August 29, 2009
Is there a shift going on in the legal press? Ron Friedmann asserts that we are now in the second phase of media coverage about outsourcing. The first wave included much reporting on the risks associated with sending work to offshore providers (not surprising given what lawyers do for a living–i.e. identify and manage risk). In this new phase, the legal press is starting to get behind outsourcing. In citing a recent article in the NLJ, Friedmann notes:
The article explains the proposed federal Financial Regulatory Reform, that it would increase corporate compliance cost, and that general counsels should consider using offshore lawyers to do some of the work. The article is by an executive at an LPO so the advocacy is perhaps not surprising. The surprise, if any, is that the legal media published it as a news story.
August 23, 2009
This has huge implications for outsourcing legal work. Could this be the tipping point? Bill Lee, co-managing partner of WilmerHale has come out in support of fixed fee billing. To my knowledge, he is the most senior leader of a major U.S. firm to come out so publicly for this shift in billing practices.
Will this accelerate the need for law firms to find more cost effective ways to deliver their services? Once law firms no longer have the incentive to bill as many hours as possible, the next logical step is that they will be looking to the global marketplace to outsource the parts of the work that can be completed in a more cost effective manner. There are many quality providers like IPEngine who are positioning themselves to provide these services directly to law firms. If Bill Lee and Benjamin W. Heineman Jr.’s comments in Corporate Counsel magazine are any indication, we may now be reaching the tipping point for the outsourcing industry.
July 21, 2009
Outsourcing is a way of setting up virtual teams that might function in a lower cost jurisdiction. Here are some of the other pros and cons of setting up virtual teams (from an article published in the MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev. and cited by blogger Rees Morrison.)
July 20, 2009
For the past few years, there have been signs that certain practice areas are migrating away from large law firms. Twenty years ago, large law firms were pitching one stop shopping. But as times changed, certain practice groups found it increasingly difficult to keep up with increased billing rates. For example, while many of the larger law firms developed substantial employment law and trusts and estates practices during the 1980’s, since the mid-1990’s, there has been an exodus of these practice groups to smaller and more regional law firms.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 13, 2009
While the Great Recession continues to send more U.S. lawyers packing, the job market in India offers some opportunities. As the LPO industry expands in India, the need for U.S. trained lawyers (who are able to manage and train Indian lawyers in some of the nuances of American practice and American lingo) is growing.
July 9, 2009
Recently, I posted on the need for lawyers to think like attorneys but bill like consultants. The Great Recession has increased the pressure on law firms to come up with more predictable ways to bill and the consulting industry provides a good model.
The tie in with this blog is that many LPOs are able to offer fixed fees for certain services and this in turn can help law firms to get a better handle on what to charge (other than simply setting an hourly rate). That is why I continue to write about alternative billing in this space.
IPEngine, the sponsor of this blog, offers one example. In working with law firm and corporate clients, IPEngine develops an understanding of client expectations. IPEngine will then quote a client on a project basis (e.g. by the patent, by the prior art search, by the office action, by the freedom to operate study, etc.) and over time, the price for future projects will be adjusted based on actual experience with the client.
While the whole idea of project billing may seem mysterious to most lawyers (many will assert that law is different and that the practice of law is too unpredictable and too idiosyncratic to reduce to flat fees) a recent experience I had with a home contractor highlighted for me that the legal industry really has it wrong.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 6, 2009
A headline in today’s WSJ (subscription req.) Article mentions alternative billing. It does not mention legal process outsourcing.