E-discovery processes have become, and will invariably continue to be, increasingly costly and burdensome for attorneys and their teams. Greater volumes of data are being produced every second, more sources of discoverable data are appearing more often, such as mobile devices and social networks, and electronic data is playing a greater role in more and more cases.
All of this adds up to greater demands on processing speed, capacity and, perhaps most importantly, increasing cost pressures in handling e-discovery. It might seem like a losing uphill battle, so a question must be asked: Are there real opportunities for e-discovery solutions to enable legal professionals to be more efficient and effective facing these challenges? The answer, for many practitioners, is a resounding yes.
A recent Thomson Reuters survey found that 9 out of 10 attorneys and discovery professionals noted room for improvement in e-discovery solutions. Half of those surveyed said that their current platform needed to be easier for users, while one-third said that their current platform lacked sufficient power and capability. It’s no surprise then that only 16 percent of general counsel respondents indicated that their law firms excelled at e-discovery, according to “A Summary of Global and US E-Discovery Markets and Trends” by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. The time has come for both law firms and corporate legal departments to demand more from the e-discovery tools they are using. While most legal departments depend on their outside counsel to choose the tool, they should make every effort to influence what is being used if they want to save both time and money.
Ease of Use
Improved ease of use was the most common need expressed by survey respondents. More than 80 percent of respondents stated that ease of use was “very important” to them. Since litigation often is not a linear process, a system should allow lawyers to work in a similarly nonlinear fashion. The system must handle the complexities of the e-discovery process, as well as match the needs and various skill sets of different users.
Performance and Reliability
Speed counts in e-discovery, but slow search times and other document-loading issues were reported by many survey respondents as real hurdles. Software crashes and system downtime can cause delays in processing, inefficient experiences for the users and clients, and document reviewers left sitting idle. Relying on a provider that has a proven record of security and reliability can alleviate performance issues.
Costs of E-Discovery
For many, it simply comes down to cost, which is not surprising since cost is often among the most important considerations for clients. In today’s economic climate, law firms and in-house legal teams are feeling immense pressure to contain litigation costs. If the e-discovery solution does not employ an interface that is easy to use or has the necessary performance and reliability needed, costs can be driven up to frightening levels.
Sometimes, it’s not just the total bill that’s the problem but the complexity and unpredictability of pricing. E-discovery pricing should be transparent and provide legal professionals the ability to control their costs and budget more accurately.
A new generation of e-discovery technology – designed from the ground up to meet the specific needs of legal professionals – promises to provide the much needed speed, power, control and ease of use to drive faster document reviews and, ultimately, greater efficiency through a smoother discovery process.
Thomson Reuters eDiscovery Point™ performs multiple steps simultaneously: uploading, processing and indexing documents for review. Attorneys can begin reviewing documents within minutes of loading, while the remainder of the batch is concurrently being processed. This saves tremendous amounts of time and allows attorneys to get a jump start on their case strategy. It also accommodates the nonlinear nature of litigation when new custodians, data sets and keywords pop up all the time.
Simplified, transparent pricing can lead to more reliable budgeting and fewer unpleasant surprises for clients. Ideally, all-inclusive pricing should cover every aspect from start to finish, including processing, early data assessment, predictive coding, review and production.
In the end, it’s about users having more control over the e-discovery process, their data and costs so their end clients benefit. This control should come from a combination of speed, reliability and accuracy, and provide confidence that the process is being handled as cost-effectively as possible.
Attorneys and discovery professionals may be best served by determining what their challenges are and identifying criteria that can help them evaluate solutions that effectively save them time and money.
Greg McPolin, Chief operations officer for Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services.LMSinquiries@tr.com