New survey shows trend in outsourcing gaining momentum

January 21, 2020

Sandpiper Partners and Williams Lea’s seventh annual survey spotlights law firms’ growing reliance on outsourcing to meet client demands. This new approach to business services is supporting rapid change to how firms operate and process work.

NEW YORK, NY, January, 21, 2020 – Williams Lea, the leading global provider of skilled business-critical support services to financial, legal and professional services firms, and Sandpiper Partners, LLC, a recognized education and business consultancy, today announced publication of the results of the Seventh Annual Survey on Trends and Opportunities in Law Firm Outsourcing. The survey offers insight into law firm initiatives in the past 12 months and those that are being implemented throughout 2020. Survey participants are leaders at medium and large size firms across the US and UK.

The number of law firm leaders reporting their firms outsource some, or all, of their back-office functions rose 14% this year to 70%. This upward trend is indicative of client pressures to reduce costs and rising firm expenses to meet the demands of outside counsel guidelines, data security and data protection.

Firms are making significant investments to meet client demands in cyber security (70%) and digital document management (61%). According to Lynn Glasser, President of Sandpiper Partners: “Client demands continue to drive the pace of change at law firms, especially in areas relating to technology and cyber security and while change is constant, it is challenging.”

Survey respondents cite workflow engineering and process management (73%), partner resistance to change (54%) and management of security and confidentiality (46%) as the top challenges they face managing back office and administrative functions.

Clare Hart, Global CEO for Williams Lea said: “Firms are rethinking their service delivery and support operations in response to their clients’ demand for improved service, better technology and global processes. They see outsourcing non-core support functions as a path to improved efficiency across their entire operations model.”

“We’re not only seeing growth in the number of firms outsourcing, we’re seeing expansion in those services firms are looking to outsource toward higher value functions – from accounts payable and collections to marketing and business development,” she added.

While this year’s survey results point towards focused firm investments, due to looming economic uncertainty, more firms anticipate taking a conservative approach to budgeting in the next 12 months. About 43% of the respondents said that their firm’s overall expense budget would remain the same (a 12% increase from last year); 40%, however, had a more optimistic outlook, expecting an increase in their budgets.

Potential areas in which firms cite they could invest or act on to protect profits should an economic slowdown occur include: process automation (59%), practice area investments (43%). One third of respondents also cited real estate and outsourcing support functions as areas they are already considering action.

“The benefits of outsourcing extend beyond cost savings,” Hart added. “Strategic outsourcing provides the flexibility and scalability firms need to evolve their business and protect firm profitability.”

Download a copy of the survey results with more insights.

About Sandpiper Partners, LLC

Sandpiper Partners of Clifton, N.J. is dedicated to helping law firms, companies and non-profits achieve greater success in their endeavors including expanding existing activities and entering new lines of business. For 15 years Sandpiper has led the way in innovative business management solutions and education in the postgraduate legal field including running more than 50 events a year for clients on many aspects of the business of law and substantive law topics. Its clients are located throughout the United States and Europe, and it has completed projects in more than a dozen U.S. cities, London, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Milan.


About Williams Lea

Williams Lea is the global provider of skilled business-critical support services to financial, legal and professional services firms. We connect people, processes and technology to manage documents and streamline key operational functions. From our humble beginnings as a financial printer in London, to our position today as a global outsourcing leader, our business is built on a strong heritage, great relationships and a talented team. Our 5,700 worldwide employees work onsite at clients and onshore/offshore at Williams Lea operations providing unrivalled support and helping clients transform their support operations.

With revenues of over €400 million, Williams Lea is backed by Advent International, one of the largest global private equity investors.