While many attorneys in the US are concerned about losing their jobs due to legal outsourcing, others are using outsourcing to benefit their clients. India has become a hotbed for the outsourcing of American legal work. The New York Times published an article on August 4, profiling Christopher Wheeler, a former assistant attorney general in New York who moved to India to take a job managing 110 Indian lawyers at a legal outsourcing company called Pangea3.
The lawyers he manages do the work that would otherwise be assigned to new associates in the United States, for far less money. The Indian lawyers cannot actually advise American clients, but they can do much of the work that a junior associate would do. Outsourcing firms often charge as little as one-third to one-tenth what an American law firm charges on an hourly basis.
"This is not a blip, this is a big historical movement," said David B. Wilkins in The New York Times. Wilkins directs Harvard Law School's legal profession program. "There is an increasing pressure by clients to reduce costs and increase efficiency..."
Many find the prospect of outsourcing legal jobs troubling. The issue is very contentious in the states, especially among attorneys. With law firms ordering massive layoffs over the past few years, it is disheartening to hear about American attorneys working overseas to undercut the domestic market.
In many situations, outsourcing is not a viable option. For example, Janine Dascenzo, associate general counsel at General Electric said that for matters that require special expertise, they need the best and brightest attorneys available. In that case, corporate legal outsourcing is simply not possible, at least not yet.
"We will continue to go to big firms for the lawyers they have who are experts in subject matter, world-class thought leaders...and we will pay a lot of money for those lawyers," said Dascenzo. But G.E. doesn't need its in-house team to consist of an "army of associates ... You don't need a $500-an-hour associate to do things like document review and basic due diligence," Dascenzo told the Times.