India

* Congratulations to Sri Srinivasan on his unanimous confirmation to the D.C. Circuit. Fun Fact: Sri Srinivasan played high school basketball on the same team as Danny Manning. No joke there, it’s just a random fun fact I know about him. [USA Today]

* Should health care cover sex for people with disabilities? Sure, but spring for the Cadillac plan so you don’t get stuck with Helen Hunt. [PrawfsBlawg]

* The federal government has almost $5 billion invested in law schools. That’s around 4.4% of the total federal investment in higher education. So screw you future microbiologist, we need moar lawyerz! [Law School Cafe]

* Skadden covertly recruited its lawyers and staff best versed in Star Wars to sort through the intellectual property rights to 209 characters to make sure Disney successfully acquired the proper rights for every core character. If they had any decency they’d just let Jar Jar go. [Hollywood Reporter via ABA Journal]

* Law school to reconsider applicant it dinged the first time around. As Paul Caron notes, “Money quote from Dean: ‘we wanted to make sure that we weren’t taking advantage of them.’” How magnanimous of you to reconsider taking their money. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Judges manipulated the system to promote a vendor they personally operated on the State’s time. That’s one way to pad that judicial salary. [Washington Times]

* Kirkland and Ellis associate Roy Cho is mulling a run for Congress in New Jersey. It’s not official yet, but he has set up a campaign-ready Twitter account, and in politics that’s like changing to “In a Relationship” on Facebook. [NJ Herald]

* Zachary Cohn, age 6, drowned after becoming entrapped in the drain of his family’s swimming pool. The Connecticut Superior Court recently finalized a combined settlement of $40 million to Zac’s estate. Now his parents have taken all of the net proceeds from the case to establish The ZAC Foundation to tackle the nationwide issue of pool suction entrapment in private and public pools and to improve overall water safety. [Daily Business Review]

* The gender and age discrimination suit between Pat Martone and Ropes & Gray settled. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Times Publishing House is suing a 22-year-old law student for defamation. A newspaper suing a new media reporter with the very laws that land them constantly in court? *Cuts off nose to spite face* [Spicy IP India]

Where's Waldo? In court, apparently.

* Jason Cai, the software engineer convicted in the spring of murdering a young attorney, was sentenced today to life in prison without parole and ordered to pay more than $700,000 to the slain woman’s family. [Mercury News]

* An appeals court revived a discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman against her employer. And nobody cares. Wait, hold on a sec. Her employer is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What, what, whaaaat? [WSJ Law Blog]

* James Holmes, the man accused of last week’s movie theater shooting spree, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts. They include 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. [Courthouse News Service]

* The Twinkie defense is so played out. Now, courtesy of an ex-Citigroup employee, introducing the brand spanking new “Where’s Waldo” defense. [Reuters]

* India’s largest and oldest television network has accused Nielsen of violating the FCPA by manipulating viewership data in favor of networks that offer bribes. Say it ain’t so! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chick-fil-A, free speech, zoning laws, and homophobia — all thrown together onto a failure pile in a sadness bowl. Noted First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, counsel to ATL, takes to CNN to educate the masses. [CNN]

Foreign LLM students are often like Rodney Dangerfield: they don’t get no respect. American-born JD candidates make fun of LLMs: their awkwardness, their accents, their ignorance of U.S. customs, and their repeated references to life and law in their home countries (“Back on Mypos, we don’t have contributory negligence….”).

Well, next time you want to make fun of an LLM student, check yourself. That LLM student might be the future president of his country — like Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president who earned an LLM at Columbia Law School.

Or, better yet, that LLM student might be the most beautiful woman out of 600,000,000. The nation of India has a population of around 1.2 billion — and a former LLM student at NYU Law School was just crowned Miss India, making her that country’s #1 specimen of womanhood. Eat your heart out, Reema Bajaj.

The new Miss India’s name is Vasuki Sunkavalli. Let’s check her out, shall we?

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Lawyers complain but Obama won't listen.

If you’ve been following along with the trend towards outsourcing over the past few years, you know what American lawyers are up against. Indian lawyers can do American legal work… while American attorneys are shut out of India’s (large and growing) legal market.

As many of you know, President Obama recently fled traveled to India, and ABA president Stephen N. Zack is begging Obama to use his international goodwill to convince India to stop acting like dicks in an exclusionary fashion with respect to American lawyers and law firms.

