Weather Forecast


Column: Offshoring America's legal jobs

AUSTIN, Texas -- Maybe you're one of the thousands of young lawyers in America working in some low-skill, part-time job because law firms have cut so many of the starting positions you were educated to take. If so, I have good news: Jobs for young lawyers are now mushrooming in companies that provide legal services to U.S. corporations.

Unfortunately, you'll have to move to India to get one. And the pay will be -- how shall I put this? -- disappointing.

Lawyering has become the latest category of good jobs disappearing from our Land of the Free as corporate chieftains continue to offshore the American workplace. Wall Street banks, insurance corporations, mining giants, and others are shipping more and more of their law business to Pangea3, CPA Global, UnitedLex, and other rapidly expanding legal outsourcing outfits in India.

In the past five years the number of these upstart firms has more than tripled, with each one offering from a few dozen to hundreds of young Indian law school graduates. These eager legal beagles are hunkered down in corporate cubicles, ready to write contracts, review legal documents, and --increasingly-- to handle the more sophisticated chores of case management and regulatory filings that corporations have been entrusting to more experienced American lawyers.

Even though U.S. corporations have amassed record levels of profits and cash reserves, they are offshoring their legal work simply because it puts even more money in their pockets. They can pay Indian lawyers as little as a tenth of what they'd pay young American attorneys -- and the 90-percent wage difference goes to the corporation, rather than being spread through our economy as family incomes.

It's another move by the corporate elite to separate their expanding fortunes from the well-being of America's middle class -- and from the well being of America itself.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.