According to the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant Report, there have been more than 25 major vendor mergers and acquisitions in the past three years, and more than 40 instances of this in the past five years. This doesn't even take into account the smaller regional instances. Separating the proverbial vendor wheat from the chaff is time consuming. It's a constant process of evaluating the people, processes and technology utilized by each.
This is an area where an internal litigation support department provides additional utility by managing this continuous evaluation. The end result is an internal guide to e-discovery vendors and technology for the law firm and its clients to leverage.
FOLLOW THE 'EVIDENCE'
In this multibillion-dollar industry, many law firms have built internal business units to handle e-discovery service segments traditionally outsourced. According to the 2012 Am Law Market Snapshot published by the Cowen Group, 70 percent of law firms reported an increase in workload for their litigation support and e-discovery departments. Forty-three percent of firms anticipate adding to their litigation support and e-discovery staff, and 50 percent of firms reported plans to increase their e-discovery technology spend.
Speaking of increased technology spend, in 2012, more than 40 law firms licensed kCura's Relativity document review system, widely regarded as a "best in breed" solution for large-scale document review. This is a significant investment for firms to be making, particularly in a climate where most are cutting costs, and it's not only relegated to large global firms. kCura reports that firms with as few as 40 lawyers licensed their product in 2012. The 40 firms in 2012 bring kCura's total to more than 75 law firms that have licensed Relativity (50 of the Am Law 200). In addition to kCura's sales statistics, there were installations of other review platforms within law firms: Recommind's Axcelerate, and Xerox's Viewpoint, to name a few, further demonstrating the trend that law firms are ramping up their in-house capabilities.
While the creation of a team of highly trained staff and the investment in technology may not be for some firms, the evidence clearly shows that many firms are not only continuing to in-source, but are ramping up their investments in technology and people. Of course every firm is different, but there are fundamental business benefits to having a litigation support department for any firm that handles large-scale and/or high-stakes litigation.
Bryon Bratcher (email@example.com) is a senior manager of the litigation support department at Reed Smith, and Tom Baldwin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the chief knowledge officer at Reed Smith LLP. They are based in San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.
This article originally appeared in Law Technology News.