The world of eDiscovery and, more broadly, legal process outsourcing, has changed quite dramatically over the past five to ten years. The number of documents that legal teams deal with day-to-day keeps increasing and data volumes containing information relevant to litigations continue to soar. The problem that legal teams have is that budgets are not growing with them.
The result is that legal teams are dealing with huge volumes of information and the amount of money that they have to spend on these matters is not growing at the same rate. eDiscovery and document review is one of the most costly aspects of a litigation. Therefore, legal teams have to look at reducing costs by using technology to decrease the volume of documents that may be required for review.
There has been a great deal written and spoken about the various technologies such as document analytics and technology assisted review, but it's important to also discuss the role of the eDiscovery consultant. Our eDiscovery consultant's expertise assists clients with the challenges of implementing the technology.
The eDiscovery consultant's role has morphed over the years. At Law In Order, our eDiscovery consultants are legal technology specialists that assist lawyers by guiding them through the information management and eDiscovery processes, from small projects to large-scale and document-intensive matters. Our eDiscovery consultants have extensive experience dealing with the volumes of documents and the types of matters that can be daunting for many lawyers.
Our eDiscovery consultants can come from a variety of backgrounds including lawyers and business professionals. Technical experts, with high level technical backgrounds in scripting and development, are important as well. The cross-section of skills in a team is particularly valuable in designing bespoke, commercially viable solutions for legal teams, especially when dealing with complex projects involving large amounts of data from a variety of sources.
For example, a 10,000 document matter with largely emails is different to a million document matter, which is different to a ten million document matter with construction, social media or other industry specific information. A team with diverse skills and experience can address every type of situation that may arise.
With the amount of ongoing change and level of complexity in legal technology, eDiscovery consultants act like a guide through the maze of options. eDiscovery consultants have been through that maze before and can be the differentiator on a complex matter. A lot of technology can be applied to a matter, but if a legal team doesn't have access to experts to partner with them to solve problems, those technologies may do more harm than good.
One of the challenges for legal practice generally is that everyone is busy. The focus is on getting the legal work done and out the door. Often, lawyers do not have the capacity to stop and think and consider how they might leverage technology and apply it to improve their day-to-day working life, their efficiency, the value they provide to clients and the service they ultimately give.
Part of an eDiscovery consultant's role is to enable lawyers to be focused on the task at hand, the practice of being a lawyer and the application of the law to the facts of their relevant scenario. A legal team should be able to leave the technology to the eDiscovery consultants, be guided by their experience and focus on what matters most to them – the practice of law.
Much has been written about the need for lawyers to also become technical specialists and undoubtedly many lawyers will pick up those skills. However, for any lawyer tackling legal and other problems, also trying to be a technology expert, it's very difficult for just one person to do it all. It's rare to find someone that does both, has the capacity to do both and also does it well.
There is so much specialisation when it comes to legal technology. It makes more sense for legal teams to concentrate their energy on their key role, that is, providing legal advice and for eDiscovery specialists to manage the technology aspect. Whether an individual is a lawyer practising law or an eDiscovery expert working with tech, everyone will get the most benefit from focusing on their core expertise.