TROUBLED Edinburgh law firm DUNDAS & WILSON, recently hit in the ‘Tender Bender’ resignation scandal involving insider information obtained by a senior partner in a bidding contract has set up a firm within the firm comprised exclusively of paralegals to carry out work for clients which would previously been undertaken by solicitors. The firm claimed the move would save clients money, as much of the work to be carried out by the Legal Services Unit (LSU) would focus on routine, procedural and repeat work.
Led by Fiona Letham, a solicitor at the firm for 14 years, the Legal Services Unit (LSU) will otherwise be staffed by paralegals, undertaking tasks such as searches, filing, registrations, basic due diligence, and document review and collation. The team of nine will be based across Scotland, but provide support to the London office as well as the Scottish offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The firm is already looking to hire more paralegals to expand the unit.
The recently elected managing partner Allan Wernham, who will supervise the LSU operation, said: "I am excited to be part of the launch of the Legal Services Unit. Clients are very interested in their law firms coming up with innovative ways to resource their work and new delivery models that can improve efficiency. The LSU allows us to provide clients with more flexible resource for volume tasks, but at the same time, retain the assurance of having work done by a leading law firm.”
Mr Wernham went onto claim : “The LSU is a breath of fresh air in the legal market and as well as being advantageous for clients, it will benefit paralegals, who will have a new career path opened up to them.”
However, a legal insider commented he thought it was unlikely costs to clients will be reduced, also pointing out the situation remains unclear as to whether clients will be told their legal interests are not being dealt with by a fully qualified solicitor, or whether the same ‘safeguards’ for poorly provided services or negligent work will cover the activities of the paralegals in the new ‘arms length’ style unit. (Oh no, not another Glasgow City Council style ALEO ! – Ed)