American Lawyer magazine reports in Briefed in Bangalore (November 2004) on more examples of outsourcing legal work to India. At the same time, at least one US-based company is promoting outsourcing services based on being in the US and using US citizens. 

The article notes that “lawyers, like other professionals, have started to recognize the value of tapping into the highly educated, English-speaking Indian workforce to carry out tasks that would typically be performed by junior-level employees.” It goes on to report on several companies providing legal outsourcing services (most covered in my previous outsourcing posts). The article includes some examples I have not previously seen reported:

  • Lawyers in India are performing substantive document review (i.e., responsiveness and privilege determinations).
  • Dallas-based law firm Bickel & Brewer has opened a facility in India with several hundred lawyers and non-lawyers who scan, code, index, and abstract documents. The firm has spun-off this operation into a separate company (details here).
  • QuisLex provides various services (e.g., research), including to small law firms.
  • “250-lawyer Louisville, Ky.-based Stites & Harbison… has outsourced legal research and pieces of M&A transaction and is currently considering forming an alliance with outsourcing vendors and Indian firms.”

On the one hand, these examples suggest and increasing move to offshoring legal work. On the other hand, there appears to be a market for domestic outsourcing. I recently became aware of a domestic legal outsourcing operation, cbfgroup, at a conference. Now I see an ad in the November 8th issue of Legal Times for this company. It stresses that is “US owned and US based… and employs US citizens.”

The great thing about a free market is that it provides options. My take is that the legal outsourcing trend is growing and the market will decide what will go offshore and what will stay domestic.