The linked article states that only 4% of law firms assess their lawyers' eDiscovery skills. It further says that the industry seems to have differing points of view on whether assessing these skills is even necessary. Our view at Elevate is that the industry has evolved such that law firm lawyers do not need deep expertise in all elements of eDiscovery. Instead, we feel that lawyers can focus on substantive aspects of law, litigation, and discovery strategy due to the sophistication and depth of skills in eDiscovery and related domains at service providers such as Elevate.
I was chatting about this with Megan Silverman, Director of Litigation Services at Elevate, University of Chicago Law graduate, and Environmental Law warrior. I asked Megan her point of view on whether law firms should spend the energy assessing their lawyers' eDiscovery skills.
MS: As long as law firms have a close partnership with a vendor like Elevate or an in-house eDiscovery group, assessing and training lawyers on eDiscovery skills has a high opportunity cost and is not a worthwhile undertaking. Since many lawyers are billing their time at more than $500-$1000 per hour, time is money and lots of it!
PD: Ok, I get the opportunity cost argument. However, matters can often hinge on eDiscovery mechanics. Doesn't that argue for a focus on eDiscovery?
MS: I'm not saying lawyers should ignore eDiscovery or that they shouldn't understand it. Instead, lawyers would benefit their clients most by practising substantive law and focusing on discovery strategy while relying on a team that wakes up every day thinking about the mechanics, nuances, and often frustrating (for lawyers) details of eDiscovery processes. Lawyers should focus on what they specialize in and outsource the complex and ever-changing world of eDiscovery to (lower-cost) specialists like our team at Elevate. By leaving the eDiscovery mechanics to experienced process and technology specialists, law firms save their clients money, bill more strategic hours, and lower risks that inadvertent process missteps can create—a win-win-win scenario.
PD: So, of course, we feel if a law firm partners with Elevate, they can leave the details to us. However, let's drill down on this. What do we (and similarly situated providers) have that enables our law firm partners to get the comfort they do?
MS: When choosing an eDiscovery partner, law firms should choose a provider who is willing to listen to their and their clients' needs and implement solutions that are both cost-effective and defensible. The partner should have a range of solutions for all eDiscovery matters and should educate the law firm about which solution is best in each situation. Additionally, the partner should provide an end-to-end solution for the firm, including processing, hosting, analytics, Technology-Assisted Review (TAR), managed review teams, and productions. The provider also should be up-to-speed on the newest technology and rules around proper procedures for data handling and all phases of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM).
PD: Thanks, Megan. Biased as we may be about Elevate, I think we have made a compelling argument for why our law firm partners can rest easy when working with us (or others similarly situated) on matters involving eDiscovery.
"...if they’re litigators they should certainly have a fundamental understanding (of e-discovery)." "...while expertise is valuable, a fundamental understanding of e-discovery rules and workflows is also needed across the firm..."