Part I - As various state and city bar associations have blessed offshore legal process outsourcing subject to compliance with many specific ethical considerations. The ethics opinions frame the minimum standards for lawyers to avoid losing their licenses.
Beyond such ethical and disciplinary considerations, the big question is how to make LPO effective and within the ethical framework and suggests some business management issues that require individual attention by corporate counsel and law firms considering significant levels of LPO.
Avoid Unauthorized Practice of the Law
Ethics opinions of bar associations generally hold a lawyer hiring or supervising an LPO provider responsible for facilitation, by action or inaction, of the unauthorized practice of the law. The Florida’s Bar Association attempted to provide some clarity to this concept by suggesting a rights-based analysis whether an activity constitutes the practice of law. The bar opinions generally refrain from concluding that any particular LPO constitutes “unauthorized practice,” leaving that issue open for the attorney and the courts to decide in each case.
There is nothing unethical about lawyer outsourcing legal and nonlegal services.” But to be legal, the lawyer who outsources any legal or nonlegal function must render legal services to the client with the “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. This is sometimes referred to as the “duty of competency. A lawyer engaging others to deliver non-legal or legal services must make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that the third-party service provider, if a lawyer, conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct and, if not a lawyer, delivers the services in a manner that is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.