Infosys LPO, the offshore legal outsourcing arm of the legendary IT company, Infosys Technologies, is expanding from Pune, Bangalore and Gurgaon into Manila, where it plans to hire 50-100 employees for starters. This is according to a report in today's Hindu Business Line, by Moumita Bakshi Chatterjee. The reason given is the preference of some Infosys clients for The Philippines, where the legal system is perceived to be more similar to that of the United States, and where Infosys already has a presence:
“We will expand to Manila proactively. India has a large talent pool but the legal system in Manila is more aligned to the US system. Hence, some select clients are citing that as a preference. Also, Infosys BPO already has a large centre in Manila and we can leverage that for LPO operations,” said Mr Rahul Shah, Associate Vice-President, Principal – Knowledge Services, Infosys Technologies.
According to the article, Infosys LPO has grown to over 500 professionals, mostly in Pune, and the company is planning expansion not only to The Philippines, but also to onshore locations:
LPO engagements account for 60 per cent of the total knowledge services business of Infosys, with over 500 professionals and $15 million in annual revenue. Bulk of the work is done from Pune (about 400 professionals), followed by Bangalore (80-100 professionals) and Gurgaon (about 20 professionals).
Mr Shah said that Infosys, in certain cases, is also seeing demand for onsite delivery of LPO services. “The legal industry is fairly conservative. From cost or efficiency perspective, if a CFO has to push LPO, he may have to show that near-shore or onsite model is possible,” Mr Shah added.
Currently, the LPO service delivery is primarily offshore, with some client interfacing and sales professionals based onsite (in close proximity to client location). “But, there are clients who want to embed people onsite as part of service delivery, either due to the sensitive nature of work being outsourced or because of staff shortage at their end,” he said.
Given this, the company is now considering onsite presence within the US, a market that brings in nearly 70 per cent of Infosys' LPO revenue.
“In the next two years, we expect our US-based personnel to contribute 10 per cent of our overall delivery revenue,” he added.
The above news regarding Infosys highlights the fact that the Philippines apparently poses the biggest competition to India in relation to legal outsourcing services. The Philippines, like India, has thousands of English-speaking lawyers who can offer their services at a fraction of the cost of what US lawyers provide. Also, the Filipino legal system borrows much from that of the US. American lawyers not only created the country's legal system, but also founded the key law firms and the top law schools there. The Philippines law school curriculum is also patterned after that of US law schools.
Despite all that, the fact remains that law schools, whether in the US, India, or The Philippines, for the most part do not train their students to perform legal work. Similarly, experience in the legal system of a foreign country, even in the Philippines, does not always equate to better preparation for performing LPO or legal KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) services for US clients. It can even be a detriment, as applicants with "experience" often come with "attitude" as well. They sometimes need to "unlearn," as much as learn. Often, the key attributes of successful offshore legal outsourcing recruits involve intelligence, aptitude, ambition, eagerness to learn, command over the English language, and low cost of living. Given those factors, plus the vastness of the Indian talent pool, India still seems to have the edge.