Time is Money: What In-House Counsel Should Know

June 11, 2013 conduentblogs

As a former securities litigator and general counsel, and now Senior Vice President with Conduent, I recently shared what is top of mind for in-house counsel in an interview with CorpCounsel.com. The points in the article are summarized below.

1. Use analytics to find the “proverbial needle in the haystack.”
As the volumes and types of data increase and diversify (i.e., audio files, text messages, recordings of conference calls, etc.), it has become increasingly difficult to isolate the information that is most pertinent to your case and to focus your review efforts on those documents. Document-by-document manual review is no longer economically feasible; moreover, the time it requires can quickly compromise counsel’s ability to construct an early case strategy and respond to discovery requests, particularly in short-fused regulatory matters. Advanced analytical tools can help conduct a more targeted, focused review effort.

2. Stay current on the latest e-discovery tools.
Total legal spend on an e-discovery project can be a direct function of the tools and technology used to control the size of the project and the speed with which the legal team may navigate through data. For instance, deduplication can shrink data sets, while e-mail analytics can evaluate patterns in data. These tools help only when counsel are aware of their benefits, are not afraid to implement them and know how to use them effectively.

3. Embrace technology-assisted review (TAR).
Machines will never replace lawyers, and lawyers should embrace machine-learning techniques such as technology-assisted review, which automate parts of the document review process and leverage human input. Technology-assisted review isn’t a silver bullet; even with its advanced search and prioritization capabilities, the discovery process still relies on “human intuition” about the value of documents, including human input into coding decisions and expert guidance (i.e., from statisticians and linguists) in determining sample sizes and keywords to optimize the quality and efficacy of the process and results.

4. Understand your e-discovery provider’s capabilities and data security measures.
Organizations can manage risk only when their data is secure. Therefore, counsel should have a comprehensive understanding of their e-discovery service providers’ security measures. Does the platform limit the number of users? What is its capacity? How many different user groups does it allow for? Does it restrict their access to certain documents? Are IP addresses allowed to access data limited in order to avoid revealing confidential data in public places?

5. Solve the metadata puzzle.
No, I’m not talking about the National Security Agency’s collection of metadata from calls made by tens of millions of Verizon customers. Rather, I’m talking about those blank documents in your data set that you may be wondering about. They may result from unique client metadata fields that go unread by the e-discovery software you are using. For example, if an organization allows employees to self-encrypt e-mails, the encryption process creates an extra metadata field that will appear blank unless the vendor searches for the field and obtains the password from the client.

6. Harness the power of video.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video is priceless. E-discovery specialists can help bolster claims and defenses by helping clients focus on pertinent terms and other elements of video files using advanced audio indexing capabilities.

Remember, time is money – and these tips related to e-discovery’s current big-picture trends could help corporate counsel accelerate e-discovery, manage risk and reduce costs.

Gabriela P. Baron is senior vice president at Conduent. She can be reached at info@conduent.com.

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