Job Outsourcing: What Does it Mean for the Legal Profession?

globe-outsourcing.gif“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.
Sources:
http://www.cpaglobal.com/legal_services_outsourcing/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?pagewanted=2
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