A major concern for law firms in determining whether to take the business leap into legal process outsourcing (LPO) is privacy, according to Stefan BeLinfanti of www.articleage.com. Secrecy is so entrenched in the legal culture, and is an essential aspect of legal ethics, that the very idea of an unknown pair of eyes seeing data sent across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans sends shivers up the spines of most top-shelf lawyers.
Outsourcing companies must squelch those concerns. Establishing and maintaining relationships with existing and prospective customers is the lifeblood of LPO providers. As outsourcing becomes more widespread and competition in the market grows, powerful protection against information leaks is one of the important factors in choosing a provider.
However, because legal documentation is sometimes not sensitive information, protection sensitivity should change with the defining characteristics of the litigation and practice at hand. Despite their secretive nature, law firms should learn that they are no different from other companies that do not like to publicize their business practices.
In fact, in the kind of damage that can be caused by loss of information, legal data is, in general, much less sensitive than other types of data that has been outsourced for years on a large scale, according to www.outsource.devdd.com. Given the fact that large banks, financial institutions and even the IRS are outsourcing on an extended basis, the whole issue of data protection, with regard to LPO is put into a clearer perspective. Suddenly, the importance of calls and complaints and discovery materials should take on a whole new light for attorneys, when the fact that extensive credit histories, records of financial transactions and tax forms currently are often prepared overseas.
In reality, the legal community is closely knit, especially in the New York City area, and the flow of information between affiliates and adversaries often is constant—and necessary—to do business. At regular intervals, members of the defense bar network with members of the plaintiff’s contingent. In addition, many of the same lawyers in years past sat next to each other in law school classrooms and went to the same continuing legal education courses.
Nevertheless, outsourcing must emphasize the separation of competing models’ interests. The question then is: How can an outsourcing law firm know that they are not outsourcing documents and information to a company that works on the same case for the opponent’s attorney? While the probability of that is slim, it is still a vital concern.
The fact that most of the providers must keep the identity of their clients confidential makes it difficult for a company to consider whether an opponent is in the process of outsourcing work to a provider.
Protection procedures, however, can be safely set within the outsourcing company:
· First, the contract between the seller and the buyer should make absolutely clear that the provider must inform the customer about everything, not just the issues.
· Second, if a law firm or LPO learns of any possible conflict, the company should ensure that the provider of their choice is in a position that is clearly articulated and, If possible, should demonstrate the security measures that are in place. These guarantees, in the declaration of the employment contract, will be included in the “format” list, along with the added provision that the security measures are followed for the length of the contract.
Third, due to the fact that technological and business processes are often interwoven for the outsourcing process to run efficiently, the outsource safety program used by the seller should be both physically and virtually as broad as possible.