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A Message from Westlaw

Legal Process Outsourcing: It’s About the ‘Process’

Posted Oct 6, 2011 2:30 PM CDT
By Kevin Colangelo

The term Legal Process Outsourcing conjures up all sorts of images and thoughts.

While some may envision shuffling reams of work to an invisible third party in hopes of cutting costs, LPO is really not about simply the cost, or even the location of the lawyers doing the work – it’s a strategic means for improving the process of providing legal services.

When applied strategically, LPO can help drive efficiencies throughout the legal work process. It allows for the distribution of portions of the work that can be handled more efficiently and cost-effectively by outside teams of attorneys. Doing so frees the firm’s attorneys to focus on more strategic, high value work. And, it helps partners, counsel and other senior attorneys bring renewed focus on their roles as trusted advisers and counsel to their clients.

To that end, LPO strengthens the firm’s relationship with clients by optimizing the work processes. This means improving efficiency, controlling costs and managing risk. At the same time, it demonstrates that the firm is listening and responding to clients’ needs in the current business environment, and is willing to apply cutting-edge innovations to help clients meet those needs.

Here’s one brief example of how LPO can drive process improvements: outsourcing firms can often provide domain expertise in a particular area. Parceling that work to an LPO provider can then help optimize the entire process for a matter.

As a young attorney many years ago, I worked on a multi-billion dollar deal for a large investment bank for ten months, working and billing 15 hours each day in typical fashion. Looking back now, it’s easy to imagine that 10 to 20 percent of the work product I produced could easily have been done by an LPO provider.

If LPO were available back then, I could have told the client that, for example, Pangea3 can deploy a dedicated team with deep experience in privacy matters to handle all aspects of international data transfers in the deal.

Not only would this have resulted in major cost savings for the client over my billing rate, but it would have been completed much more efficiently in parallel with the many other moving parts of the deal. And it would have allowed me to focus on other drafting and negotiations more attuned to my skills, thereby enabling my firm to produce the most value for the client.

In the end, it’s not about using LPO as a faster and cheaper means of getting work done. LPO is a strategic tool law firms can deploy to drive efficiencies in the legal workstream, thereby allowing the firm to work smarter and strengthen client relationships.

Kevin Colangelo is vice president and managing director of Law Firm Relationships, Pangea3.

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