As the pace and breadth of litigation continues to expand, intense effort is necessary to manage electronically stored information (ESI) and physical documents; to preserve, collect, cull, review, and produce records. For many legal teams with limited resources in staff and technology, litigation support services have become the go-to solution. Some litigation support services providers offer managed services or professional services (or both) to support corporate in-house counsel. There are differences between the two services and either can be beneficial in supporting firms.
Managed Services — is outsourcing e-discovery activities as a way to reduce costs and improve organizational efficiency, allowing departments to focus on the roles they’re uniquely able to fulfill. With Managed Services, a service provider runs ESI processing for legal teams using technology and equipment appropriate to their needs… either behind their firewall, or behind the service provider firewall.
Managed Services offer numerous benefits, including:
1. Cost Effectiveness
Managed Services streamline the progression of e-discovery and early case assessment by speeding up the process from days to hours, enabling the legal team to focus on the core of the case. Instead of spending money on equipment and software that rapidly becomes outdated, Managed Services build and maintain state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and supply the professionals to run it. This can lower in-house management and labor costs, and help reduce time spent on document review.
2. Workflow Management
Managed Services – from data forensics to data processing and analytics– can be customized on a case-by-case basis. And given how unpredictable, intricate, and protracted e-discovery matters can be, it’s important to quickly identify and resolve any in-house procedural gaps that could expose a company to various risks.
Professional Services — is where aspects (some or all) of a client’s e-discovery process are maintained by a service provider, who takes on the role of project manager and/or consultant in managing and organizing the data. The Professional Services project manager and his/her team manage most of the details associated with preservation, legal holds, interviews, document/data collection, analysis, processing, review, and productions.
Professional Services offer complementary benefits to Managed Services, which include:
1. Project Managers
One of the leading benefits of using Professional Services is that it provides a project manager who works with the client to determine the ideal approach for their e-discovery cases/projects, and then monitors and evaluates the execution. The project manager expertly crafts a plan that can be customized to changing requirements or developments. The project manager manages the team assigned to the project, delegates tasks, and manages deadline compliance while providing timely updates to counsel. Once the project is complete, the project manager provides the client with a post-engagement evaluation.
2. Supplementary Services
The Professional Services project manager can also arrange for expert witnesses, court reporting, and transcribing services during depositions and testimony.
Both managed services and professional services have similar, yet complementary benefits for law firms and in-house counsel. They can blend well and work together to reduce in-house costs and risk exposure while managing workflow and supplementary services. With the rapid pace of technology advancements, constant investment in equipment maintenance and software development is required. Utilizing experts in both managed and professional services to protect the assets of the law firm or corporate legal department, adds to a more stable bottom line.