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4 painfully common eDiscovery mistakes that leave legal teams open to risk

| Written by Altlaw

With 2020 now in full swing, legal teams need to move from risk to reward if they haven’t done so already. Be sure to avoid these 4 common mistakes if you want to bulletproof your eDiscovery practices and deliver greater value to your clients.

Across all professional services sectors, those granted with the duty of making key decisions are constantly looking into how they can deliver a service that is of higher value, more efficient, more cost-effective, and that simply does better than their competitors.

While these are all more than worthy areas of improvement to invest your time and money into, the benefits they bring can quickly dissipate if your organisation is not adequately protected against operational risk. 

And, when you consider that most of the practice improvements required to safeguard your legal team from risk will often bring inherent gains in operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value-added service provision anyway, it certainly pays to adopt a defence-first approach.

Read on to learn the 5 all-too-common eDiscovery mistakes that you should avoid to keep the businesses of both yourself and your clients safe.

Mistake 1: Managing data with disparate systems

Legal teams typically face vast amounts of pressure across a wide spread of areas: the need to manage litigation and investigations, respond to regulatory requests, monitor compliance, and keep spending under control being just a few.

But when an equally broad spread of tools and platforms is employed to handle this spread of activity, a number of problems can arise.

As a collective team or department, managing case data effectively is a bit like trying to navigate your way through an area you don’t know – it’s a lot easier to maintain your bearings if you have one single and reliable source guiding you.

Using a number of disconnected tools and platforms to handle individual tasks (or to accommodate the individual working methods of individual team members) on the other hand, can dramatically increase the odds of security breaches, namely by decentralising control of your data and upping the number of locations it can be accessed from.

And if that isn’t enough reason for you to aspire for more streamlined, singular eDiscovery practices, disparate systems also make it practically impossible for decision-makers to gain a holistic view of project data, which can lead to inconsistent analytics that need to be checked and recalculated internally, increase data storage costs by having the same data stored in numerous environments, and generally convolute your operational workflows and foster further process inefficiencies.

Mistake 2: Overlooking the importance of employee retention

This refers to an age-old problem that is true of almost any business, trade or service – the more times sensitive data changes hands, the more likely it is that the data in question will be subject to human error.

This refers to both technical data handling errors as well as instances of instructions being repeatedly relayed and, eventually, lost in translation.

And while the importance of employee retention is common sense to anyone managing a team or running a business, more often than not, if a legal team were to be asked the most effective methods of alleviating risk from their practices and securing the information of their clients, they would look outward rather than inward.

If your clients are happy with your teams as they are, you need to ensure you invest sufficiently in maintaining the people that make those teams. 

Focus on keeping your team happy, fulfilled, stimulated and motivated – offer them a career that is both fulfilling and futureproof – eDiscovery is a rapidly growing field and an increasingly attractive employment prospect to many, so be sure to reward enthusiasm in it rather than exploit it, as the chances are if your team doesn’t give its staff the career they want, someone round the corner will.

Mistake 3: Not remaining abreast of regulatory changes

The regulatory landscapes of eDiscovery, litigation services, and the technologies that come with them are in a constant state of flux. 

Between the exponential rate of data growth, emerging devices and legislative shifts around the world of data, these changes can make it difficult to keep up with new laws and changing processes – and that’s without even bringing the minefield of cross-border eDiscovery practices into the equation.

Adapting to these changes as they come requires the ontake of new costs, ongoing investment in new expertise above all else, determination by the bucketload.

To those reading the above with slight feelings of apprehension, we recommend you think for a moment on the abundance of results that would make themselves known in the form of more effective, longer-lasting and ultimately more financially fruitful client relationships, then think some more on the value of continual investment in your compliance measures.

The best way to ensure you keep on top of any and all regulatory changes is to have some in-house resources dedicated solely to this area. If you have the budget, designate an individual (or if you can, a handful) to observe these developments, provide updates to the team, and lead any training initiatives required to help you see in new operating processes.

Mistake 4: Thinking you have to do it alone

While we do believe that legal teams don’t have to be eDiscovery experts to do any of the above on their own steam, we understand that for teams that are already straining at the seams, these things are far easier to suggest than to put into practice.

For those that don’t have the resource to strive for the above internally, there is always the option of outsourcing eDiscovery services to a third-party provider. If you know how to choose the right one, you can rest assured that you will have access to well streamlined and unified systems, that client information will be treated well by a safe pair of hands, and that the latest regulatory measures are stringently adhered to at all times.

Now your operations are safeguarded against risk, it’s time for these improvements to start yielding rewards. Learn more in Digital Justice.