CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 1)

As readers of Global Legal are undoubtedly aware, last month UK-based law firm CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (“CMcK “) announced a 10 year, £583M arrangement with Integreon to outsource its middle office services.  In contrast to US-based WilmerHale’s recent initiative to move support services to a wholly-owned subsidiary in Dayton, Ohio, the CMcK-Integreon deal moves operations to a global legal services provider.  Interestingly, both firms have been silent on legal process outsourcing.  We at Global Legal were curious about how CMcK made its selection, and recently asked Tony Wright, Cameron McKenna’s Director of Operations, about their decision process.  In the first of this two-part post, Tony talks about CMcK’s decision process, including who was involved, what criteria were used, and how long it took.  Tony’s responses to my questions are below.

GLOBAL LEGAL:  Please tell us about how CMS Cameron McKenna made the decision to go this route.  What were the business imperatives?  

TONY WRIGHT:  The business imperatives were established as part of a strategic review that included how we should model our business services operations (communications; facilities & document production; finance; HR; IT; knowledge & information services; learning & development, marketing and procurement) in the future to deliver the best service to the law firm and its clients.  We established the following objectives for the business services model of the future:

  • to deliver enhanced best-in-class service,
  • to improve competitiveness and service flexibility,
  • to create an innovative, scaleable business services platform, capable of delivering services across multiple clients, offices and countries,
  • to offer a stimulating new working environment and enhanced career opportunities where support staff become front line professionals, and
  • to operate at the most efficient cost.


GLOBAL LEGAL:  Who led the strategic planning process (e.g., senior partners, firm management staff, vendor management, some combination)?  Did you work with any external advisors?

TONY WRIGHT:  The strategic planning process was led by me, in conjunction with members of the firm’s Management Committee – a group consisting of our Managing Partner, Senior Partner, UK and International Managing Directors, the firm’s Finance Director and General Counsel.  A small team from IBM Global Services’ consulting group was consulted during the period (last September) when we considered, in detail, the model of ‘doing it ourselves’ – i.e. building a captive operation that might, ultimately, be taken out to the market. 

GLOBAL LEGAL:  When did the firm first start considering outsourcing?  How long was the process, from initial strategy decision to vendor evaluation to signed agreement?

TONY WRIGHT:  The strategic review didn’t default to an outsourcing solution.  The strategic review began approximately 18 months ago, and outsourcing considerations were explored, in any detail, from about October last year (2009).  We settled on our arrangement with Integreon in April of this year.  The strategic review included a detailed assessment of five models on a spectrum, which at one end included a “build it ourselves” model, and on the other a pure “lift and shift” outsourcing model.  In the middle were a combination of strategic partnerships – from those based on private equity funding (providing predominantly financial input) to others that offered more by way of (law firm) outsourcing experience and existing infrastructure. 

GLOBAL LEGAL:  Once the decision was made to outsource, what criteria did you use to evaluate potential vendors?

TONY WRIGHT:  Our evaluation criteria for each of the five models broke into the following primary headings:  differentiation & innovation; delivery confidence; cultural fit; contractual; growth potential; risk; financial; time and implementation approach.

GLOBAL LEGAL:  Looking back on the process, what advice do you have for other law firms? 

TONY WRIGHT:  I wouldn’t say I’m in any position to offer any advice yet – we’ve still got a long way to go to demonstrate the success of this arrangement.

However, purely according to what I’ve learned from the process to date:  agree the business objectives early and don’t lose focus on them.  Keep bringing back the decision-making process to the question of “will this help us realise our objectives?”  Any Head of a law firm’s business operations will understand the complexity of managing and effecting change to business services within a law firm.  Our initiative has enjoyed engagement and support from the firm’s Partners on our executive team and from our Board – that central sponsorship is critical to any success. 

The only other point relates to the immediate due diligence on the senior management and clients currently working with potential partners.  The cultural fit with the partnering organisation is critical.  I, and colleagues of mine, have spent time talking to clients of Integreon – to ensure that we’re partnering with an organisation in whom existing clients trust, so that we can trust this new partner to deliver on the objectives set for the arrangement.  So far, we’ve been delighted in the approach and response we’ve received from the senior team at Integreon, and personally, I’m enjoying working with the Integreon team as we enter the “roll our sleeves up” phase of designing the best model for successful operations moving forward.

Part 2 has been posted at CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 2).

4 Responses to CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 1)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ronfriedmann and Toby Brown, Red Bridge Strategy. Red Bridge Strategy said: "CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 1)" posted in Global Legal at […]

  2. D.H. says:

    £583M for middle office services!

  3. […] If you missed part 1, you can find it at CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 1). […]

  4. Prashant says:

    Speaking with the clients of your vendor is a very certain way of assessing the work that you can expect from the vendor.

    Good luck with the outsourcing venture!

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