Legal departments that can achieve more work in-house and better technology will be more likely to cut down on e-discovery spend.
The 4th Annual Study of Effective Legal Spend Management – published by Blickstein Group, Exterro and the US-based Corporate Counsel Business Journal – surveyed 52 legal leaders (including GCs, legal directors, assistant GCs and managers) at the beginning of this COVID-19 crisis, focusing on how legal departments across the country are controlling budgets and what techniques are most effective for minimising legal spend.
According to the research, the two big trends for reducing e-discovery spend were: one, doing more work in-house; and two, leveraging technology to manage e-discovery activities.
“Overwhelmingly, the biggest opportunity to reduce legal spend was within collection and processing,” the report noted.
“But so far, the tried and true ways to reduce e-discovery spend, like last year’s results, are by leveraging e-discovery technology that can empower in-house legal teams to conduct the document review, collection and processing of data and early case assessment process in-house, instead of being outsourced to third-party managed services vendors.”
The three most effective techniques to reduce e-discovery spend, the findings deduced, were using e-discovery tech, bringing more work in-house and using a single or preferred provider (in the event that work has to be outsourced).
Responding to the findings, Thrivent director of the GC’s office operations Alayne Russom said there were “no surprises here”.
“Any time you can bring a previously outsourced expense in-house and do it with the same (or better) efficiency, you’re going to realize [savings]. As an added bonus, I have found that bringing e-discovery in-house has helped us get a better handle on our data – who owns it, where it’s located and how to collect it. In turn, our business partners now know who we are and what we care about,” she explained.
“They think of us before changing data locations or deleting old data. Before we brought e-discovery inhouse, e-discovery was something that kept us up at night. I would like to think that we are all sleeping better now that we have a handle on things.”
The research also found that two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) do have a comprehensive strategy for managing legal spend across organisational units that respond to the GC or chief legal officer, while just over one in three (36 per cent) doesn’t.