Sunday, December 02, 2007

Alma mater gets interested in LPO alumni!

It seems getting popular with your alma mater just got more defined, go open an LPO! Prestigious law schools are doing features on their promising alumni who took the, to use a financial term, contrarian route of either leaving active law practice in the US, or building such practice by way of LPO - food for thought for Solo attorneys?.

Columbia Law recently did a feature, "Is the Future of American Law in India?", by profiling Russell Smith, class of '85, and now Chairman of SDD Global. Some snippets:

Under the supervision of American lawyers in New York, Indian attorneys perform the types of tasks normally handled by American paralegals and associate lawyers — at a fraction of the price. Also, Smith pointed out, office space in Mysore is 43 times cheaper than in Manhattan. These savings are passed onto clients. Instead of billing $200 to $700 per hour in the United States, SDD charges $30 to $90.

Many large U.S. law firms — including Kirkland & Ellis, the country’s seventh largest — already outsource some of their legal work. But most do not like to publicize the fact and, in the foreseeable future, are unlikely to set up offices in India. “They can’t credibly bill an Indian lawyer at $365 an hour, and they still need that markup,” Smith said.

It is up to clients to force firms to lower their rates through outsourcing, Smith said. “There are some fields, such as mergers and acquisitions, which will stay in the United States, but a lot of litigation and contract work can be outsourced.”

[This is something almost everyone involved has opined time again - corporations need to push their outside counsel to adopt legal process outsourcing - is enough happening? I don't think so. Is law firm spread FUD when it comes to offshoring legal work a reasonable success. Perhaps.]

Many in the legal profession are concerned about what effect outsourcing will have upon the future of the profession at home. But Smith believes such worries are misplaced. “If legal services become more affordable, that will transform the field,” he said. “Right now, so many financial deals, especially those for less than $1 million, don’t get done because the legal fees for these transactions are so expensive. It’s not worth it. That’s all going to change with the rise of outsourcing.”

Coming back to the subject of this post: If you want to be in your law school's newsletter, go join an LPO - Jonathan Goldstein did (several months ago)! Heck, start by interning (if you have questions, just mail me)!