I took the opportunity at ILTA 2017 to talk to people who are influencers or commentators on eDiscovery, or who get their hands dirty actually delivering eDiscovery services. Eric Mandel, an expert in information governance and risk compliance at Ricoh, fits into all three categories, and it was good to have the opportunity to talk to him.
I started by asking him what drew him to Ricoh. Ricoh, he said, is well used to managing data on the product side, and has been extending that skill and experience to the complex issues related to eDiscovery. As the demands of litigation and regulatory investigations have increased, clients found that they were spending too much money responding to these demands. They increasingly need to know where their data lives and what information they have in order to respond efficiently to these external demands. Many of them are increasingly keen to manage at least part of that process themselves, hesitating to hand over large volumes of data to lawyers for security reasons as well as for cost reasons – law firms are now the target of bad actors of various kinds and, while many of them are secure, many are not.
At the same time, many law firms are realising that offering eDiscovery as a service has brought them cost and liability, which is not necessarily matched by the profit from providing it, particularly as many clients are unwilling to pay their lawyers for these services.
Some law firms have invested in technology, and in people who understand technology and the processes surrounding it. Some larger firms are effectively running large captive vendors and doing it well. Many mid-size firms, however, have struggled with this and want to shift the work out, setting up one or more relationships with outside providers. That is the space which Ricoh wanted to fill for both clients and law firms and that is why they recruited Eric Mandel.
In establishing these services, Ricoh developed RICOH eDiscovery On Demand, a SaaS environment originally developed as a small case tool. Clients upload their own data into the system and can just get on with the task of reviewing their data and, perhaps, even coding it. Ricoh found their clients started asking for Ricoh On Demand for larger matters where they take responsibility for project management, and Ricoh manages the storage, the updates and the infrastructure.