Moving up the value chain
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The world of legal process outsourcing (LPO) solutions has come a long way from Thomas Friedman’s ‘flattened’ view of 2005. No longer is it just about a lawyer sending out documents to a sprightly offshore team in the evening and coming back the next morning to find neatly-formatted first-level document reviews in his inbox. In fact, law firms and legal departments of large enterprises now find value in LPOs consulting on not just how to reduce their overall legal spend but also manage their overall risk and add process to their existing methodologies.
One reason for this change is that legal decision makers and IT stakeholders are faced with an ever increasing amount of electronic information that is produced and stored. This equals rising data storage costs, which means doing more with less and strategizing a robust data organization and retention policy. One that is compliant with regulatory requirements for eDiscovery and record archiving. The rising volumes of data also lead to organizations losing sight of some of their obligations. LPO helps alleviate some of this risk.
In 2014, enterprises will also look to leverage LPO expertise by outsourcing more complex processes such as contract negotiation, monitoring supplier performance, and creating standard / clause libraries and playbooks. They will also seek LPO partners with end-to-end technology expertise in the legal domain. This year will be marked by six LPO trends in three key areas:
1. Predictive coding and technology-assisted solutions to simplify litigation support
Most enterprises will look to drive down the heavy cost and burden of identifying and producing electronically stored information (ESI) as well as the high manual review cost of eDiscovery processes. To this end, they will adopt technology-assisted / machine-learning solutions that don’t just focus on ‘review.’ Instead, these solutions will help better manage the entire litigation support cycle (hosting, processing, and document review) while also reducing the overall cost associated with these processes. Another area where information management and data governance will pay dividends is overcoming disparate IT policies and procedures caused by the lack of coordination between litigation support and IT departments.
2. Information management in focus
The ISO is looking to set standards for eDiscovery, and this may impact service providers on the technology side by enabling more transparent service delivery. Moreover, eDiscovery is becoming more of a technology play on the left side of the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM), and it will continue to trend more into information governance in the year ahead.
3. Alignment of legal and procurement departments
Enterprises will look to embed legal expertise within the procurement function to improve risk analysis; ensure comprehensive coverage of risks, liabilities and damages in contracts; and more effectively negotiate and renegotiate supplier contracts.
4. Pure-play contract management to advisory and one-stop tech services
Integrated IT-LPO solutions will be much sought after in 2014, with enterprises looking for end-to-end solutions that provide the following benefits:
• Centralized contract repository
• Standard approved language
• Improved compliance and increased productivity
• Quick and flexible deployments of information management systems
• Complete automation in reporting
Compliance and other related services
5. Localizing technology platforms
Enterprises will look to customize compliance tools to address country-wise and state-wise regulations.
6. Continuous monitoring
Volatile markets will require enterprises to stay on top of constant changes to regulatory norms. And to do so, they will turn to their LPO partners for monitoring and tracking federal and state legislation as well as regulations. Many will expect their LPO partners to:
• Provide real-time updates on new legislations
• Ensure adherence to regulations such as the Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX) Act
• Build a robust regulatory and legislative bill tracking and compliance program
• Assist in preventing and eliminating compliance gaps
• Decrease exposure to possible litigation and costs stemming from non-compliance
• Improve compliance visibility
In 2014, legal process outsourcing will be all about strategy, synergy and simplification – going beyond cost to aid legal departments and law firms in efficiently managing today’s complex information and compliance landscape.