Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Considerations for short-listing of Vendors- Part 1

This post and the upcoming post shall concentrate on a few important considerations that usually weigh with the foreign law firm /corporation while short-listing vendors for the purpose of off-shoring legal work.

These are being specifically discussed here because different start- up companies more often than not seeks advice on these matters.

As an Indian LPO it is extremely important that you impress the foreign law firm about the fact that your small little management team does have adequate experience about setting up, operating and smoothly making go an off-shoring business. In case you can show that one of your managers has extensive experience of operating an offshore business in either the U.S. or UK, it shall build high confidence in the prospective customer. This and a little more, you need to establish in no uncertain terms that your management is also alive to the “off-shoring weather” as it prevails in India.

Next consideration would be your staff and the lawyers who would actually execute the work on the production floor. It is necessary to establish that your lawyers have the subject matter expertise to execute just the kind of assignment which you are pitching for. With a team having a subject matter expertise in contract management you could not have pitched in for legal research and vice versa. It would be relevant to mention at this point, that, just to show that your team is efficient in everything please do not clutter your website with a laundry list of all legal and paralegal activities.

Potential clients would also judge whether your lawyers have the technical expertise to handle the kind of work that is being offered to be off-shored. For example with a team which is specialized in handling document review software you could not have filled in a RFP for a US Personal Injury Case Management Project, to be executed through a case management software and vice versa.

Size does matter with the buyers. This is one reason why big law firms approach vendors which have a huge infrastructure. It is not that big LPOs always have a big team to start up a project. It is also not a fact that they always get projects which involve 50 or 75 lawyers at the very onset, but it is a fact that they have the capacity (read, manpower as well as finance) to scale up their operations almost overnight if the project so demands. To test the power of the vendor to scale up, the off-shore buyer looks into the financial capacities of the vendor, its investors and the board.

Though it might prove to be immensely expensive for small LPOs, but having a manager on board with a US or a UK law degree can prove to be immensely beneficial. The presence of such a person would hold out to the world at large that the vendor’s management team has direct knowledge of the foreign legal system.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

*Investing in LPO*

More and more firms coming out to catch with the demands in legal offshoring work, the sense is in right investments, a perfect strategy to follow for a better return to your investments. LPO is for sure a golden opportunity that the legal industry throws on far flung destinations, but many newly started LPOs had to down the shutters for not able to tap this prospect.

Like any demanding industry, legal process offshoring firms require a strategy to maintain infrastructure. Market services, have a good legal team, a highly decorated office or a flaringly designed office would not help secure the market. The organizational make-up should not only impress the clients, also satisfy their challenging concerns about the firm.

European and US firms have a very different outsourcing perspective than the local legal firms; they are very concerned about deliverables and quality standards. Costs and savings may not be the top priority in all circumstances. To make sure their quality criterion are fulfilled, they want to see people behind the veil; to know how well trained they are; their selection procedures and would prefer their own lawyers joining the offshoring office. Using proclaimed softwares, integrated data security systems and secured work places also give them a judgment of quality and credibility of the LPO. Evidently, a work force and infrastructure that is just not capable but also satisfy their concerns or looks good in their view should be tacitly designed.

New start LPO also falls out from US market for lack of competent staff, the Indian lawyers are not trained on the US law and there is little number of institutes imparting the training. Lack of knowledge on US law in such LPO degrades the quality of work leading to loosing work from the client. Legal firms are also reluctant to give a second chance; hence a one time bad mark can prove crucial to future work from the client.

Pointing to all these aspects of Legal Process offshoring, a right
investment or budget that look beyond the office infrastructure and a
qualified legal team to a more polished ambience, which enlightens your LPO in front of the clients, will pave to better marketing of the services.

Monday, November 1, 2010

*Information Technology for LPO*

To quote, Information technology sustains Legal Process Offshoring would be
never far away from reality. The technology has made the growth of LPO
sector possible. Have you thought, how is LPO & IT related?

