People like doing things themselves: it gives them more control on timelines, outcomes, and costs. And if you can get that without sacrificing quality, then it’s a no brainer. But a successful DIY project takes more than just saying, “I can do that!” For me, a great example of this is when, several years ago, I converted an attached garage in my house to four new rooms, including a second bathroom. I’d had experience framing, working with drywall, and wiring, and felt confident in taking care of those things. I’d also done a little plumbing, but honestly it was not my favorite undertaking. So, I told myself, I’ll do everything but the plumbing. But as I was working, I kept thinking, I don’t want to deal with finding a contractor, scheduling the time to do it, and paying someone for something I knew I could do myself if I just took the time to study the processes and get the proper tools.
So that’s what I did, and when everything was finally in place – it didn’t work perfectly; but, after sticking with it, reviewing the steps and making a few adjustments and tweaks, it did.
A similar thing has been happening in the past few years in eDiscovery – more and more corporate legal teams are bringing services in house. But the reality of this undertaking becomes clearer as more and more people do it, which is evidenced by the 2017 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report, sponsored by EDRM/Duke Law, Exterro, and BDO.
Legal Teams Are Happy Bringing Things In-House
According to the benchmarking report's results, over the past year, more than a third of respondents increased the amount of litigation services they did themselves. And when asked why, they most frequently responded that it was because they had built or expanded internal capacity, as well as acquired better software solutions, which allowed them to save money.
When it comes to the technology being used by in-house legal teams, 46% of respondents use matter management software, 40% spreadsheets, 40% email, 25% legal project management software, and 11% generic project management software. Of those who responded to this question, 52% used just one of these approaches. 31% use two approaches, 12% use three, and just 5% use four different sets of tools.
Things Keep Changing
But as with all trends, this one won’t stay for long. In the next two years, 54% anticipate they will be using matter management software, 38% expect to be using legal project management software (a marked rise in this category from last year), spreadsheets will drop to 32% as will email, and generic project management software will hold on to last place with 12%.
Even with all of these changes, there is still work to be done: when asked to rank challenges managing legal and e-discovery projects, respondents ranked controlling costs as the biggest challenge, followed by completing tasks efficiently, visibility into the status of legal projects, and ensuring a defensible process.
George Socha's Take
As George Socha, Esq., Co-Founder of EDRM and Managing Director at BDO, states in his executive summary of the report, “Litigation services have come in-house, with the majority of respondents reporting they do over half their litigation work themselves. Generally, corporations are satisfied with the quality of work done internally, more so than with the work done by outsiders. For now, they are doing a lot with a little. They tend to deploy fairly small, dedicated workforces, ranging from a single person to maybe half a dozen people or more, but those people (along with other employees) tackle a lot….”
I think the focus on those “small dedicated workforces” is a key element to this, and really is part of the larger debate in the legal community – how do we do more for less? Of course, this is a discussion that’s been happening across areas of commerce, business, and government since the industrial revolution. As technology becomes more advanced, the need for highly trained professionals who know how to leverage that technology grows. Technology alone doesn’t solve problems. Neither does throwing more personnel into the fray without properly training them. And there’s no better example of this mix of emerging technology and specialized personnel than in eDiscovery.
So train up! If I can install a bathroom from scratch, then just think what a well-trained eDiscovery team can accomplish!