Thought Leadership and Industry Trends
How law firms can enhance their eDiscovery with managed services
By Milton Cervantes, Director of Enterprise Solutions, CDS.
As eDiscovery makes litigation support more challenging for law firms, they are increasingly considering a managed services model. In managed services, parts of the eDiscovery process (including infrastructure, hosting, processing, and project management) are outsourced to a service provider on a contract basis. This approach can enhance eDiscovery especially for law firms struggling with multiple offices each utilizing their own processes and applications. It is also particularly helpful to firms that lack the internal resources to keep up with the constantly changing technology and systems involved in eDiscovery.
In making the decision to use managed services and maximize its value, law firms should ensure they understand the onboarding process. They should ask important questions:
- How will implementation of a managed services model work?
- What should the firm expect when working with a provider?
- How can the firm structure managed services to achieve short and long-term financial goals?
The first step in implementing managed services is looking at the firm’s existing infrastructure. How can systems be centralized and modernized? Managed services provides a means to build a secure and accessible data repository across the firm. Firms can also leverage proprietary technology offered by service providers including dashboards, data visualization, and tools like early case assessment (ECA) to enhance their eDiscovery without incurring capital expense and still controlling the data.
The next step involves focusing on the people and processes in eDiscovery. In firms that are accustomed to decentralized or outdated procedures, there is a great need to build protocols and procedures that work across all offices and benefit the staff. Law firm staff members whose job duties involve eDiscovery should be brought into the initial onboarding process in order to leverage their expertise and knowledge to create a better solution that meets their needs.
A managed services model is intended to build self-sufficiency within the firm. Initially the law firm will need help in managing their information. However, the onboarding process should incorporate extensive training with the goal of putting firms in control of their own data repository so only limited assistance will be needed when fully implemented.
Law firms should understand their goals for their managed services. What are they looking to achieve in the short-term and long-term, especially on the expense side? Many firms are just focused on building a robust internal litigation support system with the benefits and flexibility of a large team. This is true especially in the short-term. However, over the long-term, some law firms are interested in creating a profit center. A managed services model could provide the means for expanding on how clients are billed for gathering and culling eDiscovery data, thereby creating additional revenue for the firm. These goals should be discussed early in the onboarding process.
There are significant advantages for law firms in utilizing a managed services approach. However, to truly maximize the benefits, firms should have in-depth discussions with service providers before making their decision.