If lawyers can be outsourced, is PR next?

BusinessWeek has a fascinating report on DuPont’s move to outsource millions of legal documents and services to an offshoring company called OfficeTiger. If it works, DuPont could cut its legal expenses in half, cut processing time by three months and digitize millions of old, paper-based records. The only thing standing in the way of success, reports BW, are the obvious language and cultural subtleties.

Legal services can be outsourced because they are still incredibly paper-based, says BW. So, whileOfficetiger_1   DuPont will still maintain a team of high-level attorneys in its Delaware headquarters, it can wipe out dozens of lower-level legal beagles if OfficeTiger comes through.

So, is PR next? Will clients soon be counting on low-cost Filipino, Pakistani and Indian publicists to pitch The Wall Street Journal any time soon? Highly unlikely. For one thing, clients like to have industry-specific agency partners (and, there can’t be too many Asian-based industry specialists who understand U.S. verticals). For another, clients like to have their agencies within arm’s length (not on the other side of the world). For another, the subtlety and sophistication needed to quickly understand a client’s business, the pain points keeping the client’s customers up at night and the client’s unique solution to that pain demands senior-level thinkers. As does the ability to translate the "problem-solution" into a quick, compelling media pitch.

So, while I’m intrigued by DuPont’s legal outsourcing model (and think it bodes ill for law firms everywhere), I’m not going to lose any sleep worrying that they’ll turn to PR next.

3 thoughts on “If lawyers can be outsourced, is PR next?

  1. Dupont has no choice in the matter. Pressure from Wall Street to cut costs and increase profits is probably driving the company to outsource a range of services including law, IT, HR, etc.
    It’s a smart business move and it can be done in a way that minimizes risk to the company. For example, Dupont is probably outsourcing menial, paper-intensive tasks that paralegals and junior lawyers typically do in the U.S. This frees up money to spend on more experienced lawyers who can provide more strategic legal services that protect the company on a wide variety of issues.

  2. You can never have too many “thumbs up” Jimmy – these guys are an inspiration.
    Too bad that a quick glance at OfficeTiger’s homepage reveals some pretty glaring typos, such as “Office Tiger has expanded it’s Global Finance Capabilities.”
    If they don’t even know the correct usage of “it’s,” why would a company entrust OfficeTiger to manage its own research, document management, etc??
    Seems like poor Quality Control is the number one reason companies should think twice about outsourcing. You get what you pay for…

  3. Interesting indeed. I don’t know how “new” this is though. I walk by a “law firm” all the time that advertises legal documents at bargain prices (divorce, real estate, wills, etc.) Would I ever go to one? Nope. Now the fact that OfficeTiger is halfway around the world, I would probably be even less inclined.
    Also, someone should tell the guys at OfficeTiger that one “thumbs up” is enough. Not two. Both Avi Blitman and The Fonz would not approve.(Although Fonzie did sometimes use two, in his later years, it was only one.)