BLP mulls low-cost regional base in bid to cut client fees

Partners consider outsourcing with 20 locations in contention

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is looking at outsourcing some of its back office and legal functions, with the launch of its own regional base one of the options under consideration. 

The top 20 UK law firm discussed outsourcing at its partner conference earlier this week (11-12 November), with partners asked to look at around 20 different regions – 15 of which are in the UK.

UK jurisdictions under consideration include Newcastle, Manchester and Belfast, while South Africa was put forward as one option outside the UK. It is understood the firm is looking primarily at opening its own base rather than using an external provider, although no decisions have been taken. 

The move comes as increasing numbers of firms have attempted to reduce fees for clients by setting up low-cost regional centres, with both Herbert Smith and Allen & Overy launching in Belfast last year. 

Other topics discussed at the meeting included industry sectors and new business development ideas, while all of the firm’s international offices delivered local updates. 

One BLP partner said: “All of the top 20 law firms will be thinking about this at the moment because clients are putting pressure on fees and the only way to reduce charge-out rates is to reduce your cost base. The difficulty is knowing how best to do that and this is what we are exploring.”

No immediate decisions are expected to be taken, with feedback from partners on all issues discussed at the conference set to be compiled over the coming months and presented to the firm.

The conference also saw Alastair Campbell, former director of communications and strategy for ex-prime minister Tony Blair, talk to partners about drawing up strategy.