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Archived updates for Thursday, August 23, 2007

Is Legal Outsourcing Where the Real Money Is?

According to Cynthia Cotts and Liane Kufchock writing for Bloomberg,
U.S. law firms are required under ethics rules to disclose markups on what they pay foreign attorneys who aren't licensed to practice law in the U.S. Such rules don't apply to contract legal work performed by lawyers admitted to practice in U.S. jurisdictions [as long as the charges are reasonable]. . . . "Law firms can earn more by using labor they can mark up without disclosure,'' said Stephen Gillers, professor of legal ethics at New York University School of Law in Manhattan. . . [And corprations] armed with the knowledge of how little law firms might pay for offshore work, can use the threat of cutting them out and sending legal tasks overseas on their own to force law firms to reduce fees. . . ."
Other points they make:
  • India's Pangea3's says 80 percent of its clients are corporations, 20 percent law firms
  • Integreon says it has about 45 company clients and 15 law firm clients
  • ValueNotes says offshore revenue is 45 corporate, 36 percent law firm

"When does a mark-up become unreasonable within the meaning of the Code of Professional Responsibility's requirement that lawyers charge reasonable fees," asks Rees Morrison;

If a firm pays a temp agency $70 an hour for a contract lawyer (with the lawyer receiving $30 after the agency takes its cut) and bills clients $200 an hour for services, is that reasonable? Would a $300-an-hour rate be reasonable? If you find these rates troubling, is it because you believe that the client is getting ripped off -- or because the contract attorney is getting paid so little?

Of course, a few U.S. law firms might tell you that it costs $1000 per hour just to manage it all.

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Anonymous Neil Sandhu said...

Dear Bill,

I enjoy reading your blog and especially enjoyed your recent entry about legal outsourcing. Given your article, I thought you might be interested in learning more about the new service we just launched HireTrade at In many cases, we think firms and in-house counsel will find our system superior to using either a temp agency or outsourcing contract legal work overseas--after all, our system results in superior service, is more efficient (no huge agency mark-up), and you also can use U.S.-barred attorneys.

Although we just launched, we have been getting some press with respect to our service:

Here is a link to our press release (I also attached a flier):

Our patent-pending HourlyValue Ratings System uses the collective wisdom of past clients in order to get to the bottom line--what is a professional's work worth to clients. As HourlyValue Ratings data is built up on our system as a professional performs additional jobs using our HireTrade Connect service, we feel that the average ratings truly do begin to reflect the value, on average, that the professional provides per hour billed. From such statistics, clients can make useful comparisons among professionals. Thus, a more transparent and efficient market for professional services is created. Furthermore, our system incentivizes contract professionals to perform at a high level (which is not the case with the current agency-dominated system).

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about our service. Thanks.

Neil Sandhu
CEO, HireTrade LLC

September 10, 2007 9:41 AM  
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