Editor: Which areas of technology within the legal community have proven to be useful in saving costs?
Weaver: Many of us individually did not start seeing the effects of this economic downturn until 2008. Yet, corporate legal and insurance claims departments began seeing it in early 2007. Since that time, many clients have frozen law firm rates and negotiated alternative fee arrangements - the most popular being flat fee arrangements. From speaking with clients, however, none are quite sold on the flat fee arrangements or any other alternative arrangement. However, all clients discuss how electronic billing has proven to be the most cost-effective method for reducing LegalSpend. They explain that not only is it cost-effective, but being able to report on the data disseminated allows them to define better, more efficient ways of managing cases.
One key value clients are getting from the reporting is that they now are pushing aggressive early case assessment in an effort to shorten the litigation life cycle. They want their law firms to look at managing cases akin to managing projects: define timelines and case goals.
Clients are starting to look at other expenses, such as court reporting, e-discovery, and photocopying services, to gain further cost savings. TrialNet created a service called VendorConnect. With this service, we developed expense codes for outside vendors to use to process invoices. These codes ensure compliance with rates quoted for every single component of the services they offer. In the first year of rolling out this program for court reporting, our pilot client saved over $346,000 in court-reporting fees - a greater than 16 percent savings for this client. Now that the data is disseminated, the client gained even further cost savings by enforcing new ways for their law firms to schedule and manage the court-reporting process.
We are truly moving into the next evolution of the LegalSpend cost-containment process.
Gaines: With the explosive growth of ESI, organizations are experiencing skyrocketing eDiscovery costs and sanctions associated with information gathering and the manual review of large record volumes by attorneys.
The cost of eDiscovery systems and the concerns surrounding the reliability of automated document analytics have prevented in-house adoption of this technology. Today, the reliability of analytics technology is comparable to manual attorney review, but the cost of entry remains high.
Micro Strategies has changed this landscape with the introduction of its "plug-in," state-of-the-art, full-scope eDiscovery Appliance. eDiscovery Appliance can crawl network files and email systems, ingest records and emails, manage the eDiscovery process, perform state-of-the art document analytics for relevancy, place holds on ingested records, and produce relevant records on DVD for submittal - with redaction and Bates Numbering on every page. And it can pay for itself in a single, relatively small case - such as a wrongful termination.
eDiscovery Appliance is attorney friendly and intuitive, making it possible for attorneys to perform eDiscovery management and analytics with minimal training.
Having successfully utilized the technology in an active federal litigation, Michele Martin, counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell states that "we are capable of accomplishing in days what the defendant didn't accomplish in two years. Utilizing this technology, we were able to:
Rapidly locate evidence supportive of our plaintiffs' case from a tremendous volume of relevant but unimportant information;
Evaluate the quality of the defendant's production by identifying the relevant documents in our possession that were not produced by the defendant; and
Evaluate content and social networks found in the production, and uncover valuable witnesses who had not been previously identified."
Organizations can now dramatically reduce the cost of eDiscovery and record production with Micro Strategies' eDiscovery Appliance.