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India needs to hone legal process outsourcing skills

Rupesh Janve  |  Mumbai 

India may lose out to low-cost countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and China that are providing legal research services to US-based organisations.
Nearly 750 professionals, for instance, are involved in legal processes outsourcing (LPO) in the Philippines as compared to 1,750 in India. Moreover, whiel the number is expected to grow to only 7,000 by 2010 in India, in the Philippines, the LPO market is expected to accomodate 10,000 professionals by 2010, according to analyst figures.
However, LPO is in its infancy here with Indian companies providing such services are expected to generate $72 million in 2006 and $300 million in 2010. Revenue generated by the LPO industry worldwide is likely to grow from $285 billion in 2006 to $360 billion by 2010 and $480 million in 2015. Thus, despite the growth in offshoring of legal services from India, only 1.2 per cent of the legal and para-legal jobs would be offshored to India by 2015 and these would constitute only 0.2 per cent of total revenue, according to an Evalueserve survey.
Evalueserve COO Ashish Gupta says: "India will have to deliver high quality service in order to compete with low-cost countries. Training in the US legal system is also necessary. The key thing would be patent application drafting, legal research, pre-litigation documentation, advising clients, writing software licensing agreements and drafting distribution agreements."
"The offshoring of US legal jobs is already growing and 79,000 legal jobs are poised to move from the US to countries like India by 2015," says an industry expert. Around 95 per cent of its population speaks English in the Philippines so it has natural advantage to grab a share of the US outsourcing market. Further, the high literacy rate and talented pool of IT professionals makes outsourcing one of the biggest earners for the nation. Though India also has a large pool of talent, the change in the English accent from region to region is another matter of concern for the LPO sector, opines Gupta.
KPMG former head of consulting, R Venkataraman, notes, "As the LPO market is the new one, there are fewer legal firms involved in this business, but as soon as people see opportunities they will join this business. At the same time, India follows the UK-like legal pattern and not like the US, so there is a need for extensive training to legal and para-legal professionals here."
What about China? Venkataraman says, "There is no threat from China at the moment, but in 3-4 years to come it may pose threat so we will have to maintain our leadership position." The Chinese government is serious about the English language and is taking steps to improve its use in the country.

First Published: Tue, October 31 2006. 00:00 IST