In the U.S., the ABA has estimated that document review alone accounts for more than 80 percent of total litigation spend, totaling tens of billions of dollars per year. As data becomes more varied and complex and volumes increase, that number is only going to rise. The dominance of social media, the increased use of short form multichannel messaging platforms, and even the growing popularity of podcasts have only widened the scope of what is considered fair game for discovery.
Adding to that, a new year of heightened data regulations and disputes are likely to drive up review expenses. As a result, corporate clients are under relentless pressure to hold the line on costs. Corporate legal departments are having to implement information governance programs for better budgeting predictability and transparency. They’re adopting advanced analytics to reduce the data set used during the eDiscovery process, advancing their projects by making the most of their time and resources.
Because of the greater scrutiny on spend, clients are also looking to integrate processes that involve the same data sets, beyond litigation, looking for greater efficiency. That puts pressure on law firms and vendors to add real value.
Technology goes a long way towards streamlining and automating tasks and workflows, but ultimately, legal fees contribute substantially to document review expenses. Discovery costs will always depend on the degree to which firms deploy cost-sensible strategies for staffing and project management.
eDiscovery providers like CDS have incorporated attorneys into project teams to offer clients strategic, knowledgeable consultants and an end-to-end solution, from forensic collections to data hosting and managed review. Lawyer-technologists can help in every step of a project and also consult on the overall review management process.
A nuanced, consultative approach offers concrete benefits, including:
- Creation of standardized workflows. eDiscovery vendors can help develop consistent, repeatable, and effective workflows across all matters. Improvements are identified by assessing and identifying project trends in forensic collection methods, processing and production specifications, database review, and even basic tagging defaults/templates. For example, CDS recently drafted a guide for a corporate client’s law firm partners with default specifications and workflow suggestions. Having an easily referenceable set of standards and protocols can save significant project kickoff time and hourly consulting fees.
- Reduced costs. More nuanced eDiscovery approaches can significantly reduce data sets and save money. Advanced industry capabilities such as structured/conceptual analytics, technology-assisted review and other technologies can cull large datasets quickly and efficiently to reduce costs while maintaining high quality.
- Increased accuracy. Understanding how to deploy technology that enhances the review experience can bring the data to life and ensure that reviewers correctly interpret context and identify relevant and responsive material. Translation services, native redactions, and mobile data review tools increase accuracy and lead to better decision making.
- Improved project and cost monitoring. Companies and law firms need to understand the status of their matters. Customized reporting enables all parties to monitor budgets and activity to ensure service providers are being utilized for tasks better suited to their expertise and at a more cost-effective rate compared to law firms. Additional factors, such as first pass review conducted by outsourced companies, can keep much of the total costs down. Attorneys at the firm will be required to plan review strategy, QC decisions, and ultimately confirm that outbound productions are aligned with the entity’s business and legal goals.
- Real-time quality control, data tracking, and reporting are essential to improving workflows. Customized, high-level, granular reporting provides full transparency. CDS’s customized dashboards, for example, offer immediate insight into data details, such as custodian data sizes, file type counts and proportions, date ranges, and other information to enhance accountability.
- Dedicated support. A dedicated project management team for corporate clients, including Project Managers, Senior Consultants, and Director oversight, maximizes efficiency and accuracy, provides broad expertise, and enables seamless knowledge transfers among team members and between the team and the client.
Technology expertise is important in discovery, but a service provider with a nuanced, consultative approach can be a true partner in developing workflows that benefit every project.
For more information, contact the CDS Advisory Services team to discuss how we can get better results from your next eDiscovery project.