Law offices are a hub of activity, with teams striving to get work done more efficiently and swiftly. However, handling myriad back-office operations while focusing on their core tasks can be a major challenge for any law firm’s in-house personnel. In the increasingly competitive landscape, partnering with a legal process outsourcing company is a viable strategy for law firms to get a wide variety of functions handled effectively, quicker, and at a lower cost.
Factors driving Demand for LPO
Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) Market size is expected to cross USD 30 billion by 2027, according to a new research report from Global Market Insights, Inc. The main factors driving the growth of LPO are:
- rising number of corporate organizations
- increased demand for specialized legal services to comply with changing regional and international regulations
- high rates of hiring legal services
- focus on global expansion by large multinational organizations
- efforts of SMEs to reduce pressure on their company’s legal department and control operational costs
By increasing the pressure on in-house legal teams, the COVID-19 crisis expanded the role of legal process outsourcing companies. The Association of Certified E-discovery Specialists (ACEDS) points out that law firms now have to deal with disruption of workflows, manage unplanned legal work remotely and address several increased risks related to litigation, investigations, privacy, security, and employee behavior and safety.
What Functions can Law Firms Outsource?
Legal process outsourcing helps law firms manage increased responsibilities, focus on core competencies, provide a smooth litigation process, cut costs, enjoy delegation efficiency, save time, improve service quality and assure round-the-clock client support. Here are the services legal firms can outsource:
- Administrative functions: Law firms can benefit from outsourcing an array of administrative functions such as data entry, document scanning, invoice & payroll processing, secretarial and paralegal support, document management, virtual legal assistance, and legal writing.
- Document conversion: Outsourcing document conversion helps law firms achieve a paperless office with solutions such as data entry, paper migration, legal document scanning, OCR conversion, and microfilm and microfiche scanning. Paper documents can be converted into structured digital documents in formats such as Word, Excel, PDF, SGML, HTML, TIFF, and more, making them easy to store, access, and share. Electronic documents improve access to client information, reduce storage costs, promote adherence to document preservation mandates, and reduce threats to the safety of legal files.
- Contract drafting: Drafting legal contracts is complex and time-consuming task that requires great attention to detail. LPO companies can ensure accurate and timely contract drafting, and avoid risk of errors that can affect litigation. Legal drafting services include editing, proofreading, and reviewing pre-drafted documents for errors and re-drafting them.
- Legal research: Outsourcing companies provide comprehensive support for legal research. In fact, such quality support can be crucial when it comes to winning a case. Outsourcing would ensure that professionals with excellent research skills handle the tasks of finding relevant past decisions and collecting viable law references which are necessary to support legal decision making. Legal research services are available for general business, labor and employment, insurance, real estate, tax litigation, product liability, international litigation, healthcare and securities litigation.
- Legal coding support: Litigation coding services ensure that legal documents are properly sorted, and indexed or catalogued for quick retrieval when required. Outsourcing ensures accuracy, consistency and speed in bibliographic coding which is necessary for image-based documents that have little or no metadata. A reliable legal process outsourcing company will ensure thorough analysis and custom data capture, allowing a law firm to easily retrieve data relevant to its case at hand. Along with document coding, LPO companies also provide logical document determination (LDD) which involves reviewing large scanned document collections and determining the “logical document breaks” in the content. E-brief hyperlinking is another service that facilitates immediate access to various citations in legal documents, allowing for hassle-free interaction with the documents.
- E-discovery: Today, law firms handling large cases are seeking computer-assisted review to manage growing volumes of evidence. E-discovery services are a cost-effective option that allows information to be quickly retrieved from digital records. The process involves predictive coding that takes information derived from manual coding and applying the logic to a large collection of documents. Outsourcing e-discovery ensures that the entire process from data identification, preservation and collection to processing, review and analysis, and production is handled by experts.
According to a 2020 law.com report, while leading law firm Sullivan & Cromwell has invested in advanced technology and improved its profit margin, it also owes its success to back-office decisions. The firm began outsourcing some of its non-legal functions and infrastructure in 2017, and has gained from skilled talent to oversee the work as well as economies of scale when they buy services in bulk. Company Chairman Joe Shenker says that outsourcing has allowed Sullivan & Cromwell to see at least a 20% cost savings since it began, and that it helped drive the firm’s profit margin improvements. The same report also references David Fleming, Goodwin’s Proctor’s chief information officer as saying that all law firms considering legal process outsourcing should carefully evaluate service agreements and who their vendors are hiring. He notes that as vendors could be viewed as an extension of the department providing the services, they need to be up to a law firm’s standards.
Experienced legal process outsourcing companies are equipped with the latest technologies, skilled manpower and advanced security measures, making them well-positioned to handle the requirements of today’s law firms. Partnering with an experienced company can help law offices significantly reduce operational costs and workload. They can also gain valuable time to focus on their core competencies and serve their clients better.