India Business Law Journal is proud to recognize and reward the country’s leading LPO service providers
Lesley Sutherland reports
Legal process outsourcing (LPO) is a highly significant and fast-growing part of India’s legal mix. At the same time the services offered by leading LPO providers have become increasingly essential to corporate legal departments and law firms around the world. The inescapable financial stringency imposed by the recent market calamities has reinforced this trend, which has seen LPO providers form ever closer and more integrated service relationships with their clients.
Driven by market demand, LPO providers are racing up the value chain. The routine low-value tasks for which the industry was originally known are rapidly being supplemented with more complex, high-value functions. As a result, the industry is in a state of tremendous flux and competition between providers is intense.
In this new and demanding business environment, the LPOs that are prevailing are no longer those that simply offer consistent service and value-for-money. Innovation, specialist expertise and the ability to customize services to meet specific objectives are equally important to today’s discerning clients.
As India Business Law Journal’s inaugural LPO awards demonstrate, many of the leading India-based LPOs are successfully rising to this challenge.
The awards are presented in six broad categories – Best Overall LPOs, Legal Support, Litigation Support, IP Services, Contract Services and Corporate Services – with five winners of equal standing in each category. An additional award of LPO of the Year has been given to a single service provider.
A clarification of the scope of each award, along with a detailed description of the methodology and judging criteria, is provided on page 45. A full list of winners can be found on page 48.
LPO of the Year
India Business Law Journal’s top award of LPO of the Year goes to Pangea3.
With over 300 staff, Pangea3 is headquartered in Mumbai and has another facility in Noida. The company emphasizes the integration of its legal support activities with its high-end legal research, business and competitive intelligence service lines, which Sanjay Kamlani, the company’s co-CEO, says “provide tailored business information and legal research solutions to corporations and law firms”.
Among its clients is Sony, where vice-president and chief patent counsel Toshimoto Mitomo says, “Pangea3 has provided a cost-effective outsourcing alternative for litigation discovery related matters, including document processing and review.”
At UPS, another of Pangea3’s clients, vice-president Norman Brothers says: “The work has been consistently of a very high quality – accurate, timely and excellent value.”
Pangea3 is the only LPO provider to win an award in each of this year’s awards categories, often with a marked statistical lead over its rivals. In all five service areas considered by the judges, the company was among the most prominent and highly rated providers. Its credentials are supported by a diverse portfolio of complex projects that Pangea3 has completed in industries as diverse as financial services, travel, electronics, entertainment, food and beverages, investment banking, insurance and industrial equipment. Many of its clients are Fortune 500 companies and the company has also undertaken work for several international law firms.
What underpins the company’s success? “Our quality starts with the pedigree of our lawyers and engineers,” says Kamlani. He also points to strict quality control and project supervision processes, the use of Six Sigma methodologies, ongoing training programmes and regular review processes.
Innovation has also been crucial to the company’s development: “Since none of the off-the-shelf products catered to the unique needs of our industry, we developed and integrated products that address specific aspects of our business,” Kamlani says.
The LPO ‘magic circle’
Pangea3 is joined in the category of Best Overall LPOs by four other service providers that performed consistently well across several awards categories: CPA Global, Integreon, QuisLex and Mindcrest.
CPA Global is headquartered in Noida with another facility in Gurgaon. It has 550 staff in India and focuses primarily on intellectual property-related work. The firm was highly rated by survey respondents, and wins additional awards in the IP Services and Contract Services categories.
Leah Cooper, managing attorney at Rio Tinto, says: “We have a dedicated team of lawyers at CPA who serve as an extension of our in-house legal team. They are not tasked with routine, repetitive matters. Rather, each assignment is bespoke and requires an understanding of our business to handle legal inquiries coming from around the globe.
“We are wholly satisfied,” adds Cooper, “but always strive for improvements.”
Marty Shively, associate general counsel and director of worldwide IP operations at Microsoft, says, “CPA Global provides a wide variety of IP services to Microsoft including certificates of correction, information disclosure statements, prior art searches, invalidity analyses and landscape studies.
