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Integreon, Elevate and Version 2.0 of Alternative Legal Services

April 28, 2013

I wrote a week or so ago about the Integreon reverses at CMS Cameron McKenna and at Osborne Clark, commenting on the way that the press had covered the stories and my view that this was a maturing of the LPO space rather than a significant change in the outsourcing landscape in the legal sector.

Only a couple of days after I published that piece there were two further announcements, coming in quick succession, both relating to Integreon and not exactly laden with positive connotations for the established LPO player.

More Change in the LPO World

First, Elevate announced the appointment of Lokendra Tomar as their new CEO and then, the next day, they announced that John Croft was to become Elevate Services President with a clear remit to launch the Elevate services in the UK and Europe.  Given that both Croft and Tomar held senior positions within Integreon (as President and COO respectively) it is difficult to put a positive gloss on the developments –  particularly as they have joined up again with Liam Brown  who was previously CEO and founder of Integreon.

That Tomar and Croft have joined the number of other senior managers who have trodden the path from Integreon to Elevate is, of course, worthy of note and again I would suggest its fairly typical of new markets as individuals and organisations shift and re-shape as they aim to take advantage of new and rapidly changing opportunities. However, I was more interested in a quote from John Croft that accompanied the announcement of his appointment:

“At Integreon we worked together to build the category leader in ‘version 1.0’ alternative legal services, primarily around labor arbitrage and process improvement. Now, Elevate brings ‘version 2.0’ legal efficiency to corporate legal departments and law firms, helping them do more for less by offering high quality alternative legal services, plus proprietary legal project management cloud technology, with legal operations and legal spend analytics consulting.”

OK – I apologise for being somewhat cynical here – John is a salesman and so a smattering of buzz words and clichés is alright. But what exactly is this V2.0 he speaks of?

It seems that V1.0 was lower cost and driving improvements in quality and efficiency through (I would assume) technology enabled process improvement. The only real difference I can see here is that Elevate has some legal specific project management software and some support to understand legal spend. I know this was just a quote to accompany the announcement but I cannot find anywhere else where Elevate reference this “V2.0 of alternative legal services”. 

What Might Version 2.0 Be?

It got me thinking of how the now established IT outsourcing matured through its various versions and manifestations. IT outsourcing started with big, full service, end to end TUPE deals with headline grabbing cost reduction claims. Then came more sophisticated deals with a panel or alliance of providers – better service and designed to keep providers on their toes. At the same time ‘transformational’ outsourcing became the vogue – taking the cost savings and using this cash to build a better end to end IT capability aimed at supporting the business. And then, a little while later, was the ‘risk and reward’ deal shape – where providers would derive more or less profit depending upon the customer achieving business goals.

In other words, IT outsourcing matured not so much in what it did (after all doing the best IT at the best cost can’t really be improved upon) rather it looked at more sophisticated models and, particularly, risk sharing commercials.

Maybe this is where V2.0 LPO might go?

Summary

I’m really interested to hear more detail on where Elevate sees the V2.0 LPO, or alternative legal services, world going. In the meantime, I suggest that to steal a march on competitors, an LPO provider should consider proposing deals where their profit comes from how well their customer achieves the business objectives that the outsource is seeking to support. In other words, putting their money where their mouth is!

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One Comment
  1. Good questions Mark.

    Integreon is at the forefront of “LPO 2.0” which we believe reflects a move beyond the notion of labour arbitrage and takes into consideration the complexity of particular legal tasks, whether those tasks need to be undertaken at all, whether they can be eliminated, automated or allocated to lower-cost resources. It involves a combination of people, process, and technology and can be any blend of offshore, onshore, or on location service delivery.

    Mark Ross who has been outspoken on “LPO 2.0” for several years now, addressed the subject in a complementary recorded webcast with Microsoft’s Lucy Bassli:

    http://www.integreon.com/insights/webcasts/legal-process-outsourcing-2.0-the-microsoft-experience.html

    He has also published numerous articles on this topic, including the following one which is more law firm specific and looks at four phases of adoption, a process that is ongoing:

    http://outsourcemagazine.co.uk/redefining-the-law-firm-delivery-model

    Key in all of this right now is collaboration, such as described in this blog post co-authored with Carla Goldstein, Chief Strategic Innovations Officer at AmLaw 100 firm Seyfarth Shaw:

    http://www.integreon.com/blog/2012/10/contract-management-a-new-collaborative-legal-services-delivery-model.html

    But note that labour arbitrage does remain important for some clients, as noted recently by Integreon’s CEO Bob Gogel:

    http://www.globalservicesmedia.com/global-services/analysis/187023/q-a-us-firms-taking-advantage-lpo

    And as the market has matured, we are seeing engagements that do involve high degrees of collaboration.

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