Legal service outsourcing

While the men in black coats are preferring to stay away from courts, opting for white-collar jobs instead, another kind of job opportunity is now opening up for them. And this time in the sunrise ITES sector in the legal service outsourcing segment (LPO).

A report released says the niche legal services off-shoring market which grew at 50% between 200 and 2006 is now poised for bigger growth. What is a $146 million market today, is expected to become a $640 million by 2010-end. Of course, simultaneously, the number of jobs too will move north. While 7,500 people are employed in the LPO sector now, in the next three years their numbers will grow to 32,000.

The study published by Indian research firm ValueNotes, says growth has primarily been due to an increase in demand, vendor maturity and the capability of vendors to offer higher value services. In fact, at the moment there are around 100 LPO service providers in India. The study focuses on eight broad segments: legal transcription, document review, litigation support, legal research, and intellectual property, contract related services, secretarial and legal publishing services.

The study categories them into three broad groups namely captive centers, third party niche service providers and third party multi-service providers. Most of the jobs are concentrated with the third party vendors that dominate the LPO space. However, vendors with niche focus and multi-service providers differ distinctly in terms of service offerings and capability.

Over the last two years, the legal services off-shoring space has witnessed a rapid change in terms of vendor capabilities and service offerings. While there are around 12 players that employ more than 100 employees, a large number of small players operating from smaller cities too have emerged.

Most vendors start by offering lower value services and gradually move up the value chain by demonstrating domain skills and gaining client confidence. While others focus on specific high-end services or niches. The fast growing opportunities has led to a mushrooming of new vendors, all across the country.

The report Off-shoring Legal Services to India: AnUpdate has identified a list of frontrunners or companies who are leading the space. They lead the pack due to their strong capabilities, onshore, offshore presence, growth strategies, and the strength of their brand in the global LPO market.

These include companies like Evalueserve, Integreon, OfficeTiger, CPA Global, Mindcrest, Pangea3 and Quislex. And then there are the emerging players who have the potential to emerge as winners within their chosen niches. These include players like LawScribe, New Galexy, SDD Global Solutions, Tusker Group, Aptara, Lason and Quattro BPO.

Growth is expected in both high value services like IP, legal research, contracts etc., as well as in high-volume, lowvalue services. High volume series like documents review, eDiscovery, legal publishing and niche areas in intellectual property and contract services will drive future growth in this space.

But irrespective of what drives the market, Indian lawyers will certainly have a lot to smile about in the future.