Note: This post is the conclusion to our blog series, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Legal Service Providers.” You can find the first 3 “sins” in Part 1 and the second 2 in Part 2. Here are the final two things alternative legal service providers do, either intentionally or unintentionally, that hurt their clients in the end.
Sin #6: Seeing your independence as a threat
All too often, eDiscovery service providers try to perpetuate client dependency. They want constant meetings/emails with you. They want you to be in the dark unless you go through them. They fear that giving you the ability to do more discovery work yourself, or more information about the work you’re paying them to do will hurt their business. This should give you pause.
If your service provider truly consists of experts in the field, they should be secure in the knowledge that they will always be helpful to you, no matter how much you internalize discovery. After all, how many lawyers worry about their clients suddenly firing them to defend themselves in court?
They don’t, because they know that their knowledge and expertise eclipses their clients’ knowledge of the law, and likely always will. True expertise will always be in demand. If your service provider is trying to monopolize as much of the process as they can out of fear that you’ll one day learn how easy it is to do it yourself… are they really experts?
Good service providers will let you keep control over the parts of discovery you’d like to control. (As we mentioned in part 1, an all-or-nothing approach is another sin!) Great service providers will even help you take more of the work in-house. That’s because they know that ultimately, they’re the discovery experts and they will always be able to help you in ways you can’t help yourself, much the same way lawyers can always be helpful to their clients.
Sin #7: Putting their own growth above efficiency
Service providers are businesses, and it’s totally normal for businesses to want growth. However, growing too quickly without carefully strategizing how you’re going to scale often leaves once-happy clients frustrated.
The story goes something like this:
- Let’s start an eDiscovery business since we know the space well, and are pretty good at it. Great! Clients are happy!
- There’s so much work to do! Time to hire more people. Great eDiscovery practitioners can be hard to come by, so maybe we’ll hire a few people here and there that are decent, but not great. We’ll also need more people in different cities to take care of clients in those other markets, which might hinder communication between teams if we’re not careful.
- You know what would really help though? Getting an injection of capital from investors who know absolutely nothing about eDiscovery. That way we can hire more new people and open more offices.
- Several years have gone by now. Remember those investors who knew nothing about eDiscovery? They’ve continued to take on more and more clients regardless of their team’s ability to keep up. They’ve instituted rigid procedures that their subordinates (who do know how eDiscovery works) have to follow; more work has to get subcontracted out; the ability to routinely reassess and improve procedures as discussed in Part 2 is significantly compromised; worst of all, those once-happy clients find that their once-reliable vendor is getting more and more difficult to work with as each year goes by.
Too often, vendors that do this are able to coast by on the prestige and name recognition they’ve built up despite their decline in quality. They grew, and will likely keep growing, but at the expense of efficiency and client satisfaction.
Now, none of this is to say that any eDiscovery business that’s big is automatically bad. Certainly there are advantages that come along with scale. It’s simply to say that as a service provider scales, it’s important to constantly ask “how will this affect my clients?” Careful, deliberate growth is a good thing, and usually benefits clients as well as service providers. Clients can streamline their outsourcing to fewer vendors as those vendors get big enough to expand their capabilities. Reckless growth that disregards client needs often creates inefficient workflows and lowers that vendor’s ability to tailor services to the matter at hand.
That concludes our 7 Deadly Sins series. We hope these blogs gave you an idea of what to look for in an ALSP if you’re in the market for one, and we hope they help other ALSPs better serve their clients. If you have more questions, or simply want to let us know what you think makes a good ALSP, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media.