Commentators have expressed concern with regard to data security and client confidentiality in connection with legal process outsourcing (LPO), i.e., the off-shoring of Western legal work. Now, a study commissioned by Law Without Borders has revealed another, even more dangerous risk associated with legal outsourcing: mental illness.
Like the LPO critics, aren't you tired of all those expert reports, blog posts, press releases, news stories, and tweets, telling you how legal process outsourcing will solve all your problems? Don't you get annoyed by all the propaganda saying that outsourcing legal services to an LPO in India will increase the profits of your company or law firm, make your clients or your CEO happy, reduce your workload and improve its quality, increase the morale at your office, provide a way to defeat frivolous lawsuits or pursue legitimate ones, allow previously unaffordable deals to happen, and generally make the world a better place? Okay, so all of that is true. But still, there must be another, darker side to legal offshoring, right? Yes, there is. The shocking, previously unknown fact is that legal outsourcing to India can cause you to lose your mind. Below are 10 reasons why this happens, all based on actual case studies:
1. You will develop imposter syndrome. Clients and colleagues will start calling you improbable things like "visionary," or "revolutionary," or in the actual emailed words of a particular leading general counsel, "you are one k.i.c.k.-a._._. b.a.d. m.o.t.h.e.r.-f._._._.e.r." (After reading the first edition of this post, this GC of a major Hollywood studio said: "I love it when I’m warmly and accurately quoted! Great piece – you guys kick a__!")
2. Your inability to accept this praise will be accompanied by an underlying inferiority complex. This will arise when Indian lawyers, who never went to a U.S. law school or passed a bar exam anywhere, start correcting your legal mistakes, and even your English grammar. (Stay tuned for an article in a major legal industry publication on this very subject.)
3. You simultaneously will suffer from a superiority complex, otherwise known as narcissistic personality disorder. This will happen as your small law firm starts running circles around big law firms, or your relatively small legal department (such as you and a secretary or paralegal) outshines the legal departments of large corporations. You will develop delusions of grandeur, when you beat these people in court, out-master them in deal negotiations, or otherwise become able to handle disproportionately huge amounts of legal work at affordable costs.
4. You will develop symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, especially after a highly-placed, inebriated insurance executive at a law industry conference tells you that you should hire a bodyguard, because he believes that misguided big law firms are going have you whacked. And you realize that, unlike Michael Clayton, you are not going to escape by getting out of your bomb-rigged car to gaze with wonder into the eyes of a gentle, all-knowing horse.
5. You also will have generalized anxiety disorder, when the increased income resulting from your influx of new clients, or your in-house salary raise, pushes you into a higher tax bracket, and you don't have time to spend all the money left over, because you've taken up so many new hobbies, including the writing of the Great American Novel, with all the extra time created by the reduction in your workload.
6. You will develop a combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and insomnia. This will be brought on by the fact that you are already a control freak, and now you've got legal teams working for you at all hours of the day and night, and you feel a need to micro-manage everything they do in India, although they usually can do just fine without your meddling. You will not even get any relief from this compulsion during American holiday periods. This is because the Indian lawyers work right through them, having no respect for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, or even Christmas and Hanukkah. So while normal attorneys are taking time off, you will be calling and emailing India at all hours, with no reason to do so.
7. You will be afflicted with acute adjustment disorder, as you are forced to transition from managing your big law firm's windowless basement sweat shops, where platoons of embittered U.S. contract lawyers "stare into the alkaline glow of their monitors and click through reams of the dullest, driest, most pointless shitpaper mankind has ever produced," until their eyes start "weeping blood" and they turn to writing nasty, embarrassingly accurate critiques of you on the internet, while they are supposedly working for you. If you suffer from sadistic tendencies in the first place, you will find it especially difficult to adjust to the new reality, in which document review is performed in gleaming, sunny, air-conditioned office buildings by eager, motivated Indians, who may not be qualified to work on more high-end LPO assignments, but who might see document review as a way to (a) earn way more income than the average Indian, and (b) move ahead in a growing field.
8. Just as you begin to recover from this adjustment disorder, one of your rewards for sending document coding to India will be to receive a highly-publicized, "Beastly Behavior Award" from a U.S. website called "Temporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition (Temp Life at Some of America's Most Notorious Legal Sweat Shops").
9. If you actually travel to India to see the legal outsourcing services first-hand, it is possible that you will fall in love with the country, and start spending months there each year. Eventually this can lead to dissociative amnesia, in which you forget that you are an American. Or it could cause multiple personality disorder, in which you believe that you are both an American and an Indian, at different times of the day or night.
10. All of the above will culminate in depersonalization disorder, characterized by feelings of unreality -- believing that your body does not belong to you, that you have no separate self, and that you are constantly in a dreamlike state of nirvana.
Okay, so nobody in the above 10 examples really lost his or her mind, or even developed a psychiatric disorder. But be forewarned. If you decide to hire an LPO, you might need to develop coping mechanisms, even if you don't require professional psychiatric help. For example, you could repeat mantras or affirmations quietly to yourself, such as "don't worry, be happy," or "everything's gonna be alright." :)