In corporate ediscovery, the simple and routine matters that arise frequently pose a burden — a bit like washing dishes. It is important to wash dishes as quickly and efficiently as possible otherwise you run out of dinnerware, the sink and counter get stacked up, and eventually your kitchen is in chaos! Worse yet, careless handling causes broken crockery or glassware — which are both messy and dangerous. That said, no one wants to spend any more time and money on washing dishes than necessary. Similarly, routine ediscovery matters require care and should be handled efficiently in terms of both time and money.
A good example of a routine matter is a third-party subpoena. Typically when a corporation is served with a third-party subpoena, it has little or no direct interest in the associated proceeding. However, the response takes time, costs money, and creates risk — as any documents produced and disclosed publicly in response to the third-party subpoena may inadvertently expose sensitive corporate information. Some large corporations are served with tens or hundreds of these subpoenas every month, which makes for a major workload.
How, then, should these routine matters be handled? Setting aside the content of the third-party subpoena response (see the references below for more on this), here are a few items to consider when managing this type of workflow:
Outsourcing. Most corporations have a relationship with an ediscovery vendor and outside counsel that can reliably handle complex matters. Is this a good option? To return to the analogy, a large event like a wedding calls for full-service catering, with dishwashing included, but it would make less sense to hire someone just to come in and wash your dishes at home. Similarly, for routine matters like the third-party subpoena, the effort required simply to prepare and hand off a routine matter to a vendor is too large relative to the scale of the matter itself. As a result, most corporations do not outsource routine matters such as these.
Tools. If outsourcing is not an efficient solution, an internal team must handle routine matters. What tools can the internal team use quickly and effectively? Currently, many ediscovery teams gather electronically stored information (ESI) directly and use Microsoft Outlook and other desktop applications to search and review it — the equivalent of washing dishes by hand. It is efficient and cost-effective to install a modern dishwasher (these machines are far more water-efficient than washing dishes by hand), and for ediscovery there are now cloud-based tools available that are an ideal solution for routine matters such as a third-party subpoena.
Solution. Using a cloud-based ediscovery solution, a member of the internal ediscovery group can quickly and efficiently tackle routine matters. These tools emphasize simplicity, with a user experience that makes typical ediscovery functions — processing, review, and production — accessible without extensive training. For a third-party subpoena, all of these capabilities may be required, but data sizes and complexity are usually modest. Returning to our dishwashing analogy once again, a dishwasher would serve as an all-in-one tool – it washes, rinses and steam dries. Just as you could use a dishwasher to do the dishes more efficiently, staff in the corporate counsel’s office can use such a tool to address a these subpoenas without a daunting learning curve. Moreover, since the tools are cloud-based, there is no need for the installation and maintenance (e.g., hardware and software upgrades) required for traditional software tools. On the off-chance that the routine matter evolves into a major one, it is important to choose a solution wisely — and to have expert help close at hand in case it’s needed.
So, when considering how to handle routine matters, look to the cloud. Declare your ediscovery independence — try out a modern ediscovery solution! Start with routine matters like the third-party subpoenas and see where it takes you.
For more information or to continue the conversation, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.