Friday, June 25, 2010

Canary in the Legal Coal Mine: T14 Temp Jobs in India

Slave work in Mumbai: Cotton gin worker or Michigan Law graduate in the depths of an Indian doc review basement?

Can't say I'm surprised! I've been telling BIDER readers for months to consider non-legal employment outside of the U.S. if they want any chance of finding a full-time job with health care and to be free of student loan debt. Looks like the T14 schools are jumping on the same idea with a different twist. While I've promoted fleeing the country as a new adventure that could lead to happiness outside of the legal field, law schools are trying to sell the idea of document review in India as a great international opportunity to their students! I don't think this is the type of work aspiring international lawyers were thinking of when they decided to attend Michigan Law School. You can't make this stuff up. Above the Law has the story:

Michigan Law Schoolthe 9th best law school in America — is now posting job opportunities from India.

Has it really gotten bad enough that graduates from a top law school should consider international LPO opportunities? Yes, yes it has…

The job is for Pangea3, one of the largest legal outsourcing companies on the market. Look at how they try to spin the “opportunity” for a bunch of Michigan students:

Role: Legal Research – Associate.
Designation: Associate.
Department: Litigation.
Reports to: Sr. Manager – Litigation.

Job Description: Pangea3 is looking for a recent law school graduate who’s looking for an alternative to the law firm route. The position will offer a U.S. attorney the opportunity to gain a global perspective on the legal services industry by joining a cutting-edge, dynamic, and fast-growing industry in an exciting, rapidly changing part of the world…

The Associate will be based in our state-of-the- art, ISO-certified facility in Mumbai, India. Candidate Profile: Recent Law graduates; Remuneration: Compensation includes competitive benefits and bonus.

There it is, folks. A Top 10 school shilling for a legal sweatshop in India. Maybe T14 grads will become the 21st century version of slave masters of the outsourced legal sweatshops. If this isn't the canary in the coal mine for OL lemmings, I don't know what else will convince them that law school is a bad investment.


  1. Okay, stupid questions: why does leaving the country free you from the student loan debt? You don't have to pay them back while you're abroad? What happens when you return?

  2. The answers to the questions are, in order:

    Question #1 still seems to be lacking a comprehensive answer. The short answer, as you might suspect, is that it doesn't free you from the debt really. You are a refugee fleeing from it.

    No, you do still have to pay them back while you're abroad. It's just that they're going to have a very difficult time finding you, and when they do, depending on where you go, you're probably not going to have enough money for it to make any difference to them whatsoever.

    Bad, bad stuff.

  3. Out of all the crazy stories I've seen since I started reading/contributing to scamblogs, this gets the gold star.

    On the one hand it's confirming what the we've been saying about the status of the Law School Education Complex and Legal "Profession."

    On the other hand, it could be considered an effort on the part of the schools to get jobs for their grads...but really?

    Is this kind of potential employment going to be in the promo material now for Zero Lemmings? Does this count as "international law"?

    Hello Potential Zero Lemming/Scam Victim,

    Come spend over a hundred thousand dollars over 3 years of your life--for the chance to be shipped abroad like cattle to do document review!

    Why not just go for the peace corps and skip the whole "law school process"?

    You'd probably make a lot more money and have better job security.

  4. Escaping Aunt Sallie's 6-figure non-dischargeable student loans would be the bonus that keeps on giving and giving. I wonder if Pangea plays this up in their marketing materials posted on law schools' "Career" Services Dept. Bulletin Boards.

    In response to Question #1 above, American collection agencies have neither the time nor the resources to pursue your puny overseas checking account. And why bother?? Tacking on 25% in late fees and collection costs before handing your account over to Uncle Sam for full guaranteed 100% payment is so much easier.

  5. Pangea's just trying to convince more and more firms and clients, worried about Indian accents, to embrace outsourcing:

    "Don't worry, we still pay them slave wages. But now the slaves are American."

    Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching !!

  6. Read this:

    A Pangea3 salary in India starts at $8,500?? No, that's not per month. That's per year.

    Meanwhile, tuition per year at the University of Michigan Law School: $43,010 (in-state), $46,010 (out-of-state)

  7. Thanks for providing the salary data, anon@7:57pm. $8500 a year is peanuts, even in India, and especially for a top 10 law graduate who owes over $100k in loans. I remember Angel posting an article earlier this year about law graduates in India making at least 37,000 pounds at elite law firms like Clifford Chance. So graduates of America's most elite law schools will be making less with Pangea3 than a graduate of an Indian law school.

  8. Mumbai is also significantly more expensive than the rest of India. I might go to, say, Chennai for $8500/year, but not Mumbai. No way.

  9. Nothing in Michigan is worth $43K per year.

  10. It's just that they're going to have a very difficult time finding you,"

    It's been a long time since I took out an educational loan, but in my day, you had to put down the address and phone number of a secondary contact person, usually a relative, for precisely this reason. I doubt anyone's parents or siblings will enjoy being harassed by debt collectors while their kids/sibs are lying low in Mumbai.

    "and when they do, depending on where you go, you're probably not going to have enough money for it to make any difference to them whatsoever."

    Sure, but unless you do something to stop the clock running - deferment or forebearance - the interest just keeps increasing. Eventually, you'll want to come home to the US and you'll still owe the principal plus substantial interest. I don't see how this is anything but a way to screw yourself even more spectacularly than you did by going to law school in the first place.

  11. If most of your loans are from the federal government, you can in theory just leave for any low or average wage job in a foreign country while continuing to qualify for IBR for the next 25 years. Your U.S. income remains at $0 or if you choose to tell them about your overseas income, it probably won't be enough for them to garnish any of your wages.

    I plan to pay off my private loans, but if you choose to flee never to come back to the U.S. again, I think you'll be okay if you decide to never pay them back again. Friends and family move, phone numbers change, and it will become more difficult for them to track you or your contacts down. I know that my secondary contacts from college have long since moved, some even left the country as well.

  12. @ Anon. 8:45-
    Unless there is some meaningful difference in the "spectacularity" of how you get screwed in Asia versus how you get screwed by staying in the U.S., I fail to see where you and I have differing opinions on this. I also don't think what I wrote is exactly a full-throated endorsement of the idea at this point.

    To add some substance, however, what I meant by "the question seems to be lacking a comprehensive answer" is this: I don't know whether the lenders are limited - even with a default judgment - to one remedy, namely garnishing 15% of your wages, and then I don't know what the minimum income is at which the court is allowed to make that order.

    Now, they would probably find out where you are. They would harass your family to get that information, and, you're right, that is regrettable. But, by now, we're beyond feeling shame about any aspect of our circumstances, and, to be quite honest, my family and friends actually rather agree with me; further, we're beyond the social moral of making good on your debts. I'm a business, and the lenders can damn well get used to the idea.

    What fleeing does do, by definition, is to put some distance between you and the vultures, and the hope is that it may allow you to live a higher quality life on wages which are so low, by U.S. standards, that the lenders would not be allowed by the courts to collect through wage garnishment. That's the best hypothesizing I have on this. That said, I would obviously be very interested in knowing the answers to some of these questions, as it would take a lot of uncertainty, and therefore risk, out of the equation.

    Banks would not, for a second, think twice about making a similar kind of move. If I got favorable, documented or reliable answers on those, then it would certainly change my current skepticism about this actually being a workable solution to student loan debt.



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