Worker Resistance in Digital Capitalism| On the Shoulders of Automation: A Worker’s Inquiry Into the Hybrid Nature of the Legal Managed Services Industry (LPO/ALSP)
In this article, the author draws upon a 12-month ethnographic study of one of India’s largest legal process outsourcing (LPO) firms to provide a workers’ account of legal work. When LPOs came to Indian shores, they offered reasonable hours and fair pay and positioned themselves between the partnership tracks at law firms and private practice as litigators. The initial success of this model in attracting offshore projects threatened to end the monopoly of law firms—in terms of the social capital and client loyalty that law firm personnel enjoyed. While a substitution did not happen, several practices have become ubiquitous in law firms, which may have originated in the “best management practices” crucible of major LPOs. The workplace investigated was mediated by a hybrid of traditional Taylorist techniques and digital tools. The author establishes a pre-enquiry for studying legal sector labor. The author sheds light on LPO practices that may be bleeding into other parts of the legal sector so that workers across legal subsectors can observe and calibrate their organizational strategies accordingly.