Contract work is certainly something of a buzz word at the moment. Under pressure to increase efficiency and cut costs, more firms and corporate legal departments are looking for alternative ways to deliver certain legal tasks (e.g. document review, due diligence, legal research, drafting), and opting to outsource to contract providers (Legal Process Outsourcing - "LPO"). Further, domestic LPO providers in UK are set to swell with something of a reticence in the private sector to outsource overseas, amid concerns about quality of work, security etc, notwithstanding the cost saving to be had in the Philippines and India. Client understanding and acquiescence to LPO, as part of the service offered by firms, also looks set only to increase. It is estimated that around 300 full-time lawyers are currently working in centres in the UK, as this environment attains the status of a viable career alternative for legal professionals. In the British Isles, alternative sourcing centres, and hence jobs, are going to more prevalent away from the south east of England, where lower property and salary costs will optimise the model - hence the expression "northshoring".
Salaries are lower than private practice, and there is of course a limit to what an individual lawyer can achieve in LPO, in terms of high-end advisory work, but team leader roles and management positions do offer progression and responsibility. CPA Global, the big Indian-based LPO provider is believed to have plans for a UK centre. Laureate Legal Services is a recent start up here. With sentiment among other LPO providers to increase their onshore personnel, we could see the likes of Integreon, Pangea3, Mindcrest and QuisLex expanding a presence in the UK.