Shantala Sadananda, President of Mindcrest discussed the changing role of outsourcing in the legal industry, how globalization is affecting the way corporations approach compliance and regulatory requirements, the benefits of having a holistic view of legal support services across industries, and the importance of approaching outsourcing as a collaborative, custom-tailored solution.
Jason Redlus: Shantala, please tell us about your background and what led you to Mindcrest.
Shantala Sadananda: At the outset, I really want to thank you Jason and Argyle Executive Forum for providing this wonderful opportunity for information exchange. Coming to my background, I have been in the consulting, technology and outsourcing industry now for about 17 years. The majority of my work experience in last 10 years or so has been primarily focused on financial services. Prior to joining Mindcrest, I was with Capgemini, where I served in various senior global leadership roles including managing their global clients, large practices and their delivery centers.
I joined Mindcrest in February this year and it has been a wonderful experience since then. What particularly attracted me to Mindcrest is that the company truly believes in exceptional client service and in long-term partnerships, which is key to bringing the right value to clients with the right solutions. And the other key element for my decision to join them was the world class team we have in the organization. The legal support services industry is truly transforming, and I felt I could bring some of the best practices and experiences from my past and take this opportunity to learn and grow in a new domain as well. The issues and challenges resonated with me because of similar challenges I had seen in other industries. I could resonate with lot of similar issues I had seen in other industries and yet complement and understand some of the challenges this domain brings in.
Where are you located?
I am based in Chicago.
What services does Mindcrest offer?
Mindcrest is one of the leaders in providing legal support services, which can include litigation management, corporate services and management including contract administration management as well as compliance and regulatory services and, legal content and publishing. The company started in 2001 and has been a strategic partner to law firms and large corporations since then. We have outsourcing delivery centers in India and opened a near shore center in Utah in 2012 to support all our service lines as well as foreign language requirements.
“The flat fee concept is at the forefront now because law firms are looking at how they can provide the best solution at the best price. Cost is becoming a bigger issue.”
Some analysts say the LPO market is a billion-dollar opportunity. What is unique about the state of today’s law firms, along with their spend and workflow, that has created such a large opportunity for a firm like Mindcrest?
A transformation is occurring in the Legal industry, and there are various reasons for the change. To highlight a few:
As a Legal service provider, we service several types of clients, including law firms and corporations. In the last three months, 90 percent of my conversations with executives at law firms have focused on flat fees, which is a big change for law firms. Litigation is something that you really cannot budget or anticipate. But the operational components of litigation can be managed, and a lot of law firms are beginning to understand that. The flat fee concept is at the forefront now because law firms are looking at how they can provide the best solution at the best price. Cost is becoming a bigger issue.
We also actively serve corporations. For corporations, the classic flat fee concept is not new, but they are looking for ways to do more with a limited budget. Corporations are also becoming more global. One of our biggest areas is around compliance and regulations. Compliance is no longer U.S.-specific. Companies want a global compliance program, and they seek our help in aligning their services on a global scale.
When you start looking at business problems that have a global outreach, and you start examining the implications in terms of operations, it’s a huge change from the way companies used to operate.
So to summarize, cost, quality, global outreach and speed are all becoming key priorities. And hence a value partner like Mindcrest becomes important for clients. First, for corporations that are looking at a flat budget but want to work with a collaborative partner, we can offer them the cost benefit that they’re looking for combined with our best shore approach. Second, an innovative and solution focused partner can stand back, examine the client’s needs across their internal departments as well as across the industry spectrum, and offer solutions which fit best of breed. A good hybrid model is the need of the hour and Mindcrest is best suited based on our focus on our long term collaborative partnership model.
What industry has done a really good job of embracing the benefits and opportunities of LPO providers?
Looking at our customer base and considering some of the transformational conversations I’ve had with CEOs across industries, one of the key innovators are legal content and publishing companies. I’m new to this industry, but when I talk to some of the presidents of these organizations, they are looking for new solutions in content, and documentation. They are focusing on rule-based analysis and are receptive and adaptive to new ideas. I’ve found conversations with executives of these companies to be more forward looking.
Let’s talk about the role of law firms. Wilcox recently published a white paper that discusses, at a high level, the global legal support services business, and claims the opportunity for outsourcing is $240 billion a year, most of which is absorbed by law firms. What role does the law firm play in this ecosystem?
Law firms play an important role and will continue to do so. It’s not about who will become more prevalent. When I’m sitting in front of my client, my key concern is what is relevant for that client? Do they need a hybrid model to focus on high-end content? Or, if you look at the litigation value chain, do they need to unbundle services? Law firms need to focus on what they do best and how can they do it better, and we need to focus on how we can do the best. That will bring the right value and partnerships in our industry from a long term stand point. .
