Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 35, No. 4, October 2014

Message From the Guest Editor: Legal Process Outsourcing for Solo and Small Firms

By Carolyn M. Dillinger, Esq.

I chose the theme for this issue to answer two specific questions: 1) can a firm ethically outsource legal services to a third party provider, and 2) are sole practitioners and small firms actually using legal process outsourcing and having successful experiences. Please note, although some of the articles mention various types of outsourcing, including off-shoring and near-shoring, in this column I group the various options under a broad definition of outsourcing. You will also notice authors using different language to refer to the key parties involved in Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), such as LPO provider also called Outsourcing Service Provider (OSP).

Here is a brief background to my interest in the topic. Around 2006, while walking through a parking lot at the Turnip Rose on my way in to a meeting of the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) Solo and Small Firm Section, I happened to meet a vendor for Legal Process Outsourcing. He had visited the section a few times and I had met him before. I asked him about the nature of his business and he called me over to the trunk of his car and brought out a poster board and passionately began explaining the benefits of sending legal work to India. I listened politely and asked him some questions about the ethical issues and how such a deal would be structured to meet the ethical obligations of attorneys. Then I gave him my transparent feedback that at that time most of the OCBA Solo and Small Firm Section members were not ready to engage in outsourcing part of the provision of legal services.

Fast forward to Spring 2013, when Guest Editor and Professor Ron Dolin published a fantastic issue of The Bottom Line with the theme: The Future of Legal Technology. In that issue, Ron requested a book review, which I then wrote, on Richard Susskind’s book Tomorrow’s Lawyers. In Tomorrow’s Lawyers Susskind discusses three drivers pushing for change in the delivery of legal services: 1) the more-for-less challenge, 2) the partial deregulation of the legal profession in England and Wales, and 3) information technology. Susskind then outlines changes that attorneys can make in order to lower the cost of providing legal services, including outsourcing, off-shoring, and near-shoring.

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