Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Legal Research Outsourcing: Our Means and Your Ends

video

Among the series of Webinars being hosted by Draft n Craft, Rajni Minhas, Assistant Legal Head, held a Webinar on Legal Research Outsourcing: Our means and your ends.

The purpose of this webinar was to question the paradigm shift in the needs, means and results of Legal Research in wake of integrating world. After holistically looking at the intricacies of the service, the webinar aims to understand and analyse the regulatory and ethical aspects of the same.

Topics Covered in the web cast were:

o Legal Research outsourcing Needs
o Multi jurisdiction research
o Legal Research tools & deliverables
o Memo Writing
o Ethical and Regulatory aspects of Legal Research outsourcing.
o Issues of Confidentiality and Quality
o Process Flow
o Pricing the Legal Research

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Webinar on Outsourcing of Legal Transcription


video

This Webinar on outsourcing of Legal Transcription was conducted by Shweta Saini, Head- Marketing, Draft n Craft, on 20th Day of November 2009. The Webinar holistically looked at legal transcription as an important service and the web cast covered :
· Analysis of the ethical and regulatory aspects of Legal Transcription outsourcing.
· Drivers & Risks of legal transcription outsourcing.
· Errors and Omissions insurance coverage.
· Evaluating if there is actually any labor arbitrage possible given the associated risks and negative externalities?
· Evaluating the importance of Contract Excellence.
· Price considerations.
· Course of the work flow.
· Issues of Confidentiality and Quality
· Less Haste, More Speed
This recording of the webinar is a must view for attorneys, in-house Counsels, paralegals, LPO professionals, law students.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Recent Seminar in London on Outsourcing : Is It a Threat to the Economy?

I am delighted to write about my first Seminar. The event was organized in the heart of the business hub, London, UK on the 11 of June, 2009. The topic, as you all were aware was “Outsourcing: Is it a threat to economy?” .The topic had triggered quiet curiosity in our participating delegates.

The day we landed in London, we heard about the tube strike there, would be a lie if I’d say that the news did not dampen my spirits, but as the D-Day came, things just went on as scheduled and planned.

I am extremely thankful to both my speakers Mr. Dai Davis, Partner at Leeds based Brooke North LLP and Mr.Bharat Vagadia, Chief Executive Officer and Consultant at Op2i Ltd, also a Board Director for the UK National Outsourcing Association (NOA). The event was flagged, after that is, by the inaugural speech by my company’s Legal Head, with a very interactive speech by Dai. I just can’t stop myself from appreciating Dai for the instant connect he developed with the audience. I am sure he got such inspired and involved audiences for himself that actually set the pace for our event further. His speech elaborated on the pros and cons of the outsourcing industry in general and followed on to the legal outsourcing industry in particular. I am sure he had the good rate of converting the cons to the eventual pros in the minds of the audiences, that is. Next was a tea and a coffee break, which more than high tea meant great networking opportunity for all the delegates. Danish pastries were great though. Then the event proceeded with Mr. Bharat Vagadia’s speech. I was extremely delighted to have two such wonderful speakers on my panel, wherein one created such pace for the event and the other actually shared his research report with us. The booklet circulated by
Mr. Vagadia amongst the audience was actually the “Outsourcing Survey Report” 2008, conducted by his company in association with others. The report gave a great insight into the outsourcing industry and I am very sure that it will be well treasured by all receiving it.
The event proceeded with my presentation, though a concise one but I tried to elicit and counter the myths regarding the outsourcing as a concept and the industry as a whole.

The day ended with more networking. This was such a significant, inspiring and positive endeavor that it has given me that zeal to plan yet another such event in the near future.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

OUTSOURCING - A CAUSE FOR LAY OFFS ?

I remember a woodcutter cutting the branch on which he was sitting. It was really the most foolish act one could think of. Nobody shuns one’s source of existence. In case I am working on a project which is very dear to me then I shall find it hard to share it with anyone else. No doubt, the human psychology always guides people to restrain them from doing any act which is not conducive to their interests.

