The forecasts for Coronavirus cases make stark reading, which is why you must be prepared to reposition your business with the impact of the pandemic in mind. A global pandemic is a difficult thing to see positives within, but there are opportunities that come from adversity and the outsourcing market has come into its own in a way which should excite and interest the legal sector.
McKinsey reports that the law industry does usually bounce back quite quickly as seen in past downturns, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make adjustments to help us weather the storm or take opportunities to build positives from the current situation.
Understanding how to utilize outsourcing services effectively for the benefit of your business is one way of forging through difficult times. Here we take an in-depth look at how outsourcing can strengthen and grow your business during the pandemic.
What is Outsourcing?
While you may be committed to hiring more outsourced services for your business, it is important to understand how outsourcing differs from hiring employees and working with contractors. Asking yourself, “What is outsourcing?” before you begin is vital to making a success of using these services.
CIO defines outsourcing as “a business practice in which services or job functions are farmed out to a third party.” This can be relevant to many different sectors of your business from direct legal outsourcing to auxiliary roles in administration, PR and marketing. Outsourcing services have always been available, but they may be even more useful in the current climate and with the restrictions on work from home for many people.
Opportunities for Outsourcing During the Pandemic
The pandemic has offered many opportunities we may not have expected in the law sector. It has given attorneys and other professionals downtime to focus on tasks and projects which may have been set aside.
There are all sorts of sectors in the modern business which can be outsourced and result in a great quality of work, efficiency and a reduction in your wage bill and costs overall.
Marketing and Communications
The saying goes that you should stick to what you know, and while it’s important to have proper oversight in your business, it’s also wise to entrust specific functions to the experts in those areas, as they are likely to deliver superior results. Marketing is one such function.
You may have used external marketing agencies or even tried bringing marketing in-house as a permanent role with varying levels of cost and success. The pandemic presents an opportunity to outsource to experts and consultants in this area to improve your business’ brand message and identity. Outsourcing allows you to tap into experts in the field who do this all day, every day and provides insight into areas where your message may not be consistent and can be improved.
The hard sell in the time of Coronavirus is a big no-no but chasing leads and creating new business is probably not at the forefront of your mind with many other more pressing tasks. Navigating your social presence, content marketing and general marketing efforts can be time consuming and there are many marketing freelancers primed to manage this all on your behalf, freeing up your time for more essential tasks.
Exploring New Tools and Technology
Many technology companies have seen their popularity soar since Coronavirus hit. Zoom shares jumped 6% on a day where Wall Street saw a 3% tumble and it’s a tool which everyone is using for a wide range of purposes, from family get togethers to interviews and professional meetings. The tech transactional market has remained buoyant throughout the pandemic and in law, the privacy and data security sector has been particularly busy as the new virtual world we’re living in has brought up issues and disputes as well as positives.
This is a great time to review the technology you are using in your business and look at how efficiencies can be improved. Staying abreast of new technology developments in your sector can be challenging with the rapid pace of change, so outsourcing IT can be a wise move. Outsourced IT professionals have the most up to date knowledge of the latest platforms, systems and programs, and can advise you on how best to utilize them in your business.
Organization and Practice Management
Time consuming administrative and operational tasks can be streamlined with outsourced services. Busy lawyers can outsource time-intensive tasks from drafting documents to researching cases, and there is also the scope to bring in freelance lawyer support to lessen the workload.
So many elements of the regular working world have changed for lawyers and legal practices with the pandemic. This has its downsides but also benefits such as virtual court hearings which cut out the need for commute time and hours wasted waiting for cases to be called. Not all court processes can be virtualized but more and more states are utilizing these practices, with video-conferencing apps used for oral arguments in courts where possible, to avoid needless meetups and risk of spreading Coronavirus.
This new virtual world means many legal professionals are left with significantly more time than usual, allowing for more focus on administration, organization, and appropriate outsourcing services for these tasks. The working week has changed so significantly so making proactive changes is essential.
