William & Mary Law Review


The issue of outsourcing jobs abroad stirs great emotion among Americans. Economic free-traders fiercely defend outsourcing as a positive for the U.S. economy, while critics contend that corporate desire for low wages, alone, drives this practice. In this study Professor Krishnan focuses on a specific type of outsourcing, one which has received scant scholarly attention to date-legal outsourcing. Indeed, because the work is often paralegal in nature, many see the outsourcing of legal jobs overseas as no different from other types of outsourcing. But by using case studies of both the United States and India, the latter of which is receiving an ever increasing amount of outsourced American legal work, Professor Krishnan describes how there are many forms to the legal outsourcing model and how this practice can entail a range of legal services. This Article, however, moves beyond providing a descriptive account of legal outsourcing. Legal outsourcing to India occurs against the backdrop of an Indian legal system in crisis. For those who are fortunate to benefit from legal outsourcing, the payoffs are indeed rewarding. But most Indians, of course, are not participants in--or beneficiaries of-this practice. In fact, in everyday Indian parlance, the word 'legal" is associated with a process that is delay- ridden, backlogged, and unduly expensive. It might seem that legal outsourcing is unconnected to the problems that have long plagued India's legal system. Yet as this Article will argue, in addition to having an ethical obligation to provide assistance to the legal environment on which they draw, those engaging in legal outsourcing also have an economic incentive to ensure that India has a better-operating legal system. As a means of raising much needed revenue to fund its legal reform efforts, India, as Professor Krishnan proposes, might levy a minimal fee on U.S. legal outsourcers, and because strengthening the rule of law is ultimately in their financial interest, these American investors may well accept shouldering such a cost.