Large enterprises are no stranger to eDiscovery. Whether it’s because of their sheer size, complexity, or the compliance demands their specific industry dictates, eDiscovery is an ongoing process that is so common, it is embedded within their core DNA. These large organizations often have eDiscovery departments entirely dedicated to responding to eDiscovery requests initiated by pending litigation, regulatory mandates or internal investigations. On the contrary, there are small organizations that view eDiscovery as strictly reactive. These organizations haven’t encountered the need for eDiscovery and, due to limited resources, aren’t able to proactively plan for the demands that litigation would impose. A risky proposition for sure, but it’s hard to argue when the possibility of litigation is so infrequent. It is a third group, though, sandwiched in between these two that face the greatest eDiscovery challenges.
Imagine you have several hundred or even a few thousand employees. You are large enough to have a legal department or at least an in-house counsel and also an IT team. These individuals are focused on a diverse range of daily activities including but not limited to:
- regulatory compliance
- risk management
- preservation obligations
- data destruction
- departing employees
- cyber security threats
- new technology updates
Among these duties, IT and legal are also responsible for the part-time eDiscovery needs that arise. This might total five to 20 hours per week spent initiating legal hold notifications, conducting searches, culling result sets and collecting responsive items. That can create quite a bottleneck as these two groups try to work independently to accomplish all of these initiatives.
However, these organizations are ahead of the curve in recognizing the benefits of conducting electronic discovery searches in-house. Leveraging internal resources allows them to shrink the number of potentially responsive items and significantly decrease costs by limiting the number of outside counsel consulting hours needed and minimizing the per-gigabyte hosting fees imposed by many review platforms. Unfortunately, the part-time nature of their eDiscovery responsibilities has forced them into a very inefficient process that is expensive and ineffective and therefore very risky.
The key for the organizations that fall into this category is to look at IT and legal not as separate entities each having their own independent responsibilities in the process, but rather view them as your virtual eDiscovery department. Once you adopt this perspective, you also need the glue that will hold this virtual department together – a unified and integrated platform to coordinate and communicate across all data sets and all team members. The department may be virtual but the benefits are real:
- Collaboration – a single place for IT and legal to work together
- Organization – everything organized and running smoothly
- Automation – routine tasks perfectly executed every time
- Relaxation – a well-run operation day in and day out
It takes the right technology and some change management but you will save time and money by eliminating the manual tasks and spreadsheets often associated with the eDiscovery process. A single platform for multiple organizational functions will close the loop among team members and create a predictable, repeatable and defensible process. Your teams can focus on higher level objectives and you will finally have the confidence you can meet current and future demands.