An interesting recent blog post from Kerry Underwood discusses offshoring legal work.
He admits to a direct interest in this issue as Underwoods Solicitors offshore some of their work through their South African office and other firms have used this facility.
He also suggests:
“The same is true in relation to costs lawyers: why is it necessary to prepare a bill of costs here when it could be prepared for a fraction of that cost abroad?”
If memory serves me right, a few years ago a costs firm did outsource much of their work to Pakistan. It did not go well and the firm is no longer trading.
Of course, one example of offshoring not working is not evidence the theory is flawed. However, I believe part of the problem stemmed from the fact that the overseas costs draftsmen did not have access to the full files of papers. In theory, the relevant papers were meant to be scanned and sent over, but this no doubt proved impractical for larger matters.
Therein lies the problem so far as costs work is concerned. The majority of solicitor firms’ files are still, at least in part, paper based. Access to all relevant documents is essential to properly prepare a bill of costs. Unless, and until, firms move over to fully paperless offices it is unlikely outsourcing of costs work will catch on. By that stage, most cases will be subject to fixed fees in any event and the economies that might be achieved by offshoring volume costs work will no longer be available. There is likely to be limited demand for offshoring a relatively small number of higher value (and thus more important) costs matters.