David B. Wilkins, Harvard Law School Professor and Director of Harvard's Program on the Legal Profession, is no stranger to offshore legal outsourcing. It was Wilkins who famously told The New York Times that “[t]his is not a blip; this is a big historical movement.” Referring to the recent changes in the Western law world, including the rise of legal process outsourcing (LPO), Wilkins said that "it is quite likely that we will look back on this period as one of less dramatic change than the period that is coming."
At the American Bar Foundation's recent Annual Fellows Awards Banquet in Atlanta, Professor Wilkins made news again, using the occasion of his keynote speech to not only accept the ABF's Outstanding Scholar Award, but also to announce a groundbreaking new research project, called "Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies," or GLEE. The ABF is the research affiliate of the American Bar Association, and the GLEE initiative will involve a comprehensive study of the growing legal services market in developing economies such as India, China, and Brazil. In his keynote address, Wilkins noted as follows: "Globalization dominates our world. Burgeoning economies are going to challenge the economies of the United States and other G6 countries." Wilkins said the "GLEE" project will be a combined effort among Harvard Law School; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and law schools in India, Brazil and China.
Among his other credentials mentioned above, Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Faculty Associate of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.
Wilkins has written over 60 articles on the law profession in leading scholarly journals as well as in the mainstream media, and he is the co-author (together with Harvard Law School colleague Andrew Kaufman) of one of the leading casebooks in the field, Problems in Professional Responsibility for a Changing Profession. His current projects on the legal profession include After the JD, a ten-year nationwide longitudinal study of lawyers' careers, in collaboration with the ABF and the National Association of Law Placement. Wilkins is also currently developing a quantitative and qualitative examination of how corporations utilize legal services, an empirical project on the development of "ethical infrastructure" in large law firms, based on a series of focus groups with leading practitioners and regulators, as well as over 200 in-depth interviews in connection with an upcoming Oxford University Press book on the development of the black corporate bar.
Professor Wilkins teaches several courses on lawyers and related professionals, including the country's only four credit course on the legal profession, entitled "Legal Education for the Twenty-First Century: Global Perspectives on Preparing Lawyers for Global Careers,” and seminars on The Future of the Large Law Firm.
As you no doubt already have gathered, Professor Wilkins is one of the leading thinkers on the topic of the future of the legal profession. His embrace of the growing reality of offshore legal outsourcing further confirms its importance to the legal world.