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Three Steps to Contain e-Discovery Costs in the e-World

Bobbi Basile | July 19, 2018

Corporate law departments are increasingly challenged to track their e-Discovery activities and costs. In today’s metric-focused business environment, law departments should be able to answer simple questions about their e-Discovery lifecycle, including: Exactly how much is being spent on e-Discovery and how do those costs break down? What volume of data is being handled? What is the cost of reviewing documents? What are the opportunities to reduce costs?

While these questions may seem basic, the technology gap at most law departments prevents easy answers. This gap can be caused by a variety of factors, but it is mostly caused by tracking too many metrics and the inability to centralize disparate information from multiple sources and systems, internal and external to the company.

I was fortunate to be able to discuss solutions for law departments looking to contain e-Discovery costs in a webinar with Mitratech earlier this year. Mitratech, a matter management and e-Billing provider, has worked closely with HBR to develop a solution that configures a law department’s matter management system to serve as an e-Discovery request management tool. In combination with HBR’s Discovery Dashboard, this ultimately allows attorneys to view a comprehensive picture of e-Discovery activity and costs not only at the matter level, but also across the entire law department from initial preservation through production.

Applying technology solutions like this can revolutionize the way law departments manage e-Discovery spending, and allow them to more confidently evaluate the performance of document review vendors and outside counsel costs. But before they can gain access to these insights, law departments need to invest time in consolidating and streamlining the information that is created during the e-Discovery lifecycle.

In the Mitratech webinar, I laid out three steps that will allow law departments to track their e-Discovery activity and costs through their matter management system coupled with HBR’s Discovery Dashboard. If your law department needs to capture a more robust view of its e-Discovery spend, here is what it takes:

1. Consolidate external providers and standardize metrics. 

First, take stock of all current e-Discovery providers and establish a preferred provider program if you have not done so already. This is the first step in consolidating the number of places information about discovery is stored, tracked and reviewed. It is also important to make sure outside counsel is using your preferred providers.

Next, the consolidated information needs to be standardized. One strategy for this is to provide all vendors a reporting template that clearly lays out the format for information regarding discovery tracking and costs. In some cases, adherence to this template may need to be included as part of the contract. Additionally, to ensure all information is tracked consistently, ask vendors to use e-Billing e600 fee codes.

Finally, as you standardize this reported information, make sure you identify the right metrics based on all the stakeholders who will need to access it, including outside counsel, vendors and anyone else who contributes to the discovery lifecycle.

2. Centralize the source of truth. 

Determining the e-Discovery cost of a single matter in most law departments means scouring multiple systems, spreadsheets and invoices. To discover where e-Discovery costs can be reduced, a central source of truth needs to be established.

If a law department makes effective use of its matter management system, it can serve as a central source of truth for information regarding the e-Discovery lifecycle where other useful matter information is memorialized. This allows attorneys to quickly see the scope and status of e-Discovery and the costs incurred to date. This information can and should provide a more efficient way for attorneys to prepare for negotiations and arguments aimed at reducing the burden and expense of discovery.

3. Implement dashboard reporting.

The real cost savings become apparent when you zoom out on spend from the matter level and view e-Discovery costs across the entire law department. Dashboard reporting tools make this possible by aggregating all matter-level data and providing insights on the key performance indicators (KPIs) your law department has identified. These metrics can include tracking how many documents are being collected versus how many are being reviewed, the performance of suppliers or the cost of e-Discovery for each phase of the lifecycle, among others, and enabling predictive budget based on historical metrics.

With the sheer volume of e-Discovery that law departments manage, determining whether current spend is too high can seem like a daunting task. But when you invest time and resources in creating a central source of truth and employing a Discovery Dashboard, a much clearer view of the current spend and ways to reduce costs can be just a few clicks away.

Is your law department ready to take control of its e-Discovery costs? Please reach out to me at BBasile@hbrconsulting.com to learn how your organization can benefit from using the Discovery Dashboard available in HBR’s CounselCommand.

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