Who Says Bigger Is Better?

I recently read an interesting article called “For LPO clients, small is beautiful”. What makes it interesting is it highlights the valuable role of “smaller” LPOs. 

The survey supports the view that global companies outsourcing legal work seem to prefer doing business with smaller companies. The survey conducted across 6,547 clients globally shows that smaller vendors, including LPO vendors are satisfying more clients and to a greater degree compared to their larger counterparts. The survey was conducted by the Black Book of Outsourcing in 2010. 

UK-based Datamonitor’s Research Director, Eamonn Kennedy, said in a press statement, “Although feedback on the big names, such as IBM and HP, has been generally positive, the companies that have excelled and delighted, through the services they provide, have been smaller players.” 

The client survey covered all outsourcing fields, including legal process outsourcing (LPO). Kennedy was quoted as saying “Smaller outsourcing providers ….. have been pushing their specialist knowledge and deep client understanding as their unique selling point for some time now, claiming that specialists provide a better service. While all outsourcers talk up their ability to specialize, this survey suggests that ……. relatively small players are best positioned to deliver on that promise.” 

Also on the UK front, the UK’s Managing Partner magazine, in an article titled “Uncorking the Genie,” reports that there is a “clamour around legal process outsourcing (LPO),” as law firms “are finding the intensity of competition in the marketplace increasing at a frightening pace,” causing management teams to look at offshore legal outsourcing, as they “search hard for competitive advantage“:

In Canada, there is increasing discussion, debate and interest in LPO. I recently participated in a panel discussion called “Budget-busting in 2010”. The panel was hosted by the Corporate Secretary THINK TANK. Although LPO was not the only topic covered, I can assure you that LPO was a dominant part of the discussions. Still in Canada, the Sixth Annual Canadian Bar Association Law Firm Leadership Conference (on November 22nd and 23rd) is moving ahead full steam. The conference features Professor Richard Susskind in a session on “Unbundled Work/Unbridled Success: Sourcing Canadian Legal Services Differently.” This promises to be a lively debate about LPO in Canada and around the globe and will address how law firms and clients are sourcing work differently. 


  1. Smaller LPO providers do tend to be more agile, but also tend to be more likely to vanish into thin air. Anyone thinking of LPO should do their homework on the stability of the company they hope to enter into a relationship with.

  2. Padmavathi Shanthamurthy

    Interestingly, in the survey, three of the four highest ranked companies, namely, American Discovery, SDD Global Solutions , and UnitedLex, are legal outsourcing providers.

    This reflects the rise of LPO (or legal services KPO – knowledge process outsourcing) in the outsourcing industry generally — an industry historically dominated by IT/BPO (information technology/business process outsourcing) companies.

  3. I absolutely agree with both comments. LPO is on the rise. As for doing one’s homework, LPO is like any other service. You should be comfortable that the LPO will meet your needs and has a track record.

  4. Absolutely. It doesn’t hurt to ask the tough questions. Speaking from experience, as the layers get uncovered over time, you learn too much – too late.

    Also, it’s important for the firm to understand where LPO fits into it’s overall cost cutting (‘budget busting’) objectives. And then proceed accordingly. Treat it like any other type of investment. You will expend time and perhaps other resources to get the relationship working the way you want it.