Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Customized & Proven Solutions on a fixed budget for data Preservation, Analysis, Review, Processing & Production. No Guessing Required

I recently read the following article and got inspired by the responsible yet two-step response to the question below:

Controlling Legal Costs - Law Firms An Important Voice For E-Discovery Reform , The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Inc., Published: May 03, 2010,

Editor: How important do you feel providing hard data on litigation costs to be?

Marketos: I feel it is imperative to provide clients and opposing parties with realistic, hard data on the costs of discovery. The problem, of course, is that the facts (and scope) of each case are unique - as are the proprietary document management systems of each client. Without significant experience in e-discovery, including with e-discovery vendors, their processes, and their software programs, counsel is often guessing in the dark. "Hard data" is usually soft data because counsel underestimates not only the cost of identifying and collecting e-discovery, but of reviewing the data for relevance and producing it. The attorneys' fees associated with document review - including unnecessary and duplicative efforts to review for privilege and substance - is often two or three times the estimate provided to the client.

The integration of Smart Preservation & Collection, Smart Analysis, Smart Review & Smarter Productions provide the framework for building a budget. The concept is simple yet realistic. Human time, human intellect, data hardware, discovery software and data storage are the baseline components of the service provider budget.

ü Time - typically billed hourly

ü Hardware - amortized over 3-5 years

ü Software - amortized over 3 years

ü Storage cost - relative to the space required for the project. A one gigabyte project will require approximately five gigabytes of space to manage the project.

ü Intellect - paid annually

Bridging the gap between profitability and common sense can be tough for most legal services providers. It requires that the provider be in touch with the industry, in tune with internal management, technology and workflow all while understanding and managing the cost of providing each element of service that makes the solution. This requires the provider to own each piece of the process in order to streamline cost to increase the Client ROI and the overall business profitability. In the same sense that legal professionals take risk in selecting an outsource provider the outsource provider must take the same level of risk in return for giving comprehensive services and solutions that are proven by industry standards for a defensible approach to handling the data. Thus giving validity to my previous post series “Why does eDiscovery cost so much?" ... DIY Kits don't come with Experience ...” and Controlling Discovery Costs ... "What's in your toolbox?" followed by “Science of Calculating eDiscovery Volumes and Cost ... How so? ... Really?!?”

There are many products today for legal professionals to wade through the daily storm of responding to and preparing for a legal matter. No matter the size or the nature of the matter there is a constant worry for all … How much is this going to cost and what is the best method to handle? The challenge is even far greater in our turbulent economy and job market as people are being courted everyday to move from place to place and in some cases the cuts cause the workload demand to become unbearable. This leads legal professionals to take a closer look at outsourcing data storage and information management in response to the legal storms.

Depending on the market the choices are vast and risks are even greater. Legal Professionals choosing the wrong outsource partner is a costly decision. How does one truly evaluate several key factors of the outsource partner all related to experience, experience, experience and stability of the company? Once you get past the initial sales professional … check out the project management, production and technical team … often referred to as the heart of the organization … Does the level of knowledge resonate through the entire organization or does the buck stop at the top brass without ever traveling downstream?

The reality for most is that larger providers of legal support services have reduced staff for software, scaled back on their speed of service and shifted to a nickel-dime cost structure model masked by a new ‘buzzword”. Rather than moving forward there has been a reversion in thought; the slow death of the per gigabyte cost structure is giving a new life to the per click model of years past. The per click model is being viewed and presented as predictive. Predictive!! How so? …This is quite hilarious. For example, what is the effect during discovery when it is determined that 40K excels files (@ 19mb each or ~700gb) are responsive to the production and require conversion? If handled improperly the cost of discovery just got out-of-control.

