By Tim Rollins
We conduct a fair amount of research into the e-discovery marketplace here at Exterro. Whether it’s into the composition and practices of in-house legal teams or the federal judiciary’s opinions on managing e-discovery, we try hard to provide valuable insight for our audience of in-house e-discovery professionals. We have confidence in the results of our surveys and the recommendations we make based on them.
But it’s also great to get validation from outside experts, like Gartner. In their recent report, Defining Your E-Discovery Process Will Lower Costs and Reduce Risks, Gartner came down firmly on the side of in-sourcing e-discovery operations as opposed to outsourcing. As they explain, “E-Discovery initiatives fall short of expectations due to a lack of IT involvement and an over-reliance on outsourced legal services.”
The problem is clear according to Gartner:
“As organizations deal with more data and more e-discovery needs, the need to gain control of the whole e-discovery process to establish cost and risk predictability is paramount.”
But why is insourcing the answer? Gartner offers three primary reasons: controlling costs, reducing risks, and achieving better legal outcomes. Let’s look a little deeper at each of these benefits.
In-house e-discovery helps control costs.
Exterro’s own resource backs this up. In a new study of e-discovery spend management, Exterro and the Blickstein Group found that over 90% of those who brought e-discovery in-house found it an effective way to manage costs—with over 60% terming it “highly effective.”
Given the ever-increasing capabilities of e-discovery software, a move in-house doesn’t necessarily even require a large team. As Mary Mack noted in the 2018 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report, “You don’t need a large team to provide litigation services effectively.” After the initial investment in technology, a small team can manage a significant portion of e-discovery operations for an organization at a far lower cost than outside consultants.
In-house e-discovery reduces risk.
The benefit in terms of risk reduction may be harder to quantify, but it is no less substantial. As e-discovery case law has established, repeatable, documented, defensible identification and preservation activities are the foundation of successful e-discovery. You need to know the who (custodians), what (subject matter), and when (date ranges) of relevant electronically stored information so you can successfully issue and implement legal holds and minimize the risk of sanctions.
Teams with in-house technology are going to make fewer errors when they’re repeating workflows that are custom-built to reflect their processes and technological capabilities than outside teams with little to no knowledge of an organization’s structure, data map, and IT infrastructure.
In-house e-discovery improves legal outcomes.
In their report, Gartner explains, “Organizations that involve IT and maintain key legal capabilities in house have better outcomes than those that do not.” One way to assess whether or not your organization’s capabilities rise to this level is by assessing the maturity of your e-discovery operations. Download this complimentary Gartner report to assess your organization on their maturity scale or consider taking Exterro and EDRM at Duke Law’s E-Discovery Maturity Quiz.
After all, Gartner does not see this trend flagging in the near future; in fact, it seems like it will likely accelerate. As they explain, “By 2023, due to speed and legal cost, 70% of complex e-discovery cases will be managed by in-house IT leaders, up from less than 20% today.”