NAMWOLF – Small Firms and the Reality of eDiscovery

National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), the friendliest conference I’ve ever been to.

Perhaps the diverse makeup of attendees makes it easy for people to share. NAMWOLF had everything:

  • CLE presentations ranging from Insurance to Analytics and Big Data;
  • Networking amongst giants and dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science;
  • Cupcakes and Cocktails;
  • Hill Harper discussing the connection between one-on-one hoops with Obama and debating prison reform in the oval office just days ago;

NAMWOLF, simply put, was an amazing conference. The great part about NAMWOLF was meeting the women and minority owned law firms representing a variety of practice areas, all making names for themselves.

shelley-guests

 

The Misconception

Equally interesting was that upon mentioning my focus is eDiscovery, the most common response was a deflated “Oh, we don’t do eDiscovery.” My stock response to this is, “do your clients or adversaries have computers?” If they do and that data is implicated in a litigation or investigation, then in fact you do, DO eDiscovery because someone would need to:

  1. Retrieve those emails;
  2. Review them and maybe produce them;

These two steps are a big part of what eDiscovery is about. If you’ve ever sent or received a Request for Production that mentions electronically stored information (ESI), then you do eDiscovery.

It strikes me that minority and women-owned law firms don’t “do eDiscovery” because of a belief that they lack the resources to take on matters involving electronically stored information. By not taking on eDiscovery, smaller firms unnecessarily limit the size and scope of matters they could retain, and in turn, limit the revenue they could generate. Some smaller firms are operating under the assumption that eDiscovery is for big firms with technology departments. In my estimation, eDiscovery is actually more important for smaller firms, especially those with limited technical resources and personnel.

Take for instance document review in an investigation or litigation where 1,000,000 documents need to be reviewed before discovery closes, may have once been impossible for a small firm. Larger firms contain armies of young junior associates they’ll throw at the problem and then bill the client for hundreds of hours of review time. Small firms don’t have to shy away from these matters, regardless of the firm’s or client’s resources. New eDiscovery tools, particularly those leveraging analytics, help identify patterns in large data sets that wouldn’t be apparent otherwise. This helps identify the important evidence quickly, and in many cases, identify large quantities of data that bear no relevance to issues in the case and are not worth reviewing. Many large firms aren’t leveraging these tools and would rather spend hundreds of unnecessary hours billing to review irrelevant data. In this scenario, the small firm gains a competitive advantage.

2 men and a woman collaborate around a table

Partnering Opens Doors to Opportunity

Understandably, eDiscovery brings up concerns about budget, data management and overburdening your IT department resources. However, doing eDiscovery doesn’t mean that you do it alone. A key aspect of eDiscovery is partnership with an end to end eDiscovery provider such as RVM. This can be especially true for small law firms who once thought certain litigations and investigations were out of their reach.

Firms of all sizes in partnership with a top tier eDiscovery provider can find their technical and practical abilities to support increasingly complex and sizable matters grow beyond what they once thought to be attainable. Turn loose your legal expertise and rely on proven technical solutions and capabilities to lead you to ultimate success.