Outsourcing accounting work is an effective way of minimizing the on-site costs of a small business. It can also help to reduce overheads in larger businesses and with technology becoming more sophisticated, it is easy to hire an outsourced accountancy firm to set up your systems and run them yourself, or utilize their services on a monthly retainer or as needed at key times of the financial year.
The unusual nature of the current situation means we need to approach recruitment differently. This of course includes working with freelancers and outsourcing, but it can also mean working with HR professionals to find talent and manage the new normal of colleagues working from home or more flexibly. A good HR company or freelancer can also help you put the right protocols and policies in place to support your staff through COVID-19 and the creation of new employee handbooks to cement the necessary changes to working practices.
Reception & Lead Management
Many businesses were operating with virtual receptions, even before Coronavirus. Even with all employees working from home you need one central voice to direct calls, navigate new business and ensure there’s someone available for the general queries that come into your business every day. Virtual receptionist and call center services are cost effective and can allow your lead intake workflow to be much more streamlined. There are service providers who offer 24/7 call answering and utilizing the latest technology, can even text and email potential customers on your behalf.
Challenges Faced when Outsourcing
Outsourcing is something many businesspeople are wary of. Relying on organizations or individuals outside of your company does involve relinquishing some power, but you are still in control of the access they have to your business and what they need to know to carry out the required tasks.
Taking the Leap
One of the biggest challenges faced by businesses looking to outsource is just finding the courage to give it a go. This is understandable when you work in a sector with such high levels of responsibility as law. Deciding to outsource legal work does take a leap of faith but there are many professionals with plenty of experience able to help your business and allow you to focus on more senior and complex elements of your role, while the administrative tasks can be handled by others.
Getting the Right Fit
Another challenge of outsourcing is finding an individual or company who fits well with your company’s ethos and practices, and has the skill set and talent to work well with your team. With some robust due diligence in place and internal discussions about whether an individual or their company are the right partner for your business, you will be on the right track.
Work with Trusted Hiring Partners
LAWCLERK regularly helps attorneys vet applicants to ensure they find a freelancer who works for the attorney’s specific practice and the tasks they want help with. We ensure you are aligned with the best candidate as we provide the resume, writing sample, along with ratings and reviews for every applicant.
Set up for Success
It’s also important to remember the different processes and systems needed to effectively manage remote teams. Whether you want your freelancers to work on-site or not, the Coronavirus pandemic does mean many people are continuing to work remotely.
Tips for Successful Outsourcing
If outsourcing is new to your business or you want to refine the current outsourced arrangements you have, these tips can help you:
Set clear expectations
Setting clear directives and project guidelines is essential for remote and outsourced team members to understand their role. This could involve specific tasks expected on a daily basis and deadlines for specific casework.
Delegate from day one
Boundaries and delegation are important, so your team understands your role as utilizing their services to support your business. Delegating work fairly along the lines discussed before committing to the outsourced services should take place regularly.
Keep lines of communication open
Regular communication is essential for outsourced and remote teams to feel like they are on top of their workload and able to manage what they are assigned to do. Checking on a daily basis should be the minimum expectation and utilizing the latest technology and software such as video conferencing tools and chat apps can help enable open communication.
Choose the right tools
LAWCLERK is perfectly positioned to support any legal practice looking to help lawyers work with freelancers with ease. Our suite of tools incorporates everything needed for seamless work and communications and incorporates a range of software to support a good work environment and seamless communication. Tools include document and file sharing facilities, video conferencing, billing and timekeeping and conflict management software and they combine to create a great environment for freelancers and lawyers alike.
Why is This The Right Time to Start Outsourcing?
Now is the time to truly get creative and approach your business from a different angle. There’s the scope and time to try new things and take advantage of the unusual situation to test new ideas and see how outsourcing could work for your business. Any work that you either don’t want to do or can’t find time to do is a prime candidate for outsourcing.
