To a small law firm, perhaps one of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of eDiscovery is the uncertainty. There is a starting point and an endpoint, but the in-between can be a walk through a minefield. The most significant question of all can be, “Can we do our eDiscovery in-house?”
To help you safely navigate eDiscovery, let’s look at the most common pitfalls you’re likely to encounter and how to get past them.
You Don’t Have a Lit-Support Staff
When people think about discovery, it’s usually teams of attorneys burning the midnight oil, sifting through data to find that smoking gun. It can take an entire supporting staff to manage the technology that gets ESI in front of reviewers. These are the folks whose responsibilities include:
Loading data into review systems
Keeping the pipeline moving by batching data
Handling technical issues that might arise
However, the cost of maintaining or outsourcing work quickly becomes prohibitive, limiting the size of cases you can manage. Fortunately, as eDiscovery has become more common, related technology is making leaps and bounds.
For example, Ipro Tech’s Automated Digital Discovery platform lets organizations of any size implement a workflow where discovery data is automatically copied, processed, filtered and loaded with minimal human interaction. Systems like these can quickly pay for themselves; time and staffing requirements are reduced while more extensive and lucrative cases become feasible.
Your Current Solutions Can’t Scale to Your Projects
The phone rings. It’s the case of a lifetime. You eagerly agree. But fast forward a few months; megabytes become terabytes, and your eDiscovery platform is redlining trying to keep up.
It’s critical to remain aware of any thresholds your technology might have, and plan accordingly. If you’re expecting to take on bulkier cases, choose an eDiscovery platform for the future. Knowing the options for swappable and burstable licensing is a must before committing to a solution. Does the provider offer both; In the Cloud or Behind the Firewall options?
Make sure you find a veteran provider, like Ipro Tech, who offers live support, training and consulting to ensure clients are never stuck while deadlines loom. Client-focused providers often have service teams, like Ipro’s Professional Services, which are deployed to provide clients with any necessary support from implementation to project management.
Look around your office. What do you see? Perhaps there are towers of stacked paper, or piles of boxes, each gushing with case documents, or maybe walls of shelves holding large notebooks with documents stuffed inside.
Are these things obstructing your way around the office? Do you have to climb over or shimmy around piles of notebooks and paper just to get to your desk?
If you recognize any of the descriptions above, and you think that’s a problem, keep reading.
We want to help you along the first steps of getting your law office organized and saving time with technology.
There are options available today that let you fit all those documents into a device, like a USB flash drive, that only takes up a few inches on your desk. So, that mess you’re looking at right now? Gone.
Not only that, but you can use that device and other tools to organize all those thousands of documents and search through them in seconds rather than minutes or hours.
The benefits of such tools are priceless, yet many law firms and organizations still don’t use them. Why? We ask ourselves this question a lot, and we’d like to take this opportunity to address some of your possible concerns we found to be the most common.
Let’s start with an easy one.
1. Time – I Don’t Have It
Ah, yes. Time. As an attorney, every single minute of your life is accounted for, and there’s none to spare to learn about new tech. Every minute you spend trying to figure out how to use this stuff is a minute you haven’t spent on your case. You may think it’s better to play it safe and do things the “tried and true” way. Just get it done the way you know how right?
Respectfully, we think that’s wrong.
You do have time. In fact, you may be hemorrhaging time, your most valuable resource, by holding onto old methods of doing things. As we already said before, working with documents on a computer turns the hours you would spend working with paper into minutes and seconds.
Here’s an example of how: Let’s take a simple task, such as finding a document you want to present at trial.
Currently, you get up from your desk, go to wherever you store your case documents, find the right box, shelf, or drawer, open the box, and proceed to finger through all the folder and files in the box. Once you find the right folder and eventually the right file, you pull it out and take it back to your desk.
Or you might have a paralegal or assistant do all of that for you. In any case, that simple process absorbed valuable time. Now, compound the time for all the other hundreds to thousands of documents circulating in each case.
It adds up. You’re spending hours, days, and weeks just on one simple task.
Suppose you could do all of it with technology without even leaving your chair, right from a computer? You can! In fact, some programs will find documents for you. All you do is enter a few search terms and it filters through everything for you in milliseconds.
Then, once you have the document, you can review and even annotate it right then and there. No need to print. No need to make copies. It’s all done for you.
