Centralization – A Better Way to Manage Corporate E-Discovery (Or Why Silos S**k)

blog_no_silosIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That old saw makes perfect sense. But sometimes seeing when something is “broke” depends on your perspective.

Take corporate litigation and e-discovery.

From the perspective of outside counsel, there ain’t nothin’ broke that needs fixin’. Litigators have always handled their cases the same way – each case as a distinct project. They start from scratch when the case comes in and close it forever when the case concludes. This siloed by-the-case approach has characterized litigation for as long as there have been judicial tribunals.

But from the perspective of corporate counsel, this approach is most definitely broke and cries out for fixin’. In the context of litigation and discovery, corporate counsel play a very different role from their outside lawyers. They are not only lawyers, but also executives and managers who are accountable to their companies for managing their caseloads and budgets as efficiently and transparently as circumstances allow.

So while the siloed approach makes perfect sense for litigators, it is fundamentally at odds with corporate counsel’s goals of efficiency, oversight and cost containment.

With the siloed approach, electronic documents are collected, processed, searched, reviewed and produced solely for the matter at hand. When the matter is complete, all of the work that went into the process is effectively shelved.

For corporate counsel, that amounts to paid-for work product being thrown away, sometimes only to be repeated in a later case. Why should a document tagged as privileged in one case need to be reviewed again for privilege in the next case in which it comes up? Why should documents that come up frequently in litigation need to be collected and processed each time? Why should workflows need to be established for each new case? Why should corporate counsel be unable to see activity across all their cases at once?

The good news is, these two approaches can be reconciled. It is possible for outside counsel to continue to focus on the case at hand while simultaneously allowing corporate counsel to achieve cross-matter efficiencies and oversight.

In a blog post last week, we introduced you to Catalyst’s newly launched Insight Enterprise, a secure e-discovery management platform designed specifically to put an end to silos and help corporations reduce the total cost of discovery by centralizing and simplifying their e-discovery matters.

This week, we want to focus in more closely on the benefits to corporate counsel of using Insight Enterprise’s centralized platform to manage corporate e-discovery.

What Exactly Is a Centralized Platform?

Insight Enterprise is a centralized platform for corporate counsel to manage all their e-discovery across all their matters while also providing a state-of-the-art platform for outside counsel to search, review and produce documents in individual matters. It can be used for litigation, investigations and compliance.

The “centralization” part of Insight Enterprise means exactly what it suggests – all corporate e-discovery activity is centralized in a common platform with advanced document management and review capabilities and robust cross-matter reporting and tracking. To be more specific:

  • Corporate documents are loaded and processed to a core repository, from which they can be assigned to individual matters as needed.
  • Document tagging can be synchronized among individual matters and the core repository so tags such as privileged and confidential are retained across cases.
  • Site templates can be created for different types of matters with consistent field structures, standard coding forms, and similar displays.
  • Standard and custom reports can be used to track cases and collections, both individually and universally.
  • Discovery practices can be standardized and made repeatable across all cases and counsel.
  • Security is airtight with multi-level access controls across litigation teams.
  • Legal holds and collections are integrated directly into the core repository.

Powering this centralized repository are Catalyst Insight, Catalyst’s advanced search and review platform, and Insight Predict, Catalyst’s unique continuous-learning technology for technology assisted review.

The Advantages to Corporate Counsel

How does a centralized platform benefit corporate counsel? What advantages does it offer over other approaches to corporate e-discovery?

A centralized platform gives corporate counsel the tools they need as managers to drive productivity, efficiency and savings across all their legal matters. With Insight Enterprise, they can manage millions of documents across any number of matters. The benefits are tangible:

  • By loading documents once to a core repository, redundant processing fees are avoided when the same documents are used in multiple cases.
  • By keeping documents in a core repository and promoting them to individual cases only as needed, storage fees are reduced because the overall number of documents is lower.
  • By synchronizing tags, review costs are lowered when the same documents are used in subsequent cases.
  • Synchronization of tags also enhances tagging consistency, thereby helping to avoid inadvertent production of privileged material.
  • By creating site templates for different types of matters, new cases can be launched more quickly and learning curves are reduced or eliminated.
  • By using a centralized platform for all their e-discovery, corporate counsel reduce the number of vendors they use to collect, process and hold data. That, in turn, reduces the possibility of errors or delays.
  • By using custom cross-matter and real-time reporting, corporate counsel stay on top of their cases and ensure that each is progressing according to schedule.
  • By standardizing discovery practices, startup and training costs are reduced, mistakes and delays become less likely, and corporate counsel gain greater oversight and control.

In the case of one Fortune 20 company that Catalyst worked with to centralize its e-discovery documents, the company realized an 80 percent reduction of outside counsel costs and a 52 percent decrease in document review costs.

For corporate counsel, reducing discovery costs means more than just lowering user fees or price per gigabyte. It means treating discovery as a business process and taking steps to drive efficiency.

How do you drive efficiency in litigation? You beef up reporting of case and counsel activity. You reduce the effort required at any given stage. You reuse work from one matter to the next whenever possible.

Effective management means management across the board of a company’s legal matters. The siloed approach makes this virtually impossible.

For too long, legal professionals have handled discovery as a one-off process. By centralizing all of a corporation’s discovery, Insight Enterprise puts an end to inefficient discovery.

mm

About Bob Ambrogi

Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. He held the top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal and Lawyers USA. A long-time advisor to Catalyst, Bob now divides his time between law practice and media consulting. He writes two blogs, LawSites and MediaLaw, co-authors Law.com's Legal Blog Watch, and co-hosts the weekly legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. A 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School, Bob is a life member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which honored him in 1994 with its President's Award.