Monday, January 19, 2009

Types of Jobs in LPOs

To conclude the discussion in my last post, on the type of work you could find in an LPO.

Legal Research Projects: This is really enjoyable work but does require some experience in actually conducting research. Unfortunately, the syllabus for the LL.B. and the BSL.LLB. course followed in our colleges, does not provide any training in conducting legal research. However, the Masters’ degree course in Law does, and if you would like to be entrusted with this sort of high-end work it would be better if you equip yourself with an LLM from a good University. (Yes, that makes a difference!) Nevertheless, even that degree is useless if you do not have a grasp over the English language and a keen analytical mind.

A good researcher understands thoroughly the subject he/she is researching; is able to comb through, sift, and filter all the matter collected and ultimately judge what is relevant for the project and what is not. Many LPOs employ freshers to do the base research because freshers are cheap labor. Freshers do not take on the responsibility of deciding which material needs to be jettisoned and which retained, with the result that a load of every and each nugget of information on the subject is put up before the senior researchers, who do the ultimate sifting and filtering. This is a serious waste of time and money, with projects having killing deadlines.

The baseline is that in order to do legal research, you need to be either very good at legal analysis, or you just go get that LLM degree. In either case, make sure your English is good.

Drafting: While you may have been drafting documents, deeds and notices in Indian courts, drafting US and UK legal documents is not exactly the same thing. For one, although UK and Indian laws have a similar base, the legal language there is far superior. Each country also has a definite pattern of drafting documents, which you will learn once you jump into the drafting field, provided you have a flair for the language. This, coupled with a good legal degree, and a little bit of training from the LPO, and you could be all set to work on drafting documents.

Legal transcription: While this generally figures as low end work, it is extremely difficult to get good legal transcriptionists in India, which is the reason why few LPOs handle it. Nowhere else is a command over the language as essential as in this field. Transcription is a process of listening to voice audios and transcribing as you listen and a good legal transcriptionist needs to be able to understand the accents of US and UK attorneys and have some knowledge of the laws of that country. In the US particularly, accents differ depending on the region. Moreover, most attorneys are overworked, harassed persons, whose dictations are peppered with asides and often garbled. Yet, accuracy is essential. Since transcription work often involves court orders and depositions, even a word out of place could prove fatal.

Legal editing: This is the easiest of all LPO jobs. All you need is knowledge and excellence in every other field of work!!! The bright side is that you don’t need to be too tech savvy and you are allowed to be temperamental.

Next post: What would I look for in a prospective LPO employee?

If you have any inputs, criticisms, brickbats, whatever, it would be helpful if you post comments, rather than e-mailing me.

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