Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ABA Gives Thumbs Up to Legal Outsourcing

I'm very disappointed in the ABA for legitimizing outsourcing legal work to foreign countries. They seem to have forgotten that they are the American Bar Association. This opinion was released on August 5 but was not announced until yesterday. Not only paralegals are affected by this, either. Contract lawyers, often hired to conduct document reviews, are seeing their jobs at risk as well, and one lawyer wants to know what the point of going to law school is if the jobs are just going to be shipped overseas anyway.

The American Bar Association has waded into the debate over legal outsourcing with an ethics opinion blessing the outsourcing trend as 'a salutary one for our globalized economy.'

A growing number of legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies have sprouted up in recent years to offer the services of lawyers abroad to handle the most labor-intensive aspects of U.S. legal matters, especially document review in large-scale litigation. India has been the most popular destination for legal outsourcing because it has a common-law system and English is widely spoken.

Companies operating there have hailed the advisory by the ABA's ethics committee as a major step forward for their nascent industry.

Of course companies operating overseas are excited. But what about small firms, who don't tend to outsource? Yes, this is great -- for Big Law Firms, which want to drive costs down while still producing quality work product. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for.

Ethics Opinion 08-451... states that sending legal work overseas is ethically permissible as long as the lawyer doing the outsourcing takes steps to ensure the protection of client confidences and preservation of attorney-client privilege.

What are the steps to protecting client confidences and attorney-client privilege? "Here, sign this waiver." It's just not enough.

The full opinion is behind the cut.

ABA Ethics Opinion - Outsourcing - Get more Legal Forms


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