The Value Snowball – Three Benefits of a Consistent Team in Discovery
One common feature of complex discovery is that there tends to be significant churn across matters for at least some—and occasionally all—of the people supplying discovery services for clients.
In our experience, having a consistent team across cases is unique. That is in part because many different firms and companies usually supply discovery services on a case, and in part because of the constant attrition most providers have within their own teams.
Take, for example, the four key groups of people supplying discovery services in a major case: big firm associates, discovery review project managers or staff attorneys, temporary reviewers, and e-discovery processing/hosting personnel. For any given case, there may be good stability in the people providing those services. The big firm attorneys, if they don’t leave the firm (and attrition is a part of big firm business models), will likely be on the case for its duration. And there is a good chance that the project managers/staff attorneys and hosting personnel will stay on as well. Temporary reviewers tend to come and go often.
But what happens when there is a subsequent discovery matter for the same client? Having the same people work on the matter may not be possible. For starters, the same companies or firms may not be used. And, over even a medium-term duration, companies and firms involved in discovery tend to see significant turnover in their employees.
At Hilgers Graben, we have broken that pattern. Importantly, we are a one-stop shop for all discovery services, allowing clients to hire just one firm to handle everything. Critically, our industry-low attrition has given our firm stable and consistent teams across matters. This creates deep institutional knowledge about our clients that snowballs value over time.
The results have been incredible—we have some clients who have had the same attorneys work on their matters and review their documents for over 10 years!
We have seen firsthand the enormous benefits of having consistent teams across matters. Here are just three of the many benefits:
- More Efficient Review
Each company is different with different communication rhythms, acronyms, and workflows. In a given case, document reviewers might invest hundreds of hours each in reviewing and ultimately internalizing the rhythm and flow of a company’s communications.
This can lead to enormous benefits for future matters; however, those benefits are often not realized as reviewers come and go all the time at most review firms.
Take the review of privileged documents as an example. Every company or case might have a “privilege filter” – a list of email addresses of in-house or outside counsel and common terms that are likely to suggest that a document could be privileged. Privilege filters allow for the triaging of potentially privileged documents, but often are just a basic and fairly rudimentary filter that is both under and overly inclusive.
A review team that has spent time parsing through privileged communications of the client’s in-house team will understand the nuances that go far beyond a filter. For example, they recognize the shorthand that the in-house attorneys use to designate privileged documents. Then know whether the in-house attorneys use their initials instead of their names to indicate privileged communications. Lastly, they spot common false positives or other patterns that help a review team separate the wheat from the chaff.
At Hilgers Graben, our teams have a deep understanding of these nuances and deploy their learnings again and again for our clients, without having to relearn these lessons. This longevity enables our team to instantly know the pitfalls and traps to avoid, be faster and more efficient with their review (thus less expensive), and significantly lower the risk of incorrect calls involving privileged documents. Win-win-win!
Better Cohesiveness and Collaboration
One of the most critical variables for a successful discovery review team is relationships. Strong relationships create efficiency, save time, and generate more value over time.
Conversely, poor relationships can create enormous costs and headaches for in-house lawyers. A dysfunctional team is an unnecessary headache for a client, but – unfortunately – such dysfunction can happen when multiple firms and companies are thrown into the fire together. For a client who is racking up large bills on a major case with significant exposure, few things are more frustrating than being subject to a team that is out of sync or riddled with in-fighting.
Relationships – especially trusted ones – take time to develop. Understanding working styles, communication rhythms, preferences, and personalities does not happen overnight. Oftentimes, a case might involve multiple separate providers who don’t work together all the time. For example, the law firm may have never worked with the eDiscovery provider before the current case.
At the end of a case, however, people tend to know each other very well and have established work rhythms. We have found that re-deploying the same team for the same client on a new matter makes things significantly easier. By doubling down on strong relationships, the client reaps the benefits of functional and confident teams.
Ability to Anticipate Client Needs.
The hallmarks of good client service are anticipating needs and solving problems before they arise. Anticipating needs and predicting problems become easier the more a team gets to know and establish trust with the client.
As with document review, becoming familiar with the different personalities and work cultures of each unique client can pay enormous dividends.
At the beginning of a complex litigation matter, a new team may not have a great sense of the nuanced needs of their client because they have never worked together, and they do not know the personalities, specific anxieties, or other concerns unique to them. This leads to a long learning curve.
By the end of the matter, the team will, in all likelihood, have a strong sense of the needs of their client. Going through the battle of a major case, with all of the twists, turns, and decision points, should give the team a very strong sense of their client and how best they can support them together.
If that team stays together, then the second matter starts from a position of trust and anticipation, significantly ahead of the learning curve in a way a new team simply cannot match.
The Hilgers Graben Way
Consistent teams add benefits over time. At Hilgers Graben, we not only have all of the pieces of the discovery supply chain (big firm attorneys, discovery counsel, reviewers, and eDiscovery processing/hosting), but we have provided consistent and stable teams to our clients for over a decade. To learn more about how our we create our discovery value snowballs for clients, contact Heather Hilgers at [email protected].