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E-discovery powers up legal processes

This article appears in the issue July/August 2015, [Volume 24, Issue 7]
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Several trends are contributing to strong growth in the e-discovery market, including the ever increasing amount of litigation, greater volumes of data and a move toward adding in-house e-discovery capabilities. According to The Radicati Group, the worldwide market will grow to $3.7 billion by 2017, showing an average growth rate of 28 percent per year from 2013-2017. “In addition to a group of large e-discovery vendors,” says Sara Radicati, president of The Radicati Group, “many smaller vendors have products that are working well for their customers, and there is also room for new entrants that improve performance or address specific needs.”

Each product has particular strengths, and that wide array offers options that can be used very selectively or in conjunction with each other to meet a company’s goals. In business for over 60 years, Trans-

Canada PipeLines provides gas transportation and storage, as well as energy generation. TransCanada had been using manual methods for legal holds until just a few years ago. Legal holds are required when a company might reasonably expect litigation and therefore should not delete information that might be relevant to the litigation.

“Our litigation footprint was small,” says Dawn Radcliffe, manager, discovery and legal services at TransCanada, “but it was a painful process to use Excel spreadsheets and manual tracking for our legal holds. We wanted an automated solution.”

The company looked at software solutions from a full range of vendors of all sizes. “We wanted something that could be up and running quickly, as well as being easy to use,” Radcliffe says. After narrowing the field to a short list based on responses to an RFP, TransCanada selected Legal Hold Pro from Zapproved. “In addition to meeting our requirements, Legal Hold Pro had a straightforward pricing model,” Radcliffe explains.

Zapproved helped the company set up templates for the system and populated the database with the contact information for employees who are custodians of data. “We found Zapproved to be very supportive,” Radcliffe says. “They know their system inside and out, and it is very rare that they cannot help us right on the spot. We also like their user conferences because we can meet with other customers and learn best practices so we can improve our processes.”

The benefits

Now that the legal hold solution is in place, TransCanada uses the system to track the information and people affected, automate the interviews with custodians, send reminders and release holds when appropriate. “We also use it to check the information of terminated employees to see if it might be subject to hold, and review responses from custodians so we know what our collection plan should be,” Radcliffe adds. The company has a much stronger handle on the status of each legal hold.

Managing legal hold helps minimize the risk of financial and other court sanctions for failing to preserve data. “If you get preservation right, you can manage costs down the line too,” says Carolyn Casey, director of product marketing at Zapproved. Data is scattered throughout companies and has become progressively more difficult to manage. “Companies are dealing with big data, data in shared repositories such as Box.com, data on mobile devices and so on,” continues Casey. “People tend to keep everything. When legal hold is used effectively, companies can meet their preservation duties, then do targeted collections as needed in the case. Good hold process plus targeted collections can significantly reduce the amount of information that must be reviewed by attorneys, which accounts for 70 percent of e-discovery costs.”

Another value proposition in using an automated legal hold solution that is integrated with collections and first-pass review is the ability to repurpose a collection. “If a pharmaceutical company is investigated by the Department of Justice for a problem with a new drug, it may then go to the state level where patients who became sick might sue the company,” Casey explains. The same collection and review tagging could be used again by adding only the incremental data generated since the original one. “Our vision is for companies to use our cloud offerings to centralize all this data in one place for efficient reuse and risk management,” she says.

As a cloud product, Legal Hold Pro is quick and easy to launch, and is updated frequently. “There is no burden on the IT staff for software maintenance,” says Casey. “In addition, since we use Amazon Web Services as our cloud provider, the changing storage and computing needs of our clients can be accommodated easily.”

Technology-assisted review

Once a set of documents is located that may be responsive to the e-discovery request, it needs to be searched. The effective use of human skills in conjunction with computer capabilities is a key ingredient in winnowing down the volume of data that needs to be reviewed by attorneys or other legal professionals. Technology-assisted review (TAR), also called predictive coding, is a method for training a computer to spot documents that may be relevant and distinguish them from those that are not.

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