“Outsourced Around the World in a Billable Hour”

There’s more talk about outsourcing legal research & paralegal jobs. One report says that by 2015, 79,000 jobs will be outsourced; half will be legal staff & paralegals. Will your job be one of them?

"General counsel should know of the dramatic increase in compensation levels for associates working for large Texas firms. As in the past, the reason for the increase was that Texas firms needed to keep up with recent increases nationally that were undertaken to attract and retain the most qualified legal talent among their associate ranks.

"While large firms rationalize this jump in associate salaries as a competitive necessity, a new concern has developed among attorneys: legal outsourcing and offshoring. Is it possible that some portion of legal services offered by outside counsel to their clients may be replaced by lower-cost services provided by independent contractors in India, China, Australia, South Korea or other remote locations? A quick Google search reveals that numerous businesses offer this service and that it is just one click away. Many lawyers recently have encountered this phenomenon in corporate and litigation contexts. In fact, this recent development is very real and will only become more so during the coming years.

"Forrester Research Inc., a Massachusetts-based market research firm, estimates that more than 12,000 legal jobs moved offshore in 2004 and predicts that by 2015, more than 79,000 jobs could be lost to offshore providers of legal services, with more than half being attorney positions, according to a report on companies have formed special subsidiaries in India to retain legal services abroad, with hopes of cutting legal costs significantly. Some large companies have formed special subsidiaries in India to retain legal services abroad, with hopes of cutting legal costs significantly, the Web site notes.

"A common criticism of outsourced legal work is that it may be of poor quality. How can a person trained in Australia be well informed as to U.S. laws and their application to U.S.-based matters? While there is no doubt that the most complex and valuable work handled by U.S. firms likely will remain in those firms’ hands, the more mundane matters such as legal research, paralegal work and legal due diligence are more the target of offshore legal service providers. These matters require thorough and accurate work, but not necessarily complex legal analysis. In some cases, this type of work has been performed in the United States by entry-level associates — the kind who just got a significant pay raise at large Texas firms."