Reporter Mini Joseph Tejaswi reports about the players in the outsourcing industry in The Times of India, the largest circulation English-language newspaper in the world. Tejaswi covers, in her report, the rankings of outsourcing companies, as a result of a detailed and comprehensive worldwide study. The report reveals a surprising dominance of smaller sized players over huge ones, by virtue of the former's specialized knowledge and better client satisfaction:
The boutique-sized, niche-focused outsourcing providers seem to be giving giants like Hewlett Packard, IBM, Accenture, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Cognizant tough competition in terms of offering a greater degree of customer satisfaction.
A comprehensive poll of over 6,547 outsourcing clients worldwide found that smaller vendors are satisfying more clients, and to a much greater degree, in comparison with their big-ticket counterparts. The study carried out by the Black Book of Outsourcing -- which was acquired by business research firm Datamonitor Group a year ago -- has represented all outsourcing fields including IT, KPO, LPO and BPO.
Although feedback on the big names, such as IBM and HP, has been generally positive, the companies that have excelled in delighting the customers have been smaller players. For instance, the Philippines-based ITeS firm, American Discovery and Mysore-based legal process outsourcing firm, SDD Global Solutions have been ranked as the top two outsourcing companies in the world.
The study has assessed customer satisfaction using nine different parameters like requirements awareness, shared goals, financial benefits, risk mitigation, partnership approach, problem resolution, corporate reputation, skills and resources and future orientation.
Speaking specifically about SDD Global Solutions, a high-end legal outsourcing company, the article focuses on the areas where SDD Global Solution beats the other players in the legal process outsourcing industry (LPO / legal services KPO):
Some 40 clients of SDD Global, including 20th Century Fox, HBO, Universal Pictures, Channel 4 Television Corporation, Media Rights Capital, etc., were interviewed for the study.The Times of India also quotes Eamonn Kennedy, who led the research for Datamonitor:
"Like the latest cutting-edge Indian IT engineers, our legal team has proven that India does not need to be a mere back office for the Wests. In fact, our team has been consistently performing critical front-office functions like sophisticated legal research, analysis and drafting, and in the process, wowing global clients,'' said Russell A. Smith, Head of SDD Global.
"Smaller outsourcing providers like SDD Global have been pushing their specialist knowledge and deep client understanding as their unique selling point for some time now, claiming that specialists provide a better service. While all outsourcers talk up their ability to specialize, this survey suggests that SDD Global and other smaller players are best positioned to deliver on that promise,'' said Eamonn Kennedy.
Law.com's Bruce Carton writes about the lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen by an acquaintance from his teenage years, and the contribution of SDD Global Solutions, a legal process outsourcing company (LPO / KPO), to the case, in one of widely-read legal news venues in the world:
The story of the ill-fated lawsuit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen by his ex-girlfriend, who claimed he defamed her in one of his "Da Ali G Show" interviews, was already pretty interesting by itself. No stranger to the legal troubles that go hand-in-hand with his particular style of film-making, Cohen won the lawsuit a year ago (in what the THR, Esq. blog called "a victory for the free speech rights of comedians who wish to make fun of ex-girlfriends in the midst of calling Gore Vidal a world-famous hairstylist and questioning whether Denzel Washington lives in George Washington's former Mount Vernon home.") The case is back in the news this week because on Tuesday, a California appeals court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the case against Cohen and the show's distributor, the U.K.'s Channel Four Television.
The article points out the work done by legal outsourcing attorneys at SmithDehn in this groundbreaking case, making the defense against the case economically sensible:
Perhaps just as interesting, however, is the fact that Channel Four has been very publicly defending the case using U.S. law-trained attorneys in India. The Law Without Borders blog reported here that after the case was initially dismissed in April 2009, Channel Four issued a statement that it was "happy not only with the result in the 'Ali G' case, but also with the low legal fees that made the defense possible." It added that the case was being "fought with the litigation support services of SDD Global Solutions, the India arm of Channel 4's U.S. counsel, SmithDehn LLP, in a groundbreaking case where 'outsourcing' has proved to be a creative solution to running a robust defense." Channel Four noted that SDD Global conducted the legal research and drafted all of the preliminary drafts of court papers in the litigation, including the successful motion for summary judgment.The article also quotes Head of Operations of SmithDehn on the affordable and high quality legal service provided by SmithDehn:
SDD Global's Head of Operations added that because his team made the defense affordable, the U.S. lawyers were able to focus on "strategizing, supervising, editing, and appearing in court. The implications of this case are huge. With legal outsourcing, baseless lawsuits can be defeated on their merits, instead of settled simply out of fear of legal fees.
In Business Today, the leading business magazine in India, journalists T.V. Mahalingam and Rahul Sachitanand report on the strong prospects for the legal outsourcing. They start off their article discussing how SDD Global, a high-end legal outsourcing provider, was founded:
Four years ago, Russell Smith visited Mysore, 140 km south-west of Bangalore, for a yoga course. Three months on, he fell in love with India, and hired an assistant to work on his U.S. practice, while refining his shrishasana, a yoga posture.... Today, Hollywood biggies like 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios get some of their legal work done out of Mysore, thanks to SDD Global.The reporters go on to discuss the cost advantages associated with legal outsourcing:
"There is a tremendous incentive for American companies and law firms to hire LPO companies in India," says Smith, President, SDD Global. "They can obtain quality legal services for a tenth of the cost, and office space in Mysore is as little as l/43rd the cost of comparable space in the United States," he adds.The article also features facts and figures, such as these:
Sceptics might argue that the recent boom in the LPO industry is short-lived and can be attributed to the global recession. They argue that as bankruptcies and litigation went through the roof, Indian LPOs got a chunk of the huge legal work.... But industry folk like Natarajan and Kamlani believe a structural shift of sorts is happening and that business is at a possible inflection point in terms of growth.
"Earlier, LPOs were getting most of their business from the legal departments of companies that wanted to reduce costs," says Natarajan. "However, since the recession, we are seeing more law firms talking to LPOs," he adds. It is a point of view echoed by SDD Global's Russell Smith: "Law firms too, are increasing their involvement with LPOs, but mostly at the insistence of their corporate clients," he says.
Also, courtesy of the recession, American law firms are being asked by clients to bid for business on a fixed-fee basis, rather than on hourly bills. That has forced law firms to cut costs, and in turn, to engage LPOs.
Another sign of the maturity of the industry is the nature of the work that LPOs are undertaking and the increasing depth of the client relationships. Gurgaon-based UnitedLex began with patent support and contract management but has expanded to document review, trademarks support, and legal research
UnitedLex CEO Daniel Reed says companies such as SDD Global and the one he heads are also trying to move the LPO industry beyond the lift-and-shift business model. "Clients are now approaching us to help them redesign their overall contracting function and provide technology and process design support," says Reed.
Jim Vescovi writes in a Columbia Law School Press Release about SmithDehn being one of the premier legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies in India. He also talks about its establishment by Russell Smith, in 2006:
It was Smith's first experience with legal process outsourcing (LPO) to India, and it ultimately led him to establish in 2006 a subsidiary of Smith Dornan Dehn in Mysore, a city in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka. By then, outsourcing to India was well established. Today, there are more than 100 Indian LPO operations, which employ some 7,500 Indian legal professionals and generate about $146 million annually.... SDD Global Solutions distinguishes itself in this crowded field in that it is the only LPO operation in India owned and managed by an American law firm. "That gives us credibility, because everything that we do in India is backed up by our firm in New York," says Smith, who as president and chairman of SDD, works from the Mysore offices.Vescovi also describes SmithDehn' impressive clientele and the reasons behind it:
SDD employs more than 40 Indian lawyers, whose legal training, like that found in the United States, derives from the British common law tradition. 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 points 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.
"As a consequence we get a lot of work that otherwise would be too expensive, and wouldn't get done," Smith says. For instance, Sony Pictures recently approached SDD to do the preliminary legal work for a movie it wanted to make. "The script made for some complex legal issues, and we told them we would put 10 to 20 lawyers on the case," Smith says. "That would have been the end of the conversation if we were talking about a United States firm. It would have been too expensive, and the studio would have moved on to another script. But with our India staff, we were able to do it for $43,000, compared to $250,000 if it had been done in the United States."
The increasingly popular DNA (Daily News & Analysis) newspaper reports on how legal process outsourcing at Mysore-based SmithDehn has been welcomed by the U.S. film and television industry:
Al Pacino's new film, and a reality TV serial on rookie cops, are both getting legal help from Mysore. A legal outsourcing firm based in the city is insuring the series and doing the legal groundwork for it. A movie crew having problems using cars with Chicago Police logo is already thankful to Mysore. While outsourcing back-office work such as document review, drafting and application to Indian legal process outsourcing companies is not new, lawyers in the royal city of Karnataka are conducting research, writing legal opinions, drafting motions and copyright clauses, preparing documents for insurance coverage, getting permissions for locations and materials for shooting and processing visas for Hollywood actors, producers and directors.The article goes on to quote the founder of Rainmaker, the LPO recruitment/training firm, on the subject of how high-end legal outsourcing is growing:
Increasing business opportunities and the availability of inexpensive operating costs has prompted SDD Global, the famous law arm of the Manhattan-based international media and intellectual property firm SmithDehn LLP, to establish its high-end outsourcing unit in Mysore. SDD provides legal support to major production houses such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios.
Legal process outsourcing (LPO) experts say India has moved up the value chain in the sector in past one year. "A few companies have been there in the high-end LPO business for some years now, but a large volume of high-end work has come to India only in the past one year. SDD Global has attracted the most high-end work," said the vice-president of Rainmaker T&R, a leading legal recruitment and training firm in Mumbai.
Most of the legal work for Borat, the financially most successful comedy film, was done in Mysore. Similarly, the award-winning film Death of a President, a fictional documentary on the assassination of the 43rd US President, George W Bush, was successfully released with low-cost legal assistance from SDD Global. Of late lawyers at SDD are doing legal research to help defend an HBO TV series facing a court case in Los Angeles.
Business reporter Mini Joseph Tejaswi, in The Economic Times, the most widely read financial newspaper in the English language, covers the story of a "sloppily drafted" Connecticut State bill that, if passed (which seems highly unlikely), would purport to ban legal outsourcing to anyone other than licensed attorneys:
Under the bill, proposed by Connecticut state representative Patricia Dillon, "unlicensed'' offshore workers who engage in drafting, reviewing or analysing of legal documents for clients in Connecticut could be charged with unauthorised practice of law, according to a report by The Connecticut Law Tribune.Two legal process outsourcing industry leaders, including the head of SDD Global, are quoted in the article:
Sanjay Kamlani, co-CEO of LPO firm Pangea3, said the proposed Bill seeks to stop the flow of high-end and sophisticated legal functions to India. "This is happening at a time when US law firms are increasingly looking at LPOs strategically, as long-term partners, to offer more value to their clients. A lot of legal work -- from financial services, IT and entertainment sectors -- is coming to India from New York, New Jersey, California, etc," he said. Some US attorneys familiar with the LPO model have called it "a sloppily drafted bill'' that ignores the substantial body of principled analysis of issues surrounding legal outsourcing, in favor of facile protectionism that won't cure the legal profession's real ills.
Russell A Smith, CEO, Mysore-based LPO firm SDD Global and a registered attorney in the US, said tens of thousands of US paralegals, who, like Indians, are not admitted to the bar, do exactly the same kind of work that the author of the bill says should be done only by lawyers. "Even if the bill is passed, it would be quickly overturned by the courts as an unlawful restraint of trade and interference with the constitutional right to contract freely. This bill would ban more US jobs than Indian ones,'' he said.
Journalist Bibhu Ranjan Mishra reports on the booming business of legal process outsourcing (LPO) in India, in an article in The Business Standard, a highly popular financial newspaper in India:
The US sub-prime crisis may have affected the fortunes of Indian IT firms, which have clients with mortgage exposure, but the country's legal process outsourcing (LPO) outfits are laughing their way to the bank as American law firms have begun offshoring the credit crisis-related work.Mishra focuses on SmithDehn as one of main players in the legal outsourcing (LPO/KPO) industry and quotes Russell Smith, head of the company:
The Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions' revenues are already up by about 50 per cent, and other legal outsourcing providers are reporting higher figures. Russell Smith says most law firms have been very protective about the more lucrative 'core' work that they think only US lawyers should be doing. "But a few of them are realizing that to get in front of the pack, and to impress increasingly cost-conscious clients, they need to shift more than just document review to India," Smith says.On the issue of the nature of the work, Mishra again quotes Smith:
"In Mysore, our commute times average less than five minutes each way, our attorneys have nights and weekends off and we all work on fascinating matters for Hollywood and other clients that some US lawyers would give their limb to work for. You won't find that mix in any of the big law firms in the so-called 'top-tier' Indian cities," Smith affirms.
The Economic Times, the most widely-read business newspaper in the English-speaking world, reports about how legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies are attracting lawyers from US and UK to India:
The recession has severely impacted the global legal practicing industry; one out of every 10 lawyers in the US is said to have been laid off. To cut cost, many corporations are discontinuing their contracts with external law firms or are outsourcing a substantial portion of their legal engagements to countries like India. This has resulted in a flood of US/UK lawyer CVs to India. SDD Global Solutions, a Mysore-based legal practices outsourcer, is also hiring many foreign lawyers.In the article, SDD Global Solutions has been given special emphasis: on the basis of its unique clientele and area of work:
SDD Global does legal research, strategic legal analysis, and legal opinion-drafting for upcoming motion picture releases from 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios. Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions, says legal outsourcing to India is enormously cost effective because US lawyers are very expensive. "They are paid $300/900 an hour while it is less than 1/10 of that in India. Globally, the traditional hour-based working style of law firms is changing. Companies these days prefer smaller firms who believe in flat rates,'' says Smith.
Bruce Carton reports about the writing and editing skills of the legal outsourcing professionals at SDD Global Solutions, in one of the leading law-related websites, Law.com:
Are you an excellent writer and proofreader, but presently unable to break into the Big Law world in the U.S.? Then get yourself over to India, where legal process outsourcing companies reportedly have found a new niche: correcting the grammar of U.S. attorneys.Carton also refers to a popular blog article, written about legal process outsourcing companies in India, and states:
The August issue of the ABA Journal magazine reports that Indian LPOs have gotten so proficient at drafting and grammar that they are now being hired to edit the work of U.S. lawyers for grammar and style. "Man bites dog," as the Law Without Borders blog put it. Russell Smith, who helped start the Indian LPO firm SDD Global Solutions, says his company was recently hired to "to edit the work of lawyers involved in a Hollywood lawsuit at an Am Law 100 firm in Los Angeles."Carton quotes Smith, who gives the reason for editing the drafts of U.S. lawyers. Carton says:
Smith says he is not surprised, as he believes "lawyers at some U.S. firms do not have time to conduct or participate in similar training, and are either too busy or under too much cost pressure to take the time to do a perfect or near-perfect job." He also chides that "high-quality, effective English writing has been out of fashion in the U.S. for decades."
Mini Joseph Tejaswi reports for India's largest newspaper about the involvement of SDD Global Solutions in assisting Channel 4 to defend against the "Ali G" libel lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Tejaswi describes SDD Global Solutions' role of a legal outsourcing company (LPO) as "gamut of legal weaponry designed and dispatched by a group of smart lawyers sitting in Mysore." She also discusses some of the key persons involved in the case and their contribution to it:
Veteran media lawyer and Harvard Law School scholar Frank Dehn said that without legal outsourcing, mounting a defence against many lawsuits would not have made economic sense. "As so often happens, the defendants simply would have paid the plaintiff to go away just to avoid US legal fees, even though the case had no merit. But with a team of excellent, US-law trained Indian attorneys doing the major chunk of the legal work, it was less expensive for our clients to fight and win the suit, than going for an out of court settlement,'' he said.
"It's a victory for legal outsourcing to India," said Russell A Smith, President, SDD Global. "It's a victory for the Indian legal fraternity and a historic verdict in the US, as it was a precedent-setting judgment giving protection to comedy speeches, comedy writers, comedians, comedy producers and comedy broadcasters.''
Head of Ali G litigation team Padmavathi Shanthamurthy said a team of six people in Mysore constantly worked on this for a month doing legal research, legal drafting, and legal discoveries. "We had the entire motion in black and white.'' Padmavathi was also physically present in the LA court, while her US colleague was laying out the final argument.
Praveen Bose reports about SDD Global's achievements in the case of "Da Ali G Show," in one of the largest-circulation business newspapers in India. This victory came as a significant development in the legal outsourcing industry:
Indian lawyers at SDD Global Solutions based in Mysore have scored their own Hollywood triumph. The lawyers, from Mysore, did this with their legal research, and by drafting motion papers, to defeat a Los Angeles libel case against HBO's 'Da Ali G Show', starring actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
The lawyers at SDD Global drafted, and are credited by name in the summary judgment brief for dismissal of Doe vs. HBO - the lawsuit filed by a woman who once knew comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and claimed that Cohen, while playing the role of the TV character, 'Ali G', libeled her by name during a spoof interview with historian Gore Vidal.
This case is said to be historic, and not only because it is one of the first "libel-in-fiction" cases in the television context but also because it is the first high-profile, US media litigation in which the legal research and first drafts of the motion papers for the defense were completed entirely offshore, by Indian attorneys at a legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm.
Reporter Leigh Holmwood writes in The Guardian (UK) about SDD Global's contribution, as a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company, in defending against a suit filed by a woman who sought damages after her name was used in a comedy routine by Sacha Baron Cohen:
The action was fought by SDD Global Solutions, the Indian arm of Channel 4's US counsel SmithDehn LLP. Channel 4 described it as a groundbreaking case where "outsourcing" was a "creative solution to running a robust defense".
