eDiscovery Early Engagement

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The critical benefits of engaging eDiscovery early

I have seen the highs and lows of eDiscovery projects. Technology plays a pivotal role in achieving great outcomes in litigation disputes or regulatory investigations. Also where eDiscovery is absent, or an afterthought, cases limp along and costs blow out on inefficient processes.

Where eDiscovery is particularly successful at driving and accelerating the best outcome of a legal dispute is when the legal team engages with eDiscovery experts early in the proceedings, before proceedings have commenced or even before the law firm and client relationship commences.

So how do you benefit by being in the eDiscovery loop? Below are some key benefits to having early discussions.

Understanding how the eDiscovery can be part of your pitch to win prospective clients

If selling yourself as an innovative professional, as part of your suite of key skills, is important to your prospective clients, legal technology and eDiscovery should be part of that suite. Discovery is an expensive phase of the litigation lifecycle. Adopting innovative ways to tackle discovery reduces the legal spend and allows clients to allocate valuable resources to other aspects of the matter. Understanding how technology can minimise the legal spend will set you apart from less innovative legal service provider pitches.

Using sophisticated technology to determine your client’s chance of success in a legal dispute

Early case assessment technologies have traditionally meant low cost, second rate technology. There is a demand for more sophisticated technology solutions to deal with large volumes of data in the early stages of a matter. This is critical to determining which legal pathway is most valuable to the client. Understanding what is available and the associated costs, could mean you get a handle on the data in a matter of days rather than weeks and are better equipped to advise your client of the best steps forward.

Likely costs of eDiscovery services over the life of the matter

Predicting the likely spend on a discovery process is challenging. Having a solid understanding of how the peaks and troughs of a litigation matter correlate to eDiscovery spend allows you to better manage your client’s expectations on fees. Plus, understanding how the technology helps with chronologies, witness statements, expert briefs and Counsel Briefs etc. will help you minimise the costs during the case management phase.

Understanding the technology available and how to apply it to your particular matter

Having good eDiscovery technology at your disposal is only one piece of the puzzle. Having meaningful discussions with skilled eDiscovery professionals about strategy and execution ensures you have good collaboration between your legal practitioners and technology. Not all matters requiring an eDiscovery solution need the same ‘out of the box’ functionality. For example, a team working on the respondent side for a class action will need a different eDiscovery “toolkit” to a team working on the claimant side. A construction dispute will require specific technology to deal with the unique challenges a construction data set will present. An experienced eDiscovery partner will be able to assist you with these challenges.

Data collection strategy

Data collection strategy discussions are important, particularly for preserving metadata and dealing with non-standard data sources. The remote working requirement throughout 2020 generates more new sources and locations of potentially relevant electronic information. This adds to the data collection burden for parties when responding to discovery obligations. Early discussions around a data preservation and collection strategy alleviates that burden or flags the need to devise an appropriate plan.

Formulating search terms to agree with the opposing party

The success of keywords can hinge on the quirks of search string construction. It is so often important to have a seasoned eDiscovery professional cast their eye over the search strings to identify actual or potential issues and make recommendations. Material changes to search strings have a significant impact on the number of responsive documents identified for review.

Negotiating a document exchange protocol with the opposing party

A cleverly drafted protocol, with your client’s interests at the forefront, is the difference between getting the most out of the eDiscovery tools and tricks and being frustrated with the technology limitations caused by an inadequate discovery format. Understanding your client’s data set and the opposing party/parties likely data set will determine the drafting of a document exchange protocol. This results in improved application of email thread technology, improved duplicate analysis, improved and less cumbersome transparency of machine learning workflows and improved witness statement hyperlinking processes.

Helping clients understand the nuances and new developments in eDiscovery technology means litigators are more likely to proactively gain an advantage over opposing parties who are less savvy and less likely to find themselves spending their client’s fees on eDiscovery squabbles. A seasoned and commercially astute eDiscovery professional is critical to your success.

About the author

Leonie Taylor, Head of Client Engagement

At Sky Discovery, Leonie consults directly with lawyers in developing best practice eDiscovery strategies and workflow solutions for their matters. Leonie works with Sky Discovery’s Business Development team as the Head of Client Engagement to ensure she is the first point of contact for any new eDiscovery projects. She is able to liaise with the legal teams to assist with scoping the most effective solution both cost and result driven, for their project. Leonie also networks with key clients to build strong and lasting legal/technology relationships.

Leonie has been integral in developing Sky Discovery’s eDiscovery training programs for clients and regularly presents CLEs for law firms discussing the best use of technology in legal matters. Leonie has multiple Relativity certifications including the Relativity certified user, Relativity Technology Assisted Review Specialist, and a Relativity Certified Sales Professional.

Leonie has significant experience in the eDiscovery space (5 years in the UK and over 8 years in Australia), having worked on some of the largest litigation projects in the industry. Leonie was previously a litigation lawyer in both Australia and the UK.

Contact Sky Discovery

For further information on Sky Discovery’s eDiscovery services, please contact Leonie Taylor, Head of Client Engagement, on 0434 400 507 or email: lmtaylor@skydiscovery.com.au or email the team at Sky Discovery on sales@skydiscovery.com.au

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