Blake Dawson is in talks with a number of clients regarding legal process outsourcing (LPO), after initiating a three-way relationship with existing client Rio Tinto and LPO provider CPA Global.
As well as looking to provide a facilitating role for clients to outsource low-level legal-related work, the firm is exploring opportunities to outsource non-billable work currently undertaken internally by its own lawyers, in order to free those lawyers up for more complex tasks.
Resources partner Tony Denholder has been leading the CPA Global relationship, after visiting the LPO provider's Delhi base earlier this year.
"I had low expectations. I seriously thought that having had bad experiences with call centres, that this would be a glorified call centre with a bowl of fruit replenished three times a day," he said.
However, Denholder was surprised by the CPA offices he visited and the qualifications and experience of the Delhi-based lawyers he met. He was determined to have Blake Dawson join the relationship with Rio Tinto and CPA.
"It's the beginning of a journey for us. But we don't see it [LPO] as a threat, we see it as an opportunity. We're committed to one of our key clients Rio Tinto to help facilitate offering better value by finding better work which can appropriately be done by CPA," he said.
"We're in discussions with other clients about similar opportunities."
It's a dramatic turn for Denholder who admitted he initially felt threatened by the rise of LPO providers, especially after learning about Rio Tinto's global agreement with CPA - given that Rio Tinto is a long-standing client of his.
Denholder made the comments at a session on outsourcing at last week's ACLA National Conference. He joined CPA Global director Leah Cooper and principal advisor for outsourcing and legal services, Rodney Pickup, in discussing the risks and opportunities of LPO.
Cooper said that law firms should not feel threatened by the rise of LPO providers, but instead seek to see how they can utilise them to better suit their clients.
Denholder added that he was surprised by the extent to which Rio Tinto is currently relying on the services of CPA, pointing to the example of Rio Tinto's quarterly Australian Environmental Law Update, for which it is currently relying on the services of CPA to write.