Channel 4's controller of legal and compliance said it was an "US court actions are extremely costly to run and even where a defendant wins, little if any of their costs are recoverable from the plaintiff. As so often happens in cases like this, the 'chilling effect' of the threat of substantial damages and significant legal costs forces defendants to settle with plaintiffs who have no justifiable claim."
"However, combining the skills and expertise of US attorneys with US law-trained Indian attorneys has proved to be an innovative and cost-effective way for Channel 4 to fight and win the suit."
In LPO Source, a leading blog on the topic of offshore legal outsourcing, expert consultant Michael Bell, managing principal at Fronterion, LLC, an independent legal process outsourcing advisory firm, comments on a recent article by SDD Global's Russell Smith:
While many commentators make projections for the coming year (Fronterion included), some are taking a more expansive approach and are forecasting into the next decade.In his post, Bell agrees with most of Smith's predictions:
In a recent post at Law Without Borders, fellow LPO blogger Russell Smith projects a number of ways that legal offshoring will impact (or "shake up") the legal profession in the next 10 years. His 12 predictions, and my summary of each, are:
1. Meritocracy Beats Aristocracy - Legal service delivery is becoming more value-driven.
2. Change is Happening in the East as Much as in the West - The legal landscape is changing in India.
3. The New Tort Reform - LPO may constitute a more cost-effective defense than settlement.
4. Capital Funding of Litigation - LPO is a good value proposition for third-party investors in litigation funding.
5. The Billable Hour Bites the Dust - Alternative billing models are turning the legal world upside down.
6. Unintended Effects of Regulatory Reform - New regulatory compliance obligations call for LPO solutions.
7. "Legal Trauma Units" Level the Playing Field - Offshoring levels the playing field for small law firms.
8. Offshore Beats Nearshore - Billing rates and operating costs are considerably lower in India.
9. The Death of the "They're Taking our Jobs" Myth - Offshoring actually creates new jobs in the West.
10. More Proliferation Than Consolidation - Offshore legal service providers are growing in number.
11. Western Lawyers Switch to Football - Through LPO, Western lawyers can move up the value chain to act as quarterbacks or team coaches.
12. The Future May Belong to the "Just Crazy Enough" - LPO entrepreneurs pave the way for new innovations.
We largely agree with Smith's predictions, a number of which are already occurring the marketplace. Just think, 10 years ago we were just sorting out the use and ethical implications of e-mail.
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Smith makes some insightful forecasts regarding LPO in the next decade. I agree with his statement that this coming decade is one in which the legal world might be turned upside down and that "offshore legal outsourcing is likely to continue to be among the leaders of the law revolution."
The Times of India reports on a poorly worded piece of proposed legislation in Connecticut that supposedly would put a stop to offshore legal process outsourcing from that State:
The US state of Connecticut has introduced a bill designed to prevent law firms and corporates from offshoring the drafting, reviewing and analysing of legal documents to workers overseas. This could impact the legal process outsourcing (LPO) sector in India....The leaders of two legal outsourcing companies, Pangea3 and SDD Global Solutions, are quoted in the article:
Under the bill, proposed by Connecticut state representative Patricia Dillon, "unlicensed'' offshore workers who engage in drafting, reviewing or analysing of legal documents for clients in Connecticut could be charged with unauthorised practice of law, according to a report by The Connecticut Law Tribune.
Sanjay Kamlani, co-CEO of LPO firm Pangea3, said the proposed Bill seeks to stop the flow of high-end and sophisticated legal functions to India. "This is happening at a time when US law firms are increasingly looking at LPOs strategically, as long-term partners, to offer more value to their clients....," he said.
Some US attorneys familiar with the LPO model have called it "a sloppily drafted bill'' that ignores the substantial body of principled analysis of issues surrounding legal outsourcing in favour of facile protectionism that won't cure the legal profession's real ills.
Russell A Smith, CEO, Mysore-based LPO firm SDD Global and a registered attorney in the US, said tens of thousands of US paralegals, who, like Indians, are not admitted to the bar, do exactly the same kind of work that the author of the bill says should only be done by lawyers.
"Even if the bill is passed, it would be quickly overturned by the courts as an unlawful restraint of trade and interference with the constitutional right to contract freely. This bill will ban more US jobs than Indian ones,'' he said.
Rahul Jindal, Assistant Vice President at CPA Global, writes about SDD Global Solutions, in his American Bar Association Journal Award-winning legal outsourcing blog (not affiliated with CPA Global). He highlights SDD Global's significant contribution to the victory in "Da Ali G Show" case. SDD Global's role was that of a legal process outsourcing company (LPO / legal services KPO):
A.R. Rahman conquered Hollywood, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score, in Slumdog Millionaire. Now the Indian lawyers at SDD Global Solutions in Mysore have scored their own Hollywood triumph, doing the legal research, and drafting the motion papers, to defeat a Los Angeles libel case against HBO's "Da Ali G Show," starring Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" and "Bruno" fame. It's one thing for an Indian legal outsourcing company to draft a brief for U.S. litigation. That's been done several times before, by SDD Global, Atlas Legal Research, Lexadigm and others, to the credit of the outstanding Indian lawyers who did the work. But in this case, the work was victorious, and it resulted in a precedent-setting decision protecting comedy writers, comedians, and their producers and broadcasters everywhere.According to Jindal the above case has acquired landmark status in the legal outsourcing industry because of the following reasons:
In this case, the Indian lawyers at SDD Global drafted, and are credited by name in, the successful summary judgment brief (which you can access by clicking here) for dismissal of Doe v. HBO, the lawsuit filed by a woman who once knew comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and claimed that Cohen, while playing the role of the television character, "Ali G," libeled her by name during a spoof interview with historian Gore Vidal.
This case is historic, and not only because it is one of the first "libel-in-fiction" cases in the television context. The case is important also because it is the first high-profile, U.S. media litigation in which the legal research and first drafts of the motion papers for the defense were completed entirely off-shore, by Indian attorneys at a legal outsourcing company. The lead counsel for the defense, New York-based SmithDehn LLP, supervised the work and appeared in court on behalf of the moving party, Channel Four Television Corporation, the UK's second largest television network, which incidentally developed and produced Slumdog Millionaire, The Crying Game, Trainspotting, The Last King of Scotland, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Also present in the courtroom was Padma Shanthamurthy, SDD Global team leader, who traveled from her home in Mysore, India to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York to assist with oral arguments and depositions in the case.
Channel 4's Prash Naik added: "US court actions are extremely costly to run, and even where a defendant wins, little if any of their costs are recoverable from the plaintiff. As so often happens in cases like this, the 'chilling effect' of the threat of substantial damages and significant legal costs, forces defendants to settle with plaintiffs who have no justifiable claim. However combining the skills and expertise of US attorneys with US law-trained Indian attorneys has proved to be an innovative and cost-effective way for Channel 4 to fight and win the suit."
In Above the Law, the most popular legal affairs blog in the U.S., Elie Mystal discusses the changing notion of legal outsourcing and significance of legal process outsourcing (LPO) even in landmark cases, all over the world:
Whenever we talk about outsourcing, a number of people disparage the quality of work provided by less expensive, foreign lawyers. But jingoistic rhetoric isn't going to do anything to stop the movement of legal work offshore. Indian lawyers scored a major victory yesterday, as a suit against Sacha Baron Cohen was tossed out of L.A. Superior Court. It's an important victory for comedy performers. But who did the lion's share of the legal grunt work on the case? That would be an Indian law firm under the supervision of SmithDehn.
Mystal also quotes one of Cohen's lawyers from "The Deadline Hollywood Daily blog":
As one of the defense lawyers noted: "As so often happens in cases like this, the 'chilling effect' of the threat of substantial damages and significant legal costs, forces defendants to settle with plaintiffs who have no justifiable claim. However combining the skills and expertise of U.S. attorneys with U.S. law-trained Indian attorneys has proved to be an innovative and cost-effective way to fight and win the suit."
Highlighting the role of Indian legal process outsourcing companies like SDD Global Solutions, Mystal writes that:
Legal research and drafting are the things that junior and mid-level associates are supposed to do. There might not be as much money available for defending Sacha Baron Cohen as there is for defending a Fortune 500 corporation, but his legal battles are high profile. If U.S. firms trust Indian colleagues to do important work on a particularly newsworthy client, what does that mean for clients that don't make the headlines?
The Indian firm taking the deserved credit for this victory is SDD Global Solutions. Sanjay Bhatia, Head of Operations for SDD, said that this result is good for both Indian and U.S. lawyers. He says, "[T]his is a case where outsourcing created more work in the US, rather than less. Because our team made the defense affordable, US lawyers were able to do the things in the US that they do best there, such as strategizing, supervising, editing, and appearing in court. The implications of this case are huge. With legal outsourcing, baseless lawsuits can be defeated on their merits, instead of settled simply out of fear of legal fees."
Reporter Zach Lowe, writing for the American Lawyer magazine, covered the story of a U.S. law firm that filed a federal lawsuit in Washington D.C. against offshore legal outsourcing:
Late last month the American Bar Association gave the green light to legal outsourcing, provided that firms sending work overseas make sure that everything done beyond U.S. borders is done by the book -- including the protection of confidential information. Even before the ABA move, one Maryland firm was worried enough about the privacy issue to file a lawsuit against Acumen Legal Services, a legal-process outsourcing company based in India. The basis of the May complaint, filed by Joseph Hennessey, a name partner at the Maryland boutique Newman, McIntosh & Hennessey: Given that the federal government now monitors some communications between citizens here and foreign nationals, LPOs can't guarantee that a client's personal information is safe from such surveillance.After the defendant legal process outsourcing company hired SDD Global Solutions to draft a motion to dismiss, the law firm withdrew its complaint:
In response to Hennessey's gambit, Acumen hired a group of lawyers at SDD Global Solutions, itself an India-based LPO run by the U.S. firm SmithDehn, to fight the suit. (Sacha Baron Cohen fans may remember SmithDehn as the the firm that served as production counsel for the Borat movie.) The SDD team argued that Hennessey's firm had no evidence of any confidential documents slipping into the wrong hands, that the entire case was speculative, and, pointedly, that Hennessey's firm was "trying to outsource their legal research tasks to this court." Any injunction, SDD claimed, could unfairly harm thousands of businesses and law firms not named in the suit. Lawyers at other LPOs say they aren't surprised by Hennessey's decision to withdraw the suit.
Marketwire, a leading PR newswire service, reports about SDD Global Solution being ranked as the best outsourcing company in both India and the UK, and being ranked among the top two outsourcing companies in the world, ahead of countless larger players:
According to a comprehensive poll of over 6,547 outsourcing clients worldwide, smaller vendors, including legal outsourcing / LPO / legal KPO companies, are satisfying more clients, and to a much greater degree, in comparison with large players. The Black Book of Outsourcing, acquired last year by Datamonitor Group, a leading business research firm, revamped and further professionalized the survey methodology this year.The article also quotes Datamonitor research director Eamonn Kennedy, who led the 2010 survey:
"Although feedback on the big names, such as IBM and HP, has been generally positive, the companies those have excelled and delighted, through the services they provide, have been smaller players." In particular, the Philippines-based legal process outsourcing company, American Discovery, and the high-end Indian legal outsourcing company, SDD Global Solutions, are ranked as the top two outsourcing companies in the world. The client survey covered all outsourcing fields, including IT, KPO, legal process outsourcing or LPO, and BPO. Clients ranked SDD Global, which is the only Indian LPO managed by a U.S. law firm, as the best outsourcing company in both India and the UK, ahead of countless larger players.
Kennedy adds: "Smaller outsourcing providers like SDD Global have been pushing their specialist knowledge and deep client understanding as their unique selling point for some time now, claiming that specialists provide a better service. While all outsourcers talk up their ability to specialize, this survey suggests that SDD Global and other relatively small players are best positioned to deliver on that promise."
On the issue of the basis involved for such ranking, the article discusses customer satisfactions as the main deciding factor:
In this year's Black Book survey, customer satisfaction was assessed using nine performance criteria: requirements awareness, shared goals, financial benefits, risk mitigation, partnership approach, problem resolution, corporate reputation, skills and resources, and future orientation.
Vidya Devaiah, Managing Director at SDD Global, welcomed the news: "We're grateful that so many of our clients were surveyed, ranging from large and small corporations to law firms, and that they had an opportunity to share their enthusiasm for our work. We're proving that India need not be a mere back office for the West -- instead, we're performing front office work, consistently 'wowing' clients with sophisticated legal research, analysis, drafting and editing."
Lynn Marek, a reporter for The National Law Journal, reports on how U.S. lawyers are turning to offshore legal outsourcing companies for not only work, but adventure:
Michelle Vega spent more than six years as a litigation associate at Kelley Drye & Warren in New York before leaving the firm to care for a sick relative. When Vega started looking for a job a year later, she wanted to take her skills in a new direction.In the article, the reporter points out some of the other benefits of shifting to legal process outsourcing positions in India:
A friend at a legal staffing company told her about an opening that offered management experience outside the law firm environment, but required a one-year stint in India. Vega was immediately intrigued and asked the friend to submit her résumé. When outsourcing company Mindcrest Inc. offered Vega a senior manager job in May 2008, she accepted and moved her life to Pune, India, by month's end.
"I like to travel and have always been interested in the world outside New York," said the 35-year-old Brooklyn native, who is still living in Pune. "I wanted to be able to use my legal skills and training, but was not necessarily interested in practicing anymore."
Although some U.S. lawyers view outsourcing to India with dread - particularly vulnerable contract attorneys doing document review - for a lucky few, India offers an opportunity to get management experience, more client contact and a stake in a growing area of the legal business, not to mention a travel adventure. Companies that aid law firms and law departments in outsourcing legal work to India, including Mindcrest, Pangea3 LLC and SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., are recruiting lawyers with U.S. professional experience to train and supervise their expanding work forces in India. So, while India may be sapping some work from the United States, it's giving back a little now.LPO companies Pangea3 and SDD Global are also mentioned:
The companies are hiring as many as 24 U.S. lawyers during the next year to manage English-speaking Indian professionals who perform legal tasks at a fraction of U.S. rates. The Indian lawyers do everything from patent prosecution work to document review to litigation preparation to legal research for law firms that include Kirkland & Ellis and companies such as General Electric Co. The recession has not only stoked client interest in the lower-cost option, with rates of about $25 to $100 an hour, but it has also made hiring U.S. lawyers more affordable, the companies' executives said.
"The level of growth just warrants more U.S. attorneys in India today," said Sanjay Kamlani, a co-chief executive officer of Pangea3 who was born in Miami to Indian parents and lived in New York until moving his family to Mumbai in 2005.
Pangea3, which has 300 employees overall and five U.S. lawyers in India, plans to hire five more U.S. attorneys during the next year and perhaps more, depending on how quickly it integrates the new hires and expands business, said New York-based co-CEO David Perla, who met Kamlani at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
SDD Global, which has 26 employees, may hire as many as nine U.S. lawyers during the next year as it builds its overall work force to 100, said Russell Smith, the company's president and its only U.S. lawyer at the Mysore, India, operations. He founded the company in January 2006 after traveling to India in 2004 and falling in love with it, he said.
Legally India, a leading news website, joins other media outlets in reporting on how offshore legal outsourcing was used to defeat a Los Angeles libel claim:
Mysore-based legal process outsourcing (LPO) company SDD Global has successfully helped defend an $800,000 California Court of Appeal libel claim against Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of comedy characters Ali G and Borat.Journalist Kian Ganz reports on the cost savings realized by legal process outsourcing in this case:
SDD Global, which was set up and instructed by US firm SmithDehn, researched the law and drafted the briefs for Channel 4 and Cohen in the appeal against unnamed litigant "Jane Doe", who alleged that Cohen's Ali G character (pictured) had libelled the appellant during an interview with US author Gore Vidal.
SDD Global is understood to have quoted flat fees considerably below the US market standard to Channel 4 to fight the original case, which was dismissed in a summary judgement in 2009, as well as the Court of Appeal case, which the court decided in the defendant's favour on 4 April.The article goes on to discuss other, related work done by the Mysore-based legal outsourcing company:
Channel 4 controller of legal & compliance Prash Naik said in a statement that US court actions were extremely costly to run and even if successfully defended against, most costs were not recoverable:
"As so often happens in cases like this, the 'chilling effect' of the threat of substantial damages and significant legal costs, forces defendants to settle with plaintiffs who have no justifiable claim. However, combining the skills and expertise of US attorneys with US-law-trained Indian attorneys has proved to be an innovative and cost-effective way for Channel 4 to fight and win the suit."
* * *
It is understood that US law firms can charge as much as $250,000 to file a summary motion to dismiss a complex libel claim, with fees easily exceeding $1m if the case proceeds, while the fees quoted by the offshore LPO are understood to have been much lower.
Legal Outsourcing attorneys at SDD Global also handled all of the US legal work in the shooting of Cohen's 2006 Borat and 2009 Brüno movies, which included coordinating waivers and release forms for subjects, as well as legal research about local states' obscenity and other laws.
The LPO also successfully helped defend against a law suit that Cohen's film crew had assaulted a Bingo operator during the filming of Brüno.
D. Murali and Goutam Ghosh write an article about SDD Global Solutions (a legal process outsourcing company - LPO / legal services KPO), in Hindu Business Line, the business news outlet of one of the oldest newspapers in India:
SDD is a subsidiary of the US-based SmithDehn, a law firm specializing in IP (intellectual property) and media work. "Approved by the Government of India (STPI) as an IT-Enabled Services company, and funded by State Bank of India and investors from Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Barclay's Capital, SDD Global Solutions provides professional solutions, by leveraging information technology and a high-quality workforce for clients worldwide," informs the company profile. Russell Smith, a Columbia Law School graduate and former partner at Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, has over two decades of litigation and other legal experience relating to the television and film production industries, broadcast networks, motion picture studios, and production companies.
