Considerations for Matter Migration: Deciding when to Transition

by Geoffrey Sherman

Have you ever reached a critical point in a matter where concerns arise about meeting deadlines, review stability, accuracy of work product, or the technical skills available at your disposal? If you answered yes to any of these scenarios, you are not alone.

As matters develop and vendor partnerships progress, there is a realization of what the true experience with a vendor and their respective capabilities consist of. When critical points are hit, there is often a need for a change. Here at RVM, we recognize that a matter transition is not something to be taken lightly. Oftentimes prior vendors have caused significant downtime, errors, and/or miscommunication forcing counsel into an uncomfortable position.

It’s been 24 hours and you all are knocking it out of the park.  The other vendor did not flag this as a potential issue. We could have been in serious trouble here.” – RVM’s Client

Case teams across the globe are constantly evaluating the ongoing experience and how this positions them for the ultimate goal, winning. We’ve highlighted some considerations to guide you in that decision making process and also how RVM’s 20+ years of experience aids our clients through such a situation:

Negative Experience – When we look at an incident on a matter we should consider the overall experience. We all make mistakes but is this issue truly isolated or is it systemic. There are so many fronts where failures can occur between communication barriers, work product issues, system failures, and the ability to recover from an error. When you look back at the pattern of experiences it may come as no surprise that there will be some bias. Studies have shown that it takes 5 positive experiences to outweigh the effects of a single negative experience. Customer experience is one of the most significant and perhaps adaptable skills we can have as a vendor. When entering each situation as if you were the client and envisioning how you would want a situation handled there is a high likelihood of quick recovery when things go wrong and preventing negative experiences more proactively in the future. Does the current vendor exhibit such traits?

Technical Capabilities – Matters develop and so do their technical requirements. When evaluating the present vendor it is important to gauge the technical skills and knowledge required for the matter at hand and perhaps where the matter is going. A level of expertise in every possible obscure platform, data type, or technology more than likely isn’t available at any single vendor, but there is a common body of knowledge expected to be successful. Sometimes there is a need to question several vendors on their past experience with a particular technology, if critical to the matter, to ensure the level of expertise meets the current need of where the matter is going. Technical depth can vary from forensics knowledge, adding acumen to testimony, to accommodating complex issues surrounding data sources. Does the current vendor exhibit comprehensive knowledge of the technical needs of the current matter?

Service Line Offerings – When we look at where a matter is going there may be a need for services which weren’t previously anticipated that have now developed. This in combination with a need to defend existing work product to date may add to the need of matter transition. Having a comprehensive process managed under a single vendor may enhance the synergies realized and improve the outcome of the matter at hand. As an example, matters which have a forensics component to them may benefit from an organization that doesn’t contract out this service line, ensuring that resources are full vested and able to be engaged with short notice for testimony. Also aligned with forensics services, many matters are now encountering mobile device data which requires products that can render and handle the review of such data efficiently. For more information on mobile data processing and review, refer to our recent article on ConTXT – RVM’s Mobile Review Solution. Ensuring that these more unique data types are handled, if introduced, may be a key factor. In addition, review services that utilize analytics early and often may bridge the gap between a well prioritized and focused review to linearly reviewing less relevant content. So we should also ask, does the scope of the current matter require service offerings that are not available with the present vendor or mature enough to complete the tasks at hand?

In conclusion, there are a variety of options for matter transfer ranging from outsourcing of a specific portion of a matter to a full transfer of services. Once the decision has been made to transfer it is important that a partner is chosen that can manage the complexity, effectively communicate, accelerate transition efforts, and aggressively restore confidence to the case team.

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