The ins and outs of insourcing legal work

More and more, firms are insourcing their legal work to satellite offices as near as Halifax and as far away as Manila.
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This fall, Torys is launching a “legal services centre” in Halifax, where a team of six lawyers will support files — by performing document review and writing contracts — from Toronto at reduced rates on fixed fees, says Chris Fowles, a Torys partner who’s moving to Halifax to oversee the new location. Lawyers in Halifax will charge clients less money than their Toronto counterparts, he says, because of the cheaper overhead in Atlantic Canada, plus they’ll be using technology to be more efficient. And, by keeping the office in the country, rather than moving abroad, Fowles says the firm can keep a close watch on the quality of the work.

Meanwhile, global behemoth Baker & McKenzie has built an insourcing empire — with a flagship office in Manila that employs more than 500 secretaries, translators, marketing and financial analysts, staff lawyers and support staff. Kevin Coon, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie in Canada, admits that a Halifax office would have its benefits — it’s a short flight from Toronto and the lawyers would likely be from known Canadian law schools.

But, in his experience, sending work — which could be almost anything, including document review of entire files — to a staff lawyer in the Philippines or to an associate down the hall presents the same problem: “I still have to check the quality of that work before I send it to a client.” When it comes to quality control, he argues, the location of the lawyer is irrelevant.

For more on how to make your firm more efficient, read our roundtable, where six big-name lawyers gave us their take on how to make law better.

Icon by Isabel Foo