Live from the ACI Legal Process Outsourcing conference in NYC. Session: Best Practices for the Ongoing Management of the Outsourcing Arrangement. Speakers: Angelo Paparelli, Managing Partner, Paparelli & Partners LLP and Elizabeth Foster
Partner, Business and International Services Groups Luce, Forward, Hamilton, Scripps LLP. 

Paperelli Offers a Case Study in LPO

In my firm’s practice – immigration for large companies – we faced severe price pressure. At the same time, we faced escalating costs (rent, associate compensation). It became clear that to operate profitably, we needed to find less expensive ways to work. I also was concerned that young lawyers spent too much time on writing and research and not enough time with clients. So I looked at offshoring….

Offshoring strikes fear in associates and staff. You have to think carefully about how you introduce the concept to your firm. If you don’t do it the right way, offshoring will be sabotaged. Thought that one meeting was enough to make everyone comfortable. It turns out that was NOT the case. It takes time to get people comfortable. The senior lawyers on each team have to champion offshoring. The right way is explaining facts to team: the economic challenges, for example, the challenge of scaling up and down as work flow ebbs. Explain all the reasons why LPO can solve the problems without threatening jobs (in fact, it will let existing team do higher value work). It did not go over well initially.

As part of offshoring, you have to make sure your processes are in good shape. You also need metrics in an LPO agreement, with real-time access to work status. To get the right LPO metrics, you first need the right metrics in your own firm. Otherwise you can’t reliably compare your own work with the offshore work. Both sides should measure performance and regularly compare notes.

A government rule change caused a substantive change in how work had to be done…. certain work now had to be done in a shorter time frame. When the firm tried to return work to client, client made noise about discipline. That brought religion to staff, who then saw there was no choice but to consider offshoring in order to deliver what the client needed. The fact that we had laid the ground work was critical though.

I thought I could build own facility offshore but realized it is much harder than anticipated for a smaller law firm.

Elizabeth Foster

My firm has not yet done any offshoring. For providers, it should be helpful to hear the perspective of a mid-size firm as it considers offshoring. Draws analogy to finding a US lawyer in another state. It’s done by word of mouth with few reference checks. Thinks that the same will eventually be true for offshore work.