On the western edge of New Delhi, amid the glittering office developments of the suburb of Gurgaon, the newest part of Clifford Chance’s global empire is open for business. Unlike the firm’s other offices, however, this outpost is not practicing law, still a prohibited activity in India for overseas law firms. Instead, the Clifford Chance office houses a group of Indian IT and accounting specialists, part of the Magic Circle firm’s back-office function. By moving these operations out of higher-cost offices in Europe and the United States, chief executive David Childs predicts, the firm will save �30 million ($60 million) during the next three years.
When it comes to outsourcing, the U.K. legal community still lags far behind many multinational corporations and major U.S. firms — but U.K. firms are beginning to catch on. Clifford Chance’s new Gurgaon facility makes it the first global firm to locate part of its support business in India. Two other Magic Circle firms — Allen & Overy and Linklaters — have already outsourced some back-office functions to Indian contractors, while Eversheds has outsourced a large chunk of its IT function to a U.K.-based specialist.