/ December 23, 2008

Legal Work Costing Too Much? Give India a Shot

First it hit the customer service and IT departments across the United States and now it’s moving to the legal world as well. The law is being outsourced and it’s headed straight for India. Companies, suffering from the drooping economy just like all Americans, are trying to save, without the skimp, particularly when it comes to legal work. That’s why a number of Fortune 500s started to explore once they realized that when it comes to the law, India isn’t all that different from the US. It might be halfway around the globe and have a different official language, but English is the primary language used for commercial purposes and the legal system is surprisingly similar to our very own. Based on a common law system and producing comparable numbers of lawyers, 80,000 per year to be exact, American businessmen and women have recognized the potential of the world’s second largest country for quality legal work at a much lower price tag.
In spite of our many similarities, there are bound to be crucial differences that cannot be ignored. One critical example is the format of legal education in India. While some spend three years after college studying law, others can obtain a degree after five years right out of high school. Additionally, India has not created anything similar to a bar exam with which to test the legal expertise of their recently graduated lawyers. In the absence of a similar exam, legal outsourcing companies test employees themselves to ensure they are hiring only the best of the best. Snagging a spot at one of these firms has become increasingly competitive due to the incentives of stock options and superior benefits with up to 200 new lawyers often competing for only 5 spots. Companies across the US have taken this amount of competition and the dedication of outsourcing firms to keeping procedures fast and efficient to mean they are truly getting their money’s worth when they send work abroad.
While only about 50 of the Fortune 500’s companies have chosen to move legal work abroad, the names of those companies, Microsoft and GE just to name a few, should be enough to convince a few more businesses to try out the new craze. While outsourcing can be a touchy subject, particularly in these hard times, American lawyers can breathe a sigh of relief as the subtle differences in the two legal systems mean more complex issues can still really only be trusted to US firms and even low-level work is in need of a good once-over to rule out any errors. With bailouts becoming more frequent and other companies witnessing loses like they’ve never seen before, the roughly 80% that companies have been saving to outsource legal work is considered worth the criticism for not keeping processes within the States.
The experience of outsourcing has varied quite a bit with some companies swearing by its efficiency and quality and others switching back after a not-so-fantastic first try. While it will take years for the business sector as a whole to decide if it’s the right move, one thing’s for sure, more companies will be moving in before they’re moving out.

Source: Law.com

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