Part of the work the eDJ Group does as an analyst firm is attend and speak at various eDiscovery and Information Governance events around the world. Many of our service and technology clients often ask us for our opinion on various events and whether to attend/invest in a particular event, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting programs to educate the eDiscovery marketplace.
I spent most of last week (September 19-21, 2012) at the Information Governance & eDiscovery Strategy Exchange outside Washington, D.C. at the Fairview Park Marriot. This is the first event the London based Legal Exchange Network has put on in the United States and I was very curious how the format would work with our U.S. eDiscovery culture. The event is a three day event and has one of the most intense structured education/networking schedules I’ve seen in our industry.
The Exchange events are structured a bit different from the typical talking head/panel event. There are specific breakout sessions for one-on-one interaction with the technology and service providers and potential corporate buyers. There are ample networking opportunities over breaks throughout the day to rub elbows with corporate, law firm, & government practitioners, analysts, and judges to keep the conversation going during the show.
Mark Kindy, Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal, served as the Chairman and lead moderator for the panels throughout day two, which didn’t wrap up until 8pm. Alvarez & Marsal is a restructuring and consulting firm that is well known for handling large bankruptcy cases like Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. Al Lakhani, also a Managing Director at Alvarez, handled the keynote duties for the first session.
Mr. Lakhani opened day two’s sessions with a discussion on “Managing the Explosion of Data Through Holistic Information Governance” using his and Mr. Kindy’s experience with locating, processing, and managing large volumes (hundreds of TB’s) of data for these high profile cases.
Mr. Lakhani discussed the rising costs of overall legal spend. He estimated the current number is $281B which is up $100B over the past ten years despite the fact that the amount of filings is the same over the same period of time. He attributed the rise in those costs with the large number of eDiscovery cases and the associated review of electronic documents (with the weight of costs on the review side). I was surprised to learn that Alvarez was able to put together a business process at Lehman that cut eDiscovery and document review costs by a significant percentage. So how did they do this? Especially within a bankrupt company?
Alvarez and Marsal was able to move away from the standard consumption model (e.g. per doc, per page, per GB) typically used in the eDiscovery industry to an in-house model with full time employees and hourly costs.
How does this save money? Alvarez prioritized the very large volumes of data and created a knowledge repository of the data, so that once the electronic documents were identified and categorized, it became more efficient to respond to volumes of document requests from various governmental entities and litigation requests.
They were able to model out an effective economy of scale based on the large volumes. This doesn’t work for every case though. Mr. Lakhani acknowledged this type of workflow is primarily around serial litigants with initial data sets over 300GBs.
I think this is a fascinating case study and will try to pull together a more detailed case study/research paper with the eDJ Group analyst team in the near future. There is more to this project than what can be communicated in an article and we want to dig further into how and when other companies implementing similar processes can expect to see an ROI.
There is a great deal more to cover on this event and I will have a final wrap up soon. I’m looking forward providing a run-down of Chris Dale’s interactive panel on the various eDiscovery procedures in different jurisdictions, that included judges from Australia, UK, Ireland, and the US as well as Judge Peck’s keynote on Privilege, Preservation, Proportionality and Ethics.
Check back soon for more information for this event.
eDJ Group CEO and eDiscoveryJournal Contributor, Jason Velasco