Legal services are finally moving aggressively into outsourcing, especially in the area of eDiscovery and legal document review. What are the key considerations your need to be aware of if you plan to outsource legal work? Here are six articles that will explain the changing issues that are influencing the cost and the quality of legal services.
Investment banks and financial firms created a revolution in the outsourcing of knowledge-based work in the '90s and early 2000s. Legal firms were reluctant to join in, but today Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is one of the hottest categories of outsourcing.
When documents gave way to electronic or digital documents, a relatively simple and trivial part of lawsuits became a major, and expensive task. The documents a corporation produces that are relevant for the case... contracts, patents, letters to clients, HR documents, etc. ... exploded in numbers. Where cases might have had a few hundreds or thousands of documents, there were now hundreds of thousands or even millions. Driven by the vast number of duplicate documents in emails and network servers, the legal document review has become a much more managed, structured and EXPENSIVE process. Because of the need to hire extra lawyers just for the duration of the for the case, as well as needing work space and other resources, ever large number of document reviews are being outsourced.
While Linear review was good enough in the early days of eDiscovery, it has not kept up with the growing volume of document review work in a typical lawsuit. In a large firm, just the process of collecting and reviewing documents can cost millions of dollars. New technology has been in place for years to help lawyers make the review process faster and more accurate. However, lawyers are conservative and usually want to wait until new processes are "blessed" by the courts, and their competitors have all moved to the new process. Finally, the advantages of TAR are being acknowledged by the courts and the conversion to Technology Assisted Review (TAR) is moving forward.
Compared to other knowledge-based service industries, the Legal Industry is far behind in automation and in outsourcing. As a result, the cost of legal services has exploded, especially when it comes to the cost of collecting, reviewing and managing the documents related to the case (eDiscovery). Some services, such as document review, have been using under-employed lawyers and law students... internally and outsourced... to hold own the cost of document review, but this is only a temporary solution. As the economy recovers, more lawyers will be employed in more desirable legal occupations. This will drive up the cost of in-house, and even nearby outsourcing options. Offshore, TAR and other more radical approaches are needed to reduce the cost of legal services.
The cost of manual (linear) document review can be staggeringly high, and a small mistake can cause the team to start from scratch. A TAR review can be 70% to 95% less expensive. Even more importantly, a TAR review will always be far more accurate. The process of teams of dozens (or even hundreds) of human reviewers manually reading millions of pages of documents will always be riddled with mistakes. Many previous studies of how human beings process written materials have proven this, and more recently studies of the results of manual document review have confirmed it. While some lawyers still believe that manual review is the "Gold Standard," any two lawyers on a review will only agree 50% of the time that a document meets or does not meet the criteria they are following. TAR is usually 70% or higher. If manual reviews cost too much and delivers too little, can we still recommend it to clients?
The cost of document review and other legal services has become so expensive that it threatens a basic American right... the right to a day in court. America has become the most litigious nation on earth, with the world's most expensive legal system. If we ever hope to maintain our right to a fair and swift court system, the only solution is to automate and outsource.