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Have an IP Matter? Ask These 3 Questions When Hiring a Vendor.

In the legal world, outcomes often hinge on ultra specific details that might go unnoticed to the lay person. For that reason, working with law firms and vendors who have experience specific to your case is often preferable to working with those that don’t. Such is the case with intellectual property.

IP law is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the same strong foundation of legal knowledge required of all lawyers, the best intellectual property attorneys usually need expertise in science and technology, or any other areas where they’re likely to litigate.

For all those same reasons, intellectual property lawyers and general counsel for companies where IP litigation is inevitable should look for vendors with IP-specific experience. Here are some of the questions such people should be asking potential legal tech and eDiscovery vendors before giving them an IP case.

1. Can this vendor handle my data types? 

Some data types show up over and over again regardless the case: Microsoft Word docs and Excel sheets; PDFs; jpegs. For that reason, you can probably count on any eDiscovery provider worth their salt to navigate these data types without blinking an eye.

Intellectual property cases are usually different. Crucial evidence often lies in design programs such as Solid Works, Catia, AutoCAD, Fusion360 and more. Maybe your intellectual property is thousands upon thousands of lines of computer code written in multiple programming languages. Either way, you have data outside the basic .doc and .pdf file types.

Somehow, you’re going to have to translate those off-the-beaten-path file types into user-friendly, reviewable files without wonky formatting discrepancies. Since these alternative file formats are often much larger than a typical word document, you’ll also need processing power that can handle larger files in a timely manner. Some service providers that could handle .pdfs in their sleep might still get tripped up by these more niche types of data.

Before you hire anyone to help you with a patent case, make sure they know exactly what kinds of data you have. Have they worked with those data types before? What’s their game plan? You deserve to know.

2. Does this vendor understand IP at all levels of jurisdiction?

Compared to some areas of law, IP features wider discrepancies between international, federal, state, and local policies and precedents. How do you make sure that U.S. patent will still protect you when you sell that product in Europe? Will that judge in West Texas rule differently than that other judge in Delaware? If you register that trademark in New York but someone already has a similar trademark in California, does it matter?

There aren’t easy answers to any of these questions, and no good IP-focused vendor would claim there are. A good service provider, just like a good lawyer, knows how much outcomes depend on where the case is happening.  There are great vendors located all over the globe, so you shouldn’t necessarily pick someone just because they’re near your business; what does matter is where your vendor’s caseload comes from. A California-based provider whose client base is 99% California-based companies might not be the best partner for your lawsuit in Texas.

A provider that has tried cases all over the world, and specifically one that’s tried cases in the jurisdiction where you’re facing litigation, will likely prove more suitable. The more jurisdictions they understand, they better they are able to put you in a good position for future litigations, which brings me to my next point.

3. Is this someone I can work with long term?

If you’re managing your intellectual property cases well, each one should be a little bit easier than the last. That’s because a lot of the data you need to win your current case is likely the same data you needed to win the last case. If you’re doing it right, your IP defense will get stronger and stronger each time. Maintain that consistency long enough, and you’ll probably see an overall reduction in cases. After all, who wants to sue some that keeps winning over and over again?

For that reason, your intellectual property strategy should always be bigger than one particular case. If it isn’t, that might lead you to a six-figure settlement that makes perfect sense right now, but ultimately leads to 10 more six-figure settlements over the next few years.

If you invest that money in building a strong case and maintaining that data so you can easily recall it when the next case comes along, that legal spend will pay dividends later. Settling cases usually doesn’t.

Still have more questions about IP and the role vendors play in these cases? Click here to talk to an expert.

Lawyer March Madness: Voting Round 4

Help us decide which lawyer would be the ultimate eDiscovery partner! Final Four voting is now closed. Follow us on social media to make sure you’re in the loop when championship voting goes live, and don’t forget to use the #LawyerMarchMadness hashtag to argue the case for your favorite!

Lawyer March Madness: Round 3 Voting

Help us decide which lawyer would be the ultimate eDiscovery partner! Voting for the Elite 8 is now closed, but Final Four voting is open here until 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 31. Follow us on social media to make sure you’re in the loop, and don’t forget to use the #LawyerMarchMadness hashtag to argue the case for your favorite!

Lawyer March Madness: Who’s on the Docket?

