At our ReInvent Law Lab meeting tonight, we had Jonathan Goldstein, formerly of Pangea3, call in and discuss the ethics of legal process outsourcing. Some takeaways that I found particularly interesting:
An LPO Framework
In his presentation, Mr. Goldstein discussed the framework for developing and implementing an LPO provider, which can be summed up in three ideals:
- Value: How will LPO add value to the client’s organization (efficiency, savings, innovation, etc.)?
- Peace of Mind: How is this safe, compliant with regulatory requirements, privacy concerns, etc.?
- Quality: How can we deliver and ensure a quality product or service? Without these three drivers, your LPO operation is worthless.
Fear of Change
Whether out of a fear of change, the unknown, or competition, large, U.S. law firms (Big Law) were the most resistant to LPO before the ABA gave its stamp of approval in 2008. I imagine they still are.
Pangea3 outsources to India because, among other things, the Indian legal system is based on common law. Therefore, the Indian attorneys and employees approach legal issues and problems the same way U.S.- and British-trained lawyers do. The Indian code of legal ethics is also very similar, particularly with regards to confidentiality. In addition, India has approximately 1 million lawyers, with 100,000 in Mumbai (Pangea3’s Indian HQ). By outsourcing to India, Pangea3 is able to overcome scalability and quality problems because of the sheer number and quality of lawyers. According to Mr. Goldstein, some of India’s top law grads line-up to work for Pangea3. I also believe India’s relative political stability and strong tech infrastructure make India the ideal choice for an LPO.
In addition to the benefits of the Indian view on client confidentiality, Pangea3 also protects its clients with non-disclosure agreements. If GE is the client, employees of Pangea3 would sign an NDA in a jurisdiction favorable to GE. In addition, Pangea3 builds a very strong culture of confidentiality. From U.S. management to employees in Mumbai, Pangea3 values confidentiality and inculcates this value throughout the organization.
The Future of LPO
Finally, I asked a question to Mr. Goldstein: What kind of work is best-suited for LPO? His response, in short: Doc review. No surprise there. Following up, I suggested that TAR and intelligent discovery methods would be consuming a lot of this work, to which he replied that he agreed. But, he thought (and I am paraphrasing), that before software eats LPO, the combination of LPO and tech will eat up the traditional doc review methods and jobs here in the States. Maybe not the best news for a third year law student like me, but a reality that, if embraced, could provide great opportunity.
It seems to me that the role of people, technology, collaboration, and process are the keys to a strong LPO operation. Especially people. Having the best people working for you in this business, on this and the other-side of the pond (where ever that may be), is crucial to providing the value, peace of mind, and quality that these companies must be founded on. Mr. Goldstein finally noted that Pangea3 tries to infuse legal DNA at every level of the organization. A for lawyers, by lawyers mentality. I like that.
Thank you Mr. Goldstein for speaking to the Lab. More to come . . .