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This long-running column examines ethics in the paralegal profession. Do you have an ethical dilemma or question? E-mail us today.
Paralegals are not concerned about outsourcing today but are split about the trend for the future.
Outsourcing is a trend that is not going away anytime soon, and the outsourcing of legal tasks, such as document review and legal research, has given rise to concern in the legal arena. But how will this trend affect paralegals and how concerned are they about its impact on their careers? According to LAT’s most recent My Opinion survey, 84.2 percent of respondents are not concerned that outsourcing might affect their current paralegal job duties.
Of those who are not concerned about
outsourcing, 28 percent said they are not concerned because their
firm or company has never considered outsourcing any nonlawyer
tasks, 24.7 percent indicated that most of the tasks they perform
could not easily be outsourced, and 20.4 percent said that
outsourcing does not seem to be a growing trend in their geographic
area. Furthermore, 12.9 percent of survey respondents who said they
are not concerned didn’t think outsourcing will affect the paralegal
profession overall. “I have not seen any trend toward outsourcing in
the local market,” said a 15-year paralegal from
Of the 15.8 percent of survey respondents who
indicated concern that outsourcing might affect their current
paralegal job duties, 20 percent said their firm or company already
is outsourcing some nonlawyer tasks. “My firm outsources deposition
summarizing to a local company,” said a 26-year paralegal from
Other reasons given by survey respondents who said they were concerned about outsourcing having an effect on their paralegal duties were that they perform many functions that could potentially be outsourced (40 percent), outsourcing seems to be a growing trend in their particular specialty (13.3 percent) and outsourcing seems to be a growing trend in their geographic area (13.3 percent).
As a hedge to outsourcing their paralegal duties, 28.6 percent of survey respondents who were concerned said they have tried to convince their employers to give them higher-level tasks and 28.6 percent have tried to convince their employers to keep the work in-house. Other respondents said they have looked for another paralegal job (21.4 percent).
While the opinions of survey respondents about
whether outsourcing will affect their current paralegal duties were
varied, the responses about whether outsourcing is a concern for the
paralegal profession in the future was more equally split. Overall,
54 percent of survey respondents said they were not concerned about
outsourcing in the future while 46 percent said they were concerned
about outsourcing in the future. A common reason given for this
concern in the future was cost savings to clients. “Cost benefit
analyses for large cases and the increase in e-discovery lean toward
outsourcing for savings,” said William Hershkowitz, a 12-year
Alternatively, one respondent from
Are you concerned that outsourcing is going to affect your current paralegal job duties?
If you are not concerned about outsourcing, why not?
My firm/company has never considered outsourcing any nonlawyer tasks: 28.0%
Most of the tasks I perform could not easily be outsourced: 24.7%
Outsourcing does not seem to be a growing trend in my geographic area: 20.4%
I don't think outsourcing will really affect the paralegal profession overall: 12.9%
Outsourcing does not lend itself to the job duties in my particular specialty: 7.5%
Do you see outsourcing as a concern in the future?
Do you know any paralegals who have been directly impacted by outsourcing?
Total survey responses: 57
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