Posted by: birdsongslaw | September 2, 2008

Legal Outsourcing Disses Higher Education

Birdsong’s girlfriend, Dee Dee, has more to say in Part II of her postings about the Florida Bar and its overseas outsourcing approval

Was the organized state and local paralegal professional associations asleep at the switch when the matter was being considered? And why is the bar undermining these paralegal employees who serve as their right hand and have been essential to their success? 

What about undermining their colleagues, other lawyers in Florida much less other states of this great land who could use the extra business?  No one can say there’s a shortage of lawyers in this country, that’s for sure, the customary criteria for importing foreign workers!  So how does Lexis/Nexis get work visas to bring foreign workers here to learn legal research programs? (question to ask your Members of Congress).

What does this mean? Don’t look now but other Florida law firms, no doubt, are beating down the door to overseas job fairs. Meanwhile, college students who are majoring in paralegal studies in Florida’s universities and business schools, face diminishing opportunities at law firms. 

And don’t forget that, in the past 10 years, three new law schools opened in Florida attracting law students from within and outside the state, with the belief that Florida will have jobs for them upon graduation.  These schools are Barry University and Florida A & M University in Orlando, and Florida International University in Miami.  A fourth, Ave Maria University is on the brink of moving its law school from the Mid-West to Naples, on Florida’s Southwest coast.  And, local governments are no doubt relying on these statistics to project economic growth in the state that, with this development, will likely never happen.

Are Florida law firms speaking with the universities and law schools about the sea change in business chamber meetings?   Are we wasting our tax dollars on higher education while the business community and the state government let it happen? 

ADVICE: 1. What can we do as citizens?  If you need legal counsel, you would want to ask an attorney you’re thinking of hiring, if his staff is 100% local.  Ask him or her, “Are you, a Florida attorney, giving back to the community, by hiring American citizens living locally for all your staffing needs?”  And using local legal contracting services.  Make sure to ask because the Florida bar advises that if you don’t ask, the law firm is not required to tell you that it is outsourcing to foreign workers unless it is relevant. 

ADVICE: 2. Urge Governor Charles Crist and your state legislators, many of whom are lawyers, to stop the job drain or mandate the use of local workers in legal matters. 

ADVICE: 3.  As a small practice, offer competitive subcontracting services to larger law firms or corporations with law departments.   If there is money to be saved, there’s little doubt that logistically, the firms would prefer to do business locally.

Foreigners should not receive on-the-job-training in the US by Lexis/Nexis while Americans with a paralegal degree or a law degree and outstanding college and law school loans are forced to stand in the unemployment lines, scale down legal practices or change careers with more student loans to pursue a different graduate degree. 

Of course, as long as businesses operating in the United States are allowed to use the world as its job pool, the new job you are trained for may get sent overseas before you graduate.

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