Can Your Firm Manage its Own ESI?

Written by: Jason Schroeder, Vice President of Legal Technology

©Focus Pocus LTD / Fotolia
©Focus Pocus LTD / Fotolia

The reach of electronic discovery expands exponentially year after year.  This should come as no surprise, considering the staggering amount of electronic information being generated daily by organizations and individuals.  Given the prevalence and magnitude of electronically stored information (ESI) in today’s litigation, law firms are faced with the question of whether to outsource their ESI needs or to deal with them in-house.

Speaking from my own experience in both law firms and vendor environments, there are some very compelling arguments against bringing ESI in-house. Here are some reasons handling your own ESI is not a good idea:

1. Expense:

An in-house litigation support department should be able to collect, ingest, index, search, report, analyze, set up a review, and produce various forms of electronic data.  Besides the considerable expense of software and hardware, the department will need to find, recruit, hire, train, and maintain a staff to perform all of these projects.  Obtaining and maintaining the correct staff for these departments will be your biggest hurdle as the strength of litigation support stems from the professionals working the software.  Keeping your systems on the cutting edge in order to correctly deal with technology advancements and keeping your staff trained on the new systems will also be an ongoing expense.  You will also have to figure out how you will bill for these services.  Coupling these expenses with the sporadic nature of the work, it’s no surprise that many in-house litigation support departments barely break even or may lose money.

2. Operational Tempo:

Once you have all of the parts up and running, will you have enough work to keep everyone gainfully employed day in and day out?  The internal department will only be as busy as the case load requiring their services.  Litigation cases have a lifecycle that come to a close along with the revenue.  When the cases end, will you be able to replace them with the same amount of work?

3. Risks:

Computers fail and people make mistakes.  Anyone that hasn’t experience mistakes, missteps, or hardware/software failure during an ESI project hasn’t been doing it very long or, even worse, they’re making mistakes that they don’t even know they’re making.  A failure during any part of an ESI project can be spun by your opponent as an overt, nefarious act designed to hide the smoking gun.   This “they did it on purpose” argument is easier for your opponent to sell if your firm’s internal department made the mistake.  When the inevitable mistake or glitch happens, wouldn’t you want to be insulated by a neutral third party vendor?

For these and many other reasons, when it comes to ESI needs, your best option likely is not to do the work in-house.  Call Avalon – we know what we’re doing.  We own it.

If you liked this blog you might also be interested in reading: 4 Reasons Your Firm Should Outsource eDiscovery

Download our free whitepaper to learn why simpler is better.

eDiscovery Whitepaper: Making It Simple

author avatar
Ian Gattie