GO EAST YOUNG LAW FIRM
October 6, 2005
A growing number of United States and British law firms are outsourcing legal work to India, says the Wall Street Journal. The practice started a few years ago with simple word processing and filing services performed by nonlawyers. But increasingly, squads of experienced but inexpensive lawyers based in India are doing things ranging from patent applications to divorce papers to legal research for Western clients.
DirectoryM, a Cambridge, Mass., online marketing company says the people being outsourced to are well-educated and work at an hourly rate 10 percent what large-firm lawyers charge. However, the cost savings on salaries is not the only attraction.
- Lawyers in India are less likely to demand perks like big offices and personal assistants because being a lawyer is not a high-prestige, big-income profession in India; as one expert explains, the pecking order is engineering, medicine, M.B.A., CPA and then law.
- Because the legal systems in India, the United States and the United Kingdom are all rooted in British common law, Indian lawyers need little additional training to do standard legal work such as vetting contracts, checking patent registrations or reviewing documents related to foreign cases.
- So far, outsourcing has created as many as 12,000 legal jobs worldwide, according to Forrester Research, and could reach 29,000 in 2008, with most jobs going to India.
- One lure of the Indian legal market is the sheer number of lawyers; more than 200,000 Indians graduate from law school there every year - five times as many as in the United States - creating an enormous pool of talent to tap.
Indeed, outsourcing could ultimately change the way legal work is done in Western countries, industry analysts and company executives say. They expect it to free up American and British lawyers from time-consuming paper work, allowing small firms to take on bigger cases.
Source: Eric Bellman and Nathan Koppel, "Legal Services Enter Outsourcing Domain," Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2005.
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