Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lawyer huh! who the hell are you?

A legal-science fiction enlightening electronic discovery of the extinction of Legal Profession. It comes in the form of a news article. Asia being the most developed region (in 2080) issues directives to formally announce the end of Law as a Profession. This was widely protested by legal deintus (a group representing phoenix of legal profession) and supported by Ex-metic (a group representing victims of legal vandalism and enjoying the end of Legal Eagle.) Azure committee, ethnodicy rare (a branch of ethnology that studies comparative legal systems) was appointed and given access to global ESI (Electronically stored information) repository to recommend the extinction of lawyer. This is how the article goes:-

Committee report suggests 'Game Over'.

May 18, 2080. Asian News Services. Amidst huge protests and allegations of biasness from deintus the Committee today submitted its report on 'Lawyer....who are they?' It has made a recommendation to formally announce the extinction of the Legal Profession. Inter alia this would mean that law will lose recognition as a degree course and high-end Legal Services Programming would be the only subject left to be taught and researched. The Ex-metic, rejoiced by the recommendations, have asked the Administration to execute it with immediate effect. "We can no longer carry this backlog of shackles which ended twenty years back in 2060", exults an Ex-metic supporter. "Our administrators have succumbed before the mighty software companies", states a frustrated deintus.

The Committee, appointed last month, has submitted its detailed report on the global study of legal services from 1960 to 2060 in four different phases (the last phase being residuary phase). A brief synopsis of the Committee's report is as under:-

1960 – 1991 First Phase. (LAW AS A TRADITION). Since inception (time immemorial) till the late 1980's law was widely considered to be the art of conducting cases in courts, both by arguments and by the manner of proving evidences to convince the court or jury, as the case may be. Things were traditional, paper filings, face to face interactions with client, voluminous books of precedents, typewritten court reporting's, a lot of efforts were required with the developing system.

The first technological advancement was recorded with the publishing industry, who brought in the concept of online databases of legal precedents. Though law originated from the Rome, it was UK and US where it flourished the most, the dominance of Anglo-American Legal System was widely accepted. The concept of law firms, which started in US sometimes around the American Civil War, became popular in US,UK and other developed countries by 1960. However, by the mid of 1960's, there was decline in the income of lawyers as compared to other professionals and it was then that the legal industry's management consultants, started pushing time-based billing as a parameter for determining what practice areas were profitable, a formula for assessing utilization, driving revenue and assessing the big law firms. It worked spectacularly well and rocketed the income of lawyers (at least for those in private practice in big firms). All was well in the legal community, but to the contrary the business community was continuously struggling internally and externally to cut cost and increase margins. Things turned more competitive by the beginning of 1990's, when companies trading globally, shifted their focus, yet again, towards cutting costs to further boost profitability and competitiveness. Companies started introspecting and scrutinizing non-essential business functions that could be performed by Third Parties. Legal Departments of companies, not generating revenues, were obviously pressurized to cut costs. By the end of 1991, large Corporates and Law firms started searching ways to cut cost and increase profits. However, nothing substantial was evidenced within the legal fraternity and it continued to preserve its traditional and conservative sanctity, almost untouched by globalization.

1992 – 2020 Second Phase. (TECHNOLOGY CONVERTED LAW AS A COMMODITY). The Second Phase was of universal recognition that the practice of law and the economic and personal lives of lawyers was on a brink of profound transformation. A realization, that Law is not because of lawyers, but because of 'rule of law.' It was an era of lawyers, inventing their participation in future, or risking being left out with no alternative, a period where lawyers were forced to change their mindset or accept being blindsided. A tenure of legal profession struggling to overcome the blame for selling time by the hour, rather than result by values. A Mantra, that commodities which can be bundled and packaged, can transit seamlessly and can be processed anywhere. Finally, an acceptance that legal profession was not immune from globalization as most of its component were by then, streamlined and channelized. But these were not spontaneous and at times were restrained with humorous contentions.

The beginning of 1992 evidenced the birth of e-mail (electronic mail). E-mail was introduced as a communication tool, used by different people and in different ways, and used just as much, if not more, for personal rather than business reasons. This social networking concept however was subject to wide criticism by the Legal Fraternity. Most lawyers declared they would never use e-mail, as a medium of communication with clients, as it would compromise the Attorney-Client Privilege and peril confidential communications. But surprisingly by the end of 1995, e-mail was widely accepted as a medium of communication by lawyers.

