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Legal outsourcing set to boom

Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai | December 29, 2008 08:50 IST

An Indian legal professional who takes home Rs 25,000 a month earns a tiny fraction of the Rs 10,000 an hour that his counterpart in the US earns.

But with Indian legal process outsourcing industry poised to increase it's hiring, amidst a whirlpool of cost cutting measures being embraced aggressively by the US and the European firms, things could change. Mathematically, this translates into 20 per cent rise in salary packages of LPO employees and bonuses of up to 25 per cent to experienced lawyers employed by various outsourcing outfits.

Bhaskar Bagchi, country head, CPA, leading provider of outsourced legal support services and intellectual property management specialist, claims that CPA would double its headcount from the existing 500 employees, in the next 6 months.

"We are targeting a headcount of 2,000 employees by 2010," he said. Industry sources assert that the average salary benchmark would follow the increase in outsourced legal project revenues, which is rising at an average 30-45 per cent.

Numerous foreclosure-related assignments from US banks and law firms have been keeping Indian LPOs occupied, besides the usual assignments like indexing and coding to database maintenance, patent support, contract review and management, litigation support and legal compliance.

Most LPOs employ an eclectic mix of lawyers, paralegal professionals and engineers for various outsourced functions.

Soumitro Chatterjee, CEO of Legal Circle, a recent startup and subsidiary of the leading law firm Fox Mandal Little feels that salary packages of experienced lawyers would get better by up to 30 per cent in 2009.

According to him, "As complexity and volumes of outsourced legal work increases, lawyers from LPO firms would be the most prized professionals leading to a compensation scramble among the growing Indian LPOs."

Legal Circle is looking to hire 15 lawyers in legal and compliance verticals, and expects the headcount to cross 100-mark by 2009 end.

Attrition rates are on an upward curve for Indian LPOs and most players agree that employee benefits like bonuses and increments would be the key retention tools in 2009. Average attrition rates in the industry vary between 25-35 per cent.

Bagchi says, "At CPA, we handed out bonuses and increments, starting at 15 per cent and upwards. For 2009, we have a healthy orderbook and the benefits will only get better for employees."

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