3 Things That Are Wasting Your Legal Budget

Virtually everyone across all industries is currently trying to “do more with less.” The legal world is no different. More and more attorneys want to know what investments will actually get returns, and many have become skeptical of pay models that once seemed infallible.

The best legal budgets that “do more with less” are a perfect calibration of technology investments, internal functionality, and strategic outside partners. At Contact, we pride ourselves on helping legal teams find the right balance that works for them. There are certain challenges we encounter over and over again, and today we’re letting you in on some of the common stumbling blocks that result in overspending.

1. Too Many Vendors

There’s often money to be saved by reducing the total number of vendors that you rely on to help you with litigation. Almost any vendor will offer you better pricing on services if you buy more from them. It also mitigates risk to limit sensitive data to as few people/organizations as possible.

The thing is, no managing partner or general counsel wakes up one day and says “I’d like my sensitive data scattered across as many vendors as possible.” So why is it such a common problem?

One issue could be misunderstanding which vendors are capable of what services. If you hired eDiscovery “R” Us for a processing job last month, but no one thought to ask if they also had forensic services, you might go to a separate vendor for this month’s collection. Meanwhile, you could’ve gotten a better deal by bundling forensics and processing together at eDiscovery “R” Us.

Another issue could be overestimating the need for “specialized” vendors. Many vendors position themselves as “specialists” but it’s not always clear if they’re adding more value than more generalized vendors who can do the same job. Such specialists certainly play a valuable role in the eDiscovery industry; however, it can be incredibly difficult for lawyers to decide if a specialist is necessary for a given matter.

Still another issue could be poor communication between team members who are all hiring vendors. Ideally, you don’t want different lawyers each blasting their own unique network of vendors for each new matter. What if Tom, Dick, and Harry each have their own internal investigation? You might be able to get a better deal by buying legal technology services “in bulk” from one vendor rather than letting Tom, Dick, and Harry each pick their favorite from their own address books. 

We recommend having some kind of system that allows all attorneys to pull their vendors from the same pool, and routinely weeding out the ones that underperform or are overpriced. There are even tech solutions such as Contact’s M8™ that are specifically designed to help you with this. It’s also good to have eDiscovery expertise either internally or in a trusted consultant. This expert can help determine if you need to bring in specialized vendors or if giving the entire job to one comprehensive vendor is the better move.

2. Investing in outsourcing rather than training.

As the old adage goes, “give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”

Oftentimes, your internal team is capable of more than you think, they just need the right training. This is especially true as long as law schools focus on the theory and history of the law but devote relatively little time to teaching lawyers how to use technology.

It’s a waste of money to buy technology your team never adopts, but it’s also a waste of money to pay vendors to do things you could do internally. The best way to walk the fine line between these two forms of malinvestment is usually some combination of the right technology paired with proper training on how to use it.

Sometimes legal teams choose to switch to more modern technology, but grossly underestimate the growing pains of that transition. Don’t make that mistake. Understand that there will be an adjustment period, and give your team the requisite empathy. Ask them what resources they’ll need to become confident on the new solution and act on that intel. Maybe you’ll want to plan training workshops, or temporarily hire some extra support staff that can be on-call to answer your team’s questions. 

3. Paying lawyers to do things non-lawyers could do

Lawyers have hard-earned expertise and deserve to be compensated for it. The most efficient organizations tend to make the most of their attorneys’ knowledge and talent. They can’t do that when those lawyers are stuck sifting through spreadsheets or combing through the internet for trademark violations.

Efficient organizations let their lawyers focus on lawyering. If there’s enough grunt work to justify hiring more support staff, they do. That could take the form of an outside service provider, or bringing on more internal hires.

While it could seem counterintuitive to hire more people when budgets are tight, firms that give lawyers the support they need can usually afford to take on heavier caseloads and generate more revenue in the long run. In corporate settings, the legal department is less of a bottleneck when lawyers have ample support staff.

Every case is different, and there is a myriad of different reasons why you might not be making the most of your legal budget. It’s important to get to the root cause of such inefficiencies and come up with long term solutions that will work for you.  

If you have any other questions about how to make the most of your legal budget, reach out to Contact today.

What Are eDiscovery Managed Services and Why Would I Need Them?