Zack’s arguments are simple ones, based on sound business practices, free trade, and fundamental fairness. Yet these arguments haven’t worked on Indian legal authorities, and apparently Obama isn’t any more receptive…

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“Knowledge Economy”

An environment in which a person has run up $150,000 in student loans to pay for a law degree only to see jobs exported to India whose citizens are apparently very knowledgeable about the U.S. legal system.

Example: “The best job in the knowledge economy is plumbing because nobody with an advanced degree knows how to use Drano.”

– a Yahoo! Finance article on office buzzwords to avoid

This has all happened before, and this will all happen again. So say we all. At the beginning of the recession, just weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, we brought you a New York Times article from 1990 that illustrated the similarities between the tough legal job markets created by Bush 41 and Bush 43.

Today, we run the DeLorean even further back in time, and to an entirely different country. A loyal reader was cleaning out his office and came across an article from The Law College Magazine of Bombay, India, from 1930. The piece is entitled: “Is It Worthwhile? A Frank Talk With Budding Lawyers.” And it’s all about whether a person should pursue a two-year law degree in India in the 1930s.

Folks, let me tell you: some people worry that India will become the new market for American legal jobs, but that’s not the real fear. The real fear is that American law students will become like Indian law students in 1930.

And maybe that process is already well underway….

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“Believe me, kiddos, this is bad news for all of us.”

As many websites and blogs (including ATL) mentioned last week, The New York Times published an article by Heather Timmons entitled “Outsourcing to India Draws Western Lawyers.” The quote above was from the blog Shilling Me Softly giving its take on the article. As you can probably discern from The Times headline, the piece was very favorable toward legal outsourcing taking place overseas…

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Well, it was only a matter of time before the lawyers started to go where the work is. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that the work is in India.

Western-trained lawyers are heading to India, to manage the country’s burgeoning legal outsourcing resources. From the New York Times (gavel bang: WSJ Law Blog):

India’s legal outsourcing industry has grown in recent years from an experimental endeavor to a small but mainstream part of the global business of law. Cash-conscious Wall Street banks, mining giants, insurance firms and industrial conglomerates are hiring lawyers in India for document review, due diligence, contract management and more.

Now, to win new clients and take on more sophisticated work, legal outsourcing firms in India are actively recruiting experienced lawyers from the West. And U.S. and British lawyers — who might once have turned up their noses at the idea of moving to India or harbored an outright hostility to outsourcing legal work in principle — are re-evaluating the sector.

Mumbai to 8,743,800 rupees? Not quite, not yet at least…

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vampires lost boys.jpg* Mumbai high court upholds 1995 decision invalidating licenses for White & Case, Ashurst and Chadbourne & Park to open firms in India. Unless the government changes the law, that goes for any other non-Indian firm that wants to open an office there. Partnerships with Indian firms and offshore work still welcome, of course. [Bloomberg]

* An Indiana judge survives a vampire attack. [Associated Press]

* Will Obama be called to testify in Blago’s trial? [Chicago Tribune]

* Closing arguments in the other huge American criminal trial in Italy this year. [ComputerWorld]

* Bankruptcy judge James Peck okays $50 million in bonuses for Lehman bankers. [Bloomberg]

* Disturbing lawyer of the day Aaron Biber posts $500,000 bail. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

outsourcing biglaw aba tsunami.gifToday we sat down with Gururaj Potnis, director of Manthan Legal, who was in New York to attend a legal conference. Manthan is an Indian company that describes itself as a “leader of offshore Legal Process Outsourcing.” According to Potnis, Manthan has roughly 280 lawyers — 140 senior attorneys, and 140 more junior colleagues who do paralegal-type work — and they stand ready to help law firms cut costs (and increase profits).
Potnis thinks a “tectonic shift” is taking place in the legal industry, and he believes his company is well-positioned to take advantage of the new market. According to him, he’s got law firm clients on his side: “For the first time, the large law firms are being asked by their customers: ‘Are you efficient?’” The market change that we are now seeing “is 99% being driven by customers.”
Manthan Legal is positioned differently from its Indian competitors in legal outsourcing. It works primarily for law firms rather than in-house counsel:

Right now, 90% of the [outsourcing] industry is being driven by corporate counsel [i.e., in-house lawyers]. At some point in time, they’ve been exposed to the concept of having to get the maximum amount of work from the minimum budget….

[I]n the short term, the corporate counsel will drive [the outsourcing trend]. But in the long term, the law firms will have to develop an alternate billing model.

And under these alternative billing models, outsourcing may have an important role to play.
What can outsourcing firms offer? Junior associates might not like it, but managing partners will have to start paying attention. More after the jump.

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