“Outsourcing” is not a term with which I am particularly familiar. The word is tossed around as something that takes jobs away from Americans, as companies take advantage of cheap labor prices in other countries. I have always associated this phenomenon with industries such as computer technology and automotive manufacturing. When I heard of law firms practicing outsourcing, I was baffled to say the least. And the most intriguing fact is that this technique is not a new development.
After finding an article in the New York Times 2010 archive reporting on legal outsourcing, I was curious to know just how long this practice has been in use. It turns out, the earliest occurrence of legal outsourcing dates back to the mid-nineties. Considering all the backlash industrial outsourcing has received, it is surprising to see that legal outsourcing has not only stayed, but actually has grown.
For the firms there is a practical and economical reason for sending certain jobs overseas and it is the same reason that drives many other industries abroad–labor is cheaper. Why spend 200 dollars an hour for an employee performing basic research when you can spend half that abroad? Or, as the website CPA Global puts it, “when [lawyers] are free to focus on the big things, they can produce even greater results.” CPA Global posits that with the removal of menial tasks, lawyers can truly work to the best of their ability. This sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t want their lawyer to have a clear mind when the time comes for trial?
But as an undergraduate, this is not good news. Many of the jobs that are sent to countries like India are those that normally go to entry-level lawyers and law students just getting their feet wet. This is sadly just more bad news to consider along with the decline in jobs for law school graduates. How is a student supposed to find work when that work is suddenly being shipped elsewhere?
Well, there really isn’t cause to worry, yet. Legal outsourcing is still a rather small niche. But some very good advice can be found in an article posted by Merrick Pastore in April on LawSpaceMatch.com. The article impresses upon all up-and-coming lawyers the importance of networking. When a firm hires a lawyer from another country, they are a faceless and possibly nameless being. An American law student on the other hand certainly doesn’t have to be. Networking allows employers to see potential and gauge drive of legal hopefuls. By showing a little tenacity, it is possible to convince others that you are worth the greater paycheck.
Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco
See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Advice on Summer Jobs: Both for Now and in the Future, Should I Stay in School? Just Look at the Unemployment Rate
One of the largest trends I’ve noticed in the last few years is the increasing rate at which newly graduated college students and those older are extending their stay in school. Of my friends who recently graduated, very few of them were content to go back to mom and dad’s to live at home and work in an entry-level position. Many didn’t even take the famed gap-year–instead choosing to go straight into graduate school. It’s really no surprise. More and more employers are seeking those who have achieved some sort of college degree. An Associate’s degree is good, a Bachelor’s is better, and a Master’s or Doctorate degree is like writing your own check to success…or so I thought.
In June 2011 the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an estimated 87.6% of 2010 Law School graduates found employment in the months following commencement. After reading this I found myself a little disconcerted considering the national unemployment rate for May-September of that year averaged around 9.6%. While a 2.8% disparity doesn’t seem like a great deal, the difference is still unsettling for one very important reason: student loans.
As an undergraduate I am fortunate not to have any debt to my name, but with so many of my peers already neck deep in loans or on some sort of financial aid I can’t help but think that I will be amongst them soon enough–especially when a year of law school can easily cost $45,000. Often times I think many undergraduate students choose the pre-professional tracks such as pre-health and pre-law simply for the expected big payout in the long run. It’s true that lawyers tend to earn more in a given year than many other occupations (the median annual salary settling just above 100K as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but if no one is hiring, than those already considerable debts will only compound.
A debt scenario runs on a continuous loop through my mind that goes something like this:
Social and parental pressure dictates you attend a First Tier school + 45,000$ tuition x 4 years (taken in loans) + rent + cell phone bill + groceries + gas (prices of which may or may not force you to take public transit) + health insurance + auto insurance + 45,000 tuition x 3 (or 4) years graduate school + taxes (can’t forget them) = severe debt, impending depression and subsequent reliance on Parents
This situation may seem slightly exaggerated but when you consider the rising costs of living and the slump that the employment rate for law students has fallen into, it really isn’t so difficult to imagine. So maybe this could also explain why so many have decided to stay in school. Maybe right now “real life” is just too terrifying. At least in school we’re safe–albeit temporarily.
Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco
See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Persistence of Economic Downturn Forces a New Legal Landscape, I Need a Job!
A major Atlanta law firm, Epstein Becker & Green has been sued by its landlord for unpaid rent for its Atlanta/Buckhead law office. While the law firm and the landlord were engaged in negotiations regarding failure to pay for legal space under the lease agreement, the law firm has been sued for failure to pay rental payments in the amount of $855,000 in back rent. Ken Menendez, the Atlanta local managing shareholder, was surprised by the filing of the lawsuit and stated, “… notwithstanding the lawsuit, we expect to work out a deal to restructure our lease.”
Epstein Becker is not the only larger law firm which has contracted during the recent recession. Other Atlanta law firms have also downsized. Epstein Becker has allowed one and one half floors of “dark space” in Resurgens Plaza, a well-known Atlanta Buckhead commercial building near Lenox Mall. Atlanta’s commercial real estate landscape has left a lot of law firms with vacant space. As a result of tenants having too much empty space, even when attempting to renegotiate with landlords, law firms risk getting sued for back rent. A sublet is an option for tenants with excessive vacant law space. Extra law office space may be subleased to lawyers seeking a turn-key law office situated in a prestigious commercial building. Smaller law firms in Atlanta are engaging in this space sharing and benefit from reduced costs.
LawSpaceMatch.com provides a simple avenue for lawyers and law firms with empty law space to sublease to lawyers in transition and seeking to sublease from lawyers. Law firms may post their empty law space on LawSpaceMatch.com for free. Lawyers seeking to share space may search by zip code or by custom criteria based on areas of practice, and other amenities such as receptionists, shared secretaries, covered parking, and rental rates for the sublease.
Perhaps during its negotiations with the landlord at Resurgens Plaza, Epstein Becker could have considered utilizing a free service and obtained a sublease, even for a short period of time, allowing a sublease for lawyers desiring the creation of a law practice within its prestigious law space within Resurgens Plaza.
Notes: Fulton Daily Report – Friday, July 1, 2011
See Also: The Need For Law Space Match, Landlords Make Room for New Tenants, Provide Relief for Existing Tenants, Atlanta’s Largest Law Firm Comes Out on Top with Strategic Cost Cutting