During the last year Global Legal has spoken to many legal department and law firm clients who have retained Legal Process Outsourcing (“LPO”) firms. At the end of each engagement there are often lessons learned that may prove useful for other practitioners as they evaluate potential engagements. One question we have asked many clients is, “What advice would you provide to others beginning the process of evaluating LPO vendors?” The responses do not represent a comprehensive list of items to consider, but items that were unexpectedly useful or more important than anticipated.
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.