The reasons for having an internal e-discovery team are long and varied, but experts agree that it is a giant cost-saver.
To that end, Dykema Gossett Partner and e-discovery practice head Dante Stella offers the following suggestions for organizations seeking to create their own in-house e-discovery teams:
1. Have realistic expectations on what a program might do and the potential cost savings. Not every discovery contingency can be foreseen by an in-house program, and modern case law increasingly requires trial counsel to supervise discovery efforts by clients.
2. When you construct your in-house team, choose a team leader with interest and inclination—someone who is willing to make the significant time investment in staying on top of both academic and real-world developments. This person also should be able to play well both with outside counsel and with IT personnel critical to preserving and collecting data. We often see senior paralegals performing this leading role.
3. When it comes to technology, think in terms of stages, and build step-by-step based on cost-effectiveness and results. Start with software (or even training) that helps you construct and track litigation holds. Then, if your company’s size and litigation profile can justify it, think about a system that helps you index, search and export data. A third step might be some form of early case assessment. You don’t have to do everything at once.
4. You almost always have a better chance of getting a budget for something if there is a non-legal business case for it. One example is an email archiving system that cuts everyday storage costs for IT and supports your records policy, but also allows the legal department to hold and perform sophisticated searches.
5. Even if the only thing you ultimately achieve with an in-house program is to develop a way to effectively identify and preserve data needed for litigation, you’re still better off for having done it.