Although the business of the e-Disclosure Information Project involves telling law firms and corporations about electronic disclosure technology suppliers, I avoid discussions about pending competitive tenders in the e-disclosure market. Given the range of people with whom I am in contact, the chances of hearing twice about the same contract from rival bidders are too high and, metaphorically at least, I put my fingers in my ears if I fear I might learn more than I want to know.
No-one, however, could avoid knowing that Clyde & Co has been working to identify preferred suppliers of electronic disclosure services. It seems ages ago that I first heard about it, in a remote country pub (life is not all glossy conferences and airports, you know) and it became clear that Kevin Butterill, Clyde’s litigation support manager, was extremely keen to get it right. The tender became the Moby Dick of the e-disclosure seas, each provider his own Captain Ahab on a mission to hunt it down.
This is not surprising. Clyde & Co have been well-known for litigation for all my 30-odd years in the law, diversifying from their shipping base into insurance, aviation, competition and other areas rife with disputes to resolve.
As it happens, Epiq Systems and Trilantic were not amongst those who said anything to me about this contract, probably because they both know me well enough to be aware of my self-imposed restriction on the subject. They are both amongst the sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project, and it is good to learn today that they have been appointed as preferred e-disclosure suppliers by Clyde & Co.
They will both provide Clydes with electronic disclosure services including electronic data collection, document processing, scanning and coding, review, courtroom presentation, and technical support.
Epiq brings the well-known document review system DocuMatrix and the project management skills to go with it. Trilantic offers a broad range of document discovery services. Between them, they can provide all the software and services which Clydes will need.
Quotations from press releases rarely add much to the sum of human understanding, but it is worth quoting what Mike Brown, International Sales Director of Epiq Systems, has to say:
Modern discovery technologies can significantly reduce the size and time-frame for manual review – and lawyers who best understand the issues and processes of e-Disclosure will gain significant advantages over legal firms that don’t.
You would think that was too obvious to recite by 2009, but sometimes one has to state the obvious. The most “significant advantage” which law firms seek just now is winning new contentious work when they bid against other firms for the ever-tighter corporate budget. Law firms of whatever size should be asking themselves what their answer will be when they are asked to say how they would manage the litigation for which they are competing.
Admirable though Kevin Butterill’s thorough approach has been, there is a danger that this story will make firms think that such an exercise is always essential before embarking on electronic disclosure. It is not. There are many suppliers out there, with software, services and advice available – tomorrow if you need them – to get stuck into the job. The low-key version of the comprehensive tender is to make contact with a handful of suppliers and get them to come and talk to you, to take you out to lunch, or just to tell you a little about what they do so that you have more than one number to ring when the need arises.
That need may be an imminent beauty parade, the case which has just landed on your desk, or an order made at a Case Management Conference. Any of them warrant at least a broad understanding of what is involved in handling electronic documents and some idea as to who can help you deal with them.