Posted Aug 04, 2010 05:16 pm CDT
Struggling in a difficult legal economy at home, some American lawyers are looking abroad to a nontraditional work venue: India.
The country’s thriving legal outsourcing industry offers appealing managerial opportunities, as U.S. lawyers are more frequently recognizing, reports the New York Times. Salaries are competitive with those of midsize law firms in the U.S., and the lower cost of living in India is a financial plus.
Christopher Wheeler, for example, who used to work as an assistant attorney general for New York state now works for Pangea3 in New Delhi, where he manages a team of 110 Indian lawyers for the outsourcing company. It has more resumes from American lawyers right now than it knows what to do with, a litigation manager tells the newspaper.
Such jobs are based on an economic reality: Routine litigation support and corporate due diligence work can be handled abroad by teams of foreign attorneys at a considerably lower cost to clients in the U.S. than what they would have to pay law firms based in America.
Although some question whether the quality of outsourced work is the same as work performed under the direct supervision of American law firms, cost-conscious clients appear wedded to the now-common practice. (A recent ABA Journal article discusses ethical rules that apply to outsourcing.)
Meanwhile, jobs like Wheeler’s, while desirable to a number of American lawyers, require an adjustment. Management can require different skills than working as an associate in the U.S., and adjusting to a different culture in India can be challenging for some U.S. lawyers, the newspaper notes.
“Of course I miss litigation,” Wheeler tells the Times. However, “watching people learn some of the same skills I did is gratifying.”
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