The survey — done by CorbinPartners and Taran Virtual Associates — is based on the opinions of 247 lawyers from across the country, including those who work in firms, corporations or the government.
“It was always the question; we know legal process outsourcing is expanding leaps and bounds internationally, but what’s happening in Canada? And we did find that it is a core strategy for . . . a significant component of the legal industry here,” says Jon Purther, president and chief operating officer of CorbinPartners.
“We found that’s especially true with corporate and government counsel. We learned that those who are using this strategy are quite satisfied with it, they were motivated by the idea of being able to access quality and specialized resources. They wanted to be able to focus their time on their core business, and by outsourcing, would allow them to do so.”
Lawyers did the survey from May to July 2016, and they were invited to participate through legal associations such as the Canadian Bar Association and other provincial law bodies.
Forty per cent of survey respondents indicated they currently use LPO for work in their firms or departments. Of those who use LPO, 51 per cent said they used it for legal consultation or opinions, 37 per cent said they used it for agency work, 37 per cent said they used it for trial/appellate work, 36 per cent used it for legal research, 28 per cent said they use it for clerk/paralegal support and 24 per cent said they use it for document review or e-discovery.
Respondents using LPO also indicated they were pleased with the results, with 41 per cent saying they were “somewhat satisfied” with their most recent provider of LPO services and 45 per cent saying they were “very satisfied.” Nine per cent said they were “neither satisfied or dissatisfied,” with three per cent saying they were somewhat dissatisfied and two per cent saying they were very dissatisfied.
The remaining question, says Purther, relates to non-users of LPO.
For example, the survey indicates that “most of those not using LPO are not considering it for current or future business.”
“The primary obstacles include concerns over the quality of the work and their existing ability to use in-house resources or hire as needed,” according to an executive summary from the report, made available to Legal Feeds.
While 40 per cent of respondents are using LPO, 52 per cent said they were not currently using LPO, and eight per cent didn’t know or couldn’t say if it was in use.
“They were uncertain or firm that they weren’t going to be using this strategy, and when we tried to understand why that was the case for those who weren’t, again, a lot of uncertainty — uncertainty about the quality of the work, concerns about losing control of the business, concerns about confidentiality, having in-house resources that could do it so that they didn’t feel the need to outsource. And I think that for legal process outsourcing to really have the jump, it’s going to need to convert those who are not using it to try to use it,” says Purther.
Shelby Austin, a partner with Deloitte LLP and the national innovation and growth leader for the financial advisory practice, says, “Outsourcing is certainly here.”
She says the survey validates a trend that outsourcing isn’t about cost but about specialized expertise, particularly when it comes to being “conversant in technology.”
“For example, in e-discovery, it’s not just about the people, but it’s also about harnessing predictive analytics and efficient technologies. Similarly, in diligence, again, we’re seeing the use of more advanced technologies, in combination with labour arbitrage, to provide a full set of services to clients,” says Austin.
The full study is not available online, but a news release describing it is available on the CorbinPartners web site.