Legal process outsourcing continues to make the news in mainstream media. This time its Time. And now it’s time to ask where we are in LPO adoption. 

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week have covered LPOs. Call My Lawyer … in India (Time, 3 April 2008) opens with a point not usually voiced. It quotes a lawyer who “says he’s ethically obligated to do what’s best for his clients, ‘and that includes saving them money’.” The General Counsel of TransUnion (N.B.: another law department on the record about outsourcing) cites document review savings of 85% versus the domestic alternative. Interesting that many BigLaw partners on record in the legal trade press focus on the potential risks and overlook what may be another ethical duty.

Time reports the potential confidentiality issue. It does cite the numerous security measures Integreon takes (full disclosure: I work for Integreon) but leaves the issue open. Does this situation remind you of anything?

If you worked in the legal market in the early 1990s, it should remind you of lawyer adoption of e-mail. Many resisted e-mail – why, it might not be safe!! Who knows where a message goes once I hit send!!!!!! Never mind that doubters happily sent confidential faxes to hotels where it was guaranteed a third party would see (if not read) the fax. Never mind the Fedex disclaimer explicitly did not guarantee privacy.

Today, it’s hard to find a lawyer who does not use e-mail. And it’s not that the infrastructure is more secure. What finally drove adoption was widespread use of e-mail by clients. Interestingly, many clients today move highly sensitive data around the world, both among their own operations and to third parties, including outsourcers in India.

Legal outsourcing may not achieve the near 100% adoption of e-mail. It seem likely though, that it will share a similar attitudinal outcome with e-mail: in a few years, most lawyers will wonder what all the fuss and worry was about.

This post originally appeared at Strategic Legal Technology.