Zen and the Art of Simplifying Corporate Discovery

blog_simplify_clouds“To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult,” said the Italian industrial designer Bruno Munari.

If Munari’s words were a challenge, Catalyst accepted. Last year, Catalyst assembled a team of designers, engineers and legal professionals to build a platform with the overarching goal of simplifying corporate e-discovery.

Two weeks ago, Catalyst unveiled that platform, Insight Enterprise. And in a 12-week series of blog posts, we are focusing in each week on particular aspects of Insight Enterprise and exploring them in more depth. This week, our subject is simplification – how this new platform simplifies corporate e-discovery for in-house counsel.

Why Corporate Discovery Is Complicated

Before we talk about the solution, it helps to frame the problem. To sum it up: Corporate discovery is complicated – and only getting more so. A variety of factors are to blame. Let’s touch on some of the main ones.

A many-headed beast. There is a fundamental difference between discovery from the vantage point of corporate counsel and discovery from the vantage point of outside counsel. While outside counsel focus on only the case at hand, corporate counsel face a many-headed Hydra of multiple legal matters and must keep a watchful eye across all of them. We talked about this issue of silos versus centralization in last weeks’ post.

Budget constraints. For corporate legal departments striving to control spending, many perceive litigation as the black hole in their budgets. Litigation costs are estimated to make up 60 percent of legal department budgets. And 60 percent of those litigation costs are attributable to e-discovery, estimates say.

Globalization. Globalization can be a boon for a business but a headache for its corporate counsel. Where the business goes, so go legal and compliance issues, creating a complex, cross-border web of logistical, geographic and cultural issues to manage. Along with all that come a litany of e-discovery challenges, due to data in disparate locations, review teams in disparate locations, and data collections in multiple languages.

Volume of data. Big data brings big challenges to corporate legal departments in managing information governance and e-discovery. One estimate says that U.S. companies produce enough data every year to fill the Library of Congress 10,000 times over. Increasing data volumes directly correlate to the increasing cost and complexity of e-discovery and litigation.

Multiplicity of cases. Corporations are serial litigators. Whether defending or initiating a lawsuit or responding to a government investigation, corporations are likely to be involved in multiple legal matters at any one time. Managing and tracking them all is a challenge.

Multiple vendors. With multiple legal matters come multiple vendors – both vendors of legal services and vendors of technology and litigation-support services. The more vendors you have, the more difficult the management challenge, the more difficult the tracking challenge, and the greater the risks to your data.

Inconsistent workflows. When legal matters are spread across multiple law firms and vendors, legal matters – and discovery in particular – follow disparate workflows and use disparate systems. Not only does this make tracking and oversight all the more difficult, but it also makes it virtually impossible for the legal department to impose and enforce its own case-handling preferences and workflows.

Lack of reporting. Effective management requires data and reporting on what you’re managing. But many of the issues described above make meaningful reporting almost impossible. With multiple cases spread across multiple law firms and vendors, maybe even across multiple countries, and many of them using different platforms, reporting is, at best, scattered and incomplete.

How Insight Enterprise Simplifies Discovery

We could go on. But you can see how it might be difficult for corporate counsel to sleep at night. Management of legal matters is too often a juggling act.

Which leads me to another quotation, this one an apt statement from an unlikely source, the dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.

“I think people want very much to simplify their lives enough so that they can control the things that make it possible to sleep at night,” Tharp said.

That concept of simplification combined with control perfectly describes Insight Enterprise. The idea is to make it simpler for corporate counsel to control all their legal matters across the board – and thereby to make it possible for them to sleep at night.

The way Insight Enterprise does this is by drawing together the disparate processes described above into a centralized repository from which all e-discovery work – both in-house and by outside counsel – takes place.

Documents are stored in a core repository, from which they can be assigned to individual matters as needed. Search and review across all your matters and by all your legal teams are done using the same platform and tools. Standard practices and procedures can be applied across all your matters and teams. A private-cloud infrastructure and multi-language capabilities make it easy to use from anywhere in the world.

Insight Enterprise turns the many-headed Hydra of corporate litigation into a purring pussycat of matter management (if I may be allowed to overuse my metaphors). By consolidating matters into a centralized platform, it makes them all more easily manageable. And as the process is simplified, efficiency is enhanced and costs are reduced.

One of the key benefits of this for corporate counsel is that it provides them with real, actionable business intelligence and reporting. Insight Enterprise provides customizable reporting on data maintained in the core repository and in individual matters. Virtually an unlimited array of reports can be created, both for individual cases and across the board.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci. The team at Catalyst put a lot of thought and effort into designing a system for corporate e-discovery that is sophisticated in its features and capabilities while simultaneously simplifying legal department oversight. We hope you’ll give it a try.

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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.