Epiq Systems, owners of document review application DocuMatrix, have launched a new document review service based in its new offices in London following the success of the US service. The press release is here.
It is in a sense otiose for me to give my views since they are already set out in the press release, where I am quoted as saying:
Epiq’s document review service will appeal to a wide range of law firms and corporations. Those with existing expertise in electronic disclosure can take on additional work even if their in-house teams are already stretched; those who have no in-house resources and who might otherwise have to pass up work (or take it on with inadequate skills and staff) can delegate the expensive review stage to experienced teams. The two things which are particularly attractive about the service is the emphasis on quality control and reporting, and the fact that it is product-neutral despite the fact that Epiq is itself a well-known software provider.
This is the second time today that I have drawn attention to the value for a law firm of having a trusted partner to deal with the electronic disclosure aspects of litigation – it came up also in my article A call to arms for ediscovery in Hong Kong in which I mentioned the arrangement between O’Melveny & Myers and search expert H5.
Let us leave on one side for the moment the experienced firms who need overflow assistance, and focus on smaller firms with first-rate litigation lawyers and competitive charging rates but no internal resource for handling e-disclosure. At one level they could engage Epiq or one of its competitors to collect the clients’ documents and data, import it into a software application and host it so that it becomes available to the lawyers for review. That would be a big step forward, particularly if the alternative is (as I put it in the press release) passing up the chance to do the work or trying to do it manually by printing the documents and reading them. It is a perfectly sensible approach, happens every day and is available from several suppliers – “just ring somebody up” as I keep saying, and start talking benefits and costs, preferably with more than one provider.
Many such firms would jump at the chance to go one step further and hand the whole document review problem to someone else. What Epiq are offering here is not just the technology, but the services of appropriately-skilled lawyers to undertake the actual document review. Most firms would, I think, baulk at having to recruit a team of trusted reviewers from scratch. What Epiq offer is that they will work with the law firm to devise the rules governing the review exercise and will then manage it subject to rigourous security, controls and reporting which are very much better than most firms could create.
Furthermore, the service does not depend on the use of Epiq’s own application – its output can be sent to the firm’s review tool of choice if that is not DocuMatrix
The other element which comes with the service is the consultancy experience which Epiq has got which goes beyond purely technical matters. The service is headed by Laura Kibbe (that’s Laura at the top of this service description page) who has had many years’ experience as both client and provider. The selection of the final set of documents for disclosure involves skills of explanation, negotiation and argument as well as legal and technical expertise. These do not necessarily come naturally.
I went to see one of the “pods” set up at Epiq’s new offices at 11 Old Jewry, London EC2. In addition to the usual security measures – no access to the Internet or other applications, tight security on the door and so on – the arrangement recognises that those doing the work are lawyers, perhaps of some seniority, who are entitled to expect to be treated as such in their working conditions.
The occasion of my visit was the formal launch of the document review service earlier this week. Epiq assembled a panel consisting of Browning Marean of DLA Piper US, George Socha of EDRM fame, Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy and me, all moderated by Laura Kibbe. If you think that some of these names seem familiar, Browning, Vince and I were all in Hong Kong together last week and turn up in my recent reports of the conference there.
The panel session was unscripted and lively and was followed by a champagne reception. Guests included representatives of some firms which fit exactly into the category which I have described above – good firms with well-respected litigation practices who recognise that the ability to handle electronic documents is critical to practice development, quite apart from the management of their existing work.
As with all litigation software and services, it is not enough merely to read the press release nor even my gloss on it. Like any provider with services to offer, Epiq would be pleased to explain the service, its benefits and its costs. Contact them on +44 (0) 20 7367 9191.