How should law firms manage e-discovery?  

The Data Boom: Can Law Firms Profit? in LawFirmInc. (May 2007) offers answers to this question, covering economic questions such as whether EDD should be a profit center and how to conduct document reviews.

My favorite excerpt:

“Fenwick and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis-have adopted polar opposite models. [Fenwick limits] the number of associates needed. Cases in which hundreds of gigabytes of raw data were collected require six to 12 lawyers for review, according to Fenwick’s Brownstone: ‘We apply radical de-duplication and statistical analysis to keep what the reviewers see to the absolute minimum of data.’ Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, staffs no associates on review. Indeed, its document analysis technology group doesn’t even have associates. Instead, the firm draws on a pool of some 200 in-house project attorneys who do nothing but review documents.”

Care to guess which approach is more cost effective? Last time I looked, technology, even expensive tech, costs a lot less than lawyers, even contract lawyers or staff attorneys.

Wherever firms come out on these questions, I suspect more will hire “e-discovery attorneys” or start e-discovery practices. I recently wrote a white paper for Renew Data called 4 Ways an eDiscovery Attorney Can Make Your Firm More Successful (registration required to download). I interviewed several lawyers in this position. The article quotes Thomas Barnett, Special Counsel – Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Laurie Weiss, Partner – Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Charles Cohen, Partner – Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, and Mira Edelman, Counsel – Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.