The LPO Revolution has Begun

What it's all about

In the recent few years the global spending on legal services has been estimated to be over $680-690 billion (of which about 60% is accounted in the United States and Europe). With such demand for legal services, corporations and law firms need to handle the large volumes while keeping costs in check and maintaining profitability. This is where Legal Processing Outsourcing ("LPO") comes into the picture wherein core legal functions are delegated to external counsel to complete the assigned task on the basis of set parameters and fixed timelines.

India, with its large pool of English proficient lawyers trained in common law, is anticipated to reach USD 11.01 by 2025 of the global Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) requirement, and estimated to be at $35.9 billion by 2025.

Now you may be wondering, what exactly does an LPO do or more specifically what would you do in an LPO?

Let us first understand the operations of an LPO and the nature of work they do. An LPO is an offshore unit, undertaking legal work assigned by corporations in which in-house legal departments or organisations from areas where it is costly to perform, such as the United States or Europe to areas where it can be performed at a significantly decreased cost, primarily India.

The array of work, which, you may have to undertake while working in an LPO, would range from High-end legal research and drafting briefs, memorandums and commercial contracts to Litigation support work like evidence related work and first level document review.

Pros and Cons

The LPO industry is a sunrise industry, which should see a boom in the next 3-5 years. There is tremendous variety of work at all levels of expertise and high-end opportunities even for graduates of top law schools. On top of that attractive remuneration and future management prospects, including an opportunity to work in a corporate structure that straddles borders makes this sector all the more striking for law graduates. The remuneration for fresh graduates, starts from 22,000 – 40,000, but easily touches 70,000 in a span of 2 years. There is a certain level of predictability of income that comes with this job, unlike practicing in Indian law courts where there is no fixed income. Annual appraisals and performance bonuses are a common thing in LPO’s. There is also the convenience of fixed working hours which is mostly between 9 A.M. to 7 P.M. Only a few of these LPO’s do night shifts but they are the exception rather than the rule. Option of working from home on a busy personal day ensures work-life balance which is usually non-existent for a lawyer. Also, the pattern of working of a LPO is that of a corporate format which ensures uniformity in the work space. There are promotions, increments, hierarchy, proper office spaces, safer environment for women and other associated benefits. This is comparatively a lot better than working as a junior lawyer in smaller law offices wherein there is lack of corporate culture/professionalism and 12-14 hours of work every day!

However there are some issues that plague the industry in India. There is a stigma attached to the word ‘LPO’ and lawyers usually refrain from working under this tag. Besides, the work is that of foreign laws and there is no application of Indian laws in this industry which makes the employees out of touch with domestic laws. More importantly the work done in this industry is repetitive, monotonous and is hence considered as ‘grunt work’. For these reasons, lawyers still refrain from working in LPO’s.

But the LPOs industry is still at a nascent stage in India. In spite of all odds, there is a lot of scope of expansion and growth. There would be a lot of job opportunities in this field in the coming years.