Prominent in-house lawyers have warned Australian law firms that legal process outsourcing is no passing fad. Speaking at the Australian Corporate Lawyers Conference last week, Telstra Dispute Resolution Group general counsel Sue Laver said LPO in Australia is the “next wave” in legal services and as clients, Australian corporates needed to be actively encouraging firms to take action.
Mallesons Stephen Jaques announced last month that it would be offering LPO to all clients where appropriate, through LPO provider Integreon, following a trial run with Telstra on a major discovery project. Integreon was chosen by both Telstra and Mallesons following a review of several providers and thorough investigation according to Laver. She said that as a result of the quality of work and cost savings on the discovery project Telstra would now look to send more commercial work to Integreon. “We got better results than we would have if we had used paralegals in a law firm,” said Laver. “Cost is a factor, but quality is what really impressed us, there is more rigour in their processes.”
Some law firms have been reluctant to investigate working with LPOs according to AMP general counsel Brian Salter. “We have loads of rote work. We went to law firms and spoke to them about LPOs, we put it to them that we would all benefit from it, and they were reluctant,” he said.
Some firms and legal commentators have criticised the use of LPOs, claiming they cost local jobs, but Laver said in many cases the work being sent offshore to the LPO would have been done by transient lawyers anyhow: “I don’t see the work we send offshore as taking away Australian jobs,” she said.
George Toussis, senior legal counsel Hewlett-Packard, added that when the company switched to using an LPO for repetitive legal work not one of its 600 lawyers globally were retrenched.
Mallesons signs LPO agreement with Integreon 27 October 2011
Implications of LPO for clients and staff at Mallesons 27 October 2011