LPO – Legal Process Outsourcing – A Look Inside For 2010 and Beyond

LPO (legal process outsourcing) is the hot new trend in the legal field that allows law firms and corporations to obtain operational and administrative support and services from outside (sometimes overseas) providers rather than internally. This process has demonstrated huge growth in the past few years within the United States and the UK, and offers a unique path for companies to get the administrative services that they need, including document review, legal research, patent services, and drafting of pleadings and legal briefs. Often, Legal IT or Legal Technology is also brought into play.

Countries like India and the Philippines have proven to be very successful in this area, offering their services to anyone who needs them. The main purpose of legal process outsourcing is to cut costs as much as possible and have the same quality of work product. So far, it has been a successful endeavor for many firms.

What is the future like for LPO? While some of the largest firms and corporations in the world are using these services to handle their legal needs, will it hold up? The services offered are very effective and affordable, but what will happen in the years to come? Specifically speaking, the trends for 2010 and beyond in the legal process outsourcing industry are of a key interest. Attorneys and law firms within the U.S. and other major markets often charge $150 -$350 an hour for services like the ones offered by outsourcing entities, which can do the same work at a fraction of the cost. As such, it is estimated that LPO will continue the massive growth, even through the current recession.

The work done by outsourcing services in the legal field is mostly work that is time-consuming and chore-like for the U.S. and UK based firms that seek out these overseas services. Legal process outsourcing providers have the advantage of providing a broad spectrum of services and being exposed to new theories, the best practices, and the latest laws and defenses available because of the work that they do. Some of the services offered by LPO companies include:

1. Case management, which includes the collection and review of documents, along with providing answers to client questions
2. Legal research, which is time-consuming and laborious for U.S. firms to handle on their own
3. Medical records reviews
4. Billing management
5. Patent services
6. Contract management

7. Expert witness services, including those who serve as witnesses and consultants in various matters and who can provide reports and expert testimony in Federal and State court trials and legal proceedings

Many other tasks that are time consuming and expensive to have done at home are also assigned to these LPO services on a firm-by-firm basis. In some cases, there are limitless possibilities as to what work these companies can provide to law firms and corporations.

Legal process outsourcing is not without its flaws and critics. One of the biggest points of concern for many is the potential confidentiality breaches that can take place. People who are performing these services overseas may or may not be bound to the same ethical standards and code that U.S. and UK based lawyers are subject to, which can cause conflicts of interest. The American Bar Association recently offered its own ethics opinions that laid down a framework that would allow for ethical LPO services across the country and around the world.

While confidentiality is a major concern, it’s going to be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils in many cases. This might be taking valuable work away from the country’s own lawyers and legal advisors, and it could potentially cause a conflict of interest within the ethics and confidentiality area. However, LPO provides many legal entities a way to get services they desperately need at rates they can afford – sometimes as low as 15% of what they may pay if they were to handle the tasks “in house”.

The work is cheap, which is why many firms choose this method for their legal needs. The steadily decreasing rates of LPO services in India are a large area of concern, because the quality and value of the services might be in jeopardy if the rates become too low. When the world revolves around getting what is paid for, how can anyone expect quality services when they’re paying next to nothing? Many people claim that they know quality when they see it, but many others feel that talents should reach farther than legal skills and provide U.S. specific and client/service/project specific training.

This service gained its popularity because it was affordable. When clients can get rates of $20 to $50 per hour for various legal services, rather than paying five times that with U.S.-based services, what is there to lose? Over the next few years, the LPO industry is projected to grow exponentially, allowing people to find everything they need outside their own country at a much reduced cost factor.

The legal process outsourcing industry has driven a revenue growth of 495% in 2009 alone. In response to increasing legal demands such as foreclosures and bankruptcies, the industry has been a popular choice for many in recent times. Forrester Research, which is an independent market research and technology company, forecasts that the LPO industry will create more than 79,000 jobs by 2015, all around the world. A small number of U.S. Census Bureaus also estimated that more than $184 billion in revenue generated by the legal services industry in the U.S. would generate more growth and job creation for legal process outsourcing services and providers.

