A New Trend: Managed Services for Litigation Support

Posted On: Friday, September 2, 2016

Many law firms struggle to keep up with current technology. After all, a law firm is not a technology company and attorneys have been trained to practice law, not navigate large document collections. Managed services allow small and medium-sized firms to take advantage of the same technology and expertise as a large firm on an as-needed basis.

Many attorneys find the intimidated by the challenges of electronic discovery:

  • Large quantities of data from clients who expect cost-effective discovery
  • A dizzying array of products and vendors all claiming to offer exactly what you need
  • New changes to the Federal Rules that assume attorneys are knowledgeable about electronic discovery

To address these issues, Firms are establishing a managed services relationship with a vendor who supports them throughout the electronic discovery process.  Firms are turning a weakness into a strength, establishing protocols for electronic discovery, using state of the art tools, and relying on experts to guide them through from collection to production to trial.

While a large firm has the resources and the volume to support an internal litigation support department, small and medium-sized firms cannot afford this investment in people and technology. Managed services for litigation support helps firms level the playing field.

Why Have Managed Services?

You have a new case and you are talking to your client about their documents. They tell you they have terabytes of email and cell phone. What is your next step? Or you have a new case and your client uses Gmail. They offer to print out relevant email. What do you say?

With a managed services agreement, you call on a high-level litigation support professional who will meet with you and your client to formulate an appropriate plan for preservation and collection. Every case is unique, so it’s important to have an experienced project manager who can give you options and make recommendations based on the size of the data collection, the budget, and the available resources.

Once the data is collected, you will work with your litigation support partner to formulate a plan for filtering of the data; choose a review platform that works best for you; set up a streamlined document review; and produce in a manner that meets the requirements set forth by the court or opposing counsel. Attorneys at large firms have these resources internally.  Shouldn’t you have the same resources available to you?

The volume of electronic data continues to grow. The technology continues to evolve. And the courts expect you to know what you’re doing.

How to Find the Right Partner

Finding a good partner is a challenge. In identifying a vendor to partner with, you should:

  • Find a vendor you can trust. Talk to people in your firm, and others who have used the vendor, and pay attention to details about how the vendor arrives at its recommendations. Beware of one-size-fits-all solutions.
  • Make sure the vendor has high-level expertise. The ability to process data is separate from having qualified people to consult at a high level. Ask to meet the people you would work with. Make sure the vendor retains good people long-term.
  • Look for flexibility. What you need now is probably not what you will need in the future. The vendor should have options for you and be willing to modify your agreement with them to account for changes at your firm and in the industry.

How do Managed Services Work?

A good managed services agreement is customized for the firm. Central to any agreement is the pricing schedule. While it’s important to negotiate competitive pricing, it is equally important to set up the agreement to foster use of the outside vendor’s expertise.

One of the options we offer clients is the ability to use unlimited consulting time for a fixed monthly price. You don’t want attorneys hesitating to call on the available expertise because of the cost. With a fixed fee, the money has been spent, so the attorneys will call for help when they need it.

Other issues to consider when formulating the agreement include: (1) Do you want to standardize on a review platform or use several? (2) Do you want to maintain data on your network or keep everything in the cloud? (3) Do you want your vendor to have a physical presence in your office, maybe with set office hours, or are you satisfied with them being available on request?

A good agreement gives the firm a trusted partner at a fair price and gives the vendor a valued long-term customer.

Clearly, Managed Services for litigation support is a service whose time has come. The increasing complexity and volume of data means that even the smallest firms have to control their clients’ data in order to be successful.



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