For both in-house counsel and outside counsel, external litigation support vendors can act as an extension of their own legal department, creating extra value and a competitive edge for clients.
Here are the major areas where an eDiscovery provider must show they are up to par:
Alternative Fee Arrangements
Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) are now common between outside counsel and their in-house clients. These AFAs can take many forms, from fixed fees to value-based fees. For the purposes of this article let’s concentrate mainly on fixed fees.
Predictability for cash flow and budgeting are attractive elements of a fixed fee structure. This is useful for managing partners looking for ways to avoid a large and unexpected bill and also a great way for General Counsel to minimize their spend and bring predictability to a corporate spend that is usually a unpredictable and draining.
Fixed fees place the onus for efficiency on the eDiscovery provider. This causes them to find ways to become more efficient with cases while making sure to live up to their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This focus on efficiency leads to innovation like repurposing the same data across multiple cases.
Another great benefit of fixed fees for counsel is that they can treat every case as if it may go to trial. Even small cases can be sent to counsel’s provider and handled with the same expertise and seriousness as their largest cases, ensuring that legal and business decisions govern the merits of a case, and not discovery fees.
Flexible Line of Products
Whether dealing with eDiscovery, IT or even the latest home gadget, we have all been frustrated when a product we have invested in becomes obsolete seemingly overnight. Even the most powerful proprietary platforms of today can have problems or limitations tomorrow.
If you have signed a long term deal with a provider who relies on one single platform, you are quite frankly stuck, just the same as they are. Conversely, if you have signed a long-term deal with a provider who is constantly evaluating and adopting best-in-breed technologies, you have the flexibility and scalability to handle cases in the most efficient manner possible.
Additionally, not every case is the same and not every case can benefit from the same tools. It is critical that a provider be able to “put the Legos” together for a unique circumstance and provide a uniquely suitable solution. This cannot be done by providers who offer only one solution or by legal departments who with limited staff and solutions.
Certainly, having options in life is nice – and eDiscovery is no exception. Actually, options in eDiscovery are a necessity these days!
High Degree of Expertise
Having all of the tools in the world and all of the creative pricing that comes with them is great. But all of that is for naught, if a provider does not have the right people to back it all up. It is about people just as much as it is about technology and process.
According to Richard Saldivar, Principal/TERIS, “How can you tell how good Provider A’s project managers will be in a given case? You need intrinsic evidence. Ask your provider for a representative client list and references from those clients. Ask your provider for a test project with all the trimmings.”
Only counsel who has dealt directly with the provider can give you the real story.
If you would like more information about eDiscovery or how TERIS solutions can assist you, please contact us!