Monday, June 29, 2009

From Rio to Delhi

The big news in the outsourcing industry as of late is a deal between Rio Tinto and CPA Global. While it is a big win for CPA, the most exciting aspect of the engagement is the stance of Rio’s outside counsel.

According to Legalweek, Rio Tinto’s managing attorney Leah Cooper said, “Of course, I’d have much preferred if a law firm had come to me and said, ‘Hey, we’ve just entered into an arrangement with a low cost provider that’s going to save you money,’ but that didn’t happen.”

It was also interesting to note that Rio planned to use the CPA team to support not supplant their existing legal team.

“Any good business makes sure its legal team is aligned with the company’s overall needs, but we will not cut legal jobs as a result of outsourcing. The team in India is there to support, not to replace,” said Cooper.

Corporations are now finding new ways to reduce costs - at times going around their traditional legal counsel. It will be interesting to revisit this engagement after it has had some time to mature.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tech Considerations When Sourcing

To complement my previous 6/9 post regarding technology and outsourcing, I had a couple of follow-up points about issues to consider when framing up your new engagement. Outsourced legal services are in many ways different from mechanized business process outsourcing (BPO) services. Trust me, the difference in legal sourcing is a whole other blog post. Service delivery models, personnel requirements, service solutions, and quality metrics are much different in legal sourcing. But, for the time being, take my word for it.

One area of legal outsourcing that is very similar with other forms of outsourced services is technology integration. The steps to ensure successful technology integration are fairly well established across a broad base of service functions; be it outsourcing accounting functions, medical transcription or for our purposes - legal services. Based on what we have seen, challenges may still arise when working with legal outsourcing vendors. The reasons are typically two-fold:

1. Some of the smaller legal outsourcing vendors may not have top quality infrastructure or robust process policies as compared to larger more established vendors.

2. For larger engagements or first-time outsourcers, many technology integration issues simply get lost in the shuffle.

Legal outsourcing, if done correctly, can be technologically secure and safe. The keys are taking the time to fully assess your provider (including some sort of on-the-ground due diligence) and being very meticulous throughout the entire integration process.

Monday, June 15, 2009

ABA 2009 Annual Meeting: Chicago

Mark your calendars. The American Bar Association (ABA) is holding its annual meeting in our very own Chicago this July 30th through August 4th. As usual, there will be a solid line-up of speakers, CLE courses, and vendor exhibitions along with plenty of “networking” events to go around.

To our out of town guests, please keep me apprised of your travel plans, as I would love host any of you during your stay in our lovely city.

For more information check out the ABA site ( or contact ABA directly at

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Article Sneak Peak

I recently wrapped up an article for an unnamed bar publication to be published this July. The article covers the intersection of technology and legal outsourcing. As a sneak preview to the article, here are some of the highlights.

The benefits of outsourcing legal support services come in three main areas: direct/indirect cost savings, strategic opportunities and technology benefits. Tech benefits include better utilization of existing technology applications and new solutions offered by the provider.

The article is a nuts and bolts outline guide to legal outsourcing engagement technology component and what legal firms need to look for when sourcing to outside vendors.

Keep an eye out for the article in its entirety in July.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Richard Susskind

Richard Susskind’s keynote address is now available on the ABA Tech show site:

For those of you not familiar with Susskind, he is a noted visionary in legal services space and author of The End of Lawyers. As with all good messages, this one bears repeating.

One of the key points of his address that I particularly noted was that with the standardization of legal services, the client benefits in three ways. First, direct costs go down. Second, costs become much more predictable. Cost predictability is increasingly more important to clients. Finally, and most intriguing to me personally, the quality of services actually increase. The reason for this is that when certain services are standardized, many experts are brought together to pool their expertise leading to much more comprehensive solutions than would otherwise have been possible with a single lawyer.

Overall, the address is very thought provoking about the future of legal services and is definitely worth checking out.