So what’s legal offshoring really like from the inside? Two Harvard 3Ls report on their journey through India. 

The source on outsourcing in the Harvard Law School Alumni Bulletin (Fall 2006) carries a report by two Harvard Law students who spent time in India researching legal offshoring operations. They “interviewed law students, attorneys at top corporate firms, venture capitalists and India’s second-ranking solicitor general. They also visited the cubicles where legal work is being done at a fraction of the going U.S. rate.”

Though several US corporations have set up their own offshore operations, the students found that the “independent firm started by an entrepreneur, often an Indian-American lawyer who supervises the work of Indian-trained attorneys” is more common. Offshore vendor claims notwithstanding, they found (1) few top Indian law school graduates work in these operations and (2) most offshore legal work, other than in patents, is not very complex. The article offers many other interesting anecdotal reports and suggests an optimistic future for legal offshoring.

And why does this matter to corporate law department tech managers and BigLaw CIOs? If your department or firm does offshore work – substantive or not – you can be sure there will be IT issues involved. And for law firms, any move to offshore legal work will cause – or should cause – law firm management to at least raise the question of outsourcing aspects of IT, if that is not already occurring.