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Stand up now: Which LPO will not be working with Microsoft?


Wipro Technologies is the third legal process outsourcing (LPO) company in almost as many months to announce that it is providing LPO services to software giant Microsoft. But like the others it has been providing LPO services to Microsoft for years. The real story here is how good the Redmont company has been getting at outsourcing legal work.

First out of the blocks was CPA Global, which has been doing intellectual property (IP) work for Microsoft since 2005. In February 2010, CPA then announced that its LPO relationship with Microsoft would now also extend to non-IP legal work in India. Fair enough.

Hot on its heels then and not to be outdone, Integreon issued a press release in April 2010 announcing that it too was continuing to do LPO work for Microsoft - since January 2009, no less.

Now, third in line, Wipro circulated a press release this week that it would provide LPO services to Microsoft for its intellectual property (IP) portolio. This has received wide attention by the national press - unsurprising given the Wipro brand name - but Wipro too had been working with Microsoft's IP department since July 2008.

Despite some of these news being at least partially a case of column-inch-envy by the LPOs, they do demonstrate how adept Microsoft's legal team has become at legal outsourcing as a logical extension of having exhausted most legal efficiencies in-house.

LPO consultant Matthew Sullivan wrote in his blog Global Legal in April that Microsoft's legal team had created a highly process-driven department.

"[Microsoft senior attorney Lucy Bassli] explained how Microsoft had previously 'templatized' the contracts process, documented it, and applied six sigma techniques to make it more efficient and reduce errors.  In doing so, Microsoft had reduced the overall level of legal expertise required to manage a large pool of contracts.  They then decided they could better utilize their highly capable contracts staff by offloading the simplified work to a vendor," wrote Sullivan.

Six sigma is a business process model that aims to measure and improve quality management through sophisticated statistical methods.

In essence Microsoft's in-house legal team appears to have optimised the process of outsourcing of its legal work to external providers - whether that be law firms or LPOs - and is operating at near-LPO efficiencies already.

Farming out more of that work then becomes a relatively easy project, even when juggling three different LPO service providers (most companies legal teams have their hands-full managing with just one LPO).

Microsoft may have been receiving a lot of flack for lack of innovation in its products, but in the in-house department field it clearly leads the pack.

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