A Smaller Legal World

Texas lawyer Michael Gorton says he's "fairly opposed" to sending work overseas. For patriotic reasons, he believes work should be done close to home, with talent bred in the United States. Whenever practical, he says, he favors doing business with friends.

But when it comes to running Dallas-based TelaDoc, the telemedicine company of which he's CEO, Gorton says he's happy to outsource legal help to India.

Gorton's first foray into the world of international outsourcing happened about a year and a half ago. Gorton says he hired his primary law firm (which he wishes to keep anonymous) to conduct research on legal issues in half a dozen states. The firm's fee came to nearly $250,000.

So Gorton approached an outsourcing company he had read about in Texas Lawyer, a sister publication of the Daily Report. Atlas Legal Research promised its Indian lawyers could complete the same work at a fraction of the cost.

Gorton says the promise rang true: Atlas Legal charged less than a tenth of the American law firm's price. Gorton says he "used a fine-toothed comb" to review the work and was pleased. "They could get research done for pennies on the dollar. It was good, solid work," he says. "I became a huge believer."

Gorton has since used Atlas Legal for other projects and says he saves up to 90 percent of the cost his domestic lawyer charges. Despite his personal objections to international outsourcing, Gorton says it's right for his young business. "I'm building a company," he says. "It was a business decision. I don't know how any CEO cannot make the decision I made."

Many businesses and law firms do make the same decision. Last year, 12,000 legal jobs moved offshore, according to a report by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. It predicts 79,000 legal positions will move overseas by 2015.

Won't that put downward pressure on big firm associates' salaries? Or will it only further hurt the many U.S. attorneys who don't make big firm money? As my British grandmother would have said: Lordy, lordy! Details here from the Fulton County Daily Report, via Law.com.