Pinsents restructuring report sheds light on £1m cost savings from support staff shake-up

Pinsent Masons is set to make savings of more than £1m as a result its support staff restructuring last year, according to a new case study published by the firm’s technology partner BigHand.

The report sheds light on the process carried out last year, which resulted in 78 voluntary redundancies after a consultation involving all of its UK legal PAs.

It states that the restructuring was motivated by a realisation that the firm’s PAs were not being effectively utilised and were being overloaded with routine work. To address this, Pinsents invested in new technology to improve the way work was being doled out, with more tasks routed to the firm’s legal outsourcing provider Exigent in South Africa.

The restructuring also involved the creation of a new layer of team administrators (TA), a role that all affected PAs were eligible to apply for.

While a significant number of Pinsents’ 100 UK PAs took up the offer of voluntary redundancy, those moving into the TA roles now carry out administrative tasks such as scanning, filing and printing, while the more experienced PAs who have remained at the firm have been freed up to carry out more valuable, client-focused work. The firm now has 65 people in the TA role.

According to the report, this means that “the right people are doing the right level jobs at the right cost to the business”, and that within two months, the number of jobs being sent to Exigent increased from 700 to 1,200, while the number of jobs now handled by TAs rose from 1,800 to 4,500 over three months.

It adds that while the key objective of the restructuring was “to improve internal service to the business and ensure PA expertise and skills were being effectively utilised”, it has also delivered “significant financial benefits, with a direct recurring cost saving of £1.4m”.

The firm confirmed that it expects to make savings of more than £1m in the first year under the new structure.

Pinsents head of PA and administration services Tara Layman explains: “While there were a large number of motivated, engaged, high-performing PAs who were actively looking for the value-added element of the role, there were others with the same job title who were just as busy but being utilised for more mundane tasks that did not tap into their skills, motivate them, provide job satisfaction or offer opportunities to grow.”

Pinsents COO Alistair Mitchell added: “The biggest benefit of this project has been Pinsents’ ability to focus on the continuing professional development of our TAs and PAs, ensuring their skillsets are used effectively, improving motivation and job satisfaction.

“While we do not charge for PA and admin services, this lower cost, more efficient model will enable Pinsents to be more competitive in our ability to review fixed prices.”

Pinsents works with a number of major clients on a fixed-fee basis, including Balfour Beatty and E.ON. The firm was recently reappointed as Balfour’s sole legal supplier for day-to-day legal work until 2020.