LPO’s Changing Landscape
Legal process outsourcing (LPO) has been around for several decades - with the most progressive developments being in the last one. Not only has technology evened the playing field for small practices, but it has also expanded and diversified the type of matters adopting these solutions.
However, LPO has grown in tandem with business process outsourcing to become a major part of the legal advice scene across the globe, with compliance and regulatory requirements driving the industry significantly in the US, UK and Aus & NZ. Are other regions set to follow suit?
To quote Terry Harrison 'Could 2017 be the year that SA sets it’s feet firmly on the global eDiscovery map along with Data Protection and Privacy?’. In this article he shares positive developments in his consistent effort to engage the Rules Board in a drive to change in the adoption of eDiscovery in South Africa through regulation. Should he succeed, can we expect the rest of Africa to follow suit?
We asked Terry for his insights on where to from here - this is what he had to say:
‘I think we have seen a paradigm shift in LPO in recent times which will continue. For many years now certain types of work have been outsourced to countries and companies where the work can be done quicker and at a lower cost. However, I feel that now, more law firms and corporations see LPO as a positive and important business strategy aspect and not at all merely about saving money. In other words it has become proactive and not just reactive.
To be able to dissect one’s business processes and make positive decisions as to how and where each of these processes can best be performed is, in my view, responsible business management.
In the legal field we have seen LPO move from, for example, sending out litigation coding work (as I have done for 15 years to Cenza) to other types of work including document precedent drafting; contract management; due diligence; transcriptions; and I know of law firms who outsource their entire finance or IT processes. Of course it makes perfect sense to do so when examining one’s business. As a law firm, you would not want lawyers performing any of these tasks as you need your lawyers to earn fees. Likewise, recruiting staff to deal with these functions in house will be costly and they need to be managed. Exactly the same principles apply to the commercial world where there are numerous examples of major corporations operating successful LPO strategies.
It is also interesting to see how, for example, outsourcing first tier document reviews in litigation cases and investigations has developed, and LPO companies are doing so much more than simply eliminating irrelevant documents.
Overall, I guess my message is that you should disabuse yourself of any notion you may have that LPO is about using “cheap labour” in poor countries. Rather, it is a positive business strategy performed by first class companies with absolutely excellent facilities and working conditions.’
Here at Cenza we agree with with Terry’s positive view of where LPO is headed, and are delighted to be partnering with leading firms and consultants to deliver world class legal business solutions.