Just as I pressed the Publish button on my article of last night (Discussing UK eDisclosure developments with Judge Brown and Huron Legal), which referred to Huron’s acquisition of Ascertus, a Huron press release came in about its next acquisition, of AdamsGrayson.
This merits a mention here partly because of its scale – AdamsGrayson has a review facility in the Washington DC metropolitan area with more than 200 seats – and partly because of the reference in the press release to AdamsGrayson’s specialisation in strategic consulting on information risk management, litigation readiness, and eDiscovery management.
Those of you who read my posts in the order in which I publish them will see the connection here with my article of this morning called Far from the Black Box: explaining Equivio Relevance to lawyers. That included the following suggestions to law firms:
….automated technology … is going to become the norm, side-by-side with outsourced providers of document review (and no one is yet saying that document review is dead, however sophisticated the technology) who can do the job more efficiently, more predictably and, frankly, better, than most law firms can.
If you doubt any of this, do three things – read Richard Susskind’s The End of Lawyers?, go and visit a provider of outsourced document review services and compare their offering to yours (or to that of your lawyers if you are a client), and arrange a demonstration of a range of modern technology solutions.
Huron Legal is not the only company with feet on both sides of the Atlantic offering managed review services on this scale. Epiq Systems has just opened its new document review centre in Washington D.C., with space for more than 140 reviewers, and it also offers on-site project management, recruiting and staffing. Both these companies have a significant presence in London offering the same services.
There is room for both of them, and others not mentioned here. The fact that rival substantial companies are offering similar services in competition with each other is validation of each of them, not least because evidence of a competitive market is an encouragement to consider this way of dealing with document review. I was speaking to a London lawyer last week who expressed disdain for outsourced document review on the alleged grounds that there was no competition and no way of measuring its cost, capability or quality. I hope that I was polite in my reply, but such a statement is nonsense. It would be an interesting exercise, I suggested, to get comparative estimates from two providers like the ones mentioned here – not just the bare cost but the statistical and management information which they would offer as part of the service.
Having done this, I said, the law firm should then try and do the same exercise on itself, that is, to mock up estimates based on its usual way of conducting document review, including the same projections of time and cost which it would get from the outsourced providers. For completeness, it should also identify the reports which it can produce for itself and for its clients before, during and after the exercise.
I wonder how many firms would find that their own projections (if they are able to make them at all) are substantially higher than those of the external estimates, with or without the add-ons of reporting and related services.
Roll forward to the new world of costs budgeting which, as I reported in my Judge Brown / Huron article, is coming soon as part of the Civil Procedure Rules and is, in any event, much prized by clients. Clients, or sensible clients anyway, are not just looking for the cheapest way of doing the job, but value certainly comes into their calculations.
I am not suggesting that every firm should used outsourced managed review for every job. I cannot see, however, that a law firm can properly deliver estimates to its clients, still less to the court, without doing the comparative exercise which I outline above.