“Outsourcing” and “The Death Tax”


Regardless of your political affiliations, you have to give the Republicans credit for their mastery of PR. By taking the phrase “estate tax” and reinventing it as the “death tax”, the Republican party was able to change public perception. Through effective wordsmithing, a tax on the wealthiest Americans was redefined as a penalty for dying.

As I talk to the legal community about legal process outsourcing, I wonder if I should take a page from the Republican playbook. Maybe the term “outsourcing” is too loaded. Maybe it is better to talk about how IPEngine is able to help law firms and corporate law departments “collaborate with talent in India” or “streamline patent prosecution”. By avoiding the term “outsourcing”, though, do I distort the nature of our work?

Clearly, there are lawyers who don’t like the idea of outsourcing legal work and who believe it is misleading to leave the word out (or to leave out references to India).

“Outsourcing” connotes job loss and while the practice clearly shifts certain work to a less expensive location, there are benefits to American lawyers as well. For starters, “collaborating” with the large pool of technical talent in India provides an American patent lawyer with an effective way to offer lower billing rates without sacrificing on quality.

“Tapping talent in India” is also a cost effective way for a law firms to conduct patent intelligence that will be used solely for marketing purposes (e.g. a patent landscape study which otherwise might be too expensive to generate).

Maybe I’m just being too sensitive and I should stick with “legal process outsourcing”, a term which has gained wide acceptance already.  We want our clients to know that our solutions lie in the fact that India boasts a large pool of technical talent.  On the other hand, by describing what we do as outsourcing, I believe that we miss an opportunity to speak to the benefits of LPO.


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