Outsourcing

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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Are Biglaw firms outsourcing legal work, or not? We don’t know, because apparently firms don’t want clients to know. The ABA Journal reports that most firms declined to even answer an outsourcing questionnaire:

About 83 percent of the 30 responding law firms declined to participate in the survey, according to Fronterion, the Chicago-based outsourcing consulting firm that conducted the study. Fronterion managing principal Michael Bell believes a majority of top law firms are using legal outsourcing providers, at least on an ad hoc basis, but they are reluctant to admit it because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Apparently all that criticism of the quality of international LPOs has made firms afraid to talk about outsourcing.

But since we’re dealing with top law firms, not talking =/= not doing…

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Is this a “terrible job” or “the inevitable future of the legal economy”? Note: those two answers aren’t mutually exclusive.

The University of Michigan Law Schoolthe 9th-best law school in America — is now posting job opportunities from India.

Has it really gotten bad enough that graduates from a top law school should consider international LPO opportunities? Yes, yes it has….

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It’s been a while since we checked in with the coming junior associate apocalypse that is legal outsourcing. Rest assured, LPOs around the globe are working hard to make sure that the Biglaw junior associate becomes extinct — at least as we know it.

There’s a fascinating article on Law21 that discusses the evolution of legal process outsourcing — and what LPOs need to do next:

Still in its relative infancy, legal process outsourcing has already had a huge impact on the legal services marketplace: scoring major deals with the likes of Microsoft and Rio Tinto, garnering the attention of private-equity investors, and helping to expose the degree to which law firms have overcharged for the simplest legal work, among other accomplishments. But this impact has set off two important chains of events.

The first affects LPOs themselves: they now need to move their value proposition beyond cost savings in a market they helped to make more sophisticated. The second affects everyone: the legal profession’s response to LPO is having an unexpected effect on how legal work is distributed and how legal resources are allocated.

Some law firms still seem to be fighting the last war and are committed to fending off outsourcing until the bitter end. But other firms are preparing themselves for the next war: remaining the primary legal advisor to their clients in a world where the clients themselves can go to a number of providers to get the work done…

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