‘Solution’ is an easy term to use in the course of business. Is the solution limited to the off-the-shelf software or is there true inspiration innovation and the ability to implement customization based on the desired end result? How is the phrase “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” interpreted? I like “if it ain’t broken, when will it break? So let’s keep making it better so it won’t break”

Too many focus on the buzzwords …. You know them…

Ø Content Analysis

Ø Early Case Assessment

Ø Email Threading

The intent of the buzzwords is to bring awareness to a particular service, solution or feature about the discovery phase of the EDRM. Instead this author believes that focus and emphasis need to be placed on controlling costs related to overall information management. Thus setting the standard for how the EDRM will facilitate throughout the legal process. The paradigm shift will happen when “e-Discovery” service providers get daring enough to take a close look into their business model and define a fee structure based on evidentiary device and storage with true project management costs.

Disclaimer: By no means does the author imply that just any entity can do e-discovery as it does require years of experience and more than just pushing-a-button. Nor does this author suggest that every company can be profitable by providing a fixed fee cost structure for comprehensive discovery services. The author’s comments/opinions are directly based on actual experiences, client feedback and personal expressions of the author.

For additional information on establishing a realistic discovery budget send a comment to the author.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SUPERIOR DOCUMENT SERVICES PARTNERS WITH RELATIVITY


Press Release - Richmond Virginia - April 21, 2010 - Superior Document Services, the largest electronic discovery and services provider in Central Virginia, today announced that they have joined the Relativity family as a Premium Hosting Partner and are now offering the document review, analysis and production platform to all of their clients.

In conjunction with Superior’s move to a hosted environment in a world-class data center with a high performance, fully-redundant private network, the addition of Relativity will allow clients to gain more powerful access to their data.

“Relativity is an industry leading document review platform, and as such is a perfect match for Superior’s stated corporate vision,” said Kriss Wilson, president of Superior Document Services. “Our new network infrastructure provides customers with reliable connectivity and fast performance, and will allow them to seamlessly focus on the documents and not the associated technologies.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Superior Document Services as a Premium Hosting Partner,” said Andrew Sieja, president and CEO of kCura. “By combining their industry expertise with our advanced technology, we’ve created an exceptional partnership that will bring significant time and cost savings to their clients’ review efforts.”

With the addition of Relativity, Superior Document Services now offers a complete suite of hosting solutions to provide clients with the best customized SAS technology for their document review teams. From early case assessment through document production, Superior Document Services is positioned to deliver unmatched value to its clients and partners.

About kCura

kCura are the developers of the e-discovery software Relativity. Relativity is a web-based application servicing the analysis, review and production stages of the EDRM. kCura helps corporations and law firms with e-discovery challenges by installing Relativity on premises, as well as providing hosted on-demand solutions through a global network of partners in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. For more information, visit http://www.kcura.com/.

About Superior Document Services

Founded in 1998, Superior Document Services has successfully combined state-of-the-art technology with a detail-oriented commitment to creating a high quality work product. By applying industry-specific expertise to a creative, resourceful, and highly personal business model, Superior has evolved into the largest full-service litigation support company in the Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Roanoke, Virginia markets. Its clients include not only Fortune 500 companies, but some of the world's leading legal, accounting, and consulting firms. For more information about Superior Document Services, please visit http://www.superiordocumentservices.com/.

Press Contacts:

Kriss Wilson
Superior Document Services
(804) 648-2800
kriss@superiordocumentservices.com

Adi Elliott
kCura(312) 676-5075 aelliott@kcura.com

Friday, February 5, 2010

Legaltech 2010: Trends, Fades & Promise

This years legaltech was rather predictive in my opinion as the stage is and has been set for the Corporations to take control. There was much chatter that the focus on ediscovery processing was not the interest of most participants...the focus was all about information governance and effective use of cloud computing. Legal suppliers typically would give away pens and fun little do-dads that all spoke to the stress of being in litsupport. This year suppliers gave tacky things that spoke to going green and becoming more efficient ... heck there was even a SmartCar to be won.


Most conversations that I engaged had the same symmetry ... participants were interested in a comprehensive solution or plan for information management in-house and reducing the volume of discoverable data. This theme was even reflected by the legaltech supplier protesters who clearly displayed signage promoting "NO PROCESSING FEES" & "DEATH TO THE GB".  I found humor each time when passing a demonstrator as they would get a high-five from the general participants and the look of death from the ediscovery supplier. This blatant display of the future causes major issue for those suppliers not prepared to understand and alter their business model to fit the needs of their new client base.


