Three recent articles discuss offshoring legal work in some detail and provide interesting updates and insights. I continue to follow the offshoring option because I view it as similar to technology: a way, properly deployed, to lower costs and improve client service.  

The Corporate Legal Times (July 2005) carries an article titled Overhyped, Underused, Overrated: The Truth About Legal Offshoring. This title seems extreme given that the contents presents a balanced view of legal offshoring. My view of the bottom line of this article is that offshoring is here to stay but can take significant effort to identify appropriate work and set up.

The July/August issue of AsiaLaw magazine reports in detail on offshoring in In-House or Outsourced? The Future of Corporate Counsel. Fellow blogger Adam Smith, Esq. has ably summarized the article in his recent post. (Both he and I are quoted in the article.) Two items caught my attention. First, GE stopped its offshoring experiment in 2003 but Morgan Stanley and American Express now use Indian lawyers. And second, an Association of Corporate Counsel survey found that 1.8% of 167 US chief legal officers surveyed report offshoring work; another 8% express interest in doing so in the future. As the WiredGC notes, even an increase to 4% would be rapid growth and reflect real money.

Last but not least, Law Practice Today editor and CaseShare Founder and CEO, John Treddenick has a good article on legal offshoring in LPT. In Your Next Office— Bangalore? John provides an excellent analysis of why a law firm’s next office might be in Bangalore, summarizing Tom Friedman’s book the World is Flat and citing Prism Legal’s and excited utterance’s list of offshore providers.

Just in case anyone thinks I am overly optimistic about offshoring, of the several ideas I discussed with AsiaLaw, here my one quote that made it into the article: “The limits to offshoring are illustrated by the virtual lock top US firms have on many high-stakes outsourced matters. Smaller and regional US firms and New York offices of large UK firms typically cannot break the lock, so it is improbable that lawyers in India could. It’s often not about cost – it’s about results, reputation, and risk management.”