Technology is enabling off shore legal talent at “Le gal Process Outsourcing”(“LPO”) companies in India,   the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and other    emerging markets to accelerate their   climb up the value chain providing   outsourced legal services to lead-   ing law firms and in-house corporate   counsel in the United States. Contrary   to the views of some offshore legal   outsourcing critics who postulated   that technology automation and ana lytics tools would replace offshore talent making offshore service providers    less relevant, such technology is spur ring growth both in terms of volume    and value add. While this growth is   occurring across typical outsourced    legal functions ranging from electronic discovery (“eDiscovery”), contract    life cycle management, regulatory   compliance, and patent analytics,    among others, the developments in    eDiscovery are particularly reflective   of the trend.

“Dedicated offshore electronic discovery teams are increasingly able to demonstrate documented expertise across industries, fields of law, and knowledge domains”

 In the eDiscovery arena where, to   put it simply, teams of lawyers review    electronic documents and other data    (“Electronically Stored Information”  or “ESI”)to tag and categorize them    to the extent that they relate to issues     in a case (“Responsiveness”), involve    communications between a client and       the client’s attorney (“Privilege”),    or contain trade secrets, other    confidential information or personal    information (“Protected Documents”),    technology advancements have made   outsourced review teams far more   efficient and advanced in terms of the    quality and scope of their results.

 In the not too distant past, the   need to review several hundred    thousand documents in a case would      have resulted in large groups of    lawyers preparing to be seated in   rows upon rows of 1st line reviewers    and smaller groups of quality control    specialists (“QC”) in front of dual   PC monitors to begin the manual    task of eyeballing documents page   by page and clicking on the various     categories to tag the documents   on technology platforms that to a   large extent organized and tracked       documents and created an interface    to facilitate the manual tagging of the    documents. A company faced with    litigation and such a large document    pool would have been thrilled just     because an offshore service provider    could reduce the hourly rate for    lawyers by 70 percent to 90 percent     while ensuring the same level of    accuracy as their more expensive on   shore counterparts. Year after year    however, the technology platforms    have grown more sophisticated,    first enabling batching of relevant       documents using key word searches,    then enabling batching of documents       using conceptual search phrases     or paragraphs, and today enabling     automated tagging of documents       by software that learns from the     judgements lawyers make on a small   subset of documents (“Predictive  Coding”). Some of the more     sophisticated review platforms (e.g.,       Relativity, Ringtail, Axcelerate) today      can reduce the number of documents       that a team of lawyers must manually       review by as much as 80 percent.    

 Technology advancements in work    flow and project management tools   that automate operational efficiency    as well as technology advancements   in quality maximization (e.g., Six  Sigma) tools have made even further    improvements in the capabilities   and results of the offshore service   providers. Increasingly, firms like   Pangea3 and Quislex describe how    their systems track every action   of every reviewer in terms of the    number of documents they complete    per hour and every QC change       of a 1st line reviewer’s error. The    system analyzes the QC change and    compares it to the QC changes made    on a reviewer’s work and across the    entire review team, analyzing the    nature of the errors, patterns of errors,     and ultimately recommending to   the manager the likely cause of the    errors. The system not only enables    the earliest possible elimination of    inconsistencies across a review team    but also enables an automated team   member assessment for productivity   and quality. Such systems even keep    track of individual reviewer history in   dealing with specific industries, areas     of law, fields of knowledge making    future staffing decisions more relevant   and aligned with a reviewer’s trending     expertise.

  Dedicated offshore electronic    discovery teams are increasingly   able to demonstrate documented    expertise across industries, fields    of law, and knowledge domains.  They are able to share irrefutable       system generated documentation of    efficiency and quality assessment.    As a result, companies and their    law firms increasingly rely on these    offshore teams not only for the   traditional document review coding     and production, but the ongoing     assessment of themes and trends    in documents, development of     and in some cases to do so in an   effort to improve compliance and     prevent litigation strategy rather than   as a means to defend in a litigation.  Increasingly, organizations are       retaining outsourcing firms to engage   in real time monitoring and review    of communications (email, chat, text)   in order to identify early incidents of   potential regulatory violations and   prevent them from turning into the   serious violations that have resulted   in major breaches and liabilities in   the past.    Sanjay Kamlani     factual background and witness   trackers, data maps, deposition   summaries, and the production   of various other trial related    support materials. Rather    than making offshore talent   superfluous, technology is   actually enabling the growth   of larger and deeper centers    of excellence offshore.
In addition, the lower cost of these centers of excellence is enabling the US and European organizations to better handle the escalating volumes of electronic data   and in some cases to do so in an  effort to improve compliance and    prevent litigation strategy rather than    as a means to defend in a litigation.   Increasingly, organizations are   retaining outsourcing firms to engage    in real time monitoring and review   of communications (email, chat, text)    in order to identify early incidents of    potential regulatory violations and     prevent them from turning into the   serious violations that have resulted     in major breaches and liabilities in    the past.  

A surge in legal technology    innovation is all the rage today.  Whether it is predictive coding   in eDiscovery, machine learning    based contract abstraction, or  automated patent analytics tools, the   counterintuitive result is that lower    cost off-shore talent rather than being    replaced by technology is developing    the expertise to utilize the technology   to deliver more impactful and high    value services. Rather than becoming    redundant, offshore legal process    outsourcing businesses are growing     into broader and deeper centers of   excellence enabling US litigation   attorneys to better serve their clients    at a cost that to the relief of their clients  continues to decline.