“The CPA Global team is an important piece of our overall patent practice,” he adds. “We are very pleased with the value we receive.”
Another of CPA’s clients is Minneapolis-based law firm Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly. Christopher Hilberg, a partner at the firm, says CPA undertakes “highly specialized patent searches for the US Patent & Trademark Office” on his firm’s behalf. “Not only was CPA efficient, reliable, and cost-effective, but the quality was first rate,” he says.
In May the company announced a partnership with Casewerx Development to develop the industry’s first platform-independent web-based document review technology. Chris Veator, CPA’s executive vice-president, believes the move will set “a new industry standard for managed contract review services”.
Integreon, another winner in the Best Overall LPOs category, has 300 staff in India dedicated to LPO work; a further 1,200 provide “middle office” services to law firms. The company has two facilities in Mumbai and a third in Delhi. In addition to being named one of the Best Overall LPOs, Integreon wins awards in the Legal Support, Litigation Support and Corporate Services categories.
The company serves an impressive number of major investment banks, management consultancies, private equity firms, hedge funds and leading international law firms. It cites a global footprint, integrated discovery, predictable costs, domain expertise, robust processes and technological know-how as its key competitive advantages.
As part of its work for Fortune 500 corporations, Integreon has “researched substantive insurance matters as well as pharmaceutical, financial and real estate case law and statutory law,” says senior vice-president Matthew Banks. “Litigation – specifically document review to designate responsiveness, privilege, and issues – is the largest part of our LPO business.”
Integreon scores well for innovation. It has developed an end-to-end global e-discovery system called Doctane, which Banks says “generates revenue into tens of millions of dollars across forensics, ordinary data collection, processing, hosting and production”.
Winning a total of four service-area awards in addition to its place on the list of Best Overall LPOs is QuisLex, which has over 300 staff at its facility in Hyderabad. The company’s CEO, Ram Vasudevan, highlights numerous examples of his firm’s achievements. In one, a leading US-based law firm engaged QuisLex to review over two million documents for a complex set of relevance and privilege issues for a Department of Justice antitrust investigation. The timeframe was just seven weeks, but the task was completed and the deadline met. In completing the project, the company provided customized training to a specially assembled 90-person team and employed sophisticated screening and search algorithms to speed up the task while maintaining quality and providing a “rolling” supply of deliverables to the Department of Justice.
The list of Best Overall LPOs is rounded off by Mindcrest, which also wins awards in the Legal Support and Litigation Support categories.
With its main facility in Pune and another in Mumbai, Mindcrest has 675 attorneys in India and more at its offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington.
The company is currently conducting international research on trade deliverables for a global heavy machine equipment manufacturer. It is also engaged in a complex professional liability research project for a leading insurance company; ongoing legal analytics and case write-ups for a global financial and legal information company; and a US-wide legal survey on attorney-client privilege for a Fortune 500 company.
Mindcrest has several major document review projects underway, each involving large volumes. In one, the company is working with a UK magic circle law firm for a major international consulting firm in support of a highly technical software litigation matter.
“Our fundamental strategy is to be a seamless extension to our clients’ legal teams,” says Teju Deshpande, Mindcrest’s vice-president of client services. “Mindcrest is distinguished from its competitors by our consultative approach, our deep understanding law and technology, our passion for innovation and our integrity.”
Four of this year’s Best Overall LPOs – Integreon, Mindcrest, QuisLex and Pangea3 – also win awards in the Legal Support category, a core area for many LPO clients. Joining them there is LawScribe, which received high commendation from many survey respondents. LawScribe has 120 staff split between its headquarters in Gurgaon and another facility in Chandigarh.
Claudio Buttitta, a senior IP counsel at Leviton Manufacturing, says his company has “utilized LawScribe’s services for performing intellectual property landscape searches, clearance/freedom-to-operate searches, patentability searches and validity/invalidity searches,” and describes its work as thorough, timely and delivered “in a format which lends itself to facilitating our internal processes”.
