Legal Outsourcing to Offshore Jurisdications
This past weekend, I was in Niagara Falls and decided to cross the border for some shopping therapy at the Buffalo area outlet malls. As I made my way from store to store, and clothing rack to clothing rack, I was struck by how many items, designer or otherwise, are manufactured in far-flung places like China, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. It reminded me of the prevalence of outsourcing in today’s economy, from clothing to customer-support hotlines.
As I pondered the phenomenon of outsourcing, I thought about its use and effects on the legal profession. Could the world of law be next? Would we soon have “Made in India” legal documents such as contracts and court briefs?
To clarify the terminology, “outsourcing” refers to using any third party to provide services previously provided by full-time employees. “Offshoring” refers to outsourcing to a non-domestic provider.
Many law firms and legal departments in the U.S. are already offshoring legal work. For decades, American businesses have found economic advantage in outsourcing work overseas. Much more recently, outsourcing overseas has begun to command attention in the legal profession, as corporate legal departments and law firms endeavour to reduce costs and manage operations more efficiently. The types of work being outsourced and offshored by U.S. law firms and legal departments are:
- Document drafting by lawyers
- Legal research
- IP legal work, substantive or administrative
- Review of discovery documents
- Paralegal services
- Administrative and secretarial support services, excluding digital dictation
The work is outsourced to either a foreign lawyer not admitted to practice in any U.S. jurisdiction or to a layperson.
More on this topic tomorrow. Have a great day!
Bianca La Neve