Sometimes a 3 Geek post generates responses that expand the idea presented and make it even better. The recent post of Managing the Law Firm Risk Role in Outsourcing is one such example.
My good friend Laney Altamar at Special Counsel keyed in on one of my closing points, “Firms should also consider leveraging technology to better connect and integrate LPO services into their matter management processes.” This statement highlights the need for firms to use technology to directly connect with an LPO or other outsourced provider to truly enable ‘adequate supervision’ per the ethics rules.
Not surprisingly, Laney agrees completely with this assessment. However, she suggested I should ‘up my game’ a bit on the topic. Which lead to an interesting conversation about the ethical duty of ‘adequate supervision.’
My take-away from the conversation is that what ERM is offering is likely necessary, but perhaps not always adequate. In some circumstances, supervision could mean something more like ‘over the shoulder’ oversight. So the real crux of the issue is that ‘adequate supervision’ requires different levels of supervision in different situations. In some cases, partner review of a document might be sufficient. In other cases, project management oversight will do (ala ERM). But at the highest level, supervision would mean actually witnessing the work performed.
Here’s the good news – Special Counsel has a tool, aptly named SightManager, that allows lawyers to view the computer screens of those performing outsourced worked. The screen shot shows what the application looks like in practice. A lawyer is viewing the various screens of outsourced workers and has the ability to zoom in on any of them and watch tasks being performed real-time. Impressive stuff.

Now the bad news – SightManager is only available when working with Special Counsel (which is actually good news for Laney). I give credit to Special Counsel for innovating this way, using technology to truly create a collaborative environment. Perhaps we will see more products like this in the market soon.
In my original post I referenced how I enjoy lively dialogs with ethics counsel on these issues. By chance, my current ethics counsel stopped by my office yesterday. Instead of our usual highly charged debate, when I mentioned the capabilities of SightManager to him, all I got was a smile.