It’s that time of year again: March Madness! Voting for Round 1 is open until Monday, March 22, at 12 p.m. eastern. Familiarize yourself with the field of contestants and start rallying your friends to vote for your favorite. Be sure to tag your social media posts as #LawyerMarchMadness so you can argue the case for your favorites with other voters. Click here to vote!

Want a reminder every time a new round of voting starts? Send us your contact info and we’ll make sure you stay in the loop on all things #LawyerMarchMadness related.

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How Contact Discovery Works From Home

March 2021 marks one year since… well… March 2020. A year ago, the world was disrupted by COVID-19 and many of us had to rethink how we work. We had to come up with creative ways for work and life to coexist. Here at Contact, we have a good mix of people who have adjusted to Work-From-Home life over the last year as well as many who have worked remotely for years. Here are some of our tips on how to make the most of working from home and maintain your sanity all at the same time.

Zack Schanz, Director of Project Management

“Focus on the benefits of a lack of commuting and not the negatives of feeling cooped up. Try to physically separate your work area from the rest of your life to the best of your ability so you can spend time working when you want/need to and get away from work at other times.”

James Whitehead, Associate Director of Digital Forensics

“We setup a lunch counter in our basement bar. We make sure to actually take a short walk around the house to the lunch counter once a week.”

Krista Mayer, Senior Director of Business Development

“Prioritize your work day and give yourself time to decompress- go for a walk, talk to a friend or coworker.”

Scott Keeble, Director of eDiscovery Operations

“Get a stand up desk and a Sonos speaker!”

Safira, Accounting & HR Manager

“Keep your work space zen-like. Have a good playlist, coffee, and diffuse lavender at all times.”

Justin, eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Working from home all day makes me feel cooped up. I like to go out and hit the gym or grab a bite to eat after my work day!”

Anne, Digital Brand Specialist

“Make time to eat well, exercise, and sleep. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for breaks when there’s a lot of work to do, but you can’t live off of iced coffee and protein bars. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

Sam, Senior Project Manager

“I have been working from home for 5 years now, so as a pro… here are a few tips.

  1. Set a routine (I walk my dog in the morning, stretch a little, and try to have my coffee before I get online.)
  2. Try to avoid working from the couch! It’s bad for your neck and back.
  3. Set up a workstation to help you get in the zone! It’s hard to do that from your couch or bed. You also need to get out of the zone and take mental breaks even if your workstation is 10 feet away, close that door!
  4. Change our of your pajamas! I’m not saying change into a suit, but I change out of my pajamas into another pair of sweats and it helps!
  5. Take a scheduled 10-15 minute walk outside (weather permitted). Usually I take my dog on a walk to grab my afternoon coffee! (physical exercise and supporting local businesses all in one!)”


Mike, Associate Director of Project Management

“Set boundaries and try to follow a routine. Personal time should be considered a requirement not a luxury.”

Sean, Lead Software Architect

“Make time to call friends and family and for mental and physical activities other than arm curls from beer mugs, wine goblets, and shot glasses. e.g. weight training, running, board games, reading non-technical material, and just doing nothing for a while, etc.; however, I am still doing arm curls, I need to practice more of what I suggest.”

Tyler, eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Be sure to take a couple of minutes here and there to stand up and move around, it’s easy to feel cramped.”

Anthony, Lead eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Buy a stand up desk and get dressed for work like you’re going into a professional setting. Nothing kills motivation like a pair of sweatpants.”

Scott, Chief Operating Officer

“Find a place away from your kids. Stay away from the kitchen. Take breaks.”

Dave, Chief Executive Officer

“Find your space and use it for work. Don’t try to operate at the kitchen table or have fun time in your office. By commuting ‘to work’ inside your house my family and I are able to achieve a sense of “work normal” that you never realized you actually miss.”

Ashleigh, Director of Business Development

“Plan out your week. Set up a schedule and take breaks.”

Shayna, Director of Business Development

“My coping mechanisms? Pants with elastic waistbands and gardening.”

Rich, Chief Business Officer

“Get ready like you’re leaving the house, have a schedule, and know when you’re done for the day.”

Why Great Legal Technology Still Needs Great People

Necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, the legal technology market is full of great inventions. There’s so many that it can be intimidating, especially when everyone seems to be making the same claims that sound too good to be true.

