Outsourcing

I should have written about this days ago, but the pain was still too near to me. The humans have lost to the machines. We might as well start digging towards the Earth’s core, where it’s still warm, and start building our own Zion.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the terrifying story of “Watson.” It’s a computer built by IBM that just kicked Ken Jennings’s ass on Jeopardy. If you are not particularly scientifically inclined, I can see how that might not sound like a big deal. You probably remember Deep Blue beating chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and think that this kind of thing has been happening for a while.

That’s just what the machines want you to think. Teaching a computer to understand the subtle nuances of trivia — the puns, the innuendos, the ordering of information — is frightening. It’s a lot different than writing an algorithm that allows a machine to work through all possible chess moves and pick the correct one.

It makes you wonder: “What else could a computer be taught to do?” Over at the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones wonders if the answer might be, “Your job”….

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I know lots of guys fantasize about boinking “barely legal” teenage girls. Not me, I like women: fully formed, adult women. There’s just something unseemly about older men salivating over girls who could have been in high school a year ago. Call me crazy, but it’s just more interesting as an adult to be intimate with other adults.

Similarly, I like my lawyers to actually practice law. There’s something unseemly about watching market forces turn law school graduates into glorified paralegals and secretaries. Call me a prude, but there’s just something gross about seeing young, nubile attorneys going around begging for document review positions. These people spent three years of their lives and six figures of their (or someone else’s) money to get law degrees; they should have something to show for their efforts.

But even if I don’t like to look, I can’t deny that this is happening. We are all living in a time that will be studied by future generations: a time when attorney career paths bifurcated, between traditional partnership-track associates and what I’ll call “barely legal” career paths….

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This week, The Rundown is going international. LegalTech is just around the corner, and there will be a solid contingent of lawyers from the United Kingdom in attendance.

Speaking of LegalTech, I’m going to be covering the conference for Above the Law. If you are interested in communicating with someone from ATL about LegalTech coverage, please contact me at [email protected]. Thanks.

In this week’s Rundown, we will touch on the LegalTech conference. We’ll also link to a quick interview with the General Counsel of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, who recently discussed the UK Bribery act and its connection to e-discovery.

Staying in foreign territory, why has there been a recent boom in cases requiring foreign languages? I also highlight two articles of interest on outsourcing…

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(And a note about ATL’s LegalTech coverage.)

Legal outsourcing makes her happy.

* Demand for attorneys well-versed in animal law is on the rise as pet owners push for recognition of their pets as family members rather than ordinary property. Which reminds me of my dog Rascal. He ate his own crap, licked furniture, and once peed on a baby. And when he died, my parents looked at me and said, “It should have been you.” [Baltimore Sun]

* Yesterday in the life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has American diplomats crying about a traveshamockery. [Bloomberg]

* Joe Miller may allow Lisa Murkowski to be certified as the winner of Alaska’s contested U.S. Senate seat, but Miller isn’t done scrapping and a’clawing. Shine on you crazy diamond. Shine on. [Washington Post]

* 200 massholes in the Massachusetts Legislature and only 52 of them are attorneys. [Boston Globe]

* Sotomayor, so hot right now. Sotomayor. [New York Times]

* Another article about legal outsourcing. Better bone up on your trivia, slumdogs. Ouch. That one barely makes sense. [Chicago Tribune]

* The Brits have beefed up their laws against companies bribing foreign officials. Reached for comment, Mr. Bean made a stupid face. [Wall Street Journal]

Protectionism? You betcha!

Bowing to pressure from arguably every unemployed or underemployed American-trained attorney, the American Bar Association has delayed its controversial decision about whether or not to start accrediting foreign law schools. Back in August, we told you that the ABA was thinking about unleashing foreign-educated attorneys upon bar examinations across the country. And apparently on this one rare occasion the ABA chose against flooding the market with even more attorneys when there are not enough jobs to go around.

Should attorneys be openly happy about this blatant protectionism? I don’t know — have you tried to get a job in this market?

The only thing global competition is going to do is push down legal salaries, while having zero effect on the cost of legal education….

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In case you’re having a hard time reading the update in the screenshot, we transcribe it below.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Facebook Status Update of the Day: Well, they can’t send bartending jobs to India.”

Hang onto your hats, your legal world is about to get rocked. At least behind the scenes.

Thomson Reuters, owner of West Publishing and BAR/BRI is selling BAR/BRI. The reports have been confirmed by people who are enrolled in BAR/BRI. They all received an email from the company tonight.

Above the Law obtained a copy of this stunning email containing the news….

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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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Outsourcing; you might have heard of it. It’s the trend whereby law firms send high man hours/low brain effort work overseas to workers who can complete the tasks at a fraction of the cost. Clients love it, consultants are pushing it, and law firms are struggling to add this new efficiency opportunity into their overall business model.

Well, not all law firms. Peter Kalis, managing partner of K&L Gates, gave a quote to the Legal Intelligencer where he called outsourcing “a gnat in an elephant’s ear.” Evidently, K&L Gates is the elephant, LPO’s are the gnats, and I’m not sure who the clients are supposed to be. Perhaps Peter “Aesop” Kalis can let us know in a future fable.

It’s not that Kalis has his head in the sand when it comes to cost savings that can be generated by moving work out of places like New York and Washington. It’s just that in his world he doesn’t view Mumbai as all that different from Pittsburgh.

Maybe he’s right about that?

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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

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