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24-year-old NUJS student starts up LPO

Offshore Research Partners Ashish Arun
Offshore Research Partners Ashish Arun
A final-year NUJS Kolkata student has set up and is running a legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm of seven lawyers.

NUJS student Ashish Arun is the managing partner of Offshore Research Partners, which was set up two months ago as a joint venture with the US expert witnesses database DaubertTracker CEO Myles Levin.

Around 70 per cent of the LPO's revenue is currently generated through legal research work for DaubertTracker to identify and summarise US legal cases with expert witnesses.

Arun was previously project manager in a similar role for DaubertTracker for almost three years, although the separate LPO business and the 1,700 square foot Kolkata offices were only set up in November 2009.

Arun said: "I could start the business because DaubertTracker was there so that the security was there when we started.

He recounted that he was interning at a law firm in Mumbai, which he enjoyed although the hours were long.

"If you are going to work so many hours, then why shouldn't I work for myself," he said he thought to himself. "I decided to cut short my internship and sat down and weighed the pros and cons."

Arun explained that another 30 per cent of the LPO firm's work is now generated from a two-and-a-half-year contract to manage an intellectual property rights (IPR) database for a European client.

He added that work for a third US client was potentially in the pipeline.

Offshore Research Partners is currently seven lawyers strong, with Arun managing the business, business development and teams but not doing any legal work himself.

An NUJS alumni who had worked as a Kolkata litigator and for Economic Laws Practice in Mumbai for one year each is heading up the legal work on Offshore Research Partners' IPR project.

Another three-year qualified lawyer who was formerly at Kolkata firm S Jalan & Co has also been working at the LPO, explained Arun, in addition to several law graduate freshers from Calcutta University and final year students from NUJS. Arun said that he was also hoping to recruit several NUJS Kolkata batch-mates on graduation.

"Frankly speaking," he noted, "I don't think what the law firms do, apart from the cutting-edge work, is something for which you need a lot of experience. In the basic stuff that these firms do all the time like compliance, drafting documents, etc, I don't think experience plays a big role."

Currently, the Indian partnership is 95 per cent owned by Arun. Once fully registered, Levin will also take a stake although Arun said it was expected he would retain at least a 50 per cent stake.

Arun is currently in his ninth semester at NUJS and is scheduled to graduate this summer, when he hopes to continue his current work.

"The business is good as of now and I don't think I'll be joining a law firm," he said.

Kolkata-based Khaitan & Partners Niloy Pyne is also starting up a new LPO company in Kolkata this month, as reported last week.

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