Saturday, January 26, 2008

Doc Review, Market Research, Boo-lee-neesh-lish-poly-tesh-ni-koom

You probably only really get the joke if you were a huge fan of M*A*S*H, and you remember Tuttle. It's too long a story to get into, except to say that Hawkeye, and, to be fair, Trapper, decided that "Doctor" Captain Tuttle had gone to school at BerlinischischPolytechnicum. I don't how to spell it. But I decided to spell it phonetically up there, for you. Because I'm a giver. I give.

Please greet our new friend. He is called Hans. Not his real name. He knows ASL. And SEE. And I asked him to drop by the blog. And now he knows I'm talking to him. And, he probably gets the reference, because of how we talk to one another sometimes. Hi, Hans.

So, I suppose you read this thing and that about the big hoo-hah about all the offshoring of legal work. I KNOW! What? Legal work? Outsourcing? OFFSHORING? Going somewheres else? First, it was call centers, and now this. Are you flippin' kiddin' me? Are ya frikkin' kiddin'? You must be fuh-REAK-in' kiddin' me! Ah, Oh, hEy-eLL No!

My friend, Miz LaVotra, can get 11 syllables out of "Oh, Hell No!"; I think she has the six-direction respositionable head, and everything. And don't get Miz Girl angry. . .I don't know what she says, because I'm not from Nicaragua, but I DO know that one time I said the WRONG thing on the way back to the car from lunch, and I had to get my car repainted, it blistered so
badly, that much I DO know.

Anyway, they're offshoring legal work, and, of course, some people are comPLETEly down with it. Like our dear friend Scott Rickman, associate GC at Del Monte, who's all over the idea of using, umm, I'm not sure exactly what. I'll explain what I mean in a minute. See, I sort of think it's the offshore doc review. But in the article I read on, Zusha Elinson wrote:

"For Scott Rickman, the question is: Why pay big-firm associates $200 an hour to do document review when you can ship it out to India for $25 an hour? High rates and the increasing bulk of e-discovery have pushed the associate general counsel at San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods to seriously consider using sources outside his outside law firm for the grunt work of litigation."

However, this was the quote Elinson attributed to Rickman, as printed in the article:
"What caused me to start to look into this issue was just the tremendous cost involved in discovery," said Rickman. "It doesn't make sense to pay 150 or 250 dollars an hour at some of the larger firms to do the document review -- it just seems like overkill."

You decide. Which question is it. Is it the question of associates doing doc review at a buck-fiddy plus versus $25 and hour in India? Or is it the issue of e-discovery which may or may not be, but almost always is NOT strictly doc review (in fact, any kind of discovery). Now, I get that there's a crossover issue here, but I'm trying to be a purist for a reason. Beyond that issue, however, there's an even greater issue. . .doc review versus "e"-discovery, and then ANY of these issues inside the umbrella expression "the grunt work of litigation."

Don't even get me started on Rickman's sentence construction. . .or the impossibility of a recursive reflexive subjunctive deponent non-dependent. . .(I've said too much). . . like "overkill" in that particular expression. No, let's not even TALK about that. Makes my fur itch.

What bothers ME about this whole thing is that that's EXACTLY what's been going on here, PARTICULARLY by GCs, which is SO teh suxx, because THEY, of all people, should have the chichibobos NOT to Daemonize external counsel, particularly with respect to important litigation, IP, or other potentially "bet the company" legal issues.

The reason we are inveighing on this is because this is what we do. We find us some lawyers for some law firms. We don't so much do in-house. Not that we don't love them. Ma, we love 'em awful. Didja get the inveighing joke? That's why I love you guysngalz. You are so suh-MART!

By the way, read this, 'nthen come back:

No, I don't do that "I met a girl named JUDY (with the embedded weblink), and SUZY (with the embedded reference). I don't have time for that crap, and I want to know what I'm getting myself into. I don't think it makes for easier reading either, nor does that, "there's more on this topic here" noise. Bloggers fall in love with technology and tricks and forget to communicate. . .forget HOW to communicate.

Let me give you an example. An old boss of mine once took me to task on a memo. Really ripped me. And I pointed out that he was just being, frankly, unfair to use that example. Look, you talk to me three time, you know me. Read three of my letters, you know me. . .I'm sarcastic. I'm ALWAYS sarcastic. If I were throwing myself on the mercy of the court, I'd do a Bugs Bunny routine. . .that's me. Anyway, Boss Man said "well, that's why I use (get this!) emoticons. Perhaps you need to start using them so people are more clear on where you're coming from."

I said "you know, you're probably right. But I'm willing to bet that nobody, nobody, NOBODY has suggested, even today, that we relabel the writing of Twain, or Shakespeare, or even, God help us, P.J. O'Rourke, with emoticons to let you know where any of THEM are coming from. You misunderstood because you CHOSE to misunderstand, and there's no emoticon for that."

Clearly, I'm no kind of writer, so, NO, I wasn't trying to make a comparison of myself to any of the people mentioned above, but I think the point is valid, if squirrely. . .for, frankly, THOUSANDS of years, in fact, until just the past few, people have, for the most part, usually been able to make themselves understood, in written form, without the use of emoticons, or, you know, "just kidding!" (even though I know I do it. . .too much. But it seems I find I have to), and all those little exception management issues.

Lately, however, we seem to be able to derive less meaning from written language, and we seem to need more help divining the intentions behind words. . .and sometimes the lack of intention behind words. The actual term we use in the "fancy communication geek" world is "intentionality." Whether and IF there IS intention behind words, either spoken or written, and how those things are signalled. You know, how people say "Well, that's what I said, but not what I meant. . ." Intentionality is the signals (poker players call them "tells") that PROVE what you meant. Okay, I'm off this.

Before I drove off the road of relevance, what I was trying to get to: We've overclevered ourselves, which is fractionating us, splitting our attention, and making us get trapped in layers of windows of information. While it's diverting, on one level, it can also pull us off track. Like this here. Pulled right off track. It's just too damn easy, idn't it? I KNOW!

I am NOT on Rickman's side. Sorry. Even if I'm willing to forgive the overkill thing, which I'm not (whuh? No, really. . .what? As in, WHAT?!?), I don't think he's quite down on how to parse his legal work, and, beyond all that, there's the overriding issue, which is this: I recruit Lawyers. That's what I do. . .in the words of Dolly Parton: "Ain't that whut they pay yew for?" Yup. That's what they pay me for. I recruit lawyers. Not from Mumbai. Or Bangalore. Or even Ashok Nagar or Jaipur, although all are lovely, each in its own way. I recruit Lawyers in America for American Law firms with offices primarily in the United States, and usually the C48. . .that's me; domestic boy.

I got no problem if you're an offshore company, and there are many of my clients that have operations all over the globe, and that's great too. But I recruit locally, for local offices, because that's what I do. And while I would never fault anybody for hiring someone to do doc review at $25 an hour, because I have bills to pay too, I wonder how you can think it doesn't affect ME when I go to the store and have a choice to make between brands of clearly luscious canned vegetables, and know that MY job is to find the very BEST attorneys I can for what I think are the best law firms in the world (yeah, I get it, I'm a US-o-phile snob. Sue me.).

But, in the end, I'm always looking for my own Tuttle. As are we all. Even Scott Rickman, I'll bet.