How do Corporate Legal Departments Control Costs Associated with the Growing Amounts of Retained Data
As corporate legal departments embark on 2017, the pressure to contain the costs associated with the avalanche of user-created data continues to grow. In-house lawyers have been asking the same question for many years ─ how do we control these costs?
While the question may seem simple and direct, many are still wondering what more can be done. Do we invest in more internal resources? Do we contract directly with service providers? According to the Cowen Group’s recently-released “Corporate eDiscovery Critical Trends Report,” 85% (of the 44 Corporate Legal Departments out of the Fortune 500 who responded to the survey) will not be adding staff to beef up internal resources. On the other end of the spectrum, less than half (43%) will be increasing their reliance on outside service providers in 2017. Anecdotally, this feels consistent with the approaches of the in-house lawyers that I have spoken with over the last several months, who have tried one or both approaches. While they feel costs are better controlled, they continue to look for supplemental ways to drive down this spend.
So, what options are left for these legal departments who have invested in one or both approaches and still are not satisfied with where costs are at? Many corporate legal departments are now seeking ways to gain more oversight and control, over the eDiscovery and review process in an attempt to reign in cost. The belief is that having more transparency around the overall process will help them push their service providers and outside counsel to perform more consistently and make better decisions. A good example of how this kind of oversight and transparency into the process can yield real savings was articulated by Jacob Herstek (vice president and senior legal counsel at HSBC Bank USA) during a recent panel at ALM’s LegalWeek. According to Herstek, the biggest cost reducer for his department is having his eDiscovery team partner with its vendors to monitor how outside counsel is handling a second-level review. His team will take a closer look when it hears information from its vendor such as “your law firm was still looking at 75 percent of the documents that were already reviewed.”
Having this information allows his team to discuss with outside counsel why this is happening, and if there is not a valid reason, the ability to cut this cost at the second level will drive down costs. As many of us know, there are chances like this to save costs throughout the eDiscovery and document review process. The key is, how do you keep abreast of these opportunities and how quickly can you become aware of them to take advantage? If you do not have an internal eDiscovery team that can help with this oversight the task becomes trickier, but not impossible.
At Inventus, we believe this level of transparency, oversight, and access to data metrics are the keys to controlling eDiscovery costs. Streamlining access to this information will give corporate legal departments the information necessary to help guide the process, pushback on things that seem out-of-the-ordinary, get things back on track, and hopefully avoid any surprises on that month’s upcoming invoice. For that reason, Inventus has developed a business analytics dashboard called Spotlight, to give real-time insight into the discovery metrics that matter most to legal teams (review metrics, total spend, etc.) The goal is to get your legal departments this information as quickly and painlessly as possible, giving your team the information necessary to facilitate better communication with your service providers and outside counsel. Most importantly, with Spotlight, legal departments of all sizes can achieve this level of insight. The real-time access to this information will allow teams to intervene quickly when an opportunity to improve the process is noticed, and they can change course before costs have piled up.
For those legal departments wondering what more can be done? More oversight and transparency will foster more effective communication, and the savings should follow.