eDiscovery Spotlight: Featuring David Hancock, GrayRobinson

HancockDavidAvalon will be regularly highlighting one of our expert eDiscovery clients in a spotlight blog. This way you don’t have to just take our word for it.

This spotlight is on David “Dave” Hancock, Manager of Litigation Support and eDiscovery Services at GrayRobinson, where he is responsible for all things eDiscovery-related. Dave is an eDiscovery Subject Matter Expert with over 20 years of experience, beginning his career as a Litigation Paralegal (both in-house and for a law firm). When Litigation Support became an industry, Dave transitioned to that role as a Specialist and for the past 10+ years he has managed Litigation Support teams. In addition, Dave has spoken at various conferences, written articles and taught courses on various eDiscovery topics.

What part of the eDiscovery process do you find most challenging and why?

For me, the technical piece has always been more of a challenge, since that is not my background. Fortunately for me, I’ve had some good teachers, excellent staff and user-friendly tools so I’ve been able to get things done. That said, it’s been a while since I’ve been “in the trenches”…but isn’t that what a good Manager does? Delegate?

Conversely, the litigation piece has always been my strong suit. Understanding the litigation life-cycle, why and how things are done, and seeing the big picture has made me a more valuable LitSupport/eDiscovery professional because I can speak and understand “legal-ese” and also explain some fairly technical things to legal professionals who aren’t technical.

Why do you believe that some firms outsource eDiscovery over bringing it in-house? What do you believe are factors that should contribute to either decision?

I think firms outsource for a variety of reasons. Some do so because they don’t have (and don’t want to have) the resources to do it in-house, some do so for risk avoidance, and others do so to rely on the expertise of others.
My take has always been, at the end of the day, we’re a law firm, not an eDiscovery service provider…so we will choose to do some things in-house but, at a certain threshold, we will outsource it and rely on others’ expertise.
Factors why we outsource:

  1. Reduce the firm’s capital expenditure on LitSupport tools/technology
  2. Reduce the firm’s investment in staffing for in-house LitSupport tasks
  3. Increased data security in state-of-the-art Data Centers
  4. Risk avoidance (i.e., if you process data in-house and screw it up, there’s a presumption by Opposing Counsel that you did so purposely. As such, we prefer using a vendor who can carry that risk)
  5. Ability to rely on a vendor’s expertise (both as to staff and as to best-of-breed tools)
  6. Vendors can usually do it cheaper than doing it in-house (when all factors are considered)
  7. Vendors have the horsepower and man-power to meet deadlines and handle large or unique data sets. They also oftentimes offer 24/7 support.

There seems to have been a number of new platforms and tools showing up on the market, how do you assess new eDiscovery technologies?

Clearly, Relativity is the industry leader for review platforms. In my career, I’ve never seen one product dominate or have such market share. That said, I’ve seen a movement away from Relativity and similar products. Logikcull started the movement and has been joined by others, including but not limited to CSDisco, Everlaw, Fox and others. This segment of the market seems to be aimed at no muss, no fuss, do-it-yourself processing and hosting.
Lately, probably because of a changing business model at kCura, I’ve seen vendors pushing their clients toward proprietary review platforms that, in many ways, emulate Relativity…but since they are developed and owned by the vendor, licensing fees are oftentimes not in play.

Having been in the industry since it became an industry, it’s been interesting to see the changes and evolution. The one thing I’ll say is that, in this industry, since technology is a big part of it, change is constant.

How do you approach educating attorneys and support staff on the challenges surrounding eDiscovery?

Like how they used to vote in Chicago, early and often.
Kidding aside, if you talk to any Litigation Support/eDiscovery professional, they will universally sing the refrain that more education is needed. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
The education piece is truly never complete. There are always new tools, techniques, products, workflows, pricing, and options. Moreover, there’s always someone to teach since there is employee turnover, new employees, people in new roles, etc.
I use every method I can think of to educate people at my firm. My methods include:

  1. Lunch ‘n Learns
  2. CLE presentations
  3. Workshops
  4. Monthly eDiscovery Newsletter
  5. Information/resources on the firm’s Intranet page
  6. Attending Litigation Department meetings/luncheons
  7. Conversations in the hall, break room, men’s room, etc

Are you getting it? I try everything…mostly because reiterating it and approaching it in different ways means you may one day hit on something that resonates with them.

What do you predict will be the biggest changes in eDiscovery over the next five years?

I’ve seen the space grow in leaps and bounds over the years.  I still fondly recall going to LegalTech and being able to visit all the vendor booths (what I call “the petting zoo”) in one room.  Now, at last count, I think there are 4 LARGE rooms!

That said, we’ve also seen companies swallowing up others.  Much of this has happened because of a survival of the fittest reality.  Venture capital money has certainly made acquisitions more of a reality.  Because they have realized that there’s potentially money to be made in this industry, I expect more VC money to fuel more acquisitions.  In a few years, we may see about a dozen big players as service providers and a bunch of fringe/regional players.  I think another logical outcome is that we will see providers become specialized in certain areas (e.g., Forensics, Managed Review, Analytics) because they can’t compete with the big players in providing a full range of services across the entire EDRM.

Buckle your seatbelts folks.  Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see and experience.

If you liked this blog article, you might want to check out our eDiscovery Spotlight Featuring David Lapresi, Phillips Lytle

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