On August 5, 2008, the American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, issued Formal Opinion 08-451, entitled "Lawyer’s Obligations When Outsourcing Legal and Nonlegal Support Services." Among other things, this Opinion expressly acknowledges:
Outsourcing affords lawyers the ability to reduce their costs and often the cost to the client to the extent that the individuals or entities providing the outsourced services can do so at lower rates than the lawyer’s own staff. In addition, the availability of lawyers and nonlawyers to perform discrete tasks may, in some circumstances, allow for the provision of labor-intensive legal services by lawyers who do not otherwise maintain the needed human resources on an ongoing basis. A small firm might not regularly employ the lawyers and legal assistants required to handle a large, discovery-intensive litigation effectively. Outsourcing, however, can enable that firm to represent a client in such a matter effectively and efficiently, by engaging additional lawyers to conduct depositions or to review and analyze documents, together with a temporary staff of legal assistants to provide infrastructural support.
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There is no unique blueprint for the provision of competent legal services. Different lawyers may perform the same tasks through different means, all with the necessary “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation.” One lawyer may choose to do all of the work herself. Another may delegate tasks to a team of subordinate lawyers and nonlegal staff. Others may decide to outsource tasks to independent service providers that are not within their direct control. Rule 1.1 does not require that tasks be accomplished in any special way. The rule requires only that the lawyer who is responsible to the client satisfies her obligation to render legal services competently.1
The Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility thus concluded that "[t]here is nothing unethical about a lawyer outsourcing legal and nonlegal services, provided the outsourcing lawyer renders legal services to the client with the 'legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation,' as required by Rule 1.1."2
Ever vigilent of the ethical obligations owed to clients, Research Associates ensures that all reasonable efforts are made to ensure compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct and to ensure that our conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of attorneys. In short, our job is not done until legal services have been rendered to your client with the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.