Business Process Outsourcing services have been available in the corporate world for years. Many specific business functions (like payroll, benefits administration, accounting, and data processing) have become so routinely outsourced that they are commonplace. Legal process outsourcing, however, is a relatively recent development.
Like any other business process outsourcing, LPO (legal process outsourcing) is a tool of efficiency. When work can be accomplished effectively at a lower cost, it behooves management — regardless of the sector — to evaluate the opportunity.
In terms of the legal profession, outsourcing is simply an extension of a dynamic that already exists in every legal office: Aligning the requirements of the work with the experience and talent level of the person undertaking the work. First-year associates are not asked to fill the shoes of a litigator with a career’s worth of experience and, similarly, it is inefficient to commit a senior partner to paw through hundreds of boxes of files during litigation support.
The goal of every mid to large sized firm or general counsel’s office is to push work down the organizational pyramid to the most cost-efficient level for which the work can be accomplished successfully, and outsourcing is a natural component of that model.
What Legal Work Can Be Outsourced?
The scope of work that lawyers perform varies greatly – from contracts, negotiations, or court cases that require a very specific knowledge base, to more general and/or repetitive tasks.
It’s this second group – the more general or repetitive legal processes – that are prime candidates for outsourcing.
- Legal Research and Writing
Briefs (trial and appellate)
Drafting of Memoranda
Multi-State Surveys (research on laws of multiple jurisidictions)
- Litigation Support
Legal Indexing (e.g. indexing mortgages, financial transactions, etc.)
- Contract and Document Drafting and Review
Contract Review — redlining against standards
Due Diligence Work (MA transactions, etc.)
Reviewing Transactional Documents
Review Litigation Documents
Preliminary review of discovery materials for relevancy and/or privilege
Substantive review of discovery materials for facts supporting legal theory
- Intellectual Property Services
Prior Art Searches-Patents and Trademarks
Legal Research related to intellectual Property
Who Completes The Outsourced Legal Work?
LPO’s can be structured in a number of ways. LPO’s like LegalEase Solutions use a combination of onshore attorneys (a legal staff based in the United States) and offshore attorneys (a legal staff based in India). The onshore staff manages and oversees every project, while the offshore staff performs the bulk of the work. The offshore legal staff is made up of highly educated attorneys in India who have all undergone training.
Why Outsource Legal Work?
The primary motivation for attorneys to outsource their work is significant cost savings.
In the United States, an entry level associate attorney’s hourly rate can be anywhere from $100 to $250 per hour. On the other hand, a highly qualified attorney in India can cost as little as $30 per hour.
Is Outsourcing Allowed?
The American Bar Association as well as numerous local bar associations including those in New York City, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County have all ruled that “lawyers may contract with foreign lawyers not admitted to practice in any jurisdiction in the United States… to perform legal work for U.S. clients.” 
 Steven J. Mintz, Ethics Opinions Allow Foreign Legal Outsourcing, ABA Litig. News Online, July 2007, at: http://www.abanet.org/litigation/litigationnews/2007/july/0707_article_outsourcing.html