On being asked about the basic activities in which SDD Global Solutions would excel in when compared to similar legal outsourcing firms across the world, Smith replies that:
I would say our three most sought-after services are legal research, legal drafting, and the handling of US immigration visa applications. Because we are the only legal outsourcing company in India managed by a US law firm, we provide the same or better results as US attorneys do. And because we are in India, we get the work done with increased speed (often overnight), and at a fraction of the cost.
Essentially the Indian attorneys in our Mysore office are doing the same work as if they were licensed attorneys in the New York office of our US law firm. Except that they do not actually provide legal advice, and obviously they do not appear in US courts. The work here is high-end, knowledge-based. It's most of what lawyers do in the US. On legal research and drafting, one example is the work we do for motion picture and television studios. We do the research and write the memos that help the clients figure out how to make film and TV productions while avoiding legal trouble as much as possible. We also draft opinion letters that allow them to get the necessary insurance. And when there are claims, we draft the legal papers needed to respond.
We do this work for companies such as 20th Century Fox, HBO, Sony Pictures, and Channel 4 Television. In addition, our immigration visa specialists figure out lawful ways for our business clients to get the skilled personnel visa they need in the US.
Charu Bahri, a reporter for the ABA JOURNAL, published by the American Bar Association, writes about the emergence of legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies in India. The reporter refers to SDD Global Solutions as one of the LPO companies known for correcting even the grammar and style of U.S. lawyers. Bahri writes:
Indian legal process outsourcing companies have taken a lot of heat from U.S. lawyers for siphoning work, but they now may need to steel themselves against editors if New York City lawyer Russell Smith's experience is any indication.
Smith, who helped start the Indian LPO firm SDD Global Solutions, says his firm may have found a new niche correcting the grammar of U.S. attorneys.
It all started with Smith-who keeps handy his copy of Plain English for Lawyers -pointing out the drafting and grammar flaws of some of his Indian lawyers as part of his company's daily training program in U.S. law for staff. Those flaws, he says, "seemed to be mostly derived from British-style pomposity-vestiges of relatively recent colonial rule. Sentences were too long and winding. There were too many uses of passive construction and indirection."
From there it wasn't too long before Smith's company began editing the work of U.S. lawyers for grammar and style. SDD Global-which has helped do legal research and drafting for U.S. lawyers working on films like Borat, Bruno and The Yes Men Fix the World-soon had a client ask them to edit the work of lawyers involved in a Hollywood lawsuit at an Am Law 100 firm in Los Angeles.
Smith admits that he never expected a team in India to be correcting the grammar and legal writing efforts of U.S. lawyers, but he's not surprised either.
Bahri further quotes Smith, head of SDD Global, regarding use of high quality and effective English:
"Lawyers at some U.S. firms do not have time to conduct or participate in similar training," Smith says, "and are either too busy or under too much cost pressure to take the time to do a perfect or near-perfect job."
Not to mention that "high-quality, effective English writing has been out of fashion in the U.S. for decades," he adds.
Rahul Jindal, Assistant Vice President at CPA Global, writes about legal outsourcing in his American Bar Association Journal Award-winning blog. In his blog, which is unaffiliated with CPA Global, he talks about SDD Global Solutions' success story in the Channel Four (Ali G) case:
SDD Global Solutions, the India arm of Channel 4's U.S. counsel, SmithDehn LLP, achieved a major feat by defeating a libel case involving a plaintiff who sought $800,000 dollars in damages, all allegedly due to the inclusion of her name in a comedy routine. Sanjay Bhatia, SDD Global's Head of Operations, commented that "this is a case where outsourcing created more work in the US, rather than less. Because our team made the defense affordable, US lawyers were able to do the things in the US that they do best there, such as strategizing, supervising, editing, and appearing in court. The implications of this case are huge. With legal outsourcing, baseless lawsuits can be defeated on their merits, instead of settled simply out of fear of legal fees." Read more to know about the case and how SDD Global provided strategic support in bringing forth a cost effective and innovative win for Channel 4.
Mark W. Heaphy and Sarvesh D. Mahajan presented the above-named paper to the American Bar Association, Section of International Law, at the Fall 2008 meeting, 2008. This paper concentrates on models for outsourcing legal work, criteria for selecting a legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider, and strategies for managing an LPO relationship:
LPO involves the outsourcing of certain tasks or functions that constitute part of the broader delivery of legal services. The practice of outsourcing in the legal business is not new. Lawyers have, for years, outsourced certain tasks to "temp" attorneys. The controversy over LPO, however, involves the more recent phenomenon of outsourcing legal work offshore ("off-shoring"), primarily to India. Removing the layer of in-person supervision, however, does not change the fundamental nature of the relationship between the lawyer and the service provider (i.e., the temp attorney).The authors have listed SDD Global Solutions as an example of a managed outsourcing model:
Focusing on the word "process" in LPO, one might assume that only standardized and easy-to-replicate tasks can be outsourced. However, legal work is difficult to commoditize, and it is tied to client-specific requirements. Legal research, analysis, and drafting are not commoditized processes commonly found in business process outsourcing. They are services performed by "lawyers," that is, people with law degrees, even if they do not always amount to "practicing law."
Nonetheless, LPO providers currently handle the more mundane, time-intensive tasks associated with legal practice, currently the province of junior associates. Thus far, LPO providers have been successfully handling contract drafting, review, and management; compliance assistance (e.g., regulatory filings); electronic discovery, records management, and other litigation support services; and patent support (e.g., drafting applications and conducting prior art searches). LPO providers are, however, quickly moving up the "value-chain" of legal services, with one provider recently even drafting a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a managed outsourcing model, a client contracts with an LPO provider and also retains a law firm to manage projects assigned to the LPO provider. This approach has the benefit for clients of ensuring that an LPO provider's work is reviewed by reliable and responsible counsel.
Finally, a client might require its law firm to outsource to an LPO provider of the law firm's choosing. Law firms have taken different approaches in dealing with LPO. Some firms contract with an offshore provider, and then mark-up the fees charged by overseas lawyers. SmithDehn, a New York firm, which represents a number of media companies and entertainers, set up the well-publicized SDD Global to serve its clients as well as others firms. Hogan Hartson, a Washington, D.C. law firm, which previously had a document review facility in McLean, Virginia, set up a captive facility in Bangalore, to perform document review.
In a press release in BPOTIMES.COM, a popular site in the outsourcing industry, SDD Global Solution's involvement in the Denis Field case was highlighted:
In the latest example of how legal outsourcing in India can make a U.S. legal defense more financially viable, Denis Field, the former Chairman and CEO of the accounting giant BDO Seidman, LLP, has hired SDD Global Solutions to assist him and his U.S. legal team in his gargantuan legal battle with the U.S. government, and in his litigation against BDO, the world's fifth largest accounting firm.This press release also provides the reasons why SDD Global was chosen by Denis Field:
By hiring SDD Global Solutions, an outsourcing provider based in Mysore, three hours from Bangalore, for certain tasks, Field and his team are able to cut his legal costs by a significant percentage, with no sacrifice in quality. Field chose SDD Global because apparently it is the only legal outsourcing provider that focuses almost exclusively on complex and sophisticated work. Document review and coding are important, but serious and thorough legal research and drafting are also important. Field was impressed by SDD Global's public track record on the research and drafting front.
In particular, Field was influenced by such prominent cases as Doe v. HBO in Los Angeles, a libel suit in which SDD Global handled nearly all of the research and drafting for the defense, leading to a complete victory in a motion for summary judgment, and later on appeal; and NMH v. Bush, in which SDD Global drafted a successful motion to dismiss a suit in Washington D.C. against legal outsourcing. SDD Global's clients have included major film and television studios, law firms, retail brands, insurance companies, film and television production companies, and publishing houses, as well as prominent individuals, such as Sacha Baron Cohen and Mohamed Al Fayed.
But doesn't high-end legal outsourcing to India mean a loss of jobs for lawyers in the U.S.? Field does not believe so. For him and his attorneys at the New York law firm of Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP, the most meaningful use of Field's scarce resources is what matters. It is not an example of shipping jobs overseas, but of assisting in making U.S. litigation financially more feasible. SDD Global will help Field's attorneys mount a defense that might not otherwise be possible because of the high costs of U.S. litigation and the client's limited resources. SDD Global has done the same for numerous other U.S. lawyers, including those at SDD Global's parent law firm (the New York and London-based SmithDehn LLP).
Matthew Sullivan is the founder of Red Bridge Strategy, Inc., a U.S. legal consulting firm that advises law firms and corporate clients on a range of subjects including offshore legal outsourcing. As a continuation to his article on "A Financial Model for Law Firms to Embrace Alternative Fees & LPO," Sullivan writes about a less complex model, which would allow some law firms to incorporate offerings from legal outsourcing vendors into fixed price law firm offerings. He focuses on SDD Global as one of two "pioneering" legal process outsourcing firms that allow outsourced legal services arrangements to be incorporated into such offerings. In his Global Legal blog, Sullivan reports as follows:
SDD Global has also provided support services that are easily incorporated into fixed price law firm offers. SDD recently helped a law firm manage the multiple agreements and memoranda associated with a corporate acquisition. During the course of a week, SDD Global received requests at the end of the law firm's day, and drafted and reviewed the requested documents before the firm's next day began. Because SDD charged a flat fee for its efforts, the law firm knew the exact cost of a significant portion of the transaction, was able to better scope the efforts it would be required to expend, and could therefore comfortably offer its clients the benefits of a fixed fee for its work on the transaction.
Reporter Julie Triedman, in the Am Law Daily - a leading news source for lawyers in the US and around the world - describes how LPOs, or legal KPOs, like SDD Global, are changing the direction of American litigation. She explains SDD Global's crucial part in defeating the libel suit against the Ali G Show:
Two years after a woman filed a libel action against Sasha Baron Cohen and Da Ali G Show, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge threw out the suit Tuesday.
The plaintiff, who sued as "Jane Doe," demanded $800,000 in damages on a claim that Cohen used her name in a comedy interview that his character Ali G conducted with the writer Gore Vidal. In the interview, Ali G asked Vidal why there is any point in amending the U.S. Constitution, since he (Ali G) had a girlfriend (the plaintiff) who was constantly "amending herself" but to no avail. Lawyers for the show and its U.S. distributor, Channel 4, said the decision was only the second of its kind in the United States, the first being a New York decision in favor of Saturday Night Live. In his decision, the judge, Terry Friedman, said the program was obviously a spoof and that no reasonable person could have believed the allegedly damaging statements.
Triedman reports on SDD Global's efforts as a turning point in the legal outsourcing trend. The article further explains how high-end legal outsourcing firms (sometimes referred to as LPO or legal process outsourcing companies), like SDD Global, can make a significant difference in future litigations in America and elsewhere:
Behind the scenes, the defense team at nine-lawyer SmithDehn and its 26-lawyer Indian arm, SDD Global Solutions, had other reasons to celebrate. For perhaps the first time in a U.S. court case, the heavy lifting of deposition preparations and briefing in what became a motion-heavy case was performed in a time zone 12 hours away, inside the firm's Mysore, India office. There, led by Padmavathi Shantamurthy, a team of lawyers bill out at between $30-$90 an hour. The role of the U.S. lawyers, firm co-founder Russell Smith and his colleague Michael Cleaver, was confined to editing briefs and court appearances.The reporter further describes SDD Global's origin before emerging as a leader in the legal process outsourcing/LPO industry:
When it was dismissed, the case had already gone through a full round of discovery, and the plaintiff had appealed for a new round. Smith credits his firm's Indian arm with allowing his client to put up a vigorous defense. "This was a case that would never have been litigated," says Smith. "India made it possible." The work that the Indian office did "would have been done by [U.S.] associates at many times the hourly rates," he says.
This case is the first big case in which SDD Global has taken a large role in a U.S. litigation, Smith says.
Five years ago, as The American Lawyer reported in June 2007, Smith took a sabbatical from his busy media practice to go to Mysore to study yoga. After many visits there, he says, he realized that the Indian lawyer talent pool was both deep and highly qualified--and much cheaper--than U.S.-side lawyers of comparable training. In 2006, he launched SDD Global.
Smith will likely have plenty of new work to send his Indian team: Cohen, the maker of the runaway comic hit Borat, has tapped the firm again as lead production and claims counsel for his new film, Bruno, due out in July. Borat resulted in 27 claims and ten suits, Smith notes; and "Bruno makes Borat look like The Sound of Music," Smith says.
In one of the largest-circulation business newspapers in India, reporter Praveen Bose writes an article about the substantial rise in legal outsourcing, or legal knowledge process outsourcing (KPO):
Indian lawyers' standards have risen in the eyes of top American law firms that have done legal process outsourcing (LPO) to here. The lawyers hired by LPOs over time have become skilled enough to review the work of US lawyers, they say.
Praveen Bose points out SDD Global Solutions as one of the leading examples of outsourcing of legal work to India, and reports on the writing and editing skills of its legal outsourcing associates:
For instance, the Mysore team of SDD Global, the Indian subsidiary of SmithDehn LLP, a New York-based law firm, is now checking for English and editing drafts of US lawyers. The usual high-end model till now has been that of Indian LPO employees preparing only drafts and for the US lawyers/clients to review these. "The most surprising new work, besides editing for English, is the Mysore team's legal review of US lawyers' drafts for errors in substance," said Russell A Smith, president and chairman, SDD Global Solutions, an LPO with offices in Mysore. Smith is a partner at SmithDehn LLP. "I never would have predicted this," he added.Commenting on the benefits of outsourcing legal work to India, the author further reports:
A recent American Bar Council Journal article compared the scenario to a 'man bites dog' story. "Indian LPO companies have taken a lot of heat from US lawyers for siphoning of work, but they (the latter) now may need to steel themselves against editors," said the article. Smith said: "We never expected lawyers in India to be correcting grammar and legal writing efforts of US attorneys." Also, American lawyers are too busy, law firms are under huge cost pressure and, therefore, unable to take time to do a perfect or near-perfect draft.
Till some time ago, Indian lawyers were seen to be using lofty English - a vestige of colonial rule. Their sentences were long-winding. "Today, they are good with plain, crispy, clear and clean English writing. In fact, LPOs have made them think global and grow global. American lawyers are liking it, a high-quality second look at the draft," he added.
"Though much of the less complicated legal work is being outsourced to India, in the case of patent filing, there are a few jobs for drafting and crafting that are being outsourced to India by the US law firms," said Shamnad Basheer, Ministry of HRD professor in IP Law, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.
With cost pressures still affecting firms abroad, they are looking to cut legal costs. The best the Indian LPOs earlier did was contract management and some related works, now LPOs have moved up to e-discovery for large foreign firms, abstraction of evidence and such others.
In an article in the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States, Donna Leinwand reports on the recent rise of legal outsourcing, or legal process outsourcing / LPO:
A growing number of legal firms are breaking ground by outsourcing some costly legal work to India - including the one representing the film studio that produced Borat.Leinwand backs up this reporting with legal outsourcing / knowledge process outsourcing / KPO statistics:
Indians have long worked in call centers fielding requests for computer help or taking orders from American shoppers. Now some firms are tapping India's professionals, including lawyers and architects, for intellectual outsourcing that they hope will reduce consumer costs.
"You could call it 'Outsourcing 2.0' or maybe even '3.0.' Now firms are increasingly trying to leverage expertise," says Saikat Chaudhuri, an assistant professor in the business school at the University of Pennsylvania. Legal outsourcing is "growing very, very quickly."
Professional outsourcing jumped from a $260 million industry in 2001 to a $3.05 billion industry in 2007. It will reach a projected $11.2 billion by 2011, says a report from the India Brand Equity Foundation, a public-private partnership. Legal research, which the group didn't track in 2001, contributes about $95 million.The article also covers the costs savings that legal outsourcing can bring:
The Indian lawyers cannot give legal advice and must be supervised by a U.S. attorney but can handle duties that U.S. firms give to paralegals or first-year law associates. Among them: researching cases, managing contracts and preparing mortgage foreclosure documents. Some charge as little as $25 an hour for work that would cost more than $125 an hour in the United States.Finally, the reporter offers this example of legal outsourcing in action:
The savings can help individuals and small companies sue large companies, which can cost millions, says Jay Ellwanger, an Austin lawyer. "You have to find ways to level the playing field," he says.
The New York law firm SmithDehn LLP, which represents the Borat production company, outsourced research on contract law, privacy and publicity rights for the film to its Indian subsidiary SDD Global Solutions, founder Russell Smith says. SDD Global, launched in 2002, now draws more business than the law firm.
Firms are beginning to see the value of outsourcing as the economy dips, says Smith's partner, Frank Dehn. Clients "want to know why they are paying the associate $300 an hour to do something any smart person can do," he says.
By Debra Cassens on May 11, 2008
In The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.'s largest and oldest newspaper, Rama Lakshmi reports on the growth of the legal process outsourcing (LPO/KPO) industry in India.
