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America's middle class is in trouble. Here's what that fact means for the world's largest economy — and the rest of planet earth.
 

Europe: The new Third World

Major US law firms look to open shop in Ireland or Poland.
Belfast northern ireland 11 02 2012Enlarge
A flag with images of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flutters in East Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

US corporations have been flocking to Asia in search of lower wages for quite some time.

The toll taken on middle-class Americans is not to be underestimated, as documented by GlobalPost's "America the Gutted" series.

But Asia isn't the only locale with low-cost conditions — especially with a euro zone debt crisis sweeping the continent.

That's right folks. Widen that belt around the developing world, cuz its belly is getting bigger.

Ireland and Poland are among the locales gaining popularity among potential outsourcers, notably legal outsourcers.

White & Case, a major US law firm, recently announced that it would like to open a business and legal support center in either Belfast or Poland.

"We have a support hub in Manila and now we're looking at building another one in Europe, which may provide legal services support as well as back office," White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier told legalweek.com.

More from GlobalPost: To legal outsourcers, lower-cost US cities looking better even than New Delhi

Two other law firms, Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith, have also recently set up shop in Northern Ireland.

Also important to note is that at this stage in the outsourcing game, it's not just money that is calling the shots. Major US law firms have started outsourcing domestically, or "Amerisourcing," in lower cost US cities like Nashville and Wheeling, W. Va. No matter how much money can be saved in New Delhi, many firms find that they are simply more comfortable being able to keep a closer eye on what's going on.

In Europe, especially in Eastern Europe and parts of the hard-hit euro zone, outsourcers find skilled workers and flexibility in addition to low labor costs and tax breaks. That's a pretty good deal.

Ireland isn't new to outsourcing, either. Indeed, an influx of global companies helped earn the country its title "Celtic Tiger" during the 1990s, when Ireland's growth rate was between 8 and 9 percent. Soon, the bottom line ran to Asia. Fickle that bottom line.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/europe-ireland-poland-legal-outsourcing

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