For Drinker Biddle & Reath, the time was right to bring the process in-house. The firm is a few months into the launch of its subsidiary, Drinker Discovery Solutions.
Michael J. Boland, managing director of the subsidiary, said there are a few of the law firm's clients who can't use the subsidiary at this point because they have preferred provider relationships with e-discovery vendors. And there are clients who are bringing e-discovery matters in-house, or, like some large corporations, are hiring e-discovery directors.
Boland said that is a good thing and doesn't eliminate the need for outside lawyers who have e-discovery experience on several matters across more than one client type.
"I don't think it's going to limit the work from a law firm standpoint," he said.
Drinker Discovery Solutions has signed on more than 50 matters since its launch and is currently hosting more than six terabytes of data, he said. The subsidiary, which is housed in Drinker Biddle's law offices in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere, does not have a document review center. Drinker Biddle attorneys do the document review for smaller matters. If a matter requires 15 or more lawyers, Drinker Discovery Solutions contracts it out. The subsidiary purchased HP's e-discovery software, Autonomy.
Boland said there isn't a right answer for how firms should handle e-discovery.
"That's what people don't want to hear," he said.
He said it worked for Drinker Biddle to bring it in-house because the 650-lawyer law firm has a substantial litigation practice that creates a need for e-discovery work. The firm saw it as a good way to address a pain point for clients the cost of e-discovery. Drinker Discovery Solutions is also looking to do work for clients who are not clients of the law firm.
In a smaller firm that has 125 lawyers or only 20 percent litigation, the capital investment might not be there to bring the service in-house. It might make sense for that firm to buy just one piece, Boland said.
For WilmerHale, the firm's Dayton, Ohio, back-office business services center provided the perfect place for the firm to hire document review lawyers and technicians at lower salaries to run WilmerHale Discovery Solutions.