[There is a] booming new outsourcing industry in India that employs thousands of English-speaking lawyers... to do legal work at a small fraction of the cost of hiring American lawyers.... Legal process outsourcing is being called the next big thing in Indian business. It marks India's climb up the chain of outsourcing jobs -- from low-end, back-office service functions in call centers, to high-value, skilled legal work..... Indian workers who once helped with legal transcription now offer services that include research, litigation support, document discovery and review, drafting of contracts and patent writing. The industry offers an attractive career path for many of the 300,000 Indians who enroll in law schools every year. India and the United States share a common-law legal system rooted in Britain's, and both conduct proceedings in English.To emphasize on the profitability of legal outsourcing, Lakshmi quotes Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions:
"Ninety percent of a lawyer's work is legal research and drafting, and all this can now be offshored to India," said Russell Smith, who worked in a Manhattan law firm called SmithDehn before moving to India to set up an outsourcing company in 2006. "A large portion of our fees in the U.S. is because of office rent. It is often a big decision to hire one attorney in the U.S. In India, we can hire 10 at a time and train them all at once." Smith's Indian company, SDD Global Solutions, handled much of the legal work for the film "Borat." Other clients include the Washington-based firm Appleton & Associates and U.S. movie studios and television networks. "Our people in India can do everything from here, except sign the opinion letter and appear in an American court," he said. Smith's Indian office recently researched and drafted the motion papers for the dismissal of a libel case against the producers of HBO's "Da Ali G Show." Smith said that if it had not been for the cheaper option of outsourcing, the producers would have settled.
Maharaja of MediaRussell Smith represents Hollywood's elite—from Mysore, India.
by Jessica Jones
Russell Smith is only rarely in the New York headquarters of SmithDehn LLP, the firm that bears his name. He spends most days working from his Mysore, India, office, where he first went to study yoga. Before that, he was stationed at his beach house in Montauk, Long Island.
But in March he was in the the ten-lawyer media and intellectual property firm's generic-looking New York conference room. Among the lawyers seated there were British and Irish transplants. A poster on the wall behind them read “Who be dis Ali G?” Ali G, aka Sacha Baron Cohen, the star of Da Ali G Show and the lawsuit-laden film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, is one of Smith's clients.
But it's not Borat business that brings Smith, 51, to New York. It's India. The team has spent the past eight days meeting with movie studios and publishers to market its new idea: outsourcing legal work to India. Smith has opened a 40-lawyer Indian outsourcing subsidiary, SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd. The lawyers do legal research, draft pleadings, and memoranda, and process U.S. visas and health insurance claims, all for $30-$90 an hour.
Smith Dornan, founded in 1996, is not a traditional law firm. That's probably because its founder, Smith, isn't a traditional lawyer. “He just sort of refuses to conform to the rigid legal stereotype,” says Aaron Georghiades, executive vice president of SDD Global.
He made partner at Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz (now Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz) in 1994, but quickly felt the need to move on. “I began to think I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore,” says Smith. His solution: a yearlong sabbatical on the northwest coast of Ireland.
Smith intended to spend his time in Ireland, a country he had been visiting for years, engaged in quiet contmeplation. It didn't work out that way. “People would just be knocking on my door bringing a bottle of whisky.” He did manage to write a novel, but the book was never published—mostly, says Smith, because he wasn't a good writer.
He came back to the states in 1996 and started his own firm. His first case involved Rent, the musical. Smith represented Lynn Thomson, who claimed she was denied royalties and credit for her work on the Broadway show. Smith won. Next he tackled a libel case for Roberts Reinhart Publishers of Boulder. He hired Eamonn Dornan, the head of the legal department at the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, a non-profit organisation for Irish immigrants, and the firm was born.
But Smith was restless. He'd been practicing yoga for many years and in 2004 he went to Mysore to study “at the feet” of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. After many visits to the city he began to notice both the many talented lawyers and the low cost of doing business. In April 2006 Smith launched SDD Global.
Smith Dornan now represents 12 television series, as well as Home Box Office, Inc., Sony Pictures Television, and the William J. Clinton Foundation. Since he works on Indian time, Smith gets woken up most nights. The price of not conforming.
By Rama Lakshmi on May 11, 2008
In the American Bar Association Journal, a monthly legal trade magazine and the flagship publication of the American Bar Association, Debra Cassens Weiss reports about the variety of work that the Indian lawyers working for legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies handle:
The market for outsourced legal work is booming in India. While lawyers there are doing a lot of routine work, they are also handling some interesting legal matters, including work for the makers of movies and television shows.
Cassens quotes Russell Smith, head of the high-end LPO, SDD Global Solutions, describing the variety of legal outsourcing or legal KPO work that lawyers at SDD Global handle:
While Indian lawyers handle a lot of document review, they also do legal research and draft contracts, said Russell Smith of the Indian legal outsourcing company SDD Global Solutions. Indian lawyers even did legal work on Borat and drafted a motion defending HBO's Da Ali G Show and seeking the dismissal of a libel suit against the show's producers, Smith said.
"Our people in India can do everything from there, except sign the opinion letter and appear in an American court," Smith told the Post. Because of the low cost, the producers of Da Ali G Show opted to fight the lawsuit rather than settle, he said..
In The Times of India, Mini Joseph Tejaswi reports on how Hollywood is reaching out to legal outsourcing company SDD Global Solutions for high-end outsourced legal drafting and research:
Hollywood's descending on the royal city of Mysore! Not to put the city's palaces as backdrops for its movies. But to outsource legal research, legal analysis, legal opinion and contract drafting services.Tejaswi reports that SDD Global Solutions is the first legal process outsourcing (LPO or legal services KPO) company to be involved in such high-end outsourced legal work:
Production houses like 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios have roped in Mysore-headquartered SDD Global Solutions to support the legal requirements of their movie releases.
Russell Smith, president of legal process outsourcing company SDD Global, told ToI that a large team of legal attorneys from India and the US is sitting in Mysore and is busy preparing arguments and counter-arguments to support some of the most complex legal issues in Hollywood.
"This is the first time ever that India has received such high-end legal work," said Sachin Malhan, president of Rain Maker T&R, a LPO advisory firm in Mumbai.
BANGALORE: SDD Global Solutions, a legal services outsourcing company based in Mysore, has announced that it is getting funding of $2 million from SFP Priority, part of the SFP group. Part of the company's strategic plan to expand and consolidate its position, the funding will be used to hire additional Western-licensed attorneys to augment both the company's employee training programme in India and its range of services offered and expanding its global marketing efforts. Established in April 2006, SDD Global Solutions has previously received equity funding from investors including Merrill Lynch, Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays Capital, as well as a debt facility from State Bank of India.
In The Economic Times, India's largest English business daily, Shelly Singh gives a comprehensive report on the functioning of legal outsourcing company ( LPO / KPO ), SDD Global Solutions.
Some of the most interesting legal matters concerning movies are being handled by a 40 person team out of a Mysore-based, three-storey, legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm, SDD Global Solutions.Singh interviewed Russell Smith, president and chairman of SDD Global, about the clients of SDD Global, and why he choose Mysore to open the company:
Sample the action: the team is doing legal research for Al Pacino's next film. All litigation concerning Borat, the comedy film which grossed $300 million, is also being done here. The company, SDD Global Solutions, has been founded by SmithDehn LLP, a Manhattan-based international media and intellectual property firm.
Its clients include HBO, Sony Pictures Television, Universal Pictures, MTV Networks, Channel Four TV (UK), American Broadcasting Companies, and many more. In an interaction with ET, SDD Global Solutions president and chairman Russell Smith tells how he first came to Mysore to learn Yoga and ended up starting the LPO firm.
What kind of clients does SDD Global handle and who are the investors in the company?
SDD Global Solutions is a 24/365, legal process outsourcing firm incorporated and headquartered in Mysore. It is the only LPO in India managed, formed and majority-owned, by a U.S. law firm, namel, SmithDehn LLP, a Manhattan-based firm, with most of its clients in New York, Los Angeles and London. We work for over 100 clients, including Universal Pictures, HBO, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and former US president Bill Clinton's organisation, the Clinton Foundation.
Funded by State Bank of India and investors from Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Barclay's Capital, SDD Global provides professional solutions, by leveraging information technology and a high-quality workforce for clients worldwide.
At our Mysore headquarters, we are handling some of the most high-profile entertainment and media litigations in the US, as well as processing visas for actors, directors, producers and other professionals needed by our US clients.
Why did you opt for Mysore?
I first came to the city to study Ashtanga (eight limbs) Yoga under Sri K Pattabhi Jois. There are about two million people who follow this kind of Yoga, and a large number of them are in New York. On my third visit to the city I decided to set up the company (in April 2006). We did lot of research on various cities and then finalised on Mysore.
The city has over one million people with not much to do. Infosys has its training institute here. There are a few small software companies. But that's about all, when it comes to good-paying jobs. There are lot of educated people who go out of Mysore for work.
Traffic congestion is non existent. Commute time is one minute to 10 minutes. Cost of living is very low. We have people from Mysore, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai and elsewhere working for us.
Office space in Mysore is 43 times cheaper than in Manhattan. In New York most legal fees go to real estate. We have eliminated that. We pay $2,000 rent per month for a three storey building in Mysore. For that kind of money we won't get anything in New York.
And neither in Mumbai or Delhi. Also, Mysore is over five times cheaper if you consider legal services fees. We charge $30 to $90 per hour compared to $200 to $700 per hour in the US.
In The Economic Times, India's largest English business daily, Sushmita Mohapatra & P P Thimmaya report on why the growing legal outsourcing ( LPO / KPO ) sector in India is likely to attract the attention of the existing BPO players:
The legal process outsourcing (LPO) sector in the country is likely to see more action in the coming months. As of now only around 30% of the top ten Indian BPO players have evinced interest in entering this segment. But, according to industry experts, big players like Infosys, Wipro and others are studying this model and could look at entering this business in the near future.Mohapatra and Thimmaya quote Russell Smith, President and Chairman of SDD Global, a high-end legal services KPO / LPO, on the issue:
Demand for LPOs are on the rise. It makes sense for the BPOs to enter this segment because the profit margins in LPOs are higher. And legal-process outsourcing is part of high-end knowledge process outsourcing, which many of these BPOs are already into.
In the Indus Business Journal, a national business-to-business newspaper headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, Chris Nelson reports on the two recent developments in American legal circles that have given a major boost to India's fast-growing legal process outsourcing industry. Nelson reports that the most significant development for legal services KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) is the American Bar Association's decision in August to endorse the outsourcing of legal work to foreign attorneys by American law firms:
The ruling by the organization's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, titled "Ethics Opinion - 8-451," effectively blesses the practice as one that is beneficial to the American and global economies.
"U.S. lawyers are free to outsource legal work, including to lawyers and nonlawyers outside the country, if they adhere to ethics rules requiring competence, supervision, protection of confidential information, reasonable fees and not assisting unauthorized practice of law," the ABA said in an Aug. 25 statement.
The ruling is likely to have a profound impact on the American legal-services sector, which includes traditional law firms, corporate legal teams and a growing number of specialty companies that offer the services of attorneys and paralegals in foreign countries who handle the most labor-intensive aspects of U.S. legal matters, particularly document review.
According to Nelson, the second significant event is that the Maryland-based law firm Newman McIntosh & Hennessey LLP dropped a lawsuit. The lawsuit attacked legal outsourcing, and listed Acumen Legal Services India Pvt. Ltd. and President George W. Bush as the defendants. With the assistance of SDD Global Solutions, Acumen successfully challenged the validity of the lawsuit, showing there was no legal basis for this transparent effort to remove competition posed by legal process outsourcing (LPO):
SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., the Mysore, India-based subsidiary of SmithDehn LLP, a New York City-based law firm with an office in London, prepared Acumen's response and a supporting legal brief. SDD Global Solutions managing director Russell Smith called the Newman McIntosh & Hennessey complaint "baseless" and said it "lacked any merit."
"I talked to a journalist at a big legal publication about the case, and he said it looked like something straight from the X-Files," Smith said. "It was a remarkably poorly drafted complaint - in fact, it was one of the most poorly drafted complaints that I have ever seen - and it appears that [Joseph Hennessey, who filed the complaint] never really believed the case had any merit."
In his original anti-LPO lawsuit against Acumen Legal Services, filed May 7 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Hennessey sought a ruling on the outsourcing of privileged client data that he contended was subject to eavesdropping by the U.S. government. He brought the suit against LPO Acumen after the firm pitched its legal outsourcing services to Newman McIntosh & Hennessey.
Hennessey argued that foreign companies are not afforded the same privacy rights by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as are domestic companies, because the National Security Agency is free to spy on them at will. The suit also named U.S. President George W. Bush a co-defendant along with Acumen Legal Services and its now-defunct American subsidiary, Acumen Solutions Inc. of Houston.
Newman McIntosh & Hennessey asked the ethics committees for the Maryland State Bar Association and the Washington, D.C. Bar to weigh in on the case; the Maryland State Bar Association declined to address Hennessey's question because the case was still being heard and because it involves political issues that the ethics committee claimed unfamiliarity familiar with.
"Hennessey was quoted after he withdrew the complaint that he did so because he was leaving to go to another law firm, but that's no reason to drop a lawsuit," Smith said. "He could have always asked the court for permission to amend the suit. By withdrawing it, he simply didn't have to respond to Acumen's challenge. It seems to me a pretty poor reason for dropping a case; maybe he realized that he didn't have one."
"High profits follow skills, and the legal profession offers high-value opportunities, provided you act as an extended arm of an overseas legal firm. Mysore-based SDD Global, a legal outsourcer floated by New York-based law firm SmithDehn LLP, says it has helped Sony Pictures with legal work in its next blockbuster film and provided litigation support to 20th Century Fox on behalf of Sacha Baron Cohen. Says company President and Chairman, Russell Smith: 'We do almost everything from drafting motions, preparing legal briefs and memoranda, discovery documents, appeals, summaries of witness statements and creating print, videotape and animation exhibits for trial.' The business flow in the legal space is rising. According to industry analysts, revenues are expected to touch $640 million by 2010, up from $146 million in 2006. "
In the Business Standard, Praveen Bose reports on how Fortune 500 firms are sending a substantial amount of work to Indian legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies:
LPO encompasses contract drafting and review, litigation support, intellectual property, and legal research and drafting.
Sony Pictures had to prepare an 'opinion letter' (outlining the activity and the risks involved) for insurance firms in order to secure cover for shooting a movie, and the movie's fate hinged on the letter and the cover.
Preparing the letter was a 400-man hour job which would have cost $250,000 to get done in the US and Sony gave it a second thought. Eventually, the job was done in India for $43,000.
In India, lawyers are paid $30-90 per hour whereas the cost in the US is $300 an hour. The English speaking countries account for $185 billion of the $250 billion global legal industry. Indians who are familiar with both the English language and the Anglo-Saxon legal system are equipped to grab a share of this business.
The Indian LPO industry is valued around $145 million per year by Value Research, an independent provider of investment information. There are over 30 entities in India engaging in LPO work for mostly US and a few British law firms, according to a lawyer active in the sphere.
To highlight the new companies that have recognized the opportunity and have entered the field of legal lutsourcing, Bose gives the example of Russell Smith, president and chairman of high-end legal process outsourcing company SDD Global Solutions:
A person who sniffed the opportunity and decided to explore it is Russell Smith. Russell Smith, president and chairman of SDD Global Solutions today has 30 lawyers on its rolls in Mysore and 10 at its headquarters in New York, and plans to up this to 200.
"While law firms mark up expenses, clients look to cut costs. Hence LPO can only grow," says Smith.
SDD Global does high-end legal documentation work for 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, HBO, Calvin Klein and John Wiley.
SDD Global was set up by SmithDehn LLP, the New York-based legal firm that specialises in media and intellectual property. Russell Smith had come to India a few years ago to learn yoga from a guru in Mysore and struck roots there, eventually starting the LPO operations of his US firm in Mysore.
In the American Bar Association Journal, the flagship publication of the American Bar Association, Martha Neil reports on why Hollywood is outsourcing its legal work to Indian Legal Outsourcing (LPO) companies:
Even with the millions that a successful movie can make, Hollywood producers are watching their legal costs. So, instead of having high-priced U.S. law firms handle all of their entertainment matters, some reportedly are starting to send some relatively high-end legal work to attorneys in India.Neil gives the example of SDD Global as one of the leading companies handling legal work for Hollywood:
While outsourcing "back office" work such as document reviews is fairly commonplace today, Indian lawyers working on planned Hollywood productions are conducting legal research, writing legal opinions, drafting motions and copyright clauses, preparing documents for insurance coverage, and processing visas for Hollywood actors, producers and directors, reports the Times of India.
Such work is being handled, for instance, by Mysore-based SDD Global, a 40-attorney legal process outsourcing firm, the newspaper says. SDD Global is owned by SmithDehn LLP, a Manhattan-based international media law firm.
In Wired GC, a leading business law blog, former energy company general counsel John Wallbillich reports that because of legal process outsourcing / legal KPO companies like SDD Global, offshore legal outsourcing is going upmarket:
New York firm SmithDehn LLP has established an affiliate in Mysore, India. Over 40 people are working on various projects, including litigation related to the film Borat.
The client list is impressive (including HBO, Sony Pictures Television, Universal Pictures, MTV Networks, and ABC).
Anjali Prayag, writing for The Hindu Business Line - from the publishers of the second-largest circulated daily English newspaper in India - explains the recent shift in the legal process outsourcing/LPO industry in the U.S. and worldwide:
It's not just law firms or individual attorneys that are outsourcing their legal processes to hundreds of lawyers engaged in LPO in the country.Below, Anjali describes SDD Global's role as a leading legal outsourcing KPO in the currently expanding market for outsourced legal services:
In fact, when large US corporates are fighting a case in the US, the company's legal department at its headquarters would need just one lawyer to appear in court while its entire legal department is stationed in India.
Mr Russell Smith, President and Chairman of SDD Global Solutions, said: "That's because most of the research and paperwork for large American corporates are being done in India."
SDD Global, a Mysore-based LPO, is doing high-end legal work for companies such as Calvin Klein, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, HBO and John Wiley and Sons.
