Outsourcing: driving continuous improvement – an interview with Jeremy Barton

Outsourcing: driving continuous improvement – an interview with Jeremy Barton

Think outsourcing and you inevitably think cost-cutting. But what other benefits can it bring to your business and how do you achieve these? Sophie Gould talks to Jeremy Barton, Partner and General Counsel at KPMG in the UK, about operational transformation, the importance ofpreparation, and how outsourcing can develop the skills ofthe legal team.

Tell us a little bit about your background and your team …

I’ve been General Counsel at KPMG for nearly two years, so I’m relatively new. I started off at Norton Rose then moved in-house at Andersen, where I was EMEA General Counsel. I stuck with Andersen through its Enron-triggered collapse and emerged as General Counsel ofthe Ernst & Young global organisation. I worked there for five years, driving the integration ofa $30bn professional services organisation. I then became global General Counsel and Head ofRisk at The Boston Consulting Group. I was there for eight years, building up a global team.

There are over 50 people in the KPMG team. It’s a combination oflawyers and non-lawyers. We have accountants in legal because historically the focus oflegal risk management has been on the regulated audit side ofthe business.

Since I joined, we’ve started a transformation programme. The first part ofthe transformation was around the organisation ofthe team. It was relatively compartmentalised so we’ve broken that down and reinforced being one team across the specialities: corporate, commercial and practice protection & regulatory.

We also established our strategic priorities for the next 2 to 3 years. One ofthose priorities is operational excellence and operational transformation is key to that. The first phase ofthe operational transformation included outsourcing and offshoring. As a result, we use an outsource provider in India and my own team is now based both in London and in Gurgaon in India.

How is the outsourcing working?

We started with NDAs. It’s a ubiquitous type ofdocument that highly qualified lawyers don’t really enjoy doing unless they

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About the author:

Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices. 

As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers.  These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK.  She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors. 

She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.  

Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.