In-house counsel tend to benchmark themselves on where they are compared to their peers in terms of adopting innovative solutions. Let’s say the LPO market is a baseball game. If innings represent adoption by large corporations, what inning are we in right now? Are we in the first inning of this product category or are we further along? Where do you think the broader community is in terms of adopting an LPO partner?
Corporations are further along in the inning. Law firms are still trying to judge whether or not they should play. Intention is there but action is yet to be seen. If you look at corporations that have metrics and measurement, they seem to be really further along in this journey. If you think about corporations as a baseball team, they have started positioning the right players into the right role. They have started understanding what their strengths are. What is the strategy I need to play in the game? That level of thinking has happened in a lot of the corporations that I talk to. I was meeting with the general counsel at a very large corporation last week and, by talking to him, I could clearly see that he had a well laid out strategy but the path to execution was not clear. Most of the General Counsel, have a seat at the CEO’s table and in the past they were seldom pressured by a CFO’s from cost, productivity and efficiency perspective. But now things have changed. If you look at the organization’s dynamic, they know that they have to play this game. They have no choice but to march ahead and play. They’re positioning the right players at the right place.
I’ve seen a lot of corporations that need help in terms of brainstorming and articulating what they need, because LPO is relatively new. It’s not tried, tested or implemented. Each solution is custom-made. It’s not something that you can easily pick up from a rack at a retail store, and find just the right color or size. It doesn’t work that way. We understand what fabric you need and can custom-tailor the end result any way you want it. We’ve come to that level of conversation where our clients understand where they want to position their internal organizations so they can do what they can do best, play the field accordingly, position the right players, and be ready to play the game. They really are further along in terms of thinking whether they want to keep certain legal support services in-house and how they can leverage a partner like Mindcrest to develop the right value proposition.
Can you offer any examples of clients that you have helped?
I can’t provide any names but I’ll share few examples with you.
One of our recent wins has been a great win-win-win solution for law firms, provider like us as well as large corporations. Mindcrest came up with an innovative solution in a particular area of trade regulation for a leading law firm in North America. We had done e-discovery work for them for years and noticed that they had been working on a number of trade disputes for their clients. We approached the law firm with a proposal, offering to become a legal processing hub for all those trade disputes. Because Mindcrest works with customers across industries, we can more easily see repetitive problems in a certain industry and offer solutions The law firm appreciated the fact that we reached out and offered a legal processing solution that they could market to their customers that would help lower transaction costs for their clients. By doing the work on the back end, we could reduce the cost of their operating model. Then, jointly, Mindcrest and the law firm approached large corporations with this solution and we closed a deal with a large corporation last week. They said, ‘What you are bringing to me is a clear solution with the best time frame and the design outcomes.’ They’re willing to take the risk-reward scenario, which a true partner should be doing. They loved our value proposition.
We at Mindcrest want to be a catalyst in transforming the legal industry, we want to bring in the best quality solution at the right price.
What role do you think LPO will play in the future?
This is an industry that is not clearly defined. There’s nothing like legal process outsourcing. Within legal support services, collaboration will be key. And LPO’s can truly play a critical role in this transformation. That’s a personal passion for me. Also one of the key roles LPO’s will play is bringing in the right technology in our space. To summarize, LPO definitely has a very important role in transforming the legal support services industry.
Shantala Sadananda is focused to lead Mindcrest Inc. into the next phase of transformation, growth and solidify its position as the leader in legal outsourcing services industry. Motivated to add long term value for the clients with strong focus on industry knowledge, dedication to quality and execution, while utilizing a diverse and global work environment to achieve sustainable, profitable growth with right ROI for organizations and clients. Responsible for ensuring that Mindcrest continues to be the market leader by developing innovative solutions and forging collaborative partnerships to take advantage of the changing legal support services landscape in the industry.
Shantala Sadananda is an accomplished professional services leader with significant consulting, technology and outsourcing experience. Over the last 17 years, she has held global leadership positions at Capgemini where she was responsible for strategic business development, large global practices, managing sales and collaborative partnerships with key client accounts and building high performance teams.
Jason is Argyle Executive Forum’s managing member and founder. Argyle Executive Forum is a professional services firm that convenes and connects business leaders from highly targeted business-to-business communities for strategic collaboration and business development.
Over 40,000 executives participate in one or several of Argyle Executive Forum’s communities, with over 700 new members joining every month. Prior to forming Argyle Executive Forum, Jason launched the private-equity business effort for Capital IQ. Capital IQ was acquired by Standard & Poor’s in 2004. Prior to Capital IQ, Jason was an investment banker, focused on middle-market M&A and LBO transactions. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard Business School.