FTI Technology are presenting a web seminar on November 5 (that’s today) at 2pm Eastern | 11.00am Pacific | 19.00 GMT. Called Advice from Counsel: In-House Pros on E-Discovery Costs Containment, it is presented by Ari Kaplan, who will present the results of a survey of in-house counsel and senior IT people.
Although the survey was of US companies only, the results are universal – this is not about FRCP or sanctions but about the expectation that in-house legal teams will achieve the same or more with lower budgets and fewer resources, including the spend on outside lawyers. This is happening everywhere and the conclusions are as valid in countries beyond the US. We have gone way beyond shaving down charging rates and other minor economies, and into fundamental reassessments of what is really necessary to achieve the objective.
The answers inevitably lie in a mixture of process, people and technology. The perfect model, viewed in the abstract, is that companies reserve their external lawyers for the things which they do supremely well, and keep control of as much as possible of the rest by a mixture of in-house teams and technology and by direct relationships with providers of software and services.
The primary target is to cut the cost of review by minimising the amount of data sent to the lawyers – there is much more money to be saved by reducing the lawyer hours than by trimming the charging rates. The newer generations of clustering and visualisation tools are not merely more easily understood and accurate, but deliver results which can be audited and, if necessary, re-run with different parameters. The word “repeatable” means more than being able to validate the results – if the first-pass processes are routinely done in-house, then conclusions reached last time can be re-used when similar ground has to be covered for a different case.
I have written a fair amount about this shift – lawyers must either embrace it and learn to fit into the clients’ processes, or do without the work. It will be good to have some statistical backing for what is known to be happening, and Ari Kaplan’s overview and analysis will, like the results themselves, be relevant beyond the US.