Sunday, August 12, 2012

For a Few Pennies More or Less...

I am one of those unfortunates who find it difficult to lie.  (In my defense, this, as some other small things, can be squarely blamed on the nuns at the convent school I attended.)  The inability to lie, although it sounds very virtuous, in fact, makes life difficult, because very often, we blurt out the truth when the occasion begs for a lie!   Although everyone glorifies “truth” in the abstract, no one really likes truthful persons.  We are labeled, “rude”, “blunt”, “politically incorrect” and therefore, while universally trusted, we are, nonetheless, mostly disliked.

Now,  although lawyers are widely supposed to be liars, I  happen to believe very firmly that if  success is built on the foundation of subterfuge, lies and deceit, it belittles you. Makes you small. And so, long ago, I decided that I’d rather be a shining failure than a smutty success.  That I have never really tasted failure, could be evidence, I think, to the fact that goodness (and good people) can be far more devastating and ruthless than evil!

Recently however, I received a long tutorial on the art of lying, without actually lying.

I began by pointing out that what I had written was the truth.

Yes, they agreed, it surely is.  But you know what, if you DON’T point out the truth, we'll win this.

But, what’s the point of winning on the back of lies and untruths?

It’s not lying.  It’s just hiding the truth.

But you know what the truth is and you know you’re hiding it even if the other party doesn’t. And at some point, they will know it too.

Oh, by the time they found out, we’ll have won!

But they’ll know you concealed the truth.

Too bad.

They might think you're untrustworthy.

Ha! They do it too.

Isn’t it better to fight fair?

Perhaps. But in business it's better to fight to win.

Damn. I forgot the law isn't a profession anymore. It's business.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bashing up the Bullies.

Nasty, rude behavior, back biting, bullying can make the workplace miserable. But running away from it doesn’t help.  You might find it at some other workplace too.  Nor is it always possible to change such behavior.  Yet simply enduring is not a happy option either.   The only way to deal with such workplace behavior is to devise smart tactics to handle the creeps who indulge in it.  The bright side is that most bullies, whether male or female are usually not very bright and are definitely insecure which is the reason they resort to such behavior in order to hide their own limitations.   So, with a little intelligence, a lot of calm and the ideas given below, you can wipe the floor with them.

1.       Kill them with kindness.  Be nice, be courteous, return their nastiness with sweetness. (Of course, cursing their black hearts all the while.)  Pretend you just can’t believe they really mean to be rude or nasty.  One colleague I knew wrote simply horrible e-mails.  At first, I was aghast. Then I began replying to such mails by telling him I didn’t believe he really meant to say all that or asking him whether the work was getting him down, why was he sounding so stressed and could I help? It took some effort, but after a while he stopped.
2.       Ask questions. The moment you find some person or a group of persons making snide comments or acting rude, ignore what they said and start asking them questions.  Ask anything. Where did you get that shirt? When is Rupa getting married?  How is Mona’s baby?  What does Coalgate mean?  Humans are conditioned to reply to questions.  The bullies will have to do a mental shift to answer your questions and thereby you  avoid a situation.
3.      Never be rude.  Not ever. The moment you begin to indulge in similar behavior, you leave yourself wide open to other people behaving the same with you.   Although it is true that one bad apple may ruin the basket, yet decency is contagious too.
4.       Ask for Help .It is always a good idea to approach management for a solution.  If no help is forthcoming, stand up for yourself. Point out to the person/s who are bullying you or being rude to you, that you do not like bit.  Make sure they realize that you are not going to run away from them, (which is what they want) but will fight to the bitter end to deal with them.  Bullies are cowards.  The moment they see your determination, they'll have their tails between their legs..
5.       Keep yourself busy. You are at the office to do a job. Immerse yourself in it.  Take your lunch out of the office. Take walks in your break time. Talk to cheerful people.  This will help take your mind off the negativity.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Co-sourcing and LPOs

Co-sourcing was once seen as an alternative to outsourcing and often argued as a better one. 

Co-sourcing is getting an outside agent to do your work while production, time and quality are managed in house. When you co-source, you are still very involved in the job although not as much as if you did it yourself.    Outsourcing too involves an outside agent to do the work; however once delivery and quality parameters are set, the client leaves everything to the offshore/outsourcing vendor to handle.   Often where off shored back office legal work is concerned, all that remains for the attorney to do is appear in court.

Some years ago, law firms abroad preferred co sourcing to offshoring/outsourcing chiefly in order to minimize the apprehended risks of loss of confidentiality and client data.  However, the recent years which proved that in India at least, the incidence of these risks has been almost nil, have to a large extent allayed these fears. The result is that the end of 2011 saw clients who had been offshoring work for some time and reaping its benefits, now wanting some more of the pie.  Law firms that were outsourcing mainly legal work are now asking tentatively whether their offshore vendor can handle a niche project or billing, or maybe write some web content or develop customized software. ( There are also instances where off-shore vendors providing tech or engineering support have been asked to provide legal services.)

For obvious reasons, LPOs will oblige.  However, employees in LPOs are generally lawyers.   Therefore, where niche work is involved or the work is of a completely different nature from that  done in-house or  the project or process does not justify the expense of increasing employee count and consequent  infrastructure development, the vendor will hunt for a co-sourcing sub vendor who could be either an individual/s or a small unit.

The co-sourcing unit reports directly to the off-shore vendor, and is supervised both in terms of time, production and quality by the off shore vendor’s team.  However, the co-sourcing unit is never provided access to the core process or project.
For LPOs it is a win-win situation. For one, a variety of work looks good on the website.  Moreover, they keep clients happy at very little cost.  Last and certainly not the least, the profit margin is substantial since co sourcing  saves the time and money spent on increasing employee count, administration of a large staff and the cost of maintaining infrastructure facilities for that staff.

Different   LPOs deal in different types of work.  The time will come when an LPO doing mainly research or discovery related work, will be approached to do back office legal work and vice versa.  Will they then co -source to each other? Interesting thought.