Another independent market research firm, ValueNotes, estimates that LPO revenues will grow from a projected $640 million in 2010 to more than $4 billion by 2015, which is a big jump in revenues for this fairly new industry. Similar to many of the other outsourcing methodologies practiced by U.S. companies for decades, the LPO industry simply works by taking the ‘chore work’ that legal firms and services have and sending it to providers that can do it for a much more affordable rate, and still provide the same high quality service and confidentiality that is needed in handling legal paperwork and proceedings.

It seems, due to the current research and projected forecasts, that the estimated trends for legal process outsourcing are quite good. The industry has grown nearly 500% in revenues in 2009 alone, and is projected to be an industry worth well over $4 billion by the year 2015. In an economy where the US is in recession, things need to be affordable. Many law firms are looking to hand these various services off to someone who can do them properly, but for much less than professional services offered in the U.S. or the UK.

It is a race to see who can do things smarter, faster, and more effectively in order to see the most growth in their own businesses. Law firms are essentially handing off the tedious, chore-like work to services that can perform the work properly and affordably, while maintaining their own abilities to focus on their clients and other more important aspects of their legal firm or corporation. Considering all the new services being developed and the increased popularity of this type of service acquisition, it appears that legal process outsourcing has a very promising outlook for the next five years at least.

Why Are Legal Translations Important?

Legal translation is a task that requires a lot of expertise and familiarity with linguistic conventions that apply to laws and legal cases.

Translations consist of taking a document in one language and switching it to another language whilst maintaining the same meaning. Legal translations deal with legal issues and terms. This field involves translating statutes, contracts, patents and any type of legal documentation. These documents are often used in legal proceedings where the initial original meaning must be maintained even after the translation.

Legal terminology is very complex and can vary from one country to another. Due to the fact that not every country has the same legal system, in some cases legal concepts do not have an equivalent in the target language. Codes and laws have been created to suit a particular country or culture and when the legal term does not have an equivalent in the target language, the translator needs to “recreate” the concept and the whole idea attached to the legal expression. “Transcreation” is a re-interpretation of the original concept to suit the audience of the target language in a particular time. It is very difficult to find equivalence between two terms if both legal languages refer to different legal systems.

Why Are Legal Translations Important?

Laws and codes seek to establish clearly defined rights and duties for certain individuals. The purpose of legal translation is to look for linguistic and juridical similarities between legal texts that belong to different legal systems. There are some cases where crimes might have similar meanings in two systems but are not identical; imply different connotations which lead to different sentences. The legal translator should be aware of intention of the original legal text and the interpretation (or interpretations) that has been attached to that text. The use of precedent is typical of Anglo-American common-law tradition that is built on the doctrine of stare decisis. (stand by decided matters)

Errors in legal translation could be fatal due to the effects that a legal misjudgment could have in the life and rights of individuals. It could also affect national security, diplomatic relations and lead to lawsuits.

To avoid mistakes, legal translators should be guided by standards of linguistic, social and cultural equivalence between the language used in the source text to and the target language. According to the expert on Comparative Law, Gerard-René de Groot, the difficulty of legal translations depend more on structural differences between legal systems rather than on linguistically differences.

Legal Translators

To deliver accurate translations, legal translators need to understand the different law systems as well as specific areas within law such as Criminal Law, Commercial Law, Property Law, etc. They also need to be competent in legal writing and have an in-depth knowledge of legal terminology. It is critical to assign legal translations to professionals that have the knowledge and experience to deal with them. It is also indispensable to have a deep understanding of Comparative Law system which helps to comprehend basic legal terms and structures in an international context.

What is Comparative Law?

It is the study of the diverse legal systems around the world and the differences and similarities between them. Comparative Law provides the foundation to create bilingual dictionaries that try to find equivalence among the elements of the source and the target legal texts.
Legal translators have a hard job because many legal concepts were originated within a particular social and political framework and may have no counterpart in other legal system. They must look for juridical and linguistic equivalence between the terms in order to find the pragmatic and functional equivalence in the concepts.

Comparative law methods help to create a reinterpretation of incompatible legal terms and to do so technical and pragmatist aspects of legal language should be taken into account. The equation is not that simple because some specialists prioritize the technical aspects of legal translation while other put emphasis on the connotative aspects of legal language. The convergence of these two approaches can facilitate the translation of legal texts.

