Remote and hybrid work environments are here to stay and as corporate legal teams begin to reassess their needs in a post-pandemic environment, they are uniformly looking for ways to improve their prospects and transform their eDiscovery practices. The volumes of litigation, investigations and regulatory compliance matters continue to increase while data privacy regulations, cybersecurity attacks and whistleblower allegations are on the rise. Forward-thinking law department leaders are seeking to remove traditional barriers and friction to get through uncertainty and uncover opportunities.
What does this mean for modern eDiscovery, which falls at the intersection of legal and IT processes? Legal teams must reassess where and how the work is done, and who does the work.
Adopt a cloud-first strategy
In legal service delivery, every legal matter brings with it a sense of urgency, and time to results is critical. Quickly identifying, collecting, centralizing and reviewing or analyzing potentially relevant documents can mean the difference between a quick settlement and protracted litigation or investigation that can rapidly encompass (and drain) a company’s repositories, resources and budget.
A cloud approach to delivering eDiscovery services resolves the challenges of traditional, disjointed in-house eDiscovery techniques that can tax existing IT infrastructure, disrupt day-to-day work and add time and burden to IT and employees.
In fact, CIOs recognize that they need to speed service delivery by 50% and over half will migrate over 75% of their applications to the cloud to support speed and agility—bringing (or dragging) their business units involved in data-intensive processes, like eDiscovery, along with them.
Increase speed of legal work by limiting human review
Increasing the speed of legal work is the highest priority among corporate executive priorities for legal departments, and legal leaders say their biggest weakness is using and adopting technology solutions.
Document review—now involving often millions of documents or more per case—is the most immediately impactful stage at which to optimize speed and efficiency. Yet many legal departments still rely on outside counsel to conduct review, using inefficient keyword search followed by manual review as the default approach to finding relevant documents. (Using keyword search, the typical reviewer has to look at 10 documents for every relevant one, resulting in wasted time).
Some legal teams are adopting technology-assisted review (TAR) to speed review. TAR based on a continuous active learning protocol dramatically improve efficiency and accuracy. The ratio of responsive documents reviewed with TAR is far superior to that of keyword search followed by linear review, achieving an average ratio of two to one. This means that the review team looks at just two documents to find one relevant one. That team finishes faster and bills far less.
Yet only 26% of lawyers use TAR in all or most of their cases, and 36% use it in very few or none of their cases. Why? TAR is not well understood, and there is fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) with technological advancements that might be considered “black box”.
The good news is that TAR capabilities can be delivered via modern eDiscovery systems—OnDemand, in the cloud—along with outsourced expertise that can guide even the most reluctant legal teams for a defensible, transparent and efficient TAR review.
Optimize available resources and expertise
To achieve optimal efficiency, law department leaders are assessing not only where work should happen but also who should do that work—internal teams, outside counsel or alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) and vendors with expertise in one or more parts of the eDiscovery process.
This trend is, and will continue to be, particularly evident in managed document review, where ALSPs provide specialized expertise that drives greater efficiencies leveraging TAR and TAR expertise, while freeing up internal teams and outside counsel to focus on case strategy. In fact, 68% of large law firms use ALSPs for document review and 93% of corporations use managed review providers either directly or indirectly through their law firms.
Employ modern eDiscovery solutions
eDiscovery is expanding into new areas, including data privacy, information governance, data breach response, and other areas of emerging high risk to the organization. The work will only become more intense and stressful, costly and time-consuming unless changes are made. Cloud-based eDiscovery can provide legal teams with rapid access to advancements in technology while simplifying workflows and reducing time-consuming and risk-prone manual processes.
Published November 4, 2022.