Monday, January 28, 2008

LPO Report: Discounted rate for Legallyours' readers

Robert Lee has agreed to offer a 15% discount during the month of February, on the LPO industry report, "Seeing the LPO Forest for the Trees: A Report on the Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) Industry" to the readers of Legallyours (this blog). To avail the discount, simply write to robert [at] legalforest [dot] com and copy me - jindal [dot] rahul [at] gmail [dot] com - to indicate blog reader association.

Robert's company does not seem to be an LPO vendor itself, to quote "As independent LPO consultants, we speak from a position of candor, in that we are not LPO providers trying to make a sale."

My previous post previewing the report is here and an extract from the report is here. The following is a list of topics from the report that sound particularly interesting:
  • Outsourcing vs. Offshoring
  • Rapid, Scalable Offshoring vs. Mere Operational Expansion
  • Rate-Limiting Factors
  • Process Engineering
  • Moving Up the Value Chain
  • The Indian Legal System and Law Schools
  • The Market
  • Quasi-Legal Work
  • Legal Support Work
  • Domain Expertise
  • Crafting LPO Service Agreements
  • New York City Bar Opinion
  • LA County Bar Opinion
  • San Diego County Bar Opinion
  • Overview of the Regulations
  • EAR and ECCN
  • BIS Advisory Opinion
  • The Tiers (of vendor location cities)

Friday, January 25, 2008

LPO Summit 2008: Coverage from Blogosphere

LPO Summit 2008, the first discussion on agenda of which perhaps happened with this blogger (see email snippets from Aug and Sep 07 below) was perhaps the biggest event for LPO till date. That its "Program Director" was a rather thankless person does not make the conference any less significant. The first and continuous free marketing for the conference happened on this blog through a sticky post.

Due to the sour experience, this blog did not cover the event in any way. Here are some other places to check out though:
  • Ron Friedman's excellent posts on best practices, ethical issues, setting up of operations, business models, first-hand experiences and the future of legal process outsourcing
  • HireTrade blog post
  • Reaction from a recent US law graduate to comments made at the conference
  • piece

Finally, not related to the conference, but here is Mark Ross' excellent must-read post summarizing 2007 and the coming years for LPO.

From: Rupande Mehta
Date: Aug 16, 2007 7:15 PM
Subject: RE: LPO Speaking Engagements (US)
To: Rahul Jindal

Great – this is exactly what we need. Here is the agenda to the event.

Once again, thanks for speaking with me. As I had mentioned it would be great if we can utilize the blog to mention the conference on a periodic basis. Nothing fancy, just that a conference about LPO is taking place in Jan in New York and interested people can contact me directly. If we can also highlight a few speaker companies – that will get the interests going.


From: Rupande Mehta
Date: Sep 20, 2007 2:35 AM
Subject: LPO Summit
To: Rahul Jindal

Hello Rahul,

I hope you are well! I have finished the LPO program and wanted to send you the brochure and the url for the blog.

I was wondering if there is any way we can make a banner ad for the url, so it stays on the front page all the time.

LPO: Another imposter in town

This isn't even funny. After the discovery of another company, an LPO aspirant, in 2007 which was too lazy to even write the content on their website, the very first month of 2008 has led to a discouraging discovery. This company developed a website which on the outset looks sophisticated but look only a bit deeper and one realises the extent of plagiarism on the website content. Take a look at the FAQ page, " Although our parent law firm, Smith Dornan Dehn..." - shocking, isn't it? As far as I know Smith Dornan Dehn runs only one LPO in India. Is it a case of "you may not accept me as your student, but I consider you as my teacher..." a la Eklavya, of the modern day?!

As if that was not enough, take a look at this screenshot - the "Inc. 500 fastest growing company award - 2007 (ranked 68th) " bit. This is copied word-for-word from

Quell Horreur, again! When will this stop?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

LPO: The European Connection

Reviews European work that New Galexy does:
  • purchasing contracts for Dutch manufacturer;
  • risk management of contracts for a global professional services company;
  • commercial contracts and software licenses for the UK Head Office of a US-based global insurer;
  • media and commercial contracts for a UK media company
  • LPO lawyers negotiated contracts for corporations.
  • Offshore lawyers spend 2 to 3 weeks domestically at office of general counsel for one client


(more to follow)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Valuenotes LPO report update

The latest bi-monthly update on the Legal Outsourcing report from Valuenotes contains an interview with the management team of CPA, one of the biggest companies to expand into legal offshoring space recently. The interview with Chris Veator, Executive Vice President, CPA; Bhaskar Bagchi, Country Head, CPA India; and Susan Hanstead, Vice President, CPA Legal Services provides an insight into the company's strategy for growth into the space. The following appear to be the key differentiators for the company:
1. A 40 year history serving clients' IP needs and therefore strong understanding of their needs
2. Client list with more than 40,000 companies
3. A $50 million investment into the business

Those are impressive numbers and this will be a company to watch out for.

