...eDiscovery doesn't have to keep you up at night
If there is one part of the job likely to keep corporate counsel awake (and usually in the office) all night, it is eDiscovery. Having barely come to grips with the vast number of documents contained on servers and in emails, electronically stored information (ESI) in the form of mobile data has magnified the eDiscovery challenges faced by attorneys ten-fold.
their hands tied. They have a duty to review, produce, and present legally defensible documents and data to the other party involved in a litigation, M&A deal, or internal investigation. But this must be done in a way that keeps costs in proportion, maintains the privacy of the data owner, and produces a clear audit trail and uninterrupted chain of custody records.
One way to manage all these duties and expectations more effectively is to take control of eDiscovery.
A constant challenge with eDiscovery is keeping control of costs, which are likely to spiral well before they reach the review stage. Departments will normally insist they only have a few ‘gigs’ of data which need to be combed through. But every corporate counsel knows this never the case; once it has been properly scoped, the amount of data always exceeds initial estimates.
Controlling eDiscovery allows for cost transparency and tighter control over budgets. An eDiscovery project team, which ideally includes members of both the internal legal team and the IT department, can have complete oversight of the entire EDRM method, quickly identifying in advance parts of the process where costs may increase, and look for solutions to reduce costs at other stages to compensate, or (if this is impossible) revise the budget early on.
Furthermore, by utilizing technology-assisted review in-house, data-sets can be reduced by up to 90% via the removal of duplicated and irrelevant files. This greatly reduces the costs incurred if the data must then be sent to an external provider for analysis and final review.
Due to the focus on early settlement, the reality is eDiscovery is often left until the last minute, sometimes only four weeks before the disclosure report is due to be filed. This can place enormous pressure on corporate counsel if they are having to rely on and manage an external provider.
Having control of your eDiscovery software provides the opportunity for closer collaboration between IT, legal, and the eDiscovery project management team. This allows the identification, collection and analysis process to begin as soon as litigation or an investigation is reasonably contemplated, prior to a legal hold being placed. Not only does this reduce the possibility of data spoliation, but it also ensures much of the eDiscovery work can be done well in advance.
Due to the reduced cost linked to managing eDiscovery in-house, the early identification, collection, and review of data will not require the need to balance the risk of outlaying significant capital when the case may never get near the courthouse steps. In addition, being able to engage an in-house review process can lead to a deeper understanding of the matter and increase the prospect of reaching an early, more favorable settlement.