It’s no wonder enterprise legal ops teams feel like they’re always putting out fires.
The teams they enable are bombarded almost daily with an influx of new market changes, threats, and regulations. This can result in disruptive and expensive investigations, lawsuits, and litigation, causing a daily influx of requests that can be overwhelming. Without the right strategy in place, the situation can become even more costly and stressful.
We designed our enterprise eDiscovery maturity model for legal operations with these challenges in mind. Our goal is to help legal departments streamline their data management and discovery processes so they can be more proactive in their response to disruptions in the marketplace. eDiscovery touches all aspects of the organization and all areas of the CLOC Core 12. Aligning eDiscovery strategy to the overall organization and working to mature the technology and processes around it will accelerate any legal ops division’s journey to maturity.
Maturing your eDiscovery function will help transform the entire legal operations environment and prepare any legal team to respond to challenges more calmly and effectively. As a result, the legal team will become a central player in enabling their organization’s ongoing business agility.
Maturing your eDiscovery function will reduce costs, improve response, streamline data management, heighten security standards, and lower risk. It will help create natural swimlanes for organizational resource management. In addition, by maturing the eDiscovery function you will gain efficiencies that will give you back the legal department’s most precious resource: time.
4 Steps to Get Started on Your Legal Ops Transformation
Our model helps guide organizations through the five stages of eDiscovery maturity. This process can seem overwhelming, so let’s break it down.
1. Conduct a Self-Evaluation
Use the checklist of actions and objectives derived from the model to assess the existing status of your department’s eDiscovery maturity. You will need to establish baseline measurements of the current maturity status by determining which, if any, people, processes, technologies, and strategies are already in place.
Also take this time to assess the appetite of your organization to move forward on process and technology improvements.
- Do you have a budget?
- Are there any quick wins that can have a positive impact?
- What are the probable costs of moving from one maturity level to another?
Once you’ve established where you are in the process and the constraints on moving forward, you can map out where you want to go, and where you can go, given these constraints. This is your launchpad.
2. Choose Your Tech Solution
Next, supplement your in-house resources with outside expertise. It’s rare that any legal department has the full range of manpower, expertise, and technologies — not to mention time — required to complete eDiscovery maturity
Adding the right technology can be a maturity accelerator. It allows you to build processes and workflows structured around the technological functions. It allows you to integrate the technology and use it to automate different tasks. An external technology partner will provide invaluable advice and resources, helping you establish appropriate priorities and guiding you in the development of processes, workflows, and technology that will deliver measurable ROI.
As a general rule, you should look for a tech platform that is capable of integrating a broad range of operational tasks across your legal organization; this will reduce the technology stack by consolidating functions into a single tool, and save costs. The best tools have a simple interface designed for non-technical personnel and can be used by both in-house teams and outside counsel.
Above all, the technology must be appropriate for your department’s goals and future-proofed as much as possible. Take time to research and vet solutions and vendors. It will pay significant dividends in the long run. Choose a partner that has shown that their technology is malleable, can be used for different use cases, and that partner is willing to evolve with the market.
A side benefit of starting with a technology, the process of choosing a technology allows your organization to look at the procurement processes as they relate to the legal ops function and streamline those as well. Implementing the technology and the data workflow, requires you map your data management architecture which will ultimately drive you towards efficiencies in technology implementation and data management.
3. Assemble Your Dream Team
A typical set of stakeholders might feature legal’s in-house teams — including litigation, risk, privacy, and compliance specialists — as well as outside counsel and third-party vendors such as technology providers and forensic specialists. Beyond the legal department, you’ll also want to engage your organization’s IT/IS, HR, records management, billing, sales, marketing, and finance departments, and possibly the technology and service providers they work with as well.
Once you’ve identified the right internal and external stakeholders, assemble a team whose goal is to look at the entire process holistically. You want to avoid making decisions that impact other departments without their expert input. This also presents an opportunity to tighten up processes around procurement, cross-functional technology usage, and the flow of data within your organization’s data management architecture.
4. Review Your Progress Periodically
This is perhaps the most important step involved with the eDiscovery Maturity Model for legal operations. Review your maturity-focused activities regularly so you can adjust as the process evolves; you’ll also need to ensure that the model is updated to reflect the inevitable changes that will occur in your department or organization. We recommend an annual assessment to start with, increasing the frequency as you move further along the road to maturity or whenever a special event (such as an acquisition or business shift) occurs.
If you have questions, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to explain how our eDiscovery maturity model can work for you.