Outsourcing is a topic of conversation that emerges at nearly every legal conference. While early conversations approached the topic with caution, a growing chorus of legal professionals view outsourcing – and even the inclusion of non-legal professionals – as a reliable, necessary component of their practice.

A breakout session at the second annual Corporate Counsel Leadership Forum in New York this week took a fresh look at outsourcing, how it’s being used, how it can benefit those implementing it and their clients, both internally and externally.

The session was moderated by David Obarowski, chief strategy officer, Business Process Services, IBM, and featured: Nadia Dombrowski, senior vice president and general counsel, Community Federal Savings Bank; Michael Sonsteng, head, Legal Process Outsourcing, Infosys BPO; and Arvin’s Vij, managing director and associate general counsel, J.P. Morgan.

Opening the discussion, the group encouraged the audience to first know their capabilities, understand the advantages outsourcing offers in extending those capabilities and plan out the end-goals for using outside resources. Often the discussion, both internally and externally, is focused on and begins with pricing, but as legal professionals evaluate their needs, the real advantages of outsourcing begin to rise to the top of the discussion. Those topics revolve around flexibility and staffing, greater coverage of projects, additional expertise in multiple areas, and process improvements that can lead to more consistent results and reduced risk.

The panel also addressed how in-house legal professionals must convince both internal and external stakeholders on the value of leveraging alternative legal providers. Not surprisingly, when procurement and finance are involved – and a clear analysis of cost savings is presented – clients are on board. But working across functions and getting buy-in is vital; there is not a one size fits all approach, but the involvement of key stakeholders, management and possibly even the board may lead to less risk, improved efficiency and greater business success.

While staffing is often seen as a key component of outsourcing, technology is also a significant element. Making the appropriate investment in technology is the start, but organizations must ensure the right security and governance standards are applied to their work as well. Proper oversight is key to ensure that the outsourcing group adheres to the rules and regulations.

The panel concluded that outsourcing is a valuable strategy that enables organizations to commoditize, standardize and efficiently manage workflow. In the end, employing alternative legal providers can take the noise away from your workflow, enabling the right people to do high-value work without the need to increase staff.