Do Litigation Lawyers want a self-service eDiscovery platform?

In litigation, we spend a lot of time on regular small requests.  Processing a handful of documents into Relativity, hyperlinking documents, uploading discovery from other parties, mass downloading document sets, exporting reports and general data management.  Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make these requests easier for eDiscovery consultants.  This enables a consultant to move up the value-chain and focus on offering pro-active review strategies with their client.  This year we’ve brought on more development resources and my primary focus is building solutions that help not only our consultants but also our legal team users.

In light of this, it raises the question, do litigation lawyers want a self-service platform?  There are questions here of economics, division of labour and automation.

Economics

In litigation, most lawyers and eDiscovery consultants bill by the hour.  Historically the lawyer rate was always higher but in the past decade we often have younger lawyers at the coal face of running a matter paired with a more experienced eDiscovery consultant, so there is no longer a steadfast rule of who would be cheaper to perform many of these tasks.  In many scenarios, it may be cheaper for the legal team to perform certain tasks than pulling in an expensive highly skilled consultant.  In these scenarios, self-service would make a lot of sense.

Division of Labour

When litigation matters are in their peak, there tend to be so many tasks that need to be done that one person certainly can’t do them all.  There can be a bottleneck on the legal team, so there is a significant advantage to divvying up the tasks around the legal team and outsourcing as many tasks as possible.  In these scenarios the argument would be against self-service, rather bring in additional experienced and skilled technical resources to assist the legal team.

Automation

There is another consideration and a principle that may be beneficial.  When I started my career in the early 2000s, eDiscovery platforms were really hard to use.  Searching required intimate knowledge of the database and the legal team always came to us to build searches because of the complexity and technical skills needed.  Over time the products improved and searching went into the domain of the legal team (with some advanced searches and batching still being done by consultants).  The lesson is, if we can build an easy to use function that makes it less work to do it yourself, rather than sending instructions to someone else, then there is a clear advantage of going down this road.

So this brings me to the question part of this blog:  Do legal teams want more self-service functionality?  Some of the obvious candidates would be:

  • Small Document Processing
  • Hyperlinking Documents
  • Mass Document Download
  • Printset Preparation

If you’re a member of the legal team, let me know, if we simplify these tasks do you want the ability to do them yourself or would you rather leave it to the eDiscovery team?

eDiscovery team, are we ready as an industry to give these tasks up?  Let me know your thoughts.

Contact details

For further information on Sky Discovery’s eDiscovery services, please contact your Sky Discovery Consultant on telephone: +61 2 9293 2999 or email: sales@skydiscovery.com.au

About the author
Jeff Jarrett, Director

As the Director of the Innovation team, Jeff spearheads the development and application of custom-built solutions for client, consultant and stakeholder workflow needs.  With Jeff’s experience in eDiscovery, Relativity and client delivery, he is able to identify potential ‘pain points’ in the workflow and develop innovative solutions to streamline efficiency.  Many of these innovative solutions are rolled out to benefit all clients so they save time and costs.

As a founding director of Sky Discovery, Jeff instilled a strong sense of ‘working together’ by developing standardised procedures and quality assurance to produce a ‘follow the sun’ support model, commoditised standard processing and provide structure around high valued Consulting.  Sky Discovery’s SkyNav Task Management software has been the catalyst for the success of this model.

Jeff has significant experience working with Partners and Senior Associates to provide strategic advice and innovative Relativity workflow design and solutions for large scale litigation involving multiple parties and multiple projects.

Jeff has developed the content and run Relativity Administrator and Legal User training.  He has been instrumental in the vision of functionality and development of the Sky Tools Suite of Products.

Sky Discovery

Sky Discovery is a leading independent Australian eDiscovery firm.  We focus on building strategic relationships with leading mid-tier, specialist and international law firms in Australia that require outstanding eDiscovery services to achieve successful outcomes on disputes, investigations and regulatory matters.  We are renowned in the Australian market for having one of the largest teams of eDiscovery experts, a 24/7 service model and, technological and service innovations that underpin speed and quality whilst providing demonstrable cost savings.

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