The Perfect Law Firm – Part 7

17 Nov 2014

If today’s law firm leaders could start again and rebuild the perfect the law firm, what would they do differently? The Lawyer asked several of today’s biggest legal names this very question and this is a summary of what they said…

How far could the 21st century law firm push the outsourcing model?

Guy Hinchley (managing partner and Mills and Reeve) – “In theory there should be no limits but there must be a point where the identity of the firm or brand is lost.”

Simon Beswick (managing partner and CEO at Osborne Clarke) – “more services are likely to be outsourced in future but most firms are likely to keep those areas which provide them with competitive advantage in-house.”

Simon Davies (managing partner at Linklaters) – “Outsourced arrangements need to uphold the highest standards of quality and service.”

Richard Masters (head of client operations Pinsent Masons) – “Innovation will really always be about responding to client demand.”

John Scorah (managing partner at Weightmans) – “It is absolutely imperative that the business support is aligned with the business in every way. Outsourcing all of it creates real challenges with such an alignment.”

Chris Saul (Senior Partner Slaughter and May) – “It would not be true to say that everything can be outsourced… any outsourcing needs to be handled with care.”

Susan Bright (London managing partner of Hogan Lovells) – “No it certainly couldn’t. Law firms are sophisticated organisations.”


According to Guy Hinchley, there should be no limits to the outsourcing model. However, there is a point where a firms identity and brand becomes lost. He is right.

The opportunity is to take one of 2 views of outsourcing:

  • Outsource anything which is not a core activity of the business
  • Outsource anything which the Clients do not directly see or touch

Either approach would allow you to outsource huge chunks without affecting the DNA of the firm and what it delivers to customers.

Outsourcing is not easy, as most of the leaders correctly recognise, but it can create a lot of flexibility and cost saving if done well.

Outsourcing is not for everyone but Susan Bright is wrong if she thinks that sophisticated organisations could not or should not consider it.

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Part 8 is also related to business services and support. In the future, which parts of business services will be genuinely on a par with partners and why?