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From security to cost savings: Legal process outsourcing faces challenges

Special to the Legal News

Published: March 14, 2017

The practice of law - to a degree - always has embraced the idea of collaborating, bringing in the brightest minds to tackle aspects of a given case, hiring experts for testimony and hiring outside firms to manage busy mailrooms.

So, it's no wonder that once the technology became viable, large corporate law offices first began outsourcing their work as a means to reduce customers' bills.

Consumer driven, legal process outsourcing has been the norm for the better part of the past decade and the phenomenon, which is going nowhere anytime soon, has its own set of challenges as the nature of online communication and the cloud evolves.

According to a recent ResearchMoz survey of the practice, security and confidentiality rank high as priorities.

The survey, however, noted that the marketplace has matured and many such concerns are being put to rest, allowing corporations to gain from a balanced legal support model.

Law offices employ a thoughtful approach toward legal process outsourcing in order to achieve potential cost savings, focus their in-house legal workforce on higher workloads, improve service levels, and create supplementary capacity for unexpected legal needs, the survey found.

E-discovery was the most popular platform deployed in the legal process outsourcing industry, ResearchMoz's survey found. Other services offered are litigation support, intellectual property support, contract drafting and review.

The study noted that the nature of electronic documents, with all of their data and metadata, lent itself to the outsourcing function.

Outsourcing firms, then, provide data experts with expertise in data formats, processing and the review platforms, improving efficiency of the process.

Leaders in legal process outsourcing, such as Microsoft, are overhauling their outsourcing practices to better ensure quality.

Bloomburg Law reported recently that the high-tech company has adopted a preferred provider program - an internal system to� determine which outside law firms the corporation routinely uses.

The new program is expected to prioritize law firms by specific practice area expertise instead of general services, the story detailed.

Bloomburg reported that these changes tie into a broader shift in how in-house law departments interact with their outside firms as corporate executives seek greater certainty in their legal budget.

Daniella Isaacson, a lawyer and senior analyst at ALM Intelligence, wrote recently for Law.com that the demand for legal services is unchanged.

Rather, it's the form and function of delivery that has shifted.

Law departments are turning to alternative providers of legal services, Isaacson wrote.

"A majority of law departments are exploring alternative staffing models," she said, indicating that the circumstance is a result of law office's focus on efficiencies and cost savings.

"This shift has required new models for operating that use an increasing variety of staffing options," Isaacson wrote. "It has also necessitated a corresponding alteration in law firm service structure."

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