As eDiscovery becomes more complex, organizations are turning to hybrid solutions that give them the flexibility to scale projects up or down as needed. Hybrid solutions offer the best of both worlds: the ability to use self-service for small matters or full-service for large and complex matters. This flexibility is essential in today's litigation landscape, where the volume and complexity of data can change rapidly. Hybrid solutions give organizations the agility to respond quickly and effectively to changing eDiscovery needs.
In a recent webinar, I discussed hybrid eDiscovery solutions with Jennifer Allen, eDiscovery Case Manager at Meta, and Justin Van Alstyne, Senior Corporate Counsel, Discovery and Information Governance at T-Mobile. We explored some of the most pressing eDiscovery challenges, including data complexity, staffing, and implementation. We also discussed scenarios that require flexible solutions, keys to implementing new technology, and the future of eDiscovery solutions. Here are my key takeaways from our conversation.
Current eDiscovery challenges
A hybrid approach can transition between an internally managed solution and a full-service solution, depending on the nuances and unique challenges of the matter. This type of solution can be beneficial in situations where the exact needs of the case are not known at the outset.
A few challenges come into play when deciding your approach to a project:
- Data volume: When dealing with large data sets, being able to scale is critical. If the data for a matter balloons beyond the capacity of an internal team, having experts available is critical to avoid any disruptions in workflows or errors.
- Data predictability: When it comes to analyzing data, consistency and predictability can greatly inform your approach to analysis. Standard data allows for more flexibility, as there is an expectation that the results will fall within a certain range. However, to ensure accurate representation, caution must be exercised when dealing with complicated big data. It is important to consider variables, potential outliers, and how the data is compiled and presented.
- Internal capacity: It's important to monitor and manage the internal workload of your team closely. When everyone is already at their maximum capacity, it can be tempting to outsource various tasks to a full-service project manager. Technology can be a more cost-effective and efficient method for filling the gaps.
The right talent and knowledge
Finding and utilizing the right team in today's competitive labor market can be difficult. A hybrid solution can help with this by providing a scalable way to get the most out of your workforce.
With a hybrid solution, you have the option to staff fewer technical positions and provide training on the data or matters your organization most frequently encounters with your existing team. But, if you have a highly complicated data source, you can still staff an expert who knows how to handle that data. An expert can shepherd the data into a solution, do extensive quality control to ensure that you marry up the family relationships correctly, and give confidence that you're not making a mistake.
To assuage concerns about the solution being misused, technology partners can provide training and education, and limit access to who can create, edit, or delete projects within the tool. This training helps to upskill your team by teaching them more advanced technology, which leads to more efficient and sophisticated approaches to matters.
Flexible solutions for different matters
A hybrid solution can be a great option for a variety of matters, including internal investigations, enforcement matters, third-party subpoenas, and case assessments. These matters can benefit from the flexibility and scalability provided by a hybrid approach.
When determining if a matter needs full-service treatment, it's important to consider the specific requirements at hand. Questions around the volume and frequency of data production, the types of data involved, and the necessary metadata and tagging all play a role in determining if a self-service approach will suffice or if full-service support is needed. It's always important to consider the timeline and potential challenges during the transition. Using experience with similar cases can provide valuable insight into what might work best in your situation.
Keys for implementing eDiscovery solutions
There are a few critical components to keep in mind when evaluating which eDiscovery solutions and tools are right for your business now, and as it grows.
Training team: With any new solution or product there may be some trepidation around learning and adoption. Leverage vendor support to answer your questions and help train your team. Keep them involved in your communications with outside counsel and internal teams so you can receive suggestions and assistance if needed. As users get more experience with the software, they will begin to feel empowered and understand how the tool can be used most effectively.
Scalability: One of the most significant hurdles to scaling big eDiscovery projects is the amount of data that needs to be processed. With new data sources, tighter deadlines, and more urgency, it can be difficult to keep up with the demand. Using a fully manual process or a project management solution has a greater chance for error or increased cost. A flexible solution can help your team keep up with increasing data volumes while reducing costs and errors.
Automation: Automating repetitive tasks and workflows can dramatically speed up data collection and analysis. This can be a huge advantage when investigating large, complex cases. Additionally, automation can help to ensure that data is collected and parsed consistently.
Cost-benefit analysis: Through support and training with a self-service tool, you can work to reduce the number of support requests. This can minimize the time your team spends on each request and ultimately lowers the cost of providing support. The cost reduction of self-service tools is often substantial, and it can have a positive snowball effect as your team becomes more skilled at the task. You can reinvest those savings into other business areas with less need for oversight and fewer mistakes.
The future state of eDiscovery solutions
The proliferation of DIY eDiscovery solutions has made it easier for organizations to take control of their data and manage their cases in-house. As AI technology, including continuous active learning (CAL) and technology-assisted review (TAR), continues to evolve, teams will better understand how to handle the growing demands of data and implement hybrid tools. As we move into the future of eDiscovery and legal technology, DIY models will play an increasingly important role in supporting business needs.