Guide to legal outsourcing: What solo lawyers and small firms should know

Guide to legal outsourcing: illustration of two lawyers talking

It’s no secret that lawyers are busy people. Writing briefs, communicating with clients, generating leads, conducting research, preparing for deposition, marketing services—an attorney’s list of tasks goes on and on. It’s no wonder 74% of US law firms feel as though they’re spending too much time on administrative tasks, as opposed to practicing law.

That’s where legal outsourcing comes in.

What is legal outsourcing, and why should you consider it?

Legal outsourcing means having someone else—typically another company or independent contractor—take on specific responsibilities for your firm.

If you’re new to legal outsourcing, you may be wondering what the process really entails and if it’s the right fit for your practice.

Is outsourcing worth the expense?

What are the pros and cons of outsourcing a function rather than hiring someone to manage it in-house?

What are the pros and cons of outsourcing a function rather than hiring someone to manage it in-house?

By delegating the right processes to the right contract attorneys, paralegals, paraprofessionals, and service providers, law firms can focus on what they do best: practicing law. Legal outsourcing for small law firms can be particularly transformative, enabling two- to 15-person teams and solo attorneys to serve clients at otherwise unachievable scales and speeds.

At a high level, legal outsourcing is a good idea when you need cost-effective expertise on demand. You can optimize processes such as marketing or client service, for instance, at a fraction of the cost of an employee’s salary. In many instances, it’s cheaper and more efficient for attorneys to outsource these kinds of tasks rather than hire additional staff.

Further benefits of legal outsourcing include:

  • Sustainable staffing—you don’t need to worry about training, turnover, or extended leaves.
  • 24/7 coverage—you can use outsourcing to ensure someone is handling key processes, such as client communication, during and beyond business hours.
  • Peace of mind and focus—you can rest assured qualified professionals are taking care of things that would otherwise distract you from your work.

How lawyers and law firms make use of legal outsourcing

Outsourcing is less established within the legal world as compared to other industries. But over the last few decades, lawyers have begun to see the value in delegating aspects of work that once seemed intrinsic to their roles.

Such activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Drafting agreements, motions, memos, and briefs
  • Filing motions and petitions
  • Editing and proofreading documents
  • Conducting discovery
  • Performing due diligence
  • Managing billing and payment
  • Growing a firm’s presence through marketing, advertising, and business development
  • Communicating with callers and website visitors

Often referred to as legal process outsourcing (LPO), the fragmentation of legal work and the availability of on-demand support has fueled growth for small firms that lack the resources of their Big Law counterparts. Indeed, many attorneys rely on outsourcing to stay in business. It’s no surprise the sector is poised for explosive growth in the 2020s.

Where to begin with legal outsourcing

As an attorney working within a small firm, perhaps you’re used to doing everything yourself and you’re not sure how to split your workflow into discrete tasks.

We don’t recommend outsourcing anything and everything all at once. To minimize complexity and make the transition a positive one for yourself, your firm, and the people you serve, start with those processes that have the greatest impact on your productivity at this very moment.

Losing billable hours to unexpected interruptions such as phone calls? Outsource those calls to a receptionist service.

Distracted by multiple caseloads, client needs, and administrative tasks better left to associate attorneys and paralegals? Look into a flexible staffing solution.

Ask yourself, what do you or your team spend too much time doing? What distracts the most from billable hours? If it’s not related to your core areas of focus, consider outsourcing it.

Learn more in the definitive guide to legal outsourcing for small firms.

This is just a brief overview of legal outsourcing. For more information, a complete look at benefits and drawbacks, and tips for getting started, check out Hire an Esquire and Ruby’s definitive guide.

Split into seven chapters, the guide covers:

  • What legal outsourcing is
  • How legal outsourcing works
  • Processes law firms should consider outsourcing
  • Pros and cons of legal outsourcing
  • Outsourcing and client experience
  • Outsourcing with contract attorneys
  • Getting started with legal outsourcing

Ruby partners with Hire an Esquire to offer a special on their legal staffing solutions. Ruby customers receive $50 OFF their first-month subscription.

Learn more here