LPO Source is a platform to assist firms to become well-informed purchasers of outsourced legal services. By offering insights from our on-the-ground experience, LPO Source is a valuable resource to firms that are already outsourcing or are considering outsourcing legal services in the future. LPO Source also provides updates on important happenings in the legal outsourcing industry.
The integrity of the reporting for the LPO Source is ensured through our independence from all provider firms. We feel that there is a need for an unbiased perspective on the market from someone who has been to these places and reviewed a number of offshore providers firsthand.
Based on our research and interactions with client firms in the U.S., the following are the four most discussed areas in the legal outsourcing industry.
LPO ≠ BPO
Legal process outsourcing (“LPO”) is different than other general outsourced business services (“BPO”). The primary differentiators is the legal domain expertise required by the offshore provider for a successful legal outsourcing engagement. It is critical for the offshore team to demonstrate a strong understanding of the legal domain. Whereby ensuring that all relevant legal issues are understood and addressed appropriately.
Growth Not Cataclysm
The legal outsourcing industry is a rapidly growing industry – we have seen the growth firsthand, but claims predicting the end of the domestic legal profession are a bit exaggerated.
Legal outsourced services support, not supplant, domestic legal professionals. Large numbers of legal professionals are not having their jobs taken away due to outsourced legal services. Legal services performed offshore are almost exclusively low-level, high-volume work, typically not performed by lawyers. Furthermore, there is not a mass exodus of recently out of work lawyers packing up in hopes of better prospects in offshore locations.
The American Bar Association (“ABA”) provided insight and direction for the legal outsourcing industry with the Formal Ethics Opinion 08-451: 451 Lawyer’s Obligations When Outsourcing Legal and Nonlegal Support Services published August 5, 2008. The ethics opinion was a major advancement for the legal outsourcing industry, but the ethics opinion also places a lot of responsibility on the contracting firm.
Organizations must take the appropriate steps to ensure that the offshore provider is competent and secure. Obligations to contracting firms extended beyond the initial due diligence to the ongoing oversight throughout the engagement.
Not All Providers Are Created Equal
While there are a number of highly capable legal outsourcing providers, not all are created equal. Providers have different capabilities, areas of expertise, methods of delivering services and levels of security. All of these factors have far-reaching implications that need to be accounted for during the due diligence and on-going relationship management stages.
A buyer of legal services should not outsource on the assumption that the offshore provider can stretch to meet their legal outsourcing needs. Provider capabilities and security need to be demonstrated and confirmed before outsourcing decisions are made.