Legal Outsourcing Industry (LPO) is growing at phenomenal rates, providing concrete career opportunities for the country's law graduates. India makes an ideal destination for LPO services because of the really low costs and the high number of trained talent available.
The trend towards offshore outsourcing --- well under way in the information technology services and finance sectors --- is making its presence felt in the legal industry as well. Pangea3 a US-based legal and patent services company with operations in Mumbai, is one of the companies taking advantage of this boom in the legal offshoring industry.
Antony Alex, ex-partner and co-founder of law firm Kochhar & Co, Mumbai, recently joined Pangea3; Two experienced lawyers from Amarchand & Mangaldas and Anand & Anand also joined the American firm recently.
Sanjay Kamlani, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Pangea3 says, "Alex and two other experienced lawyers moving to Pangea3 signifies that it is not only fresh law graduates joining the legal outsourcing bandwagon but partners from leading law firms are also coming to this high-growth business".
The 100-plus employees, including 65 lawyers and 20 patent engineers, at Pangea3's Mumbai office provide high-end legal services to US and UK-based corporates and law firms. Pangea3 has over 60 clients, including Fortune 50 companies such as Yahoo, Roamware, DirectoryM and TricoMarine.
When Pangea3 started its India operations last January, 750 people, including lawyers and law students, applied; about 150 were short-listed; 15 were given offer letters and finally 12 joined the company. It is a similar situation even now, says Kamlani, who was General Counsel of Office Tiger, a US-based business process outsourcing company with offshore development centres in India, before co-founding Pangea3.
According to Kamlani, the current opportunities available for India's law professionals are: working in a family-run law firm, often doing low-end work with little or no client contact and an insignificant pay packet; work for corporates in their legal department, which is not an option easily available to fresh graduates; work as professors, again, something almost impossible for fresh graduates with no experience. But Pangea3, he says, offers law graduates international exposure by servicing top UK companies and US. It also offers: liasing directly with clients, opportunity to work with the best legal minds in India and the US; ability to specialise in a particular segment of legal services such as patents, contract drafting and legal research; and a sustained growth path, he says. Pangea3 provides commercial contracting and licensing services, including drafting, reviewing and revising contracts. Under patent research and prosecution, it drafts patent applications and supports the client's patent application and prosecution process, he says.
Pangea3 plans to increase its staff strength in India to 150 by year-end and 300 by next year. It will recruit from law firms and law colleges, such as Indian Law Society and Symbiosis (both in Pune), Government Law College, Mumbai, and Madras Law College in Chennai, he says. The company does not tap law graduates aiming to become a High Court Judge or a Supreme Court Lawyer. There are other law graduates dealing with corporate laws and commercial transactions, who would like to become entrepreneurs in future. These are the people Pangea3 looks for, he says. Pangea3 provides entry-level salaries for lawyers on a par with the Mumbai law market. However, after joining the company, one can earn 200-300 per cent more based on one's performance, he says. With over 850,000 law professionals trained in the legal system, consistent with laws in the US and the UK (British Common Law), India is the ideal destination for outsourcing of legal services. There are over a million law professionals in India, and the country churns out more than 75,000 lawyers from its law schools every year, he says.
The Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is a high-growth business segment within the knowledge process outsourcing industry and is currently pegged at $ 3-4 billion by Nasscom. Global spending on legal services is estimated to be at least over $250 billion, with the US accounting for more than two-thirds of the market. Any company that does anything for the legal industry --- such as data processing and legal transcription --- is today part of the LPO industry. However, this is not outsourcing of legal services or outsourcing lawyers. Only a few companies, including Pangea3, have lawyers work for (foreign) lawyers. A number of multinational companies, including Citigroup, have captive units in India with many Indian lawyers working on global laws, he says. For example, for a client (a consumer products company), Pangea3 lawyers draft agreements, called Shelf Agreements, between the client and retail stores around the world. Pangea3 lawyers also work on market relationships and advertising relationships, and handle agreements such as leases and employee relationships.
There is no necessity to know the laws of individual countries as such information could be found through research. Lawyers need to put forth the right argument based on the research. Good lawyers know how to make good contracts/agreements, he says. As the global marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, corporations are being forced to streamline operations and cut costs in order to maintain profitability. In line with this, law firms and corporate law departments are also being subjected to increasing pressure from clients to reduce costs.
If a client has a budget of $300,000 on patent applications, a US-based law firm would charge $30,000 to file 10 patents. However, for $6,000, Pangea3 could do 50 patents. This gives an idea of the cost difference and advantages to clients working with his company, he claims.
Pangea3 recently got a Series B preferred stock financing round of $4 million led by The GlenRock Group, LLC, an investment firm. The additional funds will be used to recruit top legal talent to ensure continued growth in both the US and India, and to expand facilities and offerings in both markets, says Kamlani.