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Dundas & Wilson launches in-house LPO service staffed across two offices

20 July 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Dundas & Wilson has become the latest law firm to launch a wholly-owned onshore service centre to provide clients with high-volume repetitive legal process work at low cost. 

Dubbed the Legal Services Unit (LSU), it will focus on routine, procedural and repeat work and be run as a separate practice area.

Law firms around the world have taken a variety of approaches to legal process outsourcing (see Sourcing processes), but those choosing the 'insourcing' route have typically established dedicated centres in low-cost jurisdictions.

Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith, for example, have centres in Belfast, Ireland, while Addleshaw Goddard has a Manchester, England centre. In the US, King & Spalding, one of the first law firms to undertake 'insourcing', has a standalone discovery centre in Atlanta, Georgia (see In the family). 

Dundas & Wilson has spread the LSU's staff across its existing Glasgow and Edinburgh offices. When asked why the firm decided to take this staffing approach, managing partner Allan Wernham said the firm already had paralegals in place in those offices and that they wanted to share them across all offices and practice areas.

"There is plenty of spare capacity in both offices," he added, noting that the firm has no plans to relocate the paralegals to a single office.

The LSU currently has nine paralegals and is led by qualified solicitor Fiona Letham, who has been with the firm for 14 years. The firm plans to increase the number of paralegals to 16 by the end of April 2013 and to recruit another 14 by the end of the following financial year.

Letham will be taking on an ambassadorial role to promote the LSU internally and will travel between the firm’s four offices. “Her job is to make sure we are in close discussion with all of the practice areas and to make sure we are identifying areas for them to use the LSU for their clients,” Wernham said.

The LSU will feed into the firm’s long-term talent development, which includes legal project management training. “The plan is very much to free up associates to focus on work that is considered higher value to clients,” said Wernham.

The centre will undertake searches, filing, registrations, basic due diligence and document review/collation. Clients will still access all services through their key legal contact and can opt to have some of their work undertaken by the LSU.

The LSU is intended to provide clients with a flexible and high quality resource for volume tasks. “One of the key elements of LSU is that we are identifying streams of work and processes and ensuring they are properly managed,” said Wernham.

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