Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good News Growth

The ABA Journal reports law firm summer associates are being retained at a high rate this year. That is great news for lawyers and clients.

While many practice groups are beefing up their staffing, legal outsourcing is also a way for firms and general counsel to expand legal capacity without becoming over-extended. Everyone hopes the economy is on the upswing for good, but no one knows at what the pace of expansion will be or how long it will last. LPO has a unique value-add in comparison to contract attorneys and it provides variability to an otherwise, very fixed cost business model of law firms.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Expectations: Follow the money

Where private equity funding is going is a good indicator of where change is happening. The Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer report that private equity firms are increasingly interested in investing in the LPO industry.

Despite the great expectations for the industry, profitability is may be a quest for a number of LPOs and some financial models are currently under scrutiny. Withstanding these challenges legal outsourcing is here to stay. These growth dynamics represent a broader industry change of the integration of outside vendors into the practice of law.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

India-focus in NY Times

According to the New York Times and several following articles on the links below, legal outsourcing vendors are upping their recruitment of talent on and offshore. Specifically, Indian firms are recruiting in the US and UK. According to the article, eager and adventurous legal professionals are making the move.

Theses findings clearly reflect our trending projections in the report Ten for 2010: Top 10 Trends for Legal Outsourcing in 2010.

“Client confidence in the outsourcing legal services market is translating into a rising talent pool, both on and offshore. Positions at outsourcing vendors will increasingly become an attractive alternative career path for entrepreneurial and global-minded legal professionals as pay, positions and prestige increase.”

Combined with the increased trending of onshore legal outsourcing, these developments exemplify increasingly global nature of the legal profession. It will be interesting the watch and see how the trend accelerates and expands. To read more, to go:

New York Times: Outsourcing to India Draws Western Lawyers
Wall Street Journal: Go East, Young Lawyer . . . Way East
Above the Law: Outsourcing: Here Come the Expats
Bar and Bench: Re-upped Round up: August 5

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010 ABA Commission on Ethics: Day 2 and Public Hearing

Today has been the second day of meetings for ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20.

The event of most interest to me was the public hearing concerning the legal outsourcing industry. Michael Ford of UnitedLex and Mark Ross of Integreon, two thought leaders in the legal outsourcing industry, spoke.

I commend the Commission for soliciting outside perspectives as they shape their recommendations for their members concerning the ethical implications of outsourcing. The Commission made an important distinction between outsourcing and offshoring, which is key in all discussions about LPO.

The extent to which law can be practiced reciprocally between international jurisdictions drew quite a bit of discussion. India was the main focus. The issue is examined further in a recent Economist article.

I was glad I attended this year’s meeting. It was encouraging that the ABA, and more legal firms and educational institutions as well, are recognizing and discussing seriously the role of legal outsourcing as part of the ever-changing legal profession.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010 ABA Commission on Ethics: Day 1

The ABA annual meetings are being held at the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco today and tomorrow. (And, yes, I have escaped hot, humid Chicago for a cooler climate for a few days.)

Today’s proceedings commenced at 9:00 am with introductory remarks given by the Commission chairs, followed by updates from the heads of various working groups. Short speeches were also given by outgoing president Carolyn Lamm and incoming president Stephen Zack.

When reports touched on outsourcing, the Commission leadership recognized that it is a “complex topic” – something we’ve understood since Fronterion was founded.

Discussions included the ethical obligations law firms face when they work with outside vendors, especially, the relationship dynamics in a tri-party engagement when law firms, their clients and outside vendors collaborate.

Relating to legal process outsourcing, the Commission discussed different approaches to the current rules model and the implications of each of those various approaches.

A list of the prominent members of the he ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 in available here. I anticipate that this week’s – and future – dialogs on LPO by the Commission will be fruitful because capable people are working hard to create more understanding of ethical challenges of outsourced legal services domestically and abroad.

More on the meetings tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

ABA Annual Meetings: LPO Ethics

The American Bar Association (ABA) is holding its annual meeting this week in San Fransciso. The main focus for my visit will be the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 with sessions that will include public hearings on several topics of interest, specifically ethical considerations of legal outsourcing.

I am looking forward to attending the meetings to survey the lay of the land, according to the Commission and its members.

The more we at Fronterion are aware of the concerns of the ABA, the 20/20 Commission, it’s lawyers and their clients, the better off we will be as we advise our clients on all outsourcing ethical issues.

An added plus – I will be able to get away from the hot and humid weather that engulfs Chicago in August!