Flattening the World of Legal Services? The Ethical and Liability Minefields of Offshoring Legal and Law-Related Services


This article examines offshore outsourcing of legal and law-related services as the newest twist in the international market for legal services. We consider the impact of offshore outsourcing on the profession generally and analyze the ethical issues raised by offshore outsourcing, both as it exists today and as the practice may develop in the future. The article begins by situating offshore outsourcing in the framework of relationships created in the context of delivery of legal services. This framework is used, in turn, to construct a structure of analysis for the ethical implications of offshore outsourcing. Lawyers who outsource to offshore providers must conduct an investigation to ensure that the referral is appropriate. We also consider the potential reputation and economic benefits and disadvantages to law firms and legal departments in outsourcing offshore. We find that offshore outsourcing creates new opportunities for non-U.S. lawyers without putting them on equal footing with lawyers trained and licensed in the U.S. Instead, as with many aspects of globalization, offshore outsourcing emphasizes the divisions already present in the legal profession.


International Law | Law and Society | Legal Profession

Date of this Version

September 2006