Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top 10 Best Practices that will save $1000's...

The key to managing an effective ediscovery case is to plan for the end result first and then develop a concise strategy based on the budget and robust SaaS (Software as a Service) resources. When I think about the huge price tags associated with ediscovery it is clear to me that the more time given to asses the client data the better chance there is to control the costs. Cases don't just pop up...waiting until the last minute to identify potential relevance will cost 3x - 4x more $$'s as there is less time to prepare the right solution. For in haste there is waste.

Here are some industry standard "Best Practice" methods to consider when the legal notice has been issued.

  1. Negotiate discovery requirements effectively. Understanding the details surrounding an organization's electronically stored information (ESI) is critical for effectively negotiating a favorable scope of discovery. Among other things, the legal teams will need to know where the ESI is stored; which documents are most relevant to the matter; what time frames are involved; and how easy (or difficult) it will be to collect, review and produce the ESI. Having this information documented and ready to present to the court and opposing party during "meet and confer" negotiations can save hundreds of hours in attorney review time and will likely limit other downstream costs as well.
  2. Employ smart culling strategies. Eliminate the data and system files that are not relevant to the matter. This can be done by testing keyword search terms, relying on duplicate management systems and performing an early evidence assessment to ensure the right ESI has been preserved and collected prior to review. Effectively culling ESI can reduce review time and costs by 5 to 50 percent.
  3. Staff the review team effectively. Once the scope and risk of the matter has been determined, staffing can begin. A typical review does not require a partner or high-level associate to review every document. When properly trained, junior associates, paralegals and contract reviewers can be very effective, and their participation can significantly lower the overall hourly cost of review.
  4. Select robust review technology. How large is the review? How many reviewers are required? Are all of the reviewers located in one office? What search capabilities are needed? In what formats will the evidence need to be produced following the review? Answering all of these questions in advance will help identify the appropriate platform to support the review. A web-based, hosted review environment that supports multiple file types and geographically dispersed review teams is often the best choice for large, complex cases.
  5. Organize the review workflow. To ensure a smooth process throughout review, it's helpful to establish a workflow that defines which documents to include in a review set, the number of documents to be reviewed each hour, reviewer assignments and required reporting tools.
  6. Analyze opportunities for culling-in-review tools. Today's review platforms have the ability to cull during the review phase. While it's important to evaluate risks and deadlines in a particular case to help determine where and how to use these culling tools, keep in mind that courts are looking with increasing favor on those who attempt to produce a manageable amount of ESI.
  7. Provide effective reviewer protocol and training. Make sure the review team members understand the essential definitions, the step-by-step objectives and any signs that would indicate they've gotten off the track. The more thoroughly the review team members are trained and monitored, the fewer the mistakes they will make.
  8. Monitor review progress and efficiency. The review manager should receive regular reports to ensure projects stay on time, on budget and within the established quality control settings. This will help identify the most efficient reviewers and determine whether staffing adjustments need to be made. It will also help the review management team identify any mistakes and correct them before they become a costly issue.
  9. Design and implement quality control procedures. By systematically following the first eight steps, review teams will have, by default, established a set of quality control protocols that will help them more effectively manage an e-discovery review. It's important to document these protocols and follow them consistently throughout the review process.
  10. Capture and promote best practices. Having followed each of these steps once, it's easy for a legal team to apply the same workflow and tools on future matters. Implementing sound, repeatable processes will go a long way toward ensuring reliable and cost-effective responses to discovery requests, no matter how frequent or unexpected.

Now you're building a roadmap for success and client satisfaction

portions of this discussion are courtesy of http://www.fiosinc.com/counselor/v09_n07/Discovery_Response_Report.asp?admit=0907