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By Stacy Ybarra

Published on Thu, February 15, 2018

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Legaltech is a hectic time for all. Whether you’re shuffling from one meeting to the next, from panel to panel, or on to lunches, dinners, or cocktail receptions, you have felt the week’s chaos. This year was my first Legaltech, and among the many things I learned and attended, one panel stood out to me. This session focused on three law firm panelists’ journeys around managed services and was guided by a moderator. Below, I share a recap of this session and what I found to be most interesting.

The ediscovery environment before managed services

The landscape prior to managed services for law firms was that there was a ton of ediscovery work to do. However, most firms were operating with over-burdened internal teams and a lack of resources to handle the end-to-end ediscovery process effectively, especially with fast moving matters. There was a lack of consistency or a standard approach to discovery throughout the firms, which the panelists identified as a risk management concern. In addition, there were technology concerns, as most firms were leveraging outdated technologies. They didn’t have the staff to keep systems up to date, purchasing new tools was an expensive endeavor, and there was often a need for multiple tools. 

Teams knew they needed to do something to drive efficiency, but were not sure what.

The dawn of managed services

When the idea of managed services first surfaced, folks were intrigued. A service delivery model to meet the firms needs while ensuring a secure, defensible, and efficient ediscovery process with a toolkit of best-in-class technologies sounded pretty appealing. Firms were attracted by the ability to outsource management and maintenance of the back-end technologies, as well as the ability to customize the model to meet their staffing needs.

The managed service experience – two diverse beginnings

Experience 1

When starting out, a couple firms had similar experiences. Neither found that many of their peers had implemented something similar. It took several months, but after moving forward with the managed services setup with an ediscovery vendor the firms started to see the benefits. More resources, access to best-in-class technology, and the ability to lean on the vendor when it comes to data security, risk, quality, specialized expertise, and overflow staffing support.

As stated by one panelist, “Managed services seemed to tick off all of the boxes - we are a law firm and not a technology company.”

In addition, this new format allowed for predictable pricing that firms could anticipate.

Experience 2

In another panelist’s experience, they started in the managed services realm a bit differently. First, they engaged their ediscovery vendor around SOW proposals, then to ala carte services. This situation allowed this particular person to work within several practices and leverage the best-in-class technology of the vendor. In addition, they got to know the vendors team members, who acted as an extension of the law firm’s team and knew their processes.

This particular experience was one that lacked firm leadership’s attention early on, but the repeat processes and development of a playbook led firm management to understand and endorse the managed services model in the end. 

How to sell in to partners?

Before the above experiences could happen, the panelists had to sell managed services to their partners. Here is how they went about it:

  1. Form a committee. Gather the right stakeholders from the onset that can evangelize for managed services so you are more likely to succeed. (Start with paralegals, who have opted in to advance their training. This will benefit them, as they will get higher exposure and can be seen as evangelists, etc.)
  2. Discuss the challenges. Build a list of inefficiencies and gaps that managed services can overcome.
  3. State the benefits. Form a list of reasons for the move.
    • It is important for law firms to focus on providing high-quality legal services, rather than trying to run and maintain a technology shop. With managed services the technical burden is on the vendor and not the law firm.
    • Predictable pricing so that you can anticipate spend and go about your daily work.
    • Data security risks are minimized, as it is now outsourced.
    • In addition, the biggest benefit of all, is that you’re saving time. You no longer have to reinvent the workflow or vet new vendors or technology. You can go about your work and save mass amounts of time and money via your trust partner in your managed services provider.

How to continue to drive adoption?

Once accepted, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  1. Share key wins. Explain what you are doing and why we are doing it. Bring forth recent examples and efficiency gains.
  2. Continue to unify the process. If you have not already, develop a playbook with your ediscovery vendor. Their team will be available to help 24/7 and will provide a much better platform on a budget line.
  3. Be sure to explain the goal is not a reduction in litigation support or paralegal staff. You can lose support if this is not clear. Managed services focuses on the retooling of skillsets and elevation of skillsets. Empower the people that want to embrace it.
  4. Continued communication. Getting transparent has helped bring everyone up to the same level.

If you are interested in discussing this topic further, or have questions about this panel, please reach out to me at sybarra@lhediscovery.com.

About the Author
Stacy Ybarra

Vice President of Marketing

Stacy is the Vice President of Marketing at Lighthouse, where she is focused on continuing to drive sales and marketing strategy as the company integrates the marketing efforts across the consolidated business. Stacy has close to two decades of experience in strategic communications within the technology and communications industries, as well as years of branding and investor relations expertise.

Prior to this new role, Stacy was the Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Blucora, where she provided overall guidance for the company's internal and external communications, brand and corporate giving functions. She has implemented plans to ensure a positive corporate image and culture during multiple phases of turnaround, strategic repositioning and renewal at Blucora. Stacy has also led numerous financial communications initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and public offerings.

Before joining Blucora in 2005, Stacy was an Investment Relations Analyst at Cascade Investment, a private investment and holding company for William H. Gates III and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Previous to her role at Cascade Investment, she served in various investor relations roles at 360networks Inc. and XO Communications. She began her career at Telecommunications Inc. in marketing.