Shell's Legal Offshoring a Sign of Things to Come

Source: Corporate Counsel

By Sue Reisinger

The announcement by Royal Dutch Shell that it plans to open an offshore legal operations center illustrates a growing trend, according to industry experts.

Mark Yacano, who leads the managed legal services team in Major, Lindsey & Africa's solutions practice group, said the Shell move is indicative of a continuum of legal department changes that companies are trying. "It's a very intuitive response to have support centers to service global law departments," Yacano says. "I've talked to several clients in the past five years that have set up these resource centers."

Late last year, he says, Major, Lindsey & Africa talked with more than 60 general counsel "about what their pain points were." The reality, he says, is that companies don't want to have full-time lawyers in every country when they can establish these centers: "Call it a recalibration if you like, but it's not a fad."

Yacano says that some in-house legal departments are simply outsourcing work to locales where costs are lower, while others are setting up centers of excellence to create more efficiencies. And many larger departments, he added, are embracing advanced technology to serve their clients more effectively.

The General Electric Co., he notes, was one of the first to both outsource contract work and have a team of lawyers in India for at least 10 years. "It's all part of a continuum to deliver services that have the least impact on your P&L," he says.

Read more of this feature at Corporate Counsel.

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