Thanks in part to a spreading framework of British-based legal standards and business language, he says, LPO will emulate Commonwealth values in its trading activities. Mark's bold prediction comes in an interview with IP Review Online, in which he sets out his views on how LPO will stimulate the world's buoyant sourcing market.
A major advantage that Mark sees in legal outsourcing is its ability to raise efficiency in law firms without necessarily changing their cultures. 'Once there is a robust and reliable network that can link resources around the world,' he says, 'there is no requirement to service clients locally. Outsourcing itself does not essentially change the way the law, or law firms, operate but it offers access to some external resource that can offer increased capacity or flexibility. It does not really change what a firm does, just increases its ability to do things faster, better or cheaper.' This flexibility extends to the involvement of non-lawyers, who are increasingly entering the field as entrepreneurs. 'Non-lawyers can build firms offering legal services,' says Mark, 'though the actual professionals offering the service need to be qualified. You don't need to be a lawyer to build an organisation offering services to law firms.'
As the author of several books on offshoring, including Outsourcing to India: the Offshore Advantage (2004) and Who Moved My Job? (2008), Mark has kept a keen eye on the cutting-edge technologies that have driven LPO's development since the start of the decade. He argues that the ever-evolving Internet will continue to make an impact over the next few years. 'Broadband penetration is now so extensive and so reliable that there is little need for private lines or other complex and expensive networks anymore,' he says. 'The robust nature of the public Internet, plus the use of Software As A Service (SAAS) tools where applications can be run from within a web browser rather than being installed on PCs will create an environment where teams can work together regardless of where the people are physically located.'
In Mark's view, these enhancements of software and remote working will lead to a closer-knit global trading climate that will echo models from the past. 'We will see the historic legacy of the Commonwealth come into play in the modern era,' he says. 'Because of the similarity in legal frameworks in many countries thanks to the British legacy and the use of modern technology reducing the impact of distance, we will see huge growth in legal support services in places such as India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and East Africa, with qualified resources in those regions working to support firms back in the UK. It is a legacy of the past that these people will be in a position to work with UK firms in much the same way as the English language has been left behind as a language of business in those regions. But it is the open technology of the future that will ensure there is a complete death of distance.'
To find out more about the National Outsourcing Association's work, please visit www.noa.co.uk.