Consider "One-Stopping" Project Management, Not Technology

Imagine a world where the one-stop shop exists for all things discovery. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s easy. It’s predictable. It’s cost-effective and so ultimately it’s desirable. With all this I agree. One recent article explores this in greater detail and makes a very compelling case for Why One Stop Shops Will Rule The World.

One difficulty, however, in implementing a one-stop solution is that technology, in particular, is so incredibly mobile and forever changing. It’s a target that never settles long enough for you to really hit it dead on. Experience has shown that one vendor may be really good at a single component of the technology puzzle but not so good at another. For example, one technology vendor may be really good at culling data, another at hosting and review, another at clustering and searching, or another part of the process. Finding the one-stop shop for all of these functions is not only difficult but it also is hard for a technology vendor to maintain it once they achieve it. Someone smaller or quicker to innovate will likely supersede its competition in one area or another pretty quickly. If you become completely vested in one technology, you will find it very difficult to transition to another. That reluctance or inability to change ultimately limits the opportunity to continually reduce costs, and in today’s e-discovery of millions of documents and hundreds of gigabytes, the additional cost savings can be significant.

One example is the law firm that has certain in-house technology solutions that their attorneys are familiar with -- and is already paid for -- that they can provide to the client at a reduced cost. The problem lies in the fact that many of these ‘free’ technologies are much slower and contain less functionality than the more up-to-date technologies that are available and cost more to the client overall. If the law firm’s technology solution is two or three generations old – very common this day and age as quickly as the tools improve – there could be millions of dollars in efficiencies and data reductions left on the table.

To be technology neutral -- while vetting the many great options in today’s marketplace -- means that you look at each step of the process and find the best technology solution for that particular technology problem, and then piece it together in the best package possible. That’s really one major component of project management. Knowing what is best in the client’s particular situation and then putting it together in the seamless manner that provides the ease, predictability and cost-effectiveness that everyone ultimately wants is the goal.

Don’t settle for a one-stop technology shop or you may find yourself behind the technology curve pretty quickly. Instead, look for a one-stop project management shop that can bring the technologies all together for you that meet your particular requirements for your type of documents and budget for that particular case.

Understanding the client’s needs, the client’s documents, the client’s budget and timetable all play into the best possible technology selection -- and these are areas in which great project managers excel.

An E-Discovery Event With Substance

We're not in the habit of event promotion, especially with the sheer number of e-discovery-related conferences in the marketplace, but one in particular has us excited. If you're looking for good, substantive programming and a great line-up of speakers, consider:

ACI’s 7th Annual Advanced Forum on E-Discovery & Document Management

We don't have a dog in the hunt, so to speak, but know and respect many of the panelists involved. Collectively, the in-house counsel on these panels have experienced most, if not all, conceivable challenges related to e-discovery and have developed and/or overseen many efficient and cost-saving solutions. 

If you're weighing different conference options -- and your 2010 legal budget-planning process is fast-approaching or will be in-progress -- it would be hard to go wrong with this event. And if you're planning to attend, drop us an e-mail so we can introduce ourselves while on the same plot of South Broad Street space.

The Forum is Sept. 22-23 in Philadelphia.  

E-Discovery Pet Peeves

I attended a CLE recently that dealt with the topic du jour -- e-discovery. Seems you can’t pick up a CLE calendar without seeing at least two sessions dedicated to the subject, which I guess speaks to just how much it's dominating our thoughts these days.

I must admit this particular program was pretty good, however. At the end of one of the panels -- dealing with corporate costs for e-discovery -- someone asked the question, “What are some of your pet peeves?” The list was insightful so I thought I’d share the panelists' thoughts:

  1. Do not overpromise what you can deliver.
  2. You cannot approach discovery, particularly e-discovery, as a risk-less enterprise. That only creates unnecessary costs and burden and it will never be risk-less.
  3. Don't charge me for “futzing” with the technology. You should know the technology and if you don’t, learn it on your own time.
  4. Every case is matter-specific. It is ridiculous to say “this is the way we do e-discovery” and apply it to every matter.
  5. Clients pay for experience. You better have some.

And last but not least amongst the peeves was:

      6.   Lack of Predictability.

This last one we hear all the time and Counsel On Call has spent a lot of resources creating procedures to address. Our repeatable litigation support processes, and the data that we track and gather on each project for a client, enables that client to better budget each project going forward. In addition, we have done so many of these projects that our experience can add a large degree of certainty with respect to projected costs for even that first engagement.

I was glad to hear some interesting discussion on this subject, and it's clear that a larger percentage of in-house counsel are really taking control of their e-discovery matters -- and, whether working with their internal team or with their legal service partners, are developing progressive concepts of what they want their litigation processes to look like. We're fortunate that we have many clients that fit this mold, and it's exciting to see the results that some of these great concepts produce.