February 2, 2011
"Barred in Any US Jurisdication," Thomson Reuters Still Wants to Hire You But is LPO Regulation on the Horizon
TR Legal learned its "lesson" when it outsourced digesting unofficial court opinions to India some time ago. (Frankly, that was fine with me.) But in furtherance of its new LPO business since the acquisition of India-based Pangea3, the Company is "cool" with hiring lawyers "“barred in any U.S. jurisdiction” to “build multiple document review project teams” in “anticipation of establishing a document review facility" here in the states. So reports the ABAJ at Thomson Reuters Hiring Attorneys for New LPO Outfits in Michigan, Texas based on TR Legal's Monster and Craigslist job ads. According to Rachel M. Zahorsky's report:
When we inquired about the number of lawyers to be staffed in Ann Arbor and asked whether any other U.S. facility locations have been planned, Thomson provided a vague response.
"As we've mentioned, we see a multishore, 24/7 operating structure as key to supporting Pangea3 customers in all parts of the world. We're working on this now, and will keep you posted as things progress," a company spokesman wrote in an e-mail.
See also Jason Wilson's Some thoughts on Thomson Reuters Legal ("[T]his LPO business is something else. It’s just the tiny tip of an iceberg, and what lies beneath in store for your clients or potential clients is anyone’s guess at this point.") and Zahorsky's follow-up, Vendor or Competitor? Pangea3 Purchase Pleases Some, Worries Others:
The deal, valued between $35 million and $40 million, also sparked debate among consultants, lawyers and bloggers about ethical concerns of the legal information giant delving into competition with its client base.
In the long run nobody is going to notice whether the work is performed in India or the U.S. as long as efficiency is increased, predicts consultant David Curle, director and lead analyst at Outsell Inc., a research and advisory firm for the information industry.
Apparently no one is going to notice whether a lawyer is licensed or has been disbarred from practicing law either. What the heck, at least TR Legal is hiring in the US. Maybe it really is time to make document review a required law school legal skills course. See It's 2011: Isn't It Time for the Legal Academy to Add Some Legal Tech Skills to the Mandatory Curriculum (even if only on how to perform document review)? What next? How to scan and OCR.
Regulation of Legal Process Outsourcing Coming? Perhaps. According to Fronterion, outsourcing agreements may come under increased regulatory scrutiny.
In the three main LPO markets – the United States, the United Kingdom and India – there is the potential for rule changes which could place outsourcing agreements under increased scrutiny or even have a material impact on the ability of law firms and companies to send legal work to external providers
For these reasons many, industry insiders, including Fronterion which highlighted the issue in its Top 10 Trends for 2011 report, think regulation is the single most important issue in LPO this year.
Hat tip to 3 Geeks' Greg Lambert's tweet for the Fronterion link. [JH]