DuPont Legal Again Sets The Pace - Outsourcing Judgment-Based Tasks

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - 01:00

The Editor interviews Ramona E. Romero, Corporate Counsel and Partnering Manager, and Vincent Catanzaro, Discovery Counsel and Litigation Support Manager, DuPont.

Editor: Tell us about OfficeTiger.

Romero: OfficeTiger is a diversified, judgment-based business process outsourcing company. It was founded in 1999 by two graduates of Princeton and Harvard Business School who are now its co-CEOs, and was recently acquired by R.R. Donnelly, a Fortune 500 company. OfficeTiger is headquartered in New York and operates in India, the Philippines and multiple other locations around the world. Some of their work for DuPont Legal is done in Manila, but most is done in Chennai, India.

OfficeTiger is based on the idea that many of the professional support services required by U.S. investment banks, law firms and other businesses can be performed overseas just as effectively and at a lower cost. The company differs from the call centers many people think about when they hear about outsourcing work to India because they focus on higher end, judgment-based work. They have a broad service offering that includes pre-media, financial research, data analytics and, on the legal front, document review, abstraction, analytics, contract management and intellectual property support.

When I visited OfficeTiger's facilities in India one of the things that was quickly obvious to me was that they could be used to create databases of transactional data at a fraction of the costs of that type of work in the United States. As an antitrust and complex commercial litigator, I know from experience that companies can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating such databases to facilitate expert analyses. When I met with many of the OfficeTiger folks in India, I became excited about the possibility of using them for that type of work as well as electronic document conversion, document coding, basic document review and other work associated with litigation document production.

Editor: What was the process you used to select OfficeTiger?

Romero: The process actually started about two years ago, before I assumed my current responsibilities. I understand that the first step was an assessment of our needs and significant research about offshore outsourcing of legal and other professional support services to India - the industry, the players, the legal implications, etc. A team that included our Assistant General Counsel, Tom Sager, our Chief Intellectual Property Counsel Mike Walker, and several others went to India to visit and interview a broad spectrum of service providers. They were so encouraged by what they saw that our team made a second trip. By the time I started managing our network, the field had been narrowed to OfficeTiger, and I made the trip to India to visit their facilities. I was accompanied by another senior litigator and our then litigation support manager to do a final evaluation. The purpose of this trip was for us to 'kick the tires' - to ensure that we as litigators were satisfied that OfficeTiger could indeed do the work we were thinking of sending them with the requisite quality and confidentiality.

Editor: Why did DuPont select OfficeTiger as opposed to another company?

Romero: Much of the work we were interested in outsourcing, such as document review and coding to capture basic content information and to make preliminary privilege and confidentiality calls is not rocket science but does require some judgment. Accordingly, we selected a supplier with a focus on and experience with judgment-based work. Personally, I was very impressed by their management team, their personnel and facilities in India and their energy. It helped that they have a proven track record with an impressive client base. Although the bulk of that client base is not in the legal arena, it includes the who's who of investment banks, other Fortune 500 companies and many law firms.

Editor: How would you describe their workforce?

Romero: All of the people I met at OfficeTiger are highly educated and fluent in English, and I understand that those qualities are found throughout its Indian workforce. One of the things I found most attractive about the prospect of doing business with them is the quality of the people they can get to do what is basic, commodity type of work such as document coding. It is my understanding that their legal support staff in the Philippines is of equally high quality.

Catanzaro: Some of the managerial level attorneys in the Philippines have gone to U.S. law schools and are admitted to practice in the U.S. The level of education of the OfficeTiger workforce in India and the Philippines is at least as high as that of the people who do the same type of work in the U.S.

Editor: Since you are working with foreign personnel, how much training is involved and who is responsible for assuring the quality of their work?

Romero: We provide those working on our matters overseas with the same degree of training and oversight that we provide to the domestic suppliers that provide similar services. As you know, we have outsourced similar work domestically for many years, primarily to our other network members, Daticon and Kelly Law Registry. Just like we do when we use domestic suppliers, we use our in-house and outside lawyers and paralegals to provide the requisite training to the teams who will be working on our matters. Most of the training and oversight is done remotely, but a trainer may travel to the Philippines or India if necessary.

