Outsourcing is defined as the contracting out of an internal business process to a third party organization and, as such, it has been a common and accepted business practice for a very long time.
By that definition, could it also be suggested that law firms themselves are in the outsourcing business? If you think about it, many companies have plenty of in-house attorneys and/or legal departments that can adequately serve most of their corporate legal needs. But in many cases, it makes more sense for them to hire outside firms or attorneys because they have deep knowledge or specialized experience in niche areas or because they can do some types of work more efficiently.
The goals of outsourcing include improving efficiency, reducing costs and gaining a competitive advantage. As a result, it shouldn’t be too surprising that law firms have been experimenting with outsourcing for decades, according to some sources, as early as the 1960s. The most common legal services that law firms have attempted to outsource have been agency work, document review, legal research and writing, drafting of pleadings and briefs and patent services. Firms have been even more open to outsourcing their non-legal work such as IT support, finance and accounting and helpdesk operations.
A recent article in the ABA Journal proclaimed, “Boom years for law firms were an aberration.” The article quotes information from a 2013 Client Advisory report from Hildebrandt Consulting and Citi Private Bank which predicts that the double-digit rate increases that occurred from 2001 to 2007 are over.
As proof, the article summarized information in the report confirming that “productivity is down among income and equity partners, expenses are up, clients are demanding and getting discounts.” As a result, future law firm success will likely be measured by “profit growth in the single digits.”
To succeed going forward,
So what do you do if you feel like you are drowning in CRM data quality problems and you just can’t seem to get help from within your firm – or if you don’t have months to spend manually cleaning and deduplicating your data?
One solution is to pay a data quality company to clean and deduplicate your data. During this process, data is typically matched up electronically against a postal database to append and standardize mailing addresses. The output generated is typically a very large spreadsheet of potential duplicate matches, which then must be manually reviewed and validated by someone on your team.
If your data quality depression doesn’t seem to be responding to conventional treatments, fortunately there are now some alternative treatments available. One treatment that has been particularly effective for some firms is outsourcing.
If you aren’t able to hire full-time or permanent data quality resources, there are now outsourced professionals available who can help you to get a handle on your CRM data on a part-time or even full-time basis. For a very reasonable hourly rate, these professionals can assist your firm with individual projects – or even serve as full-time permanent data stewards.