An article in LegalWeek tells of the tangible benefits which Eversheds Sutherland is deriving from its investment in OpenText eDiscovery software, in skilled people and in training.
I published an article in August called Thinking through the management of eDisclosure services – Eversheds Sutherland and OpenText. It described the process, initiated at a very senior level within the firm, to think through how it handled its eDiscovery obligations to arrive at a conclusion which was good for the clients, good for the lawyers actually doing the work, and good for the revenue line.
I said this:
It is surprisingly rare for law firms to promote their use of technology in support of their eDisclosure / eDiscovery services. The main reason why law firms make an investment in technology and in the training which goes with it is to offer a better service to the clients at a lower cost, whilst ensuring that they make a profit at the same time. These are worthy ambitions, signs that the firm is bringing the same commercial nous to its own business as its clients expect for theirs. The handling of documents and data is one of the most expensive components of disputes and investigations. Why, then, are law firms traditionally shy in talking about it?
The conclusion of the exercise was that Eversheds Sutherland took OpenText as its eDiscovery platform on a basis which left the management of infrastructure, software and disk space with OpenText while keeping the disclosure management in house. The firm recruited a Head of Litigation Technology, Enzo Lisciotto, and a team of analysts and others to bring expert support within its own walls.
Quite apart from removing the obligation to hold a beauty parade every time there was a new discovery exercise, Eversheds Sutherland enabled its lawyers to get started quickly on a new exercise, whatever its size, relying both on its internal support and on training and familiarity with a single platform.
I use my article, and the story it tells, as a model when I talk to other firms, saying that it is the thinking through and the leadership which matters as much as the particular outcome.
An interesting article in LegalWeek takes up the story (for subscribers only – subscription details here). Headed Eversheds Sutherland in line for £2m revenue boost from new litigation technology initiative, the article tells of the success the firm has had with its ES Locate platform developed with OpenText.
Partner Paul Worth, one of those who led the initiative, is quoted as expecting a revenue increase of up to £2m in the first year. Both the savings (the cost of external providers) and efficiency (immediate access to the firm’s own team) result from the initiative which, he says makes the firm both more self-sufficient and able to offer a better service to clients.
As I noted in my own article, relatively few firms make use of their investment in technology and skills as part of a marketing initiative. You don’t have to be a mighty player like Eversheds Sutherland to want to stress that you are investing to save the clients money.
For smaller firms, the investment may lie in building relationships and making agreements with providers, and in training the lawyers and those who support them.
Of the technology itself, Paul Worth is quoted as saying that “clever analytics and predictive coding” should result in savings of 50% or more compared with conventional approaches to disclosure.
The important investment, perhaps, is the time and energy of senior management in initiating investigations into what is best for the firm and in driving the search for better ways of performing resource heavy and expensive tasks like eDiscovery / eDisclosure.