What to Look for in a Middle Office Services Provider
Many sources will offer advice on what to look for in a legal services provider. Features to look for include company longevity, client references, expertise with your size law firm and practices, reasonable costs, and quality control guarantees.
All of these are relevant, and most legal services providers will say they offer these things.
However, you can tell a lot about a provider by what they’re not telling you. There are additional areas essential to your success that many providers do not highlight. These include strong physical and cybersecurity, leadership team experience, and a comprehensive training program.
Physical and Cybersecurity
Most firms are concerned about their data security, for good reason. Some firms are reluctant to send work off site or allow any outside access to the firm’s documents since they believe their network is inherently more secure. Of course, files are sent or accessed outside the firm environment every day, and even data inside the firm may be compromised by ransomware, intrusion threats, or targeted attacks.
These firms often make two dangerous assumptions:
Data accessed off-site is inherently less secure and/or there is no way to provide that same security in an off-site facility. Firms may assume that on-site data is more secure than off-site because the firm has direct control. However, direct control and off-site are not mutually exclusive – and control does not always translate into greater security. Many law firms do not track physical or digital data locations, and attorneys frequently use insecure file sharing methods like Dropbox, Gmail, and even thumb drives. Additionally, this assumes that an off-site facility would only access documents via remote access or email.
Cybersecurity is the only kind of security that matters. Cybersecurity is critical to keeping data safe. But even giant corporations have experienced data breaches simply because employees walked off with laptops, servers, and/or storage devices. Physical security is also crucial.
Instead of being afraid to allow access to data via an off-site facility, look for an LPO provider who can prove strong cyber and physical security. Verify cybersecurity measures are in place (intrusion detection, secure VPNs, dedicated computing infrastructure), and ensure physical security measures are strong as well (locked-down computer equipment, internal surveillance, data center employee controls).
Experienced Leadership Team
It’s common in consulting and legal services industries to sell middle office services using the same leadership and support philosophy as more traditionally outsourced business lines. Although middle office legal services can leverage some of the basics of other outsourced areas, there are specific nuances and experience required to create a partnership that can evolve while proactively offering efficiencies and cost savings.
Look for a provider who has a practice led by middle office experienced staff knowledgeable enough to leverage historical perspective with the latest in middle office best practices and technology. You have the right to expect that you will be working only with experienced leaders who know and understand the needs of your specific business.
Comprehensive Training Program
When you outsource middle office services, you expect that the provider will hire employees with the right skillset to support your needs. The challenge is that many LPO providers offer only basic applications training that is computer-based and generic. In today’s environment it is important that middle office staff know how to support the firm with specific knowledge in newer technologies and applications. The middle office staff should be able to support both tenured partners and newer associates with their varied needs. This requires a training program that evolves and continues throughout the partnership.
There are also other circumstances where an ongoing, interactive training program is even more critical to success:
You asked the LPO provider to hire some of your own middle office employees, and they need training.
You built a shared services hub in a labor market that lacks law firm and/or middle office experience.
You are deploying new technologies and need to train middle office support teams first to act as a support resource for the firm’s end users.
Ask about experienced trainers and comprehensive training curricula when choosing an legal services provider.
Putting It All Together: Outsourced Law Firm Middle Office Services
Epiq provides a secure team environment leveraging our highly secure data center, deeply experienced leadership, and comprehensive, customized training programs.
Instead of creating logical partitions or shared space like most multitenant environments do, our middle office facility in Atlanta provides a secure space to house teams with dedicated infrastructure and staff specific to each client. In addition to intrusion detection, encryption, and strong access controls, the data center also monitors its employees with internal surveillance, a ban on personal devices, and locked-down computer equipment.
Our leadership team has more than 100 years of combined direct experience in law firm middle office services, and we have a national training director that focuses on developing and training middle office functions. As our teams grow even more experienced in middle office services, you work with more and more highly trained employees – always at fair market prices.
The right LPO provider will improve efficiencies and lower costs. But finding the right one for you is a big decision. Ensure your success by knowing the questions to ask, and holding out for the right answers.