Byline: Moushumi Anand Medill News Service
Ruby Prasad's legal research and briefs regularly find their way into courts across the United States despite the fact her workstation is located 8,000 miles away in India.
Prasad is among the 200 lawyers working for Chicago-based Mindcrest Inc., which has an outsourcing facility in Mumbai.
Mindcrest and other legal outsourcing firms are experiencing explosive growth. Mindcrest is 10 times the size it was two years ago.
According to George Hefferan, vice president and general counsel, Mindcrest plans to add 200 more employees by the end of 2007.
Atlas Legal Research, another legal outsourcing company with offices in Bangalore, India, and Fort Worth, Texas, also grew tenfold in the last two years. The company employed three attorneys in India in 2004. Today, it has 30.
Legal outsourcing companies provide services to legal departments of corporations and law firms from their foreign facilities. The companies, based in India and elsewhere, conduct legal research, document review, due diligence reports of mergers and acquisitions, administrative work, and draft legal documents.
"During my association with an Indian law firm at the start of my career, I realized that I was more interested in doing work relating to legal research and drafting than practicing law," said Prasad, 28, who has never been to the United States.
Forrester Research projects legal outsourcing will be a $4 billion industry by 2015, creating 79,000 jobs in India alone.
While legal outsourcing companies use workers in a diverse group of countries, including the Philippines, New Zealand, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Australia, a majority are located in India.
Indian legal research firm Value Notes projects the legal outsourcing industry will grow tenfold in India during the next 10 years.
Carol Silver, senior lecturer at Northwestern University's School of Law and a member of the transnational law committee of the American Bar Association, said the interest in outsourcing was prompted by rising legal costs.
"Lawyers and in-house legal departments of corporations use outsourcing as an opportunity to push down costs," she said. …