LPO is a multi-million business with work coming from several sources into the country: law firms, of course, are still the leading source the business, but catching up fast are corporates who form a significant chunk of the outsourcing pie, while the rest is shared by individual attorneys and legal publishers.
The press release excerpted below, published by Reuters, illustrates SDD Global?s campaign to develop the best team for its legal outsourcing KPO services:
SDD Global Solutions, a leader in high-end legal services offshoring, is pleased to announce the addition of Kwarma Vanderpuye to its team as Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Ms. Vanderpuye will be responsible for training, recruiting, quality control and marketing for SDD Global in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition to her role as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, she will continue to maintain her active litigation practice in New York, with enhanced support from SDD Global.Ms. Vanderpuye expresses in her words SDD Global?s attraction as an important legal process outsourcing firm/LPO for corporate clients:
Ms. Vanderpuye brings extensive and well-known litigation experience to the Company. Prior to joining SDD Global, she was unanimously elected as the first African-American partner at Jones, Hirsch, Connors, & Bull, a prominent New York defense firm. After ten years at Jones Hirsch, she became a partner in The Cochran Firm, at the invitation of the late Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Most recently, she was head of the litigation department at the McMillan Firm. Ms. Vanderpuye received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and graduated from Howard Law School. She is an active member of the United Nations Association as well as the International and American Bar Associations.
?SDD Global is revolutionizing the practice of law with its unique and sound business model,? says Vanderpuye. ?We are seeing exponential growth in response to the increasing number of large corporate clients and others who have a keen interest in the cost-effective alternative we offer to the traditional legal services model.?
The article further illustrates the innovative methods through which SDD Global is setting itself apart from many of the other legal offshoring companies providing outsourced legal services:
SDD Global Solutions is actively dispelling the stereotype linked to legal outsourcing, by (a) hiring U.S. lawyers in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Michigan to further improve its quality control, supervision and onshore presence, and (b) providing more legal services opportunities for U.S. law firm clients, since the lower costs of those services create a demand for legal work that in many cases would not have otherwise existed.
The correspondent for Midday, India's leading noon-tabloid with the slogan, "make work fun," points out below how India is becoming a hotspot for outsourced legal services as a result of high-end legal outsourcing KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) companies, like SDD Global, leading this trend:
If India was synonymous only to outsourcing tech jobs, this could well change in the future! Hollywood is now using the legal expertise from our very own Mysore!The article lists few of SDD Global's initial successes as an emerging offshore legal outsourcing provider:
SDD Global Solutions, the only legal process outsourcing company/LPO in India managed by a U.S. law firm, announced that it is now performing, and will continue to perform, high-end legal work for major Hollywood movie studios and television companies, on everything from blockbusters by 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures, to hit television shows by HBO. SDD Global Solutions is working on major Hollywood movies and television programming from its headquarters in Mysore, supported by its rapidly growing staff of Indian lawyers.
The Chairman of SDD Global Solutions Pvt Ltd, Mr Russell Smith, also dubbed as "The Maharaja of Media" by The American Lawyer, said, "Nearly all of the legal work for 'Borat,' the most financially successful comedy film of all time, was done from Mysore. Similarly the award-winning film, 'Death of a President', featuring the fictional assassination of U.S. President Bush, could not have been released, without the rapid, expert, and low-cost legal assistance that SDD Global provided."The Midday correspondent goes on to highlight a few of SDD Global's major advantages over other legal process outsourcing companies:
The Company's employees also help prepare legal road maps to help film and television producers avoid trouble and obtain needed insurance.
With dramatically increased efficiency, quality control, and lowered overhead costs, SDD Global Solutions has secured state-of the-art offices in Mysore, at 1/43rd the cost of comparable space in mid-town Manhattan. This also gives them round-the-clock professional staff, designed for 24/7 communication with a worldwide clientèle, solving problems while its Western clients are asleep.
The correspondent adds the following quote from SDD Global's President to emphasize the rapid transformation of the legal outsourcing industry, because of LPO companies like SDD Global:
The days are gone when large, traditional law firms in the West can continue their ways and survive. Even corporate clients with large pockets are fed up, firing their old law firms in droves, because what they see is a lack of responsiveness, inefficiency, or lack of concentration on keeping costs in line. SDD Global Solutions is providing an alternative.
"Corporate," the in-flight magazine for first-class and business-class flyers on Air India, traces the developments that finally led to SDD Global's inception as a legal outsourcing company:
In [SDD Global President] Russell Smith's own account, it (establishing a legal outsourcing company) all happened be¬cause of Yoga. "I could not help but notice how easy it was for me to maintain my US law practice from here, us¬ing e-mail and a cell phone. I was even able to get some new clients, such as Sony Pictures, without ever meeting anyone in person. I realised that ex¬cept for walking into court (which could be done by my associates), all of the legal work for my law firm's US clients could be done from India."The magazine describes the kind of services SDD Global provides as a legal outsourcing company:
"I figured Mysore would be ideal (for legal process outsourcing), because as a university town, it has plenty of talented candi¬dates, while at the same time a much lower cost, and higher quality of living, in contrast to India's big cities," he explains.
Smith is the founder of the New York media and intellectual property law firm, SmithDehn, LLP, which in turn founded SDD Glob¬al. "The days are gone when large, traditional law firms in the West can continue their ways and sur¬vive. Even corporate clients with large pockets are fed up, firing their old law firms in droves, because what they see is a lack of responsiveness, ineffi¬ciency, or lack of concentration on keeping costs in line. SDD Global Solutions is providing an alter¬native (as an LPO)," he says emphatically.
Now, SDD Global Solutions is offering a wide range of services. Essentially the Indian attorneys in the Mysore office are doing most of the same work as if they were licensed attorneys in the New York office of the US law firm. Except that they do not actually provide legal advice, and obviously they do not appear in US courts. The legal outsourcing work here is high-end, knowledge-based work. It is legal research and analysis, drafting of legal documents, and the like. In other words, 99 per cent of what lawyers do in the United States.
"In addition, immigration visa specialists fig¬ure out lawful ways for our business clients to get the skilled personnel they need in the US from abroad," points out Smith. "Another thing we are very good at is helping motion picture and television studios figure out how to make film and TV productions lawfully, and how to get the nec¬essary insurance. We do this for 20th Century Fox, HBO, Sony Pictures, Channel 4 Television, and many other media clients."
The firm, to its credit, has done outsourced legal work for some of the most successful Hollywood films. "Nearly all of the legal work for 'Borat,' the most financially successful comedy film of all times, was done from Mysore. Similarly the award-winning film, 'Death of a President', featuring the fictional assassination of US President George Bush, could not have been released, without the rapid, expert, and low-cost legal assistance that SDD Global pro¬vided," says Smith. SDD Global Solutions is helping get insurance for Al Pacino's next film, and doing the legal groundwork for a new reality TV series about rookie cops. "There is business coming in to SDD Global where we will be doing work on a major new motion picture from Universal Pic¬tures," remarks Smith. "Another large Hollywood studio has asked us to handle thousands of US im¬migration visas for its actors and directors." Other SDD global clients include Calvin Klein, Travelers Insurance, and major US publishers Elsevier and John Wiley & Sons.Below is an excerpt from Russell Smith's take on the Indian legal process outsourcing industry in the interview with the journalist:
Most recently, the attorneys at SDD Global have been doing legal research to help defend a highly-acclaimed HBO television series, now fac¬ing a court case in Los Angeles. The company's legal outsourcing employees also help prepare legal road maps to help film and television producers avoid trouble and obtain needed insurance.
What is the potential for legal outsourcing to India?
It is vast. Western companies and individuals now spend $250 billion a year on legal fees. This num¬ber is way too high, sometimes even crippling. We figure the vast majority of the work can be done in India, for less than half the cost, so we are looking at a legal outsourcing industry worth up to $100 billion or more . . . .
What is your take on the controversy in the US on legal process outsourcing in India?
It's mostly demagoguery. In fact, every bar as¬sociation ruling on the issue so far has upheld the ethics of legal outsourcing. Also, hardly anyone in America, except for some lawyers, is opposed to cutting legal fees. As legal work becomes more affordable, the demand for it will increase, so I am not sure there will be any loss of legal jobs in the US at all, although surely the fees will have to come down to earth.
What is the scope for growth in Mysore?
We already are the "go to" legal process outsourcing firm in India for the media and book publishing worlds, so next we are expanding into doing legal work for IT companies. In the meantime, companies from all kinds of fields, even one of the top three auto companies, are approaching us, so the expansion process is not entirely under our control . . . .
What do your clients think of this?
They love it. They see their legal fees cut to a fraction, and the quality and speed of the work product is as good or better than they get from many of their usual providers in the U.S.
Mysore, here I come. This is the new Love Call of many software firms, as also of other electronic and computer related industries. Though IT related industries came to Mysore many years ago by way of ancillary to IT majors, the arrival of Infosys made all the difference.
Its presence here attracted others in the field to this city of palaces, parks and Star of Mysore. Thus you have new-born IT, BT, Medical Transcription, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) etc., in Mysore. The latest is what is known as LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing), SDD Global Solutions. According to reports it has been founded by SDD, a Manhattan-based (USA) international media and intellectual property firm.
While there may be many reasons for the promoters to locate the firm in Mysore City, one of the reasons is said to be the presence of K. Pattabhi Jois the great master of Ashtanga Yoga, a unique system in Yoga practice. The President and Chairman of the firm Russell Smith is said to be the disciple of this yoga Guru. After a couple of visits to his Guru, Smith fell deeply in love with the city so much so he decided to set up the LPO here itself to serve his clients in America.
There is also another reason for Smith's preference to Mysore. The city has a lot of educated people which is true and understandable because of a number of engineering so also graduate and post-graduate colleges in city.
If Mysore is good enough for Smith and his firm there is no doubt soon we will find others making a beeline. Best of luck Mysore.
As you drive up from Akshaya Bhandar on Panchamantra road in Kuvempungar, on the left you will notice a new shiny elegant building with a well dressed security guard. That's SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd. — a place which solves legal woes of Hollywood big-wigs. SDD stands for SmithDehn LLP, a New York based media and intellectual property firm. Their website compliments Mysore by stating “SDD Global is headquartered in the ideal business location of Mysore, away from India's congested and increasingly costly major cities, but near to major Universities and law schools that provide a steady supply of enthusiastic talent”. Star of Mysore sat down with Russell Smith, the President and Chairman, along with his colleague Sanjay Bhatia, Head of Operations, to talk about LPO (legal process outsourcing) and how they are managing to make Law a very profitable profession here in India... and, of course, Hollywood.
SOM: What exactly is legal process outsourcing?
Russell: First off we don't want to call it outsourcing. Outsourcing is being spoken about as if it were a new concept, when it’s not. It has been around for a very long time, and in fact, every time a company hires a law firm, it is outsourcing legal work. What is happening now is off-shoring. Legal off-shoring is basically providing support to clients from another viable location, overseas. Here in Mysore, we provide legal research material, legal drafting, legal analysis, documentation, case management, and some form filling. Basically everything a law firm and their clients need, from knowledge-based work such as research to a seemingly mundane activity like form filling. In fact, the little form filling we do is not mundane – it requires knowledge and skill, and it can get a little confusing at times.
SOM: How did you come up with the idea?
Russell: I have been coming to Mysore for a few years now to learn Ashtanga yoga from Pattabhi Jois and his family, and I love the city. After I went back to the US, I had to prepare a lot of subpoenas in hurry, and I could not find anyone available at my law firm. Out of sheer desperation I called a local student in Mysore whom I had met during my stay here and asked him if he could do the work, if I provided him all the information. He agreed, and when I asked him what his charges were, he hesitantly said 1 dollar an hour. I couldn’t believe it, 1 dollar an hour!! Back in the US, we would have paid many times that, if we could find someone to do the work. So I decided to off-shore this kind of activity to a more doable and cost-effective location.
SOM: Why Mysore?
Russell: Quite a few reasons actually, first cost, then the city itself. It is a good city to work in. And finally the talent pool.
SOM: So have you been able to get good people ?
Russell: Yes, from both Mysore and its surrounding areas. We have nearly 40 employees from Mysore, Coorg and even Bangalore. Now people are streaming in from Delhi and Mumbai.
SOM: Does off-shoring raise the issue of Cost Vs. Quality?
With us, the quality of work is just as good as it is in the United States or even better. If we tell our client in the US that we'll do some job for 1/5th the cost but the quality of work cannot be guaranteed, they'll just end the meeting on the spot. No one wants to cut costs at the expense of quality, when it comes to legal work.
Most of our people here are very well qualified and efficient, and we have very good training programs. In fact, we are almost like a US law school. Once you are with us, you will end up learning the US laws very well.
SOM: So are you looking to mainly hire laywers?
Sanjay: Not really, of course for most of the core team, which is into research and other areas of expertise, we hire lawyers, but others not necessarily. We have lots of work for non-lawyers here too.
Russell: In all the time I spent in Mysore and in India I realized that every parent wanted their child to become either a doctor or a computer engineer. Everything else seemed to be viewed as a non-viable profession. With SDD Global Solutions, we want to prove that it’s not true. We want to show how being a lawyer can be a very viable profession.
In fact our pay scale is higher than some famous IT companies. The market for LPO is only going to grow. Right now the market is worth more than $100 billion, and only a minuscule part of this business is being off-shored now.
SOM: What are you expansion plans?
We are planning to have another floor, that hopefully can increase our strength to more than 500 people. We are also looking for land, but every two months the prices are increasing, so it’s hard to buy. Mysore it seems might have a glut of office spaces as buildings are built but are empty, so hopefully prices will go down. We also plan to hire close to 5000 people in the next five years or so.
SOM: Who are your clients ?
Lot of media companies, like 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, etc., and also major retailers like Calvin Klein and several large book publishers. We are taking care of legal problems with last year’s hit, Borat. We are right now working on a movie starring Al Pacino. We do a lot of legal research for movie studios, by which I mean we and our U.S. law firm parent basically tell them if the movie they plan to make is going to run into serious trouble or not. We tell them which part of the movie might be a problem in which part of the world or which state. We let them know what kind of cases they might have to fight, and how much we can defend them, and if the case can be won.
This is very important as the studios decide to give the green signal for production based on this research and analysis, coupled with advice from the U.S. lawyers that manage our operation.
This kind of work costs somewhere between $30-90 an hour in India whereas in the US, the studios would have to pay close to $200-700 an hour.
We also work with cable networks and TV channels such as HBO and Channel 4 Television.
SOM: Coming to the fun part, we heard you have a movie night every Friday, but is it always a movie that has to do with law ?
Oh, no that's not true, we have other movies too, but they usually tend to have some issue that involves law. Today we are watching the Ali G series. It has not much to do with law, but then we are working on his cases, so there is a connection.
SOM: Finally what 3 movies do you think will inspire a student to purse a career in law?
I would say The Verdict, starring Paul Newman is a very inspiring movie and then my favourite, To Kill A Mockingbird, the film that launched a million law school applications in America. Finally, I would say Erin Brockovich.
High-end Mysore LPO to take the world KPO stage
Mysore, Aug. 8- SDD Global Solutions, the only high-end Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) company in India managed by a US law firm, is all set to take center-stage at the annual ET Consilience 2007. The conference, organised by The Economic Times on August 10 in Bangalore, will focus on Leveraging Global Knowledge Resources.
The event aims to bring light on India as the preferred Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) destination with a robust knowledge economy, whose highly educated workforce could be leveraged by corporations around the globe to provide the next level of competitive advantage.
Russell Smith, Chairman of Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions, will be one of the speakers at the conference and is looking forward to sharing his views on the expansion of the KPO industry on the legal services platform. According to Smith, "India is rapidly emerging as a destination for legal work for the English-speaking world. Its relatively low cost of living and tremendous talent pool of English-speaking law graduates are making way for a huge shift in Western legal services going offshore."
"With Fortune 500 companies and others moving legal work to Mysore, we are solving one of the most pressing problems of Western business, namely, the inefficiencies of having legal work done in locations that are among the most expensive, and often the least productive," he added.
The ET Consilience 2007 will focus on the growth of the KPO market worldwide, which is projected to reach $17 billion by 2010. It is predicted that India will capture 70% of the KPO market by taking a lead in managing the knowledge cycle with its industry strength and efficiency. With the evolution and maturity of the BPO industry, KPO promises to be the next big growth engine for the industry and also, for emerging SMEs in this area.
The Hindu, the second most widely read newspaper in India, reports about SDD Global's launch as a legal outsourcing KPO/LPO in Mysore, India, as another addition to the growing number of BPOs/KPOs recently established in the city. (However, SDD Global was the first legal process outsourcing company/LPO established in Mysore):
The city's growing credentials as an emerging centre for knowledge-based services (KPO) and the next major hub for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) activity will be further vindicated when New York-based SmithDehn LLP launches its offshore legal process outsourcing/LPO business from Mysore.The article further explains the reasons behind choosing Mysore as the final destination to set up SDD Global as a company providing outsourced legal services:
SmithDehn is an international media, entertainment and intellectual property law firm headquartered in New York with clients such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Entertainment, HBO and Clinton Foundation. Its Indian subsidiary, SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., will be inaugurated on Sunday.
Russell Smith, Chairman of SDD Global Solutions, told The Hindu here that Mysore was the first venture of the New York-based firm in India, and that it was chosen precisely for the advantages of easy availability of talent pool, salubrious climate, a superior quality of life that is absent in cities such as Bangalore and the fact that there were many Mysoreans who would prefer to return to their native city given its unsurpassed charm. A major portion of talent in Bangalore originated from Mysore and a sizeable number of people were prepared to return here if provided a chance, he said.Mr. Smith also shared his views with The Hindu regarding the future of the market for legal process outsourcing / legal outsourcing KPOs in India:
Mr. Smith said outsourcing legal services from India was a growing market and cited a BPO intelligence report from ValueNotes, which estimated that revenue from legal services offshoring from India was expected to cross one billion dollars by 2015 from the current levels of $61 million.Replying to questions regarding what SDD Global plans to do differently than other legal process outsourcing companies or firms/LPOs in India, Mr. Smith clarified that:
SDD Global Solutions will initially take up legal research, provide litigation support and immigration processing, and hire law graduates as well as others.