Guest Post: Ethical and Export Control considerations while offshoring patent work

Outsourcing American Patent Work to Foreign Nations
by Anthony J. DeJohn

In recent years, the forces that govern the United States legal economy have been shifting dramatically in response to something of an Intellectual Property Revolution (perhaps Evolution is more appropriate). Never before have so many Fortune 1,000 companies relied so heavily on IP assets and protected them with such vigor. Today, the importance of IP reaches far beyond traditionally technical industries for several reasons. First, as computer breakthroughs and the in-house development capabilities of major corporations continue to grow, the concept of static industry placement becomes less applicable. Second, as technology continues to blossom into the mainstream of the younger generations, the American workforce becomes increasingly more sophisticated. Third, recent trends at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have allowed patent grants to questionable subject matter not considered patentable by past standards. As a result, the line between “patent” and “science” is getting increasingly blurred, and more and more corporations are looking to the patent system as a source of revenue and financial security.
While not a new concept by any stretch (the first U.S. patent was issued in 1790), adequate patent protection has exploded to become one of the single most important responsibilities facing American corporations. With this change in emphasis has also come the demand for more efficient and cost-effective legal representation for IP related services. Many law firms that used to autonomously dictate precisely how much an inventor or corporation would pay for their services are now finding themselves in a bidding war for the privilege of representing high-dollar clients. Additionally, many corporations have expanded their in-house legal departments to employ full-time IP attorneys and support staff, thereby eliminating the traditional law firm markup. Yet even with these aggressive cost-cutting tactics, U.S. corporations are still looking to economize expensive IP activity in any way possible.
To some organizations, namely global corporations like Microsoft and General Electric, supplementing patent operations with foreign labor is a logical step. After all, many of the biggest and best U.S. companies have maintained a successful foreign presence in countries like India, China, and the Phillipines for years. These companies are already comfortable dealing with the difficulties of offshore operation, and have incredible infrastructures currently in place to support the implementation of new processes. To most organizations (including law firms), however, sending patent work abroad is a radical departure from what is considered acceptable practice. The apprehension of these organizations is undeniable and their concerns are perfectly well-founded; however, the barriers are not insurmountable and should be properly understood before any final decisions are made.

Ethical Considerations
The most obtrusive barrier preventing universal acceptance of patent outsourcing is grounded in ethical considerations. While not always purely “legal” in nature, patent related work should always be considered legal because at the most fundamental level, patents are in fact legal instruments. Arguably, all activity related to the preparation, prosecution, maintenance, and litigation of patents is legal activity in some capacity, because such activity will ultimately affect the applicant’s intellectual property rights. As such, attorneys who are involved with outsourcing patent work must be diligent in ensuring ethical obligations are maintained at all times.
Ethical concerns related to patent outsourcing boil down to two categories: confidentiality (secrecy) and competence. Interestingly, neither of these of concerns are strangers to patent attorneys. For years, patent attorneys in the U.S. have farmed-out analysis projects, prior art searches, and even preliminary application drafting to domestic companies that employ a primarily non-attorney workforce consisting of patent agents, engineers, scientists, and even trained individuals with little or no qualified academic background. In sending out projects to these domestic companies, attorneys risk a breach of secrecy and a drop in quality that is equivalent to the risks associated with outsourcing to an offshore provider.
The most effective ways to mitigate the risks of outsourcing patent work apply to both domestic and offshore arrangements. First, it is imperative to know the details of the outsourcing company’s operations. Insist on a reputable company that is incorporated in the United States, and make inquiries into the offshore personnel that will be privy to sensitive information. Before committing to a working relationship, develop a strong rapport with the company’s executives. This does more than just ease the nerves of the parties involved, it also dramatically increases the level of accountability felt by the service provider. The more accountability that exists, the more carefully the parties will operate to ensure secrecy of sensitive information. Second, expect to receive imperfect work-product and budget time to revise accordingly. No conscientious attorney would blindly sign-off on work-product created by anyone other than himself; thus, all attorneys should expect to spend a reasonable amount of time revising work-product received from an outsourcing company. Any attorney contemplating outsourcing needs to understand that the true test of gainful outsourcing is not finding the cheapest labor or receiving the best work-product, but realizing the most value per dollar.