And we didn’t even talk about the significant loss of time when something is misplaced or misfiled. You know that’s bad.
With computers and programs these days, if something is misplaced on the file system, there are countless fast and efficient ways to help you find lost items much more quickly than sifting through the mountains of paper yourself.
Sure, it may take an initial investment of time to learn how to use the technology and implement it, but that is nothing compared to the amount of time and resources you save later.
Receiving the documents, printing the documents, transporting the documents – all the monetary, time, and mental costs of handling physical documents are dramatically reduced by going digital.
You just need to get over that first hill, and then you coast with a nice refreshing breeze as you go.
Technology gets you away from wasting time on mundane tasks and lets you get back to what matters – strategizing and winning your case.
But your time, or the lack thereof, isn’t even the real issue in our opinion.
2. Fear of Change – The Real Issue
Everyone can get set in a routine. They set up a comfort zone, where everything they do is part of the norm, and they resist anything outside of that zone or even slightly unfamiliar. Breaking away from a routine is usually difficult.
Herein lies the real problem. You may be afraid to change. You are so used to doing things the way you currently do them you perceive your current process for preparing for and presenting at trial is faster when it demonstrably is holding you back.
William Pollard, a physicist, said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
Whether it was in law school or when you first started out as a professional, you spent a substantial amount of time, even sleepless nights, teaching yourself to do things the way you currently do them. Now you’re comfortable with those methods. In fact, you’re very good at what you do.
But times change. Things that worked well in the past don’t work as well anymore. With increasing amounts of case data and less time to prepare, it’s time to adapt to the progressing world around you or you risk getting bogged down in inefficiencies. It happens in every industry, and it is happening in the legal industry.
We strongly suggest you put in the time needed and get up to speed with the current technology today and provide your clients with the state of the art representation they deserve.
Which leads us to the final concern we want to bring up.
3. Cost of Entry – The Hidden Cost of Denial
You may feel it’s too expensive to get up to speed.
While there are very expensive systems out there with impressive functions and features, there are just as many or more options that are much less expensive or even free. You can easily use the internet to find options to help you simplify and organize your case.
Also, think about the hidden costs of refusing technology. We’re not just talking about time and money. Your ability to rationalize and think clearly is severely influenced by your surroundings. Minds function in parallel with their environment, even down to how you are dressed.
How are the messy piles of documents in your office affecting you? Gaining some clarity and peace of mind is worth at least entertaining the idea of implementing technological advances in your practice. You’ll be able to make better strategies and be more prepared to confront unexpected challenges.
Using technology to become more efficient not only eases your mental strain and saves time and money for you, but it also saves the same for your clients. Any tool that improves the firm improves the client’s experience, providing the quality help they need faster.
Plus, the longer you wait to implement these tools, the more expensive it will be later on, whether or not you ever implement them. The younger generation of lawyers and paralegals are learning these technologies in school. In many cases, they grew up with this stuff. It’s basically part of their DNA.
Invest now to save later. Stay up to date with the rising generation.
You can start out small if you have to, one improvement at a time.
Get Started Now – Let Us Help
If any of the concerns we discussed above apply to you, you could greatly benefit from an application like TrialDirector. We can help you every step of the way.
TrialDirector is cutting edge trial preparation and presentation software.
With TrialDirector, you can review exhibits. It uses a couple document browsing tools to let you find exactly what you’re looking for. Then you can open the document in a larger viewer, browse through the document if it has multiple pages, and even draw markups to focus the jury’s attention in preparation for trial. You can review video and deposition transcripts as well.
If you have a hard time browsing through all the documents you are preparing for trial, you can organize individual items in your case into different folders called workbooks. There are different types of workbooks that make other tasks, like presenting at trial, much easier.
Finally, you can take the case you worked on in TrialDirector with you to trial for presentation. You can present a set of exhibits in order, or you can call up exhibits on-the-fly as the trial develops. There are several things you can do to capture the jury’s attention too. You can make callouts, mark annotations, and show exhibits next to each other to compare and contrast. You can even link an exhibit to a deposition video and have it appear seamlessly at the right moment while the video plays.
We also offer in-depth training services through TrialDirector University to help jump-start your experience with taking your cases to the next level with technology. Learn more at TrialDirectorUniversity.com.
There are countless hours you can save using technology throughout the life of any case. Make the decision and take steps to use it now!