Exploring eDiscovery as a Managed Service

Has your organisation considered using an eDiscovery managed service to handle your electronic disclosure needs? – we explain why you should.

eDiscovery is something of a multi-dimensional endeavour.  To be successful, organisations need to look at financial, legal, technical, people, and process aspects; any one of which, if not carefully considered, can lead to substandard results.  Achievement requires time and investment in people and systems for this specific purpose rather than relying on existing resources to absorb such a crucial role.

It is for these reasons that managed services offer an attractive alternative to developing a fully in-house eDiscovery capability.

What is eDiscovery as a managed service?

An eDiscovery managed service provides a way of contracting out electronic discovery to external experts who have the people, technology, and experience to undertake the process on your behalf.  Because of the fundamental importance of ensuring data integrity, preservation of evidence, data security, and privacy, eDiscovery managed service providers ensure that any risks are mitigated.

Managed services can be delivered using several models, either for part or all of your eDiscovery needs, including:

  • Full management of eDiscovery needs through the EDRM process – including people, processes, and software.
  • Collaborative model – supporting existing eDiscovery teams.
  • As required – Carrying out specific parts of an eDiscovery project in isolation (e.g. data forensics or managed document review).
  • Technology and support only – Supply, hosting, support, and administration of software for eDiscovery.

As such, there is no single approach to an eDiscovery managed service model – how it is achieved depends on a variety of factors, including existing capabilities and how urgent the need is.

What are the advantages of an eDiscovery managed service?

While an increasing number of law firms and in-house counsel are faced with the challenge of preserving, collecting, processing, reviewing, and analysing ESI, for many small and medium-sized organisations, their core business is law, not technology.  For decades, the commercial world has relied on external experts to manage their networking, computing, telephones, and business software.  eDiscovery is no different in this regard.  The technology, legal, and analytical capability can all be outsourced.

Among the many benefits of an eDiscovery managed service include:

  • The ability to ramp up your eDiscovery capability quickly – there is no need to train staff, implement systems, and define new processes.
  • They will work with your existing resources.
  • They will adapt their workflow processes to your organisation – you should not be expected to conform to those of the provider.
  • eDiscovery and litigation support costs can be contained – you may pay a fixed monthly fee or per project.
  • The managed service company will learn from their experiences with their clients – which they can apply for your benefit.
  • Your organisational efficiency will be boosted as your staff can focus on their core roles rather than spread themselves over complex eDiscovery projects on an ad-hoc basis.
  • They have strong expertise at every stage of the EDRM model, not just some – this will ensure the optimal outcome is achieved.
  • Scalability – externally managed services can scale with your demand for eDiscovery.
  • Software and delivery methodologies are always being updated in line with industry best practice and new developments.
  • Your company can respond to an urgent demand for disclosure or a regulatory request.
  • The ability to extract ESI from sources which most organisations would be unable to.

Considerations when selecting an eDiscovery managed service provider

The decisions regarding which managed service model to adopt, and with which provider to choose are best taken in the absence of urgency.  Having to select a trusted partner for electronic discovery when you have a pressing deadline may lead to subsequent problems.  Before proceeding, it is important to understand the landscape of the business strategy of the firm; does the existing or proposed business strategy suggest there may be an increased need to handle more litigation cases involving ESI?   Depending on the scale of the business and business strategy, there may be a preference to utilise a managed service provider as a spring-board to implementing a fully in-house eDiscovery team in the future.

Similarly to the previous point, if you are finding an increasing demand to respond to freedom of information requests (or other such requests which necessitate electronic discovery), you will need to weigh up whether the volume of these and the demand for access to data across your operation may warrant a greater level of in-house expertise, but with specialist external support when needed.

In summary

It is unrealistic to expect any organisation, regardless of scale and specialism to develop an eDiscovery capability overnight.  It takes time to embed the technology, procedures, governance, and skills necessary to carry out all stages of the EDRM process – a programme of work which may take years.  Managed service providers can fill the capability gap between your current eDiscovery capacity and what you need.  Given the exponential proliferation of electronically stored information, this demand is only going in one direction.

Lineal assists businesses with identifying a tailored solution to their needs and helps them navigate the complexities involved when law, technology, data and compliance meet.  To find out more about our services, please call us on +44 (0)20 7940 4799 or email info@linealservices.com.