5. Why did SDD Global set up its India legal outsourcing center in Mysore?
Because Mysore is now the ideal business location in India, especially for legal process outsourcing (LPO). Although it is only two to three hours from Bangalore, the beautiful city of Mysore stands apart from India’s congested and increasingly inflation-ridden major urban centers. Yet it is in an area that hosts many of the universities and law colleges that serve as incubators for thousands of the best-qualified job candidates in the legal and information technology fields every year.
6. What is the relationship between the law firm, SmithDehn LLP, and SDD Global Solutions? Do SDD Global attorneys practice law or provide legal advice?
SDD Global is a separate Indian company, which provides legal outsourcing services to many law firms. Although attorneys at SDD Global's parent law firm, SmithDehn LLP, play an important role in the management, supervision, and training at SDD Global, the Indian legal outsourcing company is not a captive of any one law firm. In addition to providing LPO or KPO services to multiple law firms, SDD Global does similar legal outsourcing work for many corporate and other clients who are not clients of SmithDehn LLP. Although SDD Global provides many of the same services of a global law firm, often with both higher quality and lower rates, SDD Global is not a law firm. SDD Global does not "practice law" or provide legal advice. However, in situations where clients need legal advice, or representation in court, or similar services that only a U.S.-licensed attorney can provide, such clients can obtain those services either from SmithDehn or other law firms working with SDD Global. Numerous U.S. ethics panels now have ruled in favor of legal outsourcing. These include American Bar Association Ethics Opinion 08-451, which states that (a) "U.S. lawyers are free to outsource legal work, including to lawyers or non-lawyers outside the country, if they adhere to [various] ethics rules," (b) legal outsourcing is "a salutary trend in a global economy," and (c) "outsourcing can reduce client costs and enable small firms to provide labor intensive services such as large, discovery intense litigation, even though the firms might not maintain sufficient ongoing staff to handle the work."
7. What kind of cost savings can be expected by outsourcing legal services to India?
Outsourcing legal work to India can result in savings of up to 50% or more. As The New York Times reported: "The reason for the shift [to outsourcing legal work] echoes the reason companies are sending other work abroad: they save substantial amounts of money. Some companies say they can reduce certain legal costs by as much as 50 percent, and receive work that rivals what they can obtain in the United States. According to Dennis Archer, the President of the American Bar Association, 'The need to cut costs reaches across many departments, so it should be no surprise that it goes to the legal department as well.'"
The financial advantages of legal outsourcing (LPO or KPO) to India that can accrue to the clients of SDD Global are seen not only in the well-known differences between salaries and costs of living among the workforces of the U.S. and India, but also in the price of office space, which is ultimately paid for by a law firm's clients. Many traditional law firms locate virtually all of their personnel in relatively expensive offices in the largest cities in the United States and the United Kingdom. This tradition has led to a situation in which most of each dollar or pound that these firms charge their clients pays for office rent. In Mysore, India, the legal outsourcing employees of SDD Global work in state-of-the-art facilities at 1/43rd the cost of comparable space in major U.S. cities (and at far lower cost than Indian cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi/Gurgaon). This is a major part of the way we maintain our assurance to clients that they are paying for legal services, not real estate.
8. Can legal work be done faster by outsourcing it to India?
Yes. On the subject of speed, the advantages of outsourcing legal work to India, and in particular, to SDD Global, are extraordinary. Our legal outsourcing teams add approximately 12 hours to the normal legal services workday. As law firm attorneys or in-house counsel in the West head home to sleep, a fresh round of legal work on the day shift in India is just beginning, in a time zone that is essentially a day ahead. Our speed is also enhanced by the number of SDD Global legal associates that our clients now can afford to devote to any given case, thanks to legal outsourcing. As a situation demands, we can provide the assistance of a single researcher or an entire platoon of trained legal process outsourcing (LPO) professionals, thus enabling our clients to “flood the zone” where such an approach is warranted.
This is virtually the opposite of the practice of many large Western law firms, which, by necessity, must promise their clients "lean staffing," to address well-founded fears of compounded hourly fees climbing through the roof. Our aim in facilitating the outsourcing of legal work is to help obtain the desired result for our clients as quickly as possible, through the appropriate and unstinting application of concentrated legal talent. We have found that in using this approach, we and our supervising U.S. attorneys often run circles around the so-called "lean staffing" of mega-firms.
9. Can you point to any success stories, to show that Indian legal outsourcing companies can provide high-quality legal services?
The idea of outsourcing high-end legal services to India has moved well past the conceptual, to the real. If it does not involve walking into court, holding a client’s hand, signing an opinion letter, or signing a court filing, most likely it can be done in India. Western legal services available in India include legal research, drafting of commercial contracts and litigation papers, applications for U.S. and U.K. immigration visas, patent applications and analytics, and a whole host of other high-value work.
Indian lawyers at one of our competitor companies already have drafted a brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, involving the application to a tax dispute of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For another example, in an article entitled, “Fortune 500 Firms Driving LPO Industry,” one of India’s leading financial newspapers, The Business Standard, reported on one of SDD Global’s accomplishments as follows:
"Sony Pictures had to [obtain] an ‘opinion letter’ (outlining the activity and the risks involved) for insurance firms in order to secure cover for shooting a movie, and the movie’s fate hinged on the letter and the cover. Preparing the letter was a 400-man hour job which would have cost $250,000 to get done in the U.S. and Sony gave it a second thought. Eventually, the job was done in India for $43,000. "
SDD Global’s draft of this 45-page opinion letter, complete with 242 footnotes, each citing pertinent legal authorities, led to the green-lighting of a major motion picture, which might otherwise have not been released.
To cite another example, another of our competitors was hired to draft a 50-state legal survey for a U.S. medical services company. Here is a portion of a “thank you” letter written by the CEO of a grateful client:
"You may not be aware, but we had a small portion of that research complete when we hired [you]. As a test, we had your team reproduce some of the same work done by our nationally recognized law firm. The legal research and opinions that your team produced were essentially identical, except for the price tag. Your group saved us 90%, and completed the work in less than half the time. For clarification, the research you did in less than one month saved us over $200,000."
For one last example, out of countless others, SDD Global was retained by a Fortune 100 client facing a multi-million-dollar out-of-state lawsuit, brought by a plaintiff who had agreed in writing that any such dispute would be litigated only in New York. A major U.S. law firm in the state where the claim had been filed had advised our client that a motion to dismiss would not succeed, citing two authorities. In-house counsel for the client asked SDD Global to prepare a memorandum on the subject. Overnight, Indian attorneys did the research and provided the memo, which allowed the client to conclude that the local law firm was wrong, and that the lawsuit could be dismissed. This led to the following unsolicited email from the client’s Senior Vice President for litigation:
"[The memo] lifted my spirits and gave me reason for hope. It's really well written and clear, by the way. Let your Indian team know that I applaud and thank them. Thank you!!!"
Why are Indians so good at handling high-end, outsourced legal services? In addition to the fact that India churns out 80,000 English-speaking law graduates per year and shares the same “common law” system with the U.S. and Britain, here is another factor, reported by ABC News:
"It's a three thousand year old reverence for knowledge. In fact every college we went into had the goddess of knowledge. They consider study a form of worship, and parents see education as the only way out of those slums so they will skip meals to send their kids to private schools."