Following the footsteps of call centres, data processing and accounting firms, lawyers in Canada have begun outsourcing legal work to India.
By offshoring work to India, Canadian lawyers can pay substantially less per hour and enjoy faster turnaround time than they would be paying junior lawyers in the country, said a report by Can West News Service on Wednesday.
Moreover, the nearly one million English-speaking lawyers are trained in common law, the same type of law that is practised in most of Canada, prompting lawyers there to offshore legal work to India ranging from research for court cases to contract drafting and patent applications.
India has been referred to in international business publications as "global counsel" because of its massive potential, the report said.
"It's early days, but I would not think this is overblown rhetoric," said Simon Chester, a Toronto-based lawyer and legal trend watcher, noting that offshoring legal work to India is thriving in neighbouring United States.
"If this model proves attractive to American businesses, there's no reason it wouldn't be attractive to Canadians," he said.
'The National', the in-house magazine of the Canadian Bar Association, recently published an article about the "commoditisation" of legal services, and warned that Canadian lawyers may have no choice but to change their business practices to compete in a world where India is offering work at substantially reduced costs.
However, outsourcing legal work to India, where companies claim to provide hourly savings of up to 75 per cent, appears to be still in its infancy in Canada.