The Corporation


Law firms will no longer maintain carte-blanched power to manage the process and the budget .... this by no way implies that a supplier should forgoe their relationship with the law firm, this is the opportunity to partner and provide greater solutions to make both the suppliers attractive (law firms are suppliers too)... the Corporation pays the bills and now will take even more proactive steps to control the cost of discovery.


This tone was set in Boston at the ACC and now in New York at Legaltech....I don't think the message gets any softer .... only more bold and loud.


Litigaton Support Software providers too will feel a crunch as this Corporate Governance begins to tighten its belt. The software provider that is just focused on one function of the process shall not survive. The "ECA" tool that just flattens reads and reports is of no use to the new "Information Governance Officer" nor the law firm partner looking to keep in the know. Products like Trident Pro and IFramework are postioned to make an impact at this level. Not because of the bells and whistles yet its their ability to manage and track a process or processes. Not to mention they both integrate well with traditional ediscovery processing and review platforms.


Surprisingly there was very little buzz with keyword identificaton and other advanced search technologies. Most legal suppliers claim to have the best solution built into their product. Funny they all state searching power is built on dtsearch or scansoft. Both of which are great apps though no seasoned litigator is going to trust either to preform serious text nor conceptual analytics. This was a missed opportunity in my opinion and thus a "new learning curve" takes shape.


Just recently, the communication gap between the lawyer and IT has reached the level where both facets play nicely during the legal process. Today many Corporations see the value in making investments geared to not just maintaining a network infrastructure but building a model that is proactive in reducing the amount of non-essential legacy data. In most cases these are direct results of the influence by Information Technology Managers desire to reclaim storage space while budgets have been constrained. The social media phenom also brings awarness to the risk of not having computer usage policy or regular audits of the information governance policies. These type of decisions typically involve a consult from the Execs nd General Counsel to insure best practices are comprehensive and legally valid.


During these times The Execs and General Counsel thirst for knowledge is the catalyst for Law Firms their Discovery Partners to provide solutions for how to achieve total compliance not just focused on legal. Total compliance involves the Information phase of the EDRM model ... which ironically is the first phase well before Processing. The challenge is that most Discovery suppliers don't have the technical acumen to provide such solutions... they just "push buttons"


Inspire. Innovate. Implement.


Monday, February 1, 2010

LegalTech 2010: Turn Your Digital Landfill into a Green Field

Turn your Digital Landfill into a Green Field: Focus on Compliance not Technology (keynote presentation by Russ Stalters)

·         Information Management

·         Don’t hoard unstructured Information

·         “40% of firms print e-docs & file as paper record” AIIM 2009

·         Form an Information Governance Council

o   Legal

o   IT

o   Compliance Officer

·         Building the Green Field

o   Managed Repository

o   Digital Lamination

o   Access Control

o   Legal Hold

o   Disposition/ Retention Policies

o   Create a Datamap connected to the business process

o   Define Custodians of the Process

·         Change the Culture

o   Establish a 6mth to 1yr retention policy

o   Create a Move Plan

§  Practice

§  Implement

§  Audit

·         Close the Landfill

·         Mitigate or Migrate

o   Consider deduplication rules

o   Adding Search Technology

 

 

In my opinion Mr. Stalters view are directly in line with the changing scope of our industry focus from e-discovery to pre-discovery and early case assessment. The most simplistic way to lower cost associated with legal matters is to reduce your exposure by have policies that work. The need to keep and retain data beyond the legal requirement must be governed from the inside out. Corporations that get it will see their overall corporate costs decrease that relate to storage of unstructured data and legal fees to sift through the data in response to a legal matter.

 

This is not about technology yet it’s about managing humans to comply with the technology and practices in place. Think about this concept, you could pay an Information Governance Officer or your could pay millions in legal fees …. Seems simple to me … You??