Fireside Chat With Monica: Our Journey to ZDiscovery
[Editor’s note: EDRM is proud to support our wonderful partner, Zapproved]
You probably hear “ediscovery costs are increasing!” fairly often in the corporate ediscovery world. Certainly there’s nothing especially surprising about that statement anymore; as the amount of data we each generate at work skyrockets, it makes sense that the spend needed to manage, process, and review it will also increase.
Fun fact: There are over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every single day. That’s a lot of data…
The reason this statement is so persistent, though, is that many legal teams are still grappling with what to do about it. For some, it can be difficult to prioritize cost savings when so many teams are being asked to do more with less each year. For others, the prospect of switching from expensive-but-familiar methods to something new can sound overwhelming.
However, for organizations who are tasked with reducing legal spend, in-house ediscovery software will drive significant savings. Many companies still outsource the majority–if not all–of their data processing and review to service providers. This is a great place to focus cost-saving initiatives for maximum impact to the bottom line.
Doing More In-House is Not ‘All or Nothing’
Instead of thinking about in-house ediscovery as an all-or-nothing choice, we believe that ediscovery software is a critical piece of your overall litigation management process. It should allow you to handle more ediscovery with your current team, without proclaiming to be a replacement for your outside counsel.
Outside counsel is another critical piece, and should be used when a higher risk, highly complex matter arises, such as a Class Action suit. It’s fair to say no one wants to wrangle that scenario without outside support! But even when outside counsel is involved, you can still take steps to process data, cull out unrelated information, or run an initial review to simply send them less data. Less data = lower bills.
Another option for reducing costs is around routine work for those standard matters and needs that consistently pop up, like internal investigations, subpoena responses, and Early Case Assessment (ECA). By keeping the data processing and review in-house, you can drive cost savings and expedite the process, so no more waiting on an external provider!
Easy Ways to Drive Down the Cost of Ediscovery
According to a 2021 Ernst & Young Law Report, “CEOs are demanding that legal departments cut budgets by as much as 18% while workloads are being increased by 25%.” But fear not! There is huge potential to save costs while still maintaining control over your matters and litigation by bringing more in-house.
Here are 4 easy ways to make ediscovery more cost-effective, from creating your own comprehensive litigation response plan to reducing the volume of documents for review.
1. Know Your Way Around the Data
As mentioned above, the amount of data your company manages is skyrocketing. As such, it’s crucial for legal teams to know their way around this data, starting with the volume of data your company might have, where it lives, how that data is organized, and the process for managing that data with ediscovery. In order to understand what data your organization generates and where it might reside, it’s important to create and maintain a current data map.
As you start to collect information about where data lives and who owns it, a data map is the perfect place to document it. This will also do wonders for your ediscovery process–saving time and therefore costs–as you start to decide how you will preserve, collect, and produce that data when the need arises.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to check for any data stored outside the company-approved list, such as personal devices.
2. Have a Litigation Response Plan
By implementing a litigation response plan, you can eliminate the costly risk of losing evidence that can lead to evidentiary spoliation sanctions. Start by gathering and empowering a cross-functional team in-house to build your litigation response plan. Once your team is assembled, it’s important to discuss expectations–everything from timelines to efficacy of data preservation efforts will save money over the course of a matter.
Having a strong plan in place and equipping your team to execute on it can dramatically improve litigation outcomes, reduce expenses, accelerate resolution timelines, and minimize uncertainty. Once you’ve got your litigation response plan it’s time to turn to data management.
Pro tip: Provide a packet for the team at the outset of every matter to articulate how ediscovery is to be managed.
3. Govern Your Information
It’s critical to document how your company controls and organizes the mountains of data it generates, not only to minimize data volumes but to make sure you’ve got a handle on the data you have. This process, which is known as information governance..
It will also do wonders for keeping your information easily accessible when the time comes. Once you’ve built your data map you should already have insight into the data your company has and be clued into the risks that might come with it.
An organization’s information governance plan should include policies for defensible data deletion once it has outlived its legitimate business purpose, taking into account what your company is required to keep and for how long.
Pro tip: Try monitoring metrics based on time and money spent on ediscovery by data source.
4. Don’t Stop with Ediscovery
Legal teams play an essential role in their organizations, but many find even greater success by looking beyond ediscovery and legal matters. Oftentimes legal department expertise can be utilized by partnering with other business teams on functions such as conducting internal investigations with HR or even cybersecurity incidents.
More often than you think, these processes present challenges similar to ones the legal teams might already have a plan for. You may well find that your ediscovery knowledge, skills, and tools are directly applicable to assessing and solving for the additional business outcomes listed above.
Pro tip: Even something as simple as your playbook could be a huge help to colleagues potentially dealing with similar issues.
Ediscovery and Beyond
As legal teams continue to evolve and align operating models to address changes in budgets and increased workloads, it’s critical to strategically deploy initiatives and create plans to drive down the costs of ediscovery. Your approach should be an ever evolving one that is strategically developed–taking into account new data sources, changes in litigation, and any other potential barriers that may arise.