Outsourcing to paralegals and attorneys in India remains a booming business. In fact, Dupont, the model for progressive paralegal departments, outsourced so much work to LPOs (Legal Process Outsourcing) last year, that it saved the company over $500,000 in legal fees.
In an article in Time magazine this morning, Tom Sager, chief litigation counsel for Dupont, said, "There’s been some internal resistance, and from the outside too, about working with providers thousands of miles away. But geographic separation is now a fact of life." Dupont outsources to Chicago’s RR Donnelley, which uses facilities in India and the Philippines to review documents for the chemical giant.
Changes in litigation procedures are boosting momentum in the LPO trade. Amendments to federal rules require parties to share electronic documents, such as e-mail and Microsoft Office files.
That typically means both sides must review thousands of documents to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of confidential information to the other party. The service costs about $1 per page in India but can range from $7 to $10 per page in the U.S. "Some clients don’t want to spend that much, especially if they don’t even know how much their damages could be," says Conrad Jacoby, owner of efficientEDD, a legal-technology consultancy in Dunn Loring, Va and a frequent Paralegal SuperConference speaker.
What does this mean for paralegals? The use of LPOs will probably continue to grow. This is a clear trend of delegating to the lowest, most cost-efficient level. It doesn’t mean that the use of paralegals in the U.S. will be less frequent. It does, however, mean that the type of work paralegals will be asked to do will change to more sophisticated assignments previously performed by associates. Paralegals, it’s time to get on that continuing legal education bandwagon and study-up!