The concept of Business Process Outsourcing though was generally widening, the legal profession was more or less untouched. Outsourcing generally began in the later part of 20th century, when companies started contracting some of their business aspects to those who provided specialized services. Before outsourcing was implemented companies carried all its activities from raw material to finishing, and manufacturing to marketing, internally. This largely led to wastage of time and resources and quite often deviation from core competencies. To prevent sink and enhance margin, subcontracting of non-core competencies enlarged. The world started flattening and shortening, and by 2020, it was as big as a football ground. Not only all the players were known, their moves could also be predicted and foreseen. The legal fraternity was however, late in jumping into the outsourcing bandwagon. Although the first recorded instance of Legal Process Outsourcing was in 1995 when Bickel and Brewer, a Dallas based law firm, first opened its satellite office in Hyderabad (South India), it best flourished from 2005 to 2020. Although everyone understood the dynamics of change, and the accelerating commoditization of legal work, most were reluctant to accept it. The biggest resistance came from bigger law firms. It was not easy to convince, partners (millionaires) that they must begin to think differently, innovating designs to produce efficiently and effectively. By 2005, technological advancements enabled service providers to make LPO more responsive, useful and acceptable to Corporations and Law Firms in the United States and United Kingdom. 2009-2010 evidenced one of the worst global recession, which further catalyzed offshore outsourcing of legal processes. This was the 'thinking beyond box' time for legal professionals. The initial phase of Legal offshoring began with processing of legal work, which were routinely done, were annoying yet necessary and could easily be outsourced. The initial models of offshore legal outsourcing were TPSP (Third party service providers), Captive, JV, BOT, BTO, FTE and other common incubation and/or customized strategies.

By 2010, the Legal Process Outsourcing industry became more mature and added more services and values. Mainly separation of fatuous and feasible components in legal services and segregation of core competencies from combo bundles triggered more and more outsourcing. Although solo practitioners, small-size and mid-size law firms together as a group constituted 90% of US and UK legal market, they were hardly outsourcing to offshore destinations. 2010-2015 was witness of large scale legal offshore outsourcing, boosted by solo's and small law firms. By 2015, the Industry further transformed and LPO's were segregated into CRMO (Contract Review and Management Outsourcing), LRO (Legal Research Outsourcing), PPO (Patent Process Outsourcing), LSO (Litigation Support outsourcing), BFO (Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Outsourcing), DRO (Document Review Outsourcing) etc. based on their specialized services. Changes were also noticed in the models of Legal Process Outsourcing and concepts like AptCaptive™ were popularly accepted. LPO's converted from 'cost-savers' to 'transformational platforms' between 2010-2015.

Till the late 2018, although the Legal Offshore Outsourcing market was mainly dominated by large companies, there were new trends, which nevertheless, and no more than by 2020, pulsated new embryos. The concepts of Virtual Assistants and firmsourcing amplified incalculable shift from rudimentary practice of business to business, to peer to peer outsourcing. Firmsourcing as a concept meant offshoring of legal processes by one law firm (at posh area with rich clientele) to another law firm (at remote location with penurious clientele), thereby saving smartly the costs but retaining the same quality. The advantages of firm to firm relationship were, first, no formalities and technicalities, thereby creating direct relationship with other law firms, which resulted in a better turn around time (TAT) and, second, since the law firm was not a company (and did not have to manage overhead expenses under different heads), it had opportunity to deliver competitive work product at a highly affordable price. Till 2020, the concepts of Virtual assistants, firmsourcing and AptCaptive™ were universally endorsed. But the role of lawyers was confining day by day because of their biggest competitor, the Software.

2020 – 2060 Third Phase. (SOFTWARE OVERPOWERS LEGAL PROFESSION). The new generation software's were zealously expanding their great empire. Slowly, but definitely by 2030, they had mapped with unprecedented precision, the lawyers work in entirety. Even a layman could easily comprehend and frame motions, petitions, subpoenas, applications, briefs etc. by filling fields in the user-friendly, macro enabled E-filing software's. The web had plethora of legal material available, and legal advice from a lawyer was unmerited. Software's could easily segregate the case laws and arguments that were apposite to a particular issue. Communications being largely made in electronic forms, were readily available and served as reliable evidence. Courts encouraged e-filing portals; these portals suggested litigants to construe their filing documents to be compatible with court rules. Private players came up with unprecedented high-end programming which overpowered law as a profession. The legal profession was withering away like dry leaves of tree, not all at once, but slowly and surely. The one who resisted change, were the most outdated, the one who adapted to the changes, were the most progressive.

Drastically, the decline of lawyers' heralded the beginning to the end of legal profession. By 2040, only one category of lawyers survived. These were called "lex versatilists". Versatilists lawyers applied depth of skill to a progressively widening situation by gaining expertise, competency and dominance from every challenge faced. Continuous learning and growing, converted them into specialty tool, par excellence to software. The extinction of Versatilists, the last preserver of legal profession, around 2060, brought the death of legal profession. Some existing versatilists are now mainly associated with software companies and help them achieve updated version of legal software's.

To wit,

Globalization (Benefit from the economies of scale) -> Outsourcing (do what you can do the best, delegate the rest to Third Party) -> Onshoring (outsourcing within country) -> Farmsourcing (onshoring to lower cost of living location) -> Offshoring (Outsource beyond boundaries) -> Reverse Outsourcing (Asia outsourcing work to erstwhile West) -> Firmsourcing (Firm to Firm outsourcing) -> lex versatilists -> End of legal profession.

Can this be undone?

