Legal outsourcing, also known as legal process outsourcing (LPO), is one of the largest growing fields of outsourcing in the United States and the world, according to a couple of new reports published by different organizations but reaching the same general conclusion: Legal process outsourcing is here to stay. And to grow.
Just in the last decade, a number of LPO firms and alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) have blossomed as both law firms and corporate legal departments, wanting to drive more value to their organizations, rethink their business practices and try to streamline their activities. Last year, for the first time, the Georgetown Law Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and the University of Oxford Said Business School studied the ALSP trend and found a seismic shift has already occurred.
More than half of the law firms surveyed (51%) and at least 60% of corporate legal officers reported that they currently used alternative legal service providers or legal process outsourcing firms for at least one task or service.
And those numbers, the study said, are expected to increase.
The practice of providing legal support and administrative services to a law firm is not new, but demand is growing at a dramatic rate – especially around the world — as the costs of outsourcing are far more minimal than the costs of staffing, training and retaining qualified and experienced personnel. As costs related to the legal industry continue to rise, the legal process outsourcing market will continue to expand, offering to do more and more
The most typical services legal process outsourcing firms offer are legal intake, document retrieval and review, research and investigation, case management, the writing of pleadings and/or briefs and patent or intellectual property services.
The Georgetown Law Center study found that among the most common use of LPOs and ALSPs was for what it deemed “low-risk or standardized, high-volume tasks,” and that one major example was document review and coding. A whopping 31% of law firms and a more subdued 11% of corporate legal departments said they used ALSPs for such work in 2016.
Attorneys at law firms and legal departments equally expressed some resistance to use ALSPs or LPOs for activities that required legal strategy or judgment. Those areas are reserved for the firm or the corporate attorneys. And while the use of these outside service providers is more prevalent among large law firms, the small to medium-sized firms that can benefit most are gaining ground as competition drives the fees for these services down.
And this is increasingly true in any part of the world.
When an LPO is based in another country, it is called offshoring, and the only tasks that cannot be outsourced are those that require a personal appearance either in court or at the negotiating table.
The most recent and accurate data provided by Market Research Nest indicates that the global legal process outsourcing market is valued at $4.3 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $21 billion by the end of 2023, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 30% between 2017 and 2023.
While North America and the UK are still the dominant areas driving the industry’s changes, the Asia-Pacific region will grab more of that market share in coming years, especially in China. There will also be expanding markets in Southeast Asia and India, where outsourcing is one of the fastest growing industries.
At Smart Legal Solutions, we have been solving the daily management problems of lawyers in seven states for several years. We are always expanding and improving our services. We focus on the client experience so that law firms can focus on successfully pleading their cases or negotiating better settlements.
Few firms offer case management from beginning to end, from lead generation to settlement signature, like we do. We are a one-stop shop for legal process outsourcing that is unmatched in the field.