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A Case for Legal Process Outsourcing
Kimberly Williams, Redshift Legal, Inc.
Legal process outsourcing received a big boost in 2006, when the Association of the Bar of the City of New York issued a formal Ethics Opinion providing guidelines on the use of offshore legal support services. It prompted many reluctant corporate departments to consider offshore legal services as an option. LPOs were viewed as solving one problem only, albeit a critical one: getting low complexity work done as cheaply as possible, but the Opinion helped focus the questions about LPOs on transparency concerning matters like client consent and billing.
According to the author, lower pricing got LPOS to the table, but the reasons LPOs, domestic and foreign, have been able to convince in-house counsel and law firms to adopt an outsourcing model are the rigorous and transparent processes they apply. She quotes several providers and an in-house e-discovery counsel in support of her argument. She also cites some recent high profile, transparency-related embarrassments, including a major law firm caught up in litigation over overbilling; a Fortune 500 law department and their outside counsel sanctioned for failing to have verifiable discovery processes; and a class action plaintiff firm accused of inflating temporary lawyer bill rates.
The author says that competent personnel deploying new technology have made it possible for LPOs to provide high-value service to their clients. This has allowed the top LPOs to move beyond low complexity work, and to create client relationships based on consistent delivery of demonstrated value.