London, October 31 : Several law firms in Britain are outsourcing legal services like conveyancing, accident claims and due diligence investigations to India in order to cut costs for the duration of the downturn.
British firms get the services of thousands of Indian lawyers and recent law graduates for a fraction of the cost they would have to bear if work was done in the country.
World's largest law firm Clifford Chance is said to have set up its own bespoke offshore centre in Delhi.
Eversheds, another leading UK law firm, has also confirmed that it is taking the services of Indian lawyers.
Dozens of law firms are planning to follow suit by outsourcing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of high-volume work to India.
CPA Global, a legal process outsourcing company, said that over 30 law firms and company legal departments were in talks to use its legal support base in India, which employs 450 graduates and lawyers.
"Legal process outsourcing has been on the agenda for some time for corporations and law firms looking to reduce costs, but the economic downturn has significantly accelerated this trend. We have seen enquiries increase dramatically. At the beginning of the year, we were talking to five prospects. Now we're in discussions with over 30 - more than 20 of these being law firms and another 10 being corporate legal departments," the Independent quoted Andrew Loach, vice president of business development at CPA, as saying.
He added: "Law firms recognise they have no control over external factors such asmarket conditions, so they are starting to focus on things they do have control over, and one of the most important is their internal cost base. Many managing partners of law firms have recognised that top-line organic growth will be difficult to achieve during 2008-2009, and that profits may suffer during this period. They have become much more receptive to assessing alternative and innovative ways of reducing their cost base to reflect current trading conditions."
India's large pool of English-speaking graduates, and its common law system, is what is said to be attracting law firms.