than domestic labor. Offshoring has recently emerged as a “hot button” issue as more and more domestic companies have shifted white-collar jobs to foreign locales.
Critics of outsourcing legal work cite concerns with client confidentiality, quality control, and ethical issues such as client privilege and the unauthorized practice of law. Outsourcing proponents counter that those concerns can be managed. Proponents argue that confidentiality can be controlled by sending data through secure internet connections and through the use confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements. Where possible, names and sensitive information may also be redacted. Quality control and ethical issues can be allayed by having U.S. attorneys interview and hire the vendor, perform conflicts checks, and supervise and review all completed work. Adherence to legal ethics rules is maintained because the U.S. attorneys assume responsibility for the work. Notwithstanding the above concerns, companies, such as Dupont, which has used Indian scientists to handle patent drafting work, have generally been satisfied with the quality and integrity of outsourced work.21 Outsourcing and offshoring may remain controversial in the near future, but there is no denying that the practices can help a company reduce costs.
While lawyers and technical consultants may not like to consider themselves “labor” in the (recent) traditional sense, lawyers in foreign countries may be just as capable of undertaking a time consuming privilege or substantive document review as a team of junior associates at a large firm. Many domestic companies, such as General Electric, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, have recently sought foreign lawyers in efforts to cut their legal costs.22 Microsoft has had patent research and prosecution work done by an Indian company named Intellevate.23 Cisco has had technical writing for some of its patent applications done in India.24 General Electric established its own legal team in India to help draft contracts and other legal documents. 25
The savings can be significant. Lawyers from countries like India and New Zealand can often handle such matters as patent prosecution, legal research, document review and contract drafting for a fraction of the price of their United States counterparts. Offshoring can reduce costs in areas like litigation support (i.e. scanning, coding, indexing and abstracting) by up to 80%.26 Whereas paralegals and attorneys at many American law firms can cost $150 to several hundred dollars per hour, English-speaking lawyers in India are available for as little as $30 to $40 per hour depending on the task.27 By adding eight Indian lawyers and nine paralegals to its office in Gurgaon, India, General Electric has saved more than $2 million in legal fees since late 2001. 28
With electronic data easily transferable around the world, companies can now conduct certain aspects of discovery in any country. Companies and law firms can outsource and offshore tasks such as record collection, extraction, litigation support, and legal research. Some Indian vendors, like Manthan Services, based in Bangalore, India, now even offer document review.29 Companies could reduce litigation expense by having foreign lawyers review documents by search terms or for privilege. In some instances, companies may even wish to have foreign lawyers conduct substantive review of documents, instead of, or in addition to, higher-priced junior associates or even contract lawyers who perform such tasks now.
There are other benefits besides cost savings. The time differences between the United States and many common outsourcing countries can often times be advantageous. General