SA legal firm in UK outsourcing deal

25 January 2010

Legal firm Eversheds South Africa is to pilot an innovative joint venture with Eversheds UK to provide a range of outsourced legal services more cost-effectively to the firm’s UK clients.

“Discussions with our UK office started in December 2009 about the drafting of leases for a major UK based client, who had requested that this service be outsourced in order to cut costs,” Sven Laurencik, a partner at the Johannesburg office that is managing the joint venture in South Africa, said in a statement this week.

This initial project acted as a catalyst in developing discussions to provide services for other clients, from February 2010 onwards, in a joint venture between the firm’s UK and Johannesburg offices.

The new services will include high-volume work such as mortgage repossessions and insurance recoveries on a case-ownership basis, while personal injury claims and employment tribunal work may be taken on at a later stage.

“This is different to the outsourcing concept followed by many organisations, where work is mainly outsourced because it only requires low-level skills,” Laurenick said.

“We provide high-quality professionals and the same quality of legal expertise as our UK office with good turnaround times at lower rates than the UK, simply because overheads for legal services are lower in South Africa and the exchange rate is in our favour.”

Low-cost centres

“In addition, the firm has an excellent infrastructure that allows us to take on high volumes of additional work at a higher level of complexity than the type of work that may be outsourced to other ‘low-cost centres’.

“The key is to build trusted relationships with clients and, once these are established, we will review the success of the pilot,” Laurenick said.

During the pilot, two associates from Eversheds’ Johannesburg office will be sent to Eversheds’ Cardiff office to acquire an understanding of their clients’ requirements. Once they move back to South Africa, after about six months, they will continue to liaise directly with the UK clients, while still reporting to their team leader in Cardiff, UK.

“The manner in which legal services are delivered is in the process of undergoing enormous transformation worldwide and we are excited to be trendsetters for this new outsourcing concept,” said Eversheds South Africa chairman Terry Mahon.

“Eversheds operates internationally as one, and it makes sense for us to use our network of offices to move work from higher-cost centres to lower-cost centres, giving clients the benefit of a high-quality service, but delivered cost- effectively.”

SAinfo reporter

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