4 minute read 19 May 2021
Happy young businesswoman

How outsourcing legal work can improve in-house morale

Authors
Orkan Sahin

Financial Services Digital Law Manager | Switzerland

Interface between technology and law. Passionate about emerging technologies and early- and growth-stage as well as non-traditional financial services. Loves to visit new places.

Yacine Benyaa

Managed Services Leader Financial Services | Switzerland

Multicultural and sneaker wearer. Transformation leader. Helping clients achieve their vision of change with technology and expertise. Former Start-up founder. Dog father. Car & technology lover.

Darko Stefanoski

Digital Law Leader Financial Services | Switzerland

His heart belongs to two places: one is Macedonia, where he has his roots, and the other is Switzerland, where he was born and lives.

4 minute read 19 May 2021

The EY Law Survey highlights enhanced employee satisfaction as another important benefit of legal managed services.

In brief
  • As the volume of routine daily tasks grows, legal departments are having to do more with less.
  • Faced with the legal equivalent of a production line, employee morale suffers.
  • Using legal managed services is a cost-effective option for in-house lawyers wanting to focus on higher-value strategic work.

If you’ve ever watched old, black and white films of people working in factories on vast production lines, doing exactly the same task, hour after hour, day after day, you’ve probably felt grateful that it wasn’t you. Yet in 2021, we seem to be expecting the modern generation of in-house lawyers to perform the legal equivalent. 

The clamour for in-house legal departments to adopt more technology or outsource routine tasks though legal managed services has been inexorably linked with the drive to improve efficiency and reduce cost – the mantra of “do more with less”. But until now, no-one has connected the dots between low-value, repetitive legal tasks and employee morale, retention and recruitment. The findings of the recently published EY Law Survey shines light on this association. 

Created by EY Law, in cooperation with Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, the EY Law Survey is the most expansive of its kind on the corporate legal function. Responses were collected from 2,000 General Counsels (GCs), Legal COOs and leaders from adjacent functions such as procurement, contracting and business development across 17 industries and 22 countries. The findings are drawn from answers to 100 questions on current practices, challenges and priorities for the future in areas such as:

  • Law department operations, including talent, data, technology and sourcing
  • Contract creation and management
  • Corporate secretarial operations

EY Law Survey

87%

of law department leaders say that their teams spend too much time on low-value, repetitive or routine tasks

Some of the key survey insights will not come as a surprise to anyone with knowledge of the legal industry. The familiar themes of increasing workloads, the need to cut costs and the challenges associated with adopting technology, were all reflected in the findings. However, the survey has also exposed another challenge facing GCs; the wellbeing of their legal team.

Almost half (47%) of the GCs indicated that an increasing amount of low-value work was adversely affecting the morale of their teams. This finding is even more stark in the fast-growth sector: a survey by Juro and Wilson Sonsini found that 67% of in-house lawyers at fast-growth companies felt buried in low-value work. This sentiment, compounded by the impact of Covid-19 on staff morale and wellbeing, means that now more than ever, in-house legal teams need to review how they resource their legal work. 

Outsourcing low-value legal can boost intrinsic motivation, improve performance and have a positive impact on the overall health of employees.

Removing low-value, repetitive work will undoubtedly have a number of potential benefits for the team; improving morale should lead to increased productivity, higher retention rates and therefore decreased recruitment costs from lower staff turnover. That in turn should lead to higher levels of intrinsic motivation, better performance and a positive impact on the overall health of employees. Coupled with the potential cost and efficiency drivers, that is reason enough to seriously consider reallocating such work. But there are other advantages as well. GCs and Legal COOs are also increasingly concerned with demonstrating the real value they deliver to the business. Taking away the routine and low-value work allows their teams to focus on the high-impact and high-value work. That, almost by definition, is likely to be more interesting and satisfying work. It’s a win-win situation, with better motivated employees delivering higher-value work to the business. 

Until now, efficiency, risk management and cost reduction were the driving forces behind GCs and Legal COOs’ interest in legal managed services as a way to outsource low-value, repetitive and routine work. But the survey indicates other potential benefits. The potential boost to employee morale – alongside all the traditional benefits – should make legal managed services an attractive option for any in-house legal team seeking to optimise their legal function. 

While large companies have long since been able to outsource low-value and repetitive legal services in this way, smaller fast-growth companies, traditionally, have not. The costing structures of legal managed services – usually a combination of volume and multi-year contracts – have, until now, precluded use by smaller companies.

EY Law decided to address this issue by launching a new service designed to give smaller and mid-market fast-growth companies access to legal managed services and the associated benefits. EY Core Law is designed to give fast-growth companies the benefits of trialing legal managed services without committing to large volumes of work or multi-year contracts.

EY Core Law is a flexible single entry point for routine legal work conducted on a managed service basis.  Companies get support with the increasing day-to-day legal tasks that come from growing quickly: from expanding into new markets and jurisdictions, to bringing new people into the business. Services include contract management, regulatory research and corporate governance provided on a managed service basis to maximize efficiency, cost savings and risk management. Clients can mix and match services depending on their legal need at any one time and can choose flexible, transparent and upfront pricing options, from pay-as-you-go to a yearly minimum commitment. This unique offering means everyone benefits – not least the employees whose morale improves as they focus on high-value strategic legal work.  

Summary

The pandemic has brought the wellbeing of everyone, including our workforce, into sharp focus. Using legal managed services is not only a way of addressing the drive to reduce costs and improve efficiency, it can also be part of a sustainable people strategy. The legal version of the production assembly line should be something we consign to the past. 

About this article

Authors
Orkan Sahin

Financial Services Digital Law Manager | Switzerland

Interface between technology and law. Passionate about emerging technologies and early- and growth-stage as well as non-traditional financial services. Loves to visit new places.

Yacine Benyaa

Managed Services Leader Financial Services | Switzerland

Multicultural and sneaker wearer. Transformation leader. Helping clients achieve their vision of change with technology and expertise. Former Start-up founder. Dog father. Car & technology lover.

Darko Stefanoski

Digital Law Leader Financial Services | Switzerland

His heart belongs to two places: one is Macedonia, where he has his roots, and the other is Switzerland, where he was born and lives.