IP Prosecution Firms - Brace For Impact (part 4)
It was mentioned in Part 2 that barriers of entry into the IP prosecution services market are largely unprotected. That's because its only true barrier is the revelation of core competency through due diligence.
Commit this word to memory: consequence. Prospectors eventually try forcing square peg ventures into round hole markets. The industry is already seeing LPO-backed IP prosecution services firms modify their e-Discovery software marketing efforts to penetrate the docketing arena due to ill fit in the realm of paralegal prosecution.
Thus, the here and now of IP prosecution's increased visibility warrants that industry practitioners protect themselves by performing extreme due diligence on their abeyant paralegal services partners.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Enough emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of deconstructing hype to obtain pertinent facts. This is accentuated during your interview with the person(s) who will actually be doing the work. Don't let a supervisor speak for them ... let them speak for themselves.
Here are a handful of hypothetical questions you can pose up front that may help your dispensing with disingenuousness become an efficient and intuitive exercise:
- How will you guarantee that my matters, as well as any information surrounding them, are safe from unethical or non-essential internal (as well as external) access?
- Who will be doing my work: paralegals or reps?
- If you get hit by lightning, how will my work get done?
- If cutbacks forced your firm or its parent to focus on only one thing, what would that one thing be and why?
- If confronted with this decision, how would our working relationship be effected?
Back them into a corner. Be direct. If their honest answers are not what you needed to hear, then precious billable time has been rescued by ending the dialogue early. However if their answers do satisfy your initial concerns, then the rest of the interview can concentrate on filling in the usual blanks:
- determining how technically compliant and reliable their operation is
- ascertaining their working knowledge in all aspects of the discipline
- divining how they would perform and communicate under duress
- assessing their ethics fiber and confidentiality safeguards
- evaluating their live-fire support competence, and finally
- getting a visceral sense for whether or not that attorney/paralegal trust can be established.
Whoever cannonballs into the Intellectual Property prosecution paralegal services pool had damn well better make doing it right their top priority. The disastrous prospect of libelous consequences befalling their attorney clients becomes very real if they don't. In the absence of prosecution-centric trench warfare expertise and track record, one is left to hope that ambitious entrants will take the craft seriously.