Outsourcing and the Globalizing Legal Profession
45 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2006
The issue of outsourcing jobs abroad stirs great emotion among Americans. Economic free-traders fiercely defend outsourcing as a positive for the U.S. economy while critics contend that corporate desire for low wages solely drives this practice. In this study I focus on a specific type of outsourcing, one which has received scant scholarly attention to date - legal outsourcing. Indeed because the work is often paralegal in nature, many see the outsourcing of legal jobs overseas as no different from other types of outsourcing. But by using as my case studies both the United States and India, the latter which is receiving an ever-increasing amount of outsourced American legal work today, I describe how there are many forms to the legal outsourcing model and how this practice can entail a range of legal services.
This article, however, moves beyond providing a descriptive account of legal outsourcing. Legal outsourcing to India is occurring against the backdrop of an Indian legal system in crisis. For those who are fortunate to benefit from legal outsourcing, the pay-offs are indeed rewarding. But most Indians of course are not participants in - nor beneficiaries of - this practice. In fact, in everyday parlance the word "legal" itself in India is associated with a process that is delay-ridden, backlogged, and unduly expensive. On its face it might seem that legal outsourcing is unconnected to the problems that have long plagued India's legal system. Yet as I will argue, in addition to having an ethical obligation to provide assistance to the legal environment upon which they draw, those engaging in legal outsourcing also have an economic incentive to ensure that India has a better-operating legal system. Thus, as a means of raising much needed revenue to fund its legal reform efforts, India, as I propose, might levy a minimal fee on U.S. legal outsourcers, and as I explain, because strengthening the rule of law is ultimately in their financial interest, these American investors may well accept shouldering such a cost.
Keywords: legal, outsourcing, india, litigation, comparative law, intellecutal property, corporate social responsibility
JEL Classification: A13, D21, D23, D63, D64, K41, L21, M14
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