Taking a Shared Services Approach to E-Discovery

June 15, 2012 conduentblogs

We are in the midst of yet another paradigm shift in e-discovery, one in which corporate legal departments – especially those supporting companies involved in frequent or repetitive litigation and investigative matters – are more critically assessing cost structure optimization and looking for ways to create efficiencies in e-discovery.

Many corporate legal teams today are exploring the “shared services” approach, which combines insourcing and outsourcing based on cost and resource optimization. Much like the IT managed-services model, in an e-discovery context this means outsourcing day-to-day tasks, processes, workflow, project management – and even the technology itself – to partners that work as an extension of the legal team. I explored this trend in greater detail in a recent Metropolitan Corporate Counsel article.

As noted in the article, under the shared services model, the corporate legal department maintains management responsibility for the e-discovery function, leveraging internal resources, including existing personnel and technology, and outsourcing other areas to allow them to scale up or down quickly without making permanent investments in resources.

The shared services model offers numerous benefits. While a weak economy prompted a focus on cost cutting and spawned the shared services approach, this model allows corporations to better predict e-discovery costs and gain tighter control of internal budgets. Additionally, outsourced processes allow corporations to bring consistency and defensibility to the e-discovery processes; specifically, outsourcing allows corporations to retain specialized outside counsel for various legal matters while ensuring consistency in protocols, processes and procedures along with use of any technology. For example, Conduent. is able to roll out its clients’ policies and procedures quickly to any law firm handling a corporate client’s e-discovery matters, thereby enabling matters to get up and running quickly and smoothly and allowing a new firm to rapidly become familiar with the client’s established and preferred e-discovery processes and protocols.

A more consistent approach creates defensibility and avoids potential pitfalls in e-discovery. Since many corporations rely on hundreds of outside law firms, to ensure a consistent approach across matters, the processes themselves—which we call the e-discovery “rules of engagement”—should be driven from within the corporation. The shared services approach allows clients to control these e-discovery “rules” without having to invest in additional people, hardware, software or support to achieve a defensible e-discovery approach.

Gabriela P. Baron is senior Vice President of Business Development at Conduent. She can be reached at info@conduent.com.

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