Other clients emphasize the breadth of LawScribe’s legal support offering. John Mrosek, a partner at Mrosek Law in Fayetteville, Georgia, says he has used LawScribe’s “file organization, transcription, document assembly, financial and accounting analysis and legal research” services. “We are very pleased with LawScribe,” he enthuses. “They are responsive, talented and reliable. I consider them to be friends as well.”
Similarly, Kevin Lacey, partner at Los Angeles firm Lacey Dunn & Do, says, “We have outsourced to LawScribe virtually every imaginable task including basic dictation of letters and pleadings, simple and complex legal research issues, litigation and trial support, and contract services … On every occasion we have been more than satisfied.”
LawScribe provides “excellent results [and] great turnaround time,” says Mayer Klein, a member of St Louis law firm Frankel Rubin Bond Dubin Siegel & Klein. Larry Parman, a partner at Parman Law Group describes the LPO as “excellent on all fronts”.
LawScribe stresses industry leadership, citing its innovation in having been the first LPO to offer fixed pricing per document for the entire e-discovery process. It continues to fly the flag for industry development, offering accredited education courses to the legal community on the ethical implications of outsourcing.
Methodology and judging criteria
India Business Law Journal’s LPO Awards are based on quantitative survey data combined with the qualitative insights of key outsourcing clients
With India’s legal process outsourcing market evolving so fast, the task of judging India Business Law Journal’s LPO Awards was far from straightforward.
A survey was sent by email to more than 600 prospective and existing clients of legal outsourcing services. Recipients were typically senior in-house counsel at major international corporations and partners at regional and international law firms. They were asked to confidentially score the work of all LPO providers with which they were familiar in the following areas of service provision, each of which corresponds to one of the award categories:
- Legal Support includes functions such as coding and indexing; document management; database support; legal billing; preparation of motions, pre-trial briefs, summonses and notices; statutory reports and filings; demand and mediation packages; summaries and timelines; internet research; legal publishing, such as compilation of databases; optical character recognition; and legal transcription
- Litigation Support includes functions such as document review and analysis; e-discovery; legal research and analysis; factual research; and the preparation of briefs, arguments, memoranda, summaries, depositions and pleas
- IP Services includes functions such as literature and prior art searches; patent portfolio analysis and proofreading; docketing services; drafting patent applications and preparing patent drawings; and prosecution
- Contract Services includes functions such as contract review, analysis, drafting and management, and the preparation of abstracts
- Corporate Services includes functions such as corporate governance, due diligence and compliance management.
In giving their scores, survey respondents were requested to consider five key performance criteria that are often used to benchmark LPO providers: quality of service; consistency and reliability of service; the level of innovation demonstrated by the service provider; the service provider’s ability to customize its services to meet client objectives; and value for money.
In addition, survey respondents were invited to provide qualitative comments on their level of satisfaction with each LPO service provider. All such comments were taken into account by our editorial team during the judging process. Some have also been quoted in the awards coverage, but a significant number of respondents requested anonymity.
A separate survey was sent to more than 50 LPO providers. Each was invited to support its candidacy for the awards by submitting details of notable achievements, client references and a concise explanation of how it strives to attain the five key performance criteria listed above.
LPO providers were also asked to indicate which of their competitors they judged to be leaders in each of the awards categories.
In reaching its final decisions, India Business Law Journal’s editorial team used a combination of objective data and subjective analysis. The numeric data collected from the two surveys formed the basis of the results, but was considered alongside the subjective comments and insights received from LPO clients around the world. The submissions received from LPO service providers were also considered as part of this process, as were the references provided by their clients.
Five winners of equal standing have been announced in each of the service area categories, while an award for Best Overall LPOs is shared between the top five all-round performers. An additional award of LPO of the Year has been given to a single service provider.
Like legal support, litigation support is a core area of activity for leading LPO providers, demonstrated by the fact that four of the five Best Overall LPO winners (Integreon, Pangea3, QuisLex and Mindcrest) win awards in this area. They are joined by Atlas Legal, which employs 40 lawyers at its Bangalore facility and receives glowing endorsements from its clients.
