An article in the International Herald Tribune and New York Times for today caught my attention and my initial negative reaction:
Outsourcing to India Draws Western Lawyers
Published: August 4, 2010
This looks, at first sight, like another example of industries relocating, the race to the bottom, the saving of costs at one end – though not necessarily the passing on of the savings (though that conclusion is unfair, given the recognition by law firms that a lot of the work in case preparation does not need the hefty cost of a lawyer, associate, or paralegal).
But from a different perspective, how different is this from the ADR movement of the last 30 years? After all, what we’ve been arguing for is a change in ways we effect access to justice (and indeed, in the ways in which we characterise justice, less as a matter of law than of resolution and fairness). Is it too big a leap to say – only slightly tongue in cheek – that mediation is a form of outsourcing dispute resolution? And if, as I suggested a few posts back, we’re talking about forms of “distributed decision making” when we deal with mediation, arbitration and so on, then in practice this is not a lot different from outsourcing – except that it stays in the same country.