SDD would not focus on low-end document processing or clerical work. The stress would be on higher-value services such as legal research, legal drafting, intellectual property registrations, anti-counterfeit operations, film and television production company management, immigration processing, tax planning and compliance, insurance claims administration, and a host of other functions. The long-term plan includes specializing and handling mergers and acquisitions with support from its Mysore-based legal outsourcing subsidiary.
Laiqh A. Khan, reporting for The Hindu, one of the most circulated English newspapers in India, lists a few of the clients that SDD earned (and pleased) in a very short of period of time as a result of its success as the top legal process outsourcing (LPO) in India, specializing in high-end legal outsourcing:
The list of the company's clients is a virtual "who's who" of the world's motion picture companies, television channels and publising companies. Home Box Office (HBO), Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Entertainment, MTV and UK's Channel Four are among them.Laiqh reports further that SDD Global's operations as a legal outsourcing KPO are not limited to the entertainment industry:
Providing legal assistance to the global entertainment industry is only a part of the high-end functions the company offers. It does legal research work, legal drafting, immigration visa processing, intellectual property registrations, anti-infringement operations, besides insurance claims administration. Mr. Bhatia said the company also handles “copyright infringement” issues for some of the leadng publishing companies in the U.S.The article illustrates SDD Global's approach in maintaining the best possible legal outsourcing team:
With much of the legal work pertaining to U.S. law, the employees, who have been recruited locally, are provided extensive training in that branch. "Leading attorneys and solicitors from the U.S. and the U.K. keep coming here to provide training to the staff", [SDD Global's Sanjay] Bhatia said.
Sachin Malhan, one of India's leading entrepreneurs, and the founder of both Rainmaker and Inclusive Planet, writes about the growth of legal outsourcing industry (LPO / KPO) in one of the oldest and most popular newspapers in India:
The argument that off-shore legal outsourcing, as a practice, can create tremendous employment opportunities is now largely uncontested. It has been validated time and time again, and India is a shining example, arguably the best example.While discussing the diverse nature of work of the legal outsourcing companies (LPOs), or legal services KPO companies, Malhan says:
The benefits of off-shoring have been felt in numerous industry verticals, including health care, research, media and, more recently, the legal industry. The significance of 'off-shoring' in the Indian economy is continuously increasing, and many believe that these are the 'early days' of off shoring, not just in terms of volume of work but also in terms of variety.
For the legal industry this is a period of tremendous learning and development, and the shape that Legal Process Outsourcing has taken raises incredible possibilities for legal professionals and industry alike. The Indian higher education machine, and it's a big one, turns out close to 80,000 law graduates every year.
LPO opportunities can transform that five per cent to something closer to 40 per cent, by drawing law graduates into work that's not just large in volume but tremendously diverse.Malhan also quotes Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions, a high-end, legal process outsourcing company, on the issue of growth of legal outsourcing units in India:
Rising legal costs in the U.S., and more recently in the EU, are amongst a variety of other factors that are driving a diverse portfolio of outsourced legal work to India. There is now off shoring work at almost every level of expertise and this is what makes the curry very spicy and appealing to a wide range of legal professionals.
For a young legal professional, a career with an LPO is attractive for several reasons: it is a sunrise industry which should see a boom in the next 3-5 years; there is a tremendous variety of work at all levels of expertise; high-end opportunities for graduates of top law schools; attractive remuneration and future management prospects; an opportunity to work in a corporate structure that straddles borders; a learning opportunity for those considering legal and paralegal careers in the U.K. or the U.S.
Russell Smith of SDD Global Solutions, the off-shore legal outsourcing arm of a leading U.S. law firm, says the figure is based on an assumption that only 10 per cent of law firm work can be outsourced, while with an increase in global confidence in Indian legal services, that percentage could be much larger.
D. Murali and Goutam Ghosh interviews Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions, a legal outsourcing company (LPO / legal KPO), and quotes him in one of the leading newspapers in India. The main issues involved were growth and the future of the legal process outsourcing industry:
SDD is a subsidiary of the US-based SmithDehn LLP (www.smithdehn.com), a law firm specialising in IP (intellectual property) and media work. "Approved by the Government of India (STPI) as an IT-Enabled Services company, and funded by State Bank of India and investors from Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Barclay's Capital, SDD Global Solutions provides professional solutions, by leveraging information technology and a high-quality workforce for clients worldwide," informs the company profile.On the issue of India being a preferred destination for outsourcing legal work, over China or Australia or Poland, Smith says:
Mr Smith, a Columbia Law School graduate and former partner at Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz, has over two decades of litigation and other legal experience relating to the television and film production industries, broadcast networks, motion picture studios, and production companies.
For starters, an employee pool of over a million English-speaking lawyers and 80,000 English-speaking law graduates every year are hard to beat. Also, India shares the same, British-based, "common law" legal system that we have in the US and the UK, so Indian law graduates do not find it hard to learn Western legal skills.On being asked about the basic activities of SDD Global Solutions, as a legal process outsourcing company, Smith says:
On the big subject of money, everybody knows about the relatively low cost of living in India, which in turn means lower salaries. But another tremendous saving is in the price of office space. Many traditional law firms locate their people in expensive offices in the largest cities of the West. This has led to a situation where most of each dollar from clients goes for office rent. By contrast, the cost-per-square-foot of the SDD Global Solutions office building in Mysore India is 1/43rd the cost of space in midtown Manhattan. Our clients pay for legal services, not real estate! I would also like to say that the enthusiasm of the Indian lawyers who work for us is contagious. Unlike most American lawyers, they like their jobs!
Essentially the Indian attorneys in our Mysore office are doing the same work as if they were licensed attorneys in the New York office of our US law firm. Except that they do not actually provide legal advice, and obviously they do not appear in US courts. The work here is high-end, knowledge-based. It's most of what lawyers do in the United States.Smith lists three major contributory factors for SDD Global Solutions' success:
On legal research and drafting, one example is the work we do for motion picture and television studios. We do the research and write the memos that help the clients figure out how to make film and TV productions while avoiding legal trouble as much as possible. We also draft opinion letters that allow them to get the necessary insurance. And when there are claims, we draft the legal papers needed to respond. We do this work for companies like 20th Century Fox, HBO, Sony Pictures, and Channel 4 Television. In addition, our immigration visa specialists figure out lawful ways for our business clients to get the skilled personnel visa they need in the US.
First is our affiliation with licensed Western attorneys. In order to really shine, any legal outsourcing provider in India needs to affiliate with, or hire, licensed attorneys in the West. Those attorneys are needed to supervise the work, train the Indian lawyers, and market the services.
Second is strong recruitment. The boom in the legal outsourcing industry will lead to a talent crunch. At the same time, as the public profile of the industry grows and improves, an increasing number of law graduates and young lawyers will gravitate to the industry, and more of the best and the brightest among 12th-graders will decide on law as a career.
The third key to success will be training. This will be crucial as providers move up the value chain in relation to their services, and as they recruit more deeply into the pool of available talent, most of whom will be freshers with no experience working for Western clients. Again, we think we have an edge, because of our training programs led by US law experts.
Chennai, Sept. 6, 2007: D. Murali and Goutam Ghosh write about the misconceptions regarding Indian legal outsourcing firms, in one of the oldest and most prestigious newspapers in India. They consider SDD Global Solutions as the leading example of such firms (LPO/ KPO):
Working for clients such as Universal Pictures, HBO, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and the Clinton Foundation is SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a legal services KPO (knowledge process off-shoring) company, incorporated and headquartered in Mysore.In the issue of legal training by Indian legal process outsourcing enterprises, Murali and Ghosh quote from Smith as follows:
Formed and majority-owned, by SmithDehn LLP (www.smithdehn.com) - a Manhattan-based international media and intellectual property (IP) firm with most of its clients in New York, Los Angeles, and London - the KPO is headed by Mr Russell Smith.
"There are myths about legal services off shoring," he said, in a recent email interaction with Business Line. "These are myths that we have heard, regarding the alleged inability of Indian lawyers to match the quality of US lawyers," he adds.
Reputable legal services off shoring companies in India provide rigorous training to their lawyers, and the hours spent on training do not appear on invoices to clients. At SDD Global Solutions, for example, all of our Indian attorneys are trained by veteran Western practitioners who are at the top of their fields. Our training program accomplishes what Western law schools and law firms have failed to achieve, namely, the systematic preparation of young lawyers to provide quality legal services.Murali and Ghosh also say that low legal cost does not always mean low quality work:
The tremendous cost savings available from legal services offshoring are sometimes met with disbelief. Partners at large law firms in particular are prone to making comments such as "you get what you pay for." For example staggering real estate costs, due to the location of office space in some of the most expensive locations in the world, are at least 43 times more expensive per square foot than SDD Global's office building in Mysore, India.Risk of ethical violations or breaches of confidentiality, is another false suspicion people have about legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies:
At SDD Global Solutions, for example, we are an India legal outsourcing company managed by a US law firm, such that all the work by Indian attorneys is supervised, reviewed, and edited (if needed) by licensed US attorneys. Several other high-end legal outsourcing companies also have licensed US attorneys on their payroll, or at least affiliated with the off-shoring unit. Even where the off-shoring companies themselves do not employ licensed attorneys, the work can be supervised by in-house counsel for corporate clients, or by Western law firms who act as intermediaries, hiring the LPO on behalf of their clients.On the issue of future of the legal services off shoring industry, the article quotes Smith:
Smith says, "At SDD Global, we use secure, hack-resistant IBM servers, and the latest Cisco ASA firewall to protect data and systems from Internet vulnerabilities. Even more protection is provided by a Linux environment throughout our offices. Electronic access control is provided for all areas of the building, such that no one is able to enter any floor or project area without being specifically authorized to do so, and without using a custom-made electronic access card. Our offices are virtually paperless, and passwords are required for all data access. Most importantly, we take great care in selecting employees. We hire only one out of every 900 applicants, and only after a lengthy battery of evaluations and tests, as well as a thorough background check. SDD Global is not alone in this attention to security. As research analysts such as ValueNotes have reported regarding our industry, "vendors have invested significantly in systems and processes to ensure data security - often to a greater degree than their overseas clients."
Corporations, not Western law firms, will drive the market in the years ahead. Law firms currently provide 45 per cent of the business for the industry, and more and more of them will hire offshore providers, but this will be driven mainly by the dictates of corporate clients. For example, a major Detroit auto manufacturer approached SDD Global for offshore litigation support. When we asked what the reaction of their usual outside law firms would be to most of the legal work being done in India, the answer was unambiguous: "Our outside law firms will operate the way we tell them to."
Outsourcing and off-shoring are concepts not new to India. After the hugely popular business process outsourcing (BPO), the country is currently witnessing a boom in legal process outsourcing (LPO) with legal firms from around the world turning to India to outsource their legal services. According to LPO watchers, the industry is here to stay.
But for fighting court cases in cities such as London and New York for law firms there, Indian lawyers are doing everything else for their Western clients. From litigation support and contract review to patent writing and paralegal services, the growth potential of LPO remains tremendous. Latest figures show that this industry will generate more than 80,000 jobs in the next eight years.
According to Russell Smith of SDD Global Solutions, the off-shoring arm of a leading U.S. law firm, the figure is based on an assumption that only 10 per cent of law firm work can be outsourced. With increasing global confidence in Indian legal services, that percentage can be much larger, says Mr. Smith.
According to Nassscom, estimates of current addressable market potential for legal services that can be outsourced from the U.S. alone are pegged at $3 billion to $4 billion. It is estimated that only 3 to 4 per cent of the potential market has been tapped so far.
By 2010, India is poised to achieve significant growth by doubling its share to 6 to 7 per cent in the $250-billion global market of LPO. According to the BPO Council of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), over 200 top U.S. companies alone are looking for offshore locations towards achieving savings of up to 70 per cent.
Thousands of Indian patent agents and intellectual property professionals will be working for U.S. and European clients in the next few years.
LPO is the industry in which in-house legal departments or organisations outsource legal work from areas where it is costly to perform, such as the U.S. or Europe, to areas where it can be performed at a significantly decreased cost, primarily India.
As the outsourced firm is based in another country, the practice is sometimes called legal off-shoring. LPO is a high-end industry witnessing rapid growth since 2005. Major countries providing legal services market include the U.S., the U.K., France, Australia, South Korea, Japan and China.
LPO provides services such as legal research; document drafting such as standard contracts, agreements, letters to the clients, and patent applications; legal billing activities such as preparation of invoices, collation of time sheets; intellectual property research; immigration visas; health insurance claim; and administrative and secretarial activities such as following up with clients.
Cost saving is the biggest attraction for the western firms that outsource their legal work. India’s legal services are widely considered affordable, efficient, and above all, skilled. For a legal job outsourced in India, the U.S. firm pays hardly one-fourth or one-fifth of what it has to pay in the U.S. for the same work.
In other words, lawyers in India charge a pittance in comparison to their U.S. counterparts. In the U.S., legal services are billed at a whopping $150 to $200 an hour. In India, the same job costs about $20 to $30 an hour. The salary of lawyers in India is less than 15 per cent of their U.S. counterparts.
Another big attraction of LPO is the geographical position of the U.S. vis-À-vis India. U.S. legal firms get a turnaround time of 24 hours by outsourcing their work to India. LPO users can gain more operational efficiencies by focusing on core business activities while having access to a breadth of skills, technology and service offerings at a reduced cost.
However, LPO is a business that gets affected by the relative movements of currency. The recent appreciation of the rupee has had its negative effect on LPO as well. LPO opportunities are so tremendous that a large number of our law graduates can find jobs.
For a young legal professional, a career with an LPO is attractive for several reasons: It is a sunrise industry which should see a boom in the next eight years; a learning opportunity for those considering legal and paralegal careers in the West; there is a tremendous variety of work at all levels of expertise; attractive remuneration and future management prospects; an opportunity to work in a corporate structure that straddles borders; high-end opportunities for graduates of top law schools.
There are currently over a million lawyers in India and the country’s law schools churn out nearly 80,000 law graduates every year. Hardly 5 per cent of them join the law firms and legal departments, or apprentice under reputed senior lawyers at various courts and tribunals. LPO has become a big attraction for many of our law graduates.
As nearly 80 per cent of the current LPO work emanates from the U.S., proficiency in American English, drafting and research methodology are essential skills for those seeking LPO jobs. Computer proficiency is also essential.
There is a good amount of work that can be done by non-lawyers as well. For instance, there is an increasing demand for engineers in the intellectual property work space. The work involves analysing scientific and technological inventions for the purposes of crafting legal protection. This work needs to be done by those with technological skills and hence the opportunities for engineers.
Leading LPO players in the country include WNS, Evalueserve, OfficeTiger, Pangea3 and SDD Global. Infosys and Wipro are closely watching the growth of the LPO industry. HCL has already built capability for LPO.
According to Mr. Smith, it makes sense for the BPOs to enter this segment because the profit margins are higher. LPO is part of high-end knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) that many BPOs are already into, he says.
It will be a milestone in LPO when the world LPO summit takes place on January 17 in New York.
Sunanda Jayaseelan reports about the growing importance of legal process outsourcing on NDTV Profit, one of the biggest news channels and online news sites in India. The following is the transcript from NDTV's primetime, nationwide broadcast of a news story on LPO, and in particular, SDD Global:
Sacha Baron Cohen is probably one of the most successful comedians of modern times. While he is busy making people laugh, a team of lawyers in Mysore is ensuring that those who do not find his gags quite so funny do not sue him. All thanks to legal process outsourcing.Jayaseelan reports about the role of SDD Global in a movie production process, as being more than that of a typical legal outsourcing enterprise (LPO/ KPO):
"We are the affiliate of a United States law firm in Mysore. What we did was we prepared the legal road map before the film was made, advised during the making of the film, and then there were the claims, as with any successful movie," said Russell Smith, Head of SDD Global Solutions.
The team sitting in Mysore decided on a scene from the movie and did everything, right from planting of fake security guards.According to Jayaseelan this unique legal outsourcing specialization creates an added demand for the work done by this LPO:
Apart from this particular movie, the company has also worked closely with HBO on several projects, as well as with Sony and Twentieth Century Fox.
The reason why Hollywood would choose to outsource legal work is very simple, it costs between $30 to $90 per hour to hire a lawyer in India, as compared to $300- $700 in the US.
Since all of the work here is done on-line, it halves the time involved. Indian filmmakers are also apparently approaching them for legal work, albeit in a small way.
"Indian companies may have US legal questions or matters, because many Indian companies are buying western companies, so there needs to be questions answered," said Russell Smith.
Legal process outsourcing may be still nascent, contributing less than five per cent of the total knowledge process outsourcing [KPO] industry in India, but other niche areas like retailing, publishing and immigration laws are ensuring that there will be a demand for this sector to move ahead.
Heather Greenwood Davis writes about SDD Global Solutions, a legal process outsourcing company (LPO / KPO), in Canada's leading news and information magazine about the business of law:
If the American lawyers handling the litigation for the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan were actually in the movie, people would still be looking for a punch line. But Canadian law firms-who have been following the legal outsourcing trend of hiring and training legal professionals in India to work for American clients at a fraction of the cost of doing it on-shore-know this is no joke.The article specifically quotes the President of SDD Global Solutions, regarding his experience in the field of legal process outsourcing:
SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., the affiliate arm of New York law firm SmithDehn LLP, is currently handling the multi-million dollars worth of Borat-related litigation from their offices in Mysore, India.