Mark Alexander, a lawyer at Dallas-based Conely Rosenburg & Brenneise, is one satisfied customer. “We have engaged Atlas Legal on several complex corporate and commercial litigation matters to draft legal briefs for submission to various courts, both at the federal and state levels, and … to assist us in the review of voluminous documents during the discovery phase of litigation,” he says.
Alexander adds, “Atlas’ level of understanding of the legal issues, researching of same and drafting compelling legal arguments has proven to be invaluable to both our clients and our firm.”
The president and CEO of Atlas Legal, Rocky Dhir, is particularly proud of the intense, individualized training undergone by Atlas Legal’s lawyers, saying this explains why his team’s size is smaller than that of some other LPO providers. On value for money, Dhir is forthright: “Clients often lose money when offshoring is done incorrectly. They save big-time when it’s done right. We do it right every time. If we make an error, we fix it free of charge.”
The highly competitive nature of the IP services market – and its uniquely specialist definition – is reflected in the awards results for this category, in which only two of the five Best Overall LPOs figure (CPA Global and Pangea3). They are joined as winners by Evaluserve, UnitedLex and Clairvolex Knowledge Processes.
Manisha Singh-Nair, a director of Clairvolex Knowledge Processes, says her company ensures quality, consistency and reliability by putting in place “robust processes that are strictly adhered to”. She adds: “We also have continual training programmes to raise the bar of our services.”
Innovation receives particular attention at Clairvolex, which is based in Delhi and has over 100 staff. “While the feedback from clients plays a vital role, we also have in place a team that focuses on process building and augmentation,” Singh-Nair explains.
Clairvolex wins particular praise for its development of a groundbreaking database, CIPIS (Clairvolex Intellectual Property Information Service), which Singh-Nair describes as “a one-of-its kind online Indian IP database, providing complete Indian IP information”.
UnitedLex has offices in the US, UK and India, where it has around 350 lawyers at its two facilities in Gurgaon. Anup Bhasin, the company’s COO says: “Our focus is on providing consistently high-quality service to our customers.”
The company has formed a series of strategic alliances – in February with law firm Ocean Tomo and finance and operational advisers Huron Consulting Group, and in April with software vendor Oval Ideas – to help strengthen its service offerings in the IP and litigation support fields.
Co-founded by former executives of McKinsey and IBM in 2000, Evalueserve has its India headquarters in Gurgaon and currently employs over 1,800 staff in strategic research hubs in Chile, India, China and Romania. Of these, 1,600, including 50 foreign nationals, are based at the firm’s three Indian offices.
“Evalueserve has focused on offering customized ‘knowledge services’ via its global resources platform. In fact, the term KPO [knowledge process outsourcing] was coined by Evalueserve,” boasts Savi Gupta, group manager of IP and legal process services at the company.
Evalueserve’s IP services clients include a global manufacturer of food products and a leading US healthcare provider with operations worldwide.
Three of this year’s Best Overall LPOs – CPA Global, Pangea3 and QuisLex – take home awards in the Contract Services category, which also provides a second win for UnitedLex. They are joined on the winners table by Bodhi Global, which has 50 staff in India at its main facility in Pune and corporate office in Mumbai.
“Despite our initial scepticism about using an Indian LPO provider, we are very satisfied with the results and will certainly work with Bodhi Global in the near future,” enthuses Habib Nasrullah, a partner at Denver law firm Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell. “Bodhi has been quick to adapt to our case management requirements and culture, and their tireless efforts and work ethic are quite remarkable,” he adds.
Bodhi is closely affiliated with leading Indian law firm AZB & Partners. Arihant Patni, the company’s CEO, says that Bodhi emphasizes long-term relationships with its clients, typically providing them with a dedicated, full-time and integrated team which can be adapted to suit individual client needs.
Patni explains, “In one contracts management case we had to work out of the client premises as they were not comfortable sending their files outside. Since the client did not have adequate space to accommodate the team at their corporate office, we asked the client to send their files to one of their factories located close to our delivery centre.
