Law Firms Are Dismantling Their Data Silos to Save Costs and Attract Clients: eDiscovery Trends

The idea for big law firms to centralize their data on a single platform and get rid of data silos used to be a long term goal for many firms, but the COVID-19 pandemic (among other factors) has caused them to significantly step up efforts to do so.

As reported in Bloomberg Law (Law Firms Dismantle Data Silos to Save Costs, Attract Clients, written by Sam Skolnik), Big Law is stepping up efforts to destroy data silos and make information readily accessible to lawyers on a single platform, realizing their business depends on it.

One example of a firm that has worked hard to eliminate their data silos is Winston & Strawn, which has created a digital repository with hundreds of millions of pieces of data ranging from time management and billing information to human resources and marketing data—to details about new clients and projects.

“It’s been a long, serious, hard journey, but it’s been necessary,” said David Cunningham, Winston & Strawn’s chief information officer. “Most firms are at the beginning stages.”

Firms recognize that attracting and retaining clients can hinge on attorneys having immediate access to data. The race to organize information could spur a revenue realignment among the country’s leading firms, with those that have mastered their data streams leading the way.

The pandemic, and the resulting work-from-home arrangements, deepened the need for firms to simplify how lawyers access firm information, said Andres Hernandez, co-founder of the Wingman Legal Tech consultancy.

“It made firm leadership realize, ‘We need to centralize our data. We need to do this out of necessity,’” he said.

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Lawyers with easy access to good data use it when pitching business to clients, said Ralph Baxter, an adviser and former chairman and CEO of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. It helps them explain what types of similar matters they’ve handled in the past—including how they were staffed, how much they cost clients, and how they were resolved, he said.

“It’s critical that attorneys be able to gain ready access to all of their firm’s information,” Baxter said.

Firms have had to contend with a skyrocketing growth of data over the last decade. Internal investigations, eDiscovery, and due diligence projects require sorting large numbers of text messages, emails, and other forms of digital data.

The firms for the most part have learned how to store that data digitally, Baxter said. The information, however, is often housed in different data silos, making it difficult to access quickly, he said. That has led many firms to realize they need to break down the silos.

“The progress is uneven,” Baxter said. “The early movers will realize a competitive advantage in the post-pandemic market.”

There’s more information in the article here regarding additional advantages, costs and tools for breaking down data silos and more.  This is a trend that organizations are having to address in just about every industry – not just law firms – as they look to reduce costs to manage data for downstream workflows, including eDiscovery, which is why so many are focusing on a move to the left of the EDRM model.

So, what do you think?  Does your organization have a program to eliminate data silos?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, 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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