Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Document Review Travel: Why Legal Process Offshoring Might be Right for You
Legal process offshoring (LPO) is the exporting of legal services to lower-wage markets abroad. LPO has been increasing in U.S. legal practice in the 21st century and can be an excellent resource for law firms. Offshore legal services offer significant savings in terms of both time and money, and, when managed correctly, can yield excellent results. The majority of U.S. LPO goes to India and China. While quality legal services can be found in many forms in both countries, there are advantages to turning to India for document review.
When staffed and managed correctly, document review projects in India can produce a work product comparable to their U.S. counterparts on a tight budget and/or tight timeline. Managed review service providers differ in how they staff offshore document reviews, so when considering this option, make sure you practice due diligence. The legal services provider should use a competent review manager to oversee the process and hire only licensed attorneys subject to thorough background checks. Of course, this is important regardless of where your document review takes place! The review manager will ensure that the document reviewers have the appropriate training with the review software and the review protocol.
Staffing a document review team with specific industry experience is not a challenge. Indian attorneys are highly skilled, well-trained professionals. Many attorneys in India also have degrees in a wide variety of scientific disciplines or engineering, making them highly suited to many types of complex litigation.
Law and language in India are not as different from law and language in the United States as you might think. The Indian legal system, like the U.S. legal system, is based on English common law. Furthermore, although India has a multilingual cultural base, English is the working language in Indian law schools, so anyone with an Indian law degree has a high level of proficiency with English legal vocabulary.
The Indian workday operates around the clock in three shifts. Unlike in the United States where it can be quite difficult to find attorneys to work a late shift, in India qualified third shift attorneys are not hard to get. By covering all three shifts, Indian document review teams can often complete a review in less than half the time it would take their U.S. counterparts. This system avoids the problem of decreased productivity or accuracy that can occur during the single 10- to 12-hour shift common among domestic document reviews on tight schedules.
And last but certainly not least, there is security, a frequent concern of attorneys considering LPO. You want to know that your data is secure, and a good legal services provider will make security paramount whether that data is being viewed in Boston or Bangalore. The data itself does not need to leave the safety and security of domestic servers. All processing of the data is done domestically. Offshore reviewers then access the documents on “thin clients,” computers that have limited functionality, relying on another network server to do most of the heavy lifting. This means reviewers cannot save, download or print information from their computers; the computer allows them to code documents and nothing more. Thin clients are also known as slim, lean or zero clients. Physical security concerns can be addressed by taking the same precautions a responsible legal services provider would implement in the United States: restricting public access to the review space, and, if necessary, forbidding reviewers to carry mobile phones into the review space.
The value to the client is clear: you receive a high-quality work product at a fraction of the price in a fraction of the time. So find the right legal services provider, and don’t be afraid to let your document review travel!