Trust me you, it can't. We can regret, relish, ridicule or get ready for it, but definitely cannot repress, reprieve, reverse or renounce it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Legal Resources just a click away

[Guest article from Srikant Misra]

Knowledge Enhancement for jobs in LPO

Legal Process Outsourcing is providing great job opportunities to young and talented lawyers of India. However, many aspirants fail to procure a passport into the LPO industry because of a lack of basic knowledge about the US/UK legal system. I have compiled a list of web resources for enhancement of legal knowledge of LPO professionals. It is the result of my rigorous efforts. I hope the contents will prove helpful to legal professionals, aspiring to contribute into the LPO industry.

PLoL is the largest free law library in the world, because it clubs together, legal treasures scattered across many different sites. I believe, PLoL is the best starting place to find law on the Web.

University of Washington's online library is another free resource, the University's website provide legal information and materials (including laws, bills, court opinions and related documents) and/or links to legal material. Most of these sites are freely available to all users, who have a quest for online legal information. Some sites are UW Restricted, that is, available to University of Washington faculty, students, and staff and visitors to UW Libraries.

Open Jurist is a resource for access to the case law of the United States. In their righteous effort to make legal information handy and complimentary, Open Jurist came up with accessibility of legal information by the public without restriction.

The law and legal reference library from JRank provides free access to thousands of legal articles, covering important court cases, historical legal documents, state laws & statutes and general legal information covering important areas like Landlord and Tenant Relationship, Health Insurance Laws and Employment Laws. Their legal reference database also covers historically important court cases such as the Ulysses obscenity trial, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Roe vs. Wade amongst many others.

The website provides the very best in free legal resources written in plain English. The website currently contains over 2,500 legal definitions and will be expanded in coming months to include a vast collection of legal resources.

Cornell University School of law is perhaps the most widely used free legal resource on the Internet. Easy interface, huge resource and regular updates make it a good choice for junior associates and LPO professionals.

Though I firmly believe, without any doubt, that Lexis and West are the best paid resources and there is no alternative to their huge collection of data or their inbuilt functions like Shepardizing and KeyCite. I would continuously try to present free but useful information for the legal fraternity. Inter alia, I hope the information provided above would be beneficial to many lawyers who are preparing for the enormous number of job opportunities in the field of legal process outsourcing.

Best Wishes

Srikant Misra

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quotations on Globalization and Outsourcing

"If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you're putting yourself out of business."

Lee Kuan Yew

"Quantitatively, outsourcing abroad simply cannot account for much of the recent weakness in the U.S. labor market and does not appear likely to be an important restrain to further recovery in employment."

Ben Bernanke

(American economist, and the current Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve)

"Outsourcing and globalization of manufacturing allows companies to reduce costs, benefits consumers with lower cost goods and services, causes economic expansion that reduces unemployment, and increases productivity and job creation."

Larry Elder

(American, libertarian radio and television personality)

"The other part of outsourcing is this: it simply says where the work can be done outside better than it can be done inside, we should do it."

Alphonso Roy Jackson

(13th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD))

"The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink. They outsource to innovate faster…"

Thomas L. Friedman (The world is flat)

"In the long run, outsourcing is another form of trade that benefits the U.S. economy by giving us cheaper ways to do things."

Janet Yellen

(Chief Economist to President Bill Clinton)

"Outsourcing does not reduce the total number of jobs in America."

Robert Reich

(Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration)

"Only 5% of the global population lives in the U.S. That means that 95% of our potential market is outside the U.S. We need to stay engaged with the rest of the world, to keep those markets opened to our farmers, our service industry and our manufacturers – to businesses like yours."

John Snow

(Treasury Secretary, 2004)

"A truly global co. is one that uses intellect and resource of every corner of world. India is a developed country as far as intellect capital and Human Resource is concerned."

Jack Welch (GE)

"Globalization has changed us into a company that searches the world, not just to sell or to source, but to find intellectual capital - the world's best talents and greatest ideas."

Jack Welch (GE)

"Globalization is a reality. And this makes most leaders today realize that populist illusions can't be sustained before they collapse into stagnation and leave their political supporters deeply disillusioned. You can't inflate away your troubles or allow mountains of debt to build up if, as a country, you have to make your living in a globally competitive environment... Building prosperity requires caution and patience. It requires time. Populism is a short cut that doesn't work."

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

(34th President of the Federative Republic of Brazil)

"India is an emerging power in IT sector. India is handling most sophisticated projects in the world. I am impressed with the talent we have in our India."

Bill Gates (Microsoft)

"We are expanding our presence in India to take advantage of the ample research and development talent available."

John Chamber (Cisco)

"India can become a major part of dells operation and a major source of human capital that dells take on as a company and we are taking further opportunities to take advantage of skilled labor."

Michael Dell (Dell)

"Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

Old African Quote

"They sell us stuff they make cheaper or better, and we sell them stuff that we make cheaper or better. Over time, we all fare better than we would with self-sufficient economies. That's the lure of free trade."

Published in The Missoulian, Mar.14, 2004

"Do what you can do the best and outsource the rest"

Tom Peters

Management Guru

"You cannot do today's job with yesterday's methods and be in business tomorrow."

Nelson Jackson

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