Delegation of functions is a common practice in busy legal offices. Legal process outsourcing arose from the need to have specialists handling non-core tasks for which the busy attorney just did not have time to do. Today, this trend is seen as a means to cut costs, save time, and stay competitive. Common processes outsourced by legal professionals include document processing activities including transcription, litigation coding, document conversion, trial preparation, legal and litigation support services, legal research and drafting, and intellectual property rights enforcement and registrations.
For LPOs to perform jobs of critical importance such as coding or legal research, they should have experts that have been trained in the host jurisdiction. In fact, before making the decision to partner with a third party support service provider, legal firms need to consider certain important aspects:
- Have a clear idea as to what outsourcing can achieve for your business
- Whether such an association will fit in with the culture and values of your business
- Evaluate technologies, processes, expertise, and governance structure to identify the best vendor to meet your objectives
- Conduct in-depth research on potential LPO providers to ensure whether they meet risk management targets including client confidentiality, data security, potential conflicts of interests, and SRA regulatory requirements
- The contract should cover key issues such as
- Allocation of liability
- Business continuity plans
- Framework for managing client concerns
- Quality supervision and governance structure
- Roles of personnel
- Termination rights and obligations
- Procedures should be put in place to assure that the services rendered are in compliance with legal obligations of the client and counsel
- Know the support and training that will be required from their side
The American Bar Association (ABA) has outlined strategic considerations for outsourcing legal and non legal support services. These include asking about measures in place to ensure security of client information including its computer network and refuse disposal systems; enquiring into its hiring practices so as to ascertain the character of staff who are likely to have access to client files; and assessing the educational background of the lawyers or non-lawyers involved. Among other things, the ABA also recommends that the client should oversee the project adequately and appropriately.
Major clients of LPO services include law firms, legal professionals, and corporations that need in-house legal services. With the advantages that legal process outsourcing offers, the industry is expected to reach $4 billion by 2015.