There are some cases where the divergence between legal terms is too big that equivalence is not an option. To resolve the problem, there are few options. One is to keep the foreign term as it is. Other alternatives are to create a new term or to paraphrase the given term. The last option seems to have more adepts within the translation industry because it facilitates the reader’s understanding of the concept and the purpose of legal translation is bridging different cultures and legal systems and help them to understand each other.

Do I Need A Pro Bono Attorney? Do They Really Offer Free Legal Help? How Do I Find A Free Attorney?

It’s a fact that the average person will face 4 to 6 legal situations every year. In fact, 50% of all households have a pressing legal situation right now (and the fact that you’re reading this probably means you’ve got a legal situation). Of course, a legal situation is just being in trouble with the law, but rather a legal situation is any situation in which the advice of a competent attorney would be beneficial to your situation. It’s also a fact that the national average And while we live in a country founded upon the premise of “Equal Justice Under Law,” for most people actually getting the legal help they need is often times a matter of choosing between legal help and eating or having a roof over one’s head. The average attorney charges around $300 per hour, usually with a retainer fee, which is an up-front fee of a certain number of hours pre-paid in advance (so 5 hours at $300 per hour would yield a $1,500 retainer fee), with any additional time paid as it accrues. Given this, it’s no wonder why most people find it cheaper to just get ripped off rather than go to an attorney! If you are in a situation where you need or may need legal counsel, what options do you have?

Pro Bono: What It Is… And What It Isn’t

The term pro bono comes from the Latin pro bono publico, or “for the public good.” The concept being that, since many people cannot afford legal help (I’ve even met lawyers who admitted that they couldn’t afford their own law firms rates!), legal help should be given to those who need it most (and are least able to pay for it). Most people are aware of the idea of a pro bono attorney because they’ve heard of them on television or in the movies. A “free attorney” is a powerful idea, and so the concept sticks in the mind.

In the United States, the American Bar Association (ABA) recommends attorneys give 50 hours of free service per year. However, various state and city regulations can and do amend that, some recommending as few as 20 hours. The biggest point to note is that these are not required of the attorneys, generally; and across the board, most law firms do not come close to their required hours.

The ABA does have a list of pro bono attorney groups and law firms available on their website. Most of those listed, however, are for specific cases or issue types (e.g., for legal issues dealing with the Arts or the Humanities, etc.). If you need an attorney for a personal issue, you may have a hard time finding an attorney in your area who specializes in the field you need and who can accept your case (assuming, of course, that you even qualify). So if you can’t find a pro bono attorney, what other options do you have?

Option 1: Legal Aid

Legal Aid is available in some form in all 50 states. It is a pro bono service (i.e., there to serve the public good), but it is not always a free service. Legal Aid attorneys are sometimes public defenders, and often paid for wholly or partially by state or local subsidies. Legal Aid sprung in part out of the necessity of needing to provide legal help for those who could not find a pro-bono attorney. Many attorneys who offer their service through Legal Aid will work on a reduced fee system, and some will work for free. However, income qualifications and issue qualifications must be met, and there is often a waiting list ranging from months to years for certain issues and in certain municipalities.

If Legal Aid isn’t an option, there is one other option which most people are unaware of but which can greatly benefit most people.

Option 2: Insurance Type Legal Services

Legal Insurance and insurance type products have been available in the United States for about 40 years, although they are common in some European nations (with as many as 80% of some nations having a plan of this type). Legal insurance and pre-paid legal service plans work much like medical insurance, with a small premium granting access to a range of various legal services, from consultation, letters and phone calls, document review, and representation in court. The benefit of legal insurance plans is that they are very affordable for most budgets, often costing less than the cost of one standard hour of attorney time for an entire years worth of coverage. These plans cannot, however, cover 100% of all legal expenses, so some legal issues might incur additional costs (generally things like bankruptcy, child custody and divorce, as well as criminal charges). Such costs are often defrayed by percentage discounts off of the hourly rate of the attorney or attorneys providing the service.