US and UK on Legal Outsourcing

June 3, 2010

American Bar Association (ABA)
Opinion states- “A lawyer may outsource legal or non legal support services provided the lawyer remains ultimately responsible for rendering competent legal services to the client under Model Rule 1.1. In complying with her Rule 1.1 obligations, a lawyer who engages lawyers or non lawyers to provide outsourced legal or non legal services is required to comply with Rules 5.1 and 5.3,”

State Bar of California
The State Bar of California Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct opined that it is ethically permissible for a California attorney to hire an out-of-state legal services company to research and draft briefs in connection with the California attorney’s representation of a client, provided the attorney complies with certain ethical standards, including: that the attorney at all times retains independent professional judgment, and remain ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the work, and the attorney may have a duty to disclose its arrangement with the client.

San Diego County Bar Association
The San Diego County Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee has opined that a California lawyer who outsource legal work overseas (in this case, drafting of legal documents) does not engage or assist in the unauthorized practice of law so long as the attorney properly supervises the work abroad and is ultimately responsible for the work.

Los Angeles County Bar Association
Attorney may ethically enter into the arrangement with the company(LPO) for writing brief provides that the attorney at all times retains and exercises independent professional judgment in connection with the performance of the attorneys legal services for the client and an attorney is require to disclose such arrangements with the company.

Colorado bar Association
Lawyers offering their services as “temporary” lawyers to other lawyers, law firms, or corporate or other institutional legal departments to work or assist on specific projects or matters may offer his or her services individually or through the auspices of a placement agency.

The District of Columbia bar Association
Whether a lawyer must disclose to the client the use of a temporary lawyer on the client’s matter depends on the nature of the work, the reasonable expectations of the client, and the nature of the relationship between the employing lawyer and the “temporary” lawyer. The employing lawyer generally need not disclose to the client the temporary lawyer’s cost to the lawyer or law firm, and the lawyer may bill the client for the temporary lawyer’s work at any reasonable rate mutually agreeable to the lawyer and client.

State Bar of Georgia
While a temporary lawyer and the employing firm or corporate law department must be sensitive to the unique problems of conflicts of interest, confidentiality, imputed disqualification, client participation, use of placement agencies and fee division produced by the use of temporary lawyers, there is nothing in the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibits the use of temporary lawyers.

Florida State Bar Association
A lawyer is not prohibited from engaging the services of an overseas provider to provide paralegal assistance as long as the lawyer adequately addresses ethical obligations relating to assisting the unlicensed practice of law.

New York City bar Association
The Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (“the Committee”) published a Formal Opinion that stated attorneys could ethically contract out legal support services abroad.

The New York Law Journal (NYLJ)
In its article noted that outsourcing legal work to India is not a Novelty, it’s a reality. Legal process outsourcing to India is growing and resistance level in the country is gradually going down, the journal said a significant cost-advantage is working strongly in favor of the trend and a “growing number of firms are angling for a piece of the action.”

According to the report, the positive feedback given by the companies having outsourced their work in the past is leading to many other firms opting for the same idea, which includes some of the 10 largest law companies in the Fortune 500 list.

Legal Service Bill (UK)
Newly passed Legal Service Bill in UK allows the creation of Alternative Business Structures which would enable lawyers and non-lawyers to work together on an equal footing to deliver legal and other services.


5 Responses to “US and UK on Legal Outsourcing”

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  3. legal outsourcing in India on June 15th, 2010 5:25 am

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  5. Padmavathi Shanthamurthy on November 4th, 2010 4:38 am

    On September 23, 2010 the Virginia State Bar in its draft Legal Ethics Opinion 1850 (at ) stated that:

    “Law firms have always and will always engage other lawyers and nonlawyers1 in the provision of various legal and non-legal support services. Legal outsourcing can be highly beneficial to the lawyer and the client, since it gives the lawyer the opportunity to seek the services of outside lawyers and staff in complex matters….There is nothing unethical about a lawyer outsourcing legal . . . services, provided the outsourcing lawyer renders legal services to the client with the ‘legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation,’ as required by [Model] Rule 1.1.”

    Like all other ethics opinions, this latest ethics opinion also recognizes legal outsourcing which is a positive sign.

    Padmavathi Shanthamurthy
    high-end legal outsourcing

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