Monday, September 24, 2007

Legal Process Outsourcing: Creating job opportunities

Legal Process Outsourcing is the latest trend. Big corporations are reaping the benefits. New job opportunities are being created. LPOs seem to have a bright future in India in the coming years. A report.

OUTSOURCING TO India and other lower-cost developing nations is the hottest topic in today’s global marketplace. Major corporations benefit from having work done at a quarter of the price, while the developing countries benefit from the huge influx of income and job creation. The latest industry to join the outsourcing rat race is the legal sector. Legal outsourcing has already created 12,000 job opportunities in India alone and this figure is expected to rise to as many as 79,000 by 2015.

Less than positive opinions expressed by some young Indian Law school students have left me baffled. Why would any young lawyer not want to be part of this exciting and growing sector? Young attorneys can earn a relatively high salary in comparison to domestic Indian firms. There are questions that are being raised regarding the quality and level of work being done by Indian attorneys working in LPOs.

Ramneek Sidhu, from Delhi Law School says, “After investing three years in law school, I don’t want to be caught dead working as a clerk in an LPO.”

Nishita too agrees with this view and further adds, “A lawyer in an LPO is definitely earning good money but at the same time is not justifying his/her profession. There is no direct litigation involved which is the essence of being a lawyer.”

Is it true to say that attorneys within Legal Process Outsourcing companies are nothing more than glorified law clerks, or are they really starting to become more heavily involved with the practice of international law?

Brij, a young attorney working with an LPO feels quite differently to both Ramneek and Nishita. He believes that he is making a sound progress in his career graph by working with an LPO. He says, “Many lawyers nowadays, whether in India, the US or the UK rarely see the inside of a court room. Working within an LPO and not a law firm allows me to keep in sync with the latest developments in US law. The legal thought process that any young attorney must develop over time comes from studying, reading and writing legal briefs and memoranda. I hope that I demonstrate my passion and emotion for law in the arguments I raise in the legal motions and documents I prepare. I know that the work I do is being utilized in the US by firms practicing US law for the benefit of real clients. Although, I don’t physically get to meet the clients who ultimately benefit from my endeavors, in today’s legal world this is by no means abnormal and just a fact of life. Our country is on the verge of becoming a major economic player on the world stage, I believe that I am contributing significantly to this and putting myself in a much stronger position to develop as an international attorney, as and when India opens its doors to foreign law firms.”

Palak, an attorney, opines, “The kind of exposure and opportunities provided by the LPO industry to lawyers is something which I could not have imagined when I graduated. Since my association with LPOs, my skills and knowledge have been under constant development. We aren’t just paralegals. We’re involved in hard core legal work and play an important role in the fate of cases and client matters being handled overseas”.

Vishal Aggarwal, Country Manager of a leading LPO in India says, “In the past, the work in legal services consisted mainly of support work including basic paralegal, secretarial, and litigation support. However, we are continuing to see increasingly higher value work being outsourced from the US and UK to Indian LPOs. Offshore legal process companies such as LawScribe have moved beyond traditional back office legal support services to increasingly more complex core legal work including legal research, patent and trademark searching and drafting, document drafting and due diligence.”

Mark Ross, UK attorney, LawScribe Director, and Legal Offshoring guru passionately believes that we are only in the nascent stages of this exciting and emerging industry. He says, “In the course of the next two to three years, a vast number of qualified Indian attorneys will be working within the industry. I believe the Indian government and the Bar Association will be left with no alternative other than to formally open up the market to foreign law firms and allow Indian attorneys to practice US and UK law from within India’s borders. Once this happens the substantive nature of the work being performed in LPOs, captive arrangements and US and UK Law Firms’ Indian offices will continue to increase. Many Indian attorneys will wish to remain within domestic Indian firms, however the lure of practicing International Law will prove extremely difficult to resist for others.”

LPOs are not just a fad or a passing phase. The trend has shifted from domestic law firms to an increasingly competitive global marketplace with massive scope and job opportunities. The clock is ticking fast and with time LPOs in India will be a much sought after industry to work with.