Tuesday, June 29, 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.

Considerations for short-listing of Vendors- Part 2

The next that comes to the mind of the buyer is whether the vendor has done everything that needs to be done and set up all that is required to be put in place to manage security of data.

This is a biting issue and a major pain area. As an Indian LPO, you need to implement all security requirements and data security plans. The necessary configurations must be in place and you must elaborately speak in your website about all the data security measures that you have put in. Care must also be taken to ensure that no employee of yours can take data out of the office premises in any manner and that data that you are entrusted with is secure.Planned security checks at every entry and exit point and etc must be implemented.

An existing relationship between the vendor and the proposed buyer in any other field of work, adds great mileage to the credentials of the vendor. For example if you are an IT company already working on IT assignments with the buyer, and in the current deal you are pitching in for off-shored legal assignments from the same buyer for your newly established LPO; you shall definitely be a step ahead of the other contenders for the same work. This example is just illustrative and not exhaustive. There could be many such other existing relationships.

Operating out of multiple geographical locations is another aspect that brings you more than many clients. A vendor having operational set up in more than one geographical location is in a better position to meet the needs of different category of vendors. Some buyers might not mind far-shoring while others may be comfortable only with near shoring, so with your very many offices you can serve all of them. This multi-location has another advantage, it assures business continuity. For example you are a vendor with operational set up in City X in India and also at Philippines; a riot breaks out in City X in India and your employees cannot come to work for a week, there are enough chances that you will be able to maintain your support from Philippines. This gives you a point to add in the negotiation meeting.

Professionalism counts, buyers do try to gauge as to whether the vendor is a company that speaks and acts in different directions or does it back up all its communications by appropriate actions. It is necessary that you practice and display enough professionalism in your dealing with the foreign buyer and create a track record of professionalism for your future deals.

Legal Outsourcing and the Dynamic Political Landscape

First there was the speech at the State of the Union address in classic Obamaese, interpreted by many as a signal towards cutting back on outsourcing and close on heels was the writ petition in the High Court of Madras (India) – challenging, amongst other issues, the work done by LPOs.

Both events unfolded thousands of miles apart, with one in a country outsourcing and the other in a country to which it is outsourced. However, two things are remarkably common in both these instances-

i) both received good publicity mileage, which clearly seems to be the only plausible objective, and

ii) both failed, in equal measure, to address the issue square on and to base their criticism of outsourcing on any economic rationale

Critiques of outsourcing have probable existed for longer than the concept itself, for a simple reason that any disruptive technology, which has the potential to change the regular course of things, will always face opposition. People like inertia and change is always resisted. It takes fair understanding and a long term vision to see the benefits of any change – and takes character to, when time comes and results show benefits, to swallow the empty pride and accept the change.

As Mr. Obama has seen for himself while garnering support for the health care reform, not all are amenable to the idea of positive change. The economic rationale behind legal outsourcing is too strong to be ignored and perhaps any subsequent debate or challenge should be more fact based to gain some legitimacy.


India needs one successful LPO Conference, once done; the job is done. Attempts must be made to familiarize foreign buyers with the Indian conditions as well as Indian talents. The fear phobia would be gone in a few interactions.

The distance between US and India as well as the cultural gap restrains the medium sized foreign law firms from off-shoring work to India. Knowing well in their heart of hearts that they stand to gain, the small and medium sized law firms still sit back and keep on wondering about the negative consequences.

Our efforts at any LPO Conference should be to allow them to speak their hearts out and listen to their expectations from us…we need to invite them to specifically speak out as to what kind of training do they expect us to give to our LPO employees, what action/s on our part shall make them feel at home and comfortable.

The so called big LPOs have a sack full to spend on their marketing efforts and they would not much be affected by a Conference either taking place or not taking place in India. The ones who stand to gain are the small and medium sized ones. They are the ones which work on restricted budgets on every count. Their executives need to think twice before traveling to a foreign destination for official work.

Having a whole bundle of buyers right on the Indian soils would allow the small and medium sized LPO vendors to interact with the foreign buyers and thus gain exposure.

One successful LPO Conference shall pave the way for such an event on an annual basis. We shall write in details about the features of the upcoming LPO Conference in out next post.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feeling intimidated? But why

Currently you would find two categories of lawyers in the Western countries

Category 1

You would find them to be shy, shaky and worried about losing everything in their life. Their facial expression would be as if hell has broken loose and the seas are swelling to swallow them in the waves. They would also be found to be abusive about lawyers of other countries without any valid reason …..Courtesy Legal Process Off-shoring to India

Category 2

The second category would be cheerful, expectant, looking forward to higher and better professional activities andwould be ambitious about the forthcoming days. They would be found to be exploring more and better means of global partnership in the legal profession…..Courtesy Legal Process Off-shoring to India.

Whether to belong to Category 1 or Category 2 is the choice of the individual concerned.

But it would only be those in Category 2 who would go ahead with their global legal profession. They would strike synergies with various legal service providers in numerous destinations over-seas, create extensions of their law offices off-shore and put together the best of services from across continents to serve the needs of their clients. In return they would earn a high degree of C-SAT; (Client Satisfaction) and obviously that would mean more inflow of client and cash.

Now what would happen to those in Category 1? Nothing much!!! I mean the same usual story of unsuccessful people…. who feel intimidated for nothing and create a mental blockage for themselves and ultimately end up actually losing everything in life.

But you don’t worry; as an Indian lawyer working in the LPO industry, just keep doing your job with higher efficiency with each passing day and you would have a world of accomplishments to win.

The Indian LPO industry is more than willing to "get into the room" with those people in Category 2 and frame future strategies about how to take the global legal profession to the next level.

Come, let us meet and talk at the Global LPO Conference 2010 on 13th and 14th November, this year in New Delhi , India