Outsourcing for conveyancers

How can you be sure that you are not spending too much time and money on the routine tasks and activities needed to run your law firm?

Working smarter: it’s a phrase we are hearing more and more now but how do you do that in a law firm? How do you free up sufficient resources to ensure your law firm will remain fit for tomorrow’s challenges?

There is rising pressure to deliver both an effective and efficient service in an increasingly unstable industry and it’s a tough balance.

Outsourcing your back office functions can help you deliver both what your client wants and radically improves the performance of daily operations at a much lower cost, creating a greater ability to respond to the constant changes faced by law firms today.

More and more firms are aware of outsourcing now and you can outsource anything from revenue collection to complex case handling, from payments processing to regulatory compliance. It is also becoming clear that this avenue is no longer restricted to larger firms.

Secretaries are the third biggest cost after associate salaries and few firms have fundamentally re-thought the role of secretaries, even though the ratio has fallen.

Using an outsourced, shared services model could not only save you money but potentially time as well when compared to traditional secretarial staffing, offering you an operational advantage and an opportunity to deploy your in-house secretaries in new ways.

You do, however, still need to consider your regulatory obligations:

When the SRA introduced outcomes focused regulation in October 2011 they provided much more information relating to outsourcing than has ever been made available before. The SRA does not give a definition of outsourcing but an indication in the ‘Outcomes-focused regulation at a glance’ quick guide refers to firms who make use of third parties to carry out any work.

The ten mandatory principles contained within the SRA Handbook apply to anyone who is regulated by the SRA and the Code of Conduct 2011. There are some specific elements which are especially relevant to outsourcing. For example:

SRA Principles

Principle 5

Provide a proper standard of service to your clients.

Principle 7

Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner.

Principle 8

Run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles.

SRA Code of Conduct 2011

Chapter 4

Confidentiality and disclosure.

Chapter 7

Management of your business (two outcomes make specific reference to outsourcing).

Whilst the SRA Handbook advises that a practice has much greater freedom in the way that services are offered, by outsourcing functions, this does not mean that the firm’s responsibility to both compliance and regulatory requirements becomes nullified.

Risk assessment and following good practice will ensure that firms can outsource secretarial tasks and still maintain regulatory and compliance requirements.

Rachel MacLeod, who founded Pencil Case, a virtual legal secretarial service, comments:

“Working with law firms gives us first-hand knowledge and experience of the daily challenges that legal professionals face. One example is when a department suddenly expands at a rapid rate. This leads to an increased backlog of work and increases pressure on fee earners and support staff and, although a decision to outsource dictation within departments will inevitably lead to resistance, if staff are consulted on the process and involved in bringing in the changes that will make their life easier it can eliminate fears, making them feel less like changes are being forced on them. Outsourcing can then be seen as support rather than as a threat.

Whether you need support for an in-house team, a fully outsourced secretarial service or just business continuity, experience for yourself the value Pencil Case will bring to your business.

We can help you work smarter.” Rachel MacLeod, Pencil Case

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