Legal process outsourcing (LPO) hit the legal news almost 10 years ago. Initially, it was controversial. Whatever your views of it, you should note that law firms are now widely adopting its techniques.

I first observed the trend of ‘law firms becoming LPO providers’ in a blog post I wrote when I was still at Integreon, an LPO provider. In my Integreon blog post, Now, Even Law Firms are Doing “LPO” (November 2010), I reported on UK law firm Herbert Smith opening a wholly-owned document review center in relatively (to London) low-cost Belfast, Northern Ireland. I commented that

“Clients will benefit as more firms opt for centralized, low cost service operations, which provide better value. Firms will benefit because they will retain the higher value work for which clients are willing to pay high rates. And LPOs will benefit because more firms will want low cost centers and many will not want to build their own.”

Last week the Law Practice Today, a webzine of the American Bar Association, published my article The Impact of Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) You Might Not Have Noticed. In it, I suggest “We Are All Legal Outsourcers Now”. That is, law firms are rapidly adopting the “operating system” developed by LPO providers. That includes process improvement, metrics, project management, low cost labor, alternative lawyer sourcing, and budgeting.

For a long time, many in the legal market thought that LPO was all about offshoring work to India. With the passage of time, we can see now that the real story is the drive to efficiency and the search for appropriately priced resources in multiple locations.