The legal services industry has witnessed astonishing growth and development in the past decade. At its heart, technology has reinvented discovery and driven an ever-evolving market for products serving eDiscovery, information governance and big data. However, technology in a vacuum without complementary organizational eDiscovery architecture is like a locked door without a key. For corporations, legal services providers and law firms, the power of technology is harnessed only by eDiscovery professionals who can exploit its possibilities and bring it to life through well-designed workflows.
Is Your Organization as Advanced as Your Technology?
Because technology has become intertwined with legal practice, building an effective eDiscovery framework within a legal practice is essential to support data management solutions and to manage risk. To fulfill professional responsibility obligations and to advance client interests, I recommend that law firms and companies establish a flexible, centralized approach that:
To achieve a consistent, institutional perspective for eDiscovery, it is critical to house policy and process-making in an eDiscovery “chief of staff.” This function is intended to serve the best interests of the organization and may be a General Counsel, executive committee, practice group, partner in charge, administrative director, or consulting group. Without some form of centralized decision-making, individual players will make decisions without consideration for firm risk management, industry standards or appropriate technology solutions. It is important to understand that this internal resource (even if only one or two professionals) is necessary because professional responsibility does not transfer to vendors. High quality consultants/vendors may carry out day-to-day discovery tasks and recommend strategies, the supervising attorney is still ultimately responsible for decisions and results.
If You Build It, They Will Come: Concepts for a Competitive Organization
Creating a productive eDiscovery framework requires combining traditional practice hierarchy with business principles that focus on efficiency, process and collaboration. A standardized eDiscovery framework should embrace technology, while encouraging team dynamics, open communication, defined responsibilities, continuing education, benchmarking and vendor vetting and management. With an ultimate goal of effectively managing data, the following concepts may assist in applying structure to practice: