So Long In-House Lit Support

By John Sawyer posted 09-13-2018 12:28

  

Long long ago my small firm realized the benefits of having some type of litigation support application.  At the time, as the Information Systems Manager of a small firm, litigation support and “eDiscovery” were certainly not my area of expertise.  eDiscovery was in its infancy, at least as far as a small firm was concerned.  Paper was king.  Perhaps I could turn to the litigation paralegals within the firm?  What were they seeing?  What did they know about this new trend?  Unfortunately, they were busy with cases and “litigation tech” was new and foreign to most of them, as well.  With the paralegals busy in the active support of litigation cases, the review and selection of a litigation support platform fell to me.  With zero to little litigation support experience, I of course turned to ILTA for some peer recommendations.  As I recall it at the time, it was Concordance or Summation. We settled on Summation, stood up a Summation LitSup Server, and were off to the races.  We’ve got the platform; now, about getting that data loaded?  And, where does that data come from?  We have boxes of paper.  Yay? another foreign (to me) processes to explore.  As my firm was attempting to grow, there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to become an expert in such a complex system as Litigation Support.  At the time we were a two-person IT shop.  It was time to outsource.  We did our due diligence and settled on a Boston based LitSup company.  We used them for everything.  I used them for converting data and assistance importing that data, as well as exporting productions when that time arose.  Litigation paralegals and attorneys used the LitSup vendor for assistance with Summation training, as well as ongoing search, privilege and production assistance.

That was the initial foray into Litigation Support at my firm.  The result?  Litigation Support technology was used on only the biggest cases.  The learning curve was just too long.  The result of that?  Training and experience with the tools suffered.  Time to rethink this Litigation Support idea.

After years of starts and stops at trying to master a technology only a handful used, and only on the most difficult cases, it was time to try something new.  We brought in a few LitSup vendors from Boston to show us the latest tools in Litigation Support.  Without dedicated litigation support specialists, attorneys and paralegals need to do their own work within the eDiscovery platform and it was felt that simple is best.  Additionally, finding a vendor that could act as our litigation support specialist, was equally important. 

After many demos we settled on a vendor who could both train us on the latest litigation technology platforms, as well as act as our litigation support arm.  We settled on Boston based Evidox and on a new “simpler” LitSup tool; CaseLogistix (a Thomson Reuters product).  

How does this relate to “the cloud” you might ask?  As a small shop we would have the need for only a handful of licenses, but as litigation cases were growing in complexity, and thus with ever increasing growth in the data to be stored and reviewed, it was decided at that time to go to a hosted model.  After much negotiation and review of security concerns (this was 2011 so security concerns were much easier to address) we deployed the hosted model.  User fees were absorbed by the firm, while storage costs were reviewed with the client and case specific decisions were made about who would pay those costs.  At this time there was also a decision made that all litigation cases would be hosted within CaseLogistix.  No more being unprepared and inexperienced when the next big case came through the door.  A great idea, but largely that; just an idea.  Electronic review and Litigation Support was still rather new to most attorneys in a small firm.  Use of CaseLogistix was urged, but not forced.  It was a step in the right direction, however.  Another deterrent to forcing all cases to the hosted model was the storage costs being passed to clients.  In our old on-premise Summation days, there was no cost for storage, at least none that we could pass to clients.  However, we still saw many more cases being stored within the litigation support application, in part thanks to attorneys who could explain the benefits of eDiscovery to their clients. 

For several years we operated using only Evidox and CaseLogistix.  As eDiscovery matured and litigation support technologies improved there was a constant barrage of eDiscovery vendors knocking on my door.  Through many ILTACONs, LegalTechs, and ABA Tech shows, I made many contacts with eDiscovery vendors.  It was my policy, perhaps flawed, to review those vendors I felt had merit, and then present those with what I considered a viable platform to our Litigation Practice Group, or a Litigation Practice Group Technology Committee.  These “demos” were often met with high praise for the new software, but never enough to sway to use another vendor.  While the CaseLogistix platform was not the best, the value of the litigation support arm provided by Evidox was great and other vendors just could not get a foot in the door.  The value of that litigation support arm is still seen today by the majority of our litigators using eDiscovery.  The burden to keep up with eDiscovery vendors and their ever expanding software is relentless.  Given our satisfaction with our platform of choice, I decided to forego further review and introduction of alternative eDiscovery software.

Fast forward a few years, add a bunch of additional litigators not familiar with CaseLogistix, work as co-counsel with a firm using a hosted web LitSup platform, and it’s time to explore options other than just Evidox and CaseLogistix.  With competition heating up and hosting costs dropping fast (competition is good), enter IST Discover-e and Relativity.  Litigators now had a choice.  CaseLogistix, while still the eDiscovery platform of choice for those that had used it in the past, many new users saw it as static (there were minimal software updates during the time we used CaseLogistix).  Relativity offered a more modern experience.  Over the next few years litigation cases were distributed between CaseLogistix and Relativity at about a 70-30 rate. 

The use of CaseLogistix and Relativity filled the need for most cases, particularly those that might need some consultation from experts at Evidox and IST.  However, there was another use case that caused us to reach to a third vendor.  One that was economical, could provide a robust review platform for ever-growing volumes of eDiscovery, but one where vendor consultation was rarely needed.  Enter Logikcull.  Logikcull was not discovered or presented as an option by IT, but rather by an attorney attending a Litigation Support tech show. 

So, currently, we utilize three hosted eDiscovery platforms.  I and my team have little support other than an occasional client side issue.  For a small firm with no litigation support specialists, utilizing a hosted eDiscovery platform has been a plus for all.

 
Also Read Aaron Crockett's Blog and Chris Hunt's Blog

 

 


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09-14-2018 10:36

​I feel your pain John in using a product that is no longer supported by Thomson (CaseLogistix).  I was a former user of it too.  I don't agree with your assertion that litigation support should simply be outsourced to a hosting vendor.  For small or large firms.  What you're discussing, if I'm understanding you correctly, is the outsourcing of the hosting platform.  But the role of an effective in-house E-Discovery team (and I'm advancing the notion of rebranding Litigation Support into E-Discovery, as that is what we do) is far more than collection, processing, loading, reviewing, and producing in a review tool.  My own team (all CEDS certified) is constantly expanding their E-Discovery consulting services to attorneys, and clients.  Having an effective E-Discovery plan; coordinating and conducting data mapping calls with clients to understand their data architecture; managing the lifecycle of the EDRM; and ensuring compliance with best practices and governing rules is the new paradigm for the old Litigation Support department.  An effective, well educated, certified, and technically competent in-house E-Discovery team who understands the matters, attorneys, and how to best leverage the tools, can be an essential partner in providing "best in class" service to clients.