ShiftSixOS: Integrated Resourcing Cuts Staffing Costs By 70%

As a former LegalTech executive, Chris Stock has worked with law firms for over two decades. A few years ago, he observed an alarming trend among smaller law firms.

“Hiring support staff, legal secretaries, legal assistants and legal bookkeepers used to be very easy to find for small law firms,” said Stock. “Now, as salary expectations grow, they’re competing with large law firms to hire that sort of talent. Large law firms can basically control the market because they can afford to pay these higher salaries.

“That was really preventing small law firms from being competitive with large firms but also preventing them from scaling their businesses because they can’t find staff, so they are unable to bring on additional attorneys.”

The pandemic helped provide the solution. “If your legal secretary can work from across town, then why can’t they work from the Philippines?” asked Stock.

Stock is the co-founder and chief executive officer of a new company called ShiftSixOS. It’s a legal outsourcing company with an operations center in Manila that provides law firms with administrative support who have law firm experience and for whom English is their primary language.

“What we call integrated resourcing allows our client to onboard staff with a reduced cost of up to 70%,” said Stock.

Akin to a Recruiting Agency

“We are more akin to a recruitment agency that just happens to source candidates offshore,” said Stock. “Our law firm clients get to interview, hire and manage their employees just like any other remote staff, but they get to do so without the added paperwork and HR responsibilities, 401(k)s, and other benefits. The employee works directly and exclusively for the firm and is fully aligned with the firm’s goals and needs.”

The most common positions ShiftSixOS hires for are executive assistants and personal assistants who have experience working in a law firm and understanding law firm terminology. “We have a vast database of applicants with legal secretarial experience and an understanding of U.S. law.”

The law firm’s administrative staffers in the Philippines earn 70% less than a staffer with similar experience in the U.S. Yet, according to Stock, legal staffers in the U.S. and the Philippines enjoy a similar lifestyle because of the cost of living difference between the two countries.

When a law firm wants to fill a position, it provides ShiftSixOS with a job description. Then the company recruits candidates and presents them to the law firm. The firm will interview the candidates and make the hiring decision, then all the backend paperwork and payroll is handled by ShiftSixOS. The law firm then pays ShiftSixOS a pre-determined, all-inclusive price.

Mastery of English

An elephant appears in the room whenever you start talking about outsourcing overseas. It brings to mind people who speak broken, heavily accented English, with scripted greetings, no knowledge of the business, and reading instructions from a handbook. And every time you call the support desk, you talk to a different person.

Stock says clients will face none of those problems. “English is one of the national languages of the Philippines,” said Stock. “When we vet the candidates, their mastery of English is a part of the criteria for the position. This is more important for client-facing roles naturally, although we will sometimes ask our clients to give more heavily accented candidates a chance when it comes to developer positions and backend roles. Though, firms will be surprised to find that many of the residents of Manila have neutral accents that are very similar to what we hear in America. You probably won’t even notice the difference.”

“When picking paralegal and legal assistant candidates for our clients to interview, ShiftSixOS searches for staffers who have had training in U.S. law procedures and have worked with U.S. law firms in the past. Most US-certified paralegals in the Philippines are actually Philippine lawyers who have a much better understanding of general legal principles than the average paralegal in the United States.”

“If a client is unhappy with their hired staff’s performance, there is a probationary period, and if a staff member does not work out, there are no additional fees. A replacement employee is hired to continue the contract in their place with no other changes,” explained Stock. The firm does not pay unemployment or deal with any other termination-related paperwork.

Offshore staff are available to work the same hours as their American law firm as requested. Although law firms can also have their offshore staff work different hours than their American offices. “This could be especially effective for client intake roles so that the firm can collect client data at all hours of the day.”

Cybersecurity

It’s not uncommon for small law firms to have insufficient cybersecurity, but Stock said the link between law firm clients and his operations center and the center itself is ISO/IEC 27001 compliant. ISO/IEC 27001 is an information security standard created by the International Organization for Standardization that sets guidelines for managing information security management. “I’ve never met a small firm in fact, that has been able to achieve that level of compliance,” said Stock.

“We need to make sure that not only do we have policies and procedures in place that adhere to the world’s best practice from a security perspective. We also have the systems in place, the audit processes in place, the security on the machines, and the security in the facility if staff members are working from home.”

Client Intake Management

“We know that 87% of people will hire the first lawyer they reach. But there are phone calls and inquiries to law firms that go unanswered all day, every day,” said Stock.  Law firms can hire client intake management staff from ShiftSixOS.

After the attorney and legal intake specialist collaborate to create the screening questions, they are available to respond quickly to client messages and calls.

“If the calls are being answered or if an inquiry comes through the website, the potential client is getting an immediate response. If a chat inquiry service is available on the website, it’s manned for an immediate response,” said Stock.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

ShiftSixOS can provide staff for bookkeeping and accounting. “They can do everything from collections to trust accounting to billing, accounts payable, and filing taxes to the IRS at the end of every year, and are familiar with all accounting standards. Stock said he recommends that clients use a dual authority process for banking as a safeguard.

“No law firm functions should have someone in accounts able to transfer money in and out of the bank account without a secondary authority.”

Part of the Team

Just like law firm staff working remotely across town, ShiftSixOS recommends that the firm speak weekly with their staffer in the Philippines on a face-to-face basis with programs like Zoom and Teams.

“Speaking through video chat is the best way to negate any misunderstandings and to make your remote employees feel more comfortable and a part of the team,” said Stock. “Quick questions can also be asked over the phone or through text chat throughout the day. Our company is happy to help our law firms to set these programs up if needed,” said Stock.

“We want to give law firms a leg up so they can compete with the big guys. Thereupon providing them with more time and money so they can focus on what is most important, their practices.”

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