On Legal Outsourcing: Should My Firm Outsource its Legal Case Files to Other Lawyers?
This is a question that is making the rounds in legal circles around the world lately. Many firms have questions about their case files which keeps on piling and piling upon each other, with few associates to work on them. In other words, they are all overworked and need solutions. Fast.
KUA LP is a commercial business advisory law firm in Lagos. It keeps getting newer clients by the day because of its excellent legal services. It has seven lawyers, two paralegals, a secretary, and other miscellaneous staff. However, even though it is getting bigger clients who are in need of swift, top-notch legal service, the lawyers of the firm are thoroughly overworked because of the amount of files they have to handle. They know they need more lawyers, but they cannot afford to start expanding their space to accommodate newer lawyers. They come to work very early in the morning and leave very late, yet they are unable to handle all their daily tasks. Some are furious with the senior partner, thinking of quitting. They are not getting enough time with their families; they are not taking care of themselves and spending time with their families even though they make loads of money. What should they do?
The aforementioned scenario encapsulates the dilemma many busy law firms find themselves in. There are more work than there are lawyers on hand to do the work. They are groaning under the weight of work needed to be done. They are burning out. And in case you don’t know the terrible effects of burnout, kindly check out articles about professional burnout and the type of terrible problems it can bring for people.
Still, it boils down to this question: WHAT CAN THEY DO?
Legal outsourcing may be the solution that can save their time and their lawyers from going out of their minds. Law firms may get a lot of work to do but have little manpower to do so. They may also not have enough funds to think of expansion. They groan under the weight of their work. So, the solution would be to outsource the legal work. Free themselves of the drudgery of having to do a lot of the work themselves, thus leaving them free to handle the ones that truly needs their attention.
There are many lawyers living across Nigeria, some with extraordinary skill sets, who are either unemployed, or seriously underemployed in firms that use their time and pay them peanuts. Some of the lawyers sit around the office with little or nothing to do. They want to be stimulated intellectually; they want to be challenged. However, they do not find avenues that can challenge them fully.
In the foregoing, I have highlighted the two groups that legal outsourcing work can easily benefit: overworked law firms and under-worked lawyers seeking for more opportunities.
The solution is to bring these two sets together.
The law firms doesn’t have to hire those lawyers they are outsourcing their legal work to. They are merely engaging them on short, contractual, work-by-work basis. They get paid by their clients, forward the work to intellectually deserving lawyers, pay those lawyers perhaps a fraction of what the clients pay in return for great legal work, and the finished product is forwarded to the client. That way, law firms are free to do their normal work, get more clients and make great turnaround time on the briefs they handle, while not compromising on the quality of work done and the health of the firm’s practitioners. They also expand their circles and give other lawyers that opportunity to expand.
What if I give the files to this lawyer and he absconds with it? What if they try to snatch my client away? What if they ?????? The what-ifs are much, agreed.
SOLUTION TO THE POSSIBLE PROBLEMS
You can always protect yourself. Besides that, it would be stupid for a lawyer handling a file on an outsourced basis to try to take a client. After all, the client belongs to the firm and had hired the firm to do its work because of the trust placed on the firm. Not only that, there is a saying that you do not shit where you eat. Since these outsourcing contracts can potentially lead to the financial stability of the contract lawyer, it would be crazy for such a lawyer to try anything funny. Also, it is unprofessional.
Finally, the law firms can create a watertight contract of engagement agreement and throw in terms that will protect the firm against unnecessary competition by throwing in non-compete clauses and other protective shields. I have done this myself.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Law firms may get a lot of work, but instead of overworking associates, legal outsourcing may be the stunning solution. That way, the law firm does great work fast through its contract lawyers and still retain the confidence of the clients. The partners and the associates can also have some personal me-time on their hands to attend to other matters and pressing issues without having to groan because of the work of demanding clients that want their work done at the speed of light.
Isn’t this a great working solution for lawyers and legal service providers in Nigeria? Wouldn’t it be great for lawyers to be able to work in collaboration with other lawyers who may desperately need to be stimulated by certain work?
© by Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani L.P. All Rights Reserved. This article is meant for personal/academic purposes, not commercial use by the readers.
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Published by Ugochukwu Kingsley Ani