Winners and Losers in the Globalization of Legal Services: Offshoring the Market for Foreign Lawyers
Northwestern University School of Law
Virginia Journal of International Law, Forthcoming
This article takes an empirical approach to the issue of how the U.S. legal services market is responding to globalization. It begins by considering the ways in which the domestic legal services market has internationalized by focusing on changes in legal education and examines the disconnection between U.S. legal education and practice opportunities in the U.S. The article proceeds to consider the ways in which U.S. law firms have become global organizations by offshoring their international identities, through the staffing of their non-U.S. offices with non-U.S. lawyers. Based on a database of more than 5,000 lawyers working in the offshore offices of 60 U.S.-based law firms, this article reveals this globalization strategy. Internationalization has been accomplished at local levels by most U.S. law firms. One consequence of this method of internationalization through offshoring is that the need for dual trained lawyers is minimal. While U.S. law schools attract increasing numbers of foreign lawyer students, U.S. law firms remain disinterested in hiring and training them. U.S. law firms have succeeded in going global by going local. As a result, the traditional power dynamics of most U.S. law firms, favoring domestic lawyers to the exclusion of those with foreign expertise and experience, has been preserved.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: legal profession, globalization, offshore services
JEL Classification: L84, L01, F23
Date posted: April 14, 2005