“The proximity of the factory allowed us to send our teams out on a daily basis. This resulted in significant cost savings for the client.”
Pangea3, Integreon and QuisLex all win awards in the Corporate Services category, as does UnitedLex, taking its awards tally to three. They are joined by Clutch Group, which has offices in Bangalore as well as New York, Washington, Chicago and Cleveland.
Abhi Shah, the CEO of Clutch Group, says, “Our company’s goal has always been to provide cost-effective legal solutions, and our ability to perform work domestically or in India provides a number of options to our clients.
“Over time, our role has evolved from that of a vendor delivering a new kind of service to that of a trusted partner,” notes Shah.
Clutch’s clients include a range of Fortune 500 companies and at least 40 of the largest 100 law firms in the US. The company employs over 300 lawyers worldwide.
Notable runners up
Narrowly missing the winners table in any one category, but performing consistently well across the board, Epitome Consulting and Information Technology has 45 staff at its centre in Bangalore. It obtained commendations from a number of clients in relation to its work in a wide variety of fields.
Ragini Sharma, principal at Inspirus Consulting in Ohio, says: “We have worked with Epitome on document review and e-discovery projects, legal research and patent research and drafting. We have been very satisfied with Epitome’s services and all our customers have been happy.”
Ramakrishna Dutt, managing director of Quasar Innovations, which designs wireless devices, says: “Epitome manages our legal back office and also our accounting and tax compliances. They have excellent procedures and processes which are well-defined and they exhibit consistency in the quality of services that they provide.”
Five additional LPO providers with operations in India performed notably well, but like Epitome, narrowly missed the winners tables. They are Cobra Legal Solutions, which has offices in Chennai and New York; Lexadigm, which has its principal India facility in Gurgaon; document review specialists Tusker Group, which has offices in Bangalore and Chennai as well various US locations including its head office in Austin; Bangalore-based technology and IP specialist iRunway; and Mysore-based SDD Global Solutions, which is managed by New York law firm SmithDehn.
Danny Swalley, business development manager at Electrosteel USA, says: “SDD gives us the confidence that a skilled lawyer is reviewing our specific situation while also enjoying the cost savings over traditional legal counsel. We could not be happier with their service and the value we receive from this partnership.”
John Dawson, a partner at Digitalis Entertainment, Prash Naik, controller of legal and compliance at Channel 4 in the UK, and Scott Tenley, a senior vice-president at Media Rights Capital, also reported excellent results in a variety of litigation support, contract services and corporate services projects undertaken by SDD Global.
Kenneth Lopez, founder of litigation market intelligence provider LawProspector, has high praise for Aphelion Legal Solutions, another LPO that narrowly missed the awards tables. “We had an enormous and complex year-long legal research project that was a first of its kind,” he explains. “Aphelion helped design our research methodology, built a team of Indian lawyers and executed flawlessly.”
Similarly LegalEase, a Kerala-based LPO, received notable endorsements during the course of India Business Law Journal’s research. “We interact with LegalEase on a weekly basis and find that the customer service is extraordinary,” says James Fausone, a partner at Michigan law firm Fausone Bohn. “We have not utilized other LPO service providers or found any need to because of our satisfaction with LegalEase,” he adds.
Bangalore-based technology firm Infosys is a relatively new entrant to the LPO market. However, it is already making an impression. “Infosys is the preferred vendor for the collection and conversion of legal content for our US business,” says Vicky Wright, vice-president of shared services at LexisNexis. “They also provide application development management services for our editorial systems and tools.
“The LPO outcomes have been mixed with some success in the collection area, and strong results in the engineering function,” reports Wright. “Our challenges are attributed to old legacy processes that are overly complex, manual and have not translated easily into an offshore model. We are making good progress reengineering and automating with strong thought leadership coming from Infosys, but we have more work to do before we consider this a stable and successful programme.”
India Business Law Journal would like to thank all of the corporate executives, in-house counsel, private practice lawyers and outsourcing professionals who participated in the research for the LPO Awards.