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Legal Outsourcing Trends for 2017

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

Could your next contract attorney work for you from across the globe? Possibly. The growth of legal process outsourcing means that more and more lawyers are contracting with foreign attorneys and even nonlawyers to perform legal work. The practice has even gotten a nod from several local bar associations, which note that attorneys may outsource work to foreign practitioners, so long as they abide by the same ethical requirements applicable to the domestic use of nonlawyer services.

Though legal outsourcing has its skeptics, the practice appears to be growing quickly -- so much so that the LPO market could be worth over $27 billion by 2024, according to one recent report. But 2024 is still a ways away. Here are some outsourcing trends you can expect in the immediate future.

Continued Growth, Spurred by Cost Concerns

Lawyers are expensive. Outsourcing legal work to lower-cost workers (lawyers and nonlawyers alike) is one way to reduce those costs. And it's a major reason in-house legal departments are turning to LPOs instead of more traditional outside counsel.

In an informal poll conducted by Corporate Counsel, 68 percent of respondents cited cost reductions as their reason for using outsourcing. Those cost concerns will continue to grow in the year ahead, as more and more companies look to reduce their legal spend and streamline legal processes.

LPO Begins to Move Beyond Doc Review

LPO is well-suited for rote, repetitive, high-volume work. That means doc review. But LPO operations have started to offer a wider variety of services. According to Grand View Research, the same people who estimated that the LPO market would be worth over $27 billion in eight years, litigation support is likely to gain increased prominence in the LPO field, as firms hire outside expert consultants abroad. By 2024, litigation support could account for 20 percent of LPO revenue.

Where does legal work go when it's outsourced abroad? Largely to Indian, South Africa, and the Philippines. But according to Robert Gogel, CEO of the outsourcing company Integreon, today's outsourcing doesn't just mean sending jobs across the globe. Writing in the Huffington Post, he explains that "a hybrid outsourcing model combining elements of both onshore and offshore has gained popularity." These combinations allow companies to "follow the sun," working 24 hours a day across multiple locations.

Have any predictions for the year ahead? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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