Russell Smith believes it's only the tip of a very lucrative iceberg. He says, "I would say 90 per cent of the work [being done in North American law firms] can be off shored to India," says Smith. "If it's not walking into court, holding the client's hand or having a meeting-which by the way most clients don't need anyway-it can be done here."The article highlights the issue of cost savings, which legal outsourcing industry has to offer to US and rest of the world:
"We're still the only LPO that's managed by an American law firm," says Smith. "I'm really quite shocked but also pleased that we have this market pretty much to ourselves for now. I don't think for a second that it's going to stay that way. I have no doubt that other firms will come and I'm sure that will happen with Canadians too."
For the US firms, the pros are clear: Cheaper labor costs (an annual salary for an Indian hire starts at about US$6,000), impressive real estate savings (Smith reports paying 43 times less for the same amount of real estate he would need in the States) and the time difference ("People can be doing work while you in Canada are sleeping," Smith points out) all work in their favor. Also clients don't seem to mind the lower bill, rates of which run as low as US$30 per hour.
On the issue of nature of growth in the number of its clients, SDD Global has achieved a special place in the legal outsourcing industry, by virtue of coordination with its western counterpart:
The firm has also expanded to include Indian clients: Software companies who need immigration visas to the US or who want US counsel and US companies (including Calvin Klein) looking for lawyers who can handle pirating and counterfeiting issues at home and in India. Their onshore firm has benefited as well. The firm is now hiring a number of lawyers in its New York office and three counsels who will split their time between India and the United States.
What clients are concerned about, Smith says, is being able to hold someone accountable. "I will say that clients in the West they want someone who speaks with their accent I'm sorry to say-it's more so a cultural thing, it's not a racist thing. They want someone who's there when they want them. They don't want to have to wait until the nighttime to call them in India. And to be really crass about it, they want to sue someone if something goes wrong. "
The "X" factor involved in the legal process outsourcing work of SDD Global Solutions, has been the intention to cut down the expense of the clients, thereby promoting a friendly client-firm relationship:
Smith says the legal requirements of issues of conflicts, confidentiality, privilege and privacy, exist for SDD Global but what is different is the mindset of the firm's onshore lawyers: Instead of trying to do as many hours of work for a client as possible, they aim to do the opposite.To reflect the Canadian legal industry's view on the issue of legal outsourcing, Davis quotes McCarthy Tétrault LLP partner Wendy Gross:
"In many law firms, the objective is not to reduce the cost, the objective is to increase the cost as much as possible: Increase the amount of work that's done, increase the hours, increase the fees-wherever they can get away with it," he says. "My law firm in New York has taken the plunge. We believe that if we actually try to cut the costs we will come out on top because we will get the volume and also our internal expense won't be that great."
"I think its going to be very interesting to watch and see how this market develops over the next five years," Gross says adding that she would predict that corporations, more than law firms, will begin to use the service. "The pressure on internal legal departments to find ways to cut their budgets has been increasing by leaps and bounds," she points out. "More and more Canadian in-house counsel may either start calling on Indian firms directly or directing their Canadian law firm to outsource some of the work."
"There are times when there might be a good business case for it and it makes sense for any organization capable of doing it properly and effectively but it's not the silver bullet or the panacea to cut legal costs," she warns. "To the extent that it helps clients cut legal costs and get better service, that's what we're all trying to do. It's certainly not going to devastate the legal markets in Canada onshore."
The Deccan Herald dedicates an article to SDD Global Solutions, and covers its unique role in the legal outsourcing industry (LPO / KPO):
Outsourcing and off-shoring are not concepts new to India. Amidst much hullaballoo over IT and banking outsourcing, legal services off-shoring units are making the country their base.Focusing on the set-up and management of SDD Global, as a legal process outsourcing company, the article says:
Be it because of the expenses involved in setting up plush offices down town or the huge salaries that legal service providers demand in the West, off-shoring is emerging as a viable option.
SDD Global Solutions, operating from Mysore is said to be the only high-end legal service KPO in India run by a U. S. Law Firm. Mysore, which sports the reputation of a "potential city," headquarters one such unit, SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
SDD, formed, majority-owned and managed by SmithDehn LLP, a Manhattan-based international media and intellectual property firm, is the only high-end legal service KPO (knowledge process offshoring) company in India run by a U.S. law firm.Commenting on the remarkable clientele of SDD Global Solutions, the article lists out the biggest media companies in U.S. and U.K., among others:
Mr. Russell Smith, Chairman and President of SDD, is a Columbia Law School graduate with 25 years of litigation and other legal experience. He feels that Mysore is a city with great capacity. With the cost of setting up an office in Mysore 43 times less than that in Manhattan, clients are relieved from having to pay huge fees which are marked up to cover the rent more than the actual service provided. A process of reverse migration is also set up, in that well-educated professionals who have left the city for want of better job prospects will return if more companies set up base here and offer competitive salaries.
Elaborating on the company's operations, he says, "Approved by the Government of India (STPI) as an IT-Enabled Services company, SDD offers legal research and drafting, immigration visa processing, intellectual property registrations, anti-infringement operations, film and television production company management, insurance claims and administration services."
It has US and London based clients, which include HBO, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, former President Clinton's organization, the Clinton Foundation, best-known retail brands in the world, US book publishers and many TV and Hollywood personalities.The work culture at SDD Global Solutions is greatly beneficial to the employees, and it boasts of employees coming from all over India, not being restricted to only local people:
Well, this looks like that perfect opportunity to be associated with the who's who of the entertainment industry, not to mention the chance to be part of one of the most sought after legal services branch and understanding the legal system prevalent in the US. And the reason that you have no legal education background is not going to stop you from grabbing the opportunity in the least, for the company, as Smith puts it, is a small "law school in itself." The recruits are introduced to law concepts and procedures, and equipped to provide legal services. Legal services market is on the growth path. And this concept is giving a new dimension to the law field, the one beyond black coats and courts.
Apart from this "earn while you learn" facility, the company pampers its employees with a movie club, cafeteria, transportation facilities, relaxation room, guest-lecture and interactive programs. It is a five-day week for the employees. They work in two shifts. A series of written tests and interviews will get you a job in this year-old company, which currently has over 30 employees. The company plans to expand its operations.
"SDD is all about quality. It is a great opportunity for youngsters as they will get to experience the US legal world. The only things I miss is walking down the corridors of the court. But this is a different experience all together. Employees are also given various benefits," says Mani Agarwal, a Delhiite and one among many non-Kannadigas who work for the company.
Employee satisfaction is not the only criterion of the company though. "We in association with other corporate houses, administration and NGO's plan to make Mysore a greener place to live in," says Smith, reiterating the company's social responsibility. All in all SDD, with its dedicated staff and high-fi technology promises to make a mark in the legal services sector.
Rediff Business, a major source of business news in India, featured an article about legal services KPO (knowledge process outsourcing), and chose SDD Global Solutions as the main subject:
After the high-profile business process outsourcing units, it is the turn of legal firms from the United States to look at India to outsource legal services. SDD Global Solutions Pvt Ltd is a legal services KPO (knowledge process offshoring) company, incorporated and headquartered in Mysore.Referring to Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions, the article says:
Russell Smith, president, chairman and founder of SDD Global Solutions, is a Columbia Law School graduate with over 21 years of legal experience. He has represented some of the most high-profile companies in the world -- HBO, Sony Pictures Television, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Miramax Films, Penguin Books, et cetera. One of the recent achievements of SDD Global Solutions is that it has been hired by Sony Pictures to help with the legal work on their next film, and by 20th Century Fox and the makers of the Borat movie. SDD Global Solutions has also clients such as Universal Pictures, HBO, 20th Century Fox, and the Clinton Foundation.In an interview with Contributing Editor Shobha Warrier, Smith discusses the future of LPO, or legal process outsourcing:
We decided to set up an offshore legal outsourcing company because we know that the Western legal services industry is sick, and we want to be a part of the cure! A recent survey of legal department heads at leading US companies revealed that only 30 per cent of those companies would recommend their outside law firm to others, and 53 per cent of them recently fired their outside law firm.On the issue of quality of associates and work, Smith said:
We're thrilled with the workforce at our company. We've been very choosy, accepting only one out of every 900 job applicants, and requiring a 3-hour written aptitude test. Luckily there have been many thousands of applicants to choose from. Our employees are smart, enthusiastic, talented, and eager to learn.
There is no difference [in quality, between work done by US lawyers and legal outsourcing work done by SDD Global in India] because US lawyers supervise the work at SDD Global Solutions. These very lawyers also train the people who do the job.
Since SDD Global is managed by a respected American law firm, it means there is total quality assurance and accountability. Also, our Indian employees are top law graduates and experienced lawyers and/or former law professors from some of the best legal offshoring companies, law firms and law schools in India.
In India's only monthly magazine on HR, Cathy Chandok reports on the increase in number of foreigners, including legal outsourcing executives, holding senior positions in India. She cites SDD Global Solutions as an example in the legal field because of its high-end legal KPO ( knowledge process outsourcing ) work:
Talking of new businesses, SDD Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Mysore, is a one-of-its-kind, high-end legal process outsourcing and legal services KPO Company managed by a U.S. law firm. In the legal outsourcing industry, there is heavy demand for expatriates. SDD Global and many other companies are aggressively recruiting Western-licensed attorneys to train Indian attorneys, in order to meet the huge demand for high-end, low-cost, high-quality legal work on a global scale. Russell Smith, President and Chairman of SDD Global Solutions says, "U.S. attorneys who think like I do are jumping at the chance to come to India. We want to be part of the positive, paradigm shift in the way legal services are delivered in the West. This will be a monumental, history-making development. It will help Western economies as well as Indians. It will contribute to a better, more equitable world, in which artificial barriers across countries and continents do not hold back the most efficient and enthusiastic people from performing the work that they do best."Chandok also discusses Russell Smith's experience in India while working as the head of SDD Global Solutions, a legal outsourcing company:
Scores of foreigners like Smith feel that in India, they have a front-row seat before a world in transition, where the so-called third world is becoming the first world.
Russell, however, has a different point of view. "Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask, because I like India so much, but honestly I don't see any big transition challenges, once the expatriate learns simple ground rules. As for me, I like India so much that whereas I used to visit India once a year, now I visit the U.S. once a year. Even after all this time, I still find India interesting and exotic, and people in India seem to feel the same way about expats like me!"
According to him, any culture clashes can be easily addressed with some simple instructions. Such as "there are no real rules about who goes into a traffic intersection first - just go by the size of the vehicle." Or, "don't get too offended if you're in a crowd and someone shoves you." Or "men should not touch women they don't know," and "men who hold hands with men are not necessarily gay!" "Yes, there are vast and even fundamental cultural differences between India and the West, but that's part of the excitement of being here. Learning a few simple principles of etiquette is enough to get by," he states.
SFY Times reports about SDD Global, a high-end legal outsourcing company in India, and its financial arrangement with a major, Asia-based hedge fund:
SDD Global Solutions Private Limited, a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company in India managed by a US law firm, has entered into a funding arrangement with SFP Priority Co., Ltd, a member of the SFP group, an Asia-based investor. This arrangement provides for a first round of $2 million, to be followed by subsequent rounds on an as-needed basis.In the article, Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions, has been quoted as follows:
"We are very pleased with this tremendous vote of confidence in both our company and Indian legal outsourcing generally. This will help us to more rapidly expand our business and to play an even larger role in the paradigm shift in the way legal services are delivered in the West,"
Barclays PLC News, one of the largest financial services with worldwide operation, reports about SDD Global Solutions, a legal process outsourcing company (LPO / KPO), receiving FDI, by virtue of its potential for growth in the legal outsourcing industry:
SDD Global Solutions Private Limited, the only legal services outsourcing company in India managed by a US law firm has announced that it has entered into a comprehensive funding arrangement with a leading Asia-based investor. The arrangement underscores the significant demand for, and growth potential of, SDD Global Solutions' high-end legal services offshoring business.
"We are very pleased with this tremendous vote of confidence in both our Company and Indian legal services outsourcing generally," said Russell Smith, Head of SDD Global Solutions. "This will help us to more rapidly expand our business and to play an even larger role in the paradigm shift in the way legal services are delivered in the West," said Smith.
This arrangement is a key component of Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions' strategic plan to expand and consolidate its position as a leading player of the legal process outsourcing industry. The funding will be used primarily to (a) hire additional Western-licensed attorneys to augment both the Company's extensive employee training program in India and its range of services offered; (b) expand its global marketing efforts, and (c) step up its ongoing recruitment drive for the best and brightest law graduates in India.
Subhankar Kundu explores the trends of the legal process outsourcing industry, in Express Computer, a popular IT business weekly. He highlights factors like Hollywood legal contracts, litigation support, low cost yet highly-skilled Indian lawyers, and the projected $640 million LPO market by the end 2010:
Creative personalities of tinsel town hardly understand the legal tangles in their contracts. In the recent past, bollywood star Arjun Rampal said that he never reads his contracts and passes those over to his lawyers to be read and sorted out. Well, it's nothing but outsourcing. One shouldn't be surprised if the Tom Cruises and Al Pacinos of Hollywood are found sending their contracts to India before signing them with the likes of Paramount and MGM. This might sadden President Barrack Obama as he has been sloganeering against outsourcing to India but who cares? Skilled Indian legal experts coupled with the low cost of labor have always been the driving factor for the growth of legal process outsourcing (LPO) in India.Subhankar specifically describes SDD Global Solutions as an example of a rapidly growing Indian legal outsourcing company and highlights some of its key achievements:
Indian lawyers at a LPO firm in Mysore, SDD Global Solutions, recently pulled off a big win in a major Hollywood legal case. The SDD Global team assisted its New York based parent law firm in doing all the legal research for two of the most controversial comedies released in the recent past, Borat and Bruno, both starring Sacha Baron Cohen. The LPO outfit recently won a landmark court decision that has become a tipping point in favor of legal outsourcing, one that will also benefit comedy writers, performers, television broadcasters, and film studios. SDD Global performed all of the legal research and drafting for the successful motion to dismiss Doe v. HBO, a high profile libel litigation in Los Angeles County Superior Court involving Sacha Baron Cohen's acclaimed comedy series, Da Ali G Show.Subhankar considers cost-efficiency as one of the main reasons behind growth of Indian legal outsourcing companies, and taking SDD Global as an example, he states that:
US law-trained Indian attorneys at SDD Global conducted the legal research and drafted all of the preliminary drafts of court papers in the litigation, including Defendant Channel 4's motion and brief for summary judgment, which allowed Channel 4 to fight and defeat the lawsuit, rather than settling in order to avoid burdensome legal fees. A team of Indian lawyers at SDD Global drafted, and is credited by name in, the summary judgment brief for dismissal. SDD Global continues to do significant legal work for the film industry, especially Hollywood.This is a clear indication of the diverse capabilities that Indian LPOs possess. Both law firms and individual corporations are in the process of identifying support in India which will come at a considerably lower fee burden. The idea behind LPOs is to create an amalgamation of law and technology.
SDD Global thinks the potential is vast as it considers $640 million by 2010 to be a conservative figure. Sanjay Bhatia, head of operations, SDD Global Solutions says, "Western companies and individuals now spend $250 billion a year on legal fees. This number is way too high, sometimes even crippling. We figure that a vast majority of the work can be done in India, for less than half the cost. Effectively, we are looking at a legal outsourcing industry worth up to $100 billion or more. I am optimistic that the legal off-shoring industry may grow beyond $1 billion by the end of this year."Subhankar also refers to selective approach taken by SDD Global Solutions, while recruiting people as its associates:
SDD Global backs this optimism as the firm received an inquiry from a Fortune 100 company which was exploring legal outsourcing options. This one company alone spent $400 million on its legal matters in 2009.
Taking a more conservative approach in hiring, SDD Global does not go for voluminous hiring. Its present head-count is just 27, which is not surprising given the fact it does not get into volume driven work which requires a large headcount.
SDD Global founder Russell Smith, a graduate from Columbia Law School with almost 25 years of experience as a media and entertainment lawyer, usually conducts the training. The training focuses on US legal writing.
Moreover, renowned lawyers from reputed US and UK lawyers regularly come down to India to train and supervise processes.
Benny Thomas writes about SDD Global Solutions, in SiliconIndia, one of the largest professional online networks. Thomas focuses on SDD Global's success in 'Da Ali G Show' litigation and its significant contribution as a legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm:
A libel case in the U.S. has been won with the help of legal expertise outsourced from India. Lawyers at Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions a Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) firm drafted the motion papers and conducted legal research for this case in Los Angeles. The litigation was against 'Da Ali G Show' produced by HBO starring Sacha Baron Cohen. "Most of the paperwork for this case was done in India," says Padmavathi Shanthamurthy, an associate of SDD Global Solutions, who led the team in Mysore.
The team in Mysore consisting of five lawyers was supervised by Russell Smith, head of SDD Global Solutions. They had worked on this historic case on a cheaper rate compared to their counterparts in U.S. The case is one of the first 'libel-in-fiction' cases in the context of television and it is also the first time that a major U.S. media litigation has been outsourced to India. "It was really exciting to work on this case and we had to do a lot of research", says Shanthamurthy. The LPO firms in India have been drafting a brief for many cases in the U.S.
By Rama Lakshmi on May 11, 2008
Reporter Rama Lakshmi writes about emergence of the legal outsourcing industry (LPO / KPO) in India, in her article in one of India's premier newspapers, The Telegraph:
An Indian company, SDD Global Solutions, handled much of the legal work for the film Borat. Other clients include the Washington-based firm Appleton & Associates and US movie studios and television networks.
