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Legal Business: Understanding the Ethics of Legal Outsourcing

There is no doubt that attorneys are very commonly faced with cases that require going over piles of documents. Filling out paperwork and going through a long list of extensive documents can end up increasing the cost for the client. Not only that, a lot of time is wasted during the whole process. Hence, it is no surprise that legal outsourcing has become a common practice in the legal world. However, with the rise in offshore outsourcing of legal work, concerns have been raised concerning the privacy of the clients’ data.

Even though onshore outsourcing is also an option, the costs are not significantly reduced as a result of using this option. Instead, offshore outsourcing helps attorneys and law firms lower the overall cost of the legal process.

There isn’t a particular type of work that is being outsourced to these providers. Rather, any kind of work that is thought to be time-consuming is moved on to these entities. However, the circumstances under which it is advised to seek help from outside providers include:

  • When the firm is unable to handle the work within normal work hours
  • When the costs associated with carrying out the work on your own are significantly high

Apart from hiring such providers to prepare intake forms, review records, and classifying the claims, some law firms also ask them to carry out legal research. Such research, however, requires the provider to have the required skills and competence.

What the ABA has to say about legal outsourcing

There is no doubt that when help is obtained from offshore providers, sensitive data remains at risk. This is because while onshore outsourcing will require the provider to follow the same ethics as you, offshore outsourcing won’t. To enable the attorneys to seek help from offshore providers, the American Bar Association has set up rules in order to protect client data.

In 2012 a resolution adopted by the American Bar Association made important changes to certain rules. According to the paragraph added to Rule 1.1 Competence, it is the responsibility of the attorney to inform the client and ask for his/her consent before legal outsourcing. Moreover, the attorney must show an obvious need for hiring outside help and the credentials of the providers should be supportive.

According to Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Non-lawyer Assistants, it is also believed to be the ethical duty of the attorney to carry out due diligence. Not only that but to also ensure that the information will be protected in an environment where the work will take place.

This change has made it mandatory for attorneys to carry out research before seeking help from offshore providers. The due diligence might make it difficult for smaller law firms to get such support. To make sure that the right legal help provider is outsourced, you must make confidentiality agreements mandatory.

Moreover, you should also have a clear idea of where the work will be performed and what kinds of privacy and security practices are adopted.

It is important to remember that these amendments have been made to secure sensitive information. Practicing caution when dealing with offshore outsourcing companies can help you protect data whilst reducing the time and expense of the legal process.

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About this Author

Jaliz Maldonado, Practice Panther Miami Legal Marketing and Law Office Management author

Jaliz Maldonado is an eight-year Army Veteran and is currently in graduate school at the University of Miami where she is studying for her MBA. When she's not working at PracticePanther as the Operations Manager or studying, she's hanging out with her English Bulldog named Dumbell, painting, or reading. Jaliz is also strong with the force and belongs to House Slytherin. Make sure to connect with her via Linkedin and follow her on twitter @JalizMaldonado.

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