The Hightower Report

Offshoring Lawyers; and A Bad Case of ASS

Offshoring Lawyers

Maybe you're one of the thousands of young lawyers in America working in some low-skill, part-time job because law firms have cut so many of the starting positions you were educated to take. If so, I have good news: Jobs for young lawyers are now mushrooming in companies that provide legal services to U.S. corporations.

Unfortunately, you'll have to move to India to get one. And the pay will be – how shall I put this? – disappointing.

Lawyering has become the latest category of good jobs disappearing from our Land of the Free as corporate chieftains continue to offshore the American workplace. Wall Street banks, insurance corporations, mining giants, and others are shipping more and more of their law business to Pangea3, CPA Global, UnitedLex, and other rapidly expanding legal outsourcing outfits in India.

In the past five years, the number of these upstart firms has more than tripled – each one with anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of young Indian law school graduates. These eager legal beagles are hunkered down in corporate cubicles, ready to write contracts, review legal documents, and – increasingly – handle the more sophisticated chores of case management and regulatory filings that corporations have been entrusting to more experienced American lawyers.

Even though U.S. corporations have amassed record levels of profits and cash reserves, they are offshoring their legal work simply because it puts even more money in their pockets. They can pay Indian lawyers as little as a 10th of what they'd pay young American attorneys – and the 90% wage difference goes to the corporation, rather than being spread through our economy as family incomes.

It's another move by the corporate elite to separate its expanding fortune from the well-being of America's middle class – and from the well-being of America itself.

A Bad Case of ASS

Good grief, it's spreading!

Another Texas legislator has come down with the tragic disease know as "Amazing Stupidity Syndrome." ASS attacks the lobe of the brain that controls one's ethical behavior, apparently causing the moral synapses in that region to go on the fritz, thus allowing the stupidity hormone to seep in and take charge. The main symptom is that afflicted legislators develop sticky fingers, causing them to double-bill for airline tickets, rooms at luxury resorts, lavish meals, etc.

Last October, Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, was diagnosed with ASS after a news report revealed that for years he'd been billing both the taxpayers and his political fund for the same travel expenses. Driver, a Republican Texas lawmaker for 20 years, defended himself by asserting that he didn't know it was wrong to be reimbursed twice. That's when we knew that poor Driver was eaten up with ASS.

And now Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, has been stricken. Another Republican, he's a former bank examiner who claims to be an expert in – get this – financial management. But Flynn claims that he's been too busy traveling to account for a rash of double-billing since 2006 for stays at swank hotels in cities from Boston to San Francisco.

You'll be glad to know, however, that Texas legislative leaders are now at work on a cure for ASS. Jail time, you ask? No, no – they intend "to design a form [to] make it more transparent" to members that double-billing is an ethical boo-boo that should be avoided. Both Driver and Flynn say that they will be fully supportive of the form reform.

Let's hope that it's ready soon, so we can make it available to other states experiencing outbreaks of Amazing Stupidity Syndrome among their lawmakers. Perhaps we need an ASS telethon to prevent a pandemic of this tragic disease.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

offshoring, Pangea3, CPA Global, UnitedLex, Joe Driver, Dan Flynn

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