Thursday, January 6, 2005

Cisco, legal services and offshoring

Couple years back, I wrote about Marc Chandler’s presentation at the CIO Forum, where he talked about how firms had to adopt technology quickly if they expected to compete for Cisco’s business; more recently, Ernie and Dennis (among others) pointed out that Laura Owen, Cisco’s director of worldwide legal services, wrote at this week that firms must “change or die.” (For those interested in legal technology, Owen’s article is an excellent one.)

Turns out Cisco’s not the only one thinking differently about legal services; though not mentioned in Owen’s article, a recent San Jose Mercury News article pointed out that Cisco has experimented with offshoring legal services to India, and G.E. and Microsoft have had similar experiments. (Note: Ernie would like firms to consider “off-shoring” to New Orleans.)

Back in late 2003, I commented on a Chicago Tribune article that predicted an increase in the offshoring of legal services, and felt that the article’s conclusion — that it could well lead to an evaporation of the legal profession — seemed a bit much.

Thanks to the Merc’s article, I’m happy to report that it’s not just corporate clients doing the offshoring — it’s law firms too:

Steven Lundberg, a Minneapolis lawyer specializing in intellectual-property issues, said his firm first turned to India when it couldn’t find enough qualified local talent to proofread patent applications.

“Since all our records are online, it was easy to send them over there,” Lundberg said. “The quality has been great, and the prices are great.” He expanded the offshore work to searches of public-records data, but drew the line at confidential client information.

So long as firms are willing to innovate (and, where necessary, commoditize parts of their offerings), they’ll remain competitive. And that will be a win for the firms as well as the clients.


  1. Change or Die

    Laura Owen's article The Tech Evolution: Change or Die has provoked commentary by, among others, Dennis Kennedy, who pronounces it "absolutely required reading for (1) any law firm doing any planning at all for the use of technology and (2)...

  2. More on Legal Outsourcing

    The San Jose Mercury News recent article on oursourcing begins:If William Shakespeare had written "Henry VI" under today's economic circumstances, he might have penned that famous line as: "The first thing we do, let's offshore all the lawyers." That v...

  3. More on Legal Outsourcing

    Mercury News has a recent article exploring the market for legal outsourcing.