Vince Neicho is VP – Legal Services at Integreon, based in London. Before that, he was at Allen & Overy for 42 years. For much of that time he was responsible for A&O’s eDisclosure and litigation support function. I interviewed him recently and asked him to explain why he moved to Integreon at this stage in his career, and how his former and present roles complemented each other.
Vince said that he wanted to something new before hanging up his boots. Apart from the subject-matter overlap, Integreon has the same ethos of high client service as Allen & Overy. He is subject-matter expert at Integreon for disclosure / discovery and document management, and is involved also in other service lines of Integreon.
I asked Vince why law firms would send out of the firm work which has traditionally provided a good income, and why they would choose Integreon. Vince said that he had considered a range of options for A&O, including outsourcing, doing a great deal of due diligence on Integreon and others, including going to India, before deciding on Integreon.
Allen & Overy was one of the first firms to accept that clients are happy to pay top rates for top lawyers, but clients see also that part of the process might be done elsewhere to the same standards and more cost-effectively. Clients were involved in the decisions as to how the work was to be done.
Vince Neicho emphasised that law firms still have revenue-earning opportunities even when the first stage (at least) of disclosure is done outside. Integreon expected law firms to attach their brand to the work and to supervise it. Like other outsourcers, Integreon does not give legal advice. An intricate briefing note is prepared by the law firm, just as they would prepare one for their own internal teams. This note is not a one-off, but evolves as the project continues. In addition, there is a daily escalation call.
In addition, the law firm does the sampling – Integreon expects at least 10% to be sampled by the law firm on top of its own procedures. Where a firm is staffed to do it, as A&O obviously is, Integreon does the first stage review and the second stage is done by A&O in their low-cost Belfast office.
Outsourcing is one of perhaps several ways of dealing with the problem when talking to both clients and the court. Both appreciate it when the lawyers can identify different routes to the objective, complete with costs estimates.
Vince makes the good point that most lawyers and law firms would much rather be doing something other than document review, where Integreon’s people are perhaps more focused on the process.
Outsourcing disclosure is not just for big firms. It is attractive also to smaller firms who may be daunted by opponents with big teams. It is also liked by small specialist firms doing the headline litigation we read about in the papers.