By Tim Rollins
For many organizations, e-discovery is still treated as a bit of a mystery. They farm the responsibilities out to service providers or external counsel. In so doing, however, they miss out on opportunities to contribute real value to their legal team and to their organization as a whole. In a recent edTalk, Christa Haskins, Associate Director of E-Discovery at Amneal Pharmaceuticals, presented a compelling case for the value of in-house e-discovery teams and technology. In it, she dug deeper to look at how in-house e-discovery can contribute value in three big ways:
- Cost savings and avoidance
- Risk Reduction
- Legal strategy
Before we examine the ways e-discovery teams can produce value, though, we should level set on the components of effective in-house e-discovery. As is typically the case, the components include people, process, and technology.
In-house e-discovery teams consist of the law department, the IT department, and human resources. The law group scopes matters, while the IT team is responsible for collecting and preserving data. Finally, the HR team helps define custodians, as well as understanding certain critical attributes of custodians. Even when conducting e-discovery in-house, outside parties are still involved, such as outside counsel and third-party vendors and legal service providers.
Defined E-Discovery Processes
Due to its importance to the legal process, in-house teams must have repeatable, defensible, documented processes for e-discovery. Repeatable processes are critical, as they are the foundation of continuous improvement and efficiency. The fundamental tasks of e-discovery should be applied to each legal matter. Defensible processes rely on technology that's acceptable in the eyes of the legal system. Finally, documentation is critical to avoid the loss of institutional knowledge when people transfer roles or leave the company.
You have options in the realm of e-discovery technology, ranging from end-to-end solutions (like Exterro’s platform) that optimize e-discovery processes to create efficiencies from information governance through to production. However, there are also point solutions that excel at individual elements of the e-discovery process, such as legal hold and preservation, processing, or document review.
When combined effectively, e-discovery teams provide value to their organizations in the three ways mentioned at the start of this article.
- Cost Savings and Avoidance: Cost savings is the difference between what you’ve spent on a particular set of services or product from one year to the next. In terms of e-discovery, if you spend $1,000,000 on e-discovery services from outside counsel, but replace that with a software package and dedicated FTE at a total cost of $400,000, you have saved $600,000. Cost avoidance in e-discovery is reducing costs by, for example, effectively culling data before it goes to processing and review, thereby avoiding those potential expenses.
- Risk Reduction: By automating certain e-discovery processes, you eliminate the opportunity for human error--and that is risk reduction. Automation and documentation make your e-discovery process more defensible, with the side benefit of also increasing efficiency. When you can automate a process, simply put, there are less man-hours spent accomplishing your goals.
- Legal Strategy: By getting to the facts of a matter faster and understanding the data behind the case sooner, you’re able to define legal strategy quickly and orient e-discovery negotiations and processes to achieve the particular goals of the case.
In addition to Christa’s discussion, the edTalks presentations on February 6th also looked at Cross-Border E-Discovery and the GDPR, presented by Taylor Hoffman, Global Head of E-Discovery at Swiss Re, and Three Tips for Bridging the Gap with IT, by Gene McKelvey, E-Discovery Compliance Manager at Michelin.
If you’re interested in learning more cutting edge ideas for e-discovery practitioners, make sure you sign up for email updates at the edTalks website today!