How Unified, Cloud-Based Legal Repositories And Process Innovation Are Driving eDiscovery Efficiencies - Part I

Sunday, April 3, 2011 - 01:00

Iron Mountain, NYSE symbol IRM, is a world leader in information management services, assisting more than 140,000 organizations in 39 countries on five continents with storing, protecting and managing their information. The following is the first of two reports based on a webinar presented on January 27, 2011 by David Bayer and Sanjeev Srivastav .

Directed to corporations and their law firms, this webinar presented how to combine cloud-based repositories, technology and processes to drive down legal costs and increase eDiscovery efficiencies. The speakers discussed how unified legal repositories address both preservation and legal review challenges, especially in light of the reuse documents and legal work product across matters. Part I provides a substantive introduction to issues and solutions, and Part II will address policy and security management issues and Iron Mountain's state-of-the-art solutions.

Background, Context And Unified Repository Benefits

eDiscovery is increasingly being treated as a critical business process by corporate legal departments and their law firms, which are demanding defensible, secure and cost-effective eDiscovery in response to changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and ongoing technology advances,

To meet these calls for a more proactive approach to eDiscovery, Iron Mountain (http://www.ironmountain.com/ediscovery/early-case-assessment.html) recently introduced unified legal repository capabilities to the Iron Mountain Legal Discovery hosted review platform. A unified legal repository provides corporate legal departments consolidated access to legally pertinent documents, the ability to leverage and repurpose legal work product across matters and a highly efficient document review process.

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) was developed in a world that was based on reactive eDiscovery processes that needed to be duplicated each time a matter arose, and for which corporate legal departments quite often depended on third-party eDiscovery collection, processing, review and production vendors.

Clients have been driving a real shift in the market to increase efficiencies through automation and integration in order to moderate eDiscovery cost fluctuations and increase predictability over the course of the year. Recognizing eDiscovery as an integrated business process, corporate clients are looking to simplify both embedded processes as well as the overall discovery workflow.They expect that managing document retention policies and legal holds will be increasingly automated.Expectations for these improvements only increase with complex litigations involving serial custodians over time.

The transformation of eDiscovery into a proactive business process places eDiscovery at the center of corporate governance and workflow, especially in larger corporations with significant regulatory investigations, compliance requirements and litigation demands. Unified legal repositories are a critical tool for corporate legal departments to drive efficiencies, manage costs and achieve greater predictability, since at any given time a corporation may be managing a stream of litigation - initially non-aggregated or serial litigations that often involve data from serial custodians across various matters. With the right technology they can identify relevant work product and documents from one matter for use in subsequent matters.

Iron Mountain Legal Discovery creates a unified legal repository that enables legal departments to process documents once, to identify duplicate documents globally in an ongoing fashion, to securely share documents and to allow reuse of legal work product across multiple matters. The ability to partition a large data repository - with the legal departments having direct access to the repository to extract just the documents that are needed and making them available in a secured manner - becomes especially critical in large complex matters with time-sensitive discovery demands. Furthermore, work product can be shared across matters in real time or per a scheduled synchronization schedule. This capability also acts to reduce the time and cost of creating productions.

In summary, a unified legal repository that can aggregate data from multiple custodians across matters offers the ability to securely share documents and reuse legal work product, drive down costs, and create review workflow efficiencies. At the same time, unified legal repositories provide a user-friendly environment that is designed to scale and to be able to handle complex matters and the sheer volume of work in corporate legal departments.

Examples Of Data Gone Wild

Three situations in which clients turned to a unified legal repository with great success can illustrate the benefits of taking a proactive, organizational approach to discovery.

The first example is a multinational pharmaceutical client dealing with numerous regulatory investigations, which involved over six million documents and about 1.4 terabytes of data across three large databases and four concurrent matters. This situation evolved over a three-year period - originating from a long-running matter and investigation in which they invested a great deal of time and money to generate work product and evidence productions. Further complicating the situation, they later had to respond to new document production requests under a compressed timeframe that involved collecting and normalizing work product from the various ongoing matters, and from additional new sources and locations.

Our second example is a large, national financial institution managing multiple mortgage-backed securities investigations - not surprising, given the elements of our recent economic crisis. They needed to combine 15 million documents from an earlier matter with large volumes of additional data, ultimately creating a database consisting of over 24 million documents and 2.5 terabytes of reviewable data. Because the documents were relevant for over a dozen different litigations, each managed by a different law firm, they faced both the challenges of ensuring global de-duplication and the pressure to leverage the most up-to-date review technologies without compromising review efficiencies needed for each separate review team - all without incurring prohibitive reprocessing costs.

