Fixing Inefficiency in Discovery with Vertically Integrated Teams
Discovery in big cases is often very expensive and complex, requiring multiple teams to execute all the pieces.
In a large case, here are just some of the various roles that might be needed, from one end of the discovery “supply chain” to the other:
- Forensic teams handling the collections;
- E-Discovery project managers handling the processing and production;
- E-Discovery analysts who help process review-related questions, such as creating review panels, running search term reports, and supporting the law firm in their review of documents;
- Temp attorneys handling the first-pass review of documents;
- Project managers handling the quality control of the first-pass review;
- Big Law junior attorneys managing the second-pass review;
- Big Law senior attorneys handling depositions.
A typical case might involve four or more providers. One of these might provide the forensics, another the electronic data hosting and processing services, and still another company the temporary attorneys to review the documents. Finally, a lead litigation firm would be called in to help manage the review of documents, prepare for the major pieces of discovery (like depositions), and present that evidence in front of the judge or jury.
This fractured supply chain creates multiple potential inefficiencies. Here are just four:
- Redundant billing. Take one task: the big law firm attorney trying to set up a panel for a document review. An attorney writes out a request (billable) and sends it to the e-discovery team that handles the setting up of the panel (billable), which might then be reviewed by the project managers of the attorney team (also billable).
- No single source of billing truth. Compounding the problem above is that no one “owns” the billing for all of these tasks, and it is hard for a client (assuming they had the time!) to try to sort through where inefficiencies or redundant billing might occur. In a case with an abundance of activity, that might require a client to compare multi-page invoices from several providers to spot inefficiencies. When they do find them, they have to then sort it out with several different companies or vendors. The result? Less accountability and major inefficiency.
- Turf war headaches created by billing incentives. Companies and firms that bill by the hour invariably have billable hour targets and goals. Each company has some incentive, even if just psychological, to ensure that they are achieving their internal goals. That can create a turf war with some teams on how to put together work streams, which can create headaches for in-house counsel.
- Inefficiency of unknown teams. Trust and efficiency are built on relationships that develop over time with people who use the same terminology and work well together because they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s a reason that airlines insist on flight crews who have all received the same company-specific training. And imagine the confusion if an NFL franchise sourced its gameday offense with a new quarterback from one team, an offensive line from another, and its running backs from a third. That exact scenario regularly arises in eDiscovery when different companies are thrown together for the first time.
This kind of inefficiency is prevalent across the industry. What is one way to fight it? Find firms that are vertically integrated—i.e., they have all of the pieces under one roof, with one source of billing truth, one billing manager with accountability for invoices and ultimate efficiency, and with teams that know how to work with each other, because they have done it for years.
At Hilgers Graben, that is exactly what we have built. From our lead litigators who handle depositions to our e-discovery processing team, to everyone in between, we have the entire discovery pipeline covered.