An old man has beautifully said the hand on the latch of main door controls the outward and inward flow of technology services, jobs, opportunities etc. the decisions which are warranted due to compulsions are not good howsoever economical they may be. The growth of Legal Process Outsourcing industry had put a big question mark on the quantum of outsourcing by solicitor firms. Critic to the LPO raised the issue backed the law firms involved in outsourcing will end up in outsourcing their lawyers out of the firm. They started projecting that it will create a big unemployment in highly skilled and respectable profession of lawyers. On the other hand, outsourcing professionals viewed it differently and claimed it merely as a part of globalisation and win win situation for the providers and outsourcing people. According to them, Legal Process Outsourcing has become necessary and natural due to the different variables of two places and countries.

The outsourcing can be commoditized and compare with different outlooks. An economist might compare it with the usual role of demand and supply. In thermodynamics we describe the flow of energy from one place to another depending upon the variable temperature. The Legal Process Outsourcing had begun with the outsourcing of transcription work similar work had commenced with medical transcription. Slowly medical transcription had grown beyond outsourcing of audio files. The Legal Process Outsourcing has also starting shattering the thin line of outsourcing legal transcription in the beginning. The service industry of developed countries like UK, US found a big support in the growth of Legal Process Outsourcing.

I personally believe lay offs from the law firms were primarily due to their inability to match up the expenses and receipts. They have been charging good amount from the clients and in turn paying solicitors a good amount. As people chose to get the same services at lower rates, the receipt of the solicitor firms fell down and in turn lay off started. Nobody thought of reducing the salaries instead of preferring lay offs. One can easily view; the solicitors already into outsourcing were more capable to match up the receipts and expenditures. Apparently, lay offs are not the result of outsourcing but the net results of fall in profits. A growing organisation cannot lay off people. The misconception spread amongst people needs to be set right. In case of solicitor firms outsourcing works in no way curb them from taking more work. Statistics are clear if a solicitor firm charges US$300 per hour from its clients for a contract review and accordingly pays US$150 to its in-house solicitor. There is a good margin but the same diminishes if the client is able to get the work done from another solicitor firm in half of the rates. But the truth lies in the fact that in case the solicitor firm outsources the work of contract review and the price of US$50 and the in-house solicitor simply vets the work received from the service provider. The client would be happy to pay the US$150 to the firm. In a way firm will also gain by cutting down the cost and marginally passing the benefit to the client.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Impact of Recession on LPO business

The human psychology always guides one to allure towards bigger things before being attracted to smaller ones. Everybody tries to be instantaneous in unfurling the answers to the questions confronted. If a person is placed in a position to save different currency notes from fire, he would naturally try to save bigger currency notes before hand.

The recession has acted like a compelling force to make people save in these prime times. People have tried hard to curtail their expenses. The status of solicitors in UK and USA have always remained unblemished and at a dignified position. Their status has always been alluring and attractive because of the confidentiality and quality of services rendered by them. Many business houses started outsourcing their work but the area of outsourcing in solicitors firms remained aloof. The reason of it being so was simple. One may outsource the physical working but none may outsource the ideas, thoughts, intellect and other tactics involved in the profession of the solicitors.

The business of LPO began with the outsourcing of back office support work which primarily consisted of secretarial work. It was further noticed entering into the second category of outsourcing i.e. in respect of paralegal work. It involved working of lawyers to provide good legal research, document review, document drafting etc. It required lawyers who were trained and conversant with the working on the tools. They have been providing a junior lawyer support to the solicitors in UK and USA.

Clients of solicitors based in UK and USA in order to reduce their expenses sought their services being outsourced to some service providers. In turn, the solicitor firms started outsourcing their work to providers in countries like India. This pace of outsourcing got a major push due to recession. The evil of recession has compelled solicitor firms to cut down their cost so as to provide same services at more competitive prices. Significantly, the focus of outsourcing is now tilting towards the legal services in place of secretarial and paralegal services. Legal Process Outsourcing has attained another dimension with the increase in outsourcing of legal work. The reasons for the beginning of outsourcing may be different but the reason of outsourcing the legal services like contract drafting, document review, deposition summary are the outshoot of recession. Recession has proved to be a reason for outsourcing for bigger services from the office of solicitors. There is no doubt that the LPOs have been benefited by the extraordinary growth of software and tools. The availability of software and competent personnel in countries like India has attracted the outsourcing to greater extent. It can be easily visualized that most of the big solicitor firms will have their extended branch offices in India.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recession and Legal Process Outsourcing

The meltdown of the economy world wide sent shocking signals to the head of states. The process of looking out for the causes of recession and measures to hold the recession began. The economists swung into action to dig the policies so as to find reasons for the recession. There have been allegations and counter allegations in ascertaining the reasons of recession. Similarly, the intellectuals started suggesting one after the other remedial measures.

