The IDC predicts that 450 billion emails will be exchanged between businesses by 2020. Plowing through such an explosive amount of data is no cakewalk. Many organizations struggle with identifying the right databases and unearthing desired case information, due to lack of supportive resources and technology. Choosing the right e-Discovery software or service providers can help you successfully navigate voluminous and complex data, and reinforce your practice’s e-Discovery offerings.
1. Needs first.First and foremost, it’s essential to evaluate your organization’s needs. Have an inclusive conversation with all your stakeholders, discuss your company’s past, present, and future, and appropriately decide your e-Discovery strategy. Your end goal may be to reduce litigation spend, to reach a quick settlement, or to protect your IP; to reach that goal faster, you need to have a concrete e-Discovery strategy in place, that is well-communicated with all employees and vendors, so all the stakeholders can work together.
- Technology: Scout for technology solutions that best fit your company’s needs. Aspects you would have to consider are on-site vs. cloud-based software, data backup, compatibility with existing applications, scope of support etc.2 For frequently used processes, you could incorporate specific purpose technology3 such as data collection or litigation hold software, and to maximize document review automation, you could use Technology Assisted Review3. Finally, adopting a seamless company-wide software platform4 can unify all your departments and your e-Discovery processes.
- Tools: A smart e-Discovery strategy uses tools that provide method, but are flexible and accommodative. While evaluating e-Discovery tools from service providers, be sure to determine the extent of process transparency and repeatability. Choose tools that are durable and customizable to your organization’s evolving needs2.
- People: For the final numbers to make sense, all the different departments (in-house legal, outside counsel, IT, review team etc.) need to be in concert. This can happen only if there is clarity, transparency, and defensibility to the e-Discovery process. Assigning a dedicated liaison between the IT and legal teams is one way to minimize process inefficiencies2.
- Security: The e-Discovery security protocol should protect all your confidential and proprietary resources, including people, processes, and technology2.
2. Lessons from the past.Examining your previous projects and processes will help you understand what to retain, what to amend, and what to discard.
- Processes: Assess previous and existing e-Discovery processes to understand if and how they can be modified to suit your future goals. The processes must be scalable to cope with rising data volumes and information sources such as mobile devices, cloud computing, new applications, business operations etc2. Eliminate those processes that are unsuitable for the organization’s e-Discovery future, but attempt to develop repeatable processes, where your teams are knowledgeable about previous data sets to avoid duplication of data and effort. This type of funnel-down approach will reduce the amount of data that reaches the review stage of your e-Discovery process.
- Issues: Having an understanding of the nature of issues the company has faced in the past (internal investigations, compliance, litigation, international issues such as data privacy etc.2) will also contribute to an ideal e-Discovery solution.
Regulating your search strategy will also help you slash e-Discovery fees. This may involve several steps like scoping by date range, applying media filters, eliminating junk data and spam, data categorization, etc. so that only the right data will need review3. Developing Effective Review and Privilege Review workflows will also help you cut e-Discovery costs3.
3. Resource Review.There are three things you need to review before you finalize your e-Discovery service provider and technology: Data, budget, and in-house staff.
- Data: Conducting a thorough review of all paper and electronic information (stored in emails, applications, PDFs, HTML, compressed files, mobile devices etc.) is critical. To avoid repetition of data in cases of repeat litigation, invest in a data repository solution3 that both in-house employees and vendors can use. Also, data from wearable devices, social media, cloud sources, audio/video/image files, and proprietary formats may affect your e-Discovery solution2.
- Budget: Legal Departments need to justify budget allocation for project requirements, so it’s vital that your budget cover potential consequences of the e-Discovery project. Try to identify hidden costs and develop variations of e-Discovery solutions based on cost constraints2.
- Roles: It is important to outline the exact roles of your in-house legal, IT, and HR staff in the e-Discovery process. This will determine the extent of training they will have to undergo with respect to technology, changes in legal services, business operations, effects of mergers/ acquisitions etc2. It will help decide each department’s commitment to the final goal, and consequently the relevance of the National e-Discovery counsel3, outside counsel, and vendors.
improve efficiency, and free up your in-house counsel’s time to focus on other pressing tasks.