While the focus of our blog recently has been to identify immediate large matter cost reductions in response to the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19, we wanted to take a quick detour and address an important topic. Specifically, we do not want any reader to think that we focus only on the large data matters, or that we are not in touch with the more standard cases that practitioners must manage. In fact, the vast majority of all discovery matters are fairly routine in terms of their size and complexity.
Managing eDiscovery, then, is not a one-size-fits-all proposal. However, the goal is always the same: get to the merits through a final, defensible production. How you accomplish that goal varies depending on many factors. The average eDiscovery case has minimalistic support needs. While substantial immediate cost savings are best found in cases with more expansive eDiscovery needs, the long-term opportunity for cost savings and efficiencies can also come from incremental cost reduction on the “everyday” cases.
Ediscovery portfolios can be as varied as the organizations and law firms that manage them. They tend to be determined by the type of business that is involved, the geographic footprint, the claims common to that industry, and a variety of other considerations, such as the type of data that may be common to the dispute at issue. For the organizational client, they may include cases with repetitive documents, similar types of claims, or regulatory compliance.
For these types of portfolios, consistency around process, technology and staffing is key to lowering overall portfolio costs. Treating these routine matters as all unique events is usually inadvisable, and can unnecessarily run up costs. Standardizing data requests minimizes organizational strain. Choosing a default tool, as well, that has pre-cleared security and functionality, ensures a good fit.
At Baker Donelson, we have a diverse litigation portfolio that spans a number of clients and industries. A predominate number of matters have the same basic need: review a smaller number of emails and standard office documents that will need to be Bates stamped and produced in a usable format. These are the types of cases where it should be largely unnecessary to include an eDiscovery timekeeper.
We felt that this was an area that was ripe for improvement and empowerment of the trial teams. As we looked at the opportunity, it was obvious that the best improvement opportunity fell squarely into the “technology” bucket of the “people, process, technology” rubric. We started seeking out technologies that would make a meaningful difference in the eDiscovery “quality of life” for the trial teams.
For qualified matters, the eDiscovery Team looked at several key considerations. We wanted to accomplish four key things. First, the technology must maximize empowerment of our capable attorney and paralegals. Second, it needed to have great budget predictability and reduce overall cost. Third, we wanted to minimize the engagement friction of getting an eDiscovery project going. Fourth, we also wanted to limit the number of timekeepers on a file so that the key merits lawyers had ready access to the relevant data.
The result has been a very successful program for qualified cases that provides great customer experience results, including dramatically reduced costs. To finish where we started, we are not promoting anything as a one-size-fits-all solution. A lot of great options exist for portfolio technology. The key is defining the case needs and matching the technology and processes to fit.
For a copy of the case study, see: https://www.logikcull.com/public/files/Logikcull-Baker-Donelson-Case-Study.pdf. It includes more details about our criteria and the data about results, along with some quotes from our lawyers.
If you have any questions, or want to discuss this more, please reach out to Clinton Sanko at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next blog, which will be published Wednesday, May 20, 2020, will be on an important litigation phase. Stay tuned!