The Datum Legal - Integreon Merger: The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Monday, September 1, 2008 - 01:00

The Editor interviews Chris Egan, Senior Vice President of Discovery Solutions, Integreon Managed Solutions, Inc.

Editor: Would you tell our readers something about your professional background?

Egan: I have worked in litigation support and discovery solutions since 1997. I was the founder and CEO of Datum Legal, Inc., which merged with Integreon in June of this year. My experience centers on helping corporate law departments as well as law firms to develop e-discovery processing, hosting and data production solutions.

Editor: Please tell us about the merger with Integreon.

Egan: Datum Legal merged with Integreon so that we could offer a broader scope of e-discovery solutions. Datum was particularly interested in Integreon's responsive and privilege review by lawyers; Integreon was particularly interested in our best-of-breed approach to EDD tools and our use of several leading edge advanced analytic systems. Together, we are able to offer an integrated discovery management approach with end-to-end services that simplifies EDD management and makes its cost predictable. Integreon previously offered discovery services from its NYC office; we have already combined operations at Datum's original location, near Grand Central Station. My new role is to run the combined organization's e-discovery solutions, including data processing, hosting and production services.

Editor: Please tell us about your clients and the services that the newly merged company offers.

Egan: Our clients are mainly Fortune 1000 companies and AMLAW 200 firms. In addition to the EDD services I just mentioned, Integreon also provides other services for corporate law departments. We help companies with contract drafting and management, due diligence, and legal research and drafting. These services are often referred to as "legal process outsourcing" (LPO). Though legal outsourcing is relatively new, "knowledge outsourcing" has been around for quite some time. Integreon is a "knowledge process outsourcing" (KPO) company that provides knowledge support for a wide range of professionals. Our knowledge services include research and analytic services and professional document services. This means everything from equity analysis and market research to word processing and presentation graphics.

Editor: What makes Integreon different from other legal process outsourcers?

Egan: Integreon is unusual in being both a legal and knowledge process outsourcing company. This should help make law departments comfortable with outsourcing because Integreon has been serving investment bankers and other professionals for a decade. From this experience, we have learned how to meet security, confidentiality, and service requirements of demanding professionals. Integreon is also unusual in having what we call a "global delivery platform." We have "delivery centers" in Mumbai, Guargon (near New Delhi), Manila, Fargo (North Dakota), and New York City. Beyond providing business continuity advantages, our multiple locations mean that our customers can tap a wide range of talent pools and hedge against changes in exchange and inflation rates. What this means for general counsel is that we can offer dual-shore services - depending on a range of factors from cost, to turnaround time, to volume, we can help our customers select the best combination of locations to do their work.

Editor: Many of our readers are concerned about the challenges of e-discovery. You mentioned "integrated discovery services." What does that mean and why is it important?

Egan: Integrated discovery services are important because they offer a more predictable process and are easier to manage. We've recently launched a service called Doctane, which allows us to combine on- or off-shore human review with best-in-breed e-discovery technology. Doctane takes care of e-discovery from start to finish, with a single point of contact. Moreover, we offer Doctane at a fixed price per document, which means general counsel can predict their legal spend. We coordinate with the client in the development of a plan to collect, preserve, process, review and produce data in one seamless cost-effective solution. We advise clients on the best technology to use and work with them to determine the best locations for privilege and responsiveness review.

Editor: Can you expand on your on-shore and off-shore document review solutions?Egan: Our documents review services in New York City, Fargo, Mumbai, Guargon, and Manila employ hundreds of lawyers who have the experience and expertise to manage small, medium and large privilege and responsiveness reviews. With our multi-shore approach, we can offer general counsel the best mix of locations for their matters. More and more law departments find the off-shore option attractive. First, it can save up to 50 percent of cost of on-shore review. And second, for our offshore lawyers, document review is a sought-after career with long-term potential. That means we can retain lawyers for extended periods and they can learn about a single client and the issues common across related litigation. In contrast, we find that in many onshore reviews, it is hard to retain U.S. contract lawyers across projects.

Editor: How does the Doctane fixed price solution work?

Egan: As I mentioned, Doctane is an end-to-end discovery solution with a fixed price per document. We work with the client to understand the document collection size and complexity, timing requirements, and case strategy. Based on these and other factors, we suggest the right technology and mix of on- and off-shore resources. We then work in real time with our client on our Doctane price calculator, a tool that factors in many inputs to determine the fixed price. The price calculation incorporates not just the relative labor rates of lawyers in different locations, but it also factors in the cost of the review tool selected, and estimates how many documents to expect per gigabyte of data. All this means clients can count on a certain budget. This is in marked contrast to retaining multiple vendors, each seeking to maximize the fees they charge for their particular piece of the project. Moving from multiple vendors to a single one also reduces both the cost and risk of duplicating services.

Editor: What do you recommend your clients do to help contain discovery costs?

Egan: We offer in-depth e-discovery expertise. Nonetheless, we encourage our clients to keep up on EDD developments, both in technology and the rules. Each software solution has its own set of advantages. The right tool depends on case requirements. For example, documents being reviewed for a regulatory inquiry may require a very different approach from a review for a products liability litigation. Review of time frames, production schedules, and the manner of production may vary considerably. We advise clients on these nuances but if they are already educated about the options and trade-offs, we can reach the best decision.

Editor: You have been in the industry for quite some time. What are your thoughts about the future of this industry and what trends we might see over the next few years.

Egan: To the extent that software can reduce data volumes and use search or clustering technology to speed review times, lawyers can reduce EDD costs. But human review will be necessary for the foreseeable future. Lawyers will need constantly to tune the discovery process to get the best and most cost-effective mix of technology and human resources. This will mean working closely with vendor partners that understand and use a wide range of the best technology. By retaining the right vendor partners, lawyers can more easily keep up with the latest developments and get advice on the best technology and human review options.

Editor: How about the relationship within the company between corporate counsel and the IT people? What do you do to encourage the communication and the coordination of those two groups?

Egan: I think it is essential to get everyone into the same room. Communication is precisely the right word. Because of our experience, we understand what corporate counsel is talking about from a legal perspective, and our IT teams understand from a technology perspective what is feasible within the organization. Every enterprise is different, but in our experience a company where these two groups communicate in an ongoing manner is one that will have a better chance of navigating some difficult seas, as opposed to a company where there is little or no communication between them. Needless to say, it is part of our mission to try to encourage that communication.

Please email the interviewee at chris.egan@integreon.com with questions about this interview.