Sending work offshore to India has been a staple of the general and the legal press. Now comes an example of a large company relying on lawyers in the African island-country of Mauritius. 

The Corporate Legal Times (September 2004) reports in The Mauritius Solution that consulting company Accenture has set up a legal operation in Mauritius. The company, driven by cost considerations, wanted to off-load from their legal department routine work such as NDAs and RFPs. The company set up its own legal offices in Mauritius, choosing the location because lawyers there typically speak several languages and have experience with both the English and French legal systems. Furthermore, the country has a good infrastructure.

As I read the article, Accenture hired local lawyers and set up a service center. The company is pleased with the arrangement, particularly the quality of work. Apparently the only outstanding issue is the 9 hour time difference. (Though, in my reading and discussions about outsourcing, this time difference is often viewed a positive because workers in the US can send work at the end of the US day and have finished product back the next morning.)

The trend to send legal work offshore is still small, but seems to be growing. Assuming that’s so, what will be the impact on law firms? It seems likely that only fairly routine work will be offshored for quite some time. If so, the impact on large firms, which primarily focus on higher value work, will be limited. It’s possible, however, that if corporate counsel become comfortable with offshoring, they may expect their outside counsel to take similar cost saving measures.