Legal departments are under enormous pressure to adapt to the rapidly evolving business environment. In a recent survey of high-level legal professionals, 57% of respondents reported dealing with an increasing number of legal disputes in 2021, up 15 points from 2020. Half of the respondents say their organization increased its litigation spend in the last 12 months, and 61% report being involved in a “bet the company” lawsuit in the last 12 months. In the face of these increases in the volume, cost, and risk of legal matters, top priorities for in-house counsel are now data management, data security, data privacy, cost control, and proactive risk management strategies.
To cope with expanding workloads, legal departments are not only hiring new staff but also turning to external providers. The 2022 ACC CLO Survey indicates investment in legal operations is accelerating and CLOs expect to hire more in-house staff, ranging from lawyers with specific areas of expertise to legal technologists. Gartner estimates that by 2025 large organizations will routinely work with four or more legal vendors. Budgets are not unlimited, though. Corporations expect their legal departments to operate cost-effectively while managing risk and juggling a more intense workload. It’s a difficult balancing act that requires organizations to develop more mature processes across the department.
Why Prioritize eDiscovery?
There are many areas of legal operations competing for focus. But for most organizations, the optimal path to operational maturity begins with eDiscovery. Why? Because eDiscovery is uniquely technology-intensive and data-intensive, and as such can establish a foundation for the entire legal operations cycle.
Focusing first on eDiscovery maturity allows you to immediately address – and make significant improvements to – a range of critical risk and cost functions across the full spectrum of legal operations. When you are able to understand and manage the data you control across the entire eDiscovery lifecycle, you are automatically in a better position to address a broad range of other data-intensive practices, including matter management, billing, contract lifecycle, compliance, and data security, to name just a few.
A crucial component of maturity is having the right set of legal hold and eDiscovery tools and capabilities in place, including secure and scalable cloud computing, a flexible and extensible platform, AI technologies, and analytics. Consolidating multiple technologies in a single eDiscovery platform will reduce your overall tech stack and it will give you more consistency, speed, and agility in responding to unanticipated challenges. It will also allow you to manage data and metrics in one place, which facilitates reporting. Building a legal operations team of eDiscovery experts is also an important step towards overall maturity because these individuals tend to be well-rounded and possess diverse skills that transfer well to other activities in legal operations. If you have a small team or limited resources, make sure you find the right technology partner who can help guide your legal operation team, offer additional support resources, and a custom playbook.
In short, making focused and systematic improvements to eDiscovery practices can help you refine many other legal processes and technologies and position your organization to adapt to change more nimbly and more effectively.
Use the Enterprise eDiscovery Maturity Model as a Legal Operations Guide
At Casepoint, we have developed our own maturity model for the eDiscovery process. It is a highly structured, logical, sequential framework that will help your legal organization develop priorities, identify appropriate areas of focus, and make sound decisions. Our maturity model is more detailed than the early/intermediate/advanced framework of other models, defining more nuanced stages of maturity that are directly relatable to legal operations teams.
The Casepoint Enterprise eDiscovery Maturity Model: The Five Stages of Maturity
We created this model to help organizations continually improve their legal operations and position themselves to adapt, survive, and thrive in the face of unpredictability and change.
Operational maturity can’t be attained overnight. It is a multi-step process that helps organizations transition from reactive and risk-ridden responses or events, to a new stage of preparedness where legal operations are future-proofed, innovative, and have the capability to drive broad business transformation. Using this model, legal departments can accurately measure the maturity of their own operations, identify gaps, and make improvements that will help them meet strategic goals.
By embarking on the journey towards eDiscovery maturity, legal departments can:
- Increase efficiency and profitability by achieving lower operating costs
- Instill a continual improvement mindset across the organization
- Free up operating capital to fund improvements and innovation initiatives
- Adapt better and more quickly to unforeseeable changes in the marketplace, technology, and risk vectors
- Leverage the power of AI, analytics, and other advanced technologies to increase the speed of insight and decision-making
Laying a Good Technology Foundation
One of the quickest ways to succeed on the road to eDiscovery maturity – without taking shortcuts – is to standardize on a single eDiscovery solution. This allows you to integrate a diverse range of workflows and processes, both internally and among external providers, using one tool and one interface – an essential step in maintaining process, consistency, and efficiency.
We don’t recommend you go it alone, however. Choose an experienced technology partner to deploy the technology, fine-tune it, and make it work for your organization. The right partner will serve as a natural extension of your legal operations. They will help make progress towards full maturity by consulting closely with you, helping you develop custom playbooks to support existing workflows, and helping you align your people and processes with the technology you choose.
In our next post, my colleague Jessica Robinson will detail the practical steps that enterprise legal departments can take to start on their journey towards maturity in eDiscovery.
In the meantime, download the Casepoint Enterprise eDiscovery Maturity Model here.