United States Export Controls
A lesser-known barrier preventing full acceptance of patent outsourcing is federal export regulations restricting international dissemination of certain technologies. These restrictions apply to enabling technical disclosures and are not limited to tangible goods. There are two regulatory agencies that enforce the U.S. export laws: the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DTC) and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). The primary purpose of the DTC is to control the import and export of munitions and weapon technology by enforcing the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).[1] Conversely, the BIS is responsible for enforcing and implementing the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and has regulatory control over a vast array of technologies ranging from “dual-use” items to purely commercial goods.[2] Items subject to EAR are enumerated on the Commerce Control List (CCL), but the applicability of the CCL varies depending on what foreign nation is in question.[3]
Adhering to the BIS and DTC regulatory frameworks is absolutely essential for any organization interested in outsourcing patent work to a foreign country. Failure to comply with federal export regulations can result in severe fines and even imprisonment. Additionally, technology that could warrant a secrecy order issued by the USPTO may lose future patent rights as a result of premature foreign disclosure.[4] The first step to ensuring compliance is accurate classification of the technology in question. Invention classification should be a joint effort between the inventor and his attorney, with the service provider acting as a final safety net. The following must be determined before any invention disclosure leaves American soil:
(a) Does the invention employ technology similar to what is identified on the United States Munitions List?[5]
(b) What categories of technology are restricted from the country where the outsourcing vendor’s employees are located?
(c) Does the invention employ technology similar to what is identified on the CCL for any restricted categories determined in (b)?
If the answer to either (a) or (c) is affirmative, no attorney should submit the invention disclosure to an offshore provider without proper government authorization in the form of an export license. In this situation, the risk-to-benefit ratio is simply too high to gamble on foreign outsourcing. Even if the invention passes this internal screening test, it is good practice to contact a BIS counselor if uncertainty exists.[6]
There are several compelling reasons, however, that should prevent organizations from becoming overly discouraged with the consequences of potential export violations. First, only information that is unpublished (not in the public domain) is restricted by U.S. export controls.[7] This means that many patent services can be freely outsourced, even if the invention in question falls within the scope of the ITAR or EAR. In practice, only patent application drafting and early-stage prosecution matters are limited by export controls, because only these services require a full enabling disclosure to be sent abroad. Second, the vast majority of inventions that enter the patent system are entirely unrelated to the sensitive technologies protected by the export laws. In FY 2007, only 128 secrecy orders were issued out of 362,227 applications examined that year.[8] Additional research shows that the majority of patents granted each year fall into classifications that do not relate to the restricted items in the CCL or U.S. Munitions List.[9] Therefore, while the general concept of patent outsourcing may not sit well with every U.S. attorney, it is hard to argue that the practice of doing so is an unacceptable risk in light of U.S. export controls.

The United States legal system and the economic forces that drive it are institutions that will last for centuries to come. The recent growth in IP activity has only strengthened the bond between attorneys and corporations, but the balance of power is shifting in favor of a free-market approach to legal services. In today’s global economy, opportunities exist to maximize operational efficiency that the world has never seen. Many of these opportunities are wonderful and profitable endeavors, while others are ill-advised risks capable of devastating an organization. Certainly, diving head-first into uncharted waters is a foolish mistake with regard to patent services. However, with a patient and educated approach, patent outsourcing can be a highly rewarding decision for everyone involved. Offering more than just cost-savings, effective outsourcing can translate into better work environments, happier clients, shorter hours, and more efficient use of company time.

Anthony J. DeJohn, Esq. is the Director of Operations and Vice President of Intellectual Property at LawScribe, Inc. He wishes to thank Joe Conate of the Beraeu of Industry and Security and Donald Hajec of the United States Patent and Trademark Office for their thoughtful discussions. Anthony can be contacted by email at

[1] The consolidated version of the ITAR can be found at
[2] Dual-use items have both commercial and military or proliferation applications.
[3] The CCL can be found in 15 C.F.R. 774.
[4] 35 C.F.R. 5.2(a)
[5] The United States Munitions List specifies all technology regulated by the DTC and ITAR
[6] Ask a BIS counselor online at
[7] 15 C.F.R. 734 (EAR) and 22 C.F.R. 120.11 (ITAR)
[8] USPTO Performance and Accountability Report, FY 2007
[9] USPTO Patent Report – Breakout by Technology Class (

Friday, January 04, 2008

Legal Processing Outsourcing Blog: ABA Blawg 100 Winner!

ABA Journal released the list of winners in the Blawg 100 contest, see Readers’ Choice Winners Named in ABA Journal Blawg 100. This blog won in the Lawyer's toolkit category.

The entire list of blawgs contesting for top honors is available at

Legallyours sincerely wishes to thank all the readers and supporters of this blog for their precious votes and compliments.

About the ABA Journal:The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, and it is read by half of the nation’s 1.1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. features breaking legal news updated as it happens by staff reporters throughout every business day, a directory of more than 1,500 lawyer blogs, and the full contents of the magazine.

About the ABA:With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Guest Post: Offshoring of Legal Research and Writing

As mentioned in the earlier post welcoming 2008, this is the first guest post in the series. The author of this post is Tariq Hafeez, the President of and General Counsel for LegalEase Solutions LLC.

