Zapproved co-founder and CEO Monica Enand discusses the strategies and tactics that in-house law departments can use to transform their litigation response from a reactive situation into a routine business process.
CCBJ: Many organizations are looking to move more of their e-discovery work in-house – what are some opportunities and risks to making this shift?
Monica Enand: It all comes down to three components: control, security and cost.
First, having a system that the entire legal team feels confident using provides a level of control that is empowering. Being able to perform tasks accurately and immediately is game-changing for in-house professionals by letting them do more for the organization, which is good for their careers as well.
Second, cybersecurity is a major concern for corporations today. Reducing the number of copies of sensitive information is critical – and there is not much information that is more sensitive than what is involved in litigation. If you keep your data in-house, you reduce risk and have a tighter control on security.
Finally, reducing spend is a major priority for most legal teams, especially at a time when e-discovery costs have hit an all-time high. Our clients have seen dramatic reductions in costs typically associated with discovery by moving portions of e-discovery in-house and reducing external spend on routine work, saving their expertise for high-value work.
How do you advise clients who are shifting their e-discovery work in-house?
From my observation, this shift is inevitable, so getting ahead of it is critical. To start on this journey, they usually begin by moving the functions on the “left side” of the EDRM, such as legal holds and data preservations, in-house. From there they move to the right to bring on collections, data processing and culling, ECA and review for smaller matters.
Keep in mind that many, many teams, from Fortune 100 organizations to companies a fraction of that size, have already successfully navigated this path. Tap into your peer network and the variety of resources that are available.
Start by educating yourself about best practices. The best way is to engage your community of peers for their collective experience and wisdom. Take advantage of publicly available resources to aid your planning and implementation. We host PREX, an annual conference concerned with in-house e-discovery best practices, to connect thought leaders and showcase successful team-wide, in-house practices. Zapproved’s Corporate Ediscovery resource center offers up-to-date guides and news summaries to stay on top of industry developments.
What are the steps necessary to making this shift? Who are the key players that should be involved?
First, you do your homework so that you can make a compelling case for the transition. Build an ROI model that shows the savings and risk mitigation using data-driven evidence – it’s not a hard case to make. The savings generated from a reduction of outside services and the corresponding increase in efficient use of staff time create that compelling argument.
Now it’s time to get started. You will avoid many pitfalls by engaging a trusted partner who can help guide the process; one that cares about your priorities and values your long-term success. This partnership should earn your trust and elevate your practice by delivering the tools and expertise to be independent and successful in the long run.
What is your advice to smaller legal teams that may not feel they have adequate resources to make a shift like this, but at the same time are under pressure to reduce costs?
Smaller legal teams have the most to gain from automation – and it’s much easier than you might think. We have assisted many small law departments in implementing sensible, easy-to-accomplish e-discovery management, and every one of them found the new system simpler and superior to their old one. Finding the time to make a systemic change is a challenging proposition, but the results in terms of cost-cutting and efficiency are quickly apparent. So I would say that even the smaller law firms who are struggling to stretch their resources will discover significant benefits by taking the time to invest in a sensible change.
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