Globalisation of Commodification: Legal Process Outsourcing and Indian LawyersIn Journal of Contemporary Asia, March 9, 2016 (Online Reference: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1157885)Ernesto Noronha, Premilla D’Cruz and Sarosh Kuruvilla
Legal process outsourcing (LPO) refers to the
contracting of legal work from regions where it is costly to perform, such as
the US to areas where it can be performed at a significantly decreased cost.
LPO has been made possible by the disaggregation of the legal processes into
discrete units, each of which can then outsourced to cheaper service providers.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a variety of benefits such as financial gains,
opportunities to perform “global” work in a corporate atmosphere and
acquisition of important skills and training that enhances the prestige of the
host country lawyers. In India, which has played a significant role, LPO firms
are viewed as important catalysts in the transformation of the country’s highly
stratified legal profession based on social identities. This qualitative study,
based on 38 interviews, concludes that the corporate culture was an attractive
proposition for lawyers from non-elite backgrounds; however, the
commodification of offshored work led to a deprofessionalisation of lawyers,
reducing them to “glorified clerks.” As a result, LPO firms only provided
parallel avenues for career mobility but did not destabilise the local legal
market which at its core remains socially networked.