The prominent result of the recession was crunch in the availability of funds with different organization and groups. This in turn, resulted into cutting of costs. Many giant companies also felt the heat. The social set up having abundance of job opportunities found themselves in dearth of the same. The government found itself trapped into a vicious circle. The sustainment of social system was the major issue to be formally dealt by the government. The capitalist government started becoming socialist. It started looking out for all those avenues whereby it could instill confidence amongst people and increase their buying power. Certain organizations required life support. The private organizations looked towards the state so as to help them survive these crises. The concept of outsourcing had born out of the formal business i.e. to increase the profit. Every organization looking for the optimization of the profit tries to reduce the cost and increase the receipts. The financial meltdown across the world gave a clear cut signal to the solicitor firms in USA and UK to cut down their costs so as to maintain their profitability while stressed to reduce the receipts.

Outsourcing was identified with BPOs but for last few years knowledge process outsourcing has found its place. The prominent amongst them being legal process outsourcing. The financial meltdown in economy in developed nations has added a growing chip in the economy of developing nations. It will not be an irony if it is taken as a balancing exercise. More solicitor firms of US and UK have been attracted to outsource their legal and paralegal works to their counterparts in developing countries like India, Philippines. The concept of legal process outsourcing has got a boom in its stage of infancy. The amplitude of growth in LPO industry well explains this. Apart from the financial angle the readily available legal eagle boosted the growth of LPO. Recession is inversely proportional to the growth of legal process outsourcing.

In view of decrease in spending power of people, the solicitors will look forward to provide same services at cheaper prices. This will in turn lead to passing off those services to LPOs. The legal process outsourcing is bound to grow by leaps and bounds. The magnetized attraction by LPOs has started attracting outsourcing of legal paralegal and back office support services. It really is a wonder that the industry is growing out of the meltdown of the financial economy of the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OUTSOURCING IS NO MORE A NEW PHENOMENON

The simple principle of thermodynamic explains how heat travels from a hotter body to a cooler body. The similar concept has been explained by gravitational theory as to how an object gets attracted from lower gravitational pull area to a higher gravitational pull area. All there principles are identical and similar to the principle of outsourcing. Outsourcing is also a result of the imbalance in the economies of countries i.e. the developed countries and developing countries. This imbalance further increases due to the difference in the currencies. The availability of qualified, skilled personnel in developing countries has always attracted jobs and work from the developed countries. This started with the BPO’s, which is no longer unknown to people. It is a well acquainted word with youngsters in developing countries. The BPOs worked with the cost saving factors. Most of the organizations, big business houses in the developed countries, in order to cut their cost have no other way except to outsource their work, which can or can be easily done by shifting their work to the developing countries. Medical transcription was the next to follow. The hospitals and doctors while finding no time to jot down the details of their patients and to maintain their records, hence, they ultimately needed to outsource the same. Soon there was a big growth in outsourcing activities in form of Knowledge Process Outsourcing. The growth of KPO also grew like anything in developing countries. No doubt this was the reason which guarded many big organizations from recession. As the organization felt the heat of recession their consultant were bound to feel the same. The consultants had no option but to cut down their prices. This was the reason which resulted into the birth of Legal Process Outsourcing. Of course outsourcing is not an innovation, it’s been only a modification of the old concept of asking people to come to developed countries. Today intelligent people wish to settle down in their country. No doubt the development of information technology played an excellent role whereby the work could be done online. The work could be outsourced and received back from developing countries in no time. The legal process outsourcing further grew with solicitors in developed countries finding cheaper and good options in the developing countries.

Monday, September 1, 2008

GROWTH OF LPO


The Legal Process Outsourcing has brought geometrical changes to advocacy. It is the globalization which has brought LPO into focus. Somebody had rightly defined law as common sense. This hypothetical definition becomes clear when we look into Legal Process Outsourcing where lawyers of one country start working for other country. The barriers of different laws are shattered by knowledge, which no more remains confined to one country. The big solicitors firms like “Clifford Chance”, “Linklaters”, “Allen & Overy” are no more being confined to one country, they have opened their offices in Europe as well as in Asia.

