India Business Law Journal recognizes six of the best legal process outsourcing providers with operations in India. By Rebecca Abraham

As in-house legal teams and law firms seek to provide more for less, the technology that is driving innovation in the legal services arena is recognized as being all-important. Yet questions continue to be asked about how much technology is appropriate and to what extent it can replace tasks traditionally done by lawyers.

So, while leading legal process outsourcing providers (LPOs) continue to face growing demand – an estimate in the National Law Review put the value of outsourceable legal work in the US market alone at US$20 billion – the heady growth experienced by the sector in its initial days appears to be over.

It is against this backdrop that India Business Law Journal presents its seventh annual Legal Process Outsourcing Awards. Our 2015 awards differ from out past awards as we recognize six Best Overall LPOs but stop short of naming a single service provider as LPO of the Year.

India Business Law Journal’s six Best Overall LPOs for 2015 are: Clutch Group, Integreon, Mindcrest, Pangea3, QuisLex and UnitedLex.

Our research leads us to conclude that while the competition at the top has triggered great benefits for clients, there is no clear leader at present. A description of our methodology and judging criteria is provided below.

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Casting a wider gaze

Clients seeking LPO solutions may find a broader range of options if they look beyond the niche providers

Some law firms and in-house legal teams that are seeking efficiencies from both a cost and process point of view are shunning niche LPO players in favour of business process outsourcing providers (BPOs) that also offer legal services. A company that has done this for several years is Sony Corporation of America, the US arm of Sony.

Sony America uses Evalueserve, which provides research, analytics, and data management services and prides itself on having what it says is one of the largest intellectual property search and analytics teams in the industry, with over 350 professionals. According to Toshimoto Mitomo, executive vice president for IP at Sony America, the “quality of their service is very good”.

Sony America used Pangea3 until 2011, but then began using Evalueserve, which Mitomo described as more “creative and cost-effective”, in a comment to India Business Law Journal in November 2011.

Another BPO that is recognized for its legal services is Infosys BPO, a subsidiary of New York Stock Exchange-listed Infosys. Clients of the legal process outsourcing (LPO) arm of Infosys BPO include Springer, a scientific, technical and medical publisher based in the Netherlands, where Joop Van Niel, executive vice president for shared services, says: “We are very happy with them, which is also the reason why we continue to [use] them.”

Infosys BPO is Springer’s only LPO services provider. It provides contract management services for Springer’s books and journals business, which involves maintaining contracts and extracting meta-data from the contracts. “This work was done in-house earlier, but it was something that wasn’t done properly in our own organization and we decided to use them to do it better,” remarks Van Niel. “They are doing a great job and are very enthusiastic about the way they work.”

Praise such as this particularly significant as it comes from a client in Europe, where reservations about the business model are seen. Van Niel says his colleagues are “in general are not so keen” about outsourcing. “Some of them have not worked with people in India, but they learn otherwise very quickly.”