In the summer of 2006, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics weighed in with a formal opinion on the ethics of overseas legal outsourcing. LegalEase Solutions distributed a summary of that opinion, http://www.nycbar.org/ which found the use of lawyers in India and other countries perfectly appropriate so long as a US lawyer adequately supervises the work.
Second, the law firm that uses offshore assistance has an obligation under certain circumstances to notify the client, obligations that do not limit law department lawyers at all: “[T]he hiring attorney does have a duty to disclose the outsourcing when non-lawyers will play a significant role in the matter, when client confidences are to be shared, when the client expects that only the law firm and its personnel will be working on the matter, or when non-lawyers are to be billed to clients on a basis other than cost.”
Having just written about surcharges on contract attorneys (See my post of Feb. 16, 2007 on up to 200% add-ons.), I paid attention to one other sentence. “In fact, absent a specific agreement with the client, a New York attorney should charge no more than the direct cost of the outsourcing and a reasonable allocation of direct overhead expenses from the outsourcing.”