Monday, November 8, 2010

India a/k/a the Future

Just today our beloved President Obama visited the new world superpower, India.  President Obama and that Indian dude released a joint statement stating:

The two leaders welcomed the deepening relationship between the world's two largest democracies. They commended the growing cooperation between their governments, citizens, businesses, universities and scientific institutions, which have thrived on a shared culture of pluralism, education, enterprise, and innovation, and have benefited the people of both countries.
I argue that this unique relationship has benefited the people of India and the corporations of America.  As BIDER readers know, the lawyers today are the factory workers and computer programmers of yesteryear.  How so?  Because all of us have suffered the effects of outsourcing.  Law Firms have successfully overvalued and undervalued lawyers, all within a decade, and now see the Indian legal workforce as the wave of the future.

The growth of legal services outsourcing has been strong and is likely to remain so, particularly in India, the survey found. Legal services outsourcing is growing at a rate of 40 percent annually in India, with about 110 legal services providers in the country. The Philippines and Sri Lanka provide 20 percent of legal outsourcing.
Law Schools are not about to stand back and let that happen--not without getting in on it first.  University of Michigan Law School (ranked #7 in the nation) has joined forces with Jindal Law School (no relation to Bobby--I think) to form a Joint Centre for Global Corporate and Financial Law and Policy.  What the hell is that? I'm not sure.  Yes, for those of you that need it to be spelled out, JLS is in India.  I have no idea what the effects of this "Centre" will be, but I can't imagine it's good for you and I.  I guess they foresee a day when American law school grads won't be "good for the money" and they are trying to appeal to the affluent Indian attorneys.  Apparently it costs Rs 1, 300, 000 to attend Jindal, which is $29,000.00 a year.  I can't be sure of that figure, however, because they place commas in totally illogical places.  In any event, that's a pretty penny (even though some of those costs are one-time only fees).  So, definitely worth it for a school like Michigan.
The best part is, if you look at the Jindal Law School website--it's peppered with pics of white and black people (clearly Americans).  So, Michigan has postured itself to keep making money once the cash cow, formerly known as the dumb-as-bricks-American-grad-students, have stopped producing milk.  Here's to forward thinking.  Happy Monday!

Next it will be a show on Indian Attorneys doing Doc Review and Patents and Trademarks.


  1. Contemporary versions of the East India Company want to own all of Asia. The banks already control small nations on the Pacific Rim - now they're gunning for India and China like it's 1840 again.

  2. Wasn't the East India Company owned by the Brits?

  3. I have been reading a few posts about outsourcing on other blogs and have made the similar point on those cites. I feel that I am missing something, so perhaps you could help me out.

    Essentially, I recognize - and have experienced first hand - how LPOs are fundamentally changing the legal market with respect to big law firms and major in house corporations. But how are LPOs going going to affect smaller and mid-size firms who handle relatively straightforward and mundane cases as opposed to bet-the-company litigation that involves literally millions of pages of discovery documents?

    To give an example I used on other blogs, how will a LPO assist in a child custody dispute, or in a law suit seeking review of an administrative agency's decision to deny a zoning application, or a local business suing another small company for breach of contract.

    My point is simple: I have no doubt that LPOs can do more than just doc review, and actually do substantive legal work. What I don't get is how the typical attorney (i.e., most attorneys) handling mundane cases would benefit from the services LPOs provide? How would it be cost effective for the client or convenient and profitable for the attorney?

    So I guess my question is do LPOs threaten only a certain (and small) segment of the legal profession, i.e., big law associates and junior attorneys at major in-house corporations, or does the influence of LPOs spread beyond that?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work!

  4. This group is for those who believe the US Department of Education should strip the American Bar Association of its accreditor status.
    on facebook, look for the page: NO WAY ABA

  5. Outsourcing in India would assist lower routine admin costs associated with admin/paralegal, or low end/easy to duplicate remotely attorney work. I consider document review among the low end/legal/paralegal tasks. If a client needed someone to go to court, then out sourcing attorneys are not the threat so much for that function. If same attorney needed draft prepartion, filing work, trial binder preparation etc. related to that litigation some if not all parts of that could be outsourced. My in house legal department has been asked to consider what services could be outsourced and we have not made that decision yet.

