The picture in the above link offers a parallel to the LPO market.
While I am amused that New Yorkers can be so insular (self focused, self-indulgent…you choose the right phrase), in the LPO space we can also be a bit like that. We have a habit of thinking about LPO ( Legal Process Outsourcing ) as being an English-speaking phenomenon, or even just something that happens in the US, UK, and (sort of) Australia.
As someone who lives in New York and works in the LPO space I am probably doubly guilty of myopia. However, a number of things have challenged this and redeemed my thinking in the last few months.
1. There has been an incredible amount of press coverage of what his happening in the Canadian legal market. Despite the strength of their economy and banking system, LPO seems to have been growing incrementally and into almost all business sectors (never the elusive Public Sector, of course! but that is a world-wide issue).
2. Francophone countries seemed to have been watching us English-speakers and just waiting for the right time to act. The evidence is in the emails I get, the funding discussions that are going on, and the range of delivery models available e.g. onshore, offshore, internally owned, or commercially operated, mirroring those we are used to.
3. Not to be left behind, I have had at least 5 emails from start ups in the Latin American region, looking at Spain as a target market, the Spanish and English speaking communities in the US, and Corporates within Latin America itself. As Mitt and Barack pointed out last week in their last debate, Latin America has an economy the size of China, so none of us should be surprised.\
As well as forcing me to brush up my Spanish and French, there are bigger implications. The practice of law appears to be changing everywhere, driven by the same local issues as in the US and UK – costs, economies, and a sector that has not changed how it operates for dozens of years.
For existing leaders in the Legal Outsourcing space, growth and investment decisions for these markets now beckon. For law firms and corporates working in these regions, they need to be leveraging the learnings from the US and the UK, getting comfort from the fact that they are not pioneering.
Seeing LPO emerge in these countries brings me to one fact that shows how far Legal Outsourcing can reach; English, Spanish, and French account for only 13% of the world’s population. Given how rigid the practice of law is all the countries I’ve seen, there is no reason why the benefits of LPO Legal Process Outsourcing wouldn’t work in the other 87%. Maybe not tomorrow, but some day…