Inside Counsel magazine recently asked its general counsel readers “Have you ever outsourced legal work to India?” 

The questions was asked on the magazine’s web site and the answers published in the November issue:
– 26% “Yes”
– 22% “May in the future”
– 52% “No”

Given that legal outsourcing and offshoring has only been a widely publicized option for less than 5 years, I am surprised that one-quarter half already used and another quarter are considering it. More surprising, however, is that half rule it out. Given the answer choices, the most reasonable interpretation of “No” means “no, and I will not consider it in the future.”

Offshoring may not be a good option for every law department but I wonder how one would explain to corporate management a blanket refusal to consider it. It may not be appropriate today but what about tomorrow? What’s a reasonable basis to rule it out? I suppose the “No respondents” here may well have responded the same a dozen years ago to “Have you ever used e-mail to conduct legal work” or a half-dozen years ago “Have you ever used e-billing with outside counsel.” Smart business people do not rule out viable ways to do business.

Updated (11/19/07): After I wrote above, I came across In-House Lawyers Manage Outside Counsel More Closely (Fulton County Daily Report, 11/16/07). It notes “GCs everywhere seem to be applying the same kinds of cost control measures to the outside law firms as their C-suite counterparts do with any other vendor service…. GCs have talked about sending less critical work to smaller boutique firms, solo practitioners and even outsourcing to India.”