I recently interviewed Ashish Prasad, Vice President and General Counsel for HaystackID, who is widely regarded as among the leading experts on discovery in the United States. We covered so much with regard to eDiscovery trends that we couldn’t fit it all in a single blog post. Part One of my interview was published Monday and part two was published Wednesday, here is the third and final part.
HaystackID has a pro bono training and support program, how does that work and how do organizations take advantage of that?
The pro bono program of HaystackID is intended to serve as a model for eDiscovery service providers to become more like law firms in terms of their commitment to pro bono services, and training and support around pro bono services. As you know, most large law firms have made pro bono commitments which require them to spend substantial amount of attorney hours every year on pro bono matters.
In the eDiscovery industry, service providers have historically not had formalized pro bono programs. The Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) has launched a pro bono initiative, in which corporate legal departments, law firms and service providers make commitments to increase their pro bono services. As part of our support at HaystackID for that important EDI initiative, we have undertaken a variety of substantial pro bono projects in recent years. For example, we worked with the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps to develop and launch their first-ever eDiscovery program. We also worked with the Legal Aid Chicago to conduct trainings and utilize contract attorneys in expungement matters. We are also supporting the development of a pro bono clearinghouse that will match eDiscovery professionals who want to do pro bono work with organizations that need pro bono assistance related to eDiscovery.
Doug, pro bono in eDiscovery is a little bit more challenging than pro bono for lawyers because there are not as many available projects relating to eDiscovery as one might find relating to litigation generally. For something to count as pro bono in eDiscovery, it has to be related to collection, processing, hosting, review, and production services. Projects like that are out there, we just need to work a little harder to find them, which we are doing.
Great, that sounds like a terrific program. So, last question, what else are you working on that you would like our readers to know about?
There are four projects I am working on that are certainly interesting to me, and hopefully are of some value to your readers to know about.
First, I am doing a tremendous amount of teaching through the HaystackID Educational program, including our monthly BrightTALK webcast, and the recordings of previous webcasts are available on our website. Apart from that, I teach the eDiscovery component of the civil discovery curriculum at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. I serve as Executive Editor of the Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) Distance Learning program, which offers free online eDiscovery education to anyone in the country who wishes to take that. I also speak probably a dozen times a year at continuing legal education programs related to eDiscovery.
The second project that I would like to highlight is the HaystackID Corporate Consulting Program. We have a formalized program to work with corporate legal departments to develop, maintain and/or enhance the eDiscovery programs in those organizations. The program includes the development of an eDiscovery manual, a training program and a data source catalogue, and the establishment of preferred service providers and documented processes for those service providers to accomplish the tasks of collection, processing, hosting, review and production.
The third project I am working on relates to eDiscovery in antitrust Second Requests. In antitrust Second Requests, the risks of excessive costs, insufficient quality, and inconsistency of results are much higher than in civil litigation. This is because the amount of data that we need to deal with in antitrust Second Requests is a lot higher, and the amount of time that we have to deal with the data and accomplish the collection, processing, hosting, review, and production is a lot lower, due to merger approval deadlines which are set out by federal statutes.
As a result, it is very, very important that companies and law firms have specific protocols established for handling eDiscovery in antitrust Second Requests before the antitrust Second Requests arrive. When the Second Request arrives, it becomes very difficult to change existing eDiscovery processes, to make them more cost-effective, efficient and consistent. The time for those protocols to be implemented is before the antitrust Second Requests come. We do a lot of this type of work at HaystackID.
The fourth project I want to mention which may be of interest to your readers is the Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) Diversity Initiative. Through that initiative, we created the first ever pledge to promote diversity in the eDiscovery industry, which has been signed by about two dozen corporate legal departments, law firms and service providers. We also had a diversity mentoring program, which paired mentors and mentees from across the country together for the purpose of giving professional advancement opportunities to the mentees. Finally, we developed diversity promotion questions that have been used by corporate legal departments and law firms when they issue RFPs for eDiscovery services.
We are very proud of the growth and success we have had over the past five years with the Diversity Initiative. However, we do think that there’s a lot of room for growth there and a lot more work to do.
Ashish, thanks for your time today and thanks for participating in the eDiscovery Today Thought Leader Interview Series!
So, what do you think? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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Are either of you concerned about potential conflicts in providing pro bono services? If you end up testifying about the work, wouldn’t that be somewhat problematic?
Thanks for the question, Allison! Let’s see what Ashish says about HaystackID’s pro bono work. I’ve done pro bono consulting for clients before, but never for specific cases, it’s been more to help set up programs, procedures and general workflows, provide training, etc. So, it’s never been a consideration for me.