The annual global market in outsourcing legal processes has passed the psychologically important billion-dollar (£630m) mark, a market survey claims this week.

The 2012 Global LPO Market Study, published by New York-based consultancy The LPO Program, says legal process outsourcing (LPO) employs some 9,000 people. If put under one roof, this workforce would form one of the world’s largest law firms. The study predicts that the market will continue to grow at an annual rate of more than 30% over the next three years.

The study also notes a trend for organisations’ general counsel to buy services directly from outsourcing firms, cutting law firms out of the market. ‘This trend is set to continue, loosening law firms’ historical monopoly on transactional elements of the legal process,’ said Edward Brooks, the report’s editor.

However, he said the market still constitutes only 0.25% of total global legal spend.

The study predicts that larger law firms will themselves look to strategic outsourcing in the future. ‘The strategic adoption of LPO will be the next big trend, as US law firms start to emulate UK firms and decide to adopt radically different delivery models, moving out of transactional activities,’ Brooks said.

See The LPO Program site.