Legal Process Offshoring requires huge amounts of data to be transferred
between the legal firm and LPO. Significantly, LPO has to process and
maintain this data. Therefore, information technology stands with legal
data right from its transit from the legal firm to the LPO Company, each
stage of data handling, storage, processing and journey back to the legal

Information Technology provides many solutions for the LPO like data
encryption and coding, network and data security, data base management
systems, digital technical libraries, software for handling legal work,
technology to supervise work by the legal firms in far away locations and
promote communication between LPO and the legal firm.

Data encryption and coding is an unavoidable part as confidential data is
transferred sometimes across open networks; so, the security of data needs
to be ensured. Providing network and data security is yet another important
requirement. The computer networks and data within the LPO and legal firm
have to be protected against any attempt to retrieve or damage data and
against attack by computer viruses by placing sufficient security systems
such as firewall.

Client data can run into huge volumes. Hence, a suitable data base
management system is needed to manage this data, calling for storing it in a
stacked manner and a system to easy access and provision to work with the
data. Fail-safe systems to prevent any loss of data should also be
incorporated. Preparing legal work would mean scrolling through digital
libraries on legal books, case studies and in case of patents a database of
old patents etc.

Open softwares are available for handling legal work, but the industry
depends on proprietary software sometimes custom build to suit individual
requirements. These softwares contain tools made specially to operate
functions needed in the process of legal work. Some softwares provide access
for the legal firm to monitor work from their offices abroad.

Communication is a key to any business, the Information technology has
brought down distances between the concerns, and it makes no difference if
the firms are thousands of miles apart or in the same city. Utilities like
Video conferencing have made virtual conferences possible adding a punch
to effective communication.

IT, therefore, becomes an inseparable part of legal process of offshoring by
bringing security, systematize, communication and facilitate work to be done
in remote locations. Information technology would certainly evolve with LPO
providing solutions all the way in every turn of future. Join us at Global
LPO Conference 2010 and learn more about IT and LPO from the veterans.

Friday, October 29, 2010


LPO and ethics have been always knitted together, for Legal Process Offshoring raises many questions on ethics. These were timely dealt with by American, European and many local bar Associations; which resulted in framing various Model rules of conduct for legal offshoring. Ethical issues range from legality of offshoring, quality of work, client confidentiality, charging clients for overhead cost in outsourcing and conflict in work done.

Only lawyers practicing in the country are bound by the Court of law, whereas offshoring meant legal information crossing borders to lawyers and non-lawyers not covered by the law. Addressing the ethical issue lawyers are needed to take full responsibility for the work outsourced, obliging to supervise the work outsourced and keeping a tab on the competence of the firm or the lawyer to whom the work is outsourced while assuring the work quality.

The quality of work done by non-lawyers in the outsourced firm is often a matter of regard, but the well-trained and skilful lawyers working in the LPO firms supervise and ensure quality content.

A lawyer is restricted to pass client confidences or secrets to a third party and it would require the client’s consent to do so, however the clients in many cases are reluctant to allow lawyers to share their confidential information to firms abroad. The overseas LPO Company is bound to see that the client data remains confidential in every stage. The facilities maintained by the LPO vendor for ensuring it become a very important factor in this regard.

Bar Associations has at all times voiced against over-charging clients in the pretext of offshoring. The associations argue to incorporate the offshoring expenditure in their normal fee structure to the clients. Conflict of work is a simple but notable thing to be ensured by the lawyer. A conflict checking mechanism should be maintained by the lawyer to check that no conflict arises in the work done by the outsourced firm that could be adverse to the interests of the client.

Ethics in LPO is both static and dynamic in nature, with a one time static assessment of capability and credibility of the LPO firm, and a routine dynamic process of evaluations of assigned job. Ethical issues are not to be addressed as hindrances to legal offshoring but a moral conduct that has to be maintained in the process of offshoring legal processes.