I get it – commitment can be scary. What if a single E-Discovery vendor can’t cover all your needs? That specialized provider sounds so suave – are they worth the effort of managing two (vendor) relationships? Also, won’t having two providers around ensure they keep each other on their toes? All of these are valid concerns, but when you stop to consider the full scope of what you need on a given matter, it will quickly become clear that the benefits of commitment far outweigh the benefits of playing the field in the E-Discovery space.
Let’s look at some common fears when thinking about whether to use a single source provider.
Fear #1: If I commit, you won’t have to compete!
The most common fear that arises when selecting a single-source approach to E-Discovery projects is that if a single vendor is responsible for both the ESI and the review pieces of the project, then that vendor won’t have any incentive to reduce the data set – “Why would you want to be efficient if you can make more money by NOT being efficient?” is the logical question that summarizes this concept the best.
The answer is that full-service vendors take a holistic view of both the project and the client relationship into account when making decisions about how to proceed in E-Discovery projects. The cross-functional incentive to be efficient may not have been there ten years ago, when both culling and review techniques were far less advanced than they are today, but things have changed significantly since then. Any provider who does not effectively and creatively deploy the powerful tools that abound in the space will quickly get beat out by the competition. The best results come with strong partnerships between vendors and clients that incorporate best practices and processes and workflows that are mutually developed across multiple matters. Vendors that don’t adopt the most effective strategy for a given project likely won’t be providing services on subsequent ones.
Fear #2: If I commit to a single provider, I won’t get the ‘best of breed’ for everything!
Sometimes it makes sense to be wary of the generalist; after all, they might be a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. In some cases, that may even still be true – you probably don’t want your general practitioner performing complex surgery if you need it. E-Discovery isn’t a field where generalization precludes excellence, though. Quite the opposite, as the breadth of experience allows end-to-end vendors to effectively assemble groups of specialists in each area – more akin to a hospital than a single doctor’s office. They will also have more awareness of how their areas of expertise impact the matter as a whole, since they will have full visibility into the end-to-end results.
The end-to-end vendor’s ability to bring a subject matter expert to bear on literally any logistical, technical or management challenge that can arise on an E-Discovery project dwarfs any potential “focus” benefit a more specialized vendor may offer. Coupled with the smoother management and communication flow that comes with the use of a single vendor, the expansive coverage of all aspects of E-Discovery makes it much easier for a single-source approach to deliver better client outcomes. Clients absolutely SHOULD look for best-in-breed service providers, but they should look for best-in-breed service providers that can cover the full spectrum of their needs seamlessly rather than trying to put together a patchwork of competing “specialists.”
Fear #3: My case team knows this case the best! I need to use them to get the best results!
It’s natural to think that your case team knows the specifics of the matter best, so using them will obviously yield the best results on a given E-Discovery project. That thinking is only partially right. Your case team DOES know your matter the best, but that’s PRECISELY the reason it makes sense to use a single service provider to handle ESI and review.
The most precious resource in any project is time and your case team has a finite amount of hours in a given day or week to bring to bear on your matter. Those case team hours are much better spent doing analysis, planning and doing the critical litigation that wins cases. Conversely, the E-Discovery vendor can bring their best skills to bear on the parts of the process – collections planning, processing and hosting ESI, managing review – that form the backbone on which that legal work rests. By leveraging a single source vendor that’s intimately familiar with the best E-Discovery processes and technologies, you can get the most important information out of your data as quickly as possible, and therefore get that actionable intelligence in front of your case teams as quickly as possible so they can help you make the better decisions that will drive better outcomes in your matters.
Make it Official – Pick A Single Source Vendor
Like I said in the beginning, commitment can be scary. But it can also be very, very rewarding. When you take the time to make a thoughtful choice about how a single vendor can bring a specific focus on the whole of the relationship, how they can handle all of your needs rather than just certain ones, and how they’re best able to drive better outcomes, it’s clear the right choice is to go with an end-to-end, single service provider.
Published April 4, 2023.