There are many reasons for outsourcing, no matter what the industry.
Costs, efficiencies, external expertise or scaling are but some of the reasons.
In the legal industry, the outsourcing of non-legal services is the main area where law firms encounter outsourcing. Lawyers are in the business of the practice of law, which is the provision of legal services. They are not, nor should they be involved in providing non-legal services, alongside or within their law firm.
E-discovery and litigation support are non-legal services.
There is nothing, for example, in the collection, processing hosting or application of analytics on electronic data which could fall under the definition of provision of legal services. Likewise, printing or electronically producing documents is clearly a non-legal service, and whilst bulk photocopying and printing have traditionally been serviced by law firms in-house the actual cost of providing a fully serviced 24 hour a day print room may not, in fact, be justified. Certainly, clients may baulk at a law firm seeking to turn non-legal services into a profit centre.
Outsourcing should be a serious consideration for Electronic Data Discovery (EDD).
- The technical aspects of EDD are not straightforward and if not done correctly to the necessary level of skill then problems are likely to arise. EDD providers invest heavily in software, hardware and technical training, enabling them to provide the most up-to-date services and to easily deal with any technical issues.
- Providing a bespoke EDD offering from within a law firm, out of necessity, means a capital cost which is spread across all its clients whether or not they directly benefit from these services. Outsourcing means that the costs of EDD are matter specific and will avail access to the latest technology without any limitations of the in-house resources in place at the law firm.
- Risk mitigation is an important issue. Non-legal services, such as EDD, can be extremely complex and expose litigation support departments to scenarios that are out of their core competency. The additional responsibility of holding, storing and backing up growing terabytes of client data can escalate these risks. Errors in the provision of non-legal services may not be covered by a law firm’s professional indemnity insurance.
Approaching outsourcing in the correct way, especially as regards EDD, will provide not just cost savings and efficiencies but also safeguards with regards to risk mitigation and having the latest technology available for clients.