There is nothing quite like turning on the news and seeing your client’s legal woes splashed across the screen. Or being engaged in a matter with dozens of parties, hundreds of custodians, and millions or billions at stake. These “bet the farm” cases pose unique challenges while often serving as career-defining moments -- and because the stakes are so high, it is important that legal practitioners know when to engage outside resources to optimize time and outcomes. While technology is of paramount importance to help practitioners rise to this challenge (no one wants to be driving a Ford Pinto in an F-1 race) the services and support side of the equation is at times equally impactful.
Professional services can include anything from standard discovery project management to complex forensic or ediscovery consulting or sophisticated managed review. Each has a unique role to play in these make-or-break cases. Understanding when and how professional services are necessary and which flavors best support your needs is a pivotal first step in setting yourself and your clients up for a successful outcome.
What are the key considerations in determining you need professional services?
Not every case requires the level of support of a high-stakes case. What may work well for straightforward cases may not adequately support the amount of customizations, management, and scale that these unique cases demand.
What factors determine whether a matter is simple table stakes vs. one that ups the ante?
Data, data everywhere
The sweet spot for most law firms and even many enterprise clients to manage matters internally generally ranges from a few hundred GB to a terabyte or two if the internal program is especially robust. Beyond that, the ability of most discovery programs to scale to support a massive multi-million document, multi-terabyte case diminishes in terms of both hardware and the likely 24/7 support these massive cases require. While size alone is not indicative of a bet-the-farm case it is often relevant in a determination to engage professional services for collection, management and review.
For example, when I had a client who wanted to migrate over 50 TB of data while at my prior firm, the decision to outsource to a partner with robust professional services was not a difficult one. A cursory discussion with my IT department quickly let me know that it would be time and cost prohibitive to maintain internally. The limited ability my lean (but amazing) team had to support a matter with this many users 24/7 combined with the additional cost I would incur to level up my hardware and software to support this migration (north of $500,000) made it mandatory to partner with a service provider with strong professional services.
Expertise and 24/7 support
Certain types of matters require a greater amount of support than even the best internal team can generally offer. Whether it was the ability to testify on specific forensic findings, supporting a large case team 24/7, or having knowledge related to a specific niche subject matter, technology partners with robust professional services offered a way to bridge the knowledge gap and support even the most complex matters. This expertise comes at a fraction of the cost of directly hiring professionals with this niche subject matter expertise.
As anyone who has worked in a corporate or law firm discovery program can attest, onboarding new technology is an arduous and slow process. You have to build a business case, run a pilot, and get the requisition to and through procurement. Even a best case scenario often takes up to 18 months.
Technology and the challenges facing practitioners are constantly evolving and require continual investment to keep pace. When there is a pressing need for an active matter to use an emerging technology, many firms and corporations face problems reacting quickly enough. To fix this problem, partner with knowledgeable service providers with the best tools and the experts to leverage them most effectively from forensic collection through managed review.
Weird data as the new normal
Atypical data sources are increasingly key for an investigation or litigation — and they aren’t supported well by most on-prem solutions. The right AI-powered analytic tools and parsing tools enable case teams to review weird data like Slack in near-native format, dramatically reducing time to evidence. Even the best analytic tools are only as effective as the educated practitioners deploying them. Ediscovery consultants with a firm grasp on optimal workflows and managed review providers with deep TAR 2.0 expertise help DISCO’s clients see massive reductions in cost and time to evidence in even the largest matters (150M+ docs).
Managing global data
High-profile matters often involve multinational organizations and/or data subject to global data privacy regulations. With the influx of global data privacy regulations like GDPR, China’s state secrets, and increasingly frequent domestic regulations relating to data privacy, the location of data plays an important role determining which service providers to partner with. When data extends across multiple geographies and is beholden to local regulation, it’s critical to outsource to a partner with an appropriate global footprint and the deep domain expertise in managing and building a discovery protocol that takes into account these obligations. Technology partners with global data centers and/or localized global private clouds (like DISCO deploys) extend a practitioner’s capabilities and empowers them to handle matters that would otherwise be problematic.
Adaptability, scalability, and surge capacity
Adding additional headcount, hardware, and software suffers from the same latency as introducing net new solutions. The budgetary cycle, need for comprehensive business cases with ROI, and a slow-moving procurement process all contribute to slowing down scalability and adaptability. For some organizations (especially small or mid-sized law firms and corporations), their program may not have approval to expand in terms of either infrastructure or headcount.
For law firms, the ability to leverage a much larger footprint through a partner allows the firm to take on cases that may otherwise be beyond their reach from a system or support standpoint. Organizations facing a large bet the farm matter are able to have the appropriate volume of computational power and personnel to support a large matter without undertaking longer-term permanent capital expenditures in the event the matter was a one off and the overall workload did not justify capital investment across the program.
