legal research.

Jack Diggle also works at Prince OMC and has a similarly impressive background spending time at ABN AMRO and Goldman Sachs outsourcing middle and back office functions to organisations like the Bank of New York. He says that time in Africa in his teenage years also planted a seed of interest in outsourcing. “ABN AMRO have been in the top ten percent for using this model.” He says. Eastern Europe is now rising up to compete with India for this work which Jack says suits different clients for different reasons. He also adds that different jurisdictions are best for particular expertise: “Russia is good for programmers and the Philippines for accountants because of the educational focus in the regions.”

I wonder about reputational damage, which is becoming an increasing problem as the media ‘bust’ organisations on a daily basis for un-ethical practice in other counties. Ian is quick to dismiss this as a problem. “Depending on the type of work we undertake which could be setting up another arm of your law firm in India or attaching an outsource company to your law firm, both have involvement with HR and best practices for employees and employee rights are in place. He adds that data protection requirements are also inbuilt in their strategy.”

Jack adds a comment. “Where we see this benefiting law firms is in taking on more work than they’ve previously been able to deal with and in retaining experienced staff. If you have good staff doing basic work, they aren’t going to stay.” Ian adds a further comment: “Firms can ramp up and ramp down depending on work flows.”
In terms of who this model works for, Ian suggests that Magic Circle benefit most but that law firms with around a thousand staff will also discover practical uses. “Firms will save circa thirty percent on their wage bill but other cost reductions will also arise naturally.” But to illustrate that this method can work for everyone he also mentions a US law firm with just seventy staff who successfully implemented an outsource strategy for one part of their legal process.

The top five reasons you should think about using Prince OMC:

Specialist in law firms following the CMS Cameron McKenna deal

Prince OMC bring experience of thirty years from global institutions and “can move quickly.”

Breadth of offering: IT, BPM, LPO (Legal process outsourcing) and KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) as third party and on or off shore

De risking. “We have done the research and take the risk out of this model.”

A solid relationship with the managers at companies they use abroad.

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