The term “value-added” isn’t

A piñata term sounds special and hangs there all fancy, attractive, and full of promise – but empty of nutritious or worthwhile content. Let’s whack at the ubiquitous “value-added,” as in “Our law department will incessantly focus on providing value-added services.”

“Value-added” is supposed to mean, ultimately, “The in-house lawyers are doing things that are more useful to the company at this time than anything else they might do.” Short of that tough standard, “value-added” means the lawyers are doing things that justify their pay, but this definition thins the gruel almost to water. The adjective phrase has overtones of output being worth more than input (fully-loaded cost per hour of the lawyer), which again seems insubstantial.

I just can’t split open and find much of substance in this piñata term value-added, swing at it as I will.

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