Dundas launches low-cost paralegal initiative for volume work

Dundas & Wilson has launched a new paralegal-led Legal Services Unit (LSU) in Scotland, which is intended to cut costs for clients by taking on routine work often carried out by qualified lawyers.

The initiative, which Dundas is dubbing a “firm within a firm”, will see a nine-strong team of paralegals split across Dundas’s Scottish offices take on searches, filings, registrations, basic due diligence and document review and collation work.

Dundas claims that having paralegals rather than qualified lawyers handle the work will offer clients better value for money.

The unit will be led by qualified solicitor Fiona Letham, under the oversight of managing partner Allan Wernham, and will offer services to Dundas’ offices in London as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Clients will be given the option of having some of their work handled by the LSU, although their existing contact within the firm will not change.

Wernham (pictured) said: “Clients are keen for their law firms to come up with innovative ways to resource their work and deliver new models that can improve efficiency.  The LSU allows us to provide clients with more flexible resource for volume tasks, but at the same time, retain the assurance of having work done by a leading law firm.

“The LSU is a breath of fresh air in the legal market and as well as being advantageous for clients, it will benefit paralegals, who will have a new career path opened up to them.”

The launch of the unit makes Dundas the latest in a handful of firms to launch paralegal-led legal service centres. Addleshaws started piloting its a transaction services team in Manchester in late 2010, with the intention of building numbers to more than 60.

Eversheds, meanwhile, is piloting a low-cost legal process centre in Leeds, with a ring-fenced team of lawyers, paralegals and administrative staff carrying out routine work for the firm’s real estate group.

Legal Week also reported last October that Linklaters is expanding its use of paralegals through Linklaters’ Legal Services Centre, which also sees the City giant using its Colchester office, previously used only for business support, to house some paralegals.