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Sep 1, 2008 | Article  Chetan Phull

Bridging the Gap Between Indian and North American Legal Education in the Boom of Legal Process Outsourcing

As published in the Indian Law Institute (ILI) Law Review, 2010

Abstract: Legal Process Outsourcing (‘LPO’) is a global industry in which law firms, in-house legal departments and similar organizations outsource legal work from their home jurisdiction to a remote jurisdiction. A typical LPO business model involves North American legal work (mostly from the U.S.) outsourced to India. Outsourcing has considerably cut costs for North American law firms and made substantial profits for the Indian legal market since 2001 and, absent any constraints, its growth is expected to continue. This paper examines a possible constriction upon this growth: the quality of Indian legal education.

Current demand for LPO in India is approaching a point where the supply of Indian lawyers with the requisite legal skills is a concern. In this paper, some trends of the Indian LPO industry are discussed, and to determine whether Indian legal education may constrain future growth of LPO, a comparison between Indian and North American legal education is made. This comparison is made after similarities between American and Canadian legal education are discussed to establish that the quality of North American legal education overall is fairly uniform, and a brief historical background of the Indian legal and legal education systems is given. Focus and curriculum, pedagogical practices, professors, and English fluency are the criteria compared between legal education in India and North America. The comparison is made through a consultation of literature on these criteria and through interviews of law students, lawyers and law professors from India, Canada and the U.S. (Most of these individuals have first-hand experience with both the Indian and North American law school systems.) The conclusion reached is that significant improvements must be made to the Indian legal education system to avoid constraints on the LPO industry’s growth. Some suggestions are thereafter provided as a starting point to help bridge the gap between legal education in India as compared with its North American counterpart.

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