eDiscovery Data: What Else is it Good For?
Matter metrics are good, but cross-matter metrics are better, especially in the hands of the right service provider. Are you ready to centralize your data for big insights—and more?
It is the job of eDiscovery professionals to safely and defensibly intake, process and manage a huge volume of complex data in an ever-increasing variety of formats. Good providers have expert talent and advanced tools to do that.
If that were all they are tasked with doing, it would be challenging enough. Today, however, the increasing data sophistication of some eDiscovery professionals combined with the tools that they are able to deploy—or even create—is raising expectations and transforming the eDiscovery provider landscape.
As corporations have become more proficient at capturing data and using it for their own business intelligence, some eDiscovery providers are following suit with their own intelligence tools, providing clients with metrics and analytics that can provide valuable insight for current matter management decisions and even enable cost-predictions for future matters. The ability to provide such matter intelligence is becoming the stuff of eDiscovery provider differentiation.
Most service providers can pony up basic metrics for decision-makers (e.g., cost averages per custodian and document) that will help with matter management. But those with more advanced tools can provide actionable intelligence, using metrics available in real-time that can: 1) enable project managers to adjust resources as the project advances, reducing waste and increasing efficiency; 2) add predictability to the spend for better planning; and 3) calculate the value of possible alternative pricing arrangements that could be developed to benefit both parties.
Curiously though, basic and even more advanced metrics are not as widely applied as one might expect. Although legal service providers, including those who manage eDiscovery, are generally good about generating end-of-quarter reports with stats such as data volume summaries, few client firms and companies have demanded the kind of metrics—especially across matters—that could provide real intelligence, thus missing out on opportunities to leverage valuable information for managing timelines and costs.
Data centralization: Its time has come.
The ability to gather cross-matter metrics is where the real power lies, providing fodder for the most sophisticated data analytics. This, however, requires consolidated data. It is not uncommon for large corporate law departments to rely on multiple outside law firms to handle their matters, and each of those firms may have a go-to eDiscovery service provider. Collected data and work product may thus be disaggregated across many different eDiscovery providers and platforms, making it difficult to leverage the potential synergies that a single repository could provide.
Although there are plenty of good reasons to use multiple law firms for a matter, imagine the power of a single, unified repository that consolidates all of a company’s collected data not just for a single matter, but for all matters. Such a unified repository would have a multitude of cost-savings benefits, especially for companies who have repetitive litigation where the same documents may be in play over and over again for discovery. Privilege, confidentiality and PII tagging codes could live with the document, for example, enabling a one-and-done review effort that could save millions of review dollars over time. Data security efforts could also be centralized and enhanced.
A unified repository could also provide a platform for the client organization to build comprehensive, normalized metrics and analytics to use for predictive assessments of future matters such as:
- How long can we expect this matter to tie us up?
(How long does it take, on average, to resolve a matter? What factors make a difference? Matter type? Law firm or service provider?)
- What can we know up-front about what this will cost (and is it likely going to cost more to pursue than it would to settle)?
(What is the average review cost, per custodian, per document, per matter type? What is the average percentage of data reduction for each eDiscovery project? How long do we keep matter data on average and what are the associated retention costs?)
- What pricing models have historically given us the most cost-effective result?
(Is it more efficient to pay by service, fixed fee per matter or custodian, by data volume?)
- Should we farm a given matter out to an outside law firm, or is it more cost-efficient to manage it in-house?
(What are the average costs per outside firm? Which firm gives us the best ROI?)
- If data volume and matter trends persist, where are our budgets headed next year and beyond?
(What options are available to hedge against our current trajectory? Should we bring certain capabilities or technologies in house?)
Unified data repositories: Metrics heaven—but sadly underused.
Analytics based on cross-matter data are powerful and available, but the unified repositories that would provide them remain underused – perhaps because establishing one seems like a large, risky undertaking. This may change as the value of integrated analytics and reusable work product is better understood.
Law firms and their clients could gain much greater confidence in their budgeting decisions if they had a more granular understanding of where their discovery dollars go. eDiscovery service providers with advanced metrics, analytics tools and services—whether hosting in the provider’s environment or by managing a client’s cloud based solution (e.g. RelativityOne)—are in a prime position to provide such information to help clients make the most of their discovery spend. A unified repository exponentially increases the power of those tools. In controlling discovery costs, companies and law firms need all the weaponry they can get their hands on, and cross-matter metrics and data analytics combined have the power to be a veritable nuke.
Jason Richard, VP of Products, H5
Jason’s main areas of expertise are eDiscovery product development, electronic discovery, litigation readiness and data analysis, with a focus on strategic consulting regarding the production of electronic records in support of all phases of litigation, investigations, and litigation preparedness initiatives.