Ethical Considerations When Using a Legal Process Outsourcing Provider

By Jeffrey Teso of CPA Global

In today's economy, many companies are turning to Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) providers because of their ability to offer fast, efficient legal services at a lower cost.

However there are a number of ethical considerations that are unique to LPO companies, including risk of disclosure of confidential information, inadvertent waiver of attorney-client privilege and client consent requirements.  However, the primary issue has to do with the unauthorized practice of law, since many of the individuals performing the work at the LPO firm may not be licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction or may not be lawyers at all. 

Six bar associations, including the ABA standing committee on ethics and professional responsibility have issued opinions on this matter.  All of them have concluded that the lawyer may outsource legal work and at the same time comply with his or her ethical obligations, providing certain conditions are met.

Collectively, the opinions issued to date suggest that lawyers may ethically engage with an LPO company to outsource legal services, provided he or she: 

1. Properly supervises the work being performed by the non-lawyer;  

2. Ensures the client's confidences/secrets are preserved;  

3. Avoids conflicts of interest when outsourcing;  

4. Bills the clients appropriately for services performed by non-lawyers;

5. Informs the client of the outsourcing arrangement when applicable.

Out of all these requirements, the most important duty is to exercise proper supervision.

The key points are this- the supervision needs to be direct and meaningful, and the lawyer must perform reasonable due diligence to ensure the non-lawyer is sufficiently competent to perform the outsourced tasks.

Jeffrey Teso is Director of Operations at CPA Global, a leading global provider of outsourced legal services. Mr. Teso oversees CPA Global's U.S.based delivery operations, and works with clients to help them manage the risks and costs associated with discovery and document management in connection with complex civil litigations, regulatory investigations and business transactions. Mr. Teso has over 10 years' experience managing and supervising delivery of multiple litigation and regulatory matters the complex across various industries.

Teso was a featured speaker on the LexisNexis® Webinar: Bensen & Myers' Best Practices for Litigation Management: Budgeting Tools, Settlement Strategies, and Solving Ethical Dilemmas, on May 12, 2011, along with Eric E. Bensen and Rebecca Kelder Myers, co-authors of Bensen & Myers on Litigation Management.

Lexis.com subscribers can search "Bensen & Myers on Litigation Management." Non-subscribers can purchase "Bensen & Myers on Litigation Management" at the LexisNexis Bookstore.

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