Law Firms are Outsourcing Technology – Including eDiscovery – Once Again

Over the past 10 years, many law firms developed and grew an eDiscovery service group within their litigation practice with the intent to provide a more full-service offering to their corporate clients. The perception was that the firm would have better supervision over the work-product, lower risk, and a greater share of the profit that eDiscovery offers.

Across all industries, outsourcing is accelerating each year. The pandemic, however, underscored many of the benefits of outsourcing core functions: cost reduction, flexibility – especially with cloud-based eDiscovery technology, expertise, and efficiency. In the past year, law firms are realizing they cannot deliver eDiscovery services as efficiently as they had hoped and are starting to return to outside expertise. eDiscovery is a multi-billion-dollar industry and many elements, like data processing and data hosting, have become commoditized which is driving down prices through competitive pressure – which will benefit law firms in their negotiations when they return to outside expertise.

Returning to the reliance on outside eDiscovery expertise, law firms gain numerous advantages, including:

  • Vendors are often the innovators in the industry, ahead of law firms in creating best practices and improved workflows.
  • Vendors adopt new technology at a faster rate than law firms, which further increases productivity when it comes to e-Discovery.
  • Vendors are investing in security tools and certifications and can provide the highest level of data security
  • Vendors can provide scale while law firms are limited in capacity.
  • Vendors are often platform agnostic, meaning they will choose the most appropriate e-Discovery tools to achieve the best outcome for the case.
  • Vendors have strategic partnerships with other experts (for attorney review or forensic analysis, for instance) that law firms cannot retain in-house.
  • Vendors can provide niche talent that law firms can’t afford to employ.
  • If you go the route of managed services, contract agreements offer price and service-level guarantees.

Is your law firm considering the move back to outsourced eDiscovery services? If so, make sure you have the following in place:

  • Support from senior management
  • A good and careful selection process when it comes to vendors
  • A strategic vision for the relationship
  • Clear goals and objectives, both for your law firm and for your eDiscovery expert
  • Who will manage the relationship, and how
  • Well-arranged contracts and agreements with the vendor
  • Good and constant communication among stakeholders, including at the firm and the vendor

A managed service contract may make the most sense if your firm is considering a move. Read our blog that covers the eight items your managed services contract should include.

Want to learn more about outsourcing? See what functions the Small Business Administration recommends outsourcing here.