The legal press loves to pit US and UK firms against one another. This week, evidence of another dimension in that competition.

Large UK law firms have embraced low cost, offshore operations more enthusiastically than US firms. View from the Top – David Childs, global managing partner of Clifford Chance (FT, 13 Feb 2009, free registration required) today is worth reading entirely; one Q&A pair caught my eye:

“Q: Is the recession giving you a boost by encouraging clients to move their work to a single, bigger law firm?

A: Not yet. What we are seeing, though, is clients wanting to discuss with us how they take cost out of their [internal] legal function, as well as how we can help them reduce the cost of what we do for them. So, for example, we have a centre in India that provides us with paralegal services as well as accounting and IT services and we’ve asked them to talk with some of our clients as to whether we can give them a paralegal service through London using paralegals in India.”

With law departments increasingly cost conscious, firms that can offer lower cost options have a competitive advantage. Will US firms be at a disadvantage not having similar low cost options?