Ethical Implications of Outsourcing Legal Work

Ethical Implications of Outsourcing Legal Work

In the November issue of ABA Journal Magazine, associate ethics counsel for the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility Eileen Libby reported that the ABA Standing Com­mittee on Ethics and Pro­fessional Con­duct  has concluded that U.S. lawyers may outsource work under the ABA Model Rules of Professional Con­duct, but that that outsourcing could lead to ethics violations for a U.S. firm if it does not properly manage the arrangement. See Formal Opinion 08-451 (PDF). Several rules that are implicated include Model Rule 1.1 (requiring a lawyer to display “the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”), Model Rules 5.1 and 5.3 (requiring a lawyer to ensure that work performed by others under the lawyer’s supervision conforms with ethics standards), and Model Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information). Thus, while outsourcing of legal work abroad is permissible, caution must be exercised to avoid ethical lapses. Read Libby's summary of the opinion after the jump.