New test to push India's legal process outsourcing industry

Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 07:00 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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New Delhi: The nascent legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry in India is set for a quantum leap with the introduction of a new Global Legal Professional (GLP) certification test for law graduates in the country.

The test, an initiative of the LPO industry, seeks to provide a standard measure of skills and knowledge required for the industry in India, which is expected to be worth $2 billion by 2015.

Developed by three top LPO companies in the country - JuriMatrix, Bodhi Global and QuisLex - the GLP will test candidates on English fluency, technology and professional skills, personal effectiveness and legal knowledge.

"This test will help the LPO industry employ quality staff from the 80,000 law graduates India produces every year," said Sachin Malhan, chairman of Rainmaker, a leading recruitment firm focussed exclusively on the legal industry.

"When the test is held this year, we expect a boom in the LPO industry in the next year and a half," he said, adding the first of these tests, every six months, will be held in September 2007 at various centres across the country.

"By the end of this year, I expect the (demand for manpower) number to be at least around 3,000. By 2015, it will go up to 80,000 and the LPO industry in India by that time will be worth around $2 billion (from $300-400 million today), going by recent surveys," he said.

"And that is why we see this new GLP test crucial for the growth of the industry.

"This test is also an attempt to promote the talent in India to companies in the US and UK," Malhan told IANS.

He said that the problems faced by the Indian LPO industry that actually started two years ago has been mainly over privacy issues and talent availability.

"Western firms were apprehensive about privacy issues and talent availability. But given the outsourcing work coming in the financial sector, this should cease to be a problem," Malhan said.

"With this test, the availability of talent will make companies outsource more and more work to India to cut costs," he said, pointing out that while in the US a lawyer charges $250 per hour, the same work can be done in India for as less as $15 an hour.

On the kind of work that is being outsourced to India, he said that there were three types of legal work: contract management and reviews, document management and intellectual property rights (IPR).

He said the Indian legal system is based on the old British system as also the US legal system, which is why more and more companies from the US and UK will outsource work to India.

According to Malhan, of the 80,000 who qualify as law graduates every year, only 1,000-1,500 from the top law schools get into corporate legal work, which is the most attractive of all legal work for fresh graduates.

"From 1,500, we expect the figure to go up to around 4,000. So, what happens to the rest 76,000?" he said, adding that most of these fresh lawyers work under senior lawyers or try to start their own private practice.

As of now, Malhan said, of this 76,000, barely 1,000 qualify for jobs in the LPO industry.

The new GLP test will thus help companies zero in on the best minds in the business and then train them.

Malhan said that his company would provide training for candidates interested in appearing for the GLP.

"We plan to start this training from June this year. For this, we have also got into partnership with a leading publishing house in the US called Wolters Kluwer, which has a publishing line called Aspen that is primary to all US law schools."

Asked about the future of the legal industry in India, he said, "The Bar Council of India is actually planning on letting in foreign law firms into India. That will surely globalise the legal industry.

"And the LPO industry has the capability to change lives of at least 10,000 law graduates every year."
Source: IANS
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