  6. They do so much more than Doc Review... look at Pangea3's services here: M&A, Patents, Contract Drafting... it's not just doc review. I think they offer something for everyone.

  7. 11:26 pm,

    LPOs gained a foothold, and $omehow the ABA decided outsourcing would be "good for the profession." I wonder how they reached this conclusion. Oh that's right! The ABA only cares about Biglaw and maximizing profits per partner for those pigs.

    Who is to say that foreign lawyers (and non-lawyers, by the way) will not be able to argue motions via satellite transmission? With continued advances in technology, many more jobs will be open to outsourcing.

  8. Nando said "Who is to say that foreign lawyers (and non-lawyers, by the way) will not be able to argue motions via satellite transmission? "

    Um, because foreign lawyers and non-lawyers are NOT members of the bar in the jurisdiction the case is being disputed in. Last I checked, the ABA isn't advocating that states drop the bar exam.

    Moreover, many courts (particularly federal courts at the district level) permit lawyers - who are obviously admitted to practice before that court - to argue motions via telephone. I have been involved in many lawsuits where this has happened. So courts already do have technology that enables lawyers to argue motions remotely, but funny, I've never argued a motion against Ramesh phoning in from Banglagore.

    I respect your work Nando, but sometimes your lack of practical legal experience gets the better of you. I use to work in big law and now work in government I have a lot of friends who practice in small and mid-size firms and not one has ever discussed their firms outsourcing work. Their respective firms simply don't handle the type of cases that is conducive for outsourcing.

    So, again, can someone please explain to me how LPOs affect attorneys other than those practicing in big law or for a a major in-house corporation. The issue is not whether LPOs can perform work (so long as bar admission is not required, e.g., research), but whether there is a need for small and mid-size firms to use LPOs. I just don't see it.

  9. I suspect Michigan in partnership with Jindal Law School is preparing to provide ABA accredited, US legal education in India....

  10. 1:42,

    From my earlier comment:

    “Who is to say that foreign lawyers (and non-lawyers, by the way) will not be able to argue motions via satellite transmission? With continued advances in technology, many more jobs *will be open to* outsourcing.”

    “Will be open to” DOES NOT EQUAL “will be outsourced”! Satellite transmissions allow conference calls, wherein much business is done over a phone or laptop. Also, foreign lawyers can take an LL.M and pass an American state bar exam. What would preclude LPOs from hiring such attorneys to then engage in such work?

    And the ABA and the state bars will NEVER change this aspect? Can anyone else look into your crystal ball? The ABA is considering approving overseas law schools. The ABA signed off on allowing foreign attorneys AND non-attorneys to engage in American legal discovery work, so long as an American lawyer signs off on the work. (By the way, how the hell can one lawyer properly review the work product of 200 people?) Is it a huge stretch to think that the ABA and the state bars *might* go further?!

    Small firms will probably not rely on such work, as it would probably cost those firms more to outsource the work than for the lawyers or their staff to engage in research. Why hire Pangea3 when you do not need to go through volumes of paperwork?

    Check out this thread, for an interesting read.

  11. Namby and I discussed this on (I think) the latest Blind Drunk Justice.

    The legal profession is not in trouble because the jobs that will be shipped to India are not legal jobs. Sure, doc review requires a law license, but really, it's not legal work.

    And remember, doc review is only a small part of the big law model, and big law isn't the biggest part of the market. Small shops are still the bulk of legal work, and when Buck goes to purchase another 100 acres for his farm, he's not going to Hajib or Apu, he's going to drive in to town and visit some guy who will call him "coach."

  12. Small and mid-sized law firms can and do benefit from outsourcing. A large chunk of our clients are small law firms. Working with an LPO essentially allows them to work on a larger scale and take more matters at the same time. Also, it happens quite frequently that a small law firm, or a solo attorney, is involved in a legal battle against a big law firm. In such situations, LPO's can help in bridging the gap between the two adversaries.



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