Time for Small and Midsize Firms to Win Big Clients and Big Cases
The days of large firms being the only choice for a company with large amounts of data and a steady stream of litigation are over. Midsize and small law firms now have the ability to compete with the legal behemoths and win big cases for large companies. With electronic discovery tools becoming increasingly affordable, smaller firms have access to the same technologies employed by larger firms ‒ or sometimes even better ones. Because they can operate with less overhead, leaner small firms have the opportunity to offer their clients better value.
Small and midsize firms can accomplish this by partnering with the right e-discovery service provider. Some important considerations when engaging an e-discovery services partner are: (1) selecting a well-rounded service provider with the people, processes and technology in place to collect, analyze, process, host, review and produce data in the most efficient manner; and (2) forming a strategic partnership with a tier-1 e-discovery service provider with the experience and track record of successfully handling all the discovery processes for large, midsize and small law firms. A trusted e-discovery partner will have worked on many cases involving data from companies in multiple industries and will be able to prove to you that your clients’ data is secure throughout the course of discovery and beyond.
One way to confirm that your clients’ data is secure is to tour the facility where the prospective partner/service provider processes and hosts (stores) its client data. Another is to ask about its experience handling data for other companies and law firms. Particularly, if the service provider collects, processes or hosts data for companies in the financial industry, its processes and security measures will have had to stand up to a high level of scrutiny, requiring the acquisition and maintenance of certifications such as the SSAE 16.
It is important to recognize the advantages and insights that you can gain throughout the process by partnering with a full-service provider. Such a provider can collect, analyze, process, host, review and produce your documents in a defensible and cost-effective manner. Other than your client, and possibly you, no one has a better handle on the types of data that are in a collection than the vendor that collected them.
When you use that same service provider to cull and process your data, much insight can be gained. When the same vendor that collected and processed your data then hosts your data and reviews the documents, that organization develops an intimate knowledge of the documents and has obviously worked through the entire process along the way. It can then get into the nuts and bolts of the review quickly, including using analytics and other computer-assisted review technologies to speed up the review and efficiently eliminate nonresponsive documents. A good managed review partner will be able to ramp up quickly and staff to the levels needed to rapidly review large amounts of data.
You will still be in charge of your case and will be making the decisions along the way, but with the right e-discovery partner you will have a much wider array of tools and talent at your disposal. Large amounts of data can be categorized using computer-assisted review, and working with the right service provider to guide you to get the most out of that technology allows you to compete on an equal footing with larger firms. In a case calling for the use of computer-assisted review, you or another strong reviewer in your firm will be required to review an initial seed set of typically 2-5 percent of the data, making the responsive or nonresponsive and privilege decisions so the most reasonable decisions can be made by the technology on the remaining 95-98 percent.
Large law firms initially had the advantage when competing for cases involving the need to collect, analyze, process, review and produce large amounts of electronic data, because they had the resources to build and continuously update internal systems and hire the talent needed to run those systems. However, the pendulum has swung to more efficient and adaptable midsize and small firms because of the growth of the electronic data discovery industry, rapid technological advances and the smaller firms’ ability to partner with a tier-1 electronic discovery services provider.