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India's Biggest Law Firm?

If it were a law firm, MindCrest would be India's largest, with 459 lawyers. According to Canada's Financial Post, the company's founder (an Indian engineer) partnered with two Chicago-based lawyers to create the legal process outsourcer in 2001. India's LPO industry is booming, and the companies aren't restricted by the rules that limit the size of Indian law firms. These companies take on low-end, data-driven legal work like document review and patent searches, from clients in the U.S. and the U.K. -- including from firms like Clifford Chance and Howrey.

But big international firms aren't the only ones sending work to the subcontinent. Dell, Dupont, General Electric and Microsoft all do it too, and they're the ones Wipro wants. India's third-largest software exporter has just gotten into the LPO game, specifically to offer services like patent searches to their major corporate clients, according to India's Economic Times. This follows a move by Infosys (India's second-largest IT company) into the space last November, when it hired Karlyn Stanley, a former in-house lawyer at AT&T to head up its business in the U.S.

Most Indian LPOs still rely on droves of non-lawyers, often twenty- and thirty-somethings with engineering degrees excited to do work for international clients. I visited Pangea3's downtown Mumbai headquarters last summer, where I found a sleek, high-security office in a prime location just above a popular Bollywood theater. But of the dozens of employees deep in the midst of electronic document review, only a handful were actually lawyers.

Competition for skilled Indian lawyers has been heating up, with global law firms hiring Indian grads to work in London or the U.S. -- both to capitalize on work coming out of the country, and to lay the groundwork for when India finally opens its legal market to foreign firms. With that kind of competition, perhaps LPOs could take a hint from their fellow outsourcers and work a little harder to get new employees on the bus.

Posted by John Bringardner on April 28, 2008 at 07:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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