Some lawyers seem to view offshoring legal work as exotic. In fact, it’s not that different than delegating work internally. 

As a panelist for The World Is Flat: What You Need To Know About Effectively Outsourcing Legal Services (ALM – Law Journal Newsletter web audio conference on May 16, 2007) my presentation, Legal Outsourcing – Overview, Opportunities, Issues, suggested that outsourcing and offshoring is just another step on the delegation path. Lawyers have long delegated administrative functions to staff and to outside vendors. They regularly delegate substantive legal work to other lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals. Sometimes they delegate to lawyers in distant offices whom they’ve never met.

And sometimes the delegation of substantive work becomes outsourcing, for example, coding documents and legal research. Analytically, the idea of sending work offshore is not so different than delegating. Professor Stephen Gillers of NYU Law, a co-panelist and recognized ethics expert, explained that with appropriate supervision and disclosure, outsourcing and offshoring are ethically permissible.

The third panelist was Ram Vasudevan, President, SQ Global Solutions, a company that provides offshore legal services. He explained the hybrid model – onshore and offshore lawyers – his company uses and the steps they follow to insure compliance with ethics requirements.