During the earliest days of her first experience as an outsourced employee, Catherine Coupland felt a bit like the child of a divorce. Her time was split between the offices of her new employer, a large LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) provider, and her former employer, which had become a client.
Cat had been part of a small team working for a UK law firm when she learned that the law library was being outsourced to the LPO. She kept her job, but found herself the newest member of a much larger team after being an integral part of a small in-house team. This adjustment was a challenge, especially since it happened at the start of her legal research career. She was not yet accustomed to dealing with the regular ebb and flow of change that happens in all organizations over time.
Today Cat is very familiar with outsourcing and the many shapes it encompasses. She now works as a research analyst for LibSource, a managed services provider of library support, knowledge management and information center services that we call Library as a Service®.
Providing “virtual” legal research and other reference services
While she has been involved in projects for a variety of different clients, Cat is essentially dedicated to one LibSource client – a law firm with offices throughout the UK and several other multinational locations. Now she is a remote worker, providing legal research, business intelligence and other information needs via LibSource’s secure research management system.
“Perhaps the most common inquiry I get is for company and shareholder information. Yet I’ve also been challenged with questions like the factual background of an urban myth. And I welcome these challenges. As an archaeologist by training, I am willing to dig. And going through mounds of data is much cleaner and less tiring than digging through mounds of soil!”
Cat is responsible for more than research; she trains new staff and other people in the firm on how to use the LaaS online research management system and other knowledge resources like the firm’s intranet and legal databases. She serves as a liaison to a number of information service vendors and suppliers. She is involved in monitoring and reporting on compliance with the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place for the client.
Cat and the rest of the LibSource team had to transition through an initiation period to build trust, understand personal styles and preferences, and develop a solid working relationship.
“Some lawyers want you to prove yourself, some lawyers like to do their own research, but most of the lawyers I work with are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. Once you prove yourself, they’re good.”
Perks of working for an outsourcing provider like LibSource
As someone who has been at the front line of the outsourcing world, Cat has come to appreciate the benefits and perks. Working for LibSource has offered many advantages:
- She used to spend four hours commuting every day; having that time back has been a priceless benefit, especially as a mother.
- She is saving money on commuting, as well as work wardrobe and other expenses.
- Work variety in different projects and clients – while Cat works primarily for one law firm, the occasional need to support other clients means every day brings something new.
- As a permanent, part-time employee working 25 hours per week, she has time to dedicate to her young family, with the comfort of knowing she’ll have opportunities to increase her hours in the future if needed.
Work flexibility is commonly cited by other LibSource employees as a welcome perk. Another benefit Cat appreciates is the training she receives, along with ongoing support from colleagues, many of whom are in the United States. Cross-country, cross-cultural sharing has helped LibSource researchers (and, we believe, our clients) on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The company encourages and supports my professional development. Of course, it’s related to providing high quality service, but it also helps me personally. I’ve already attained additional legal research training and qualifications and will continue to develop my skills.”
Differences between outsourcing providers
Outsourcing providers may do similar work, but each one brings different approaches and strengths. Cat has worked for two outsourcing companies now. LibSource is dedicated to knowledge and information support services; her other outsourcing employer offered legal services and was much larger.
Cat feels that LibSource is a good medium-sized company, able to offer some of the structure, benefits and resources of a large company along with the openness, flexibility and personal attention of a small company. We remain focused on maintaining that balance even as LibSource grows.
Meanwhile, our UK clients are happy to have Catherine Coupland available to them as a trusted resource to handle their research requests, and we are happy she is part of the LibSource UK team.
I invite you to read additional “day in the life” profiles of other employees and learn more about what it’s like to work for LAC Group.