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This is a
question that is making the rounds in legal circles around the world lately.
Many firms have questions about their case files which keeps on piling and
piling upon each other, with few associates to work on them. In other words,
they are all overworked and need solutions. Fast.


ILLUSTRATION
KUA LP is a
commercial business advisory law firm in Lagos. It keeps getting newer clients
by the day because of its excellent legal services. It has seven lawyers, two
paralegals, a secretary, and other miscellaneous staff. However, even though it
is getting bigger clients who are in need of swift, top-notch legal service,
the lawyers of the firm are thoroughly overworked because of the amount of
files they have to handle. They know they need more lawyers, but they cannot
afford to start expanding their space to accommodate newer lawyers. They come
to work very early in the morning and leave very late, yet they are unable to handle
all their daily tasks. Some are furious with the senior partner, thinking of
quitting. They are not getting enough time with their families; they are not
taking care of themselves and spending time with their families even though
they make loads of money.

What should they do?

ANALYSIS
The
aforementioned scenario encapsulates the dilemma many busy law firms find
themselves in. There are more work than there are lawyers on hand to do the
work. They are groaning under the weight of work needed to be done. They are
burning out. And in case you don’t know the terrible effects of burnout, kindly
check out articles about professional burnout and the type of terrible problems
it can bring for people.

Still, it boils
down to this question: WHAT CAN THEY DO?

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Legal
outsourcing may be the solution that can save their time and their lawyers from
going out of their minds. Law firms may get a lot of work to do but have little
manpower to do so. They may also not have enough funds to think of expansion.
They groan under the weight of their work. So, the solution would be to
outsource the legal work. Free themselves of the drudgery of having to do a lot
of the work themselves, thus leaving them free to handle the ones that truly
needs their attention.

FACT
There are many
lawyers living across Nigeria, some with extraordinary skill sets, who are
either unemployed, or seriously underemployed in firms that use their time and
pay them peanuts. Some of the lawyers sit around the office with little or
nothing to do. They want to be stimulated intellectually; they want to be
challenged. However, they do not find avenues that can challenge them fully.

SOLUTION
In the
foregoing, I have highlighted the two groups that legal outsourcing work can
easily benefit: overworked law firms and under-worked lawyers seeking for more
opportunities.

The solution is
to bring these two sets together.
The law firms
doesn’t have to hire those lawyers they are outsourcing their legal work to.
They are merely engaging them on short, contractual, work-by-work basis. They
get paid by their clients, forward the work to intellectually deserving
lawyers, pay those lawyers perhaps a fraction of what the clients pay in return
for great legal work, and the finished product is forwarded to the client. That
way, law firms are free to do their normal work, get more clients and make
great turnaround time on the briefs they handle, while not compromising on the
quality of work done and the health of the firm’s practitioners. They also
expand their circles and give other lawyers that opportunity to expand.

POSSIBLE PROBLEMS?
What if I give
the files to this lawyer and he absconds with it? What if they try to snatch my
client away? What if they ?????? The what-ifs are much, agreed.

SOLUTION TO THE POSSIBLE PROBLEMS
You can always
protect yourself. Besides that, it would be stupid for a lawyer handling a file
on an outsourced basis to try to take a client. After all, the client belongs
to the firm and had hired the firm to do its work because of the trust placed
on the firm. Not only that, there is a saying that you do not shit where you
eat. Since these outsourcing contracts can potentially lead to the financial
stability of the contract lawyer, it would be crazy for such a lawyer to try
anything funny. Also, it is unprofessional.

Finally, the
law firms can create a watertight contract of engagement agreement and throw in
terms that will protect the firm against unnecessary competition by throwing in
non-compete clauses and other protective shields. I have done this myself.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Law firms may
get a lot of work, but instead of overworking associates, legal outsourcing may
be the stunning solution. That way, the law firm does great work fast through
its contract lawyers and still retain the confidence of the clients. The
partners and the associates can also have some personal me-time on their hands
to attend to other matters and pressing issues without having to groan because
of the work of demanding clients that want their work done at the speed of
light.

Isn’t this a
great working solution for lawyers and legal service providers in Nigeria?
Wouldn’t it be great for lawyers to be able to work in collaboration with other
lawyers who may desperately need to be stimulated by certain work?
About the Author:

Kingsley
Ugochukwu Ani is a corporate lawyer with particular emphasis on IP, Real Estate
& IT areas. He can be reached on aniugochukwu@gmail.com
and +2347035074930. He is also a writer and business development strategist.

Photo Credit – Here