The development and use of technology in the legal industry are moving at break-neck speed. Technologies are changing, and thus, the sources of data are constantly evolving as well. Email was once the most common form of electronic evidence. Although it is still vital evidence, it is imperative to know what you have beyond email in legal, investigative and compliance matters.
It’s no secret that many lawyers have not been the most tech-savvy practitioners or users of technology. But at the same time, lawyers are being asked –and in some jurisdictions mandated—to abreast of changes in technology in order to continue offering competent legal representation to clients.
One way to do that is to hire an e-discovery professional to help manage the sometimes technical and often complicated processes that lead to successful client outcomes.
Having trained e-discovery professionals at your firm will pay dividends over time, not just in terms of client service but also in terms of contributions to the firm’s bottom line.
Think back to the times when paralegals were considered by many to be overhead at firms. That’s right, many clients would not pay for the “administrative” work that paralegals performed years ago. For many firms, having paralegals was table stakes—firms needed them to get client work done, but clients would not pay for their time.
That has changed, and today paralegals are among the most valuable assets a law firm can have. Not only do they perform essential work, but they often perform many legal tasks at much lower rates than lawyers. And paralegals are often very profitable.
It is the same for e-discovery professionals. The difference is that instead of drafting a motion, preparing legal documents, gathering discovery materials, or filing a claim, e-discovery professionals are:
- Consulting on processes and technologies that enhance the legal process,
- Help lawyers get to the evidence they need, and
- Help manage the risks and costs associated with managing electronic evidence.
Having skilled e-discovery professionals on staff at your firm, or even engaging professional service providers who offer trained e-discovery professionals, will enable you to:
- Understand a client’s IT systems and the potentially disparate sources of data that may be relevant to a legal matter;
- Identify the key custodians who may possess or control relevant information;
- Use proper techniques for collecting and processing the relevant data for use by lawyers and experts;
- Find cost-effective solutions for filtering, culling, sorting, and reviewing what can often be extensive collections of electronic documents; and
- Utilize the best methodologies for exchanging relevant data with other parties and preparing for trial.
Without a doubt, some firms have junior lawyers or paralegals who can perform some of these functions. But do they have the requisite training? Is managing data related to litigation or an investigation the best or most productive use of their time?
Trained e-discovery professionals, like those who have completed the ACEDS Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) certification, should be employed at every firm or organization that is dealing with the need to collect, process, review and produce electronic information.
This is the new table stakes in managing data related to legal matters.