In the interview sponsored by Legal Week, Professor Richard Susskind evokes really useful insights from Rio Tinto managing attorney Leah Cooper into both the motivation for LPO and the process of implementing it with CPA Global.
If you are thinking about working with a Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) vendor, you will generally do well to evaluate vendors with the assumption that your relationship with the selected vendor(s) will be a long-term relationship and not simply a single transaction. Even if you are seeking a vendor for a discrete instance of work (e.g., a privilege review of documents for a single piece of litigation), you are likely to have recurring instances of similar work, and may want to outsource them again in the future. By investing the resources up front to make sure that the right vendor is selected, you can save potential future costs by (i) minimizing the likelihood of incompetent or otherwise inappropriate vendors, (ii) having selected an alternative vendor in the event a primary vendor is conflicted out or otherwise unavailable, and (iii) having selected a vendor that has the desire and ability to grow with your needs. In forming a relationship with a vendor, I generally recommend that clients establish a dedicated team at the vendor to service their needs.
The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is holding its annual conference in Boston from Oct 18 to 21. If you will be in Boston and would like to discuss the LPO industry in person, please contact me at (617) 868-6070 or MSullivan@RedBridgeStrategy.com.
In a previous post I outlined the need for LPO vendors to implement information security standards and have them periodically certified by independent third parties. Certification is designed to obviate the need for every General Counsel (or other LPO clients) to send an information security specialist to evaluate information security controls at each vendor. However, LPO clients cannot rely on third party certifications alone. When outsourcing legal work (and most other types of work) clients should also protect their information by thoroughly reviewing a vendor’s written security policies and practices. Clients should then make site visits (1) to observe and interview vendor personnel in order to gauge their awareness of policies, and (2) to review the overall information security culture. We strongly recommend that vendor site visits be conducted at the time of due diligence and thereafter at least annually. Information security terms are also an integral part of an LPO vendor contract, and I will write generally about LPO contracts in a future post.
In evaluating legal process outsourcing, law firms sometimes wonder (out loud) how they will train their newer associates if some of the repetitive tasks traditionally performed by new associates are outsourced to LPO firms. Legal commentator Richard Susskind has provided an evolving model is his book, “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the nature of legal services,” Oxford University Press, 2008. In addition, a number of firms including Howrey and Nixon Peabody, while not specifically addressing LPO, have adopted training programs that attempt to address the training of lawyers in an environment where clients are unwilling to pay high hourly fees for novice attorneys.
Susskind describes the use of modern, existing technologies that have largely not been embraced for legal education. In his discussion of disruptive legal technologies, he suggests that legal education should become more practical by reserving lectures for great speakers and supplementing them with tutoring and counseling. He suggests that workplace-based training take the form of webcasts on specific topics that are available to lawyers as needed. He envisions webcasts as a part of E-Learning that supports “the transfer of know-how, insight and expertise.” Novice lawyers could also use systems that provide what Susskind describes as “online legal guidance” which might provide expert legal diagnoses, generate legal documents, assist in legal audits, or provide legal updates.