As far as we know, there are only two organizations that annually rank legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies, namely, The Black Book of Outsourcing and the India Business Law Journal. These two respected sources use very different methodologies, and in fact, they measure different things. The Black Book, now owned by the Datamonitor Group, decided in 2010 to rely entirely on verified responses from a survey of 6,547 clients, regarding client satisfaction alone. In that survey, which evaluated over 2,700 vendors in all categories of outsourcing, only four legal outsourcing companies were ranked among the "Global Top 50" (and only the top 50 were identified). The IBLJ, in its 2010 "LPO Awards," evaluated only Indian legal process outsourcing companies and relied upon "a combination of objective data [from a survey of 700 clients] and subjective analysis," including "submissions received from LPO service providers."
"Law Without Borders" is plunging into this field to provide a third perspective, and to resuscitate the tradition of the "top ten" LPO list, which no other organization is now offering. We admittedly are biased, because this blog itself is run by an LPO provider, SDD Global Solutions, which is the only company focusing almost exclusively on less popular, but higher value outsourced legal services, such as legal research and legal drafting. However, our own "Top Ten Guide" is probably accurate, because, like most industry insiders with five or more years of experience in offshore legal outsourcing, we actually know what we are talking about. But to add some objectivity, we are limiting our "Top Ten Guide" to providers already chosen by either the 2010 Black Book survey or the 2010 IBLJ LPO Awards. This is somewhat self-serving, since our own company was ranked very highly by clients in the Black Book survey. Having said all that, below is our probably accurate guide to the world's top ten legal outsourcing companies:
THE LEGAL OUTSOURCING COMPANIES LISTED IN THE 2010 BLACK BOOK OF OUTSOURCING SURVEY:
This outstanding, Philippines-based, global provider focuses primarily on e-discovery and other document review services. American Discovery ranked #1 in the 2010 Black Book survey, making it the top outsourcing company in the world, according to the thousands of clients that participated. On its website, the company says that "[w]ith several offices throughout the United States, Asia-Pacific, and Western Europe, American Discovery employs a globally-integrated service model perfected by interconnected infrastructure, personnel, and U.S. legal expertise."
Ranked the #1 outsourcing company in India, the US, and the UK, according to the 2010 Black Book survey, SDD Global is the only legal outsourcing vendor managed by a U.S. law firm. It is also the only LPO focusing almost exclusively on high-end, knowledge-based legal services, such as contract drafting, legal research, and preparation of briefs, motions, and other litigation papers. SDD Global made its mark handling complex legal analysis and drafting for major Hollywood and London film and television studios and production companies. More recently, it has become the "LPO of choice" for countless North American law firms and solo practitioners, as well as non-media companies.
Known for its application of technology-powered solutions, this Kansas-headquartered, global LPO has been named the #4 outsourcing company in the world, according to the Black Book. With over 650 professionals, UnitedLex specializes in e-discovery, document review, and contract review and management, among other services. In its own words, "By combining Early Case Assessment, Data Collection and Forensics, Document Processing, Online Data Hosting, Attorney Document Review, Document Production, and End-to-End 30(b)(6) Testimony into a single service offering, UnitedLex provides counsel with accurate results and predictable costs."
This LPO leader, which recently made world headlines through its $100 million acquisition by Thomson Reuters, hardly needs an introduction. Since 2003, Pangea3 has been a pioneer in the legal outsourcing industry, first attracting attention for its patent services, then focusing primarily on document review, and now starting to branch into just about every kind of legal work. In addition to being one of only four legal process outsourcing companies included in the Black Book's Global Top 50 results, Pangea3 has won the IBLJ's "LPO of the Year" award for two years in a row.
THE TOP SIX ADDITIONAL PROVIDERS, FROM THE IBLJ 2O10 LPO AWARDS:
Another "mega-LPO," this leading legal outsourcing provider turned heads worldwide, when mining giant Rio Tinto hired it to handle millions of dollars worth of Rio Tinto's legal work, and again when it attracted GBP 440 million in investment, for only a minority stake in its operations. Jersey-headquartered CPA Global, like Pangea3, is clearly one of the "elephants in the room" when it comes to Western legal services.
A perennial award-winner, Mindcrest is truly one of the few pioneers of the industry, opening its doors in 2001. Known primarily for its expertise and leadership in the document review field, this highly successful provider bills itself as "the largest and most established legal support services company."
Founded in 2004 by the legendary Ram Vasudevan, New York-headquartered Quislex is another trailblazer of the legal outsourcing industry. Focusing primarily on document review and contract management, among other services, Quislex uses proprietary Six Sigma methodologies to attract major clients and keep its many professionals busy in Indian metros Pune and Hyderabad.
World-famous for its back-office support services for some of the most prominent law firms and companies on earth, Integreon is a leader in not only legal process outsourcing, but also BPO (business process outsourcing) and KPO (knowledge process outsourcing). To quote from its own impressive website, "more clients trust Integreon than any other knowledge services firm, including 9 of the top 10 global investment banks, 32 of the AmLaw 50, eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical firms, 11 of the top 50 global brands, and 6 of the top 10 high technology firms." Other significant assets of Integreon include visionary bloggers and LPO experts Ron Friedmann and Mark Ross.
This frequently award-winning LPO is led by the brilliant and highly persuasive Harvard MBA graduate Abhi Shah, who, although not a lawyer (and perhaps in part because of that), was one of the first to recognize the potential of legal process outsourcing. The Clutch Group specializes in services relating to discovery, contract management, due diligence, and compliance, among others. We also like its marketing slogan, "Smart Solutions, No Borders."
Founded by partners of the justifiably prominent Indian law firm, AZB, as well as the Patni family, known for their leadership in the Indian IT industry, Bodhi Global has offices in Mumbai, Pune, and New York. Led by Arihant Patni, this excellent LPO handles "litigation support, contract review, drafting and management, corporate due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, real estate, and legal and regulatory research."