Legal Solutions | USA
Law firm Chaffetz Lindsey gains a competitive advantage with ediscovery software
By Brett Burney, Principal of Burney Consultants LLC
When a group of lawyers formed Chaffetz Lindsey in 2009, they saw an opportunity to use the latest technology to be more competitive and lower costs for clients. Past experience taught them that service providers and ediscovery software for managing discovery documents required hefty investments in training, time, and costs.
Doug Gibson, the firm’s Director of Information and Legal Support, was tasked with finding a tool to efficiently process, review, and produce electronically stored information (ESI) collected from clients. When he discovered eDiscovery Point from Thomson Reuters, Doug’s reaction was, “It’s about time someone designed a tool that lawyers can use.”
“It’s about time someone designed a tool that lawyers can use.”
Dir. of Information and Legal Support
JD Anders, Doug Gibson
Now almost 30 lawyers and growing, Chaffetz Lindsey represents sophisticated U.S. and international corporate clients in commercial litigation and arbitration matters. Many of those clients, particularly those not familiar with U.S. litigation, become frustrated by the ediscovery requirements (and costs) imposed on them here in the U.S.
Doug observed that the majority of ediscovery tools on the market today still focused on a “linear” review of documents. “This approach was just too restrictive for matters handled by the firm,” stated Doug.
Diego Guevara, an attorney at Chaffetz Lindsey, criticized linear review as “designed around the assumption that you’ll review an entire data set, which is a rigid and inflexible way of looking at the important information related to your matter. I appreciate that eDiscovery Point allows you to quickly get important insight into your case.”
Diego acknowledges a vital feature of eDiscovery Point where users upload data into a non-chargeable “Pre-Review” staging area to search, assess, and filter data before sending files to the “In Review” section for further scrutiny.“I appreciate that eDiscovery Point allows you to quickly get important insight into your case.” – Diego Guevara, Attorney
The linear approach to document review is “basically indifferent to the cost of an overall litigation matter,” explains Diego, who regularly works with clients to limit discovery costs. “Once you’ve defaulted to a linear review,” noted Diego, “you’ve basically decided that the costs are completely dependent on the number of documents the client has in the case. Using eDiscovery Point gives me more control over the costs of the matter since we can be selective in what data we’re bringing over from the Pre-Review side to the Review side.”
When developing eDiscovery Point, Thomson Reuters invested a lot of time learning how lawyers worked with discovery data and built a tool to work for them rather than against them.
“Definitely a lot of thought went into the interface,” states Diego. “If you have to read a manual to start using a product, then it’s not worth the time. Lawyers don’t have time to read manuals. eDiscovery Point is very Web 2.0 – very slick, very uncluttered.”
JD Anders, another attorney at Chaffetz Lindsey, applauds how eDiscovery Point combines the processing and review tools in one platform, allowing him to conceptually understand data sets much faster. Subtle, yet intuitive product features like this one are just a glimpse at what makes this ediscovery software stand out from competitors.
Doug also emphasized the amount of control over ediscovery processes the firm now enjoys by employing eDiscovery Point. He no longer has to deal with the time-consuming layers of interactivity that were required when working with outside service providers.
For example, Doug recalled it would take one to four days to have data processed when he had to ship data to a vendor and work with a project manager to validate all the parameters. Today, Doug can start uploading PST files as soon as they are delivered to the firm and his lawyers can begin reviewing data within an hour.
Both Diego and JD appreciate getting eyes on client documents much sooner with eDiscovery Point, and they can start loading data as it is received from the client rather than waiting until everything is collected. They can analyze data earlier in the matter, which enables them to proactively advise their clients on strategy and discovery costs.
“[T]he drag and drop of data into eDiscovery Point … is a paradigmatic shift in how we get up and going on a litigation matter at the firm.”