In both situations, a unified legal repository allowed these enterprise clients to efficiently manage multiple data sets with advanced technologies while leveraging their pre-existing investments in time and resources. However, as we will see, a proactive approach to eDiscovery involves more than review technology or unified legal repository architecture. It depends critically on business processes that integrate information management with broader organizational imperatives.

Our final example involves an international investment bank that was subject to large numbers of fiscal and regulatory investigations. The sheer numbers alone drove the decision: 9.2 million documents constituting 3+ terabytes of data reduced from an original raw data set of 30 terabytes, pertaining to over 35 concurrent matters of varying complexity managed across over 50 databases, quickly established the clear need for a unified legal repository to manage and support these investigations. All this information needed to be distilled, managed and delivered to multiple review teams and individual attorneys, while each document that was being reviewed was tracked.

A critical challenge for attorneys managing this matter was to leverage granular access control policies across the repository to manage privilege documents, redactions, clawbacks, etc. as part of multiple, very large productions to the government. If the client had chosen traditional methods of identifying and producing documents, it would never have met its timelines.

Solving The Problem: Processes And Key Requirements

Clients consistently report that attorney billable review time is responsible for the majority of eDiscovery costs. Yet too often the focus is on technology and processing costs to the detriment of figuring out how we can increase review efficiencies overall across matters. Real efficiencies must reach beyond filtering or processing documents to the key impact of information management and review across multiple matters.

As we tackle preservation and legal review, we need not only to make the review process as efficient and accurate as possible within a single matter but also to create additional efficiencies in subsequent matters. Let's focus on some key elements of legal repositories that address these issues.

At the front end of eDiscovery, it is critical to ensure that the data extraction and ingestion process is defensible and auditable and that files and metadata are correctly preserved, with all processing exceptions accurately logged. This demands a high level of rigor and control as data is incorporated into the repository, maintaining a transparent audit trail to ensure defensibility. Traditionally, eDiscovery data processing was matter specific; in order to reuse it on another matter, data was reprocessed and audit trails were repeated. Thus, the first key element of designing a legal repository involves maintaining the original audit trail intact at the first stage of ingesting the data for immediate use while making it available for use in future matters.

Another important element involves designing data repositories for scale. They need to be nimble, but most importantly, they must be accessible so that clients and customers can easily search aggregate data encompassing millions of documents from potentially hundreds of custodians. Customers want a repository with which they can directly interact, without needing to depend on project managers or technical engineers. Transparency and direct access into the unified legal repository are key requirements.

On the flipside, clients don't want a repository system that tries to "boil the ocean" by incorporating every possible review feature, the majority of which are not needed for the identification, collection and staging of data from the repository into individual review matters. Day-to-day administrators want a lean system with which they can view ingested data quickly, easily and in accordance with specific, immediate search parameters. For example, a client might search all emails for "custodian X" within a specific date range, initially to determine data volumes, how many documents were marked privileged and whether any documents were produced previously. This broad identification and assessment feature must be dynamic and responsive; it should not be designed for detailed document review.

Iron Mountain Offers Solutions

Iron Mountain helps corporate legal departments and their law firms efficiently manage information, reduce risk and facilitate the essential transition of corporate eDiscovery into a consistent business process. Iron Mountain's expertise has earned the trust of more than 97 percent of the Fortune 1000 and over 10,000 law firms worldwide. Commitment to helping our customers control costs and improve productivity defines every solution we deliver.

In conclusion, the core objectives for organizations wishing to improve their eDiscovery processes are achieving cost predictability, being proactively prepared for discovery issues before individual matters arise and maintaining secure enterprise information management practices that simplify defensible eDiscovery workflows. The key to implementing a better process is to take a whole new approach, one that moves away from reactive, matter-driven eDiscovery practices and, instead, adopts a proactive approach predicated on systematic governance policies and workflow, in which a unified legal repository can play a key role.

In Part II, we will discuss the dynamics of document management and review, outlining specific services, solutions and technologies offered by Iron Mountain.

David Bayer is the Director of eDiscovery Product Marketing with Iron Mountain. He is responsible for solution marketing activities with advanced information governance and eDiscovery solutions. Mr. Bayer has over 20 years experience in enterprise software with a focus on search, eDiscovery and advanced business analytics. Sanjeev Srivastav is the Vice President of eDiscovery Technology with Iron Mountain. Mr. Srivastav manages eDiscovery operations for the hosted Iron Mountain legal discovery service including eVantage, an on-premises early case assessment appliance. He also has many years of experience managing all aspects of eDiscovery services and is involved in over 1,000 projects covering all aspects of the EDRM framework.

Please email the presenters at david.bayer@ironmountain.com and sanjeev.srivastav@ironmountain.com with questions about this webinar.