Catching up on my reading of The Hindu, a piece on Legal Knowledge Outsourcing should be read by everyone.
Even if you discount the ambitions massively, the challenge is still quite amazing.
A few quotes:
The majority of legal services in the West can and should be sent offshore, says Mr Russell Smith, President and Chairman, SDD Global Solutions Pvt Ltd, a Mysore-based legal services KPO (knowledge process off-shoring). “And we are talking about services that now fetch a price tag of $250 billion per year and growing”
. ((Mr Smith, a Columbia Law School graduate and former partner at Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz, has over two decades of litigation and other legal experience relating to the television and film production industries, broadcast networks, motion picture studios, and production companies.))
“The vast majority of the offshored work will go to India, because of 80,000 English-speaking law graduates entering the market each year, the ‘common law’ system India shares with the US and the UK, and India’s reputation as the leader in outsourcing.”
I would say our three most sought-after services are legal research, legal drafting, and the handling of US immigration visa applications. Because we are the only legal outsourcing company in India managed by a US law firm, we provide the same or better results as US attorneys do. And because we are in India, we get the work done with increased speed (often overnight), and at a fraction of the cost.
Essentially the Indian attorneys in our Mysore office are doing the same work as if they were licensed attorneys in the New York office of our US law firm. Except that they do not actually provide legal advice, and obviously they do not appear in US courts. The work here is high-end, knowledge-based. It’s most of what lawyers do in the United States.
On legal research and drafting, one example is the work we do for motion picture and television studios. We do the research and write the memos that help the clients figure out how to make film and TV productions while avoiding legal trouble as much as possible. We also draft opinion letters that allow them to get the necessary insurance. And when there are claims, we draft the legal papers needed to respond. We do this work for companies like 20th Century Fox, HBO, Sony Pictures, and Channel 4 Television. In addition, our immigration visa specialists figure out lawful ways for our business clients to get the skilled personnel visa they need in the US.
A lot of what we do is oriented toward preventing litigation, rather than responding to it. For example, one of our clients, Sony, needed massive legal research and a lengthy opinion letter in order to get insurance for a proposed movie. The job would have cost as much as $2,50,000 had one of their usual big US law firms done the work. Instead, SDD Global did the job for $43,000. Our draft of the 45-page opinion letter, complete with 242 footnotes, helped okay a major film. Otherwise, the movie might never have been made. We also draft and review business contracts, which are other examples of non-litigation matters. Or we process immigration visa applications, getting talented people into the US. We do just about any non-litigation research or drafting that any law firm in the US does, and most of the litigation work as well.
How has been the growth of legal outsourcing, in India? Four years ago, you could count the number of Indian legal outsourcing providers on one hand. Now there are over 100, with another 200 reportedly in the works. Revenues recently have more than doubled, to $146 million in 2006. The number of employees has tripled since 2005. Research analysts predict that legal outsourcing revenues and employee numbers will reach $640 million and 32,000 respectively by 2010. Those predictions are conservative. The actual potential is higher.