As to quality, OfficeTiger has very strong quality control processes at its facilities abroad. Here at DuPont we love Six Sigma. OfficeTiger has a pervasive and strong Six Sigma program which is among the reasons why we selected them. We value their commitment to Six Sigma methodology as a tool for driving process improvements. Based on the work they have done for us offshore thus far, we have developed comfort with the quality of their work product. However, ultimately our in-house lawyers and outside counsel must be consistently satisfied that OfficeTiger can do the work and do it right, or the relationship won't be sustainable in the long-term. As always, all legal judgments are the province of our U.S. lawyers and, as in every case, they have ultimate responsibility for directing and supervising the work of the people doing review and coding abroad.

Catanzaro: Our outside counsel are responsible for providing the training required to familiarize OfficeTiger's personnel with the features of particular cases so that they can do the coding required. We arrange for constant feedback from OfficeTiger, whether it is on a weekly basis or an issue basis. OfficeTiger has some highly trained individuals who manage the teams working on particular cases. As questions come up, these team managers funnel them to our outside counsel so that there is a continuing dialogue throughout the process.

Editor: Does outsourcing abroad create security concerns?

Catanzaro: The same considerations apply to wherever you outsource services whether across the street or in India. Mere distance does not create a problem since we transfer our information electronically through a secure network.

Romero: The OfficeTiger facilities I visited in India have strict security protocols, including limiting access to specific areas where confidential client work is done through both electronic locking systems and security guards. The company conducts background checks of all hires. Also, e-mail access is strictly limited and no one working on document review has the ability to e-mail, copy or print any document. As you might expect, any law firm or supplier that has access to DuPont information signs an information security agreement. A supplier like OfficeTiger, which has substantial access to DuPont information, undergoes an extensive review by our information Security Organization that includes a systems architecture evaluation.

Editor: How about conflict issues?

Catanzaro: OfficeTiger has an offshore team dedicated solely to our work. While with many discovery vendors there is the potential that the same people will work on cases for different clients, the people at OfficeTiger who work on DuPont matters work only on DuPont matters.

Editor: How does OfficeTiger fit into the DuPont legal model?

Catanzaro: OfficeTiger joined the network in February 2006 and attended our annual meeting of law firms and service providers in April 2006. They are providing services within the network in support of the work of our firms. They are not our sole provider for the services they sell because we have a large volume of litigation and must have more than one option available to handle our discovery needs. Also, we cannot send everything offshore because export control laws prevent some work from being done abroad. Daticon operates domestically and continues to be a member of the network just as they have been for the last several years. If a project implicates the export control laws, the work may go to Daticon. If it is not subject to those laws and we can realize significant savings, we send it to OfficeTiger.

Romero: Vince makes an important point that companies thinking about outsourcing abroad must consider. Since we are a science company, some of our products and technology are subject to export controls. We screen every project we are thinking about sending offshore to ensure that the documents do not reflect information potentially subject to export controls. If the screening reflects some risk, we get the work done domestically.

Editor: Does your commitment to diversity apply to a place like India?

Romero: Definitely. One basis for our selection of OfficeTiger was the fact that it was founded by American businessmen and operates under American standards. The ethics of OfficeTiger with respect to diversity appear to be in alignment with our own values. One of the things that impressed me when I when I went to India was that Joe Sigelman and Randy Altschuler, the Co-CEOs, had managed to put together a diverse senior management team. For example, their COO is African-American and there are several Indian women in important roles.

Editor: What advantages does OfficeTiger offer to DuPont and its law firms?

Romero: Our network is now global. This expands our reach and scope in an intelligent way that is consistent with both our partnering paradigm and with DuPont Legal's strong interest in innovation, efficiency and cost control. The ability to access well-vetted, cost-effective services abroad is an advantage that we share with our law firms and that they can offer to their other clients.

Catanzaro: Overall quality is our main concern. That had to be satisfied before anything else. Once we are satisfied with the quality then we can shop for the best price which is what going offshore provides us. This enables the law firms to focus on litigating cases and representing us as opposed to having to spend time finding a supplier to handle the back office aspects of legal work. This is another way that our law firms benefit.