The Am Law 50’s Dirty Little Secret: LPO

July 9, 2010

Author: Sanket Purani

Something everyone across the Legal Process Outsourcing world has known for some time – the majority of those who choose to procure legal process outsourcing services hope to do it without anyone else really knowing about it.  Kind of a not-so-well kept secret it seems given Fronterion’s recent study released yesterday.  The results do not surprise me really.  It’s analogous to a dirty secret people like to keep in the closet, in the safety of their home, or in this case their office.  And of course the secret’s obediently kept within the office of the dedicated LPO provider.

There is a problem with a secret like this – it tends to leak out eventually if it hasn’t already.  And in this case it looks as if it will remain to be silently acknowledged by the industry until the economic conditions turn around enough for the Am Law 50 to publicly acknowledge LPO.  The backlash they already have and would surely continue to receive in the blogs and press would be too daunting to endure in the public eye.  The situation is already delicate given the distaste recent law grads have for the budding LPO industry.  But until then the best acknowledgement the LPO industry can ask for is with the Am Law’s checkbook.

Yet despite this covert LPO adoption underway, we’re reminded as to why LPO is becoming so pertinent in a story that surfaced on this same day as the Fronterion study. Vidya Devaiah, through Law Without Borders, reported that Denis Field the former CEO of BDO Seidman, LLP, decided to secure SDD Global Solutions to assist his legal team in his cases being fought with the U.S. government as well as against BDO.

Vidya ends the Law Without Borders piece on the story with a succinct summation of the underpinnings of Field’s decision to secure SDD Global in the first place:

“But doesn’t high-end legal outsourcing to India mean a loss of jobs for lawyers in the U.S.?  Field does not believe so.  For him and his attorneys at the New York law firm of Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP, the most meaningful use of Field’s scarce resources is what matters.  It is not an example of shipping jobs overseas, but of assisting in making U.S. litigation financially more feasible.  SDD Global will help Field’s attorneys mount a defense that might not otherwise be possible because of the high costs of U.S. litigation and the client’s limited resources.”

That pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?  Legal Process Outsourcing’s reason for being.  LPO didn’t popup overnight to steal jobs.  LPO exists because the market desires a more cost effective alternative.  And guess what?  That’s something the Am Law 50 is already aware of as well.


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