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Outsourcing of legal work is ethical

The New York Law Journal (NYLJ) dated August 24, 2011, has published an article –‘How to outsource legal work-ethically’ that clinically examines the ethical obligations of a US qualified outsourcing lawyer, who is interested in outsourcing a client’s legal work to a third party legal vendors including outside lawyers and non-lawyers such as legal process outsourcing companies. These ethical obligations are: clients consent; confidentiality, competence, unauthorized practice of law, and conflicts.

NYLJ, quoting ‘2011 ABA Commission on Ethics report on legal outsourcing general guidance’, stated the following procedure to ensure compliance of the ethical obligations by a US qualified outsourcing lawyer:

(i) Should ordinarily obtain clients’ informed consent before engaging a third party legal vendor.

(ii) Should ensure clients’ confidentiality is protected.

(iii) Should ensure a third party legal vendor’s competence and work consistency through constant direction and supervision.

(iv) Should refrain from indulging in unauthorized practice of law.

(v) Should ensure that a third party legal vendor understands its obligations concerning conflicts and has satisfactory procedures in place.

NYLJ has observed that legal outsourcing is ethical subject to the ethical compliance as stated above. Lastly, NYLJ has categorically emphasized that the ethical obligations of an US qualified outsourcing lawyer towards his/ her/ their clients is not diluted regardless of who performs what work, where and when; besides an US qualified outsourcing lawyer shall always be responsible to his/ her/ their US clients for the third party vendor’s work.

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