Thursday, January 24, 2008

How can legal outsourcing help me?

"Outsourcing" has become a buzz word in business these days, unfortunately often associated with American jobs moving overseas. However, the strategic use of outsourcing in a business is a means of providing clients with both a high quality product or service at a low cost. Select the best widget maker, the best widget distributor, and the best widget marketer and run them as a team, rather than finding someone who can perform all three functions, but not as well. (Does your 4-in-one printer/fax/copier/scanner come to mind?)

Now change the context to a law firm. The task is to write an appellate brief in an important case. Does the firm assign the most experienced counsel who can crank out a flawless brief in 50 hours flat (billable at $350/hr) or assign the 1st year associate who will take 120 hours to write a not-as-flawless brief (billable at $200/hr)? The law firm has zero incentive to use the efficient, higher quality producer. Imagine what the client would think if he/she knew?

So, how does outsourcing help the law firm? By offering a higher quality product for its client for a lower cost, and by reducing overhead. Instead of using the experienced associate who has written 20 similar briefs before, the firm uses a freelance lawyer who has written 100+ and due to low overhead only charges a $14,000 flat fee for appellate briefs. Even with a markup by the law firm, the client is paying less for a superior product. The law firm is not paying for an office, salary, or benefits for the freelancer, thus lowering its overhead.

How does outsourcing help the freelancer? By allowing the freelancer to choose the work they do best and the work environment that best suits them, while still making a good living. Instead of getting a set salary and being expected to work 70-80 hours a week with no overtime, the freelancer chooses the type of projects they do best and most efficiently and charge accordingly. An experienced appellate brief writer can write one brief a month and make more than a $150,000 salaried associate working 80/hrs a week.

Are you ready to be efficient and progressive in your career and business?

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