Well, at least now we can assume we know where a lot of those 132 jobs at Banks-Baldwin are going to wind up. According to the Philippine Business Mirror, Thomson Reuters Legal (TR Legal) is using its 275 employee Taguig City, Philippines office as a launching pad. According the article, the Filipino office will be where the “data are processed, codified, proofread, analyzed and validated by Filipino employees and packaged as products for the customers in print, digital or online format.”

Outsourcing to India and the Philippines is not new, even for TR Legal. I did find it interesting to see the wording that TR Legal COO Vin Caraher used when describing what they are doing.  Caraher said that this office is “not legal outsourcing. We’re hiring and training them as our employees.” Granted, this is not legal outsourcing, but the semantics of the discussion are probably pretty hard to hear from those at Banks-Baldwin who are watching their jobs go to overseas offices. It’s also got to sting when they also read from Caraher that TR Legals expansion in the Philippines “reflects our commitment to growing our capabilities in the Philippines. The work being done at this site by our highly skilled and talented team is critical to our global content operations, and in supporting legal professionals around the world.”  John Elstad, Senior VP of Legal-Editorial Operations, seemed to go a little further in his comments than TR Legal usually does when discussing the work performed at its off-shore operations by saying that they don’t just gather data, but analyze the data and “add value to it.”

It seems that legal editorial work has gone the way of manufacturing and is making its way out of the United States and off to India and the Philippines. Again, not a shocking statement… we’ve all watched this trickle away for years now. This is just one more chapter in the ever shrinking legal publishing market, and the race to find the cheapest labor pool. Perhaps the good new will be that will all the savings that TR Legal is getting through moving positions overseas, perhaps we’ll see a drop in the price of their products?? If not, then how are we, the customer benefiting??

  • Very interesting post.

    International outsourcing occurs with document review as well, particularly in the Philippines.

    The trend now, however, seems to be that firms are requesting the reviews be done within the U.S. supposedly out of concern that outsourcing compromises the attorney-client privilege.

  • Anonymous

    That comment about "how are we, the customer benefiting??" is either rhetorical, or shockingly naive. Surely you realize that TRI doesn't care about customers? It cares only about its bottom line and satisfying investors.

  • It was rhetorical… With a whiff of sarcastic (that's kind of my trademark blogging style.)

    I understand that businesses are always looking to pad the bottom line, but what TR Legal does isn't about making toasters or furniture, it is about creating and organizing legal information on which others depend upon in the US court system to protect their life, libert and property. They sell their product at a premium price, but are compiling that product through a cheaper and cheaper labor pool. I'm just not sure that abandoning quality for low cost labor (even if they are trained by, and work for TR Legal) is the right thing to do given the importance of the products they produce.

  • Anonymous

    Greg, it is quite serious to assume that Thomson Reuters is "abandoning quality for low cost labor". I have not seen the profiles of their new employees in the Philippines but there are people around the world (plenty!)with a deep knowledge of the US legal system and offering higher quality work at a lower price. It may come as a surprise to US workers but foreigners are qualified to do more than assembling toasters or furniture! As scary as it may be the world has changed.

  • I know that the world is flat… and crowded… and filled with people that can do a number of tasks regardless of their geographical location. That being said, it would be hard for me to believe that TR Legal can shut down an operation with 207 years of history and replace a large percentage of that labor force with off-shore labor and expect the same quality. Perhaps over time that will occur, but I just don't believe that it can be accomplished immediately.

  • Anonymous

    Some things never change.

    . . David Banks established the firm of Gould & Banks in New York in 1804 in order to publish law books that would be less expensive than those imported from England. . .
    The Cleveland connection began when Wm. E. Baldwin established the Baldwin Law Publishing Co. in 1919. . .

  • Anonymous

    While this is disheartening news, I'm glad it is being discussed. As a TR employee in the Cleveland office who is about to lose my job to workers in the Philippines, I can testify that quality is in fact suffering. We used to train new U.S. hires for at least 9 months vigorously. The work being "transferred" to the new office overseas is being shoved on them as we are forced out the door and the training is not (and could not be, given time restraits, physical distance and time differences) as in-depth. Experts no longer exist, rather it's a team of new people trying to pick up the pieces as we go. And regardless of how they package this as a "new office" and these people being our "teammates" it still feels awfully like I'm being laid off because work is going overseas…so it's hard to see the difference between what is happening here and traditional outsourcing. Thanks for bringning light to this subject. I hate seeing American editors and attorneys who have expertise in the field handing their jobs over to entry-level hires. The quality has, and will continue, to suffer. I feel bad for our customers.