That old image of the ostrich burying its head in the sand is apparently unfair. The purpose is apparently to use the ground as a sounding board, vibrations giving advance warning of problems to come. This prosaic reality undermines that quotation from the great libel silk George Carman,who said of one claimant that he “behaved like an ostrich and put his head in the sand, thereby exposing his thinking parts”.
I used to have reservations myself about mentioning outsourcing, but that was because every reference to it brought down on my head a stream of offers from people wanting to tell me at nauseating length about the services which they could offer without, apparently, making any attempt to establish whether I was likely to be a buyer. I stemmed the flow eventually by abandoning my usual courtesy and telling them exactly what I thought of their marketing.
It does not matter whether you prefer the traditional picture of the ostrich’s motives or take the revisionist view that it is just getting early warning of what is coming. Lawyers, whether in private practice or in companies, need to expose their thinking parts to different ways of covering the ground. Most information management involves a mixture of technology, grunt work and high intellectual input, and the trick is to work out how much of which you need to apply to what. You cannot begin this without some idea of what is on offer from both technology suppliers and from those who offer to do the parts which you cannot do cost-effectively yourself – or, to put it more accurately, which someone else can do at least as well at a lower cost.
I was recently invited to take part in the Global LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) Conference, organised by KPO Consultants and taking place in London on 2 and 3 March. It had a good spread of speakers already engaged, including general counsel from big employers and people from law firms, the Law Society and the Legal Services Board, together with David Kemp from technology provider Autonomy .
The agenda already covered the mechanics of outsourcing, business models, cost-benefit analysis, and ethical and legal considerations. I am adding an electronic disclosure component aimed at exploring the crossover between technology and outsourced labour when managing any litigation, regulatory or internal investigation, or defence under the Bribery Act which comes into force in April. I am reinforced in that by Vince Neicho, litigation support manager at Allen & Overy, a firm which offers its clients a menu of ways to tackle the document management aspects of their cases. We will be joined by others.
This would be a good way of exposing your thinking parts to the outsourcing discussion.