Outsourcing - The New Trend in the Conveyancing Industry

The usage "outsourcing to India" has been familiar to the legal market since 1995. Outsourcing work to India started when a US Litigation firm began to outsource various types of work to lawyers in India. Since then, numerous law firms in the US & UK have outsourced various types of work to lawyers in India. For the conveyancing sector, it was only during the recession period that a few major players started to think about outsourcing as an essential ingredient for their success.

If we look closely into two eras of the conveyancing sector - pre-recession & post-recession, during pre-recession the number of mergers was quite low. But if the same factor is considered in the post-recession period the merger rate increased rapidly. The reasons for this were the fall in the volume of work, expensive staff costs, increased insurance premiums and difficulties in remaining on the panel of major lenders. In this scenario, as a cost cut down strategy, many opted for outsourcing as a necessity for their business development.

There are many benefits to Outsourcing. Conveyancing firms can reduce their in-house costs and get more flexibility in price fixation, which in turn can convert them into volume conveyancers. Management can optimise its work force more effectively and can utilise their in-house team for more complex areas of the process. Case workers will have the capacity to handle more files, which will increase the profit margin. Today, outsourcing has become an important factor in the business plans of the larger conveyancing firms in the UK. Conveyancing firms generally will come to understand that adoption of outsourcing will enable them to be more far more competitive.

While outsourcing, conveyancing firms should comply with the rules and regulations SRA and CLC. As per the SRA Handbook, a conveyancing firm should assess the risks involved in relation to confidentiality, security and Quality of Service. It's the responsibility of a conveyancing firm to check whether the outsourcing firm have adequate certification and systems (such as ISO and ISMS) to ensure information is kept confidential and secured. Also need to ensure the outsourcing firm has sufficient professional indemnity insurance to cover any loss.

There are actually two methods of outsourcing: On-shore and Off-shore. The most popular offshoring destinations are China, Israel, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India. Out of which India stands slightly above others when considering various factors. A recent study signifies that 75% of UK law firms considered India as their outsourcing partner destination due to the following reasons:

  1. Fluency in English and familiarity with the common law system in UK
  2. Best in infrastructure and technological capabilities
  3. Low cost services
  4. High quality services

India has the advantage of qualified lawyers, trained in a legal system based on British Law and often educated in UK. Moreover, property law is easy to grasp and implement in practice when compared to other areas of law that require in-depth local knowledge of the law and lawyers in the particular jurisdiction. Conveyancing can be considered as an administration paper exercise that can be carried out from anywhere in the world if you have proper knowledge and experience.

Nowadays, the conveyancing business is highly competitive and profit margin is reducing. Software has helped to move ahead from traditional methods but now it's time for another step. Currently, the situation is that there is staffing and other related costs burning a hole in the conveyancer's pocket and on other hand the need for client retention, quick completion deadlines and a requirement to increase productivity that shrinks profit margins. Apart from the above, the launch of ABS (Alternative Business Structure) has added more fuel to the fire, making the conveyancing business more competitive. The arrival of big brands will accelerate the change in clients' expectations of the price, value and service. Law firms must improve and make more efficient their way of working, using technology and building partnerships in order to survive. Firms can survive only by being innovative and proactive.

Think about survival, think about more business and think about outsourcing.

(Article By Alex Mathew, Business Development Manager, LCI)