Even the simple fact that the firm can upload data themselves lowers a crucial technical hurdle. Doug Gibson explains that the “drag-and-drop of data into eDiscovery Point, especially for PST files, is a paradigmatic shift in how we get up and going on a litigation matter at the firm.”
Similarly, when outside service providers generated sets of documents for production, it would take 48-72 hours after deliberating over file formats and loading files. With eDiscovery Point, Doug can easily find the marked relevant documents and export a production set within minutes. And instead of physically shipping hard drives to clients and co-counsel, it’s easy to share data collections with outside users directly from eDiscovery Point. According to Doug, the firm can share access of eDiscovery Point with the client because of its friendly interface and search mechanisms. “The collaboration space is something we would have never done before, but because of eDiscovery Point’s security and ease-of-use, communicating with clients has become so much easier.”
Another unique feature in eDiscovery Point is the ability to display folder structures. Instead of a list of messages or files linked to unwieldy file paths, eDiscovery Point displays the actual folders of a mailbox or file share. This allows the lawyers to immediately identify nonresponsive folders (e.g. “Vacation Plans”) so they can avoid wasting time reviewing them.
Doug reports the firm’s lawyers are delighted with this feature because it more closely approximates the way many clients store and organize their data. The lawyers view these folders in the Pre-Review stage of eDiscovery Point to determine exactly what data to pull into Review.
Searching is also straightforward in eDiscovery Point since the platform utilizes syntax similar to Westlaw, the Thomson Reuters advanced legal research platform already in use at Chaffetz Lindsey. No additional training is necessary because the lawyers already know how to search for legal documents and court opinions. In Doug’s opinion, this means lawyers are more confident in their search results when reviewing documents in eDiscovery Point.
Chaffetz Lindsey also appreciates that Thomson Reuters offers services from data validation to document review that they can use when an extra set of hands or additional expertise is needed.
Doug is extremely complimentary of the Case Manager Thomson Reuters assigned to their firm, who recently assisted with a difficult production they received from another party. The ediscovery services team from Thomson Reuters worked with both firms to ensure that the data loaded accurately into eDiscovery Point.
So far, Chaffetz Lindsey has been able to review documents in-house since eDiscovery Point allows them to search, filter, and tag documents so easily. But with eDiscovery Point, Thomson Reuters, and Chaffetz Lindsey’s experience with complex litigation, the firm has the resources to handle discovery on a larger scale when the need arises. Doug mentioned that Thomson Reuters already has a “deep bench” that the firm can call upon, and all of them know eDiscovery Point so they can jump right into the project.
Thomson Reuters ediscovery services are fully scalable to any size matter and their award-winning document review teams have a wealth of substantive experience on a variety of topics.
Due to increased cost control, the firm is able to differentiate itself even more by featuring their use of eDiscovery Point on proposals. “eDiscovery Point definitely gives the firm a competitive advantage,” affirms Doug. “Because of how we’ve integrated eDiscovery Point into our firm, we can pass on the ample time and cost savings to clients.”
“eDiscovery Point definitely gives the firm a competitive advantage.”
The firm is also able to proceed with greater confidence in engagements involving alternative fee agreements. Since eDiscovery Point allows for early insights into a matter and enables attorneys to organize and assess the data with greater speed, the firm is able to maintain profitability with Alternative Fee Agreements.
In addition, the lawyers have much more confidence that the data will be available for them to review faster and that they will find what enables Chaffetz Lindsey to compete for clients like never before.
Our proprietary new Web-based software gives you control of the ediscovery process – and your costs. You can upload and process data in one simple step and start reviewing documents in minutes (not days). And you only pay for data you review, so there are no surprises.
Brett Burney is Principal of Burney Consultants LLC where he focuses his time on bridging the chasm between the legal and the technology frontiers of electronic discovery.
Prior to establishing Burney Consultants, Brett spent five years at the law firm of Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked extensively with litigation teams in building electronic document databases, counseling on electronic discovery issues, and managing the technical responsibilities of presenting electronic evidence at trial.