eDiscovery Needs More Smooth Operators: eDiscovery Best Practices

In the 80’s, there was a popular singer named Helen Folasade Adu who was a contemporary jazz music singer.  She even appeared in the mega concert Live Aid conducted in 1985.  Don’t recognize that name?  That’s because her stage name was Sade (pronounced shah-DAY for those who’s musical memories don’t go back that far).  Probably Sade’s biggest hit was a song called Smooth Operator and the title of the song reflects her smooth vocal and contemporary feel of the music.  Organizations are finding more and more that they need to be “smooth operators” in their approach to eDiscovery and legal operations professionals need to integrate eDiscovery into their purview of legal ops.

In the article Giving Legal Ops an Edge with Ediscovery, written by Meg McLaughlin of Zapproved, she discusses the trend for legal departments to “increasingly” embrace an operations-oriented approach to addressing their workloads. And, in-house legal teams have to do that, given all the challenges they face, which include:

  • Big Data: 470 times more data to manage than there was just 15 years ago;
  • Growing Cyber Threats: All you need is the extent of the recent SolarWinds data breach to illustrate that challenge;
  • Data Privacy: Increased regulations from California and Europe that affect organizations all over the world;
  • Corporate Investigations: Fraud within organizations is continuing to rise; and
  • Budget Pressure: Most legal teams expect more work but have to accomplish it on budgets that aren’t growing and (for more than half) actually shrinking.

As Meg notes, “[c]ompanies are hiring legal operations (legal ops) professionals to balance cutting costs with mitigating risk, all while driving efficiencies. Legal ops offers strategic planning, financial and project management, and tech know-how that enables the rest of the department to focus on their core areas of expertise…Even if your organization doesn’t have dedicated legal ops specialists, every corporate legal team can benefit from adopting core legal ops concepts and practices.”


So, what are those core legal ops concepts and practices and what role do eDiscovery technology and best practices play?  They are:

  • Cross-Functional Alignment: eDiscovery technology, in concert with organization-wide information governance standards, can help bridge the divide. It can also help streamline and automate tasks for other departments like IT and HR.
  • Data Analytics: eDiscovery technology, combined with measurement best practices, can help your in-house legal team better analyze data.
  • Technology Utilization: Automating these manual tasks through eDiscovery software frees your people to focus on more meaningful work, and it can scale rapidly to account for spikes in litigation.
  • Optimize Resource Utilization: Corporate legal teams dealing with tightened budgets can use eDiscovery technology to internalize and automate expensive data-processing and review tasks. Subscription-based eDiscovery solutions also make these costs more stable and predictable.

Meg discusses more in her article, but Zapproved has actually published a FREE white paper on the topic as well, with a lot more information, tons of stats to illustrate the extent of the challenges, best practices for implementing the core legal ops concepts and links to several other resources with other great information!  You can download the whitepaper using the link here.

More and more, I hear from industry thought leaders about how legal ops and eDiscovery are becoming interwoven as eDiscovery continues to have more use cases associated with it and in-house legal teams try to implement an operations approach to their workloads.  This report is a great guide on how the two can be interwoven effectively within in-house legal teams. It may not make your legal ops as smooth as Sade (nobody’s that smooth!), but as close as you can get!

So, what do you think?  Does your in-house legal team have one or more team members focused on operations?  If not, why not?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Assistant

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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