Remote Working Has Become the New Normal
Now is the perfect time to lay the foundations and trial outsourcing with your business as the flexible and remote nature of working in many offices and environments means it is much easier for a freelancer to slot into place. Tasks you want to delegate can be sent out to those with the relevant experience as soon as they land on your desk and nothing is left or forgotten about until deadlines are looming.
Grow Your Business With the Right Support
LAWCLERK works to match law firms with dedicated advisors who provide a personal support system to all our clients. They guide you through our process and help set up your initial projects, aligning you with the best applicants for your tasks and roles, with advice on project fees and pricing available too. Advisors at LAWCLERK work with attorneys across the country to create perfect pairings, ensuring any projects or work that needs to be offloaded can land on the desk of a capable freelancer. There are over 3000 experienced and highly trained freelance lawyers and law professionals signed up to LAWCLERK, all poised to work with practices looking to grow and flourish.
Avoid Burnout and Thrive
Many sectors are stuck in stagnation during the pandemic, but the legal sector doesn’t have to be. This can be a period of growth for any practice as investing in outsourcing services means you don’t have to overload and overwork yourself and run the risk of burnout. COVID fatigue is a very real issue for many businesspeople, so there’s never been a better time to trial outsourcing.
Outsourcing Tasks at Home
Whether you’re working from home full-time or having to spend more time there than usual due to a flexible working program, there are ways to make your home life more comfortable and enjoyable in these difficult times.
Many people are finding effective ways of outsourcing parts of their home life, which makes sense when working from home as well as doing all the usual household tasks. Could you outsource some of the following tasks and take some pressure off at home?
Grocery and Meal Kit Deliveries
It’s not possible to spend hours enjoying a meal in your favorite restaurant, but it is possible to order in meal kits from many top chefs, restaurateurs and stores. It’s a great way of freeing up time spent meal planning and enjoying quality recipes designed by those in the know.
Virtual Tutors and Video Classes
Home learning sessions may be provided by your kids’ teachers but you can further enhance their learning with virtual tuition and video classes. Not all schools are closed but many kids are being sent home due to virus spikes, so it’s important to invest in real educators to ensure they’re still learning when stuck at home.
Enrich your Extracurricular
With extra time at home and not all of it dedicated to work, thanks to additional outsourcing capacity, there’s the chance to further your own personal development. This could be a new hobby like virtual guitar lessons or signing up for a Zoom languages or cooking class.
COVID-19 and The Future of Outsourcing
The benefits of outsourcing are plentiful, but like all industries, freelancers and those providing outsourced services have also been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Unlike many sectors, there have been positives for experienced outsourcers. Some companies have needed to adapt, streamline and downsize, making use of outsourced services rather than full-time employees and this has benefitted outsourcing. Businesses who had never considered this kind of flexible service before have found it a lifeline in these difficult times.
Outsourcing and work in general during the pandemic has seen a huge shift to digital and virtual services. Law is known for its traditional approach to working practices, but moving forward with a dynamic and flexible approach to staffing and digitization has become more important in recent months and into the future.
Until the Coronavirus outbreak, vast swathes of the law sector had managed to avoid radical digital transformation, but the legal industry has now been pushed into the 21st century and law practices can’t expect to survive if they don’t embrace a more modern and tech-led approach to work — including legal outsourcing services. The demand for outsourcing services in the legal sector is higher than ever before and it can be part of the transformation of a practice.
The future for legal outsourcing and other roles within the workplace is bright going forward as the Coronavirus outbreak requires us to look at budgeting and working in a more flexible and agile manner.
Embracing Outsourcing for Progress in Uncertain Times
If you’re new to outsourcing, the process might feel overwhelming; it is offering up part of the business you’ve built and nurtured to another who isn’t as invested in it as you are. However, you will find most freelancers are extremely committed and experienced, and want your business to succeed as much as you do. While COVID-19 leaves us in unsettling times, by choosing the right partners, you can bolster and grow your business, coming out the other side of this even stronger.