As legal process outsourcing (LPO) continues to expand in market share, so too will the number of service offerings from LPOs. Law, much like medicine, is a profession ripe with specialties and specialists. The various types of legal support services that can be offshored are as varied and diverse as the legal market itself. In today’s nascent LPO market, most LPO providers offer a wide array of legal support services—a one stop shop for legal outsourcing. As the LPO industry continues to develop and mature, LPOs will differentiate themselves not only by size and capabilities, but also by what area of law they are best suited to outsource.

Legal research and writing (LR&R) services encompass both drafting research memoranda as well as drafting legal pleadings of all varieties—trial motions, briefs in support, appellate briefs, writs, etc.

A few well established LPOs currently offer good quality legal research and writing services. Due to the highly complex nature of the work, and relatively smaller scale LR&R projects, only a few LPOs currently have the resources and abilities to sustain a LR&R practice. Both small firms and big firms alike can benefit from the cost and time advantages of doing LR&R abroad i.e. offshore. While many young lawyers come well equipped to do research fresh out of law school, it is a time-consuming and expensive task. By taking advantage of a global work-force, firms both large and small can save time and money and realistically expect high quality work product.

Why Outsource Legal Research?

Legal research in the practice of law is time-consuming, difficult and often times expensive-both for the lawyer and certainly for the client. Because the law is anything but clear-cut and simple, good and effective legal research takes time. While efficiency is an essential characteristic of a good lawyer, legal research requires both efficiency and thoroughness. Often times, an attorney will have to research an issue a number of times before she feels comfortable with the result of her research.

Research also requires adequate tools to be effective and efficient. A basic subscription to Lexis® or Westlaw® is usually not sufficient and attorneys need specialized databases to find answers to complex questions in a timely manner. These tools are expensive, and often times they are not used frequently enough to justify the expense for a law firm.

The advantages of having a low cost alternative for high quality LR&R and a work force that can work while you sleep are obvious enough. How to find and evaluate an LPO that can produce consistently good work is the million dollar question.

How LPOs successfully provide high quality LR&R services

For an LPO to successfully provide high quality LR&R services, it is critical that the LPO have a strong US presence including attorneys trained in the US, and a well developed training program for its offshore attorneys. A work-flow process that effectively brings together the strengths of the offshore team with the experience of the US team is the final ingredient for a highly competent LR&R practice

LPOs operating exclusively from India or other offshore locations simply cannot effectively manage LR&R projects nor can they effectively control quality. Due to the complex nature of the work, communication is key to managing LR&R projects. From the initial step of getting the relevant information from the client to the actual review and editing of the final products—a strong US presence is essential.

Furthermore, a robust training program for new and veteran employees of the LPO is essential. Any LPO claiming to provide high quality LR&R services must have a strong training process and a well developed curriculum for training its offshore attorneys. Some of the best LR&R providers have full-time staff dedicated to training attorneys in US law. These full-time instructors at a minimum must be US trained and licensed attorneys with experience in the legal field, and ideally will consist of both experienced attorneys as well as legal professionals with teaching experience. Moreover, a successful training program will have a well developed curriculum specifically designed to teach US law to non-US trained attorneys.

Finally, an LPO offering LR&R services must have a work-flow process that effectively leverages technology and synthesizes the offshore team’s capabilities with that of the US team. The work-flow process must take into account the time difference between the two teams, as well as the time sensitive nature of most LR&R projects.

Checklist to evaluate an LPO’s LR&R Services
  • Is the LPO based in the US? Does it have US trained and licensed attorneys as part of its staff?
  • Does the LPO have an easy and believable work-flow process?
  • What are qualifications of US and Indian attorneys?
  • Profile of Offshore/US attorneys (does the LPO provide you with profiles?)
  • How does the LPO gather data for its research projects?
  • Does the LPO provide one-on-one access to its offshore attorneys as needed?
  • What tools does the LPO use for its research & writing? Is the use of such tools charged to the client or are the expenses internally borne by the LPO?
  • Does the LPO have a training curriculum for its offshore attorneys? Who was the curriculum designed by?
  • Can the LPO provide a list of references or testimonials as to its research & writing practice specifically?

Happy New Year 2008!

Legallyours wishes its readers a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2008!

The new year should see increased activity in the LPO space, emergence of new players, success stories from clients, flying away of the fly-by-night operators and probably a symbiotic opening up of the Indian legal sector to Western law firms.

To equip the readers of this blog, I wish to run an informative series of guest posts on the various areas within LPO. These guest posts will be authored by representatives of the leading LPOs in India. Any of the readers of this blog are also more than welcome to write into me if they will like to comment on anything in the form of an experience, checklists for prospects, case study, wishlist, Q&A, etc. This series starts today i.e. Jan 1, 2008.

Happy offshoring!