LEGAL DEPARTMENTS ARE GETTING BIGGER,
in no small part due to growing legal
operations staff. But despite the amount
these departments spend on increasing staff levels, far more is being saved
through cost-effectively bringing more
work in-house. And according to research
conducted by legal adviser Ari Kaplan,
this trend is nowhere more prominent
than in e-discovery.
Kaplan recently held conversations
with 27 e-discovery decision-makers,
composed of corporate counsel, legal
operations staff and law firm partners,
for his third annual “E-Discovery Unfiltered” report. He found that while cost
and efficiency drove a significant amount
of e-discovery operations in-house, there
are more factors and trends at play.
Corporate Counsel caught up with
Kaplan to discuss the report findings and
what they reveal about the future of e-discovery and legal department operations.
CORPORATE COUNSEL: Most corporate
counsel you talked to said they are bringing more e-discovery operations in-house.
What are the drivers behind this move?
ARI KAPLAN: The comments showed two
drivers for corporate counsel bringing
e-discovery in-house. One was cost, and
you can tie together control with that.
They wanted to reduce cost and have control of the process. The second was using
the technology that they are leveraging
for e-discovery [for other processes].
So corporate counsel are recogniz-
ing that those organizations that view
e-discovery more holistically as part of a
broader information challenge will gain
more value from the investments they’re
making. And once they realize that it can
be used more broadly, they are developing
internal skills and the capability to man-
age it internally, and internal management
can yield cost savings.
CC: How are legal departments using
AK: Organizations [can] use their e-discovery technology and processes for
enhanced project management, for more
efficient information governance, to
derive analytics for purposes of gaining
intelligence into their data and into their
markets. They are recognizing the value
of information generally and realizing
that they can use their existing infrastructure to increase that value.
That said, there were definitely individuals who said they weren’t bringing it
in-house because of management issues.
You need to have internal familiarity and
staffing for proper e-discovery, so there
were challenges for folks who don’t have a
sufficient team and capabilities internally
to manage the entire process.
CC: How did interviewees plan to invest
their technology budgets over 2017?
AK: The interesting thing about this question is that it really listed answers without
any real consistency. One in-house lawyer
said technology-assisted review, another
lawyer said in-sourcing and someone else
said streamlining their existing tools.
But a number of law firms’ partners,
in-house legal administrators and cor-
porate counsel also talked about staff-
ing. They had made their investments in
technology or infrastructure last year or
before, and this year they are building up
staffing. So I think that was really inter-
esting. And some people were building
up staffing because of the movement in-
house. If they already have the infrastruc-
ture and technology and they’re trying to
maintain more internally, they are going
to invest in people to staff up and manage
that a little bit more.
CC: A majority of those interviewed said
they preferred to host technology on the
cloud. Why do you think this is?
AK: In some instances the organizations
they are in are moving to the cloud, so
these are institutional decisions that are
being made beyond the legal department.
But there is a recognition that there is
efficiency, a simplification and cost savings in moving to the cloud. One in-house
lawyer [I talked to] said the cloud is the
future of everything e-discovery related.
Every time you put something behind the
firewall, you need to pay someone to manage it, and you need to regularly refresh
Other issues were about maintenance,
and maintenance is something that a lot
of these organizations don’t want to have
to address anymore. If the cloud provider can maintain the infrastructure and
technology, and of course if its security is
proven, then a lot of them perceive it as a
better option. —RHYS DIPSHAN
AS ITS USES GROW, E-DISCOVERY HEADS IN-HOUSE
“Corporate counsel are recognizing that those organizations
that view e-discovery more holistically ... will gain more
value from the investments they’re making.”