There’s great legal tech coming from all corners of the market. Some solutions come from established names, others from up-and-coming players within the eDiscovery space. None of it does everything for everyone, but much of it can do something for someone. At Contact, we use all sorts of different platforms depending on what a given project calls for: Relativity, Nuix, Cellebrite, OpenText, CloudNine, ReadySuite, Magnet, and Metaspike, just to name a few.

As more great tech bursts onto the scene, many imagine a future where automation has significantly lessened dependence on service providers if not eliminated them altogether. It’s great that tech is empowering people with less-specialized skillsets to do more than they could before. However, those that do have more specialized skillsets in legal technology are still a necessary part of the equation.  

More Capabilities Require More Knowledge

Technological advancements usually mean that tech can now do more things than it could before. However, increased functionality can be a blessing and a curse. Oftentimes, as the list of things that tech can do gets longer, it becomes harder and harder for the average user to navigate extensive menus and solve the specific problem at hand.

For that reason, the widely prevalent and seemingly logical notion that better tech = less need for human help is actually not true. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of true. The more technology can do for us, the more it requires advanced knowledge of its capabilities. The more it can do, the further true visionaries can push it. It’s the same way that almost anyone can hop in a canoe and row around a small pond, but if you want to get on a cruise ship and travel the world, you’re going to need a staff of people who has sailed before and already knows the ropes.

The “increased functionality” that tech companies brag about doesn’t count for much if end users don’t even know it’s there. It counts for negative points if it’s cluttering an interface and making it harder to do tasks that were quite simple back when there were five options on a menu instead of 100. 

When your review platform has so many thingamabobs but you don’t know what to do with them.

One potential workaround is to simply live without those other 95 options in favor of a simpler, streamlined, but less advanced platform. Essentially, pick the canoe in a small pond instead of the cruise ship. For some organizations, that may very well be the best option. For many more, there will come a day when they need one of those other 95 options.

Legal tech specialists who work with these advanced platforms day in and day out understand the full gamut of what they can do. They can make these platforms conform to your needs. What’s more efficient, teaching every single attorney and paralegal every capability, or letting an expert evaluate your matter and coach your team on the 1-2 functions that will be most useful?

Investing in great technology means all those extra tools are still in your toolbox when you need them. Having great people means you can actually make sense of all the whozits and whatsits galore and put them to use while ignoring the ones that don’t make sense for the matter at hand.

Both the law and technology are constantly changing. People can change with them.

Rushing to a new platform in an effort to eliminate human service providers may very well work in the short term. But what happens when states pass new laws or suddenly a platform that worked great six months ago is obsolete? Even the best technologists can still only adapt to changes in the law so fast. Trust us, we like to hire the best technologists so we know better than anyone.

Meanwhile, there are always new solutions coming out from various legal tech companies. Some of it comes from real advancements, some of it is repackaging existing technology to varying degrees. Innovation is great, but “new” doesn’t automatically equate to “innovation.”

We can’t undervalue the human element because humans need to be the ones who decide what changes are actually necessary. Humans need to be the ones who balance healthy caution with innovation. Humans can become aware of legal changes as they happen and start adapting discovery strategies when technology hasn’t caught up yet.


New technology is usually designed to solve a problem that already exists. It is not designed to solve problems that might potentially exist one day in the future if not mitigated now. Humans on the other hand can imagine various scenarios where things could go wrong in order to ensure that they don’t go wrong. They can not only find ways to give attorneys what they need right now, but help attorneys make improvements so future matters run more smoothly.

It’s easy to imagine a world where AI can scan a pile of documents and find relevant information for a particular litigation or investigation. Heck, we don’t even have to imagine it, it’s here! However, it’s a lot harder to imagine a world where AI can scan a document, see a loophole that others might potentially exploit, and close that loophole years before anyone gets the chance to litigate it. It’s equally hard to imagine a world where AI tells you how much easier the next litigation will be if you make some tweaks to current information governance policies.

Technology can be a beautiful thing. When done right, it empowers attorneys to do their jobs better without having to rely on a massive team of support staff. In the future, attorneys will be more independent thanks to solutions that are being developed now. It’s not an if, it’s a when. The important thing is forming long-lasting relationships with the right kinds of experts who are there to advise and support when you need them, but don’t view your independence as a threat.

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.)