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Determining which legal services to outsource

Corporate legal departments are starting to move outsourcing beyond transaction-based legal processes to higher level capabilities

This article is the third in a four-part series (Part 1 and Part 2) on implementing a corporate legal process outsourcing (LPO) solution. It discusses the assessment of key legal services for outsourcing.

Determining whether a legal process is core or non-core to the organization’s legal department is an important consideration when determining whether to source such functions. This involves an assessment to determine how essential a particular legal service is to the company’s business. In assessing whether a legal service is core to an organization, companies should consider whether sourcing the service compromises the legal department’s ability to establish and to execute business strategies related to that service. As the LPO market becomes more mature, corporate legal departments are starting to move outsourcing beyond transaction-based legal processes to higher level capabilities, such as contract drafting and IP.

Core services

Corporate legal departments may look to explore internal legal SDT options such as shared services or internal technology enhancements for “core” legal services. Examples of such services include corporate legal representation and M&A activities. For legal process deemed as core services, legal departments may still look to outsource specific components. For example, although patents and trademarks are a core process to the business, there may be transactional elements which exist within these processes that can be outsourced.  

Non-core services

Legal departments may consider outsourcing certain “non-core” transactional services, including document review, contract/IP management and paralegal support. When doing so, legal departments should also assess whether these functions and their associated processes are mature enough for such a transition. For legal processes deemed as non-core services, legal process outsourcing can provide reduced costs and increased resources. Processes which require less specialized knowledge or are more transactional in nature tend to be outsourced most frequently. Technology may also play a role in the LPO providers’ solution to obtain efficiencies within such non-core legal competencies.

When assessing which legal services can be outsourced, legal processes are generally broken down into five distinct categories. Processes within each category which are most commonly outsourced include:

  • Administrative support: Data extraction and entry; electronic document management; secretarial services; billing services; paralegal services
  • Litigation support: Document discovery; e-discovery compliance; database creation and maintenance
  • Intellectual property: Patent drafting and review; IP portfolio management; patent proofing and docketing; cease and desist notices
  • Contracting support: Contract due diligence; contract management
  • Legal research & analysis: Statutory/case law research; legal coding and indexing


About this publication

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of Deloitte practitioners. Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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Nikhil Lala

Nikhil Lala is a Senior Manager at Deloitte Tax and part of Deloitte’s Service Delivery Transformation practice, in the areas of business process outsourcing, legal...

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Contributing Author

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Gail Blauer

Gail is a Director in Deloitte's Strategy and Operations practice. She focuses on large, complex Global Business Model Transformation guiding clients through outsourcing, shared services...

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Michael Caplan

Michael Caplan is a Manager at Deloitte Consulting and part of Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations practice, where he advises clients across industries in various legal...

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