Friday, September 17, 2010

"All for want of a horseshoe nail...."

Sanjay Bhatia of SDD Global forwarded me his article"How to start your own LPO.. listing a number of essentials for a successful LPO.  Thank you Mr. Bhatia.

 To my mind, the lifeblood of any startup is a good healthy count of clients.  The more the better, because no matter how much work a single foreign law firm or client can send you, it can never be enough to maintain an LPO full time.  Therefore, the more the clients, the lesser the likelihood of a start up shutting down or having to lay off staff because of the loss of a client or two.
And to build up a healthy client count what is needed is first is a team of excellent lawyers this side of the pond to provide legal services, cleanly and promptly.  And second a dynamic sales team.
 Just as justice must not only be done but must manifestly be seen to be done, so also a start -up must needs flaunt its ability to deliver the goods and I agree with Mr. Bhatia that  merely having a well designed website and adequate infrastructure is  not enough.
Speaking from the point of view of start ups, the team need not necessarily be lawyers; but, yes, it must most certainly have lawyers on the sales team to convince the client that the company can handle the work.  
It is also vital that these salesmen-lawyers not only know have a thorough knowledge of the subjective law, but must also have excellent communication skills.  Displaying an eager to please attitude may flatter the client and bring some initial work to the start up, but the glow will not last long.
Moreover, the type of work that the firm can snag -whether simple basic work like data entry  or more high end work like legal research or legal drafting which is regarded as more high end, will depend on how much at ease this salesman-lawyer is with discussing the finer points of patent laws, thresholds,  motions , Section 8, et al.
 An unsure and faltering salesman-lawyer will bring in only the lowest end work and while work is after all work, if the start-up wants to outgrow its start-up status, it must be able to land the better projects/processes.
Sanjay Bhatia pleads his case, arguing that, "Having a mix of exceptional Indian and Western attorneys, in a ratio of 10:1 or lower is almost certain to put your LPO on the road to success. "

Seriously, if an LPO can afford to have foreign attorneys working for it in that ratio, it is already a success.
However, I do agree that an LPO must have at least a couple of persons on the sales team whether they be a part of management or not, to wade into those foreign seas and fish for clients. 
While having a western attorney on board can never be a disadvantage it is definitely a rather expensive plus that few start ups can afford to indulge in.   In the interests of preserving attorney-client privilege and protecting confidentiality , yes a foreign attorney is an asset, but this job can well be, and indeed often is performed by an attorney working with  the law firm that outsources the work.  
Where I agree most whole-heartedly with Sanjay Bhatia is when he says, " In short, the fastest way for an LPO to fail is to hire staff with sub-par writing skills. "
 I know managers who believe that hiring one or two supervisors to correct shoddy work  is  sufficient  to ensure quality.  This is a complete misconception.   The importance of having a team of lawyers with good command of the English language can never be under emphasized.  And Mr. Bhatia is right when he opines that while many Indian lawyers grasp legal concepts and understand foreign law perfectly, it is very, very difficult to find lawyers who can grasp the importance of that “misplaced comma.”
Like the proverbial horse that lost its nail, much may be lost for want of a comma.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

1 comment:

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