According to a new Ernst & Young Law Report, “CEOs are demanding that legal departments cut budgets by as much as 18% while workloads are being increased by 25%.” This reality comes as corporate legal teams are being tasked with managing more ediscovery projects with varying degrees of complexity and risk. However, there is huge potential to save costs while still maintaining control over your matters and litigation by bringing more in-house.
Here are 4 easy ways to make ediscovery more cost-effective, from creating your own comprehensive litigation response plan to reducing the volume of documents for review.
1. Knowing Your Way Around the Data
There are a few key factors as to why ediscovery costs are rising, one big one being the amount of data your company manages. It’s crucial for legal teams to know their way around this data, starting with the volume of data your company might have, how that data is organized, and the process for managing that data with ediscovery. In order to understand what data your organization generates and where it might reside, it’s important to create and maintain a current data map.
As you start to collect information about where data lives and who owns it, a data map is the perfect place to document it. This will also do wonders for your ediscovery process–saving time and therefore costs–as you start to decide how you will preserve, collect, and produce that data when the need arises.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to check for any data stored outside the company-approved list, such as personal devices.
2. Having a Litigation Response Plan
By implementing a litigation response plan, you can eliminate the costly risk of losing evidence that can lead to evidentiary spoliation sanctions. Start by gathering and empowering a cross functional team in-house to build your litigation response plan. Once your team is assembled, it’s important to discuss expectations–everything from timelines to efficacy of data preservation efforts will save money over the course of a matter.
Having a strong plan in place and equipping your team to execute on it can dramatically improve litigation outcomes, reduce expenses, accelerate resolution timelines, and minimize uncertainty. Once you’ve got your litigation response plan it’s time to turn to data management.
Pro tip: Provide a packet for the team at the outset of every matter to articulate how ediscovery is to be managed.
3. Governing Your Information
It’s critical to document how your company controls and organizes the mountains of data it generates, not only to minimize data volumes but to make sure you’ve got a handle on the data you have. This process, which is known as information governance..
It will also do wonders for keeping your information easily accessible when the time comes. Once you’ve built your data map you should already have insight into the data your company has and be clued into the risks that might come with it.
An organization’s information governance plan should include policies for defensible data deletion once it has outlived its legitimate business purpose, taking into account what your company is required to keep and for how long.
Pro tip: Try monitoring metrics based on time and money spent on ediscovery by data source.
4. Don’t Stop with Ediscovery
Legal teams play an essential role in their organizations, but many find even greater success by looking beyond ediscovery and legal matters. Oftentimes legal expertise can be used in assisting with additional business functions such as conducting internal investigations with HR or even cybersecurity incidents.
More often than you think, these processes present challenges similar to ones the legal teams might already have a plan for. You may well find that your ediscovery knowledge, skills, and tools are directly applicable to assessing and solving for the additional business outcomes listed above.
Pro tip: Even something as simple as your playbook could be a huge help to colleagues potentially dealing with similar issues.
Ediscovery and Beyond
As legal teams continue to evolve and align operating models to address changes in budgets and increased workloads, it’s critical to strategically deploy initiatives and create plans to drive down the costs of ediscovery. Your approach should be an ever evolving one that is strategically developed–taking into account new data sources, changes in litigation, and any other potential barriers that may arise.