India looks to outsource legal jobs back to US

Shayan Ghosh   Bangalore     Last Updated: June 7, 2011  | 17:49 IST

Legal process outsourcing (LPO) firms are now employing young American professionals, adding to the evidence that outsourcing has come full circle.

This has led to better employment opportunities for young US lawyers, who face a scenario of low fees and little practice post the economic slowdown. The lawyers are thus making a beeline for Indian firms, according to reports.

A large proportion of those who are hired by Indian firms are fresh law graduates and people from legal services firms.

LPO is the practice of law firms getting legal support services from another law firm or legal support services company. When the company to which the work is outsourced is based in another country, the practice is known as offshoring .

If the work is outsourced in the same country, the firm to which the work is given is called an onshore facility.

"Indian firms are generally hiring a global workforce and these onshore facilities are closer to the customers culturally," said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice- president (V-P), Nasscom.

"We are actually providing them a global exposure, which was not the case few years ago when US companies used to hire from India. The US job seekers are now looking forward to the best employment opportunity they can get," Gupta said.

During recession, law firms had slashed the lucrative pay packages of young lawyers. Media reports suggest that some firms are hiring young certified lawyers for as little as $ 20 an hour, which is less than a fifth of their earlier lucrative pay.

Meanwhile, Indian legal outsourcing companies are creating a pool of opportunities, generally a welcome trend locally and something that will silence critics of outsourcing.

"The recent downturn in the US economy has made onshore solutions more attractive than they were three to four years ago," said Kimberley D. Sprouse, principal, LPO, Knowledge Services, Infosys BPO. The sensitiveness of the legal issue is also the driving factor behind onshore recruitment.

BPO observer and brand consultant Harish Bijoor said, "There are two kinds of legal issues - sensitive and non-sensitive. Things like divorce are sensitive issues, while tenancy comes under the non-sensitive sphere. Sensitive issues are better dealt with by an onshore facility."

Bijoor also said that people fresh out of law school find corporate jobs more interesting than regular law firm jobs.

"There are certain spheres where documents cannot be brought out of the country and the work has to be done in the US. There are also cases when one needs to work according to US business hours and it's not always possible to work from India. In such situations, onshore facilities provide the most support," said Sanjay Kamlani, cochief executive of Pangea3, a legal outsourcing firm.

Pangea3, which is headquartered in Mumbai, has hired several US lawyers recently, though the firm declined to give figures.

"Fresh graduates are opting for these jobs as they are gaining experience in the process and also getting a permanent job," said Kalmani.

According to a manager at Pangea3, the unemployment scenario in the US has created an appetite for such jobs as it is no longer an option but a deliberate choice. These young lawyers are seeking white collar jobs now and want something new apart from the regular court dealings.

Other legal outsourcing companies are also of the opinion that such ventures will lead to a hike in the employment in the US and India will play a major role in it.

"India will definitely provide more jobs in the long run and such jobs will definitely add to the profile of young law graduates before they shift to a bigger law firm," said Kaviraj Singh, founder partner at Trustman, a Delhi law firm that outsources jobs to the US.

Courtesy: Mail Today


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