In recent years law firms have begun to wake up to the reality that it pays to outsource services that do not form a part of their core competencies. By opting for outsourcing, law firms can concentrate on core activities while spinning off documentation and regular research work to the legal outsourcing company. Hence, law firms specializing in class-action lawsuits can outsource mundane claims classification while transactional lawyers can farm out drafting contracts and due diligence tasks to agencies who have acquired professional expertise in these areas.
Of course, the trend of legal outsourcing existed since the early 2000’s, but it is gaining greater importance within the legal fraternity with the pandemic pressures on the rise. Meanwhile, the new-age legal outsourcing firms have equipped themselves with cutting-edge technologies for process efficiency and more importantly to beat market competition.
In a freewheeling discussion with CXOToday, Rahul Malhotra, CFO of legal professional services company Integreon Managed Solutions (India) Pvt. Limited, discusses the latest technology trends and challenges in the legal outsourcing space and how the company managed to grow its business during Covid-19 phase
What are the latest technology trends in the Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) market?
The growth of Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) market which is projected to reach USD 35.9 billion by 2025 can chiefly be attributed to digitization. Emerging technologies such as AI, ML, Blockchain and NLP are leading to newer delivery models and advent of virtual law firms.
AI is replacing manual tasks in legal enterprises—legal research, documentation, citation, and ensuring litigation support to the contract. It is instead being done with the help of automation software. A McKinsey study on Automation and Productivity suggests that it is possible to automate about 25% of a lawyers’ time. To that effect, most legal firms have adopted document and business process automation. They are also deploying Natural Language Processing (NLP) and document automation capabilities to reduce mundaneness from work. Virtual Legal Assistants are also a fast-growing trend, especially in large enterprises. Law firms are looking at cloud storage for their data storage needs. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are being increasingly adopted for remote consultation of clients, training new lawyers, and collaborating with the experts. All these technological developments are shaping the new normal of the LPO market in India and abroad.
What kind of challenges legal firms are facing today and how is tech playing a role to address those?
COVID-19 has done what many of us thoughts would take ages: forcing law firms to switch to remote work in what felt like an overnight transformation. So far, it appears to have gone well, but it has also presented a few challenges. The biggest challenge that legal firm are facing today is their relationship with new technology. Given the lack of user experience, it can not only disrupt the expansion of firms but also face a new form of competition from LegalTech, which essentially are firms offering legal services using new technologies. Data Security is another challenge. In terms of cybersecurity law firms have traditionally been slow to invest in the right technology and resources. They are often soft targets for malicious hackers which puts confidential client data at risk. Obtaining new clients during the pandemic also seemed to be a huge challenge. Despite the pandemic, firms are still expected to meet client requirements in a remote virtual environment.
The firms that have effectively managed to leverage technology to bring the right expertise and resources to the table have managed to provide better outcomes at a lower cost. Adoption of video-conferencing tools such as Zoom and all-in-one communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams have been instrumental for seamless interaction with our internal and external firm. On the other hand, AI is being used for due diligence and legal analytics. In due diligence, for instance, AI tools are helping in extracting background information before entering new contracts. Predictive analytics are helping us understand win and loss rates, judge’s history, and other key trends. Attorneys are relying on legal software to organize their cases, build courtroom presentations, manage the businesses side of the practice and much more.
How did Integreon manage to grow its business during Covid-19 phase?
In 2020, we saw that even the world of contracts and compliance was not immune to the pandemic, yielding new and interesting trends. While many of these trends began as challenges, with a resilient business continuity plan and strong client relationships, we delivered. We realized how important it was to embrace technology to both, our clients, and employees. To provide a comprehensive, in-depth picture for our clients, we have invested in technology to track key metrics and data to provide them with a clear and holistic picture of their contract’s status. New technology advances in data capture and visualization have helped us identify patterns across a client’s contracts to flag areas which signify potential risk. Data also creates robust reporting options which reinforce our accountability to clients. This data informs better decisions for staffing and leveraging our teams’ industry knowledge.
Technology continues to play an essential role in Integreon’s client service delivery. We are a progressive company when it comes to new technology adoption and are carefully cultivating our relationships with technology solution providers to build necessary structure and automation for our services. The right technology helps us accomplish our work quickly and accurately and we are excited to be working with technology partners bringing true innovation to the market.
Can you mention some of the recent tech deployments that helped you in streamlining your business?
Cloud has been critical to our business’s continuity. We have adopted the use of cloud for better financial management, end-to-end invoice processing, better documentation and smarter contracting. We started with their ERP Journey in 2015 with the implementation of E-Business Suite. Over a period of time, we have built multiple customization and ERP system to map organizational processes organizational processes. Our Cloud ERP is helping us deliver decisive insights into Integreon’s financial position and profitability. It is also helping us, reduce risk, increase cost savings, and enforce compliant spending. For example, Oracle has been a great partner in our digital transformation journey. It has provided us true streamlined performance through a shared infrastructure. It is helping us with better financial management, end-to-end invoice processing, better documentation, and smarter contracting. It is also helping us deliver decisive insights into our financial position and profitability and reduce risk and increase cost savings.
What is Integreon’s growth strategy and innovation roadmap for 2021?
Expansion of service offerings across the value chain to provide a more comprehensive end to end support both on legal and contracting services coupled with adoption of RPA across its operational processes are going to be the two key tenets of Integreon’s growth strategy for 2021.
What is the future of legal process outsourcing firms in the post pandemic era?
The pandemic is going to boost the transformation of LPO firms. It has already propelled law into the digital age and has restructured its landscape. From consumers, to providers, to the entire judicial system, the whole legal ecosystem will undergo transformation. Remote Work is just the tip of the iceberg. Competition will intensify in the post-Covid era. Legal consumers will onboard LPO firms that deliver agile and smart solutions to business challenges. Digital interventions will lead to more collaboration, which means that designation of a firm will not matter much. What will matter is the expertise, collaboration, delivery, results, and customer satisfaction. There is a likelihood of courts going digital. With the influx of technology and web-based computing, virtual law firms and assistants are already becoming commonplace. Such virtual assistants deliver complicated legal services through the means of built-in client portals in a simple and effective manner. Furthermore, cloud technology will be instrumental in our space. It has enabled us to store and manage data and reduce our investment in hardware setups and software installations. Given its benefits, we can expect the requirement for highly secure cloud technologies to grow in legal process outsourcing.AI enabled chatbots will solve customer queries, process automation and NLP would replace legacy manual processes with more agile, forward-thinking, and more efficient workflows