"Ninety per cent of a lawyer's work is legal research and drafting, and all this can now be off shored to India," said Russell Smith, who worked in a Manhattan law firm called SmithDehn before moving to India to set up a legal outsourcing company in 2006.
'The Good Law Blog,' a popular legal blog, or "blawg," reports about SDD Global Solutions being the first legal process outsourcing company (LPO) to be involved in a high-profile U.S. litigation:
On April 29, 2009 the law firm of SmithDehn LLP filed a motion for summary disposition that the firm touted as both historic and groundbreaking. The case itself was nothing new - it was libel action seeking damages for statements made by a television character. What was exceptional about the motion is that it is the first high profile U.S. case in which a motion was researched and drafted by foreign attorneys at an offshore legal outsourcing company.
Legal outsourcing occurs when a lawyer contracts with someone living abroad to perform legal services. The legal services outsourced can range from document management, to preparing motions, or even developing legal strategy for litigation.
There are several ways in which firms can outsource their legal work. Under one model, known as captive-direct off shoring a firm or a corporation will create an organization in a foreign nation that performs its legal services. Direct-third party is another model of outsourcing under which a corporation or law firm contracts with a third party provider located a foreign nation to provide legal services. Finally there is Indirect Third Party Outsourcing - under this model, an outsourcer enters into a contract with a domestic service provider who subcontracts all or most of the work to an offshore company.
Today, law firms outsource legal work to offshore locations like India, South Korea and Australia. Currently, India is poised to become the leader for legal outsourcing. The Indian legal system is based on the British common law system that England and the US are. Further, the Indian bar counsel reports that, as of 2007, there were almost one million lawyers enrolled with various state bar counsels. This gives an enormous pool of talent to draw from.
The obvious advantage of legal outsourcing is cost. The reduced costs of outsourced legal services can provide clients with more than just saved money. Frank Dehn, one of the founding members of SDD Global, noted that outsourcing legal work has allowed them to help their clients fight frivolous lawsuits. He says that often, it is cheaper to settle frivolous lawsuits than it is to fight them. However, outsourcing to cheaper foreign lawyers allows his clients to economically litigate against frivolous lawsuits.
Outsourcing can also allow clients overcome the expenses of discovery. This can lead to a leveling of the playing field between opposing parties with vast financial disparity. David Thickett, founder of the outsourcing firm, Tusker, explains that "one of the strategies in David and Goliath cases is, if you are the Goliath, you want to demand tremendous amounts of information from the much smaller David. Then, in turn, you snow them with documents, which is financially crippling to a small company." With foreign lawyers to economically review documents, a smaller company can effectively deal with otherwise burdensome discovery requests.
Today outsourcing is a growing business. Ten of England's top 30 law firms have outsourced back office functions or legal work to India. Companies that outsource their legal work include General motors, DuPont, and Oracle. The American Bar Association reports that outsourcing grew by 60% between 2005 and 2008. Another study by Forrester Research suggests that by 2015 there will be 4 billion dollars worth of legal work going in India.
Moneycontrol.com, the financial news website of the CNBC affiliate in India, reports on the rapid growth of offshore legal outsourcing:
A recently released report by ValueNotes estimates that the current Indian revenues from legal services offshoring are slated to grow from $146 million for the calendar year 2006 to reach $640 million by end 2010. The industry employed around 7,500 people in the legal offshoring space in India as of end 2006. The number of employees is expected to reach 32,000 by end 2010.
The Legal services outsourcing industry has grown at 50% CARG through 2005-06. This growth has been driven primarily by increasing demand, vendor maturity and capability of vendors to offer higher value services. Based on our exhaustive primary research and analysis of this sector, ValueNotes has identified.... ''Emerging players'' that have potential to emerge as winners within their chosen niches. These include players like LawScribe, New Galexy, SDD Global Solutions, Tusker Group, Aptara, Lason and Quattro BPO.
According to Arun Jethmalani, CEO, ValueNotes, "While most vendors start by offering lower value services and gradually move up the value chain by demonstrating domain skills and gaining client confidence, there are others who focus on specific high-end services or niches."
Nearshore Journal, a Zagada's news and intelligence service, reports on the success of SDD Global Solutions, in the survey conducted by the Black Book of Outsourcing:
The boutique-sized , niche-focused outsourcing providers seem to be giving giants like HP, IBM, Accenture , TCS , Infosys , Wipro , HCL and Cognizant tough competition in terms of offering a greater degree of customer satisfaction.
A comprehensive poll of over 6,547 outsourcing clients worldwide found that smaller vendors are satisfying more clients, and to a much greater degree, in comparison with their big-ticket counterparts. The study carried out by the Black Book of Outsourcing - which was acquired by business research firm Datamonitor Group a year ago - has represented all outsourcing fields including IT, KPO, LPO and BPO.
Smaller outsourcing providers like SDD Global have been pushing their specialist knowledge and deep client understanding as their unique selling point for some time now, claiming that specialists provide a better service . While all outsourcers talk up their ability to specialise this survey suggests that SDD Global and other smaller players are best positioned to deliver on that promise," said Eamonn Kennedy , who led the research for Datamonitor.
In The Times of India, Mini Joseph Tejaswi reports on how Indian lawyers, working at Legal Process Outsourcing firms (LPO), are making grammatical and syntax corrections in legal drafts/contracts prepared by their U.S. counterparts.
Many top US law firms are hiring Indian lawyers to edit and make grammatical and syntax corrections in legal drafts/contracts prepared by their lawyers. A Fortune 100 client of a US law firm, SmithDehn LLP, has specifically requested that legal research, analysis, writing, editing - exercises that cost millions of dollars in the US - be done by Indian attorneys.
We never expected lawyers in India to be correcting the grammar and legal writing efforts of US attorneys. But the fact is, it is happening today. Also, American lawyers are too busy, law firms are under huge cost pressure and therefore unable to take time to do a perfect or near-perfect draft copy.
In the Business Standard, Praveen Bose reports on how legal outsourcing can make a US legal defence more financially viable. Bose reports about how SDD Global, an India based LPO, is going to help Denis Field cut his legal costs.
In the latest example of how legal outsourcing in India can make a US legal defence more financially viable, Denis Field, former chairman and CEO of the US-based accounting major BDO Seidman, LLP, has hired the Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions, a legal process outsourcing arm of New York-based Smith-Dehn LLP, to assist him and his US legal team in his legal battle with the US government. BDO is the world's fifth largest accounting firm.
In order to effectively pursue his case, Field is joining the ranks of prominent US clients who have discovered an alternative to surrendering to their inability to fund a full and complete legal defence. He and his US lawyers are fighting for his rights with the help of legal outsourcing in India.
By hiring SDD Global Solutions for certain tasks, Field and his team are able to cut his legal costs by a significant percentage for complex and high-end legal work. While in the US it costs $250-300 per hour to do the same work, it would cost $30-90 per hour in India, according to industry analysts.
"The importance of Field's present arguments go well beyond his own situation; they may impact other defendants in similar situations who lack the resources to seek redress."
Field is said to have been influenced by prominent cases as Doe vs. HBO in Los Angeles, a libel suit in which SDD Global handled nearly all the research and drafting for the defence, leading to a victory; and NMH vs. Bush, in which SDD Global drafted a motion to dismiss a suit in Washington DC against legal outsourcing. SDD Global's clients have included major film and TV studios, law firms, retail brands, insurance companies, film and television production companies, and publishing houses, as well as prominent individuals, like Mohamed Al Fayed.
SourcingNotes, the blog of ValueNotes, reports that investors are getting interested in the legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry:
Most service providers in the LPO industry started off as self-funded companies and a few received funding from angel investors. In order to build marketing presence or significant knowledge base ahead of others, service providers are seeking VCs/PEs/angels. Yes! Investors are getting interested in the LPO segment. Funding from VC/PE firms started flowing in, but of course is limited at the moment as most companies are still quite small.
The blog reports that SDD Global entered into a comprehensive funding arrangement with SFP Priority Co. Ltd. The blog discuss the reasons why the LPO sector is attracting investments:
Investors typically look for the market that is large and has future growth potential. The overall (English speaking) legal services market is estimated to be more than $200 billion. While only 5% of the total market is currently offshoreable, with growing interest from the buyer market, the offshoreable pie is expected to grow bigger. Amongst the knowledge services segments, LPO has been one of the more rapid growing segments in India. This is one the characteristics that makes it an attractive industry. Rapid growth rates coupled with the growing interest from the buyer community (with large deals announced in the last two years) will attract more investors.
In AllBusiness,Guy Loranger reports on how the legal process outsourcing companies (LPO) are attracting Indian attorneys.
Indian law schools produce 80,000 graduates per year, and Bhatia said more of them will turn to the LPO industry instead of seeking work as in-house counsel bogged down by mainly administrative duties or as litigators stuck in a low-paying, slow-moving court system.
The article quotes Michael Cleaver, an associate with SDD Global's parent firm, U.S.-based SmithDehn, on the misconception among Western law firms that Indian attorneys can't do such creative work when they are analyzing American legal issues:
"They've all graduated from law schools that were taught in English and based on the common-law system," said Cleaver, an Asheville, N.C., attorney who supervises the work of SDD Global's Indian attorneys. "So, they have the same foundations as we have here, and after that, it's just a matter of learning the practical aspects, which is something that we all have to learn after law school."
SiliconIndia reports on the increasing popularity of Indian law firms and legal process outsourcing outfits among American and British law professionals.
As one out of every 10 lawyers in the U.S. is said to have been laid off due to the recession, many American and British law professionals are increasingly joining Indian law firms and legal process outsourcing outfits, reported The Times of India.
This trend was prompted by the practice by many corporations of discontinuing their contracts with external law firms, and outsourcing a substantial portion of their legal engagements to countries like India.
U.S. lawyers are very expensive. "They are paid $300/900 an hour while it is less than 1/10 of that in India. Globally, the traditional hour-based working style of law firms are changing. Companies today prefer smaller firms who believe in flat rates.
Socialpacks.com reports on how the US law firms are using Indian lawyers to make corrections in the legal drafts and contracts. The article quotes Russell Smith, CEO of SDD Global Solutions a Mysore-based Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO):
We never expected lawyers in India to be correcting the grammar and legal writing efforts of US attorneys. But the fact is, it is happening today. Also, American lawyers are too busy, law firms are under huge cost pressure and therefore unable to take time to do a perfect or near-perfect draft copy.
In The Hindu, a leading Indian newspaper daily, Dorothy Thomas reports on the advantages of using legal process outsourcing (LPO):
Outsourcing legal work to India costs up to 80 per cent less than the cost of using the services of American law firms.
The advantage of the time zone, availability of English speaking attorneys and familiarity with common law doctrines attract foreign firms. Indian attorneys with US/UK qualifications are sought after. International attorneys are impressed not only by the labour cost differential, but also by the quality and speed of work done. Most LPO outfits in India are reported to be staffed 24/7.
Rediff Business reports on the predicted estimates about the legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry:
Except for fighting court cases in New York or London for law firms there, Indian lawyers are doing everything else for their western counterparts - litigation support, contract review, patent writing and para legal services.
Legal process outsourcing as it is being called, has very high growth potential, and according to latest estimates, it can fetch 79,000 jobs in India by 2015.
If India is able to leverage its low cost advantage, jobs will flood in not only from the US but also from UK, Australia, Singapore and other Commonwealth countries, he says.
According to reports, Canadinan lawyers too have started outsourcing legal work to India. India has been referred to in international business publications as "global counsel" because of its massive potential.
According to a recent Nasscom study, MNCs, international law firms, publishing houses and legal research firms are seeking specialised legal knowledge processing services from India.
The Complete Lawyer, an online newspaper for lawyers, reports on the advantages of using a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company:
Using an LPO, some very large corporations have been saving a bundle on large document review projects. Rather than paying associates at American law firms well in excess of $100 per hour, the early adopters of LPO, which have included Microsoft, DuPont, Philips and GE, have turned to India's large pool of highly educated law school graduates who have studied common law and have a strong command of the English language.
While the majority of LPO work is 'low value' (e.g. large document review projects), some LPOs are beginning to do more 'high value' work including drafting contracts and patent applications.
Law firms have been much slower to adopt the practice of outsourcing to LPO firms, but given the potential for cost savings (roughly 50% by some estimates), corporate counsel will eventually begin demanding it for certain projects.
LPO should be viewed as adding a new layer to the traditional pyramid. This shouldn't concern lawyers who can figure out how to manage these resources to provide their clients with a high quality and cost effective service. These lawyers have always been the best kind anyway, they just have a new arrow in their quiver. The folks who should be worried are those that end up charging clients too much for the quality of service provided because they do not know how to do this. The issue is that perhaps that profile fits a lot of lawyers who have not been used to clients demanding control over the budget.
Lawyers at all levels of practice should take note of this trend and look for ways to provide valuable services to clients. Be nimble: do not expect today's cash cow to be alive tomorrow. Outsource what makes sense, and serve your clients well.
In the American Bar Association Journal, a monthly legal trade magazine and the flagship publication of the American Bar Association, Rachel M. Zahorsky reports on how Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is becoming increasingly popular in UK.
Primarily driven by cost-saving needs, nearly 15 percent of U.K. law firms are outsourcing work-a significant boost from prior survey reports of only 5 percent in 2009.
While 6 percent of in-house legal teams employ legal process outsourcing providers, both groups expect the use of LPO services to grow over the next year, according to a recent survey of 575 lawyers by Incisive Media Research Legal Week and legal process outsourcing provider Integreon, Legal Week reports.
In fact, the lower percentage of use at in-house legal departments reflects a client preference for outside counsel to manage the LPO workflow in matters-which ranges from litigation document review, e-discovery and contract management, says Integreon senior vice president of consulting Ron Friedmann at Integreon Blog.
Although cost pressure is the primary driver of LPO use-lack of consistent quality and data security concerns remain significant barriers for many of the respondents, who reported that alternative fees are offered by 75 percent of firms as a way to cut costs.
As another example of growing popularity of Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), Legal Week reports that Balfour Beatty, one of the largest construction companies in the world, has decided to ramp up its use of legal outsourcing.
Balfour Beatty is set to review its roster of UK legal advisers, with the construction giant planning to ramp up its use of legal process outsourcing (LPO).
David Mercer, general counsel of Balfour Beatty's UK construction services division, is leading the review, with the process being overseen by global general counsel and company secretary Chris Vaughan, who joined in 2007 from SABMiller.
One of the main aims of the review is to reach individual outsourcing agreements with panel firms for low-cost, repetitive work, with firms likely to be free to choose their own outsourcing option rather than being forced to use a specific outsourcer.
Balfour Beatty has taken this decision to cut its legal costs, and to increase efficiency.
Balfour Beatty instructs 24 law firms worldwide, with six core firms on its UK roster, including Linklaters, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Pinsent Masons and McGrigors.
One adviser said: "The motivation for the review is to cut costs, and law firms need to respond by developing innovative outsourcing initiatives. LPO is on its way in, and there is nothing we can do about it, but being able to supervise our own outsourcing is the lesser of two evils."
Virtual IT Studio reports on the increasing popularity of Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), among Australian companies and law firms.
Australian organisations can pay $150 - $200 per hour for a paralegal but by outsourcing this work they can reduce the cost by 50% by hiring fully qualified lawyers in India and the Philippines, where there are currently over 5,000 professionals in the LPO industry. This trend is being driven more by the recent recession and the need to streamline business costs. It is expected there will be 18,000 professionals in the LPO industry by 2015.
With current technologies, security and access to information and documents can be easily controlled and organisations can have all the security they need. Now organisations can manage any down side and risk. As Australian companies see the benefits and manage the risks, we can only expect this trend to continue.
So what is really happening in the BPO industry? Yes, labour is being sourced from low-cost skilled labour pools, such as in India and Philippines, but this is purely the commercial aspect and what makes financial sense in the current market conditions. Ultimately however, it creates a dynamic global workforce, with the market forces distributing and balancing wealth and prices across international borders and according to business value.
William Pfeifer, from about.com, reports on how legal process outsourcing (LPO) is the new trend in the legal profession.
One of the growing trends in the legal profession is the outsourcing of legal services through legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies. Whether using the low-cost services of lawyers in India, hiring legal research firms, or using contract attorneys to handle temporary legal projects, a significant amount of legal work is now being performed by someone other than the attorney who was actually hired to do it. In some situations, the American lawyer is bypassed entirely. The most popular form of legal outsourcing seems to involve sending legal work to lawyers in India.
Legal outsourcing may be a great way for a busy attorney or law firm to handle complex or time-consuming projects on a more affordable budget. Solo practitioners, small firms, and boutique law practices can take on cases that would otherwise be too large for them to handle. Midsize and large law firms can make their billing rates more competitive by obtaining subcontracted legal services at a dramatically reduced rate. Firms that use legal outsourcing find that it provides all the benefits of having associates and paralegals performing research and document review, but at a fraction of the cost and without having to bring on full time employees.
Many Fortune 500 companies have taken notice of the cheap billing rates for lawyers overseas, and have cut out the middleman (the US firm) in favor of dealing directly with the legal outsourcing firms. Restrictions on unauthorized practice of law are avoided by simply having U.S. in-house counsel or a local law firm review and approve the outsourced work.
Recent reports indicate that firms and companies are now entrusting Indian law firms and legal outsourcing companies not only with mundane discovery, but with complex legal briefs and court pleadings. For example, Law Without Borders reported on how SDD Global Solutions in India prepared the court pleadings and appellate brief that won a slander lawsuit in California appellate courts over a comedy routine performed by Sasha Baron Cohen.