If you’ve been on more than a few legal technology websites, you’ve likely come across the term “Managed Services.” Everyone seems to offer them, and they usually come with enticing, yet vague claims about “simplifying discovery” and “end-to-end solutions.” 

That’s all well and good, but how do you decide if your organization is the right candidate for a Managed Services approach towards eDiscovery? Will Managed Services actually help you run your business or law firm more efficiently, or will it result in paying for things you don’t need or already have? Those are the questions we’re here to answer.

What are eDiscovery Managed Services? 

“Managed Services” is an industry term that refers to a comprehensive eDiscovery solution provided for a flat rate. The “services” in question can vary depending on the client’s needs, but the goal remains the same: make discovery more streamlined and predictable without compromising outcomes. Oftentimes, the services are some combination of data hosting, processing, project management, forensics, and eDiscovery. The exact services and price you pay depend on the deal you negotiate with your specific provider. 

Who Needs Managed Services? 

The typical Managed Services client usually comes from a field where complex investigations and litigation are fairly common, such as corporate law, financial law, and intellectual property. If you’re only involved with cases of this scale once in a blue moon, a pay-as-you-go model might make more sense. However, if such matters are business as usual for you, Managed Services is worth considering. 

Another major factor to think about is your internal discovery capabilities. If you’re already able to handle the vast majority of your discovery internally, Managed Services might result in overspending. However, few organizations are able to achieve the same economy of scale that legal service providers do. It’s quite common for the optimal discovery program to be some mix of internal and external workflows. Sometimes, that means doing most of your discovery internally and calling in reinforcements if and when you need them. However, it could also mean a Managed Services plan where you pay for data hosting and access to advanced review software, but still rely on your internal team to manage projects.

Reasons Why Organizations Switch to Managed Services 

In addition to lower prices from bundling services together, limiting how many vendors you work with usually lets you make more use of what you are paying for. Hours spent briefing newcomers about a matter are just as billable as the hours that a longstanding partner spends actually solving problems. Even if you have a few trusted vendors who know your team fairly well, it can still be inefficient if they’re working with you for a month, then not talking to you for six months, then coming back again. A Managed Services model means your team and your service provider stay in regular contact, and when workloads suddenly grow, you don’t have to spend a lot of time (and money!) helping vendors play catch up. 

Predictability

Competitive Advantage


Oftentimes, a company’s legal spending is seen as a necessary evil, but it can also help you get an edge over your competition. In the case of a law firm, it’s easier to win new clients if you’re not passing exorbitant discovery costs on to this client. Oftentimes, firms with a Managed Services plan can price themselves lower than they would have otherwise without it affecting their bottom line.

For in-house legal teams, a Managed Services model can be the difference between winning a lawsuit, and paying out settlements just because “discovery is too expensive.” Managed Services can help you mitigate matters early for relatively low costs since you’re already paying for the help. On the other hand, a pay-as-you-go model might result in neglecting matters until they’re mission critical simply because you don’t have the internal capabilities to be proactive. If you only seek outside help when litigation is on the horizon, that vendor can exploit your lack of options and costs can spin out of control. 

Minimize Risk 

Consolidating vendors usually means minimizing risk. Every time you rope a new vendor into your network, you’re increasing the number of people who could inadvertently mishandle sensitive information. A good rule of thumb for any business or law firm is to keep information on a need-to-know basis. Organizations who are using a single provider for the bulk of their legal services are almost always going to have a shorter list of “need-to-know” people than an organization who’s sending data to new vendors every other month. 

Extra Capabilities 

If you pay for Netflix, you’ve likely watched at least one movie that you wouldn’t have cared enough to see in theaters or rent on its own. Likewise, many Managed Services models bundle the services you know you need with services you never would’ve thought to buy separately, but are still nice to have. 

For example, many clients reach out to legal technology companies because they need help hosting data. They may do this after an investigation is already underway, and it becomes clear that the volume of data is too large to handle internally. However, if they had already been paying for Managed Services the whole time, they could’ve also had help with automating legal holds and preserving that data before the investigation, all at no additional cost. 


Ultimately, Managed Services isn’t for everyone. Whether or not it’s right for you can depend on a number of variables such as the size of your organization, frequency of litigation, internal capabilities, and need for scalability.

Still have questions? We’re happy to help!

Reach out today to find out if Managed Services is right for your organization.

(If it isn’t, we’ll design a custom solution that is.)