Saturday, September 06, 2008

Using Legal Offshoring to Reduce Costs in e-discovery

The following comments are excerpted from a Metropolitan Counsel piece titled, "General Counsel Take Note: The E-Discovery Process Continues To Evolve". The piece interviewed Brandon Daniels, Co-Head of Legal Process Consulting, CPA Legal Services, Rob Hellewell, Senior Director, LexisNexis Applied Discovery, and Edward H. Rippey, Partner and Co-Chair of EDiscovery Practice Group, Covington & Burling LLP.

"... An[other] option that companies employ to reduce e-discovery costs is the offshore option. There are great benefits available through offshoring, but there are risks as well. This is a very competitive arena, and there are a great many start-up companies in the business that simply lack the infrastructure to protect the intellectual property of their clients. While this risk exists in the U.S. as well, it is of particular concern offshore. It is important for a company to know with whom they are dealing and to have confidence in their data security systems.

Another issue that is of some concern when dealing with an offshore service provider in this area is, of course, the quality of the staff. Even in India or the Philippines, where the standard of English is very high, the attorneys hired to handle the discovery process may lack the requisite experience to properly assess the materials they are reviewing. It is important to know something about them – their educational qualifications and how they are recruited, what the workplace environment is like and howthey are managed – and whether there are cultural differences that might influence the review process.

A third issue that is important in the offshore context is financial stability. Very often that is an important indicator of whether the enterprise has done good work for its clients in the past and will be there for them in the future. You do not want to be in the middle of a review facing a production deadline and learn that the offshore provider has run out of money and cannot meet payroll."

Rippey added, "What Brandon has said about offshoring gaining legitimacy over the past three years or so is absolutely correct. And companies are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to conducting a review. The firstline review might be offshore, and the second handled by associates at their U.S. outside counsel. And as this development proceeds, I believe that an increasing number of companies understand that the low bid provider is not automatically going to be the best one to retain. Cost is a factor that is central to this issue, but service is now recognized as equally important, if not more so."