Some industry players are advocating for a greater focus on early case assessment and the use of legal software tools that provide earlier insights into the landscape of a case in order to inform litigation strategy.
This is a conversation that is being fueled by executives within corporate legal departments, the professionals who ultimately foot the bill for legal services provided by law firms, eDiscovery providers and litigation software companies alike.
For example, in post on this blog last year titled, Walmart AGC: Keys to “Insourcing” Early Case Assessment, an in-house attorney noted:
“I believe the highest and best use of our outside counsel is to rely on them for their core skills, things like legal judgment, business counsel, risk assessment and litigation strategy. When it comes to collecting evidence into databases, filtering out tens of thousands of irrelevant documents in eDiscovery, and narrowing the landscape of electronic evidence down to a smaller pool of data that truly needs to be reviewed by an attorney, I feel there are often more efficient ways to get that early case assessment work done.”
To that end, there are four key benefits of early case assessment for corporate counsel:
1. Reduction of data for processing
Effective early case assessment on the front end of the eDiscovery process can significantly reduce data that must be processed. Some companies have been able to reduce the amount of data subject to review by as much as 85 percent with a robust early case assessment effort.
2. Faster insight into case strategy
Early case assessment provides litigation teams with greater visibility from the outset of a case, which helps them to quickly understand any potential exposure in the initial data set and gain faster insights into their case strategy.
“The more information that an in-house team has regarding the possible size of the case and the potential risk the company may have in the litigation, the better off you will be to make the best decisions about how to proceed in the case,” said Julie I. Kaplan, a former litigator who is now a territory manager for litigation solutions with the LexisNexis software business.
Also see these related in-house counsel posts:
Practical Tips for Using Outside Counsel Guidelines
In Corporate Legal, Data Analytics a Rising Star [Infographic]
Stats, Facts and Comments from 7 Corporate Legal Studies
3. Decreased costs
If you combine outside counsel fees and eDiscovery processing expenses, roughly 73 percent of eDiscovery costs rest in review. By addressing electronic evidence at the source and making the content searchable, litigation teams can start reshaping the entire eDiscovery process across the workflow, gaining dramatic efficiencies downstream and significant cost savings.
4. Visualize the story of litigation risk
Taking eDiscovery upstream with early case assessment enables corporate counsel to get closer to the original data, which means they can control their own standards for consistency, transparency and repeatability.
“Moreover, by integrating visual analytics into early case assessment software tools, corporate counsel can actually see the story their case is telling, providing them with greater control and ability to manage risk,” said Kaplan.
Based on the views of a growing number of in-house counsel, we may well look back at 2016 as the season that we started thinking of eDiscovery less as a linear review continuum and more as a process driven by effective early case assessment.
* * *
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Lexis DiscoveryIQ: Every Case Has a Story; Find it Faster