It wasn’t that long ago — just back in August 2008 — that the ABA changed its rules to allow the outsourcing of American legal work. In the midst of the recession, a lot of people are still trying to figure out if outsourcing will cause a more fundamental change to the nature of the Biglaw business model than anything we’ve seen during the credit crunch.
Now, the ABA is asking its lawyers to share their opinion on outsourcing. This week’s ABA Intellectual Property Law section e-letter contains a link to a very interesting survey. Here’s the description from the e-letter:
Outsourcing Task Force Seeks Survey Input From You
The American Bar Association’s Outsourcing Task Force is conducting a survey on outsourcing. The objective of the Task Force, at the Request of ABA President-Elect Steve Zack, is a Report with Recommendations to the House of Delegates on the subject at next year’s Annual Meeting.
An important means of collecting input from a broader cross section of the
ABA is an online survey which can be accessed at: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB229LAVJNGRM.
As input from the broadest possible range of American lawyers is critical, the Task Force would greatly appreciate if every member could take a moment to complete this survey.
Immediate Past Section Chair Gordon Arnold is a member of the Task Force and serves as its Liaison to the Section of Intellectual Property Law. He strongly encourages all to complete this survey.
IP lawyers, here is one chance to voice your opinion.
After the jump, some we post a couple of the questions the task force is asking.
Looking at the survey, it seems like the task force is just trying to get a handle on how prevalent outsourcing has become in the 14 months since the ABA changed the rules:
2. Have you outsourced any legal work to be performed in a country other than the United States by individuals who are not under your firm or company’s direct control?
(By outsourcing, we mean delegating to a third party traditional legal tasks that, by way of example, encompass research, drafting, document review and other tasks generally performed by a lawyer or a paralegal under a lawyer’s supervision.)
But here is the question that most people will have a strong opinion about:
6. In general, what is your view as to outsourcing?
* Work traditionally done by American lawyers should not be outsourced to individuals who do not hold American law licenses, no matter the circumstance.
* Outsourcing is acceptable if the outsourcing providers are extremely closely supervised.
* Outsourcing is highly beneficial and should be encouraged.
You’d like to think that the ABA knew the answer to this question before it changed the rules. And maybe it did. While outsourcing could put a serious crimp in the style of Biglaw junior associates, it could be a serious value proposition for law firms looking to cut costs.
Earlier: Extinction Level Event: Outsourcing
Prior ATL coverage of outsourcing