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E-discovery: What metrics reveal

This article appears in the issue September/October 2019 [Volume 28, Issue 5]
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Scaling back to cut costs

Clients are becoming much more sophisticated in knowing what metrics are available, and their expectations are higher, according to Edward Burke, SVP for document review services at EpiqGlobal. “Defensibility and reasonableness are among the criteria that can be documented by metrics,” Burke said. “In addition, with the advances in review technology, filters can be used to bring down the large quantities of documents by 60%–80%. Limiting the data pool goes a long way toward limiting costs and improving results.”

Epiq provides legal services to law firms, corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies. Its e-discovery services include collection, processing, hosting, and managed document review. Epiq also builds custom solutions on a variety of e-discovery platforms. “Today’s software tools offer a lot of power,” said Burke, “such as being able to look at data structurally—is someone emailing an individual but there is no produced data from the recipient, for example? Or are there patterns in the data that reveal key information?” If the software has email threading, one reviewer can cover multiple related emails, bringing down the volume anywhere from 10%–30%. “Metrics can justify an investment in software with significant cost-saving and process improvement features,” he concluded.

Integrating and analyzing for the big picture

While many e-discovery platforms have analytics as one of their embedded features, Spotlight from Inventus is a business analytics dashboard developed as a standalone product for e-discovery metrics. It provides metrics on data volumes, characteristics of documents in review, and costs, among other measures. The company also offers other solutions related to e-discovery—M3, a multi-matter management solution; Luminosity, a discovery management platform; and InVerito, an early case assessment tool.

Spotlight was developed to analyze data from Inventus’s software tools as a result of client interest in gaining insight into their processes. “Spotlight has connectors to many e-discovery platforms, including Relativity,” said Alisa McLellan, a lawyer and senior director of project management, “and it can generate metrics in real time. It can also ingest data from other vendors’ systems. Clients like the interface, and can see the progress of a case based on input from a variety of data sources.”

The ability of Spotlight’s analytics to bring reporting from multiple sources into one place is a significant advantage, since otherwise that task would need to be done manually or through custom-developed software. “Also, some of the reporting available in the e-discovery platforms is not as user-friendly as that offered in Spotlight,” observed McLellan.

Corporate clients use the information while a case is in progress and also to generate quarterly or annual budgets. “Companies want to get a handle on their e-discovery spend,” McLellan added. “When new litigation comes in, they want to know what costs to expect and get a cost-benefit analysis that will help them decide whether to proceed with litigation or settle.”

Strategic planning for e-discovery

For organizations that want to get a long-term perspective, working with a consulting company that has expertise in e-discovery can prove beneficial in determining top priority metrics, among other things. “The best place to start is by identifying what questions your organization would like to answer,” says Kelly Twigger, principal and founder of ESI Attorneys. “The question might relate to ways of reducing storage costs, or to ways of improving workflow. A lot more information is available than people realize, but they are not necessarily asking the right questions.” ESI Attorneys takes an advisory, vendor-agnostic role in helping companies assess their legal and e-discovery needs, both immediate and long-term.

The combination of legal, business, and technology insight that ESI Attorneys provides is beneficial to companies that want to take a strategic look at their e-discovery process. “Although we readily assist in individual cases,” noted Twigger, “the best way for us to engage is operationally, looking at the big picture. The metrics we gather allow for more of a framework for our clients, who can get a better handle on both the volume and complexity of the information associated with their cases.”

Two issues get in the way of managing metrics, according to Twigger. She agrees with others that taking the time to step back can be a problem for many organizations. In addition, accessing different systems from which metrics can be derived can be difficult. “Neither enterprise systems nor e-discovery systems make it easy to pull metrics out; we often create tools for clients to enable them to get the aggregated metrics they need.”

Having a data-driven approach to decision making removes a lot of the subjectivity and allows for better predictions. With predictive information on data volumes and time, organizations can plan for the required storage or for obtaining review resources. A close look at the nature of the documents that are collected and reviewed can lead to better strategies for information management during e-discovery. Finally, knowing the cost savings that different technologies provide helps justify future investments that can expedite processes and improve quality.

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