Legal Process Outsourcing has brought excellent opportunities to the individual lawyers and law firms of countries like India. Individual lawyers can increase their earning by working as Freelancers or by joining LPO’s. Similarly law firms catering to the local needs of people have suddenly got excellent exposure by getting outsourced work from solicitor firms of USA & UK. This has brought drastic change to the legal profession in countries like India. The solicitor’s firm of USA & UK has also been stressed out under the work. At the same time the cost cutting also playa vital role in outsourcing legal work. It will not be out of place to mention that the day is not far when the economies of different countries will interact so fast to bring equalization of the currency differences and in turn the quality of services. The days are not far when the lawyers of one country will argue and contest cases in other country even without traveling to the said country. The advancement in information technology has catered to the growth of LPO industry. The benefit of cost saving on both ends and without loosing the quality has been the main allurement for the growth of LPO’s.

Monday, August 11, 2008

JOBS IN AN LPO - 2

It is true that every lawyer wants to be a part of the growing sector i.e. legal process outsourcing. We must remember that we don’t get all that we desire till we work hard to achieve the same. Those who are looking for a temporary job in an LPO must restrain from joining an LPO. Moreover, working in an LPO cannot be a part time job. This job in itself is a career. A lawyer has to be a lawyer first and then be an employee in the LPO. The foremost requirement of a person to work in an LPO is to be a law graduate and enrolled as a lawyer. Though there are many more requirements in an LPO relating to paralegal clerks, Chartered Accountants, IT professionals etc.

Some misconceptions have developed in the legal fraternity as to the working of LPO’s. It has been off and on said that the LPO’s are in fact, not the working place of "real lawyers". The notion has been misconceived claiming that in an LPO only clerical works are being done. I will try to explain this with the prevalent concept in UK. The lawyers in UK are broadly seen as solicitors or barristers. The lawyers who prepare the briefs and do all the office work of any nature involving legal profession are called solicitors. The lawyers representing the clients in the courts are recognized as barristers. The work of lawyers in LPO’s can be to an extent compared with the role of solicitors.

The youngsters joining LPO’s should never feel discouraged while joining an LPO; rather they must feel encouraged while working in an LPO.

Monday, July 28, 2008

JOBS IN AN LPO - 1

Today, every good lawyer is yearning to get a job in an LPO. It is coming up like a dream come true. Every job is like a coin, having two faces i.e. an employer and an employee. Both of them view it with different conceptions and notions. An employer in an LPO looks for people possessing the qualities like dedication, reliability, and qualification. LPO service providers look out for more fresh graduates and they train them according to their requirements. The requirements of an LPO service provider can be enumerated as under:

(a) Excellent command over the English language with correct pronunciation.
(b) Confident in performing their tasks.
(c) Attentive and dedicated to the duties.
(d) Well aware and conversant with the usage and application of software’s.
(e) Having an urge to grow in the LPO sector
(f) Capable to adapt according to the requirements of the client.
(g) Having strong analytical skills and ability to carry on different jobs in a time bound manner.
(h) Prepared to assimilate in group working.
Of course these are only some of the qualities looked by the LPO service providers, in lawyers willing to join them. The most important requirement in a lawyer is the capability to provide high qualitative work in a confidential manner with commitments to the employer.

The general problem faced by a booming sector is the shift of employee’s loyalties. There are lucrative offers to the talented lawyers which always attempt to attract them from the present employers. Many a times, employees work in an LPO just to gain experience so that they can fly to the next employer. Long associations of employer with employees become minimal resulting in to a loss to the LPO sector. It will not be out of place to mention a booming sector becomes fragile when it is based upon talented and qualified professionals like lawyers.

The growth of information technology has given birth to the legal process outsourcing industry, so this keeps changing the fate of an LPO. Every LPO service provider keeps on looking for IT professional which can provide excellent solutions to problems. Lawyers having professional experience in information technology are most preferred part of the LPO service providers. The professionals like Accountants, Company Secretaries and Management Graduates are also joining the main stream of LPO growth.