New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Open University, or Ignou, and Mumbai-based Rainmaker, a legal talent management house, have started a one-year course to train lawyers and final-year law students in legal process outsourcing, or LPO, which is expected to grow rapidly amid the global economic downturn.
Law and order: The ClutchGroup Global Legal Solutions office in Bangalore. Legal process outsourcing firms provide legal support services including research, analysis, consultation and documentation reviews. Hemant Mishra / Mint
According to a survey by research firm ValueNotes, the country’s LPO industry in 2007 reported revenue of $225 million (Rs1,107 crore), which is expected to grow to around $640 million by the end of 2010. LPO provides legal support services including research, analysis, consultation and documentation reviews. Law firms in recession-hit economies such as the US and Europe can take advantage of India’s vast talent pool, including English-speaking attorneys, to reduce costs and boost efficiency.
The new distance education course—which leads to a post-graduate diploma in LPO—is divided into two semesters, said Aju John, who heads the knowledge services division at Rainmaker. Admission to the course—which costs Rs15,000 in fees—will be on a first-come-first-served basis, John added. Ignou’s 61 regional centres across India will offer accessibility to those who want to pursue the course, which started on 15 February.
Krishna Deva Rao, director at the School of Law at Ignou, New Delhi, said LPO sector needs lawyers with specific skill sets not covered in courses offered by the country’s law schools. “The LPO sector is developing as a specialized industry that requires a special kind of lawyers that have a basic understanding of the US and UK legal systems with a special training in emerging areas of law,” Rao said.
According to Rakhi Sharma, vice-president of human resources division at Gurgaon-based LPO firm United Lex, “The slowdown in US has given a significant push to the revenues of the Indian LPO industry, with the sector reporting a rise of over 200% in revenues in the past 12 months,” adding, “Of the $6 billion worth of work that the US legal industry is expected to outsource, legal work worth $2 billion can come to India,” Sharma said.
Matthew Banks, senior vice-president of Mumbai-headquartered LPO company Integreon’s legal services division, said his company has an in-house academy that trains its Indian lawyers.
“This (distance education) course could fill a gap for those organizations that don’t have in-house training capabilities. Training like this is useful for lawyers who switch from traditional litigation practice to the LPO sector,” he said.
Bhavin Patel, vice-president, training, at Rainmaker, said 200 students had registered for the course so far. “It is a mix of lawyers and law students—60% practising lawyers and 40% law students.”
Ignou will use the teleconferencing technology available at its regional centres and reach out to the students of the course, Rao said. “We aspire to take it (the course) to South Asia and then South-East Asia where there is a chance to make it an international programme,” Rao said. Ignou has 52 international partner institutions in 40 countries.