A good friend from my Summation days put Insight Optix CEO Mandi Ross in touch with me to explore her new cloud matter scoping platform, Evidence Optix (EO). At first I struggled with whether matter scoping and cost estimation was a broad enough pain point to interest my corporate clients. Most of my legal ops engagements include matter budgets and tools for inside counsel tools to control scope creep. I am well aware that many legal departments struggle to give their retained counsel realistic, defensible burden estimates to fend off plaintiff fishing expeditions. Even though the 2015 FRCP amendments to Rule 26 promised practical proportionality tests I have yet to see them have any substantial impact in civil litigation. EO grew from a series of class actions with globally diverse custodians. Prism consulting developed the platform to manage and prioritize questionnaires, interviews and collections from custodians with wildly differing privacy and technology restrictions. Great. But that sounds more like a service offering for the bet-the-company cases where AmLaw 100 partners actually care about proportionality to manage their global client’s risk and cost. Then Mandi walked me through the new George Washington Law School discovery proportionality model and guidelines under consideration. That reminded me of a recent blog by my friend Bill Belt on the True Costs and Burden of eDiscovery that explains the new framework better than I could.
All of this means that my corporate clients may actually use all those eDiscovery metrics and cost models I created to push back on overly broad discovery requests. I have supported some amazing counsel on burden arguments. Some magistrates seem to struggle with the apples-vs-oranges burden motions and cost estimates. This framework and visualization goes a long way to translate burden arguments into a realistic comparison matrix.
Proportionality and scoping is a pretty narrow challenge. The EO platform includes a sophisticated legal hold questionnaire system and data source calculator. It provides retained counsel a client-owned portal to manage a standardized custodian interview and scoping workflow that produces defensible reports and visualizations of the value-cost for custodial data. Corporate GC’s are focused on cost controls in the wake of the pandemic litigation pause, so Insight Optix’s market timing could not be better. The platform does not feel like a ‘stand alone eDiscovery lifecycle system’. Given the open API’s of Relativity, Exterro and other ‘end-to-end EDRM platforms’ I could easily integrate EO into most corporate eDiscovery lifecycles to produce a clear return on investment without all the crazy spreadsheets and SharePoint sites that I have been forced to create.
My demo/briefing focused on how EO supported the new proportionality framework. I will circle back soon to look at the broader functionality. Mandi Ross explained, “EO can be used throughout the litigation lifecycle in an iterative fashion, rather than an early point solution only. It enables corporations to a deploy a consistent, repeatable process with outside counsel, while creating a historical record of all attorney decisioning, data source tracking details and estimated costs. The output of the model can be used for internal scoping and budgeting, negotiations with other parties, and provides the necessary documentation if judicial intervention is needed.” As always, I will give you my unfiltered take. Are you seeing real proportionality arguments and success stories? If so, I want to hear about them.
Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
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