For better or worse, eDiscovery ALSPs are playing an increasingly important role in complex litigations. That means the choice of who you pick for an eDiscovery vendor is becoming increasingly important too.
On paper, most vendors are essentially the same. They’re all offering to do the same work. Oftentimes price is the main thing differentiating Litigation Depot from Discovery Warehouse. That makes choosing harder, yet it’s still too important a decision to take lightly.
Since oftentimes the question of “can this vendor do the work I need done?” ends up as a draw, it’s important to look at other factors as well. One of the questions we like to raise at Contact is “how will this vendor’s work leave me better off than I was before?”
The way eDiscovery ALSPs approach their work can affect the way legal teams approach matters in the future. Yes, even matters where that client doesn’t re-hire the same service provider. Today, we wanted to give a general overview of the things that future-oriented service providers do differently compared to those that are only focused on one specific matter.
1. Spot vulnerabilities
Every case is different. That means the kind of data that is relevant can vary from case to case. Most vendors will rightfully start by looking for information that is relevant for the case they were actually hired for.
But… what about all those other cases that may or may not have happened yet? A vendor that is too laser-focused on the matter at hand might miss vulnerabilities that could be exploited later. Oftentimes, if you’re going through large chunks of data for one particular matter anyway, it’s more efficient to look for other potential vulnerabilities while you’re at it vs. two totally separate searches for two totally separate matters.
2. Establishing deletion & retention policies
One of the most important pieces of any information governance program is a consistent policy for deletion and retention. If your team does spot vulnerabilities, what do you do next? Deleting data that might be needed later could have disastrous consequences. Retaining literally everything could make future matters just as difficult to manage as this one, if not worse. It can also lead to privacy concerns and potential issues of non-compliance as more and more jurisdictions pass personal data protection laws.
A good eDiscovery service provider can help you make those calls, and give you the insight you need to keep making them later. By helping you delete the things you can, you’re better able to organize the data you do have to retain. Sometimes, the right deletion policies can even prevent future litigations from happening in the first place.
3. Make data more accessible to the people who need it
One of the reasons legal teams might choose to a hire a vendor in the first place is because they simply don’t have access to the data. This is especially true in cases with a large forensics component, where deleted data needs to be recovered. The nice thing about such a case is once that data is made reviewable once, it doesn’t need to be made reviewable again (at least if you’re doing it right!)
Another challenge can be clients who are overly reliant on outside counsel or other eDiscovery vendors to handle their data. The data exists, but the client wouldn’t know where to find it. Some of the more unscrupulous vendors of eDiscovery like it that way. However, a future-oriented vendor will work to make sure the right people can access their data and easily find the data they actually want while still accounting for all the necessary privacy and security challenges.
4. Standardize workflows
Complex litigation can be overwhelming. Quite frankly, it’s usually still pretty overwhelming even when you do have a good vendor at your side. However, knowing there’s a standard operating procedure whenever major litigation comes up can make a world of difference.
While it is true that every case is different, it’s also true that a few basic fundamentals of discovery rarely, if ever change. Knowing where to start and who’s responsible for what can go a long way.
By having data that’s well organized and accessible to the right parties, it’s much easier to hit the ground running when a litigation comes up. You can quickly and easily check to see if any of the relevant data from prior cases is going to be relevant this time around; you might have a list of places to check for ESI that isn’t immediately accessible; perhaps a shortlist of what vendors to call for what type of work.
This means that your organization can maintain consistency even as employees leave and new ones come on board.
What do you wish more ALSPs would help you with future eDiscovery matters? Let us know in the comments!