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New Survey Finds Untapped Potentials for Law Firm Cost Savings in 2014

A new survey on "Trends and Opportunities in Law Firm Outsourcing" has marked a greater inclination for nearshoring and centralization of back office functions, and outlined untapped potentials for cost savings based on data from law firms already successful in implementing better practices. The survey, in its second year, is commissioned by Williams Lea and conducted by Sandpiper Partners LLC.

The survey focuses on four key areas: respondent demographics (firm size and location, job function), current situation and outlook, people and process, and outsourcing.

Lynn Glasser, President of Sandpiper Partners LLC informed that the survey aims at helping law firms better understand their options to increase back office efficiency and the steps taken by peers to keep profits and service levels high. "Insight into how other law firms are managing back office costs, firm expectations around cost and budget increases in 2014 and support areas that are most impacted by cost reduction initiatives will help law firms better understand their options to increase back office savings levels and efficiency," he said.

Aurora Coya, Global Chief Executive Officer of Williams Lea said, "We commissioned this study to help provide a framework for managing the changes firms are facing as they try to adapt to a challenging and relentless cost reduction environment." In addition, he informed, "We already see the impact of growing administrative outsourcing trends -- our onshore support center in Wheeling, WV grew more than 30 percent in the last 18 months alone."

This survey of large law firms in the US and UK focuses on the current landscape for back office and support services for law firm leaders and administrators. It takes into account factors impacting the cost and provision of these services, and 78 percent of the respondents to the survey hold senior executive roles in law firms like COO, Executive Director and CFO.

Some of the key survey findings show that respondents see outsourcing as an effective way to deliver quality legal services at lower costs. While firms are already outsourcing in select areas, there is untapped potential for cost savings and process improvements through outsourcing areas of back office and administrative functions such as document processing and secretarial support. Law firm clients are looking for their firms to operate more efficiently and to leverage models that have proven effective in corporate structures. Those are the target areas for outsourcing in 2014, according to 31 percent of survey respondents.

The survey found that in 2013, nearly 80 percent of the law firms surveyed faced the challenge of reducing service costs, and the most common methods used were reduction of workforce, increased use of technology and improvement of processes and procedures. Most firms wanted to reach a target secretary-to-attorney ratio of 1:4 and about 37 percent of surveyed firms have already achieved that goal.

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