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The LPO market in India received a boost last week with the signing of the outsourcing agreement between the UK-based international firm, Simmons & Simmons and LPO leader, Integreon. Bar & Bench speaks to Mark Dawkins, Managing Partner at Simmons & Simmons and Lokendra Tomar, Chief of Operations of the Asia-Pacific arm of Integreon. While Mark Dawkins refused to be drawn on whether the firm has any India-specific expansion plans, Lokendra Tomar reveals Integreon’s plans to raise funds through private equity to further its expansion plans.
Mark Dawkins, Managing Partner at Simmons & Simmons
B&B: South Africa appears to be becoming a popular outsourcing destination for UK law firms. What were the factors that led your decision to outsource work to India instead?
Mark Dawkins: Our aim is to find, design and deliver new ways of working that provide the same quality legal services to clients in different ways and for materially better value, whilst sustaining the firm’s profitability. Outsourcing legal work to a well established LPO such as Integreon helps reduce costs considerably for our clients and provides us with the satisfaction that their work will be done in a quality assured environment. The talent pool in India is enormous. Integreon provided us with options no other provider anywhere else could have provided.
B&B: What made you choose Integreon over the other outsourcing vendors on your shortlist?
Mark Dawkins: The most important criterion for us was high standard quality of work. With Integreon, we felt assured that our clients’ work would be in safe hands. Furthermore, Integreon has worked for some of the biggest law firms and financial institutions and the feedback has been positive. They have a good reputation in the market and we felt they would fit in well and adapt easily to the Simmons & Simmons culture.
B&B: Did you receive any pressure from your clients to outsource legal work, or was this a firm-driven initiative?
Mark Dawkins: We did have clients enquiring into whether Simmons & Simmons would be exploring the option of outsourcing legal work; however, this is also an integral part of the firm’s business strategy going forward.
B&B: Your press release mentioned that the London offices will be piloting the project. Are there any immediate plans to outsource work from any of your other offices?
Mark Dawkins: This project will be piloted from London but rolled out to other offices where there is a demand. In its early stages, it is likely to be applicable to locations where English is the principal language.
B&B: How long will the pilot project last before commencing full-fledged outsourcing?
Mark Dawkins: One year.
B&B: Many firms have been wary of revealing their outsourcing plans, fearing backlash from the media and from within the firm. Why did Simmons choose to make their outsourcing agreement public?
Mark Dawkins: We have full faith in the capability of Integreon’s facility in Mumbai. We will be having a dedicated team of qualified and experienced Indian lawyers working exclusively for us. We are confident our clients will appreciate the fact that we have made an effort to address their concerns in this difficult economic climate.
B&B: How much cost savings do you anticipate from outsourcing to Integreon?
Mark Dawkins: We hope to save anywhere between 30 to 50 percent on equivalent UK rates.
B&B: Does Simmons have any plans to expand into India?
Mark Dawkins: Nothing planned.
Lokendra Tomar, CEO Asia-Pacific, Integreon
B&B: Integreon is one of the market leaders in the knowledge outsourcing industry. What about Integreon, in your opinion, appealed to Simmons?
Lokendra Tomar: Integreon offers a wide range of services to a narrow client base. This helps us hire people from the relevant industries, and develop specific products suited to that industry. We are one of the few LPOs to have a product development team. Law firms who work with Integreon consider us a ‘Partner’ in their efforts, and cost is not the sole factor upon which our services are depended.
B&B: It is very unusual for LPOs to be open about their client base. What made Integreon and Simmons go public with the outsourcing agreement?
Lokendra Tomar: Outsourcing outfits and their clients are generally secretive because they fear backlash from the public. But this backlash happens because most LPOs pitch themselves as being cost-effective, this is their main selling point. Integreon, however, transforms a business by absorbing ourselves in the processes of the company and improving efficiency. It is an innovative approach that appeals to large law firms and investment banks, leading them to choose Integreon for their outsourcing needs.
B&B: There have been several market reports of Integreon’s growth plans. What can you tell us?
Lokendra Tomar: We are looking to raise about $100 million through private equity investments in the next six months. We are one of the few companies in the outsourcing space that have acquired 3 legal process outsourcing organisations, and have plans to expand further. Our next acquisition may be in the research space. We are looking at both organic and inorganic growth. We anticipate that several captive outsourcing companies to come on the market within the next year or so, and we might look at buying some of these entities.