Cost savings by matter
Relying on a trusted service provider to support you in the most pivotal cases is simply a no-brainer and results in cost and time savings that are critical for these matters. Complex forensic collection; defensible and 24/7 project management support; bespoke deep consulting on privacy or defensable application of technology; and TAR 2.0 experts with highly qualified reviewers to optimize your managed review all contribute to getting you key information to enable fact driven case development sooner. Rather than investing in permanent resources or relying on the technology that is just good enough for a standard case, the right partner enables you to elevate your discovery process to yield the most defensible and cost-contained results.
As we have seen with recent high profile hacks, law firms in particular are targets for malicious actors and according to one study, 73% of law firms failed cybersecurity readiness testing. Considering that the average cost of cybercrime to U.S. corporations is over a million dollars, this statistic is concerning. When you factor in the slow speed with which enterprise and law firms alike are able to adapt and scale up infrastructure and expertise, the option of engaging certified, security-vetted providers like DISCO becomes more appealing. Law firms and corporations seeking to handle everything in-house often have difficulty in meeting the requirements of HIPPA, SOX, FINRA and client-driven security assessments. Working jointly with certified technology partners and the professional services experts they offer has the added benefit of assisting in passing these security audits.
Convinced professional services help? Figure out which ones you need.
As with everything in law there is nuance and shades of gray in terms of how and what type of professional services are available for your next bet the farm case. The main ways DISCO professional services support big cases include: advanced forensics, ediscovery project management, strategic ediscovery consulting, and managed review.
DISCO has successfully reshaped how people view data transfer, ingestion, and processing, moving the needle from unwieldy and complicated to seamless and user-friendly. Yet the process of data identification, defensible collection, and at times complex forensic analysis remains a burden. Additionally, the increasing volume of atypical data sources and types makes having the right forensic experts crucial.
Whether you need an expert to extract mobile data, conduct a forensic investigation of insider threats, or testify on forensic reports, DISCO has experienced, certified experts ready to assist. They also have the added bonus of a deep understanding of the DISCO suite of tools and how to best optimize the approach to seamlessly integrate with the DISCO platform. Leveraging the industry-leading tools like Forensic Toolkit, Cellebrite, X1, EnCase, Raptor, and more the team is able to address all your forenesic needs seamlessly domestically and internationally.
Cutting-edge discovery management
DISCO has applied its culture of innovation to the hiring and development of an advanced project management team. Whether on the left or the right of the EDRM, the project management team applies all of the advanced capabilities of DISCO (powered by deep learning and neural nets) to drive efficiency and reduce time to insights. The approach to project management goes far beyond search term reporting and time-keeping for the review managers, and focuses on driving efficient application of best of breed technology throughout the lifecycle of the case.
Strategic ediscovery consulting
Some complex multifaceted cases require more support than standard project management, so we harnessed the expertise of senior leaders at DISCO to provide bespoke and innovative ediscovery consulting. Former ediscovery program leaders like myself and leaders of service provider managed review and professional services organizations at Fortune 100 companies come together to bring their decades of practical experience to bear.
When a case needs guidance on discovery protocols, integration, and technology optimization technology; guidance on the application of machine learning and workflows; or customized training and professional development, the ediscovery consulting team is available to provide in-depth and comprehensive advice.
Managed review is the most rigid and staid aspect of the ediscovery lifecycle and DISCO has set its sights squarely on fully disrupting it. Integrating advanced AI-powered by neural nets and deep learning with industry-leading project management and workflows, DISCO is challenging all of the long-held beliefs about review speed, accuracy, and impact.
Think that the best you can hope for from a review team is 55 docs an hour? Think again. DISCO optimized managed review yields review rates 60% faster than the industry standard and provides key insights and evidence to case teams in a fraction of the time and cost. Veteran attorneys managed by industry experts are turning managed review on its head with average rates of 88 documents an hour and drastically improved accuracy rates. We are so confident that our managed review will be delivered on time and on budget that we guarantee it.
While professional services can offer a boon for nearly any case, it is a mandatory consideration when dealing with big, unruly, or career-defining matters. While “good enough” solutions may be fine for traditional or more predictable cases, some cases require more.
DISCO and our industry-leading team of forensics, project management, discovery consulting, and managed review experts are all available to help stack the deck in your favor. Your client has come to you to handle their existential threat because you are the top of your field, so the tools and experts supporting you should be as exemplary. The right team, technology, and legal brains is a recipe for success — and DISCO is a key ingredient.